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those who regularly offer up their petitions to God, what is the subject of their prayers? Is it to be delivered from the demon of pride, of avarice, of voluptuousness? Is it to obtain those
without which you are lost for ever? Is it to become more like the Redeemer?
And with what dispositions are these prayers made? Where is the humility of the soul? Where the firm faith, the enlightened and persevering zeal, which distinguished this Canaanitish woman in her approach to the Lord ? It is not then surprising that our prayers are not more effectual; that too often, like Nadab and Abihu, we draw down the anger of God by burning incense with strange fire; by presenting our prayers with unhallowed dispositions.
My brethren, let us learn at last to pray as Christians, as creatures redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, and destined to immortality. Fathers and mothers, such are the supplications that you ought to offer for yourselves, for your children from their tenderest youth. Through your prayers and cares, let the first employment of their tongues when they are unloosed, be to glorify their Creator. Christians, form such prayers for yourselves, your brethren, your pastors, the church, the careless who are perishing around you. Cry earnestly, “Lord, help us!" Though for a time Jesus
may yet persevere, and he will at last say to you, “Be it unto you as you will."
defer an answer, SERMON LV,
LIFE OF CHRIST.
THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SOUL OF JESUS.
John xii. 27, 28.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Fa
ther, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.
Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
What a spectacle! He who is inseparably united to the source of life and felicity, in sorrow; He who is the unfailing fountain of consolation to his children on earth, and of joy to the redeemed in heaven, in trouble and distress! We in vain look for exernal causes of this wo. There is no scourge, no cross, no executioner. On the contrary, every thing seems calculated to inspire him with delight. The multitude appear, at last, disposed to acknowledge him as the Messiah. He has entered in triumph into Jerusalem, amidst their hosannas. The Greeks have anxiously desired to see him, and thus given an earnest of the ingathering of the Gentiles. Ah, brethren! the pains that Jesus feels are deeper than external
causes could produce. He just touches the moment when he is to be offered up a sacrifice for sin; he begins to feel that wrath of God, which was to be poured out upon him when he stood as the victim of our transgressions. That fire has been kindled, with which he was encompassed in the garden and on the cross, and which would instantly have consumed any being not united to the Godhead.
Entering upon his last conflicts, he cries, “ Now is my
soul troubled." These inward sufferings of our Redeemer were no less necessary than his external woes; the anguish of his soul was as requisite as the tortures of his cross.
1. Sin had defiled our souls as well as our bodies : nay,
the soul had been the first source of disobedience; in it the throne of sin and Satan was erected, while the body was used only as its instrument. The punishment denounced against the guilty had respect to our souls more than to our bodies. When Jesus, therefore, appeared as our pledge and surety, to expiate for our offences, to bear in our stead the inflictions of divine justice, it was needful that the agonies of his soul should unite with the pains of his body, in order to pay down a full ransom for us.
2. Besides, one great end of his incarnation and death was, that he might set before us a perfect pattern of holy conduct, a complete example of every virtue; so that in every circumstance we might cast our eyes upon him, and learn our duty. But this great end could never have been accomplished, had our Redeemer experienced no sorrows of the soul, had he been a stranger to inward troubles.
3. And, finally, had only the body of Jesus suffered, we should have been deprived of a large portion of that consolation and support which is now afford
ed us by remembering the events of his life. Every afflicted Christian has been comforted by recollecting, that “ we have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities,” but one who “ was in all points tempted as we are,” and who will therefore sympathize with us in all our sorrows. But if Jesus had undergone only the pains of the senses; if at all times he had displayed an unfeeling insensibility, and had appeared uninvested with the innocent passions of our nature; how much would the consolations to be derived from him have been diminished both in extension and force?
Thus, whether we consider Jesus as the propitiation for our sins, or as a pattern of holiness, or as a tender friend, careful of the happiness of those attached to him, we see the necessity of his inward as well as his outward sufferings, and must be supported by recollecting that he here cried, “ Now is my soul troubled;" and that he afterwards exclaimed,“ soul is exceeding sorrowful.”
The inward sorrows of men are, it is true, often criminal; because they spring from an improper source, from unholy passions or desires, or from defect of submission to the will of God; or because they are excessive in their deyree, and not proportioned to the causes which excite them; or because they are pernicious in their effect, checking our gratitude to God, or causing us to refrain from the performance of duty. But though the blessed Saviour, from the time that he was cradled in the despised manger till he expired upon thebloody cross, scarcely passed a day that did not bring with it something that afflicted his soul: though he, at whose birth angels rejoiced, traversed this valley of tears in sadness and in grief, and found no intermission to the woes of his spirit
till he rested in the tomb; yet his sorrows were ever holy: for in their source they were pure; in their degree, they did not, they could not, transcend the measure which reason and religion required; and their effect never was to suspend his communion with his Father, to make him pause in his laborious beneficence, or recoil from those sufferings which he was to undergo for our salvation.
I know not whether it is necessary for me here to remark, that, in considering these sufferings of our Saviour, we must always remember that they were felt solely by his human nature. The divine nature, , possessed of immutable happiness and infinite joy, was incapable of sorrow. The two natures were united in the Redeemer, without being confounded or mingled together; and in all his sufferings the divinity did not exert itself, but left the humanity alone to sustain them. Thus, while the union with the divinity gave an infinite value and dignity to his sufferings, it did not interpose to diminish their severity.
Under this trouble of spirit, Jesus has recourse to prayer. It is the duty which, by his apostle, he has enjoined upon his disciples. “ Is any afflicted ? let him pray." And where, in calamity, can we better flee than to our Father, and to that blessed Redeemer, who, upon the throne of glory, remembers his groans, and agonies, and conflicts upon earth?
Jesus, full of submission, cries, “ What shall I say?" What petition shall I now offer to the Father who heareth me always ? Shall I say, “ Father, save me from this hour 2” for thus, without doubt, this sentence should be read, with an interrogation; the question itself implying a strong negative. The Redeemer never wished for an exemption from death ; he always had reproved his disciples when they