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Christ will find it absolutely impossible to re-instructer, you will discover that this seed is solve these difficulties: the doctrine of the sa- Jesus Christ, Gal. iii. 16. tisfaction is the only key that can unlock this If you contemplate the temporal wonders mystery. "Innumerable evils have compassed which God was pleased to work in favour of me about," is the prophetic language of the the Jewish nation, you will discover every psalmist, "mine iniquities have taken hold where in them an adumbration of the spiritual upon me, so that I am not able to look up: blessings which the death of Jesus Christ was they are more than the hairs of mine head, to procure for the church. You will there see therefore my heart faileth me," Ps. xl. 12. the blood of a lamb on the doors of the Israel"He was wounded for our transgressions, heites. It was the shadow of that "Lamb withwas bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement out blemish and without spot, foreordained beof our peace was upon him:" as Isaiah ex- fore the foundation of the world," 1 Pet. i. 19, presses himself, chap. liii. 5. "God spared 20. You will there behold a rock, which when not his own Son," Rom. viii. 32, "he hath smitten, emitted a stream sufficient to quench made him to be sin for us," 2 Cor. v. 21, "be- the thirst of a great people. This was a shadow ing made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 13, to use of Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that it was the language of St. Paul: this is what we un- Christ himself, who refreshes us with "living dertook to prove; and this is the first idea un- water, springing up into everlasting life," I der which we proposed to represent the dying Cor. x. 4, and John iv. 14. You will there Saviour of the world. behold a serpent lifted up, the sight of which healed the deadly wounds of the Israelites. It was a shadow of him who was to be lifted up on the cross.
MATTHEW Xxvii. 45-53. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom: and the earth didquake; and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
HAVING represented the death of Christ under the idea, 1. Of an expiatory sacrifice, in which the victim was charged with the sins of the whole world; we proceed,
2. To consider it, as the body of all the shadows, the truth of all the types, the accomplishment of all the predictions of the ancient dispensation, respecting the Messiah. In fact, on what state or period of the Old Testament church can we throw our eyes, without discovering images of a dying Jesus, and traces of the sacrifice which he offered up?
If we resort to the origin of all our woes, there also we find the remedy. You will discover that Adam had no sooner by transgression fallen, than God promised him a "seed, whose heel the seed of the serpent should bruise," but who, in the very act of suffering, should "bruise the serpent's head," Gen. iii. 15. You will find this same promise repeated to Abraham; that seed announced anew to the patriarchs, and, taking St. Paul for your VOL. II.-22
If you look into the Levitical worship, you will perceive through the whole types of this death, a perpetual sacrifice, the type of him "whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood," Rom. iii. 25. You will there behold victims, the types of him "who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, to purge the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God," Heb. ix. 14; a scape-goat, bearing "on his head all the iniquities of the children of Israel," Lev. xvi. 21. The type of him who "suffered for us without the gate," Heb. xiii. 13.
If you run over the predictions of the prophets, you will find them, as with one mouth, announcing the death of Jesus Christ. Now it is Isaiah who lifts up his voice, saying, "He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows
.. who made his soul an offering for sin
who is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth .... who was oppressed, and was afflicted who was cut off out of the land of the living," chap. liii. 3, &c. Now it is Daniel who holds up the same object: "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself," chap. ix. 26. Now Zacharias takes up the subject, and under the influence of prophetic inspiration, gives animation to the sword of "the Lord of Hosts: Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered," chap. xiii. 7. Now the prophetic David, minutely describing his sufferings, in such affecting terms as these: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent: . . . . I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people: all they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, and shake the head," Ps. xxii. 1, 2. 6, 7; and, in another place: "Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul: I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters,
where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying, my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. . . . for thy sake I have borne reproach, shame hath covered my face..... Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none; they gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink," Ps. lxix. 1, 2, &c.
Such good reason have we to consider the death of Jesus Christ under this second idea: it is in our text. The Saviour appropriates to himself the prediction in the twenty-second psalm: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" and, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he gives occasion to his executioners to present him with vinegar, which preceded his expiring exclamation, "It is finished," as it is related by another of the evangelists.
