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men? who can ease thee, but He of whom thou saidst, My Father is greater than I?” Lo, to him thou turnest; O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”
Was not this that prayer, O dear Christ, which in the days of thy flesh, thou offeredst up with strong crying and tears, to him that was able to save thce from death? surely this was it. Never was cry so strong; never was God thus solicited. How could heaven choose but shakeat such a prayer from the power that made it; how can my heart but tremble to hear this suit from the Captain of our salvation? 0 thou that saidst, “I and my Father are one," dost thou suffer ought from thy Father but what thou wouldst, what thou determinedst? was this cup of thine either casual or forced? wouldst thou wish for what thou knewest thou wouldst not have possible ? Far, far be these misraised thoughts of our ignorance and frailty. Thou camest to suffer, and thou wouldst do what thou camest for: yet since thou wouldst be a man, thou wouldst take all of man, save sin : it is but human, and not sinful, to be loath to suffer wbat we may avoid. In this velleity of thine, thou wouldst shew what that nature of ours, which thou hadst assumed, could incline to wish; but, in thy resolution, thou wouldst shew us what thy victorious thoughts, raised and assisted by thy divine power, had determinately pitched upon : “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” As man, thou hadst a will of thine own: no human soul can be perfect without that main faculty. That will, which naturally could be content to incline towards an exemption from miseries, gladly veils to that divine will, whereby thou art designed to the chastisements of our peace. Those pains, which in themselves were grievous, thou embracest as decreed ; so as thy fear hath given place to thy love and obedience. How should we have known these evils so formidable, if thou hadst not, in half a thought, inclined to deprecate them ? how could we have avoided so formidable and deadly evils, if thou hadst not willingly undergone them? we acknowledge thine holy fear, we adore thy divine fortitude.
While thy mind was in this fearful agitation, it is no marvel if thy feet were not fixed. Thy place is more changed than thy thoughts: one while thou walkest to thy drowsy attendants, and stirrest up their needful vigilancy; then thou returnest to thy passionate devotions, thou fallest again upon
thy face. If thy body be humbled down to the earth, thy soul is yet lower; thy prayers are so much more vehement as thy pangs are: “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” O my Saviour, what an agony am I in, while I think of thine! What pain, what fear, what strife, what horror was in thy sacred breast! how didst thou struggle under the weight of our sins, that thou thus sweatst, that thou thus bleedst! All was peace with thee; thou wert one with thy co-eternal and co-essential Father; all the angels worshipped thee; all the powers of heaven and earth awfully acknowledged thine infiniteness. It was our person that scoffed thee in this misery and torment; in that thou sustainedst thy Father's wrath, and our curse. If eternal death be unsufferable, if every sin deserve eternal death ; what, О what was it for thy soul, in this short time of thy bitter passion, to answer those millions of eternal deaths, which all the sins of all mankind had deserved from the just hand of thy Godhead? I marvel not, if thou bleedst a sweat, if thou sweatst blood : if the moisture of that sweat be from the body, the tincture of it is from the soul. As there never was such another sweat, so neither can there be ever such a suffering. It is no wonder if the sweat were more than natural, when the suffering was more than human.
O Saviour, so willing was that precious blood of thine to be let forth for us, that it was ready to prevent thy persecutors’; and issued forth in those pores, before thy wounds were opened by thy tormentors. O that my heart could bleed unto thee, with true inward compunction, for those sins of mine which are guilty of this thine agony, and have drawn blood of thee, both in the garden and on the cross. Woe is me, I had been in hell, if thou hadst not been in thine agony; I had scorched, if thou hadst not sweat. O let me abhor my own wickedness, and admire and bless thy mercy.
But, o ye blessed spirits, which came to comfort my conflicted Saviour, how did ye look upon this Son of God, when ye saw him labouring for life under these violent temptations! with what astonishment did ye bebold him bleeding, whom ye adored! In the wilderness, after his duel with Satan, ye came and ministered unto him; and now, in the garden, while he is in an harder combat, ye appear to strengthen him. O the wise and marvellous dispensation of the Almighty! Whom God will afflict, an angel shall relieve; the Son shall suffer, the servant shall comfort him; the God of angels droopeth, the angel of God strengthens him. ! Blessed Jesu, if as man, thou wouldst be “made a little lower than the angels;" how can it disparage thee to be attended and cheered up by an angel?" thine humiliation would not disdain comfort from meaner hands. How free was it for thy father to convey seasonable consolations to thine humble soul, by whatsoever means! Behold, though thy cup shall not pass, yet it shall be sweetened. What if thou see not, for the time, thy Father's face ? yet thou shalt feel his hand. What could that spirit have done without the God of spirits ? O Father of mercies, thou mayst bring thine into agonies, but thou wilt never leave them there.
“ In the midst of the sorrows of my heart, thy comforts shall refresh my soul.” Whatsoever be the means of my supportation, I know and adore the Author.
