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Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows yet we did esteem him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are healed.—Isai. liii. 4, 5.
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death : tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What! could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch, and
Watch, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. · He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.—Matt. xxvi. 36-44.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthen
ing him. And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus, to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss? - Luke xxii. 42-48.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE SACRED NARRATIVE.
What a preface do I find to my Saviour's passion! a hymn, and an agony: a cheerful hymn, and an agony no less sorrowful.
A hymn begins, both to raise and testify the courageous resolutions of his sufferings; an agony follows, to show that he was truly sensible of those extremities, wherewith he was resolved to grapple. All the disciples bore their part in that hymn; it was fit that they should all see his comfortable and divine magnanimity, wherewith he entered into those sad lists: only three of them shall be allowed to be witnesses of his agony; only those three that had been witnesses of his glorious transfiguration.
Now, before their eyes, this sun begins to be overcast with clouds; He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Many sad thoughts for mankind had he secretly hatched, and yet smothered in his breast; now, his grief is too great to keep in, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. O Saviour, what must thou needs feel, when thou saidst so? Feeble minds are apt to bemoan themselves upon light occasions : the grief must needs be violent, that causeth a strong heart to break forth into a passionate complaint.—Woe is me! what a word is this for the Son of God!
Old and holy Simeon could foresay to thy Blessed Mother, that a sword should pierce through her soul ; but, alas ! how many swords at once pierce thine! Every one of these words is both sharp and edged; My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. What human soul is capable of the conceit of the least of these sorrows that oppressed thine? It was not thy body that suffered now: thy pain of body is but as the body of pain ; the anguish of the soul is as the soul of anguish. Thou didst not say,
My soul is troubled;" so it often was even to tears; but, My soul is sorrowful; as if it had been before assaulted, now possessed with grief. Nor yet this in any tolerable moderation : changes of passion are incident to every human soul; but exceeding sorrowful. Yet there are degrees in the very extremities of evils: those that are most vehement may yet be capable of a remedy, at least a relaxation : thine was past these hopes, exceeding sorrowful unto death.
What was it, what could it be, O Saviour, that lay thus heavy upon
thy Divine soul ? Was it the fear of death? Was it the forefelt pain, shame, torment of thine ensuing crucifixion ? o
and base thoughts of the narrow hearts of cowardly and impotent mortality! How many thousands of thy blessed Martyrs have welcomed no less tortures, with smiles and gratulations; and have made a sport of those exquisite cruelties, which their very tyrants thought insufferable! Whence had they this strength but from thee? If their weakness were thus undaunted and prevalent, what was thy power? No, no ! it was the sad weight of the sin of mankind; it was the heavy burden of thy Father's wrath for our sin, that thus pressed thy soul, and wrung from thee these bitter expressions. What can it avail thee, O Saviour, to tell thy grief to men? Who can ease thee, but he, of whom thou saidst, My Father is greater than I! Lo to him thou turnest; O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! While thy mind was in this fearful agitation, it is no marvel
, if thy feet were not fixed. Thy place is more changed than thy thoughts. One while, thou walkest to thy drowsy attendants, and stirrest up their needful vigilancy: then thou returnest to thy passionate devotions, thou fallest again upon thy face.
If thy body be humbled down to the earth, thy soul is yet lower: thy prayers are so much more vehement, as thy pangs are: And being in an agony,
he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
O my Saviour, what pain, what fear, what strife, what horror was in thy sacred breast! How dost thou struggle under the weight of our sins, that thou thus sweatest, that thou thus bleedest !
with thee: thou wert one with thy co-eternal and co-essential Father; all the angels worshipped thee; all the powers of heaven and earth awfully acknowledged thine infiniteness. It was our person that feoffed thee in this misery and torment: in that, thou sustainedst thy Father's wrath and our curse. If eternal death be insufferable, if every sin deserve eternal death, what, oh what was it for thy soul, in this short time of thy bitter passion, to answer those millions of eternal deaths, which all the sins of all mankind had deserved from the just hand of thy Godhead? I marvel not, if thou bleedest a sweat, if thou sweatest blood. O Saviour, so willing was that precious blood of thine to be let forth for us, that it was ready to anticipate thy persecutors; and issued forth in those pores, before thy wounds were opened by thy tormentors. Oh that my heart could bleed unto thee, with true inward compunction for those sins of mine, which are guilty of this thine
agony; and have drawn blood of thee, both in the garden and on the
Woe is me! I had been in hell, if thou hadst not been in thine agony; I had scorched, if thou hadst not sweat. Oh let me abhor my own wickedness, and admire, and bless thy mercy.
But, O) ye blessed spirits, which came to comfort my conflicted Saviour, how did ye look upon the Son of God, when ye saw him labouring for life under these violent temptations! With what astonishment did ye behold him bleeding, whom ye adored! In the wilderness, after his duel with Satan, ye came and ministered unto him; and now in the garden,
while he is in a harder combat, ye appear to strengthen him. O the wise and marvellous dispensation of the Almighty! Whom God will afflict, an angel shall relieve; the Son shall suffer, the servant shall comfort him; the God of angels droopeth, the angel of God strengthens him !