founded, shall supply our defects, and serve, this day, as so many preachers. The prodigies which signalized the death of Jesus Christ shall persuade more powerfully than all the figures of rhetoric. That darkness which covers the earth, that veil of the temple rent in twain, that trembling which has seized the solid globe, those rocks cleft asunder, those yawning graves, those reviving dead, they, they are the pathetic orators who reproach the Jews with the atrocity of their guilt, and denounce their impending destruction. The sun shrouds himself in the shades of night, as unable to behold this accursed parricide, and what courtly poets said in adulation, namely, that the orb of day clothed himself in mourning, when Julius Cesar was assassinated in the senate house, was here realized under special direction of divine Providence. The veil of the temple is rent asunder, as on a day of lamentation and The earth trembles, as refusing to support the wretches, whose sacrilegious hands were attacking the life of him who "fastened the foundations thereof," Job xxxviii. 6, and "founded it upon its bases," Ps. civ. 5. The rocks cleave, as if to reprove the Jews for the hardness of their hearts. The dead start from their tombs, as coming to condemn the rage of the living.
3. The death of Jesus Christ is, on the part of the Jews, an atrocious crime, which has roused the indignation of Heaven, and armed universal nature against them. But where shall we find colours black enough to depict it? Here the most ardent efforts of the imagination must fall far below the reality, and the most lively images come short of truth.
Supposing we possessed the faculty of collecting, into one point of view, all that was gentle in the address of Jesus Christ, all that was fervent in his piety, humble in his deportment, pure in his conduct: supposing us capable of making an enumeration of all the benefits which he accumulated on the heads of those monsters of ingratitude; the gracious exhortations which he addressed to them; the miracles of goodness which he performed among them, in healing the sick, and raising the dead: supposing we could display to you those malignant calumnies with which they loaded him, those abominable and repeated falsehoods, those cruel and remorseless importunities for permission to put him to death, worthy of the severest execration had they been employed even against the most detestable of mankind: could we represent to you all that was barbarous and inhuman in the punishment of the cross; by telling you that it was a huge stake crossed by another piece of wood, to which they bound the body of the person condemned to terminate his life upon it; that the two arms were stretched out upon that cross beam, and nailed, as well as both the feet, to the tree, so that the body of the sufferer, sinking with its own weight, and suspended by its nerves, was speedily reduced to one vast wound, till the violence and slowness of the torment at length delivered him, and the blood drained off drop by drop, thus exhausted the stream of life: supposing us to have detailed all the ignominious circumstances which accompanied the death of Christ; that crown of thorns, that purple robe, that ridiculous sceptre, that wagging of the head, those insulting defiances to save himself, as he had saved others supposing, I say, all this could be collected into one point of view, we should still believe that we had conveyed to you ideas much too feeble, of the criminality of the Jews.
Nature convulsed, and the elements con
4. The death of Jesus Christ is a system of morality, in which every virtue is clearly traced. If the divine justice be an object of fear, where is it more powerfully inculcated than on the cross of Jesus Christ? How very terrible does that justice there appear! It goes in pursuit of its victim into the very heaven of heavens. It extends on the altar a Divine Man. It spares not the Son of God, his own Son. And thou, miserable sinner, who canst present nothing to the eyes of thy judge but what is odious and abominable, how shalt thou be able to escape his vengeance, if violating the laws of the gospel thou renderest thyself so much the more worthy of condemnation, that thou hadst, in that very gospel, the effectual means of deliverance?
If vice is to be held in detestation, where is this lesson so forcibly taught as from the cross of Jesus Christ? Let the man who makes light of sin, who forms to himself agreeable images, and feeds on flattering ideas of it, learn, at the cross of Christ, to contemplate it in its true light: let him form a judgment of the cause from the effects; and let him never think of sin, without thinking at the same time, on the pangs which it cost the Saviour of the world.
If we wish for models to copy, where shall we find models so venerable as on the cross of Christ? Let the proud man go to the cross of Christ; let him there behold the Word in a state of humiliation; let him there contemplate the person who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and condescended to submit to the punishment of a slave: the person who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: let the proud man look to him, and learn to be humble. Let the voluptuous repair to the cross of Christ; let him there behold the flesh crucified, the senses subdued, pleasure mortified, and learn to bring forth fruits meet
for repentance. Let the implacable repair to the cross of Christ; let him there contemplate Jesus Christ dying for his enemies, praying even for his murderers, and learn to put on bowels of mercies. Let the murmurer go to the cross of Christ; let him go and study that complete submission which this divine Saviour yielded to the most rigid commands of his Father, and learn to resign himself in all things to the will of God.
If we are bound to love our lawgiver, where can we learn this lesson better than at the cross of Christ? From that cross we hear him crying aloud to the guilty and the wretched: "Behold, O sinners, behold the tokens of my affection: behold my hands and my feet: behold this pierced side: behold all these wounds with which my body is torn: behold all those stripes of the justice of my Father, which I endure for your salvation." At a spectacle so moving, is there an obduracy so invincible as not to bend? Is there a heart so hard as to refuse to melt? Is there a love so ardent as not to kindle into a brighter flame?
