صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

amid the tears, and groans, and prayers of one whom they so much adored! Once more he expresses his surprise : “Do you sleep now, and take your rest? Is it a time to indulge yourselves in sleep? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed! Rise, let us be going."

Such were some of the scenes of that solemn night, in which Jesus was betrayed. Such were his sufferings! and such his prayers !

The practical lessons which are here taught, we must leave our readers to supply. But we cannot omit to remind them of their obligations of love to Him, who suffered so much on their account. O, had Jesus failed; had his nature sunk; had his fortitude forsaken him; had the fountain of his love ceased one hour to pour forth its hallowed tide—where, where had we been ? What would have become of a world of sinners ? Shall we ever cease to love him? ever wound and grieve him, by neglecting his cause, or growing weary in his service? No:

Love so amazing-so divine,
Demands our life-our love-our all.

Shall we

We can never be placed in circumstances precisely like those of the Redeemer. Such sufferings we shall never be called to endure. But we have guilt—and guilt of the deepest dye upon us; and, for which, we may suffer, God only knows how much ; what deep and agonizing afflictions and pains await us, we cannot foresee. But they may come; and, if they do, the example of Jesus we may imitate. may hie to a throne of grace. We may cry once, twice, thrice, as he did. Nay, we may pray on, day after day, and month after month, until God removes our trials; or, until, in some way, he shows us that it is his will that they should continue. But when that, in the providence of God, is our lot, we have then the standing assurance to comfort us: “My grace is sufficient for you."

When troubles, like a burning sun,

Beat heavy on our head,
To this Almighty Rock we run,

And find a pleasing shade.

How glorious he-how happy we,

In such a glorious friend !
Whose love secures us all the way,

And crowns us at the end !

LUKE.

PRAYER OF JESUS ON THE CROSS.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.-Luke

xxiii. 34.

We have just done contemplatiug the agony of Jesus in the garden, and those "prayers and supplications, with strong cryings and tears,” unto Him who alone was able to help. Consequent upon these, and, doubtless, in answer to them, there seems to have been a remission of his sufferings. But that remission was but temporary, only sufficient for the powers of nature to rally, and for faith and fortitude to acquire further needful strength. Such was the tenderness of the Redeemer's spirit; such his keen sensibility to suffering, that had he not been favored with some alleviation, the lamp of life would, probably, have been extinguished ere the purposes of Infinite Wisdom had been accomplished.

That unknown and amazing agony ceased. But the tragical scenes of that eventful night went on; each one contributing to, and urging forward, the momentous catastrophe which was to follow. Jesus is betrayed-mocked—arraigned --scourged-crowned with thorns, and condemned to the death of the cross.

To that cross he is, at length, nailed; and there, on the accursed tree, the Savior of the world now hangs. The

agony of the garden is renewed and redoubled. Darkness broods upon the face of nature; and, though deep and intense, it is but a faint emblem of that deeper darkness which overshadows his soul. Upon his agony in the garden, an angel from heaven strengthened him. But now, in this hour, when-

The waves of swelling grief

Do o'er his bosom roll;
And mountains of almighty wrath,

Lie heavy on his soul

eye

where is that heavenly messenger? Where that countenance which was wont to smile upon him? Alas! the Father is himself arrayed against the Son. From the Father proceeds those very sufferings which are drinking up his mortal spirits, and which extort from him the loud and plaintive wail : “My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me ?"

While the measure of his sufferings was fast filling up, and it would seem impossible that he should not be wholly absorbed in his own intense pangs, his fell

upon oneshe was a spectator of the scene; she was poor-homeless -friendless-wretched-forlorn. For the moment, he forgot his own agony; and, with all the tenderness and sympathy of an affectionate son, he commended her to the care and kindness of the “ beloved disciple,” who was also near. “Woman," said he, “behold thy son!” “Disciple, behold thy mother!”

When or where, in the annals of filial love, was there a parallel to this? And, yet, in that bosom whence proceeded that filial love, there was a deeper, holier current; a tide flowing forth, and having for its object those who were now mocking his agonies, and thirsting for his blood. “Father !” said he-though that Father's face was hid from him, and he might no longer pray for himself, nor for a mitigation of his own personal sufferings-yet he might pray for his mur

derers—for the mockers of his pangs—and he does pray: “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Hark, how he prays! The charming sound

Dwells on his dying lips,
And every groan and gaping wound

Cries: “Father! let the rebels live !"

The “Evangelical Prophet” had, seven hundred years before, foretold that he would “make intercession for the transgressors,” (Isa. 53: 12;) and here that prophecy is fulfilled. He had himself inculcated the love of enemies—the forgiveness of injuries—and prayer for those who should despitefully use and persecute; and the rule which he had prescribed for others, he now illustrates by his own noble and sublime example.

The question has been raised : Whom did Jesus embrace in his supplication for forgiveness? Two distinct classes were accessory to his crucifixion-Romans and Jews. The former were the immediate agents; the latter, the instigators. Both, however, were ignorant of the enormity of their guilt. Paul

says, “ that had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” This ignorance Jesus urges as a reason why God should pardon them. In respect to the Romans, they were really ignorant that he was the Son of God; nor had they, perhaps, any means of distinguishing between him and the malefactors who were crucified with him. But the Jews were better informed; at least, they knew that he was innocent, and they might have learned his true character. The prejudices, under the influence of which they regarded him, had the effect to render them incapable of fairly estimating the evidence which he adduced, that he was in truth the Son of God. They were, therefore, guilty, especially the rulers, who were better situated to inform themselves as to his true character. All, indeed, might have arrived at the truth--for the light shone bright and glorious,

[ocr errors]

but they loved darkness better than light, because their deeds were evil.

It was, however, a time of love and compassion when Jesus was on the cross. It was right that this morn of mercy" should be signalized by the voice of prayer, ascending from Him who was expiating human guilt. It was a glorious act--thus to antedate, if we may so speak—the application of his blood, to wash out the deep moral stains of those . who were about to shed it. It was a pledge and presage of the efficacy of the atoning work of Jesus. If he could ask bless ings on the heads of murderers amid the agonies of crucifix. ion-how might he not be supposed to intercede when the bitterness of death should have passed, and the glorious work of expiation should have been accomplished !

To the men of the world, such kindness and compassion may seem inexplicable. They are governed by no such motives : are influenced by no such love: can feel no such duty. But here they may learn, from the example of Jesus, what his religion inculcates. Is it difficult so to act? That may well be granted. It is difficult. To bear reproaches and persecutions with patience; to bless those who are seeking our ruin; and, more than all, to pray in kindness and sincerity for them, is difficult. But Jesus did it: Stephen did it: Paul did it; and thousands, governed by the same love, have thus honored the sublime and glorious inculcations of the gospel.

What a different world had this proved, had the example of Jesus been strictly followed, since he presented it on the cross! Ah! those fires of revenge-intense and consuming --had never burned; those persecutions--those murdersthose midnight assassinations, had never polluted the pages of our history. Those wars which have made wives widows, and children orphans, had never been waged. The walls of a thousand dungeons had not reverberated with the clanking of the chains of the incarcerated victims of revenge ;

« السابقةمتابعة »