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thy Divine soul ? Was it the fear of death ? Was it the forefelt pain, shame, torment of thine ensuing crucifixion ? O poor 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 ; 0 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! All was peace 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, О 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 act of Christ in taking that cup, was the act of Christ as God-man. From this scene in Gethsemane, we learn the unspeakable love of Christ to sinners, the glory of Christ's obedience, and the wonderfulness of Christ's submission to the will of God !
If you doubt whether Christ sustained the wrath of God, let us follow him to the garden of Gethsemane. A scene which I would always recollect when I walk along the flowery garden, or enjoy the delights of any rural retirement. He had no remorse to alarm his spotless conscience : yet fearfulness and trembling came upon him. It was night, cold night; and though our Divine Master lay prostrate upon the earth, amidst the fall of chilling dews, he sweat,-sweat blood,-sweat great drops of blood, running down in reeking streams to the ground. He was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows; yet so insupportable was his affliction that he could not forbear crying out, “ My soul is sorrowful, -exceeding sorrowful,— sorrowful even unto death !" What cause, what adequate cause, can be assigned for this amazing anguish ? None but the wrath of his Almighty Father ; who was now become an inexorable Judge ; treated him no longer as the Son of his love, but as the surety for unnumbered of his guilty creatures !
REV. J. HERVEY.
“ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” If this blessed minister of heaven did comfort him with words, we must suppose, he humbly besought him to look upon the glory set before him, and reflect on the vast good that would arrive to all mankind by his passion, and that he encouraged him to go on with the great work of redemption. O my soul! and hath not God sent an angel to thee, a minister of his word in thy afflictions, and encouraged thee by the hopes of eternal glory to bear up, and to be undaunted under all the waves and billows that went over thee! Nay, hath not thy God himself suggested to thy mind what benefit thy affliction would yield, what peaceable fruits of righteousness, what hatred of sin, what love to holiness, and what humility it would produce! And yet none of these have been able to keep thee from sinking! How sensual is thy mind! How earthly are thy affections! What polishing, what refining do they want yet! And yet if affliction, which is the furnace that must purify the gold, will not do it, what can be supposed to do it?
“ And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly,” &c. See, O my soul ! how thy sin presses the Son of God! See how great the horror of it is, that it forced him into agonies, and these agonies vent themselves in a bloody sweat! He saw the wrath of God, that flaming sword which hung over thee, the revenging arm that God shook against thee! He saw the hell thou hadst deserved, the torments thou hadst merited, the agonies thou hadst involved thyself in! He saw thy sins in their full latitude and extent, what encroachments they had made on the Divine nature, what affronts they had offered to the great Majesty of heaven! Being very sensible of the infinite purity of God, he saw the dreadfulness, the monstrousness of thy transgressions, which had made war with that Divine
purity. He saw the fire and brimstone, the everlasting furnace, the burning lake that was designed to be thy recompense: he saw it and trembled : he saw it and staggered. He felt it, being infinitely compassionate, and feeling it, laboured to shake it off, and to get from under it; and as he struggles with the load, his sacred body breaks forth in a strange kind of sweat. Didst thou ever consider, O my soul, what thy sins did cost ? Hadst thou considered it, how couldst thou have been so merry, so blithe, so jocular in the commission ? Behold the agony of thy Saviour !
Observe what passed between Christ and his disciples at this time. He comes and finds them asleep. What had become of us if Christ had been now as sleepy as his disciples were ? It is well for us that our salvation is in the hand of one who neither slumbers nor sleeps. Christ bespoke them to watch with him, as if he expected some succour from them, and yet they slept; surely it was the unkindest thing that could be. When David wept at this Mount of Olives, all his followers wept with him.2 Sam. xv. 30. But when the Son of David was here in tears, his followers were asleep. Lord, what is man? what are the best of men when God leaves them to themselves ?
Christ loves them notwithstanding. Persons in sorrow are too apt to be cross and peevish with those about them, and to take it very heinously if they but seem to neglect them; but Christ in his agony is as meek as ever, and carries it as patiently towards his followers as towards his Father!
When Christ's disciples put this slight upon him, He came to them, as if he expected to receive some comfort from them: more careful for them than they were for themselves, when he was most engaged, he came to look after them; for those that were given to him were upon his heart living and dying! He
gave them a gentle reproof; for as many as he loves he rebukes. Sometimes he continued all night in prayer to God, but then he did not expect his disciples should watch with him; only now when he had but one hour to spend in prayer ! He gave
them good counsel : “ Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” He kindly excused them: “ The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” In this he set us an example of that love which covers a multitude of sins !
Rev. Matthew Henry.
On the most transient survey of this amazing story, we cannot but fall into deep admiration. What a sight is here! Let our souls turn aside to behold it with a becoming temper, and surely we must wonder how the disciples could sleep in the midst of a scene which might have almost awakened rocks and trees to compassion.
Behold the Prince of life, God's incarnate and only begotten Son, drinking of the brook in the way, (Psalm cx. 7,) and not only tasting, but drawing in full draughts of that bitter cup which his heavenly Father put in his hands on this awful occasion. Let us behold him kneeling, and even prostrate on the ground, and there pouring out his strong cries and