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son, and he missed it not. Neither did he so on any other occasion, during the days of his flesh, especially those of his public ministry, wherein we ought to make him our example.
Obs. V. The Lord Christ, in his offering op himself for us, laboured and travailed in soul, to bring the work unto a good and holy issue. An hard labour it was, and as such, it is here expressed. He went through it with fears, sorrows, tears, outcries, prayers and humble supplications. This is called Soy 1V9, the pressing, wearying, Taborious “ travail of his soul, Isa. lii. 11. He laboured, was straitened and pained to bring forth this glorious birth. And we may take a little prospect of this travail of the soul of Christ, as it is represented unto us. First, All the holy, natural affections of his soul, were filled, taken up and extended to the utmost capacity, in acting and suffering. The travail of our souls lie much in the engagement and actings of our affections. Who is there who hath been acquainted with great fears, great sorrows, great desires, great and ardent love, who knows it not ? All and every one of these had now their sails filled in Christ, and that about the highest, noblest and most glorious objects that they are capable of. The sorrows of his holy mother, Luke ii. 35. the danger of his disciples, Zech. xiii. 7. the scandal of the cross, the shame of his suffering, Heb. xii. 2. the ruin of his people according to the flesh, for their sin, Luke xxiii. 28-30. with sundry other similar objects and considerations, filled and exercised all his natural affections. This put his soul into travail, and had an intlaence into the conflict wherein he was engaged. Secondly, All his graces, the gracious qualifications of his mind and affectious, were in a like manner, in the height of their exercise. Both those whose immediate object was God himself, and those which respected the church, were all of them excited, drawn forth and engaged. As, 1. Faith and trust in God. These himself expresseth, in his greatest trial, as those which he betook himself unto, Isa. 1. 7,8. Psal. xxii. 9, 10. Heb. ii. 13. These graces in him, were now tried to the utmost. All their strength, all their efficacy was exercised and proved. For he was to give in them, an instance of an excellency in faith, rising up above the instance of the provocation that was in the unbelief of our first parents, whereby they fell off from God. There is no ob. ject about which faith can be exercised, no duty which it worketh in and by, but what it was now applied unto, in, and by Jesus Christ. 2. Love to mankind. As this in his divine nature was the peculiar spring of that infinite condescension, whereby he took our nature on him, for the work of mediation, Phil. ii. 6–8; so it wrought mightily and effectually in his human nature, in the whole course of his obedience, but especially in the offering of bimself unto God for us. Hence,
where there is mention made of his giving himself for us, which was in the sacrifice of himself, commonly the cause of it is expressed to have been his love. 66 The Son of God loved me, and gave himself for me,” Gal. i. 20. " Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Eph. v. 25, 26. “ He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," Rev. i. 5. With this love his soul now travailed, and laboured to bring forth the blessed fruits of it. The workings of this love in the heart of Christ, during the trial insisted on, whereby he balanced the sorrow and distress of his sufferings, no heart can conceive, nor tongue express. 3. Zeal to the glory of God. Zeal is the height of careful solicitous love. The love of Christ was great to the souls of men, but the life of it lay in his love to God, and zeal for his glory. This he now laboured in; namely, that God might be glorified in the salvation of the elect. This was committed unto him, and concerning this, he took care that it might not miscarry. 4. He was now in the highest exercise of obedience unto God, and that in such a peculiar manner, as before he had no occasion for. It is observ. ed as the height of his condescension, that he was “ obedient unto death, the death of the cross,” Phil. ii.8. This was the highest instance of obedience, that God ever had from a creature, because performed by him who was God also. And if the obedience of Abraham was so acceptable to God, and was so celebrated when he was ready to offer up his son ; how glorious was that of the Son of God, who actually offered up him.' self, and that in such a way and manner, as Isaac was not capable of being offered? And there was an eminent specialty in this part of his obedience. Hence, ver. 8. it is said, that he learned obedience by the things which he suffered; which we shall speak to afterwards. And in the exercise of this obedience, that it might be full, acceptable, meritorious, every way answering the terms of the covenant between God and him about the redemption of mankind, he laboured and travailed in soul. And by this his obedience was a compensation made for the disobedience of Adam, Rom. v. 19. So did he travail in the exercise of grace. Thirdly, He did so also with respect to that confluence of calamities, distresses, pains and miseries,
his whole nature. And that in these consisted no small part of his trials, wherein he underwent and suffered the utmost which human nature is capable to undergo, is evident from the description given of his dolorous sufferings both in prophecy, Psal. xxii. Isa. liii. and in the story of what be fel him in the evangelists. In that death of the body which he underwent, in the means and manner of it, much of the curse of the law was executed. Hence our apostle proves that he was made a curse for us, from that of Moses, “ Cursed is every one Vol. IV.
