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is “ good.” Whenever then ye pray, pray earnestly. Withdraw, in a spiritua sense, a stone's cast from the world; and while in prayer, let your eye be on your prayer-book, your heart be intent on your service, and your thoughts core not from your devotions.
While I heseech you to be earnest in prayer, after the pattern of Chrik there is a caution that I would administer. Mankind-Englishmen in particularare apt to run into extremes ; the sinner of to-day to be the saint of to-morrow. Be temperate in all things; and particularly in religion ; and while you avoid the heartlessness of the lukewarm, shun with equal felicity, the extravagance of the enthusiast. The earnestness of Christ was the earnestness of a pious, mild, equable, retiring, temperate, resigned spirit; like some beauteous and pellucid stream, meandering through the vale, and winding its calm but earnest course through the valley, with scarcely a ripple to disturb its beautiful surface and its serene and lovely aspect.
And Christ prayed, “ Let this cup pass from me.” In him, it was perfectly lawful to make this request. It displayed no insubordination of spirit, and no disloyalty of sentiment. He knew that with God all things are possible, and here was his faith, “ all things are possible to thee :" if thou wilt thou canst yet make an atonement for the people, without requiring the high-priest to run into the midst of the fire, to put on the incense, and to shed his blood to appease the wrath that has gone out of the Lord, and to stay the plague that is begun among the transgressors.
And then observe his resignation, expressed in these words, which are worthy of your imitation in every hour of trial, and in every season of distress, “ Not what I will, but what thou wilt!" In one of your prayers you are directed to say, “Fullil, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants;" but, as those petitions and desires, if granted, might not be conformable to the divine will, nor conducive to your good, you add, with infinite propriety and beauty, may be most expedient for them;" and this qualification or reserve should always be annexed to every desire you express, and to every petition you utter. “ Abba, Father,” said Christ, when he knelt down and prayed. The adoption of this term evinced his dutiful regard and his filial affection. And he hath taught us, in his own inimitable prayer, thus to approach the throne, and express the title, of “our Father which is in heaven." "He was exceeding sorrowful." The state of mind and agony into which he was plunged, showed a feeling sense of the want of that for which he prayed. He indeed had no sins of his own, for which he needed to be relieved from the burthen, and be absolved from the guilt. But he bore in his own person yours; and he felt their weight, the gall and the wormwood thereof. And do ye wonder, that he was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death?
But why do I mention this ? That, in this instance too, ye should imitate your Lord; and whenever ye approach your Father in heaven, in prayer, to entertain a feeling sense of your sins, and be exceeding sorrowful for your offences. For how otherwise can your prayers, either of the closet or of the church, be acceptable to God, and obtain the relief ye desire, or the pardon ye supplicate? I have thought it a good opportunity to suggest these remarks on the conduct of Christ, at a memorable epoch of his life, because, it appeared to me to be most instructive, and to teach, by the most powerful of all examples, the qualifications
which are required to sanctify and beautify the prayers which we utter in private, and unite in offering in public—in the still chamber, or in the great congregation of the people.
You must not infer, Christians, that the agony of your compassionate Saviour on the occasion to which I have referred, however intense in its feeling and strong in its expression, originated in any sentiment of regret for the part he had undertaken to act in the approaching tragedy, or that he at all repented of his resolution to encounter all the shame and ignominy of the cross for the atonement of the people, and the salvation of sinners. No, my friends, no sentiinent of the sort ever crossed his mind, or enervated his resolution. But as he had two natures, huinan and divine, so had he two distinct wills. As man, he feared and shunned death : as God, he willingly submitted to its infliction. And had there been included in it no more than the pain of lingering on a cross, our Lord would have shown more weakness in shrinking back from death, than many of his followers have since done upon the prospect of deaths more terrible, which they faced without fear, and endured without emotion, though, to all appearance not so divinely supported, seeing that his human nature was strengthened far beyond the natural pitch, by its union with the divine. But on hiin lay the iniquity of us all; and with the sins of the whole world he was then bruised and broken: whereas the martyrs in his cause had no such dreadful load accumulated upon then. They suffered, indeed, under the encouraging smiles of God's reconciled countenance; but Christ, for the sins of an apostate wor!.!, under his vengeful frowns. This embittered beyond measure the pains and sorrows he endured. For, notwithstanding an angel came from heaven, and strengthened him, yet they threw him into an agony; and the sense of his sufferings increased to such a degree, and so strained bis whole body, that his blood was pressed through the pores of his skin, along with the sweat *, and feli in great drops to the ground. Some of the commentators have taken this expression in a figurative sense, and have supposed, that as those who weep bitterly are said to weep blood, so those who sweat excessively, through acute and excessive labour and pain, may be considered as sweating blood. But others more justly conceive on this point, and affirm that the perspiration produced on our Lord's body was mixed in reality with blood to such a degree, that its colour and consistency were the same as if it had been wholly blood. And in corroboration of this view, there are several authors, who have given examples of sweats which have been actually mixed with blood. And physicians assure us, that such is the nature and constitution of the human frame, that this effect is often produced, and this emission is often to be witnessed. However this be, it must be acknowledged, that it was real blood that fell from the sacred body of our Lord. It was indeed miraculous, and was an invincible proof of the dreadful horror that filled his spirit, and of the excruciating agony that seized his soul. And, O what a comforting refleetion is this to the mourning and penitent sinner, that he has a merciful and faithful High Priest, who himself hath suffered, being tempted, and is therefore able to succour them that are tempted! One that can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities ; and by
"Tanta sudoris copia, ut non corpus humeclaret solum, sed etiam in terram caderet. Non sudor aqueus, sed sanguineus ; nec guttæ, sed grumi. Cui exemplo quid unquam auditum · simile, nedum æquale,” saith Chamierus.—See Smith on the Creed, p. 163 VOL. III.