CONTEMPLATION XXIX. Peter and Malchus: or, Christ apprehended. WHEREFORE, O Saviour, didst thou take those three choice disciples with thee from their fellows, but that thou expectedst some comfort from their presence? A seasonable word may sometimes fall from the meanest attendant; and the very society of those we trust, carries in it some kind of contentment. Alas, what broken reeds are men! While thou art sweating in thine agony, they are snorting securely. Admonitions, threats, intreaties, cannot keep their eyes open. Thou tellest them of danger, they will needs dream of ease; and though twice roused, as if they had purposed this neglect, they carelessly sleep out thy sorrow, and their own peril. What help hast thou of such followers? In the mount of thy transfiguration they slept, and, besides, fell on their faces, when they should behold thy glory, and were not themselves for fear. In the garden of thine agony, they fell upon the ground for drowsiness, when they should compassionate thy sorrow, and lost themselves in a stupid sleepiness. Doubtless, even this disregard made thy prayers so much more fervent. The less comfort we find on earth, the more we seek above. Neither soughtest thou more than thou foundest:
lo, thou wert heard in that which thou fearedst. An angel supplies men: that spirit was vigilant, while thy disciples were heavy ; the exchange was happy.
No sooner is this good angel vanished, than that domestic devil appears : Judas comes up, and shews himself in the head of those miscreant troops. He, whose too much honour it had been to be a follower of so blessed a Master, affects now to be the leader of this wicked rabble. The sheep's fleece is now cast off; the wolf appears in his own likeness. He, that would be false to his Master, would be true to his chapmen: even evil spirits keep touch with themselves. The bold traitor dare yet still mix hypocrisy with villany; his very salutations and kisses murder. O Saviour, this is no news to thee. All those, who, under a shew of godliness, practise impiety, do still betray thee thus. Thou, who had said, “ One of you is a devil,” didst not now say, “Avoid, Satan;" but, “ Friend, wherefore art thou come? Judas, it was not too late ; had there been any the least spark of grace yet remaining in that perfidious bosom, this word had fetcht thee upon thy knees. All this sunshine cannot thaw an obdurate heart. The sign is given, Jesus is taken. Wretched traitor! why wouldst thou for this purpose be thus attended ? and ye foolish priests and elders ! why sent you such a band, and so armed for this apprehension ? One messenger had been enough for a voluntary prisoner. Had my Saviour been unwilling to be taken, all your forces, with all the legions of hell to help them, had been too little; since he was willing to be attacked, two were too many. When he did but say,
“ I am he,” that easy breath alone routed all your troops, and cast them to the earth, whom it might as easily have cast down into hell. What if he had said, I will not be taken ; where had ye been? or what could your swords and staves have done against Omnipotence?
Those disciples, that failed of their vigilance, failed not of their courage : they had heard their Master speak of providing swords, and now they thought it was time to use them ; “ Shall we sinite?” They were willing to fight for him, with whom they were not careful to watch : but, of all others, Peter was most forward; instead of opening his lips, he unsheaths his sword; and, instead of, Shall I, smites. He had noted Malchus, a busy servant of the high priest, too ready to second Judas, and to lay his rude hands upon the Lord of life: against this man his heart rises, and his hand is lift up. That ear, which had too officiously listened to the unjust and cruel charge of his wicked master, is now severed from that worse head which it had mis-served.
I love and honour thy zeal, O blessed disciple : thou couldst not brook wrong done to thy divine Master. Had thy life been dearer to thee than his safety, thou hadst not drawn thy sword upon a whole troop. It was in earnest that thou saidst, “ Though all inen, yet not I;" and, “ Though I should die with thee, yet I will not deny thee.” Lo, thou art ready to die upon him that should touch that sacred
person; what would thy life now have been, in comparison of renouncing him ? since thou wert so fervent, why didst thou not rather fall upon that treacher that betrayed him, than that serjeant that arrested him? surely the sin was so much greater as the plot of mischief is more than the execution; as a domestic is nearer than a stranger, as the treason of a friend is worse than the forced enmity of an hireling. Was it that the guilty wretch upon the fact done, subduced himself, and shrouded his false head under the wings of darkness ? was it that thou couldst not so suddenly apprehend the odious depth of that villany, and instantly hate him that had been thy old companion ? was it that thy amazedness as yet conceived not the purposed issue of this seizure, and astonishedly waited for the success ? was it that though Judas was more faulty, yet Malchus was more imperiously cruel ? howsoever, thy courage was awaked with thyself, and thy heart was no less sincere than thine hand was rash. “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Good intentions are no warrant for our actions. O Saviour, thou canst at once accept of our meanings, and censure our deeds. Could there be an affection more worth encouragement than the love to such a Master? Could there be a more just cause, wherein to draw his sword, than in thy quarrel ? yet this love, this quarrel cannot shield Peter from thy check: thy meek tongue smites him gently, who had furiously smote thine enemy; “ Put up thy sword.”
It was Peter's sword ; but to put up, not to use : there is a sword which Peter may use; but it is of another metal. Our weapons are, as our warfare, spiritual: if he smite not with this, he incurs no less blame than for smiting with the other : as for this material sword, what should he do with it,