« PreviousContinue »
those prophets who were prompted, by the divine Spirit, to testify beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. So conclusive, indeed, is the testimony thus supplied, that after duly considering its amount, we can only express our wonder at the wilful blindness or lamentable perversity of mind by which its force is resisted.
PROOF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST.
THE Circumstance on which we are now to found is matter of fact. The sufferings of Jesus Christ are recorded in indubitable history. The argument derivable from this source, is of a stronger nature than any of the preceding. History is so much more plain and distinct than prophecy, that the evidence it affords must be higher than that which is derived from the latter.
The facts regarding the sufferings of the Son of God are not affected by the sentiments that are entertained respecting the nature and design of these sufferings. The doctrinal opinions of men may differ, but historical truths must ever remain one and unalterable. There is no room for diversity here; whoever admits the canonical authority of the writings of the evangelists, must give credit to the statements they contain; these are subjects of belief, not of opinion. And how stands the matter of fact with regard to the sufferings of Emmanuel? It will be admitted by all who believe the new testament history, that, in their nature, variety, intensity, and
continuance, these sufferings were of no ordinary character.
His whole life was a scene of suffering. From his birth to his death, from the cradle to the cross, from the manger at Bethlehem to the tomb of Joseph, sorrow and suffering seem to have marked him as their own. While yet a babe in his mother's arms, he was driven into exile, to escape the fury of those who sought his life; when but a youth, he was doomed to follow a servile employment, that he might procure the means of bodily subsistence; and when he became a man, he was successively reproached, persecuted, accused, condemned, and crucified. At every period of his abode on earth, we meet with the same general features of suffering; we see them in the weeping infant, the pensive youth, the man of sorrows, and the bleeding victim of Calvary. He seems to have been marked out as the object of bitter hatred, the moment he entered our world; to have been followed throughout with deadly malice; and to have been at last hunted down with implacable revenge. The cup of woe, put to his lips at his birth, was never removed till he wrung out its bitter dregs on the cross. Called to dip his feet, so soon as he was born, in the troubled waters of affliction, wave after wave continued ever after to lash with undiminished strength, deep calling unto deep, till the billows of death overwhelmed him, and cast his exanimate body on the desolate shore. Every variety of suffering was compressed into his life of woe.
He suffered poverty in all its rigour;
being born in a stable and cradled in a manger, being ofttimes dependent on the charity, of others for a precarious support, having no property that he could call his own, and being in many cases worse situated than the inferior orders of creation:- Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.' He suffered reproach in all its bitterness; which to one, conscious of perfect innocence, as he was, and possessing the keenest moral sensibility, must have been inconceivably severe. The most malignant accusations, the vilest aspersions, the most cutting sarcasms, were directed against his person, character, and sufferings; and he who had done no violence neither was guile found in his mouth, had to submit to be taunted as a glutton, a wine bibber, a deceiver, a blasphemer, a Samaritan, a devil, nay the Prince of devils. He suffered temptation in all its malignity. The prince of darkness assailed him with all his ingenuity and power, and let loose upon him his legions, with their infernal suggestions, and wicked purposes, and cruel aims, surrounding him as strong bulls of Bashan, and gaping on him with their mouths like ravening and roaring lions. He suffered the indignity of an unjust trial; being rudely apprehended, dragged unceremoniously to the bar, falsely accused, subjected to the testimony of suborned witnesses, and finally condemned without a shadow of proof. He suffered crucifixion with all its ignominy and pain, being subjected to the previous scourging; bearing the cross on his lacerated body; having the bolts driven with
ferocity into his hands and feet; having the whole joints of his body dissevered by the upright beam being let fall with a sudden jerk into its place in the ground; being left to linger out a wretched existence amid the taunts, and jeers, and insults of an unfeeling mob; and having his heart pierced through with the spear of the infuriated soldier, whose demoniac wickedness impelled him to seek infamous distinction by an act of gratuitous barbarity. He suffered, above all, the wrath of God. It pleased the Father to bruise him. His agony in the garden and on the cross cannot otherwise be accounted for. When he came into the place called Gethsemane, 'he began to be sorrowful and very heavy'—'he began to be sore amazed' he said 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death' being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground'-in the climax of his anguish, falling on the ground, thrice did he pray 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me'-'he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears." And, when hanging on the cross, he gave utterance to the bitter, piercing, piteous cry of felt desertion, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' In all this description, the translation falls as far short of the original language, as the energetic original falls short of the awful reality; no words being adequate
1 Matt. xxvi. 37. ἤρξατο λυπείσθαι καὶ αδημονεῖν.
3 Matt. xxvi. 38. Mark xiv. 34.
2 Mark xiv. 33. T
regíλurós koriv ń Juxń μov 5 Heb. v. 7.