whom we can come "boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy in every time of need."
Having said so much upon the agony endured by the Saviour, I shall now advert to the place in which his passion occurred, and suggest some further reflections on his sufferings.
First, of the place. It was in a garden; a place to which he retired, not with the intention of shunning his infuriated enemies, and concealing himself from his murderous persecutors; for had such been his object, no place could nave been more improperly selected. He had frequently resorted thither, and in company too with the traitor. Judas, therefore, well knew the chosen spot of his retired devotions, and of his warm and generous communications with himself and others. But Christ went thither to meet his enemies, and by prayer to prepare himself for the treachery of a once familiar friend, with whom he had been wont to take sweet counsel, and for the approach of a heartless and exasperated rabble. In the exercise of pouring out his soul unto God, he must have spent several hours, for it was in the evening that he entered into the garden, and it was not until midnight that Judas and his band came and apprehended him in a praying posture. And in what doth this attitude of our Lord instruct us? He shows us by his example, that when dangers approach—when troubles overwhelm us—yea, when the hour of death is coming—a place of prayer and an attitude of devotion are the very best in which we should be found, that we may have strength equal to the day of our trial, and the hour of our suffering, and be enabled to bear all, and to submit to all, with a humble and cheerful resignation to the will of our Father which is in heaven.
This garden-the scene of the Saviour's agony, was in the valley of Jehoshaphat, on the east side of Jerusalem, at the foot of mount Olivet, in which valley God did then plead with the nations in Christ their Surety. It was called Gethsemane, which signifies, a very fat valley, or the valley of oil, being, in all probability, the place in which the inhabitants pressed the olives that grew on the mount, and squeezed the oil out of them. Maundrel', in the account of his journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, thus speaks of Gethsemane :—“ It is an even plat of ground, not above fifty-seven yards square, lying between the foot of mount Olivet and the brook Cedron. It is well planted with olive trees, and at the upper corner of the garden is a flat naked ledge of rock, reputed to be the place on which the apostles, Peter, James, and John, fell asleep during the agony of our Lord. And a few paces from hence is a grotto, said to be the place in which Christ underwent that bitter part of his passion. About eight paces from the place where the apostles slept, is a small shred of ground, twelve yards long, and one broad, supposed to be the very path on which the traitor Judas walked up to Christ, saying, 'Hail Master! and kissed him !'*" Here it was, in this garden, that the Father was pleased to braise his own dearly beloved Son, our true Olive; that from his richness, from his fulness, the sweet, the fresh oil of his graces, and of his merits, might flow out abundantly for the beautifying of our souls, and the refreshing of our spirits. But never was there such an olive pressed on this spot before, since the foundation of that mount was laid! never did there flow out oil so rich-so inestimable-as the blood of • See Maundrell's Tour, 1697, page 142.
God's spotless Lamb! How happy they who partake of the root, and of the fatness of that invaluable Olive, that was here pressed and bruised for man's salvation; and of that oil, which will make our graces to grow, and our faces to shine pleasantly in the eyes of purity itself!
Man, after his creation, was first placed in a garden. There he offended his God, and fell; and there sin and misery commenced. And it was in a garden also, where Christ, his Surety, began to expiate his agony and bloody sweat. The garden of Eden was the productive source of all our wretchedness and woe, and was the cause of all our pains and sorrows. The garden of Gethsemane, on the other hand, produced a powerful remedy, a healing balm, and a sovereign medicine for every malady we experience, for every wound we receive, and for every disease to which our souls are subjected, from the old serpent of iniquity and sin. Where the poison grew; there also grew the antidote! And this is a pleasing reflection to every contemplative mind: and the idea of pleasure, as it has been beautifully remarked by a good man, is inseparable from that of a garden, where man still seeks after lost happiness, and where, perhaps, a good man finds the nearest resemblance of it which this world affords *. "What is requisite," exclaims a great and original genius, "to make a wise and a happy man, but reflection and peace? And both are the natural growth of a garden. A garden to the virtuous is a Paradise still extant; a Paradise unlost t."
