« ПретходнаНастави »
Mark; "he began to be very heavy," say both these Evangelists. I do not know that our translators could have found more appropriate and expressive terms in our language than those which they have employed; yet powerful as they are, they come far short of the energy of the original phrases. They are explained by one who well knew their force, as representing him as
on a sudden possessed with horror and amazement; encompassed with grief, and overwhelmed with sorrow; pressed down with consternation and dejection of mind; tormented with anxiety and disquietude of spirit *."
If the language of the Evangelist be expressive, still more fearfully significant are the words of our Lord himself: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." What dreadful emphasis is here! sorrowful-my soul is sorrowful-my soul is exceeding sorrowful—my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. And let it not be forgotten, that he who thus heaps superlative upon superlative in expressing his own anguish, was, as all his history proves, distinguished not less by magnanimity than by mildness,-not more by activity in duty, than by patience in suffering. Again and again, "with strong crying and tears, he made supplication to him who was able to save him," for deliverance, if it was possible, from the sorrows of that hour. And, as if his cries and tears were not suffi cient evidence of his inward sufferings, the innumerable pores of his body pour forth a still more lively representation of the bitter anguish of his soul. "Being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the
* Matth. xxvi. 37. Mark xiv. 33.-Pearson's note on these passages is well worth the notice of the pious critical reader of the New Testament. On the Creed, p. 198. fol. Lond. 1676.
ground." The heart of our Saviour was as it were "melted like wax in the midst of his bowels," and all the parts of his body inflamed with anguish and agony. But time would fail us, to tell what he suffered from his infernal and human foes; what he suffered from his friends; and, severest of all his agonies! what he suffered from his Father. That was a loud and exceeding bitter cry, "My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"
These sufferings were sufferings unto death. The body is not only bruised, but broken; the blood is poured out till the vital current has ceased to flow. "He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." His course of suffering did not terminate till the constituent parts of his human nature were disunited; nor did he rest. from his toils, till he fell asleep in death.
Such is the scene of suffering and death emblemati cally represented to us in the Lord's Supper. Thus did the Saviour suffer and die. He suffered in hisbody by infirmities and external injuries—in his soulby fears and sorrows, by unknown and inexpressible agonies. The emblems are expressive, but they are not too expressive; they fall short, infinitely short of a complete representation: for, "if sorrows and agonies, if stripes and buffetings, if condemnation and crucifixion be suffering, Jesus suffered. If the infirmities of our nature, if the weight of our sins, if the malice of man, if the machinations of Satan, if the hand of God could make him suffer, our Saviour suffered * !”
What an astonishing scene is here, my brethren! Turn aside, and behold this great sight. The incarnate Son of God toiling and weeping, bleeding and dying! "Behold God accused by men of blasphemy,
the eternal wisdom aspersed with folly, truth itself impleaded of imposture, essential love made guilty of mischief, and supreme goodness styled a malefactor; infinite power beat down and trampled on by impotent malice; the Judge of all the world, the fountain of all authority and right, arraigned, condemned, and executed, for injustice; the desire of all nations rejected by his own countrymen and kindred; the joy of paradise, whose smile brightens the glories of the blessed, overwhelmed with grief, uttering lamentable groans, tortured with grievous agonies-the very heart of God bleeding, and the sole Author of life expiring *." All this the words of institution, and the sacred symbols, are intended and calculated to suggest to the understand→ ing, and to impress upon the heart.
III. In the Lord's supper, we have an emblematical representation of that atonement for the sins of men, which the incarnate Son of God made by his sufferings and death. "This is my body given" or devoted "for you: -this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you;” i. e. the blood of the expiatory victim, by which the new covenant of grace and salvation is ratified and confirmed. There can be no reasonable doubt, that these expressions of our Lord are borrowed from the sacrificial language of the Jews, and intimate this important truth, that his human nature was presented to God in our stead, as a sin-offering, to obtain for us the pardon of our sin, restoration to the divine favour and image, and the enjoyment of everlasting happiness.
This doctrine of our Lord's vicarious and expiatory sacrifice, is one of the first principles of our most holy faith. Remove it, and you rob Christianity at once of
almost all its peculiarity and glory. Remove it, and the Mosaic ritual appears not only burdensome, but unmeaning. Remove it, and the Christian system becomes a mass of inconsistency and confusion. Remove it, and you overturn the foundation of human hope, and involve the prospect of eternity in the "blackness of darkness."
The substitution of our Lord is a doctrine which unprejudiced reason naturally deduces from the facts connected with the dispensation of mercy to mankind. We perceive an infinitely just and merciful God, inflicting sufferings, unparalleled in their number and seve rity, on a person perfectly innocent, infinitely meritorious. We see the same God dispensing pardon and salvation to the guilty and depraved. How then is the justice of God, to say nothing of his goodness, to be vindicated in these dispensations, but on the supposition of transference of guilt in the one case, and of merit in the other! We have been told, indeed, that the humble life, the severe sufferings, and the accursed death of the Son of God, were intended merely as attestations of the truth of his doctrines and the divinity of his mission, and as illustrations of the passive virtues of fortitude and patience in the most trying circumstances. We willingly concede that these ends were gained by our Saviour's incarnation, sufferings, and death; but they were not the only, they were not the principal designs of these most astonishing events. That these confessedly important objects were gained by these means, is most true; but we must renounce our belief in the moral perfections of the divine character, before we can persuade ourselves, that the plainest principles of justice were violated, to obtain these blessings for men. The only satisfactory account of these wonders, is to be found in the scriptural doctrines. of substitution. and expiation.
We are not left, however, to deduce this principle from other facts by a train of reasoning, however short and conclusive. It is revealed in scripture with a clearness and an abundance of evidence corresponding to its importance. "The Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but herein God commendeth his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us. He himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”
Let us endeavour to collect the force of these passages of scripture, the number of which might easily be increased, into one short argument. He who suffers the punishment to which another is obnoxious, in order that that person may escape punishment, suffers in his stead. No person who understands the meaning of the terms, will question the truth of this proposition. Now this is a plain statement of the doctrine of scripture respecting Christ and sinners. That our Lord endured the sufferings to which sinners were obnoxious, is as clear as language can make it. "He bare our sins.. He was made a sin-offering in our room,—the chastise. ment of our peace was upon him." That he underwent these sufferings that men might be delivered from them, is equally obvious. “He was made a sin-offering in our stead, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. By his stripes we are healed. He gave himself for us, a sacrifice and an offering, that he might bring us to God."
Indeed, though the enemies of the doctrine of our Lord's atoning sacrifice were to succeed in their favourite work of expunging or explaining away all those passages of the holy scriptures, which directly teach it, their labour would be in a great measure lost, for it is