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sixth hour and the ninth, during which the heavens were darkened : the other, an interval of very brief duration, commencing with the return of daylight at the ninth hour, and terminating when he yielded up the ghost. These two intervals are manifestly distinct from one anotherthey have each of them characteristics peculiar to itself.

The first was one of unmitigated mental darkness, and of silence, unbroken, save by the cry with which it terminates—" My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?”

The second, on the other hand, was one, not of anguish, but of triumphant joy; and, although brief in its duration, is full of incident. As during the period when his soul was overwhelmed in agony, the face of nature bore witness to its sympathy, and shrouded itself in darkness ; so when light shone again into his soul, the orb of day resumed his wonted splendour. When he exclaimed, “ It is finished,” the vail of the temple rent in twain ; and when he “ yielded up the ghost,” all things conspired to attest the majesty of the victim, and the mighty power of his sacrifice : the earth quaked, the rocks rent, the graves were opened, and even the stony heart of man, more senseless than the clay, and harder than the rock, penetrated for a time with conviction, though not, alas ! with faith, exclaimed, “ Surely this was the Son of God.”

Our attention, on the present occasion, must be confined to the former of these divisions—the interval of darkness. What, then, may have been the meaning of this remarkable phenomenon ? What important truth were the darkened heavens intended to illustrate and impress? In the first place, our minds naturally revert to the Saviour's own expression when they came to seize him, “ This is your hour, and the power of darkness ;” and the blackness which overspread the face of heaven might fitly indicate that influence—the influence of “the rulers of the darkness of this world,under which the heart of man was proved to lie when he “crucified the Lord of glory.” It might be well supposed to indicate, moreover, the wrath of God- the blackness of darkness for ever,” which impends over an unbelieving world, and which must be the portion of all who, by rejecting the Son of God, consent unto those that murdered him. But the main import and significance of this appearance in the heavens is found in the darkness which shrouded the Saviour's soul during that awful and mysterious interval. This was a most important part of his atonement. Mental, as well as bodily suffering, is "the wages of sin.” In that " outer darkness,” of which the Saviour spake," is weeping, and wailing, and ynashing of teeth,and, therefore, He must undergo that anguish, as it is written, It pleased the Lord to bruise him, he has put

him to grief." And, again, "When thou shalt make his soul a sacrifice for sin.” And, again, “ He shall be of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”

It could not have been death itself which so afflicted him, or even the painful mode of death by which he died. Death, even the most painful, would have been to him, wearied as he was with the evil of a sinful world, a welcome visitor. Nay, even to his people, who sympathise with him, with him desire the honour of his Father's name, and are constrained to witness constant dishonour put upon it here; and assured, as the enlightened Christian is, that to leave this life is to enter into instantaneous and everlasting peace, death cannot but be welcome.

And, oh ! how much more welcome unto him! Grieved in spirit as he was by the contact of sin, what a happy prospect must death have been to him !

In order, then, to understand the darkness which mantled the heart of Jesus during these three hours, we must look beyond his

death, and the manner of his death, and consider the character in which he died. There is here a mystery which none but the mind of God can fathom-a depth which no finite understanding can ever penetrate ; but, as far as the Word of God enables us to do, we may be permitted to inquire into this deeply-interesting and affecting subject—the mental agony which crowned the sufferings of our blessed Lord.

I believe, then, that if we endeavour to analyse his feelings at this solemn and momentous crisis in the light of Scripture, we shall find that the bitter cup which he drained consisted of three principal ingredients; 1st. There THE ASSUMPTION OF SIN.

2nd. The IMPUTATION OF SIN : and 3rd. As a consequence of these, there





1st. There was the assumption of sin. By this I mean that the Saviour, appearing as the representative of, and substitute for his people, did assume, and take to himself our sins, realising them all as if they were his own. As it is written, “Surely, He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”—Isaiah, liii. 4. Or, as the original more emphatically expresses it, Himself has borne, or taken, our griefs,” i.e., He has taken to himself our griefs, and so “ has carried our sorrows.” The first of these clauses refers to his assumption of his people's sins, and the latter, to his enduring them when thus assumed. He realises them as his, and so endures the weight of them. And, oh! what a burden was this for him to bear! For him, in whom there was no corrupt principle, and consequently no sympathy with sin, no enjoyment in it—for him who could scan the majesty of that law which sin had violated—the holiness of that God which sin had outraged—who knew full well the awful import of these words,

- The soul that sinneth it shall die”-that, “He who offendeth in the least point is guilty of all”— consider, what must it have been to him to realise our sins as though they were his own! Is not the detection of one sin, even to the believer, painful? The evil temper, or the unworthy motive with which he is overtaken, and by which, perhaps, occasion is given to the enemy to blaspheme? Oh! how his spirit groans, as he falls prostrate in the dust in selfabasement! Think, then, what he must have felt-how his spirit must have groaned upon the cross ! Had it been but one sin, it would have been sufficient to have cast a shade upon him, but he took “our sins”—all the sins of all his people from the beginning to the end. It was needful, unless his substitution for us was to be a sham—a fiction without reality, that he should do so, and he shrank not from the task. But it was a painful one, and, of itself, sufficient to account for all the gloomy phenomena exhibited on his cross. His estimate of it we have frequently recorded in the Psalms. Thus, for example, in the 40th Psalm, which we know is the language of the Saviour, after speaking of his readiness to come and do his father's will (verses 7-10), we find him exclaiming (verse 12), · Innumerable evils have compassed me about ; mine iniquities have taken such hold upon me, that I am not able to look up: they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart

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