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The Sufferings of the Soul of Jesus.

The Sufferings of the Soul of Jesus.

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John xii. 27, 28.

John xii. 27, 28.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 21, 2013
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John xii. 27, 28. JVow is my soul troubled; and what shall 1 say? Father, 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 ivill 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

316 SERMO LV. causes could produce. He just touches the moment when lie 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, " JVoiv 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, thathe 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-

LIFE OF CHRIST. 317 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, 1 ' but one

w ho " 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, " ow is my soul troubled ;" and that he afterwards exclaimed, " My 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 degree,&nd 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

318 SERMO LV. till he rested in the tomb ; yet his sorrows were ever holy : for in their source they were pure ; in their de-

gree, 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 mc from this hour?" 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 diseiplcs -when thej


would have dissuaded him from it. He was " straitened" till the time arrived when his " baptism" of sufferings and of blood should " be accomplished." He longed for the period when he should eat the last passover with his disciples. If in the garden he prayed that " the cup might pass from him ;" this cup was the overwhelming anguish which then weighed down his soul, from which he was delivered, and not the sacrifice of the cross. o wonder that he refuses to pray to be saved from the hour of suffering and death, since he adds, "for this cause came I into the world." The eternal purposes of God, the covenant engagements of the Redeemer, the language of ancient prophecy, his own predictions, the redemption of the world, all made it necessary that he should submit to this death, and undergo these woes ; and for this very end he had become incarnate. He therefore exclaims, " Father, glorify thy name.'''' i I fully and freely resign myself to thine holy will. Display thy perfections, promote thine honour by me; and I will rejoice, whatever may be my sufferings.' Pause a moment, and consider your Saviour thus looking forward, clearly discerning all that he must endure, fully knowing the burden of sin, and the ago* nies it deserved; yet consenting to bear the imputation of the one, and the sufferings of the other ; never recoiling till he could cry with the voice of triumph, " It is finished !" while he bows his head in death, and consummates the redemption of the world. Surely, if we are not dead to every generous feeling, our hearts must be affected by that love which urged him so willingly to endure the sufferings for us, so cheerfully to open his own heart for the reception of that sword of divine justice which was directed against us. It is true that he was violently slain by

320 SERMO LV. wicked men ; but from their power, how easily, had he chosen, could he have rescued himself! He who, by the majesty of his looks, and the authority of his words, cast to the ground those who came to apprehend him, could easily have delivered himself. While Judas betrayed him through covetousness, and Pilate condemned him through a worldly policy, and the Jews crucified him through rage, he gave himself only through love to man, and to display the glory of God. They intended only his death ; but he, his death as a sacrifice, and was the sole offerer as it respected God, or benefited us. His voluntary submission had scarcely been expressed before a loud and majectic " voice from heaven" proclaimed, " / have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." Thrice, by such a voice, was the testimony of the Father given to Jesus. His baptism was his solemn inauguration into his priestly office. As under the old dispensation, those who w r ere his types were set apart by the application of water and the holy anointing oil, so Jesus was designated as the High Priest of our profession by water and the effusion of that Holy Spirit whom the oil typified. On this occasion, the voice from heaven cried, •' This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." One great design of the transfiguration was to exhibit Jesus as the sole Prophet of his church. Moses and Elias appear, therefore, for a time ; but they depart ; and when the Saviour is left alone, the voice from heaven, that re-echoes on the top of the mountain, points him out as the only Lawgiver. " This is my beloved Son; hear ye him" And now that he makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and is hailed as the Son of David, the King Messiah, this testimony is repeated ; that thus, in the three

LIFE OF CHRIST. 321 great mediatorial offices, Jesus might have the explicit attestation of his Father. And how exalted is this testimony to the sublimity of the Redeemer's character, and the benefits of his mediatorial work : " / have glorified my name." In the incarnation of Immanuel, the wisdom and the faithfulness, and the love of God, had already been illustriously displayed. By his doctrine and instructions the divine perfections had been more fully revealed to the world than they ever had been before. The sublime and spotless holiness of his life was a visible image of the purity of his eternal Father. And his miracles were not only a proof of his mission, but an evidence of the might of God, of the perfect subjection of all the powers of nature to its Author, and of the ease with which he could reward his friends, or punish his enemies. Yes, in these and in other modes the honour of the divine name had been promoted by the Redeemer. But the voice from heaven added, " / will glorify it again" more remarkably by thy death and the great effects of thy sacrifice. And has not this been fully verified ? Had we time to display the divine glory, as manifested in the cross, the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus ; in the gift of the Holy Spirit ; in the conversion of the Gentiles ; you would instantly acknowledge that this declaration has been accomplished. But on these and other points we cannot dilate, but must leave them principally for your own meditation. Think only for a moment of the formerstate of the greater part of the world, of those nations that are now most civilized ? What were their fathers ? blind idolaters, without any true notion of God or of futurity ; with cruel, absurd, or abominable rites of worship. What has

