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was, she had received in a dream such intimations as induced her to believe Jesus to be ' a just man.' Yet in despite of all these convictions, Pilate condemned our Saviour, 'to please the Jews.'
This1 leads us to the real motive of his conduct. From the beginning of his government he appears to have committed many acts of rapacious tyranny and oppression, so that he had become particularly obnoxious to the Jewish nation. In consequence of these causes of complaint, they had actually commenced an accusation against him at Rome, which, had it been prosecuted, would most probably have terminated in the loss of his government, and, perhaps, in his total disgrace. He was, therefore, anxious to make them any sacrifice he could, in hopes to ingratiate himself with the leaders of the people, and induce them to withdraw their charges against him; and hence it was, that he violated, for the precarious support of his own interest, every principle of justice, morality, good government, and humanity itself, to an extent, of which the history of the world cannot afford a parallel.
Under this man' Our blessed Lord suffered:' but although the term here used refers to his last sufferings, yet it may be as well to consider the whole sufferings of his mortal life. To this we shall now proceed,—showing, first, that our Saviour was made perfect man, in order that he might suffer and obey, and, secondly, what his sufferings were.
1. That it was necessary for the Eternal Word to become man, in order that he might suffer and obey, appears, first, from the lost state of our guilty world, in which not one could be found able to redeem his own soul from the curse of the violated law, far less to redeem his fellows. Thus, the Prophet, speaking of the Lord, saith, 'He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him.' The Almighty Father, compassionating the wretchedness of his creatures, and yet incapable of suffering sin to be relieved from the sentence of unchangeable justice, without an adequate atonement, devised the merciful plan, by which a representative of our race should be constituted to undergo the penalty we had incurred, as well as to work out that perfect obedience to the holy law of God, which we had all failed to render. Such an undertaking was too weighty for any created being to perform; and hence the Eternal 'Son of the Father,' in infinite love to our fallen world, graciously assumed to himself the work of mercy. This assumption is represented by the Psalmist, where he saith, in the person of Christ, ' Sacrifice and• burnt offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me. Then I said, lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God.'
That this marvellous work of Divine love and pity evidently required the employment of our mortal nature appears, secondly, from the very principle on which the whole blessed design rested. Man had sinned, therefore, man must die. Man was to be saved, therefore man must obey. Accordingly, the human nature, assumed to himself by the great Redeemer, was perfect man both in body and in soul. 'It behoved him to be made like unto his brethren in all things,' saith St. Paul, 'sin only excepted.' And again, saith the same Apostle, 'Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same.' 'As by man,' saith he elsewhere, 'came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead:' and again, ' The mediator between God and man,' saith he, 'is the man Christ Jesus.'
Two strange errors have subsisted in relation to this part of our subject, which gave rise to heresies at different times. The first consisted in the opinion, that the body of our Lord was not real, but only a Phantom. This singular notion was opposed, not only to the whole testimony of the Evangelists, but to that of our Lord himself; for even after his resurrection, he directs the unbelieving Thomas to handle him, and feel, as well as see,—adding this conclusive expression, 'A Spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.' But this sect, although at one period considerable, has not reached modern days, and is chiefly worthy of remembrance as affording a remarkable proof, how far the Spirit of false philosophy may carry men from the path of sober truth and reason.
The other heretics alluded to, admitted that Christ possessed a human body, but held that the Divinity was to it, what the soul is in other men, and that, consequently, he possessed no human soul. But a very little attention to the history of his life must prove abundantly, that he had a human Spirit like our own. Thus, it is said, that ' he grew in wisdom, and in stature;' and surely this wisdom could not be the wisdom of the Dirinity, because that is perfect from eternity ; neither could it be the wisdom of the body, because wisdom is an attribute of Spirit and belongs not to the flesh ; of course, it must have been the wisdom of his human soul. So, too, 'he marvelled at their unbelief;' he was ' angry at the hardness of their hearts ;' he wept over Jerusalem, and at the grave of Lazarus ; and, above all, in the garden of Gethsemane, 'his soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death,' and his human' will shrunk from the awful task before hirn, and prayed that, 'if possible, the cup might pass from him.' All these, and other passages of a similar character, prove conclusively, that, in his human nature, he was constituted like other men, hav» ing the same affections, the same passions, the same weaknesses, which our own souls exhibit; so that if we doubted his possessing this chief characteristic of our race, we should either be compelled to attribute to the Divinity within him feelings and passions to which God cannot be subject, or one., half of the Gospels must lose their meaning.
Being made, then, in all respects, like unto man, sin only excepted, it remains that we account for this exception; for of all other men since the fall, it is certain, that they have been'shapen in iniquity,'' conceived in sin,' and 'prone to evil from the womb.' But had any taint of mortal depravity adhered to the Saviour, he would himself have needed an atonement, and never could have been that 'Lamb of God' 'without blemish and without spot,' which the, holiness of the Divine law required. Now this perfect exemption from human depravity was the consequence of that sanctification, which the Holy Spirit effected in the marvellous work of his conception; so that, although he received his human nature from the Virgin, who belonged to the fallen race of Adam, yet all that was defiled was purified, all that was sinful was sanctified, all that was defective was perfected, even from the first instant of his being; and thus was he prepared to be the second Adam—. thus was he fitted for the wondrous mediation marked out for him, and rendered capable of being an ' High Priest, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.'
And now, with his mortal life, begin his sufferings. Other mothers await their travail in the midst of comfort, if not in luxury, and the hands of solicitous affection are ready to minister to their offspring, on its first entrance upon our world of trial. But the mother of our Lord has no better chamber than a stable, no softer bed than straw,
Lonely and unaided she endures her agony, and exerts her exhausted strength to wrap her prectous babe in swathing clothes, and lay him in a manger. O what a resting place for the King of kings! How awful the contrast, between the welcome of heaven and the misery of earth. How deep the shame of our race, that while Angels were rejoicing over the infant Saviour, and the star of God was gloriously lighting the wise men of the East tp his feet, the world, which he came to bless, was prepared to give him no better reception than want and poverty—neglect and scorn.
But a little while is suffered to elapse, till the Virgin Mother is forced to arouse her beloved one from ihis midnight slumbers, and hasten from the sword of the bloody Herod. And who shall realize the feelings of her bosom, as she pursues, step by step, her weary way to Egypt, dreading in every sound the voice of the brutal soldiery, and watching every shape with terror and alarm :—a sad but sure omen of the future life of him, who was to be ' a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,' and a true presage of those pangs which were to pierce her own soul also.
Of the period of our Redeemer's youth, nothing precise is known; but, judging by his language in the temple, at the age of twelve years, there can be no doubt that his reflections were early occupied by the work which he was sent to perform, and that his whole soul was devoted to the task of preparation. 'From my youth up,' saith the Psalmist, speaking in the person of Christ, ' thy terrors have I suffered, with a troubled mind.' And we may well suppose that this season, which, with others, is the period of indulgence, peace, and careless enjoyment, with him was full of solemn thought and fearful anticipation.