Page images
PDF
EPUB

Christ; to wit, the envenomed sting of sin, deriving its force and sharpness from the law; by which the soul as well as the body of Christ, was so cruelly pierced, that neither iron-hooks nor fires, nor any thing else which infernal barbarity has devised in ancient or in modern times, can bear a comparison with torments so severe. In a comment on the following words, “ He hath made " him to be sin for us who knew no sin,"1 Chrysostome finely says: “ He hath given him to be condemned as “ a sinner, and to die as accursed; for Cursed is every

one that hangeth on a tree. And to die in this man“ ner, is far more grievous than death itself.”

Lx. O what stony, what adamantine hearts must we have, who can write, and read, and hear, and think of all these sufferings without being dissolved into sorrow, without melting into sighs and tears! When the history of Abel cruelly murdered by his brother Cain, or that of Joseph sold by his brethren, or that of David fleeing from his son Absalom, or that of a worthy martyr singing praises to Christ amidst horrible tortures, or when even a skilfully composed tragedy representing a scene of fictitious distress, is exhibited to our view, we sometimes feel ourselves so much affected that it is with difficulty we can restrain our tears. And shall we not be so moved by the unutterable agonies of Christ, our Brother, our Husband, our Lord and our God,-agonies which, although perfectly innocent, he so cheerfully sustained on account of our sins, from a principle of unbounded love to our souls—shall we not at least be so moved by these agonies, as sincerely to deplore them, and to burn with holy revenge against his enemies !

1 2 Cor. v. 21. VOL. II.

P

23.

LXI. I do not require you, however, Christian, to be touched with that natural commiseration towards Christ, with which common humanity teaches us to regard the children of adversity. Christ himself forbade the daughters of Jerusalem to indulge in wailing and lamentation of that sort. And without doubt, it is far more unbecoming now, when, having emerged from all his distresses, and having perfected the work of our salvation, he enjoys his glorious reward in the highest heavens.

LXII. Nor would I have you to indulge your indignation against the Jews in the same way with Clovis, King of the Franks, of whom it is said, that when he had heard the Bishop of Rheims recite the history of our Lord's passion, he exclaimed; “ Had I been there “ with my Franks, I should soon have dispatched that “ impious rabble.” Divine justice inflicts sufficient punishment on that wretched nation, which, after so many myriads of them had been miserably slain, and after their land had been smitten with a curse, have wandered for so many ages, having no certain habitation, exiles from their own country, rejected by God and despised by men, enduring that wrath which comes upon them to the uttermost;" until, when the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, they also shall at last hrough Jesus obtain salvation and happiness.

LXIII. It is better, deeply to lament thy sins, by which thou wast the author and cause of all the agonies of Christ; such is the effect of the Spirit of grace. It is better, that contemplating in Christ as in a glass, the punishments due to thy transgressions, thou shouldst be filled with amazement, and confess that thou, even thou, deservest to be torn in soul as well as in body by the strokes of Divine justice ;-to be finally expelled, bearing thine own sin, from the society of the godly, whom thou hast so often offended by ill-advised words and deeds, and from the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the general assembly and church of the elect, whose names are written in heaven ;-to be divested of all your garments, covered with nothing but shame and disgrace, and made a mocking-stock to men and devils ;-to be esteemed a candidate for the cursed cross ;-to be treated by all with every species of indignity, and, amidst the pains of death, to receive no refreshing draught, 110 consolation whatever ;—to be constantly surrounded with a band of devils and guarded for eternal torments; -in fine, fully to experience the whole bitterness of every kind of death without end and without intermission. Consider this, mourn, and lament.

m Luke xxiii. 27, 28.

Rom. xi. 25, 26,

ni Thes. ii. 15, 16. p Zech. xii, 10.

Lxiv. It is better for thee, finally, to be inflamed with a holy desire of revenge against thy sins, and to repay them the same severities which they inflicted upon Jesus. Keep under the body of sin, and suffer not the old man to riot in wantonness, or indulge in pride. Expel him from thy house and from thy soul, as an abandoned criminal, and a despicable slave. Divest him of every plea for protection, and nail him to the cross of your Lord, to perish dolefully there;' for by virtue of that cross, you ought to be crucified to the “* world, and the world to you.”'s Be assiduous in sub, duing this monster, and cease not till you have taken

» Rom. vi. 6.

? 1 Cor. ix. 27. Rom. vi. 12.
* Gal. vi. 11.

ample vengeance upon him, having

« mortified your “ members which are upon the earth.” Happy the man who is so “ planted together with Christ in the “ likeness of his death, as to be planted together with « him also in the likeness of his resurrection.”

Lxv. It is impossible fully to express the great CONSOLATION which arises from the thought of the cross of Christ to those who are thus earnestly engaged in the crucifixion of the flesh. By his STRIPES, O Christian, he has sanctified and sweetened stripes of every sort to thee. Whilst they fell on his blessed body, they were blessed by him. Who art thou, that thou shouldst presume to demand a life exempt from the rod in every shape, since you see that the Son of God himself, who came into the world without sin, did not leave it without suffering. Let it suffice thee, that through Christ the sting of the curse is extracted from thy sorrows, and that “ by his stripes thou art heal

If it should be thy lot, in common with Apostles, to be beaten with rods for the name of Christ, esteem it a joy and an honour that thou art accounted worthy“ to fill up that which is behind of the afflic“tions of Christ in thy flesh.”x 17 The memorials of the ancients and all the historical records of the Church, abound with instances of men and women, boys and girls, who, superior to every feeling of pain, smiling and singing, and transported with celestial joy, presented to astonished spectators, not merely their limbs torn with lashes, but even their bones made bare by stripes, and the innermost recesses of their bowels exposed.

66 ed.”

[ocr errors]

u Rom. vi. 5.
# 1 Pet. ii. 24.

i Col. iii. 5.
v Heb. xii. 3.
* Acts v. 40. Col. i. 24.

17 See Note XVII.

To what was this owing? The reason is, that, animated by the stripes and cheered by the Spirit of Christ, they felt nothing unpleasant in their sufferings, but on the contrary experienced that the severest strokes were no sooner inflicted by the executioner than cured by the wounds of their Saviour.

LXVI. It conduces also to thy consolation, Christian, that thy Lord, BEARING THE CROSS, was expelled as accursed from Jerusalem by the infuriated Jews. The way was thus prepared for him, that he might come to exhibit the saving blessings of his cross to us who are sinners of the Gentiles, and that he might open an avenue to the heavenly Jerusalem. He is the true Eliakim, “ the God who will strengthen us, 18 into “whose hand the government is committed, that he

may be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and “ to the house of Judah,” considered not externally but spiritually. "The cross which he bears, is “ the key of " David laid upon his shoulder.” With this he “shuts” hell, that neither we may be precipitated into that place of torment, nor our sworn enemies break forth from it for our destruction. With this he “ opens” for us the gates of his own kingdom; the kingdom of grace here, and the kingdom of glory hereafter. With this, in fine, he opens a treasury abundantly replenished with the riches of the divine munificence, that he may liberally communicate to us, “ the sure mercies of " David."y

LXVII. He allowed himself to be STRIPPED of his garments, and suspended naked on the cross, that he might cover the shame of thy disgraceful nakedness

Is. xxii. 20-22. lv. 3.
18 See Note XVIII.

« PreviousContinue »