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Christ, One with the Father, the Creator and Upholder of all worlds, the Object of universal worship and adoration. We consider this glorious Person coming in the flesh to be the Saviour of the world, to seek and save the lost, from mere love and compassion to deservedly perishing sinners. The spotless purity of his human nature; the perfection of his obedience to the divine law; the depth of his voluntary humiliation; the poverty and contempt, and the contradiction of sinners, which he endured through life, demand our most serious attention. He effected not his gracious purposes in our behalf, as a Monarch or a Conqueror; he taught not as a Philosopher or a Noralist: “ but he took upon him the form of a ser“ vant,” and “ gave his life a ransom for many."
We should, however, especially contemplate the variety and intenseness of his sufferings, in the closing scene of his humiliation: the excruciating pain he endured, from the scourge, the thorns, and the nails, and when hanging on the accursed tree; with the anguish of mind he felt when agonizing in the garden, and when on the cross he exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It is very important for us to reflect on what the Redeemer suffered from men; from the base treachery of Judas, the unfaithfulness of Peter, the cowardice of the disciples; the cruel injustice of Caiaphas, the scribes, priests, council, and even their servants; from the contempt and indignity
put upon him by Herod and his men of war; the cruelty and scorn of Pilate's soldiers; the lingering tortures of the cross, the ingratitude of the insulting multitude, and the revilings even of the malefactors. We should recollect likewise, that this was the hour and power of darkness: and what gloomy imaginations, and detested thoughts might be presented to the mind of Christ, by the subtle and energetick influence of evil spirits, may be best conceived by those who “are not ignorant “ of their devices.” “He suffered, being tempted, " that he might be able to succour them that are "tempted:” and the assaults of Satan in the desert may convince us, that he would do his utmost, when permitted, to bruise the heel of Him, who came to crush his head and destroy his works.
But we are also taught, that “it pleased the “ Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief: " and to make his soul an offering for sin." " Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and “ against the Man that is my Fellow, saith the " Lord of Hosts; smite the Shepherd."" “lle + spared not his own Son, but delivered him up « for us all.” And when we compare our Lord's agony in the garden, and his exclamation on the cross, with the conduct of his own disciples under the severest tortures : we must be convinced that his cup was embittered inconceivably more than
* Zech, xiji. 7.
theirs, and that consolations and supports were vouchsafed them, of which he was wholly left destitute.---We cannot explain this subject.-We may be certain, that remorse of conscience, despair, and the prevalence of hateful passions, which will eternally increase the misery of condemned sinners, could have no place in the mind of the holy Jesus: but whatever pain, shame, wrath, curse, agony, or misery, he could possibly endure; whatever the justice of God, the honour of the law, and the instruction of the universe in the evil and desert of sin, required; all this the Redeemer suffered, till he could say with his expiring breath, “ It is finished."
It should likewise be remembered, that our Lord most willingly submitted to all these sufferings, from love to our souls and regard to the glory of God, No man had power to take away his life: the prince of this world had no part in him; no personal transgression exposed him to the sentence of death ; but “ love, that passeth knowledge,” moved him to give himself a propitiatory Sacrifice for our sins! The meekness, patience, and persevering fortitude, with which our Lord suffered, should not pass unnoticed. “He was brouglit as “ a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his “shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” “ Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an exam. “ple that ye should follow his steps; who, wher
“ he was reviled, reviled not again : when he suf“ fered he threatened not.""
The circumstances attending his crucifixion also form a proper subject of meditation. The sun was miraculously darkened, as a token of the divine displeasure, and an emblem of the gloom which overspread the Sun of righteousness. Yet, in this deep humiliation of the Lord of glory, he rescued onė perishing sinner from the jaws of destruction, and took him with him to paradise. When he expired, “the veil of the temple was rent;" the rocks were torn by an earthquake, the graves were opened, and the preparation made for the resurrection of those saints, who were appointed to grace the triumph of the rising and ascending Saviour. For the event of his sufferings in his personal exaltation; and the complete salvation, in body and soul, of all the unnumbered myriads, which ever did or ever shall believe in him, is the last particular, to which our present meditations should be directed.—But it is time for us to proceed,
IV. To consider the peculiar instructions, to be derived from these contemplations,
The worth of our immortal souls is most emphatically taught us by the cross of Christ. “What !! is a man profited if he gain the whole world and “ lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in “exchange for his soul?” Could any one literally gain the whole universe, as the price of iniquity, and keep it with every imaginable advantage during the term of human life; it could neither preserve his body from the grave, nor his soul from eternal misery! “It costs more to redeem the “soul : that must be let alone for ever.” View the Saviour agonizing in Gethsemane, and expiring on the cross ! Did he endure these unknown sufferings to preserve men from temporal poverty, pain, or death ? By no means: but to deliver them from the wrath to come; where “their worm “dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Who can doubt then, that an immortal soul is man's principal treasure? It is possessed by the meanest, and it infinitely exceeds in value all the distinc tions of the mightiest. He who made the soul knows its worth; and he deemed it so valuable, that he ransomed our souls from ruin, at the price of his own blood. Shall we not then deem the salvation of them our grand concern, and regard all interfering objects as unworthy our notice in the comparison ? If we should never succeed in any one thing all our lives, except in this chief concern; our felicity will be congratulated by angels to eternity: if we should prosper in all other respects, and fail here; our folly and inisery will be lamented and execrated for ever.
'ị Pet. ii. 21-23,