« PreviousContinue »
ed with fear;' that is, a reverence of God mixed with a dread. ful apprehension of an approaching judgment. And the use of the preposition ato, added to suxxotius is also singular ; auditus ex metu, heard from his fear.' Therefore is this
variously interpreted by all sorts of expositors. Some read it, he was heard because of his reverence.' And in the exposition hereof they are again divided. Some take reverence actively, for the reverence he had of God; that is, his reverential obedience. He was heard, because of his reverence, or reverential obedience unto God. Some would have the reverence intended to relate to God; the reverential respect that God had unto him. God heard him from that holy respect and regard which he had of him. But these things are fond, and suit not the design of the place ; neither the coherence of the words, nor their construction, nor their signification, nor the scope of the apostle, will bear this sense. Others render it, pro metu, ' from fear, or out of fear. And this also is two ways interpreted. 1. Because • heard from fear,' is somewhat an harsh expression, they explain auditus by liberatus, delivered from fear ; and this is not improper. So Grotius, Cum mortem vehementer perhorresceret, in hoc exauditus fuit ut ab isto metu liberaretur. In this sense fear internal and subjective is intended. God relieved him against his fear, removing it, and taking it away, by strengthening and com. forting of him. Others by fear intend the thing feared, which sense our translators follow, and are therefore plentifully reviled and railed at by the Rhemists. He was heard ; that is, deliver. ed from the things which he feared as coming upon him. And for the vindication of this sense and exposition, there is so much already offered by many learned expositors, as that I see not what can be added thereunto, and I shall not unnecessarily enlarge. And the opposition that is made hereunto, is managed rather with clamours and outcries, than Scripture reasons or testimonies. Suppose the object of the fear of Christ here, to have been what he was delivered from, and then it must be his fainting, sinking, and perishing under the wrath of God, in the work he had undertaken. Yet, 1. The same thing is expressed elsewhere unto an higher degree, and more emphatically, as where in this state he is said, λυπεισθαι και αδημονειν, and εκθαμβεισθαι, Mat. xxvi. 37. Mark. xiv. 33. Luke xxii. 42–44. “ to be sorrow. ful, perplexed, and amazed.” 2. All this argues no more, but that the Lord Christ underwent an exercise in the opposition that was made unto his faith, and the mighty conflict he had with that opposition. That his faith or trust in God, were either overthrown or weakened by them, they prove not, nor do any plead them unto that purpose. And to deny, that the soul of Christ was engaged in an ineffable conflict with the wrath of Cod, in the curse of the law, that his faith and trust in God were pressed and tried to the utmost, by the opposition made unto them, by fear, dread, and a terrible apprehension of divine displeasure due to our sins, is to renounce the benefit of his passion, and turn the whole of it into a shew, fit to be represented by pictures and images, or acted over in ludicrous scenes, as it is by the Papists.
It remains that we consider the observations which these words afford us for our instruction, wherein also their sense and importance will be farther explained. And the first thing that offers itself unto us is, that,
Obs. I. The Lord Jesus Christ himself had a time of infirmity in this world. A season he had wherein he was beset and encompassed with infirmities. So it was with him in the days of his flesh. It is true, his infirmities were all siniess, but all troublesome and grievous. By them was he exposed unto all sorts of temptations and sufferings, which are the two springs of all that is evil and dolorous unto our nature. And thus it was with him, not for a few days, or a short season only, but during his whole course in this world. This the story of the gospel gives us an account of, and the instance of his offering up prayers with strong cries and tears, puts out of all question. These things were real, and not acted to make an appearance or representation of them. And hereof himself expresseth his sense, Psal. xxii. 6, 7.“ I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despis. ed of the people : all that see me laugh me to scorn,” ver. 14, 15. How can the infirmities of our nature, and a sense of them, be more emphatically expressed. So Psal. Ixix. 20. « Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness ; I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none." And Psal. xl. 12. « Innumerable evils have compassed me about." He had not only our infirmities, but he felt them, and was deeply sensible, both of them, and of the evils and troubles which through them he was exposed unto. Hence is that description of him, Isa. liii. 3.
Two things are herein by us duly to be considered. First, That it was out of infinite condescension and love unto our souls, that the Lord Christ took on himself this condition, Phil. ü 6— 8. This state was neither natural nor necessary unto him upon his own account. In himself he was in the “ form of God, and counted it no robbery to be equal unto God;" but this mind was in him, that for our sakes, he would take on himself all these infirmities of our nature, and through them, expose himself unto evils innumerable. It was voluntary love, and not defect, or necessity of nature, which brought him into this condition. Secondly, Asolie had other ends herein, for these things were indispensably required unto the discharge of this sacerdotal office, so be designed to set us an example, that we should not faint under
our infirmities and sufferings on their account, Heb. xii. 2, 3. 1 Pet. iv. I. And God knows such an example we stood in need of, both as a pattern to conform ourselves untó under our infirmities, and to encourage us in the expectation of a good issue, unto our present deplorable condition.
Let us not then think strange, if we have our season of weakness and infirmity in this world, whereby we are exposed unto temptation and suffering. Apt we are indeed to complain hereof; the whole nation of professors is full of complaints; one is in want, straits, and poverty; another in pain, under sickness, and variety of troubles ; some are in distress for their relations, some from and by them; some are persecuted, some are tempted, some pressed with private, some with public concerns ; some are sick, and some are weak, and some are fallen asleep. And these things are apt to make us faint, to despond, and be weary. know not how others bear up their hearts and spirits ; for my part, I have much ado to keep from continual longing, after the embraces of the dust, and shades of the grave, as a curtain drawn over the rest in another world. In the mean time, every momentary gourd, that interposeth between the vehemency of wind and sun, or our frail fainting natures and spirits, is too much valued by us.