5. The death of Jesus Christ is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but which all the difficulties that reason can muster, are unable to impair.
It is a mystery inaccessible to reason: let it explain to me that wonderful union of greatness and depression, of ignominy, and glory, of an immortal God with a dying man.
Let reason explain to me, how it comes to pass, that though God is unsusceptible of suffering and dying, the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ should, however, derive all their efficacy from his nature as God.
Let reason explain to me, how Jesus Christ could satisfy divine justice, and be, at the same time, if the expression be lawful, the Judge and the party condemned, the Avenger and the party avenged, he who satisfied, and he to whom satisfaction was made.
Let reason explain to me, how Jesus nailed to the cross, is nevertheless worthy of the adoration of men and of angels, so that the Jew who crucifies him, is at once his executioner and his
Let reason explain to me, above all, that mystery of love which we see displayed on the cross of Jesus Christ, and how God, who is so great, and so highly exalted, should have vouchsafed to perform, in behalf of man, a being so low and contemptible, wonders so astonishing. Bend, bend, proud reason, under the weight of these difficulties, and from the extent of these mysteries, learn the narrowness of thy own empire.
"It is the wisdom of God in a mystery, which none of the princes of this world knew," 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8. It is "the great mystery of godliness," 1 Tim. iii. 16. These are "the things of the Spirit of God, which the natural man receiveth not," 1 Cor. ii. 14. This is the "stumbling block of the Jew:" this is "to the Greek foolishness," Cor. i. 23. "These are the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man," 1 Cor. ii. 9. This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but it is a mystery, whose truth and importance all the difficulties which reason can muster, are unable to impair.
The gospel tells us not that greatness and depression, that ignominy and glory, that the mortal, and the immortal nature, were confounded in the person of Jesus Christ. It simply informs us that God, in the depths of his infinite wisdom, knew how to unite depression to greatness, glory to ignominy, the mortal to the immortal nature. This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but against which reason has no title to murmur.
The gospel does not tell us that God, who is unsusceptible of either suffering or death, suffered and died, but that the subject susceptible of suffering united to the impassable, suffered; that the mortal, united to the immortal subject, died; and that, in virtue of this union, his sufferings and death possess an infinite value. This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but against which reason has no title to repine.
The gospel does not tell us that Jesus Christ considered as nailed to a cross, as suffering, as dying, is worthy of adoration, but, in virtue of his intimate union with Deity, that he is an object of adoration to men and to angels. This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but against it reason has not a title to reclaim.
The gospel does not tell us that man, a being so mean, vile, grovelling, could have merited this prodigy of love; but that God has derived it from himself, as an independent source, and that he considers it as essential to his glory, to acknowledge no other foundation of his benefits, but the misery of those to whom he is pleased to communicate them.This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but against which reason has not a title to reclaim.
6. There remains only one idea more, under which we wish to represent the death of the Saviour of the world. It is the triumph of Jesus Christ over death, and the consolation of the dying believer. Death may be considered in three points of view. (1.) It throws us into the darkness of gloomy night. (2.) It summons us to appear before a tremendous tribunal. (3.) It strips us of our dearest possessions. Jesus Christ expires on the cross, triumphs over death, in these three several respects.
But it would be necessary to possess the art of renewing your attention, in order successfully to undertake the task of pressing these ideas upon your minds, for they are more than sufficient to furnish matter for a complete new discourse.
I must confine myself, at present, to one consideration, founded on the rending of the veil of the temple, mentioned in the text. We have already pointed it out as a token of the vengeance of heaven against the Jewish nation. It may likewise be considered in another point of view, conformably to the decision of St. Paul, and to the ideas of the Jews. That people looked on their temples as a figure of the universe. We have, on this subject, passages expressly to the purpose, in Philo and Josephus. All that was on the outside of the most holy place, represented, to them, nature and the elements. The scarlet colour of the sanctuary represented fire. The hyacinthine represented the air. The seven branches of the candlestick represented the seven planets.
The twelve cakes of show bread represented the signs of the Zodiac, and the twelve months of the year. But they said, that the most holy place had been set apart for God: that the Propitiatory was his throne, that the cherubim were his chariot.*
may be filled with all the fullness of God?" Eph. iii. 18, 19.
