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if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again : for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, Saying the same words.
THOUGH it be universally acknowledged, that the example of Christ is intended for the imitation of Christians, yet we feldom take sufficient pains to delineate the several virtues of his life, and to impress our own hearts with a sense of their dignity and importance. The folcmn institutions of religion, however, have a direct tendency to bring these objects to our view; and the infisting on them, when we meet for public worship, must probably have the advantage of falling in with the natural current of our feelings and sentiments.
The knowledge of the characters of those persons whom history represents to us, is chiefly derived from observing the manner in which they acted in the capital and most interesting scenes of life. In these the leading qualities of the mind concentre, and exert
themselves; and they are marked so distinctly, and represented, as it were, so luminously, that we can ascertain them with precision. But of all the circumstances in which man can be placed, that of calamity and affliction proves most directly the vigour and the dispositions of his mind; and such as this situation discovers him to be, such he generally is.
The passage of scripture which I have now read, represents our Saviour overwhelmed with such a load of sorrow and suffering, and overpowered with such a variety of melancholy prospects, that, supposing the truth of his history, even his enemies cannot fail to believe, that upon this occasion, the natural and the genuine feelings of his mind must have broke forth, and that now, when all art must have been disconcerted, he truly appeared what he actually was. Every word, therefore, which he speaks, and every emotion he discovers, strongly indicates the nature of his character, and, as it were, fets the seal to it. The former transactions of his life must be tried by this touchstone; and in every instance wherein they correspond to what he spoke and acted in these critical moments,
we must consider them as the exhibitions of
As the time of our Saviour's suffering
exceeding forrowful, even unto death. And while he knew that it was appointed for him to tread the wine-press alone, and that of the people there should be none with him o, yet the infirmity of nature so far operated as to make him hope for some assistance from the presence and sympathy of his friends. He, therefore, intreats them to tarry, and to watch with him. Then he went a little farther, and in the bitterness of his foul, he fell on his face, and implored his Father's aid, in these words, equally expressive of his piety and his resignation, his sufferings and his fortitude: Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me ; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. Upon returning to his difciples, he finds them asleep; and addresling himself to Peter, who, but a little before, had fo confidently promised upon the fidelity and steadiness of his service, What, says he, could not ye watch with me one hour ? At the fame time he gives a gracious admonition against any future defection, and points out the means of avoiding it, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: and with the fame mildness and benignity which ever distinguished his character, he commends . their affection, and palliates their error ; The spirit indeed is willing, but the flejh is weak. In the utmost agony of mind, which forced the sweat through every pore, like great drops of blood, as Luke informs us, he reiterates the same fervent and resigned prayer, and again finding the disciples asleep, he retires the third time, and prays to his Father, using the same words.
a Isaiah Ixiii. 3.
From what causes this sorrow proceeded, which our Redeemer felt, is not precisely said. But the whole history Thews us, that it was extreme and overwhelming. It certainly consisted chiefly in those views which arise from a dark and depressed state of mind, and which the soul that feels, knows to be more poignant than all the tortures that can . be inflicted on the body. The future calamities of a city whose overthrow he frequently laments in such pathetic terms, the wretched state of a perishing world, the inconsiderable effects his divine instructions had hitherto produced, the falseness of a pretended friend, the infirmity of a few select difciples; all, perhaps, wrought upon his compassionate heart, and filled him with inexpressible anguish, The foresight of fuffer