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BY Dr. James Inglis
ST. MARK, XV. 37.
And Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the Ghost.
These words, brethren, refer to an event, at the consum-
mation of which the veil that covered the most holy place
was rent from tlie top to the bottom, the graves yielded up
their dead, the earth quaked, the Heavens were enwrapped
in clouds, and nature was convulsed to her centre. This
awful event we are now assembled to commemorate.
Lend me your attention, therefore, whilst, waving* the cere-
mony of preamble, I enter upon the immediate considera-
tion of it.
The present exercise shall offer four views of the death of
Christ; it is an atonement for the sins of the world; it is the
substance of ancient types and the accomplishment of ancient
predictions; it is a crime on the part of his murderers, un-
paralleled in the annals of human guilt; it is a source and
spring of perfect morality.
In the first place. — We are to view the death of Christ
as an atonement for the sins of the world. That such was
its nature and tendency; is abundantly evident from the cir-
cumstances attending it; and perhaps from nothing more
than the otherwise inexplicable terrors which seized our
Lord at the prospect of his decease. ever, apparently,
was any man more shaken at the approach of death than
was Jesus Christ; and yet certainly never liad any man so
little cause of alarm at the approach of death.
ever, apparently, was any man more shaken at the ap-
proach of death than was Jesus Christ. Witness Gcthsemane
and witness Calvary. The sacred writers tell us of the
sorrow he experienced. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful,
even unto death."* They tell us of his agony: "and heing
in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was
as it were great <u ops of blood falling down to the ground."f
They tell us of his cries and tears: "in the days of his flesh, he
offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and
tears, unto him that was able to save him from death.":]:
They tell us that he used such words as these, "0 my Fath-
er, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:**§ and in the
extremity of his sufferings, wlien earth and Heaven seemed
to keep aloof from the persecuted victim, they xlescribe him
as raising the cry of importunate agony to the Almighty
Father; "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"||
Such were the terrors of our Lord at the prospect of death.
But certainly never had any man so little cause of alarm
on this ground: never man might be expected to meet dis-
solution with so much firmness: and that for the following
First. — Christ died confessedly in the service of God
and man. But when men suffer for those \\hora they love
and revere, their sufferings are ordinarily borne with more
patience and tranquillity.
Furthtr. — Christ died perfectly assured of the justice of
his cause and the guiltlessness of his life. When, in his ex-
piring moments, conscience recalls to the sinner the memo-
ry of his crimes, where is the heart that will not feel its
lash? But who will name the crime that could excite re-
morse in the breast of our Redeemer, whose life was a con-
tinued exhibition of every virtue and every duty, faith and
righteousness, zeal and charity, prayer and meditation?
• Mat, xxvi. 38. \ Luke, xxii. 44. \ Heb. v, 7. § Mat. xxvi. 39.
tlMat. xxvii. 46.
Ji gain.— Chi'ist died fully couvincctl of the soul's immor-
tality. He who, having lived an infidel, expires in doubt;
wlio, like the emperor of old, asks of his departing spirit,
whither, poor flutterer, whither art thou going, and where
is thy destination? may well shudder at the black and shore-
less gulph of non-exist once. But he who knows that when
dust returns to dust, the spirit returns to God who gave it;
and that beyond these visible Heavens, blissful abodes are
prepared for the spirits of the just made perfect; from him
less terror might be expected. Jesus Christ knew this. He
knew that the soul is immortal and destined to live ever
happy in the realms of glory and peace. For by him who
now died was life and immortality brought to light.
Finallij. — Christ died assnred of the heavenly recompense.
The place of torment; the worm that never dies; the fire
that is not quenched; could convey no fears to the divine
Saviour, who saw Heaven open to receive him. There were
circumstances of more than common splendour to attend
his reception. Because he had made himself of no reputa-
tion, God was in return to exalt him highly and give him a
name above every name. The clouds of Heaven were to
form his triumphal car; and angels and archangels and the
glorions hosts above were to hail his approach; ^'Lift up,
your heads, ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting
doors; and the King of glory shall come in."*
I have read of martyrs who have braved all that is se-
vere and terrible in death: I have somewhere read of a Chris-
tian woman, who, when persecution was at work and mul-
titudes having fallen beneath its arm, had reddened with
their blood her path to suffering, forgetting the timidity of
her sex, said with a heavenly smile, "our persecutors are
distributing crowns, and I am going to receive one:" but
Jesus, in the prospect of death, sweated as it were great
drops of blood; and in the pains of death, cried aloud, "My
God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"t Inexplicable
* Psalm, xxiv. 7. f Mat. xxvii. 46.