Ah! let us beware, my beloved brethren, that we deceive not ourselves as to this; after so many distinguished tokens of the grace of God, we are going to become the most wretched, or the happiest, of all creatures. Our condition admits not of mediocrity. The two interesting extremes present themselves to
On this principle, the veil, which separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies, was an image of the obstacles which interposed between the creature and the heavenly habita-view-the extreme of justice, and the extreme tion, in which God resides. This veil is rent of mercy. We are going to prove all that is asunder at the death of Jesus Christ; these ob- mild and gentle in the peace of God, or all stacles are removed; access into the abode of that is tremendous in his indignation: and that the blessed is open to us: and this is the spirit blood which we have seen poured out, must be of the ceremonial observance prescribed in the upon our heads either to attract, or to repel, Levitical worship: "Into the second went the the thunder. high priest alone, once every year, not without "His blood be upon us, and on our chilblood," says St. Paul in his epistle to the He- dren," Matt. xxvii. 25. This was the imprecabrews; "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that tion of those barbarous Jews, who with importhe way into the holiest of all was not yet made tunity demanded the death of Jesus Christ, and manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet glutted themselves with his sufferings. But it standing: but Christ being come, a high priest was, in a far different sense, the interior voice of good things to come, by a greater and more of those believing souls, who entered into the perfect tabernacle, by his own blood, entered design of God, who, by faith, sprinkled theminto the holy place, having obtained eternal re-selves with this blood, which was to form the demption for us," Heb. ix. 7, &c. bond of union between heaven and earth.
Death, then, has nothing, henceforward, formidable to the Christian. In the tomb of Jesus Christ are dissipated all the terrors which the tomb of nature presents. In the tomb of nature, O sinner, thou beholdest thy frailty, thy subjection to the bondage of corruption: in the tomb of Jesus Christ thou beholdest thy strength and thy deliverance. In the tomb of nature the punishment of sin stares thee in the face: in the tomb of Jesus Christ thou findest the expiation of it. From the tomb of nature thou hearest the dreadful sentence pronounced against all the posterity of Adam: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," Gen. iii. 19: but from the tomb of Jesus Christ issue those accents of consolation: "I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live," John xi. 25. In the tomb of nature thou readest this universal, this irrevocable doom written: "It is appointed unto men once to die," Heb. ix. 27; but in the tomb of Jesus Christ, thy tongue is loosed into this triumphant song of praise: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. xv. 55. 57.
All that now remains is to conclude with a few reflections by way of recapitulation. My brethren, for some weeks past, there have been traced before your eyes the successive particulars of the passion and death of the Saviour of the world. You have seen him betrayed, apprehended, arraigned, condemned, and expiring under the most shameful, and the most cruel of all punishments.
Do you comprehend all that is sublime in these truths? Do you feel, in all its extent, the value of these benefits? Have you, least, made the attempt to take the dimensions of the love of God, and "to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height: and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that you *Consult Joseph. Antiq. lib. iii. cap. 5, and Phil. de Vita Mosis, lib. iii. p. 667, &c.
"His blood be on us, and on our children." This is the voice which now resounds from ear to ear, and which must be accomplished on this assembly, in one sense or another. Yes, this blood shall be upon you, in vengeance and malediction, as it was upon ungrateful Jerusalem, in your families to trouble their peace, in your plans to defeat them, in your establishments to sap them to the foundation, in your consciences to harrow them up, in your deathbed to darken it with horror and despair, and through all the periods of eternity, demanding the expiation of the crime, of having trampled under foot the blood of the Son of God, and of having crucified afresh the Lord of glory. Or it will be upon you, yes, this blood will be upon you, to strengthen you under all your infirmities, to preserve you in the hour of temptation, to console you under the pressure of calamity, to speak peace to the troubled con science, to support you in dying agony, to render your death blessed, and eternity triumphant.
I dwell for a moment on these last ideas, and under an illusion of charity, I apply them to all those who compose my audience. Happy they, to whom they are applicable of a truth! To have been attentive to the history of the sufferings and death of the Saviour of the world, which, for some time past, has been the great subject of our address, to have traced it through all its successive circumstances, to have felt the necessity, and to have penetrated into the design of the whole; to have applied to ourselves the lessons which it inculcates, the consolations which it supplies, the hope which it inspires; to deduce, from those grand objects, consequences affecting the conduct of life, attending to promote sanctity of manners, superiority to the world, love to God so rich in mercy, desire of possessing that in perfection, of which displays so astonishing, convey ideas so sublime
After that, to come next Lord's day to the table of Jesus Christ, with the understanding convinced, the heart overflowing, the soul
penetrated: to discern, in the bread and the wine of which we are to partake, the symbols of that death, whose memorial the church is celebrating: to promise unto God, over those august pledges of his love, to render to him love for love, and life for life: to expand the heart in such emotions; to communicate in such a disposition, and to wait for death under such impressions-these are the loftiest objects which man can propose to his meditation. This is the highest point of perfection which we are capable of attaining, in the course of this mortal pilgrimage. This is the purest delight that we can taste in this valley of tears.
