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ambassadors, contrary to the universal law and usage of nations. But now a far greater indignity is done, not to a servant of David, but to his Son, to his Lord, nay, to the Ambassador of the great God, the Angel of the covenant; from whom not merely a part of his garments is cut off, but all of them are entirely pulled away, that he may be suspended naked, a spectacle to men and angels,—an indignity which was avenged on the unprincipled men to whose counsels it was owing, by their own destruction and that of their city. And behold the surprising change that now took place in the state of things. A few days before, while Christ made his entry to Jerusalem, riding on an ass, “ a very “ great multitude spread their garments in the way," exclaiming, “ Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed “is he that cometh in the name of the Lord !”y Now the same people, with emotions of joy see him, when expelled with disgrace from Jerusalem and about to suffer crucifixion, rudely divested of his own garments, which the profane soldiers divided by lot among themselves. O the impious madness of the inconstant populace!
LII. But here also a mystery was not wanting. Although Christ was eminently adorned with the beauty of the purest holiness, yet because he was made sin for us, and substituted in the room of sinners that were destitute of all the glories of the divine image, it was proper that for a season he should be dirested of all beauty, and covered only with ignominy, and that, in testimony of this, he should hang naked on the cross.
Liv. But ignominy, pain, and the curse, in the highest possible degree, appear to be summarily com
prised in the punishment of the cross itself. What more contumelious could have befallen the King of kings, whom the choirs of celestial spirits adore with the most profound reverence, than to be numbered among robbers, placed in the middle between them, and disgracefully suspended betwixt heaven and earth, as unworthy of either, and as the chief of malefactors ! What more unseemly than for those sacred feet with which he had traversed the whole land of Israel to lay every part of it under strong obligations to himself by deeds of beneficence, and for those hands which were distinguished by so many stupendous miracles, to be fastened with nails to the accursed tree! What more miserable than, during so many hours, without the least intermission of his agonies, to sustain a conflict with death, at once approaching and lingering! What more intolerable than, while afflicted with so many torments, to be deprived of every sensible expression of God's fatherly regard, which in time past had afforded him such sweet consolation! And not simply to suffer dereliction, but also to experience in his soul the dreadful pressure of Divine wrath and vengeance; and to be suspended on the tree in the sight of angels and men, as not merely a sinner but sin, as not merely cursed but an execration and a curse!
Lv. Who can doubt, besides, that it was grievous to Christ to be surrounded with a GUARD of barbarous soldiers, as if there were danger that others would rescue him, or that he would save himself from the pains of the cross ; which, if such had been really his intention, not all the legions of Rome, nor all the forces of hell added to their number, could have been able to prevent. But that no instance of ignominy might be wanting, it behoved Christ to be guarded like a furious beast, so that the following complaint was no less suited to him than to Job; “ Therefore I will not refrain my mouth, “ I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will com
plain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I a sea or “ a whale, that thou settest a watch over me.” It was a great censolation to David of old, when he fled from Jerusalem, that he had his servants attending him, with all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and other heroes, who mingled their tears with his, and were prepared to brave all extremities in his behalf. But our David, to the increase of his grief, beheld malefactors on each side of him, and around him soldiers sprinkled with his blood;—no friends, except a very few, and those few timid, confounded, more ready to augment than assuage his sorrow.
LVI. But further, as Elisha once beheld a mountain surrounded with good Angels, watching for his defence, so Christ saw mount Calvary encompassed with malignant devils, raging dreadfully against him.16 Now surely, if ever, the Prince of this world assaults him with his infernal troops. Now he had to maintain a close combat with the enemy. Now, on the confines of death, he had to grapple with him who has the power of death, and who had erected numberless trophies of his victory on that same territory.
Lvii. But what more virulent than those REVILINGS and taunts with which both the corrupt rulers and the insane people assailed him! The most abandoned of criminals, when suffering a capital punishment which they have justly deserved, still find some who, from the common feelings of humanity, condole with them, and
· Job vii. 11, 12
* 2 Sam. xv. 16-18. 2 Kings vi, 17.
16 See NOTE XVI.
comfort them by their tears, if they can do it by no other means.
But Christ had reason to say; “ Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of hea“ viness. And I looked for some to take pity, but “ there was none, and for comforters, but I found “ none." It is a consolation to sufferers to have some to weep with them, and to express their commiseration by their words, and by their gestures. But what more intolerable than to find the hearts of all spectators alienated from one's self in the time of adversity. Hence that dolorous exclamation of Job; " Have pity upon
me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the “ hand of God hath touched me. Why do you perse
cute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh ?”d Christ now experienced similar treatment. His enemies, contrary to the admonition of Solomon,e rejoice in the time of his calamity. When very few were able to reach him with their hands, a great multitude attack him with the darts and sharp arrows of the tongue, of which the point is peculiarly keen, and the poison peculiarly malignant.& They do their utmost to deprive him, as well of honour as of life. They calumniate all that is most excellent,—all that most strikingly exhibited the bright splendour of sanctity, and the finger of God. In fine, they approve themselves the servants of the Devil, in deriding the glory of his Sonship, which, after it had been announced by God the Father,h and claimed by our Lord, that mischievous spirit assaulted in vain.i
LVIII. But the most terrible of all miseries, as it is
• Ps. lxix. 20.
Mat. iv. 3.
d Job xix. 21, 22. r Ps. lii. 2. lv. 21. h Mat. iii. 17.
proverbially called, is the dart of DEATH,--particularly such a death as Christ suffered ; which was denounced against the first Adam, as the awful effect of the Di. vine indignation; and to which the second Adam, in the capacity of our substitute, surrendered himself a prey. Wonderful indeed, almost surpassing faith, and altogether transcending the grasp of reason,—that he who preserved so many diseased persons from death, he who restored so many dead to life from the couch, the coffin, and the sepulchre, he who only is the Author of life and immortality, the true God and eternal life, did himself submit to death!
LIX. Nay, he submitted to more than one kind of death; for in addition to the common bitterness of animal death, he suffered the pains of spiritual and eternal death. Of these the sufferings of David were typical; yet his words, in their full meaning, were verified only in the antitype: “ The sorrows of death
compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made “me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about ; “ the snares of death prevented me.";. Hence those prayers and supplications offered
strong cry“ ing and tears, unto him that was able to save him “ from death.”k Were any one to affirm that those prayers and supplications arose merely from the fear of temporal death, he would, in reality, do very great injustice to Christ, by representing him as possessed of less courage for facing death than a Socrates, or a Cato; and than many myriads of martyrs, men, women, and girls, who have departed this life with joy and exultation, despising the torments of the most frightful deaths. There was something more, therefore, in the death of
J Ps. xviii. 4, 5.
* Heb. v. 7.