« PoprzedniaDalej »
state of mankind is altered: "The whole world is become "guilty before God;" and we know that we are speaking to guilty men. In consequence of this alteration, the doctrine of a Saviour and an atonement is now become necessary, reason itself and the fitness of things being judges; and, according to the commandment of the everLasting God, we preach to the world Jesus Christ, by whom many have received the atonement, and to whom all are warranted and commanded to come for the atonement.
Atonement or agony are the alternatives which the ministry of reconciliation holds out to the world. If you refuse the atonement, you must endure the agony; and if you receive the atonement, you shall escape the agony. Is not this fair and righteous dealing? or, if men would hear, is it not dealing mercifully and graciously with the guilty? "For God so loved the world," become guilty before him, "that he gave his only begotten son, that "whosoever among them believeth in him, should not "perish, but have everlasting life." "Let the wicked "therefore forsake his way, and the unrighteous man "his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and "he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he "will abundantly pardon." "For Christ hath once suffer"ed for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might"bring us to God;" and by the ministry of reconciliation saith to every one among you, "Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."Hear his voice, and believe his word, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
THE EXERCISE OF THE SON OF GOD IN HIS AGONY.
HEBREWS V. 7.
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him who was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.
THE witness which God hath testified of his Son, and recorded in the scriptures of truth, is a cabinet of myste. ries. Babes, to whose understandings the spirit of wisdom and revelation opens it, love the cabinet for the mysteries, and acknowledge the mysteries for the cabinet. The wise and the prudent smile at the simplicity which acknowledges mysteries in religion, and with arguments and pride endeavor to force upon the world their beloved sophism: "Where mysteries begin, reason and common sense end.' Unto the former, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed, and from the latter these mysteries are hid. "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."
Looking into this cabinet, we behold a pearl of great price, the Son of God in our nature, and round about him all sorts of gems, jewels, and precious stones, disposed in the order that seemed good to the Framer. But after fixing our eye upon one corner, we are frequently obliged to turn it to another, and to compare what appears in both, in order to have a clear view of each. Nor is any recreation more pleasant and edifying to the minds of men of understanding, than looking through this collection of precious things, and comparing gem with gem, or one part of the revelation of the mystery of godliness with another, in order to understand the whole.
Last day, from a text in the gospel by Luke, the Son of God, in our nature, was evidently set forth before our eyes praying under his agony. In order to understand
THE EXERCISE OF THE SON OF GOD IN HIS AGONY. 37
more clearly and fully the revelation of this mystery, we turn our eyes this day to a text in the epistle to the Hebrews. There the evangelist says, "He prayed more "carnestly;" here the apostle adds, "Who in the days of "his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplica"tions, with strong crying and tears, unto him who was able "to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared."— In these words, The season of the agony of the Son of God is defined, "The days of his flesh;" The exercise under his agony is described, "He offered up prayers and "supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him who "was able to save him from death;" and, The acceptance of his exercise is affirmed, "He was heard in that he feared."
After an illustration of each of these parts of our text, we shall subjoin some applications; and, while we speak and hear, may the Holy Ghost bear witness, and glorify the word of his grace with a free course and a mighty efficacy, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him, according to the grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the FIRST place, we shall illustrate the definition of the season of the agony of the Son of God, in these words, "The days of his flesh." In general, it may be observed, that the application of the term "flesh" to the mystery of his incarnation, is remarkable. By the choice and application of this term, something more is expressed than the subsistence of our nature in his person. The body of the first man, who was of the earth earthy, was flesh in its original glory. When woman was taken out of man, God "closed up the flesh;" and when the man saw the woman, he called her "flesh of his flesh." The body of the second man, who is the Lord from heaven, was after his resurrection, flesh in its original glory; and flesh subsisting in the person of the Son of God. When the disciples, from circumstances of his appearance, imagined him to be an apparition, he said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, "as ye see me have." But the term "flesh," when applied to his incarnation, expresses also those infirmities which are consequences of the fall and mortality of our nature, and which, in his human nature, formed the likeUnder this consideraness or appearance of sinful flesh. tion, "days of flesh" are remarkable days in the life of the
Son of God; and concerning these days, the following particulars may be observed.