But what would we have? Do we consider who, and what, and where we are, when we think strange of these things? These are the days of our flesh, wherein these things are due to us and unavoidable. “ Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward,” Job v. 7. necessarily and abundantly. All complaints, and all contrivances, whereby we endeavour to extricate ourselves from those innumerable evils which attend our weak frail infirm condition, will be altogether vain. And if any through the flatteries of youth, and health, and strength, and wealth, with other satisfactions of their affections, are not sensible of these things, they are but in a pleasant dream, which will quickly pass away. Our only relief in this condition, is a due regard unto our great example, and what he did, how he behaved himself in the days of his flesh, when he had more difficulties and miseries to conflict with, than we all. And in him we may do well to consider three things :
1. His patience, unconquerable and unmoveable in all things that befel him in the days of his flesh. 66 He did not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets,” Isa. xlii. 2. Whatever befel him, he bore it quietly and patiently. Being buffeted, he threatened not; being reviled, he reviled not again. “ As a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” 2. His trust in God. By this testimony that it is said of him, “ I will put my trust in God," doth our apostle prove that he had the same nature with us, subject to the same weak
ness and infirmities, IIeb. ii. 13. And this we are taught thereby, that there is no management of our human nature, as now beset with infirmities, but by a constant trust in God. The whole life of Christ therein, was a life of submission, trust, and dependance on God. So that when he came to his last suffering, his enemies fixed on that to reproach him withal, as knowing how constant he was in the profession thereof, Psal. xxii. 8. Matt. xxvii. 43. 3. His earnest, fervent prayers and supplications, which are here expressed by our apostle, and accommodated unto the days of his flesh. Other instances of his holy, gracious deportment of himself, in that condition wherein he set us an example, might be insisted on, but these may give us an entrance into the whole of our duty. Patience, faith and prayer, will carry us comfortably and safely through the whole course of our frail and infirm lives in this world.
Obs. II. A life of glory may ensue after a life of infirmity. “If,” saith our apostle, “we have hope in this life only, then were tre of all men the most miserable.” For besides that we are obnoxious to the same common inqirmities within, and calamities without, with all other men, there is and ever will be a peculiar sort of distress that they are exposed unto, who will live godly in Christ Jesus. But there is nothing can betal us, but what may issue in eternal glory. We see that it hath done so with Jesus Christ. His season of infirmity issued in eternal glory. And nothing but unbelief and sin can hinder ours from doing so also.
Obs. III. The Lord Christ is no more now in a state of weakness and temptation ; the days of his flesh are past and gone. As such, the apostle here makes mention of them. And the Scripture signally, in sundry places takes notice of it. This account he gives of himself, Rev. i. 18. “ I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore.” The state of infirmity and weakness, wherein he was obnoxious unto death, is now past, he now lives for evermore. Henceforth he dieth no more, death hath no more power over him, nor any thing else that can reach the least trouble unto him. With his death, ended the days of his flesh. His revival or return unto life, was into absolute, eternal, unchangeable glory. And this advancement is expressed by, his sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high, which we have before declared. He is therefore now no more on any account obnoxious, 1. Unto the law, the sentence or curse of it. As he was made of a woman, he was made under the law, and so he continued all the days of his flesh. Therein did he fulfil all the righteousness is required, and answered the whole penalty for sin that it exacted. But with the days of his flesh, ended the right of the law towards bim, either as to require obedience of him, or exact suffering from him : hence, a little before his expiration on
the cross, he said concerning it, “ It is finished.” And hereon doth our freedom from the curse of the law, depend. The law can claim no more dominion over a believer, than it can over Christ himself. He lives now, out of the reach of all the power of the law, to plead his own obedience unto it, satisfaction of it, and triumph over it, in the behalf of them that believe on him. Nor, 2. Unto temptations. These were his constant attendants and companions, during the days of his flesh. What they were, and of what sorts, we have in part before discoursed. He is now freed from them and above them, yet not so but that they have left a compassionate sense upon his holy soul, of the straits and distresses which his disciples and servants are daily brought into by them, which is the spring and foundation of the relief he communicates unto them. Nor, 3. Unto troubles, persecutions or sufferings of any kind. He is not so in his own person. He is far above, out of the reach of all his enemies. Above them in power, in glory, in authority and rule. There is none of them but he can crush at his pleasure, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. He is indeed still hated as much as ever, maligned as much as in the days of his flesh, and exposed unto the utmost power of hell and the world, in all his concerns on the earth. But he laughs all his enemies to scorn, he hath them in derision, and in the midst of their wise counsels and mighty designs, disposes of them and of all their undertakings, unto his ends and purposes, not their own. He is pleased, indeed, as yet, to suffer and to be persecuted in his saints and servants, but that is, from a gracious condescension, by virtue of a spiritual union, not from any necessity of state or condition. And some may hence learn how to fear him, as others may and do to put their trust in him.
Obs. IV. The Lord Christ filled up every season with duty, with the proper duty of it. The days of his flesh, were the only season wherein he could offer to God; and he missed it not, he did so accordingly. Some would not have Christ offer himself until he came to heaven. But then, the season of offering was past. Christ was to use no strong cries and tears in heaven, which yet were necessary concomitants of his oblation. It is true, in his glorified state, he continually represents in heaven, the offering that he made of himselt on the earth, in an effectual application of it unto the advantage of the elect. But the offering itself was in the days of his flesh. This was the only season for that duty; for therein only was he meet unto this work, and had provision for it. Then was his body capable of pain, his soul of sorrow, his nature of dissolution, all which were necessary unto this duty. Then was he in a condition wherein faith and trust, and prayers and tears, were as necessary unto himself, as unto his offering. This was his sea