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and effectually prayed for their forgiveness, when they were in the highest act of provocation that ever they perpetrated, viz., nailing him to the cross : Luke xxiii. 34, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
And never did there appear such an instance of love to men. Christ's love to men that he showed when on earth, and especially in going through his last sufferings, and offering up his life and soul under those sufferings, which was his greatest act of love, was far beyond all parallel. There have been very remarkable manifestations of love in some of the saints, as in the Apostle Paul, the Apostle John, and others: but the love to men that Christ showed when on earth, as much exceeded the love of all other men, as the ocean exceeds a small strearn.
And it is to be observed, that all the virtues which appeared in Christ shone brightest in the close of his life, under the trials he met with then Eminent virtue always shows brightest in the fire. Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace. It was chiefly under those trials which Christ underwent in the close of his life, that his love to God, his honor of God's majesty, and his regard to the honor of his law, and his spirit of obedience, and his humility, and contempt of the world, and his patience and his meekness, and his spirit of forgiveness towards men, appeared. Indeed every thing that Christ did to work out redemption for us appears mainly in the close of his life. Here mainly is his satisfaction for sin, and here chiefly is his merit of eternal life for sinners, and here chiefly appears the brightness of his example, which he hath set us to follow.
Thus we have taken a brief view of the things whereby the purchase of redemption was made with respect to his righteousness that appeared in them. - I proceed now,
II. To take a view of them with respect to the satisfaction that he thereby made for sin, or the sufferings and humiliation that he was the subject of in them on our account. And here,
1. He was subject to uncommon humiliation and sufferings in his infancy. He was born to that end that he might die ; and therefore he did as it were begin to die as soon as he was born. His inother suffered in an uncommon manner in bearing him. When her travail came upon her, it is said, “ there was no room in the inn," Luke ii. 7. She was forced to betake herself to a stable; and therefore Christ was born in the place of the bringing forth of beasts. Thus he suffered in his birth, as though he had been meaner and viler than a man, and not possessed of the dignity of the human nature, but had been of the rank of the brute creatures. And we may conclude, that his mother's circumstances in other respects were proportionably strait and difficult, and that she was destitute of the conveniences necessary for so young an infant which others were wont to have; for want of which the new-born babe without doubt suffered much.
And besides, he was persecuted in his infancy. They began to seek his life as soon as he was born. Herod, the chief man of the land, was so engaged to kill him, that, in order to it, he killed all the children in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under. And Christ suffered banishment in his infancy, was driven out of his native country into Egypt, and without doubt suffered much by being carried so long a journey, when he was so young, into a strange country.
'II. Christ was subject to great humiliation in his private life at Nazareth. He there led a servile obscure life, in a mean laborious occupation : for he is called not only the carpenter's son, but the carpenter : Mark vi. 3, “Is not this the carpenter, the brother of James and Joses, and Juda, and Simon ?" He, by hard labor, earned his bread before he ate it, and so suffered that curse which God pronounced on Adam, Gen. iii. 13, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Let us consider how great a degree of humiliation the glorious Son of God, the Creator of heaven and earth, was subject to in this, that for about thirty years he should live a private obscure life among laboring men, and all this while be overlooked, and not taken notice of in the world, as more than other common laborers. Christ's humiliation in some respects was greater in private life than in the time of his public ministry. There were many manifestations of his glory in the word 'he preached, and the great miracles he wrought: but the first thirty years of his life he spent among mean ordinary men, as it were in silence, without those manifestations of his glory, or any thing to make him to be taken notice of more than any ordinary mechanic, but only the spotless purity and eminent holiness of his life; and that was in a great measure hid in obscurity; so that he was little taken notice of till after his baptism.
III. Christ was the subject of great humiliation and suffering during his public life, from his baptism till the night wherein he was betrayed. As particularly,
1. He suffered great poverty, so that he had not “where to lay his head,” Matt. viii. 20; and commonly used to lodge abroad in the open air, for want of a shelter to betake himself to; as you will see is manifest, if you compare the following places together, which I shall but name to you, even Matt. viïi. 20, and John xviii. 1, 2, and Luke xxi. 37, and chap. xxii. 39. So that what was spoken of Christ in Cant. v. 2, “My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night," was literally fulfilled. And through his poverty he doubtless was often pinched with hunger, and thirst, and cold. We read Matt. iv. 2, that he was an hungered : and so again in Matt. xxi. 18. His mother and natural relations were poor, and not able to help him; and he was maintained by the charity of some of his disciples while he lived. So we read in Luke viii. at the beginning, of certain women that followed him, and ministered to him of their substance. He was so poor, that he was not able to pay the tribute that was demanded of him, without the miraculous coming of a fish to bring him the money out of the sea in his mouth. See Matt. xvii 27. And when he ate his last passover, it was not at his own charge, but at the charge of another, as appears by Luke xxii. 7, &c. And from his poverty he had no grave of his own to be buried in. It was the manner of the Jews, unless they were very poor, and were not able, to prepare themselves a sepulchre while they lived. But Christ had no land of his own, though he was possessor of heaven and earth; and therefore was buried by Joseph of Arimathea's charity, and in his tomb, which he had prepared for himself."