First, The beginning of these days is at his birth. In his birth, the Son of God entered into the infirmities of our flesh, and for our sakes, exposed himself not only to perils and sufferings attending ordinary births, but unto inconveniencies and hardships peculiar to the circumstances of his own extraordinary birth. The stable of an inn was the mean pavilion in which he who spread abroad the earth by himself chused to be born, and the manger of that stable was the uneasy bed in which be humbled himself to lie. When the inquiries of the wise men of the cast spread the fame of his birth in Jerusalem, his precious life was sought; and in the infancy of his human nature, the Son of God sustained the fatigues and inconveniencies of a flight into Egypt, that land of insolence and oppression.
Secondly, These days ended at his resurrection. The human nature subsisting in the person of the Son of God, was the same nature after his resurrection that it had been before his death. But the likeness, or appearance, was different. Before his death, it had "the likeness of sinful flesh;" after his resurrection, it appeared in the original glory of human nature, subsisting still in his person. Before, it was oppressed with infirmity, and obnoxious to death; after, it was above every infirmity, and out of the reach of the power of death. Prints of the nails which had pierced his hands and feet were not likenesses of sinful flesh. These were sensible proofs that his human nature had once that likeness, and under it had suffered the death of the cross.
Thirdly, The number of these days is not exactly known. Their number had been ascertained, according to the good pleasure of the will of God, from eternity, and was exactly known to the Son of God himself. This is justly inferred from the manner in which he spake of their end. “On one occasion he says, "Mine hour is not yet come;" and on another occasion, "Father the hour is come." But the number of the days in which he bore our sorrows, and carried our griefs, is not expressly certified by any text of scripture. We are assured that these days existed in the fulness of time, and we are informed of their beginning and their end. Many of the memorable actions done in them are also upon record, and may be read and heard by all
men to whom the scripture is given. These informations are sufficient with respect to the length of time, or the number of the days of his flesh. Nor should we reckon it a disadvantage to our faith, that scripture doth not enable us to count the days which he lived in the flesh as exactly as the days of Adam, and several other men. The author of revelation is the judge of what is proper to appear in the witness which he hath testified of his Son, and what is proper to be concealed.
Fourthly, These were the days of his sufferings and temptations. At their beginning, the Son of God entered into his sufferings, and suffered every day until their end. Ilis sufferings were daily temptations, and his temptations were daily sufferings. From the manger unto the grave, he was the man of sorrows, and the acquaintance of grief. "Surely," saith a prophet who testified before-hand his sufferings, "he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sor"rows." Toward the end of the days, he himself saith to his disciples, "Ye are they who have continued with me in "my temptations." And after these days were ended, the apostle observes, "He himself hath suffered, being tempt"ed." The mystery of the observation doth not lie in being tempted, but in suffering being tempted. By the evil of their doings men tempt God, but God doth not suffer being tempted. Suffering by temptation is peculiar to the high-priest, in whose divine person the suffering nature subsists. Assuming our nature, he took hold of our feelings; and, "that he might be a merciful and faithful high"priest, was in all points, excepting sin, tempted like as "we arc" tempted. Touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he suffered the oppression, the sorrow, the grief, the bitterness and anguish of temptation, and by experience learned to succour and relieve them who are tempted.
Fifthly, Toward the close of these days, he suffered an agony. This conflict is described in the preceding discourse, and is a monument of the temptations and sufferings of the Son of God in our nature, in our stead, and under our iniquities, to which we should every day turn our eyes. Day after day, all the days of his flesh, he waded deeper and deeper in the ocean of sorrow and temptation; and toward the last, the waves and billows rose high, and broke over him in the fury and vengeance of the curse. This mighty ocean, which the justice and holiness of God