which was upon
that hangeth on a tree," Gal. iii. 13. Deut. xxi. 22, 23. For that ignominy of being hanged on a tree, was peculiarly appointed to represent the execution of the curse of the law on Jesus Christ, who in his own body bore our sins on the tree, 1 Pet. ii. 24. And herein lies no small mystery of the wisdom of God. He would have a resemblance among them who suffered under the sentence of the law, of the suffering of Christ. But in the whole law, there was no appointment that any one should be put to death by being hanged. But whereas God foreknew, that at the time of the suffering of Christ the nation would be under the power of the Romans, and that the sentence of death would be inflicted after their manner, which was by being nailed unto, and hanging on a cross, he ordered for a prefiguration hereof, that some great transgressors, as blaspbemers, and open idolaters, after they were stoned, should be hanged upon a tree, to make a declaration of the curse of the law inflicted on them. Hence it is peculiarly said of such a one, He that is hanged on the tree, is the curse of God;' because God did therein represent the suffering of bim who underwent the whole curse of the law for us. And in this manner of his death, there were sundry things concurring. 1. A natural sign of his readiness to embrace all sinners that should come unto him, his arms being, as it were, stretched out to receive them, Isa. xlv. 22. ch. Ixv. 1. 2. A moral token of his condition, being left as one rejected of all between beaven and earth for a season ; but in himself interposing between heaven and earth the justice of God and sins of men, lo make reconciliation and peace, Eph. ii. 16, 17. 3. The accomplishment of sundry types; as, Ist, Of that of him who was banged on a tree, as cursed of the Lord, Deut. xxi. 22. 2d, Of the brazen serpent which was lifted up in the wilderness, John iii. 14. with respect whereunto he says, that when he is lifted up, he would draw all men to him, John xii. 32. 3d, Of the waves offering, which was moved, shaken, and turned several ways, to declare that the Lord Christ in this offering of himself, should have respect unto all parts of the world, and all sorts of men, Exod. xxix. 26. And in all the concerns of this death, all the means of it, especially as it was an effect of the curse of the law, or penal immediately from God himself, (for he that is hanged on a tree is accursed of God), did he labour and travail in the work that lay before him. 4th, The conflict he had with Satan, and all the powers of darkness, was another part of his travail. This was the power of men, and power of darkness, Luke xxii
. 53. the time when the prince of this world came, John xvi. to try the utmost of his skill, interest, horror, rage and power, for his destruction. Then were all infernal princi palities and powers engaged in a conflict with him, Col. 'ii. 14,
Whatever malice, poison, darkness, dread, may be infused into diabolical suggestions, or be mixed with external representations of things to the sight, or imagination, he was now contending with. And herein he laboured for that victory and suecess which in the issue he did obtain, Col. ii. 13, 14. Heb. ii. 14. 1 John iii. 8. 5. His inward conflict, in the making his soul an offering for sin, in his apprehensions, and undergoing of the wrath of God due unto sin, hath been already spoken unto, so far as is necessary unto our present purpose. 6. In, and during all these things, there was in his eye continually that unspeakable glory that was set before him, of being the Repairer of the breaches of the creation, the Recoverer of mankind, the Captain of salvation unto all that obey him, the destruction of Satan, with his kingdom of sin and darkness, and in all the great Restorer of divine glory, to the eternal praise of God. Whilst all these things were in the height of their transaction, is it any wonder if the Lord Christ laboured and travailed in soul, according to the description here given of him ?
