Page images

too, it would appear to us still more terrible, were we permitted to approach the iron gates of hell; and to see the torments, and hear the howlings, of damned spirits. But never, at any time, or in any place, did the severity of God discover itself by a more striking and awful proof, than when he avenged the sins of mankind on his well-beloved and only-begotten Son. Here, here truly, we behold both what our crimes have deserved, and how fearfully God will visit them upon all those, for whom Christ has not made satisfaction. For" if these things be done in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Come near, O daring sinner, do you not see Jesus, after having suffered inconceivable agonies of soul, betrayed by one of his attendants, apprehended and loaded with chains by his enemies, deserted by his friends, accused of numerous crimes, condemned, delivered up to death by the peremptory sentence of a judge,-his body torn with lashes, his mind with reproaches and scoffs,—and in all these sufferings bearing the curse of God, than which nothing is more bitter and intolerable! Imagine yourself in this situation, and know that the time shall one day arrive, when your awakened conscience will lash you with merciless severity, and your associates in crime will not only abandon but also betray you; and yourself, bound with the cords of your iniquities, will be summoned, perhaps from the bed of sickness, to the tribunal of God, to be sharply accused by men whom you have injured, by the Devil, by your own conscience, by Moses the lawgiver,-to be justly condemned by God, -to be bound with chains of darkness,-to be exposed


Luke xxiii. 31.



to the derision of men and devils, and thus to be reserved in a dark and doleful prison unto the judgment of the great day, till the Judge of the universe, sitting not in Gabbatha or the Pavement, but in the clouds of heaven, by a decisive sentence consign you to everlasting torments. Behold in the suffering Redeemer, a representation, and not merely a representation, but also the seal and confirmation of all these awful realities. Behold, and tremble.

xxx. But come thou, too, O believing soul, oppressed with the burden of thy sins, and behold, in a suffering thy deliverance infallibly secured. 1st, Admire that love, a greater than which cannot even be conceived. "Greater love," as our Lord once observed, “hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life "for his friends." As this holds true amongst men, so our Lord himself has displayed a still greater love than that which he extolled as the greatest. For he "commendeth his love towards us, in that while we

were yet sinners," not friends, but altogether "ene"mies," "he died for us." 2dly, Consider that Christ, by undergoing these sufferings, has cancelled thy debts; has not merely mitigated, but even taken away, the wrath of God against thee, nay, turned it into love; has stopped the mouth of all thine accusers; has secured thee from suffering those evils which himself hath suffered;—or if any of them befall thee, in order that thou mayest be conformed to his image, has entirely removed from them the curse of God, so that they are not the punishments of an angry Judge, but fatherly chastisements, exercises of faith and patience, trials of thy

[ocr errors]


* Jer. xv. 17. Ps. lii. 7.
Rom. v. 8, 10.

"John xv. 13.

graces, and, in fine, sacred bitters, by which your soul may be healed, by which you may learn from experience how much you are indebted to Christ, and by tasting the bitterness of which beforehand, the consolations of the Spirit may prove the sweeter, and the joys of heaven the more delightful. As good faith does not permit the same debt to be demanded twice, Divine justice cannot allow that debt, which was paid by thy Surety, to be placed to thy account. Sdly, Consider also that these sufferings of Christ have opened for thee the fountain of the Divine favour and beneficence, from which alone proceeds whatever you receive in this, or a future life, that is good and desirable. If you have an habitation in which you dwell joyfully with a beloved partner and pleasant children; if you are clothed with decent apparel; if you are supplied with wholesome and delicious food; if when sick, neither the attention of domestics or friends, nor pleasant cordials furnished by our own country or by foreign lands, are wanting; if when fatigued in body, or perplexed in mind, you can. recline upon a soft couch; and if you enjoy all these comforts not in the same way with the men of this world, but as the fruits of the love of God;-for this you are entirely indebted to a suffering Christ; who for your sake wandered as a poor man without a home, was suspended naked on the cross, received vinegar and gall to drink, and hung on the accursed tree, destitute of every comfort, and enduring the most excruciating pains, his hands and his feet being pierced with iron nails. If you are soothed with the consolations of the Holy Spirit, if you exult in afflictions, if you have free and abundant access to the throne of grace, if you have a tranquil conscience, if you venture to hope for heaven itself and life everlasting,-all this, too, is owing to no

other cause than the sufferings of Christ; who for your sake was himself deprived, amidst his anguish, of the cheering manifestations of his Father's love, complained of the sorrows of his soul, lamented that his prayers were not heard, and was girded and bound with the chains of death and hell. 4thly, Hence too you may form an estimate of the magnitude of that salvation and happiness, which the Son of God himself, to whom the value of every thing is well known, did not hesitate to purchase for his people with the inestimable price of his own sufferings.


XXXI. But what testimonies of Gratitude shall we render, in any measure corresponding to this unbounded love? 1st, Let all the hatred, indignation, and revenge of which our minds are capable, be turned wholly against sin, which was the sole cause of all the sorrows of Christ. Neither Judas, nor the scribes, or chief priests and rulers of the people, nor the Jewish populace, nor Herod or Pontius Pilate, could have done any thing against him; neither scourges, nor thorns, nor nails, would have been prepared to torment him; nor would the prince of darkness have attacked him with all his forces—unless he had taken upon himself our sins, which could not be expiated in any other way. Shall we not then deplore, with tears of the bitterest sorrow, the sins, which in time past (and Oh that I could say in time past!) we have committed ? Shall we roll ourselves in that dirt and dung from which nothing but the blood of the Son of God was able to cleanse us? Shall we return to the service of former crimes, and to the vain conversation received by tradi

[blocks in formation]


tion from the fathers, from which we could not be redeemed but at so vast an expense? Shall we suffer the old man, the murderer of Christ, our Lord, Brother, and Husband, to live, to flourish, to maintain the ascendant in our souls? Far, very far, be an infatuation so base, from every generous breast. O our sins, O ye daughters of Babylon, devoted to destruction, happy may he be that rewardeth you, that taketh and dasheth your little ones against the rock of our salvation.< 2dly, Whatever, on the contrary, we know to be acceptable to our Lord, let us perform it with alacrity and diligence. Let us value him, who was sold by Judas for thirty pieces of silver, as infinitely more precious than all the treasures of the world. Let us closely and stedfastly follow him, who was forsaken by the disciples, whithersoever he may be pleased to lead us. With undaunted resolution, let us confess him, who was denied by Peter. Let us cheerfully accompany him, who was cast out of the city by the rulers, bearing his reproach; and let us receive him, with his word and Spirit, into the gates of our cities, into the doors of our houses, into the innermost recesses of our hearts, there to live and to reign for ever. When we find him still naked, or hungry, or thirsty in his poor members, let us supply him with clothing, meat and drink; instead of vinegar and gall, let us "cause him to drink of spiced wine, of "the juice of the pomegranate." In fine, let nothing in his worship and service seem too arduous, to be cheerfully done for his sake, who sustained far harder labours, and far more bitter sufferings, on our account.

Ps. cxxxvii. 8, 9.


⚫ Song viii. 2.

« PreviousContinue »