And is it, then, really inexplicable? To them who reject
the atonement, un<iuestionably it is. To them who in faith
receive this doctrine, the mystery is unfolded. Christ "was
wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our ini-
quities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with
his stripes we are healed."* <'God spared not his own Son,
but freely gave him for us all — he made him sin for us — he
made him a curse for us."f And in order more effectually
and perfectly to accomplish this great purpose, tlie prince
of darkness, we have reason to believe, was allowed a more
than ordinary freedom of access to his soul. Well, there-
fore, might the Saviour of the world, pressed by the load
of its accumulated sins, and encompassed moreover, by the
inconceivable horrours of satanic influence, tremble in every
limb, agonise at every pore, and raise the loud cry, "My
God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"|
In the second place: — We are to view the death of Clirist
as the substance of ancient types, and the accomplishment of
ancient predictions. On whatever period of the church we
fix our meditations, we discern some emblem, or some inti-
mation of redemption by the blood of Christ. o sooner
had Adam sinned, than the promise was given, "the seed of
the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent;"§ and this
promise was renewed to Abraham and the patriarchs. If
the blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the doors of the Jews,
it was typical of "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb
without blemish and without spot; who verily was fore-or-
dained before the foundation of the world. "|| If the rock
stricken in the desart gave water to the tribes of Israel,
"that rock," says the aprtstlf, "is Christ."^ If the brazen
serpent, lifted up for them to look to, healed their wounds,
even so was the Son of man lifted up on the cross, that all
the ends of the earth might look to him and be saved. The
sacrifices refer us to him who was "set forth to be a pro-
pitiation for sin."** The victims rofer us to him "who
• Tsaiah, lii. 5. f Cor. v. 21.— Rom. viii. 2.— Gal iii. 13. t Mat. xxvii. 46.
§ Genesis, iii. 15. || 1 Peter, i. 19. 20. H 1 Cor. x. 4. *• Romans, iii. 25.
throu.i^li the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot to
God."* The animal who went into the wilderness loaded
with the curses of Israel, refers us to him "who suffered on
Mount Calvary, without the gates of Jerusalem."! Let us
hear what the prophets say of Christ, in allusion to the sa-
crifice which he was to accomplish for the sins of the people.
By Isaiah it is written, <*He was oppressed, and he was afflict-
ed,- yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to
the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not liis moutli. He was taken from prison
and from judgment: and who shall declai-e his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the trans-
gression of my people was he striclven."^ By Daniel it is
written, "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself."§
By Zechariah it is written, "Awake, O sword! against my
shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the
Lord of Hosts; smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be
scattered." II By David it is written in a psalm, applied by
our Lord to himself, "My God! my God! why hast thou for-
saken me? Why art tliou so far from helping me, and from
the words of my roaring? O my God! I cry in the daytime,
but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not si-
lent. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men,
and despised of the people. All they that see me, laugh me
to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
he trusted in the Lord, that he would deliver him: let him
deliver him, seeing he delighted in him."^
In the third place: — We are to view the death of Christ
as a crime on the part of his murderers, unparalleled in the
annals of human guilt. Here, brethren, language fails; nor
can any images be found to approach the horrible reality.
Let us bring to our remembrance that mildness of character
ever so conspicuous in our blessed Master; the fervour of his
piety; the humility and benignity of his intercourse with
*Hebrews, ix. li. f Hebrews, xiii. 12. tlsa. lui. 7. 8. § Daniel, ix. 26.
If Zechariah, xiii. 7. 1 Pgalm, xxii. 1 . 2. 6—8.
the world; the purity of his life; the favours lie had confer-
i-ed on liis persecutors; the affectionate exhortations be had
addressed to them; the miracles he had wrought for them,
in healing their sick, and raising their dead: and after con-
templating this picture of consummate excellence, let us call
to mind the treatment he experienced; the calumnies level-
led against him by bis persecutors; their lies; their perju-
ries; their savage importunity to procure his death, which
had merited everlasting infamy and execration, bad it been
exercised against the vilest criminal. Above all let us ad-
vert to the nature of the death to which he was condemned;
crucifixion, a fate reserved for slaves, and the refuse of
malefactors; in which the unhappy sufferer was fastened to
a cross by nails driven through his bands and feet; his body
racked; and bis blood flowing drop by drop; until death
should put an end to his lingering agonies, wliicb often con-
tinued so long as to require the interposition of some fresh
torment to give nature the concluding shock; as was the
case in the instance of the two thieves crucified in com-
pany with our Saviour. But let us not stop here. Why
should we forget the scarlet robe; the crown of thorns; the
mo(-k sceptre; the insolent defiance, «'be saved others, him-
self he cannot save?" Let us combine all these circum-
stances, and we may form some faint idea of the crime of
those who murdered the prince of life. Let nature and the
elements accuse them. Let the prodigies that accompanied
the crucifixion, convict them. Let the darkness that cover-
ed the earth, the sun veiling his face in clouds, that be might
not behold the accursed parricide: Let the veil of the Tem-
ple rent, to be the habiliment of mourning for the mur-
der of the Temple's Lord; let the eartli convulsed as if she
trembled at the bloodiest deed that ever stained her bosom;
let the rocks split; the graves opened; the dead arising as if
the trumpet of eternity called them to judgment; let these —
let these substantiate the guilt of our Lord's murderers, and
justify the decree by which their children are at this mo-
ment scattered tiirough the world, marked by a portion of
that infamy in which they sought to involve liim.
