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Angels praised the incarnate Son of God in joyful strains,b it is incumbent upon us to celebrate that great mystery of godliness, and God the author of it, with devout and unceasing praises. The blessed Angels begin the song ; let us follow them with the voice and the heart. Glory to God in the highest,” who has exhibited a brighter display of his admirable perfections in this illustrious work, than he did of old in the creation of the whole universe! Glory to the Father, who has raised up, admitted, and given us such a Surety! Glory to the Son, who clothed himself with human flesh, and so cheerfully accomplished his surety-undertaking on our behalf! Glory to the Holy Spirit, the revealer and witness of so deep, so momentous, so precious a truth; and the earnest of so invaluable and longed for a salvation! Hosanna, blessed Jesus, thou true and eternal God, thou true and holy man! In the unity of thy person, we recognise both natures, each possessing its own distinct properties. Thee we acknowledge. Thee we worship. From thy hand alone we expect salvation. May the whole world of thine elect unite with us in knowing, acknowledging, and adoring thee, and thus be saved through thy blessed name! Amen.
b Luke ii. 13, 14.
ON CHRIST'S SUFFERING UNDER
1. NOTHING can be imagined more elegant, instructive, and impressive, than the emblems made use of in sacred writ; and that which occurs in Zech. iii. 9. has always appeared to me particularly beautiful. Our Saviour is there represented as a STONE laid by the hand of God before Joshua the High-priest, to which one Stone seven eyes are directed, and the engravings of which the Lord of hosts engraved, whilst by means of it he purposed to remove the iniquity of the earth in one day. The Stone signifies Christ, who is "the “ rock of our salvation,”a and “the corner-stone, in “ whom the whole building of the church fitly framed “ together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”b He is called "one Stone;" “ for other foundation can “no man lay.”c God hath laid the Stone, namely,
God, who so loved the world that he gave his only
begotten Son.”d He laid it, too, before Joshua, that he and the rest of the priests, and all the teachers of the mysteries of Divine revelation, might attend to it, might point it out to the people as the foundation of the whole system of revealed truth, and on it might build themselves, and the people committed to their charge. This was accordingly done with great diligence, in particular, by the Apostles Peter and Paul.e Upon this Stone are seven eyes ;-to wit, the eyes of God, who beholds it with complacency, and protects it with care ;f and also the eyes of the church, which regards it with cordial and entire confidence, agreeably to the following invitation; “ Look unto me, and be “ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”g But that this Stone might be distinguished from all other stones, it was necessary that it should be divinely engraved with " the engravings thereof,”—its own peculiar engravings. By this we understand “the name of God” impressed upon him as with a seal, h—that is, the splendour of the Divine Majesty shining forth in him and his works; i and also those dreadful sufferings by which it became God to make perfect the Captain of our salvation.j It was by means of those sufferings that the iniquity of the whole earth was taken away, and the world reconciled to God in one day, namely, the day on which his sacrifice was completed, and, so to speak, the last farthing of his satisfaction paid.k Let us then take an accurate survey of this Stone with the engravings thereof, to wit, Christ and his sufferings. We shall speak, first, of the sufferings themselves, and then of the chief Judge in Judea, under whom the principal part of them befell him.
* Deut. xxxi. 15. c 1 Cor. iü. 11.
Ephes. ii. 20, 21. d John üï. 16.
e 1 Pet. ü. 4–6. 1 Cor. iii. 10.
& Is. xlv. 22. i John i. 14. * Heb. x. 14.
11. In discoursing aright on the SUFFERINGS of Christ,—an expression, including amongst others, those which are afterwards expressly mentioned in the Creed, --five points fall to be explained. Ist, Who suffered. 2dly, WHAT—3dly, WHEN—4thly, FOR WHAT END—5thly, FOR WHOM-he suffered.
III. Who suffered ?—Christ the Mediator, Godman, made satisfaction by suffering, in his whole person; each nature contributing its own share. In strict propriety of speech, Christ suffered only in the human nature; since the adorable Divinity is equally incapable of the least increase or diminution of its glorious blessedness, and finds most amply in itself alone, and in the possession, knowledge, and enjoyment of its own perfections, all the treasures of that felicity which is worthy of the Supreme Being. “If thou sinnest, what “ dost thou against him? or if thy transgressions be
multiplied, what dost thou unto him? If thou “ be righteous, what givest thou him, or what re“ ceiveth he of thine hand ?”] But that it is far from being true, that the Divinity contributed nothing at all towards this object, will appear from what is immediately to be said.
iv. As the whole man, both in soul and body, owed obedience to God; and as the whole man, soul and body, sinned and thus became obnoxious to eternal punishment; so it was necessary that Christ should suffer at once in soul and body, that he might glorify God in both parts of human nature, expiate human guilt, and sustain the punishment due to sin. The whole history of the Gospel speaks at great length, of the sufferings of his body; of those of his soul, he
1 Job xxxv. 6, 7.
himself complained in the garden, saying ; " My soul " is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” That his sorrow was extremely vehement was sufficiently manifest, when“ his sweat was, at it were, great drops of “ blood, falling down to the ground.”n These expressions must not be so jejunely explained, as if the body were properly the subject of his suffering, and the soul suffered only by sympathy; for hitherto the body did not suffer, and the sufferings of the body constituted by far the least part of that punishment which it behoved the Surety of mankind to undergo.
v. The Divinity itself indeed suffered nothing; but it afforded strength to the suffering humanity, that it might be able to sustain the pressure of divine vengeance when afflicting it with the whole weight of its anger—not sinking under the load, but nobly overcoming it, and happily lifting up its glorious head. So great
is the vehemence of the divine indignation when poured forth against sin in all its fierceness, that unless support is administered by more than human or any created strength, man must inevitably sink under it, and be everlastingly crushed byits power. Hence it follows that none but “ the mighty God,” strong and valiant,p was able to grapple at once with the infernal hosts, and with God himself avenging iniquity.
vi. But the Divinity of Christ was of importance in another respect. It was owing to the Divinity, that the person suffering was GOD-MAN, “ in whom dwel“ leth all the fulness of the godhead bodily ;'-—not mystically, as in believers—not symbolically, as in the sacraments—not typically and figuratively, as in the m Mat. xxvi. 38.
n Luke xxii. 44. • Ps. xc. 11. Nah. i. 6.
. 6. 9 Col. ï. 9.