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age, this will not be the least acceptable to the Saviour. How great will be his delight when he shall see their eyes opening to the knowledge of the gospel, and their hearts glowing with Christian love! and if his Spirit animates you, that joy shall be yours.
HEB. V. %.
" Who, in the days of his fesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard, in that he feared."
Our Lord's days on earth were characterized by devotion. His miracles were preceded, his sermons were followed, his labours were lightened, and his sufferings were soothed by prayer. But there were some occasions in which he poured out his soul to God with peculiar earnestness.
This was the case in his agony, and to that scene the Apostle here refers.
In that scene our Lord offered up prayers and supplications. The word rendered prayers signifies deprecations of evil; and the term suppliant is applied to those who fall down at the feet of the persons they address, and take hold of their knees while they be. seech them to be favourable to them.
Our Lord's prayers were offered at this memorable
period with strong crying and tears. When Jesus was brought before men, and suffered from their hands, he was silent; but when God entered into judgment with him, his cries were vehement, and though they were heard by no human ear, they rose before the throne of the Highest. The expression intimates earnest desire, and urgent entreaty.
The Evangelists do not mention the tears which our Lord shed in his agony; but this affecting circumstance the Apostle has recorded, as he noted a memorable saying of Christ's, which is not to be found in any of the Gospels, “ It is more blessed to give than to rea ceive." This is the third and last instance of his weeping recorded in Scripture, and his tears at this time were tears of agony, flowing from a breaking heart. No torture which men could inflict could make him thus
cry. He wept and cried under the pressure of his Father's rod, to save you from the place of weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and to procure for the children of sorrow that best of all consolations, “ God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes."
These cries our Lord addressed to him that was able to save him from death. He now felt the power of God in punishing ; yet while the thunders of that power were roaring around him, he thinks of its strength to save. He believed that the
of his Father could embolden him against the mightiest host, support him under the weightiest burden, and raise him, from the lowest degradation.
But what did your Lord solicit in these prayers, and how. was he heard? He prayed that if it was possible the cup might pass from him. This cup contained all the anguish of a violent death, and all the curses of the broken law; and it was put into his hands as the
sinners' substitute, and he was called on to wring out the dregs of it and drink them. From a task so dreadful, his innocent human nature seemed to shrink. Human nature ever recoils from pain and suffering, and can only be brought to welcome it by a superior influence. If it had been otherwise with bim, it has been remarked, he could not have been said to have suffered, for nothing is suffering, or can be penal to us, but what is grievous to nature. This prayer indicated, not the sinking of his fortitude, or the decay of his love, but the extremity of his anguish, and the truth of his humanity.
And how was he heard in this prayer? It was not a prayer totally declining suffering. “Thinkest thou," said he to Peter, when he reproved the rashness which led him to draw the sword in his defence, “ that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he would presently give me more than twelve legions of angels, but how then shall the Scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be.” But as this prayer was an expression of the horror of nature at the idea of suffering, it was answered in his heart's being fortified against its terrors, and in that being rendered welcome which was the object of aversion. So immediate and complete was the answer, that with the next breaih he adds, “ nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."
Ye are now reflecting on what must have been your fate had this cup passed from your Lord, and that thought will increase your gratitude to him who saved you by a method so agonizing to himself, and whose love to you was stronger than death.
Christ also deprecated the sinking of his human nature in the conflict. He saw that he had to contend with an infuriated populace, with crafty and
violent priests, and with the powers of darkness, irritated to the utmost by their past defeats, and determined to put forth all their strength to destroy him. But he had to bear also the fury of incensed Omni. potence. Affected with the tremendous prospect, and knowing the consequences of failure to his own glory, and to the salvation of men, he cried, “ Save me, U God, for the waters are come in to my soul.” Hold up these hands till I have dashed thine enemies in pieces; sustain this heart till I have made peace bea twixt God and man, and let my blood flow till sin is washed away
He was answered in this prayer, for there appeared an angel from heaven to strengthen him. That angel came to dry up his tears, to brighten his prospects, and to invigorate his heart. Instead of sinking in the struggle, he was more than a conqueror; and our nature appears with a glory which will be sought for in vain in the courage of the hero, or the fortitude of the martyr. And shall not you raise the voice of rejoicing and salvation ? “ The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly."
But our Saviour deprecated also, continuance under 'the power
of death. It has been remarked, that the phrase to save from death, signifies either preservation from an evil of which a man is in danger, or deliverance from one into which he has fallen. The idea of continuing under the power of death is horrible to nature, That the grave shall be our perpetual abode, and corruption and dust the end of man, are fears which have harassed human beings in all ages; and perhaps such thoughts as these might be thrown into our Lord's mind by the tempter ; " From the weight which crushes thee to the dust of death, what hand shall relieve thee? To rot with criminals may be thy
fate as well as to die with them, and the scoff uttered at thy cross may be repeated by those who pass by thy grave, “ He saved others, himself he cannot save." In opposition to such suggestions, Jesus lifted up his voice to him who quickens the dead, and calls the things . which be not, as though they were. And rejoice that he was heard in this prayer. He was assured of being taken from prison and from judgment, and of being raised to a life not clouded by infirmity and suffering as before, but uniformly glorious and blissful ; a life to be spent in the enjoyment of his well-earned triumphs, and in the benevolent application of the promised salvation.
The apostle remarks, that he was heard in that he feared. Reverence for God's majesty and justice, submission to his will, and zeal for his glory, were the principles which dictated and guided our Lord's prayers, and rendered them the delight of his Father.
Christians, you have been listening to your Lord's prayers; and if ye are not dead to the eloquence of dea votion in its most melting form, your hearts must be strongly impressed. You have reason to be ashamed that they are not more affected. When you hear the shriek of woe your heart shudders, and, in the place of weeping, the tear starts into your eyes; and can any of you see the Saviour's tears, and hear his cries, unmove ed? These cries and tears were expressions of an. guish which you deserved to suffer. He utters these strong cries, because he bears your griefs; and his face is wet with tears, because he carries your sorrows. Let gratitude, repentance, and love, unite their influence in your hearts, in offering to him a suitable sacrifice at his table, that in receiving it he may see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.