But there are other reflections with which an ordinary walk in a garden is connected: and whenever we have occasion to walk and meditate therein, for the improvement of the mind, and the exercise of the body, we should not fail to remember, that, in a garden, the holy and innocent Jesus-the loving Saviour, and the compassionate friend of mankind, began to be sore amazed, to be heavy in mind, and in an agony of spirit for our iniquities and sins; and that there he poured forth fervent ejaculations to heaven for our interest in his agony and death, and for his Spirit to witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, and sealed unto the day of redemption! Whenever we go to the Lord's table, we should call to mind his agony and bloody sweat in the garden; and when the cup is presented to our lips, "remember the cup of God's wrath that Christ drank in the garden."
When our dear Redeemer suffered-when his soul was in an agony, we read of his " offering up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death;" but still, with a submission the most complete, and a piety the most perfect, to the Divine will. Strong an bitter indeed were the cries of our Surety and Substitute, when "he bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; when he was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted;" when "he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities;" and when an overwhelming flood of wrath was poured out upon him. He cried until he was wearied and exhausted with pain, and his throat became dry and parched. And is it nothing to you, my brethren? Have ye no tears to shed, and no prayer to offer up to God, at the remembrance of a Saviour s sufferings, especially when you consider that your sins were the cursed
• See Bishop Horne's Sermon on the Garden of Eden.
cause of all his sufferings-the death of Jesus your Redeemer? Under all the agony of mind and body, inflicted by the hand of men, lo! he was silent, and opened not his mouth. He was submissive and dumb, as a sheep before her shearers: but, when the thunders of divine wrath burst upon him, he cried out vehemently he earnestly and importunately prayed for deliverance and support under the dreadful storm that impended over him. And is not his example here also instructive? And does it not teach us, that when under trouble of soul-under the severest trials of affliction, and the strongest temptations of sin, we should cry with earnestness to God for mercy and relief; and persist in our applications for deliverance, till our prayers are heard, and our requests are granted; being encouraged to persevere from this pleasing consideration, that Christ's fervent prayers and tears have opened a way for us to the throne of mercy, by which ours can pass and reach the ear of Omnipotence, and be our prevailing intercessor, through a Redeemer's merits, at the right hand of the Majesty on high!
Secondly, the point to which I shall now lead your thoughts, is the height to which the agony and passion of Christ were carried in the garden. How wonderful the increase and progress of his sufferings! He was first sorrowful, heavy, and oppressed; then sore amazed; and at last in an agony-in such a violent and unheard-of agony, as to produce a bloody sweat over his body, and to force the crimson fluid through his skin, and to moisten both the garments with which he was clothed, and the ground upon which he lay! Think, O Christian, what trouble and anguish-what pangs and strugglings the Son of God must have endured in his soul, when his Father's wrath, for the sins of a guilty world, pressed upon him, and raised such a dreadful fermentation in his human frame! The suffering Redeemer lay in the open air, in a cold night, upon the cold ground, without any reviving or comforting cordial, all which, according to the ordinary course of nature, would have caused his blood to flow inward, and retire from the external parts of his body. But, with him, it was otherwise. He sweat without external heat, and be bled copiously without an external wound! What, then, was the cause that produced these preternatural effects? It was the fire which Almighty wrath had kindled in his soul, that made his blood to boil, and forced it through both his flesh and his raiment, and in the language of the prophet, caused him to be "red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat." All his "garments were sprinkled," and all his "raiment was stained," with the blood of the people, Isaiah, lxiii. 1. At the time in which his agony was endured, he had suffered no external violence. No Judas, no soldier, no executioner, had yet laid their hands upon him: no thorn, no scourge, no nail or spear, had yet touched or lacerated his sacred body; and yet his blood flows and falls "in great drops to the ground!" True; but the arrows of the Almighty had pierced his soul; the poison thereof had inflamed his spirit; the sword of stern justice had reached him, and inflicted a sore wound in the tenderest part. Jehovah's glittering spear had pierced his heart; and, at the opening made thereby, such a flood of wrath broke in upon his soul, as quite overwhelmed him, as made him stagger, yea, fall, first upon his knees, and then upon his face, prostrate upon the earth. In this situation, see him in his agony, until the waves and billows of Divine vengeance had passed over him! How heavy the load-how grievous the