In the fourth place. — We are to view the death of Christ
as a source and spring of perfect morality. If it becomes
us to fear the retributive justice of Heaven, where shall we
go to learn that salutary fear, with better prospect of suc-
cess, than to the cross of Jesus? Contemplated from that
elevation, how formidable will Heaven's justice appear?
Even from the Heaven of Heavens she draws her victim:
even from the bosom of God she draws him: she has an al-
tar not made with hands, and on it slie binds a divine lamb,
without spot and without blemish. Surely then, sinners,
who can,* in themselves, offer nothing to their judge but what
will unavoidably provoke his indignation, shall not escape,
if they trample on the gospel, thus rendering themselves tlie
more guilty, in that this very gospel alone furnishes them
the means of escape.
If we would learn to see sin, or moral depravity, in its
true colours, as a hateful and despicable departure from
what is the glory of a reasonable and immortal being, where
shall we go with better hopes of success than to the cross of
Jesus? They who roll sin, as it were, a sweet morsel un-
der the tongue, and who drink in iniquity like water, to this
cross let them repair; let them learn the cause from its ef-
fects; and when they devise sin in their thoughts, let them
remember the blow which it struck at the heart of God's
most blessed Son.
If we would have a model to imitate, where shall we find
one more worthy of imitation than on the cross of Jesus?
Ambitious man! come to the cross of my Saviour, and I
will shew you meekness and lowliness incarnate; I will
shew you him who, although he thought it not robbery to be
equal with God, yet for the benefit of others, took on him
the form of a servant, and died the death of a slave.
Voluptuary! come to tjie cross of my Saviour, and I will
shew you pleasure mortified, and the flesh crucified with its
affe< tions and lusts.
Revenjseful spirit! come to the cross of my Saviour, and
I will shew you one who prayed for liis murderers, and died
for his enemies.
Finallii. — If we would love our Redeemer, whence shall
we derive a more powerful motive to that love than from his
cross? There we see the evidences of his love who first
loved us. We see his hands and feet pierced; his side open-
ed; his wounds bleeding; his body torn by tlie wbips of Al-
mighty justice; and all for our salvation. At a sight so
affecting, where is the obstinacy so invincible as not to
yield? Where the heart so flinty as not to melt?' Where
the love so ardent as not to burn with a renewed and bright-
Thus we have taken a fourfold view of the death of
Christ; we have considered it as an atonement for the sins
of the world; as the substance of ancient types, and the ac-
complishment of ancient predictions; as a crime on the part
of his murderers, unparalleled in the annals of human guilt;
and as a source and spring of perfect morality.
This death, brethren, you are now about to commemorate
at the holy table. Endeavour, therefore, to afffect your
hearts with a })ious and thankful recollection of it. Recog-
nize in the bread the broken body of your Lord, and in the
wine his shed blood; and when you raise to your lips the
consecrated symbols of salvation, see that you make the
sincere return of love for love, and life for life. Retire not
from these heavenly contemplations and performances with-
out growth in grace. Let not your affections, plighted at
the very altar to your dying Saviour, be as the early dew-
drops which glitter in the morning sun, but disappear as
the hours advance. Let the cross ever occupy your minds,
your hearts, your lives; and in the chamber where you meet
your fate, let the cross be lifted up to dissipate the terrors
of the grave. And may God vouchsafe, by his Holy Spirit,
so to strengthen you in that dread moment, as that you may
look from Christ crucified, to Christ risen; glorified; inter-
ceding; prevailing; and extending his arms to receive your
departing spirits; tliat having passed through things tempo-
ral, you may finally attain the things eternal. — Amen.
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