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II. The complaint itself
Let us not suppose that there was the smallest mixture of impatience in it
[When our Lord first undertook to stand in the place of sinners, he said, “I delight to do thy will, O God”—When the cup of God's wrath was put into his hand, he still acquiesced; and, though his human nature shrunk back for awhile from the conflict, he committed himself to God, saying, "Not my will, but thine be done”—Nor was the complaint uttered on the cross any other than what every good man, under the hidings of God's face, both may, and ought to utterd-]
It expressed the fullest confidence in God, and exhibited the brightest pattern to all his tempted people
[Not for one moment does Jesus doubt his relation to his heavenly Father, as we, alas! are too apt to do in seasons of deep affliction-His repetition of that endearing name, "My God, my God," shews how stedfastly he maintained his faith and confidence; and teaches us, that, “when we are walking in darkness and have no light, we should trust in the Lord, and stay ourselves upon our God"-]
We may improve the subject by considering
III. The lessons we may learn from it
There is not any part of doctrine or experience which will not receive light from this subject-But we shall content ourselves with observing from it
1. The greatness of Christ's love
[Truly the love of Christ has heights and depths that can never be explored-He knew from eternity all that he should endure, yet freely offered himself for us, nor ever drew back from his engagements: "Having loved his own he loved them to the end”—But never shall we form any just conceptions of his love, till we behold that glory which he left for our sakes, and see, in the agonies of the damned, the miseries he endured—But when the veil shall be taken from our eyes, how marvellous will his love appear! and with what acclamations will heaven resound!-]
2. The duty of those who are under the hidings of his face
[Our enjoyment of Christ's presence is variable, and often. intermitted: but let us not on that account be discouraged— Let us pray, and that too with strong crying and tears; yea,
■ Ps. lxxvii. 1—3. and lxxxviii. 9, 10, 14.
let us expostulate with him, and ask, like Job, "wherefore dost thou contend with me?"e-But though we say, "The Lord hath forsaken me," let us never add, like the church of old, "my Lord hath forgotten me"-If he hide himself, " it is but for a little moment, that he may gather us with everlasting mercies" Therefore let us say with Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him"-]
3. The misery of those who are not interested in his atonement
[We see what bitter lamentation sin occasioned in him, who bore the iniquities of others, even though he knew that his sufferings would quickly end: what wailing then and gnashing of teeth will they experience, who shall perish under their own pepsonal guilt, when they shall be shut up as monuments of God's wrath to all eternity! Would to God that careless sinners would lay this to heart, while yet a remedy remains, and before they be finally separated from their God by an impassable gulf!—]
g Luke xxiii. 31.
CXCVII. THE MEANS OF EVANGELICAL
Zech. xii. 10. I will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of ferusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him, as one that mourneth for his only son, and be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.
a 2 Cor. vii. 10.
REPENTANCE is a subject, with which every one supposes himself to be sufficiently acquainted, but which is indeed very rarely understood. The scriptures speak of a repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of;a intimating thereby, that there is a repentance, which is not unto salvation; and which therefore itself needs to be repented of. The text in this view deserves our deepest attention, since it opens to us
I. The nature of evangelical repentance
The sorrow, produced in the heart of a true penitent, is exceeding deep
[Nothing can be more pungent than the grief of a parent who has lost his first-born, "his only son. "Yet to that is the mourning of a penitent twice compared. In either case, the soul is bowed down greatly, it is indisposed for receiving gratifications from those vanities, with which it was before amused; and loves to indulge in pensive solitude, and painful reflections. The parent's anguish indeed may be softened by the assiduties of surviving friends; and may wholly lose its pungency through the lapse of time. But nothing can mitigate the pangs of a wounded spirit, nothing silence the acccusations of a guilty conscience, till the balm of Gilead," the blood of Jesus, be applied to it: nor even then will sin ever cease to the grief and burthen of the soul."]
But repentance is then only to be called evangelical, when it has immediate respect to Christ
[Twice is it said in the text, that men shall mourn "for him," that is, for Christ. Not that the miseries, which Christ endured on the cross, are the proper grounds of a penitent's sorrow; but rather, it is his grief that he has so dishonoured Christ by his sins, and that he has yet again and again "crucified him afresh" by continuing ia sin. Many, who are not really humbled, are concerned for their sins as having subjected them to God's displeasure; but it is the true penitent alone, who mourns for sin, as dishonouring Christ, and as counteracting all the gracious purposes of his love.]
