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which he is compelled to carry. And now he arrives at Calvary. His hands and feet are nailed to the accursed tree; his head is crowned with thorns. In this pitiable state behold the King of heaven and earth! In speechless agony he hangs upon the cross. At last even his heavenly Father withdraws from him, and forsakes him. The darkness which surrounded the cross was but an emblem of the sufferer's soul. Vho can speak the mysteries of the scene? All the other sorrows of his passion are not to be compared with the dereliction which he now endured. How bitter the pang of separation from God is, can be best told by those who most ardently love him. His presence is life. It has made apostles sing praises in prison, and martyrs triumph at the stake. What then must the Son of God have now felt, whose love to his Father was perfect, and whose union with him was inexpressibly intimate! Of no other part of his passion did the Saviour utter a complaint; not of his sufferings in the garden, or at the bar of · Pilate; or when nailed to the cross; not under the insults of the Jews; not of the thorns, the nails, the vinegar, the gall; not of the flight of his disciples. But when bis heavenly Father withdrew the communications of his presence, he exclaimed in the depth of his anguish, Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Then was the travail of his soul. Then did he endure the wrath of God, the curse of the law, the temptations of the powers of darkness, all the woe arising from a full view of the evil of sin, and of the accumulated guilt for which he was about to atone. Well may the Greek church have adopted the remarkable language which occurs in her Litany, "BY THINE UNKNOWN AGONIES.” Yes, what we know of these agonies is little, is but a faint image of the incomprehensible and unutterable reality of the sufferings which he endured. We are able only to say that he sustained all that pain of which his perfect human nature was capable; all the anguish inflicted by the anger of God, the penalty of sin, the terrors of judgment, the assaults of the devil. And if in this world a single drop of divine wrath falling into the conscience of a sinner, has at times quenched every hope, and involved him in inconceivable misery, darkness, horror, and despair ; who shall measure the depth of that agony when all the vials of eternal wrath were poured out even to the dregs on the head of the Redeemer?
But in the next place the sufferings of our Lord were altogether VOLUNTARY. . This circumstance adds an infinite dignity to his passion, that it was the fruit of spontaneous love. He
gave himself for us. No man took his life from him, but he laid it down of him
self. In the midst of his anguish he could have prayed the Father, and he would have sent him more than ten legions of angels. And yet he hastened to the garden; he was straitened till he had finished his work; he spake frequently during his ministry of the decease he should ac, complish at Jerusalem; he said to Peter, who would have dissuaded him from suffering, Get thee behind me, Satan ; for thou art an offence unto me. It was this spontaneous mercy of our divine Lord, which increased the value of all he endured. If he had suffered merely in the ordinary manner of a martyr, the case would have been totally different. But he freely undertook the painful task. He exhibited throughout his passion that cheerful faith, submission, zeal, meekness, and charity, which marked the voluntary sufferer, and for which the eternal Spirit strengthened him. This sheds a lustre round the infamy of the Cross, and constitutes it, not merely an example of the purest holiness, but a sacrifice of the highest virtue. The moment we recollect the spontaneous nature of our Lord's humiliation and death, the glory of the passion begins to appear. The external ignominy is merged and lost in the beneficent and sublime motive; or rather serves to illustrate and commend the love of Christ in so freely and graciously sustaining it.
But the sufferings of Christ were EXPIATORY. This, this is the key to all the preceding e remarks. Whence the continual woe of the
holiest person that ever trod this earth? Whence the extremity of his anguish? Whence the toluntary susception of the death of the cross? To atone for us. His soul was made an offering for sin. All we like sheep had gone astray, and the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He died, the just for the unjust. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. Christ was our surety, he stood in our place, he endured the punishment we had deserved, he satisfied the law of a holy God by fulfilling its demands and suffering its penalty, he exhibited to men and angels the awful consequences of sin, and vindicated and illustrated the honour of God's moral government. He was made a curse for us. Now God can exercise mercy and truth in entire harmony; can be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. The Saviour bas thus finished transgression, made an end of sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness.
I add only further, that the sufferings of our Lord were COMPLETELY EFFECTUAL for the end. for which he sustained them. By one offering he perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. We want no other atonement. We want no relics of saints, no merits of the church, no sacrifice of the mass, no intercession of the Virgin Mary, no pilgrimages nor macerations, no indulgences
We believe that our Lord has “ made by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the -whole world *.” He expired not till he had said, It is finished. O mysterious words! O accents of consolation and bliss! The wants of man are supplied, the work of God is accomplished; the redemption is finished; God is reconciled, pardon obtained, life purchased, the Church saved.
It remains only that we fix our eyes on this scene, that we meditate on the suffering Saviour, and repose our faith in him for pardon and eternal life.
This leads me to consider,
FEELS IN VIEWING THE EFFECTS OF HIS SUFFER
The language of the text is remarkable :
* Communion Service.