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THE UNPARALLELED SUFFERINGS OF
LAM. I. 12. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and
see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.
Ye that pass by, behold the man,
The man of grief condemnd for you,
Weeping to Calvary pursue. '
And tremble, and asunder part;
The harder marble of our hearts."
I HE text I have now read to you was uttered by Jere. miah, expressing the deep sorrow of the Hebrews under those various calamities they endured for their numerous transgressions. But they are still more expressive of the language of Jesus, suffering on the cross for the sins of his people; and in this view we shall now employ them. No subject is more solemnly sublime in itself, or necessary for us to know and to feel, than the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. Sincerely do I hope our present reflections may be accompanied with a divine blessing, that our hearts may have some suitable impressions of the love and sufferings of Christ for our redemption.
Let us contemplate the sufferings of Christ on the day of his crucifixion as the day of God's fierce anger. The invitation of Jesus to examine his sorrows and use the
interrogation as an improvement to ourselves, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?
1. THE SUFFERINGS OF JESUS. By perusing the Gospel we recognize the prediction of Isaiah, that Mes. siah was to be a man of sorroros, and acquainted with griefs. This was verified in the life of Christ, and the farther he progressed, the more accumulated were his sufferings. In the text we are invited to behold the sorrows of the Saviour on the day of his crucifixion, because all the lines of his former sufferings then met upon him, as in one point, with inconceivable force. The day of Christ's death was predetermined; nor could the rage of the Jews hasten it, though they often attempted to lay violent hands upon him; for his hour was not yet come. Jesus, however, knew that the solemn day of his death drew near, and with the greatest composure told his disa ciples he must go up to Jerusalem, suffer many things of the chief priests and the rulers, and then be put to death. In order to this, Jesus was betrayed by a false disciple, and taken by wicked hands to be judged at Pilate's bar. Falsely accused and condemned, Jesus was delivered to be scourged. The soldiers, with eager hands, seized the blessed Saviour, and instantly conveyed him to the common hall, stripped his body, bound his hands, and fastened him to the post, where they exercised their hellish rage by scourging him with the utmost severity. Little did they know they were thus the mean of fulfilling an important prophecy by Isaiah I gave my back to the smiters, and my checks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Yes, Jesus received the scourge, that by his stripes we might be healed. Go, enter the doleful place, realize the sorrows of your Lord, so, in the light of holy writy: see, they make long furrows upon his back; his wounds gape wide, and the blood flows down to the very floor! All this for perishing sinners; for you, for me, who justly deserved to be cast into the awful dungeon of despair, and suffer the lash of a violated law for ever.
The day of the Lord's vengeance arrivés. From the court Jesus was led to Calvary; and although great must have been the loss of blood by his temples crowned with thorns, and his back lashed with the scourge, he is compelled to bear his own cross. On the summit of the hill, the place of skulls, they fastened the body of the blessed Jesus upon the cross, raised it up as a spectacle to heaven and earth, producing those extreme sorrows that should soon terminate in death. To heighten the Saviour's woe, the rabble shook their heads at him, and in his teeth cast the severest invectives. Earth and hell united to enkindle and to maintain the extreme sorrows of our blessed Lord.
But the sufferings sustained in the body of Jesus were as the lighting dawn of the fleecy snow upon the cold ground, when compared to the anguish he endured in his soul. In the language of our text, the Lord aflicted him in the day of his fierce anger. Why was Jesus thus afficted, when his whole life was the perfection of virtue, holy, harmless, and undefiled? He suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring them unto God. Jesus was charged with our offences; the Lord, the Father laid on him, as the surety of his people, the ini. quity of us all. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and made his soul an offering for sin. Under the awful punishment for our crimes, Jesus exclaimed, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Sin exposed us in
body and in soul to the just vengeance of God; and now Jesus suffers for our sins both in his body and soul. Of the sufferings of Jesus in his body some small estimate may be made; but the sufferings of his soul are absolutely incomprehensible. It is worthy our remark, that although the previous sufferings of Jesus are necessarily thrown into the scale of his vicarious satisfaction, yet the day of his bloody death is that important period when the fierce vengeance of the God of justice received the ransom price of our souls in the atoning blood of our Redeemer. The work was finished when he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. Important, solemn day! well might the earth tremble to its centre, and all the host of heaven withhold their brightness ! yet a day in which tne attributes of Jehovah shine in the redemption of guilty man. O may the transactions of the day of crucifixion live in lively characters in our breasts, and teach us to adore the Lamb of God! Our present meditations on the sufferings of Jesus are not yet, however, to close. We are,
2. To observe the injunction of our Lord in the text to mark his sufferings as unparalleled. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow. Well might Jesus address us, requiring attention, Behold! for although the sufferings of Jesus be a subject in which we are so greatly interested, there is an unbelieving propensity in us to neglect it: not to behold only, but to sce, that is, to search into, examine, contemplate, and especially to see if any sorrows are to be compared with Christ's. How far, therefore, the sufferings of our Saviour are unparalleled must be our present inquiry. .
The page of history certainly informs us of some persons, and even of some of the martyrs, who suffered,
perhaps, more in their bodies, and of a longer duration than Christ; but then those had proportionate joy ot. heart from God to endure; whereas Jesus suffered both; in body and in soul. Mankind suffer because they are born in sin; but Jesus suffered for sin imputed, and not. personally his own. In our sufferings in time we can be said to have little more, if indeed so much as the sense of sin; but Jesus experienced both the sense and the punishment of sin. Our sufferings are merely personal ; but the sorrows of Christ arose from the imputation of the sins of all his people, whom no man can number! Besides, if the sorrows of all the people of God were: collected, great as the amount might be, they would be as the small dust of the balance in comparison with Christ's; for theirs were only fòr a time, whereas, we believe that Jesus suffered equivalent in his blessed body and soul, what his people, for their sins, must have. endured in time and in eternity. Now, when we visit Calvary by faith, and consider these important things in terwoven, if I may so say, in the cross of the. Lamb may we not justly set our seal to this truth, that Jesus, by bearing our sins, and carrying our sorrows, was infie. nitely unparalleled in his sufferings? Not only so, but we must acknowledge that the glory of the Redeemer's person shines through his sufferings, and leads us to adore him as both LORD and CHRIST.
3. Let us, for our improvement, examine the interrogation in the text. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Ah! is it possible the sufferings of Jesus, while extended on the cross; can be a subject of indifference? It is so, and to too many. This was literally true of many who visited Calvary while Jesus was extended upon the cross; they passed by, railed on him, wagging their