This will more fully appear by considering II. The means by which it is to be attained
The effusion of the Spirit is the primary means of producing penitence in our hearts
[The Holy Spirit is called "the spirit of grace and of supplication," because he is the author and giver of all grace, and because it is through his agency alone that we are able to pray. And this Spirit Christ will "pour out" upon us. He not only has a right to send the Holy Spirit, as being God equal with the Father, but in his mediatorial capacity he is authorized and empowered to send forth the Spirit, "having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost," on purpose that he may impart to us out of his own immeasurable fulness. To him all must look for this blessing; and all may look with an assurance of obtaining it, provided they truly and earnestly desire it. The great and learned, "the house 'of David," must submit themselves to his influence; nor shall
b Luke vii. 12.
ce Compare John xix. 37. • Acts v. 31.
c Ezek. xvi. 63.
d Exod. x. 16, 17. 1 Kings xxi. 29. John xiv. 13-17.
the poorest or most illiterate of "the inhabitants of Jerusalem" be destitute of this mercy, if they will but ask it of their heavenly Father. Nor till this Spirit convince us of our sin, can any of us know our state, so as to be suitably and abidingly affected with it."]
As a secondary mean, the Spirit turns our eyes unto a crucified Saviour
[Nothing but a view of Christ as dying for us can ever thoroughly break our obdurate hearts. But this has a powerful tendency to produce ingenuous sorrow; because, while it shews us the malignity of sin in most awful colours, it discovers to us also the remedy provided for the expiation of sin. In the one view, we are humbled by a sense of our extreme vileness; in the other, we are overwhelmed with a sense of the Redeemer's love: and a combination of these two effects constitutes that ingenuous shame and sorrow, which may be denominated evangelical repentance.]
We may IMPROVE this subject
1. For conviction
[All acknowledge that they need repentance, and profess an intention to repent. But let not any imagine that the slight acknowledgments, and faint purposes of amendment, which are usually made on dying beds, are sufficient. If the comparison in the text be just, nothing will suffice, but a heart broken and contrite under a sense of sin. And precisely such is the view which the apostles also give of true repentance.i O that we may never rest in any thing short of such repentance, lest, instead of looking now on Christ with salutary contrition, we behold him hereafter (as we must do) with endless and unavailing sorrow.k]
2. For encouragement
[Many are discouraged by reason of the hardness and obduracy of their hearts. Indeed we all feel, that notwithstanding we have so much cause to weep day and night for our sins, and are really desirous to do so, we can rarely, if ever, bring our souls to any measure of tenderness and grief. But let us look more at Christ as dying for us; and not confine our attention, as we too often do, to our sins. Let us particularly beg of Christ to pour out his Spirit upon us, and then the heart of stone shall soon give way to an heart of flesh.1 The Spirit of grace and of supplications will easily effect, what, without his aid, is impossible to man: and the rocky heart, once struck by him, shall yield its penitential streams through all this dreary wilderness."]
Luke xi. 13. k Rev. i. 7.
h John xvi. 7, 8.
i 2 Cor. vii. 11. Jam. iv. 9.
Alluding to Num. xx. 11.
CXCVIII. CHRIST'S RESURRECTION AND GLORY.
Ps. xvi. 8-11. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
IF the people of God had hope only in this life, they would be in a most pitiable condition; because they are debarred by conscience from the pleasures of sin, and are exposed to a multitude of trials on account of their religion. But their views of immortality bear them up, so that the sufferings of this present time appear to them insignificant, and unworthy of any serious concern. The Psalmist penned this Psalm under some deep affliction; which, however, lost all its force as soon as ever he directed his views to the eternal world.
But the words before us can scarcely be applied at all to David in his own person: they are spoken by him rather in the person of Christ, whom he typically represented; and to whom, in the New Testament, they are expressly, repeatedly, and exclusively applied. In this view they are a most remarkable prophecy relating to Christ; and they declare
I. His support in life
In an assurance of his Father's continual aid, he was unmoved by any difficulties
[Various were the trials which Jesus was called to endure; but in all he preserved a perfect equanimity. When his sufferings were fast approaching, he spake of them without any emotions of fear: when dissuaded from exposing himself to them, he was indignant at the proposal: when warned of Herod's murderous intentions, he poured contempt on his feeble, unavailing efforts: when standing before Pilate's tribunal, he witnessed a good confession;d and, alike unmoved by hopes or fears, informed his judge, that the authority exercised by him, was both given, and limited by a superior
a Matt. xx. 18, 19. e Luke xiii. 31-33. VOL. II.
b Matt. xvi. 22, 23.
• John xviii. 37. 1 Tim. vi. 13.