vol, it. 11

322 SERMO LV. enlightened and reformed them ? What has shown them the true character of the All-perfect ; the acceptable mode of worshipping him, and the mode of reconciliation to him ? What but the death of Jesus, and the consequent bestowal of that Spirit, who gave energy and success to the addresses of the apostles, and who inspired their writings ? Think of the myriads upon myriads that have been plucked from ruin, that are now shining with light and burning with love before the throne of God, and that display the divine perfections inconceivably more than can all the material frame of nature, with all its pomp and majesty. Whence came it that these were thus exalted ? Their own song affords the answer : " Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion for ever." Look at the believers who are still upon earth : who are praising and blessing God, celebrating his perfections, and advancing to his heaven. How came they to be the trophies of divine grace, the everlasting monuments of infinite love ; beings who through eternity shall glorify the name of God ? because Jesus died ; and they obtained redemption through his blood, and sanctification by his Spirit. Look forward to that day which is hastening on : that day which our faith anticipates, and our hope longs for, when the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of God ; when every heart shall beat high with love to the Lord ; when songs of salvation shall float in every breeze; when this world, so long oppressed with sorrow and with sin, shall resemble heaven in happiness and purity. Whence comes it, that this revenue of praise and glory shall be given to the

Most High ? because Jesus died ; and because the promises made of him and to him, in the everlasting

LIFE OF CHRIST. 323 covenant, and in the predictions of the prophets, must be accomplished. After such views, turn back and stand for a moment at the foot of the cross. Look upwards, and see how there especially the name of God is glprified. The divine perfections are there displayed in a degree infinitely greater than they are elsewhere manifested. You admire the goodness, which shines in nature and providence; which created, supports, and surrounds you with blessings : but what is this to that love which induced the Father to give the Son of his bosom to undergo such agonies for your salvation ? You shudder at that justice and holiness which are announced in the scriptures, which are heard in the thunders and glitter in the lightnings on Sinai, and which blaze in the flames of hell ; but they are more manifested in the tremendous sacrifice of Immanuel. The infinite holiness of God, his implacable hatred of sin, and the impossibility that it should escape punishment, never were so fully attested as when God spared not his own Son, but was pleased to " bruise him and put him to grief," when he appeared in the stead of sinners. Review the other attributes of God, and you will see them shining with equal lustre upon Calvary. It is there that those perfections, which appeared irreconcilable, beautifully and completely harmonize. Holiness is exalted, while grace triumphs. The rights of the divine government are unimpaired, while the sinner is saved. " Righteousness and peace meet together, mercy and truth embrace each other." Yes ! it is to the cross that believers go, to study the perfections of the God whom they adore, and to increase the fervour of their love

to him. It is from the contemplation of it, that the hallelujahs of the redeemed in heaven are uttered

324 SERMO LV. with new warmth and transport. And the angels who so long have dwelt in the immediate presence of God, discern in it new wonders, and look from the throne of the Eternal to Calvary, and admire, bless, and adore. All holy intelligences acknowledge that there God has indeed glorified his name. 1. Careless and impenitent man, this subject should alarm thee! The woes which Jesus endured, were suffered for the guilty : but if thou ungratefully neglect him, if thou refuse penitently and believingly to draw near to him, thou shalt experience the same agonies which, were felt by this victim of love, shalt experience them for ever. Refuse the gospel method of salva^ tion, and thou sacrilegiously attemptest to rob God of his glory manifested in it. But wilt thou succeed ? Ah, no ! God will be glorified by thee for the gift of his Son, or upon thee for thy neglect of him. " Give glory then in time to the Lord thy God, before thy feet stumble on the dark mountains" of horror and despair. 2. Believer, in the anguish of Jesus, see the foundation of thy joy. He suffered, that thou mightest triumph. In all thy griefs remember him, who to his infinite grace as God adds that sympathy derived from a fellow-feeling of our infirmities ; and go " boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need." Triumph in the stability of thy hopes. God has inseparably united his own glory with the salvation of the believer. Instead of being opposed to thy happiness, he reckons it his honour. Blessed plan of salvation,

which is at once so safe for man, so glorious to God ! 3. Communicants, approach the. holy table. Contemplate the glories of God in the crucified Saviour. Retrace the mercy of your Redeemer. Behold in


him " the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth ;" and, " beholding in his face the glory of God, may we be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of our God."

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