“ Jesus having spoken these words, went forth with his disciples over the brook Kedron, where was a garden, in which he entered and his disciples. And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place.”
A garden, probably belonging to one of his friends. He might retire to this private place, not only for the advantage of secret devotion, but also that the people might not be alarmed at his apprehension, nor attempt in the first sallies of their zeal, to rescue him in a tumultuous manner. Kedron was (as the name signifies,) a dark, shady valley, on the east side of Jerusalem, between the city and the Mount of Olives, through which a little brook ran, which took its name from it. It was this brook which David, a type of Christ, went over, with the people, weeping in his flight from Absalom.
He began to be sorrowful and in deep anguish. Probably from feeling the arrows of the Almighty stick fast in his soul, while God laid on him the iniquities of us all. Who can tell what painful and dreadful sensations were then impressed on him by the immediate hand of God? The former word in the original properly signifies, to be penetrated with the most exquisite sorrow: the latter, to be quite depressed, and almost overwhelmed with the load.
And being in an agony. Probably just now grappling with the powers of darkness ; feeling the weight of the wrath of God, and at the same time surrounded with a mighty host of devils, who exercised all their force and malice to persecute and distract his wounded spirit.
Rev. John WESLEY.
Christ's speech should be weighed, “ My soul is exceedingly troubled ; and what should I say ? Father, save me from this hour. But yet for this very cause am I come into this hour.” His purpose herein was most effectually to propose to the view of the whole world two contrary objects, the like whereunto in force and efficacy were never presented in that manner to any, but only to the soul of Christ. There was presented before his
eyes in that fearful hour, on the one side, God's heavy indignation and wrath towards mankind, as yet unappeased; death as yet in full strength ; hell as yet never mastered by any that came within the confines and bounds thereof; somewhat also, peradventure, more than is possible or needful for the wit of man to find out; finally, himself flesh and blood, and left alone to enter into conflict with all these : on the other side, a world to be saved by one; a pacification of wrath, through the dignity of that sacrifice which should be offered; a conquest over death through the power
of that Deity which would not suffer the tabernacle thereof to see corruption, and an utter disappointment of all the forces of infernal powers through the purity of that soul, which they should have in their hands, and not be able to touch. Let no man marvel that, in this case, the soul of Christ was much “ troubled.” For what could such apprehensions breed, but (as their nature is,) inexplicable passions of mind, desires abhorring what they embrace, and embracing what they abhor? In which agony, how should the tongue go about to express what the soul endured ?
But here to what purpose should words serve, when Nature hath more to declare than groans and strong cries, more than streams of bloody sweats, more than his doubled and tripled prayers can express, who thrice putting forth his hand to receive that cup, besides which there was no other cause of his coming into the world, he thrice pulleth it back again, and as often, even with tears of blood, craveth, “ If it is possible, O Father ! or if not, even what thine own good pleasure is ;" for whose sake the passion, that hath in it a bitter and a bloody conflict, even with wrath, and death, and hell, is most welcome. Whereas, therefore, we find in God a will resolved that Christ shall suffer, and in the human will of Christ two actual desires, the one avoiding, and the other accepting death.
Rev. RICHARD HOOKER.
That the conflict in Christ's soul, in the view of his last sufferings, was dreadful, beyond all expression or conception, will appear from the effect which it had on his body, in causing that bloody sweat that we read of in the text. In our translation it is said, that “ his sweat was as it were great drops of blood, falling down to the ground." The word rendered great drops, in the original, properly signifies lumps or clots; for we may suppose, that the blood was pressed out through the pores of his skin by the violence of that inward struggle and conflict that there was, when it came to be exposed to the cool air of the night, congealed and stiffened, as in the nature of blood, and so fell off from him not in drops, but in clots. If the sufferings of Christ had occasioned merely a violent sweat, it would have shown that he was in great agony; for it must be an extraordinary grief and exercise of mind that causes the body to be all of a sweat abroad in the open air, in a cold night as that was, as is evident from John xviii. 18, “ And the servants and officers stood there, who made a fire of coals, for it was cold; and they warmed themselves : and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.” This was the same night in which Christ had his agony in the garden. But Christ's inward distress and grief was not merely such as caused him to be in a violent and universal sweat, but such as caused him to sweat blood. The distress and anguish of his mind was so unspeakably extreme as to force his blood through the pores of his skin, and that so plentifully as to fall in great clots or drops from his body to the ground.
Consider what may be supposed to be the special end of God's giving Christ beforehand these terrible views of his last sufferings : it was, that he might take the “ cup” and drink it, as knowing what he did. Christ, as God, perfectly knew what these sufferings were; but it was more needful also that he should know as man : for he was to suffer as man, and the