2. He suffered great hatred and reproach. He was despised and rejected of men. He was by most esteemed a poor, insignificant person; che of little account, slighted for his low parentage, and his mean city Nazareth. He was reproached as a glutton and drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners; was called a deceiver of the people ; sometimes a madman, and a Samaritan, and one possessed with a devil, John vii. 20, and viï. 48, and x. 20. He was called a blasphemer, and was accounted by many a wizard, or one that wrought miracles by the black art, and by communication with Beelzebub. They excommunicated him, and agreed to excommunicate any man that should own him, as John ix. 22. They wished him dead, and were continually seeking to murder him ; sometimes by force, and sometimes by craft. They often took up stones to stone him, and once led him to the brow of a hill, intending to throw him down the precipice, to dash him in pieces against the rocks.
He was thus hated and reproached by his own visible people: John i. 11, “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” And he was principally despised and hated by those who were in chief repute, and were their greatest men. And the hatred wherewith he was hated was general. Into whatever part of the land he went, he met with hatred and contempt. He met with these in Capernaum, and when he went to Jericho, when he went to Jeru. salem, which was the holy city, when he went to the temple to worship, and also in Nazareth, his own city, and among his own relations, and his old neighbors.
3. He suffered the buffetings of Satan in an uncommon manner. We read of one time in particular, when he had a long conflict with the devil, when he was in the wilderness forty days, with nothing but wild beasts and devils; and was so exposed to the devil's power, that he was bodily carried about by him from place to place, while he was otherwise in a very suffering state.
And so much for the humiliation and suffering of Christ's public life, from bis baptism to the night wherein he was betrayed.
IV. I come now to his last humiliation and sufferings, from the evening of the night wherein he was betrayed to his resurrection. And here was his greatest humiliation and suffering, by which principally he made satisfaction to the justice, of God for the sins of men. First, his life was sold by one of his own disciples for thirty pieces of silver, which was the price of the life of a servant, as you may see in Exod. xxi. 32. Then he was in that dreadful agony in the garden. There came such a dismal gloom upon his soul, that he began to be sorrowful and very heavy, and said, his “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and was sore amazed.” So violent was the agony of his soul, as to force the blood through the pores of his skin; so that while his soul was overwhelmed with amazing sorrow, his body was all clotted with blood. The disciples, who used to be as his friends and family, at this time, above all, ap. peared cold towards him, and unconcerned for him, at the same time that his
Father's face was hid from him. Judas, to whom Christ had been so very merciful, > and treated as one of his family, or familiar friends, comes and betrays him in
the most deceitful, treacherous manner. The officers and soldiers apprehend and bind him; his disciples forsake him and flee; his own best friends do not stand by him to comfort him, in this time of his distress. He is led away as a malefactor to appear before the priests and scribes, his venomous, mortal enemies, that they might sit as his judges, who sat up all night, to have the pleasure of insulting him, now they had got him into their hands. But because they aimed at nothing short of his life, they set themselves to find some color to put him to death, and seek for witnesses against him. When none appeared, they set some to bear false witness; and when their witness did not agree together, then they go to examining him to catch something out of his own mouth. They hoped he would say, that he was the Son of God, and then they thought they should have enough. But because they see they are not like to obtain it without it, they then go to force him to say it, by adjuring him in the name of God, to say whether he was or not: and when he confessed that he was, then they supposed they had enough; and then it was a time of rejoicing with them, which they show, by falling upon Christ and spitting in his face, and blindfolding him, and striking him in the face with the palms of their hands, and then bidding him prophesy who it was that struck him : thus ridiculing him for pretending to be a prophet. And the very servants have a hand in the sport : Mark xiv. 65, ! And the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands."
During the sufferings of that night, Peter, one of the chief of his own disciples, instead of standing by him to comfort him, appears ashamed to own him, and denies and renounces him with oaths and curses. And after the chief priests and elders had finished the night in so shamefully abusing him, when the morning was come, which was the morning of the most wonderful day that ever was, they led him away to Pilate, to be condemned to death by him, because they had not the power of life and death in their own hands. He is brought before Pilate's judgment seat, and there the priests and elders accuse him as a traitor. And when Pilate, upon examining into the matter, declared he found no fault in him, the Jews were but the more fierce and violent to have him condemned. Upon which Pilate, after clearing him, very unjustly brings him upon a second trial; and then, not finding any thing against him, acquits him again. Pilate treats him as a poor worthless fellow; but is ashamed on so little pretence to condemn him as a traitor.
