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from shame and spitting."d Nor was this the conduct of a few only; for he was universally execrated; he was considered as "a worm and no man, the very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people:” he was “one, whom man despised, and whom the nation abhorred.” Having loaded him with all manner of indignities, and “ plowed up his back with scourges, so as to make long furrows" in it, they nailed him to the cross, and left him to hang there, till exhausted nature should sink under the tor. ments inflicted on him.
But, as others of mankind have been called to endure many things, let us particularly notice wherein his sufferings were unparalleled; for it is certain that “ his visage was marred more than any man's." And here we shall find that both in variety and intenseness, they infinitely surpassed all that ever were sustained by any human being. In his civil state, as a member of society, he was degraded so low, that even a murderer was preferred before him. In his natural state, as a man, he was eminently distinguished above all the human race as “ a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He suffered much in his body, from labours, watchings, fastings; from the want even of a place where to lay his head; from the wounds made in it from head to foot, by the thorns, the scourges, and the nails. We may judge of this by what is said of him in the Psalms; "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels: my strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. The troubles of his soul were yet greater still. Of these he himself frequently complained: “Now is my soul troubled; my soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” To such a degree was he agitated by internal conflicts, that, before he was even apprehended by his enemies, he was in an agony, and sweat great drops of blood from every pore of his body. Moreover, as his sufferings were thus various, so did they also spring from a variety of sources, from men, from devils, and
d Isai. l. 5, 6.
e Ps. xxii, 14, 15.
from God himself. Men laboured to the utmost to torment him by calumnies and reproaches, by taunts and revilings, and by all the cruelties that the most inveterate malice could devise and execute. Satan assaulted him with fiery temptations in the wilderness; and all the powers of darkness conflicted with him at the close of life. His heavenly Father too hid his face from him in the hour of his greatest extremity, and “ bruised him” for the ini. quities of his people, and called forth the sword of ven. geance to slay " the man that was his fellow.”
Together with this variety of sufferings, let us take a view also of their intenseness. In drinking this bitter cup, he found nothing to mitigate his sorrows, but every thing to agravate them to the uttermost. If we except the sympathy of a few women, he met with nothing but scorn and contempt from all who beheld him. Not even his beloved disciples afforded him any comfort; on the contrary, he was betrayed by one, denied by another, and forsaken by all. All orders and degrees of men were alike inveterate and devoid of mercy. Of this he himself complains by the prophet, & “ I looked for some to have pity on me, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none; they gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." When in the depth of his dereliction he cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” so far from pitying, they, with unexampled cruelty, played or punned, as it were, upon his words, and mocked him as idolatrously calling upon Elias, instead of upon God; and, when he complained of thirst, they gave him vinegar, to increase his anguish, instead of a draught calculated to assuage it. Nor did he receive consolation from God, any more than pity from men. On the contrary, his heavenly Father now hid his face from him, and thereby extorted from him that bitter complaint which we have just recited. The united efforts of men and devils could not shake his constancy: but the hidings of his Father's face seemed more than he could endure; so painful was it to find an estrangement
there, where he could alone look for comfort and support. There were many things also which concurred to aggravate his sufferings beyond measure. It is not improbable that the perfection of his nature rendered him more susceptible of pain than other men: but however this might be, certainly his zeal for God must have given a tenfold poignancy to all his anguish. Consider that immaculate Lamb tempted by satan to distrust his Father's care, and turn the stones into bread for his support; then to presume upon his Father's care and cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple; and then to deny his father altogether, and to worship the devil in preference to him; how horrible must such sug. gestions be to his holy soul! Peculiar stress is laid on this by the apostle, who says, “He suffered, being tempted:” and we are told, he was so distressed by the conflict, that an angel was sent from heaven to strengthen him. The dereliction also before mentioned, must have been afflictive in proportion to the regard 'which he bore towards his heavenly Father. His love for men must al. so have been a source of inconceivable trouble to his mind. If“ Lot vexed his righteous soul from day to day;" and David had “ rivers of waters running down his eyes;” and Isaiah exclaimed, “ Look away from me, I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me;" and Jeremiah cried, “My bowels, my bowels, I am pained at my very heart,” on account of the ungodliness they beheld, and the consequences they foresaw, what must Jesus have felt when he saw, not only the wickedness of men's actions, but all the enmity of their hearts against God, and knew the full extent of those judgments which were soon to come upon them? How must the pride of the Pharisees, the unbelief of the Sadducees, the cruelty of the Herodians, and the stupidity of his own disciples wound his soul! The foresight which he had of his own sufferings must have been a still further aggravation of them. In many instances the expectation of pain is even worse than the pain itself: what then must he have en. duped, when, from the very beginning, he foresaw every thing that should come upon him! To complete the whole, the accumulation of all his sorrows at once must have added so greatly to their weight, that, if he had not been God as well as man, he could never have sustained the load.