Obs. VI. "The Lord Christ, in the time of his offering and suffering, considering God with whom he had to do, as the sovereign Lord of life and death, as the supreme Rector and Judge of all, casts himself before him with most fervent prayers for deliverance, from the sentence of death and the curse of the law.-This gives the true account of the deportment of our Saviour in his trial here described. There are two great mistakes about the sufferings of Christ, and the condition of his soul therein. Some place him in that security, in that sense and enjoyment of divine love, that they leave neither room nor reason for the fears, cries, and wrestlings here mentioned ; indeed, so as that there should be nothing real in all this transaction, but rather that all things were done for ostentation and shew. For if the Lord Christ were always in a full comprehension of divine love, and that in the light of the beatific vision, what can these conflicts and complaints signify? Others grant that he was in real distress and anguish ; but they say it was merely on the account of those outward sufferings which were coming on him, which, as we observed before, is an intolerable impeachment of his holy fortitude and constancy of mind. For the like outward things have been undergone by others, without any tokens of such consternation of spirit. Wherefore, to discern aright the true frame of the Spirit of Christ, with the intention of his cries and supplications, the things before insisted on are duly to be considered.
1. How great a matter it was, to make peace with God for sinners, to make atonement and reconciliation for sin. This is the life and spirit of our religion, the centre wherein all the lines of it do meet, Phil. iii. 10. 1 Cor. ii. 2. Gal. vi. 14.
And those by whom a due and constant consideration of it is neglected, are strangers unto the animating spirit of that reli. gion, which they outwardly profess. And therefore Satan doth employ all his artifices to divert the minds of men from a due meditation hereon, and the exercise of faith about it. Much of the devotion of the Romanists is taken up in dumb shews, and painted representations of the sufferings of Christ. But as many of their scenical fancies are childishly ridiculous, and unworthy of men who have the least apprehension of the greatness and holiness of God, or that he is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and in truth; so they are none of them of any other use but to draw off the mind, not only from a spiritual contemplation of the excellency of the offering of Christ, and the glorious effects thereof, but also from the rational comprehension of the truth of the doctrine concerning what he did and suffered. For he that is instructed in, and by the taking, shutting up, and setting forth of a crucifix, with painted thorns, and nails, and blood, with Jews, and thieves, and I know not what other company about it, is obliged to believe that he hath, if not all, yet the principal part at least of the obedience of Christ in his suffering represented unto him. And by this means, is his mind taken off from inquiring into the great transactions between God and the soul of Christ, about the finishing of sin, and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness; without which those other things which, by carnal means, they repre. sent unto the carnal minds and imaginations of men, are of no value nor use. On the other hand, the Socinians please themselves, and deceive others, with a vain imagination, that there was no such work to be done now with God as we have declared. If we may believe them, there was no atonement to be made for sin, no expiatory sacrifice to be offered, no peace thereby to be made with God, no compensation to his justice, by answering the sentence and curse of the law due to sin. But certainly if this sort of men had not an unparalleled mixture of confidence and dexterity, they could not find out evasions unto so many express divine testimonies as lie directly opposite to their fond imagination, unto any tolerable satisfaction in their own minds, or to suppose that any men can with patience bear the account they must give of the agony, prayers, cries, tears, fears, wrestlings, and travail of the soul of Christ, on this supposition. But we may pass them over at present as express enemies of the cross of Christ ; that is, of that cross whereby he made peace with God for sinners; as Eph. ii. 14–16. Others there are, who by no means approve of any diligent inquiry into these mysteries. The whole business and duty of ministers and others, is, in their mind, to be conversant in and about morality. For this fountain and spring of grace, this basis of eternal