And then he was sent to Herod to be tried by him, and was brought before Herod's judgment seat; and his enemies followed, and virulently accused him before Herod. Herod does not condemn him as a traitor, or one that would set up for a king, but looks upon him as Pilate did, as a poor worthless creature, not worthy to be taken notice of, and does but make a mere laugh of the Jews accusing him as a dangerous person to Cæsar, as one that was in danger of setting up to be a king against him; and therefore, in derision, dresses him up in a mock robe, and makes sport of him, and sends him back through the streets of Jerusalem to Pilate, with the mock robe on.
The Jews prefer Barabbas before him, and are instant and violent with loud voices to Pilate, to crucify him. So Pilate, after he had cleared him twice, and Herod once, very unrighteously brings him on trial the third time, to try if he could not find something against him sufficient to crucify him. Christ was stripped and scourged: thus he gave his back to the smiter. After that, though Pilate still declared that he found no fault in him; yet so unjust was he, that for fear of the Jews he delivered Christ to be crucified. But before they executed the sentence, his spiteful and cruel enemies take the pleasure of another spell of mocking him; they get round him, and make a set business of it. They stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe, and a reed in his hand, and a crown of thorns on his head. Both Jews and Roman soldiers were united in the transaction; they bow the knee before him, and in derision cry,“ Hail, king of the Jews." They spit upon him also, and take the reed out of his hand and smite him on the head. After this they led him away to crucify him, and made him carry his own cross, till he sunk under it, his strength being spent; and then they laid it on one Simon a Cyrenian.
At length, being come to Mount Calvary, they execute the sentence which Pilate had so unrighteously pronounced. They nail him to his cross, by his hands and feet, then raise it erect, and fix one end in the ground, he being still suspended on it by the nails which pierced his hands and feet. And now Christ's sufferings are come to the extremity: now the cup which he so earnestly prayed that it might pass from him, is come, and he must, he does drink it.
In those days crucifixion was the most torinenting kind of death by which any were wont to be executed. There was no death wherein the person expired so much of mere torment : and hence the Roman word which signifies torment, is taken from this kind of death. And besides what our Lord endured in this excruciating death in his body, he endured vastly more in his soul. Now was that travail of his soul, of which we read in the prophet; now it pleased God to bruise him, and to put him to grief ; now he poured out his soul unto death, as in Isa. liï. And if the mere forethought of this cup made hiin sweat blood, how much more dreadful and excruciating must the drinking of it have been! Many martyrs have endured much in their bodies, while their souls have been joyful, and have sung for joy, whereby they have been supported under the sufferings of their outward man, and have triumphed over them. But this was not the case with Christ; he had no such support; but his sufferings were chiefly those of the mind, though the other were extremely great. In his crucifixion Christ did not sweat blood, as he had before, because his blood had vent otherwise, and not because his agony was now not so great. But though he did not sweat blood, yet such was the suffering of his soul, that probably it rent his vitals; as seems probable by this, that when his side was pierced, there came forth blood and water. And so here was a kind of literal fulfilment of that in Psalm xxii. 14, “ I am poured out like water : my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
Now, under all these sufferings, the Jews still mock him : and wagging their heads say, “ Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself : if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” And even the chief priests, scribes, and elders, joined in the cry, saying, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” And probably the devil at the same time tormented him to the utmost of his power; and hence it is said, Luke xxii. 53, “ This is your hour, and the power of darkness."
Under these sufferings, Christ having cried out once and again with a loud voice, at last he said, “ It is finished,” (John xix. 30,)“ and bowed the head, and gave up the ghost.” And thus was finished the greatest and most wonderful thing that ever was done. Now the angels beheld the most wonderful sight that ever they saw. Now was accomplished the main thing that had been pointed at by the various institutions of the ceremonial law, and by all the typical dispensations, and by all the sacrifices from the beginning of the world.
Christ being thus brought under the power of death, continued under it till the morning of the next day but one; and then was finished that great work, the purchase of our redemption, for which such great preparation had been made from the beginning of the world. Then was finished all that was required in order to satisfy the threatenings of the law, and all that was necessary in order to satisfy divine justice; then the utmost that vindictive justice demanded, even the whole debt was paid. Then was finished the whole of the purchase of eternal life. And now there is no need of any thing more to be done towards a purchase of salvation for sinners; nor has ever any thing been done since, nor will any thing more be done forever and ever.
In surveying the history of redemption. , from the fall of man to the end of the world, we have now shown how this work was carried on through the two former of the three main periods, into which this whole space of time was divided, viz., from the fall to the incarnation of Christ, and from thence to the end of the time of Christ's humiliation; and have particularly explained how in the first of these periods God prepared the way for Christ's appearing and purchasing redemption; and how in the second period, that purchase was made and finished. I would now make some improvement of what has been said on both these subjects, considered conjunctly. And this I would do,
1. In a use of reproof.