See then whether “ the visage of any man was ever so marred as his?” Others, if they have been tried in body, have had comfort in their soul: if they have been persecuted by man, they have received succour from God: or if their trials have been of a diversified nature, still they have found some to commiserate, and, by a tender sympathy at least, to participate their lot: - but He trod the wine-press of God's wrath alone, and drank, even to the dregs, that cup of bitterness, which the sins of the whole world had prepared for him, and which could not be removed consistently with God's honour and man's salvation. Well therefore may we put into hiş mouth those words of the prophet, “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." Well too, as the text observes, might" many be astonished at him;" for whether we consider the innocence of him on whom these sufferings were inflicted, or the greatness of him who submitted to them, or his meekness and patience in enduring them, we are equally lost in wonder and asto. nishment.
Upon a view of our Lord's unparalleled humiliation, we are naturally led to enquire into II. The end for which he submitted to it
Moses, speaking of the truths which he was inspired to proclaim, says, My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass; because I will publish the name of the Lord."i By a similar figure the sprinkling of the nations” may be understood as relating to the publication of the gospel to the whole world. And doubtless this was, in a gene. ral view, the end for which our Saviour died. But the term“ sprinkling” alludes more particularly to the sprinklings which were made under the law. These were sometimes of blood, as when the mercy-seat was sprinkled with the blood of bulls and goats on the great day of annual expiation. Sometimes the sprinkling was of water, as when a person ceremonially unclean was pu. rified from his defilement by water of separation.' Some. times the sprinkling was both of water and blood, as when the leper was cleansed by the blood of a bird mixed with running water. To all of these there is a reference in the text: and from these ceremonial observances, especially as they are more fully opened to us in the New Testament, we learn distinctly the ends of the Redeemer's sufferings.
Lam. i. 12.
i Deut. xxxii. 2.
He suffered, first, that he might purge us from the guilt of sin by his blood. To this the inspired writers bear witness with one consent. They declare that he was a propitiation for our sins; that we are reconciled to God by his blood, and that we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Even the saints that are in heaven are represented as singing praises to him that loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and as ascribing their salvation wholly to the Lamb that was slain. Behold then, ye who are bowed down under a sense of guilt; draw nigh to Calvary, and see the provision made for your salvation: God had ordained, that without shedding of blood there should be no remission; and behold, here is the blood of that spotless Lamb once offered for you on the cross. Take of this by faith, and sprinkle it on your hearts and consciences; and you shall find it effectual to cleanse from sins of deepest die. The true Christian is characterized by the apostle as having "come to the blood of sprinkling. Let us then answer to this character: so shall we be protected from the sword of the destroying angel, and sing for ever the song of Moses, and possess the white and spotless robes in which the redeemed are arrayed before the throne of God.P
The other end of Christ's suffering was, that he might cleanse' us from the power and pollution of sin by his
I Lev. xvi. 15. n Heb. xii. 24.
I Numb. xix. 13.
m Ler. xiv. 6, 7.