JOHN XX. 29.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
I trust, my dearly beloved brethren, that these sublime objects shall not have been presented to you in vain. I trust that so many exhortations will not fall to the ground totally without success. I trust that these first emotions, which it is impossible to withhold from an expiring Saviour, will not be "as the early cloud, and as the morning dew," Hos. vi. 4; which appear for a moment, and are dissipated in a moment. I trust they will henceforward engage your heart, your mind, your whole life, and that they will accompany you to the bed of death. I trust, that when this awful period comes, instead of that mortal reluctance, instead of those insupportable forebodings which unrepented guilt inspires, the image of Jesus Christ crucified, present to your eyes; what do say, of Jesus Christ crucified? of Jesus Christ If he wishes to ascertain the reality of that raised from the dead, glorious, sitting at the blessedness which is the object of his hope, he right hand of his Father; of Jesus Christ, pre- must plunge himself, in quest of it, into periods senting continually before his eyes the value which do not as yet subsist. He must "walk of that blood which he shed for the salvation by faith and not by sight," 2 Cor. v. 7, he of the human race; of Jesus Christ extending must depart, as Abraham did, and leave "his his arms to receive your departing spirit, that kindred and his father's house, without knowhe may bind it up in the bundle of life:" I ing, precisely, whither he goes," Heb. xi. 8. trust that this image will dispel all the terrors It is necessary that his persuasion, if I may so of death, and thus prepare you to pass from express myself, should form a new creation of the dispensation of grace, to the dispensation | things, which have no real existence as to him; of glory. or, to use the expression of St. Paul, his
In the dispensation of grace, you have be-"faith" must be "the substance of things held the Son of God invested with "the form hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, of a servant;" in the dispensation of glory, you Heb. xi. 1. Now, it is to such obscurity, it is shall behold him arrayed in all splendour and to such darkness, that a man is called to sacrimagnificence. In the dispensation of grace, fice all that the human mind is taught to conyou have beheld the King of kings attended sider as the greatest reality and certainty, I by an humble train of disciples of but mean mean the decisions of reason, and the felicities appearance: in the dispensation of glory, you of a present world. What a situation! What shall behold him accompanied by the heavenly a strange situation! hosts, legions of angels and archangels, of the But be it as it may, we, this day, place ourcherubim and of the seraphim. In the dispen- selves, my brethren, between these two dark sation of grace, you have beheld Jesus Christ clouds; between the night of the past, and the expiring ignominiously upon the cross: in the night of futurity. In what are the duties of dispensation of glory, you shall behold him in this day to terminate? What is the language the clouds of heaven, judging the quick and suitable to the day which is now passing? I bethe dead. In the dispensation of grace, you lieve: I hope. I believe that the Word was made have heard the lips of your Saviour thus speak-flesh, that he suffered, that he died, that he rose ing peace to your soul: "Son, be of good cheer, again: this is the night of the past. I hope thy sins are forgiven thee:" in the dispensation that, in virtue of this incarnation, of these sufof glory, you shall hear this decision from his ferings, of this resurrection, "an entrance shall mouth; "Come, ye blessed of my Father, in- be ministered unto me abundantly, into the herit the kingdom prepared for you from the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour foundation of the world," Matt. xxv. 34. May Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 11, and that I shall God of his infinite mercy grant it! To him be partake in the felicity of the ever blessed God: honour and glory now and for ever. Amen. this is the night of futurity. I believe, and to
STRANGE is the condition in which Providence has placed the Christian. He is ever walking in the midst of darkness and obscurity. He is placed between two periods of gloominess; between the cloudy night of the past, and the still darker night of futurity. Does he wish to ascertain the truths which are the object of his faith? They are founded on facts; and in order to be assured of those facts, he must force his way backward, through more than eighteen hundred centuries: he must dig truth and falsehood out of the rubbish of tradition; out of the captious systems of the enemies of Christianity; nay, sometimes out of the pious frauds, on which an indiscreet zeal has attempted to establish it.