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what calmness, what dignity, what sciousness of Deity seem conveyed to us in those few but expressive words, “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” How the Godhead breaks through the suffering Manhood! “He bows His head," but not because His strength is exhausted, and His body broken down, and Himself fainting from loss of blood; “ He gives up the ghost," but not because Death has done its work, and die He must, willing or unwilling. O no: His strength is yet unbroken, though He has been suffering a three-hours exquisite torture, and He is dying because He wills to die, for He is Master of His own life : “ No man taketh it from Me,” were the words of the living Redeemer Himself ; “but 1 lay it down of Myself, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." *
Let us draw near the Saviour's cross, let us join the multitude who are gathered round it, let us mingle among the crowd who have collected together to gaze upon that sad and shameful spectacle. It is a motley throng among whom we find ourselves. Jerusalem has poured forth its thousands to witness a scene at which Nature trembles, and the Sun hides himself, affrighted to behold. Every class has here its representative. There is the rough Roman and the haughty Jew, the rude Soldier and the heartless Scribe, the coarse Peasant and the mocking Priest, all mingled together, all merging, like Herod and Pilate, their mutual animosities in one common hatred, all vying with each other in aggravating the torture of the victim whom their malice has nailed to the cross. Let us not stay among this cruel company of mockers and murderers, but forcing our way through the tumultuous mass, let us press nearer and nearer until we reach the foot of the cross, and the little band who are standing there, -of all the crowd of friends and followers who for three years had gathered round Him, and to whom He had ministered the words of life, these alone faithful to the end. Among them stands the beloved disciple from whose record we have taken cur text, " and his record is true.”* Let us listen with him to the last words which Jesus uttered as He hung upon the cross ; let us endeavour to catch their emphasis and meaning; and this done, let us with Him uplift the eye of faith, and behold the Godhead triumphing over the Manhood, as Jesus “bows His head, and gives up the ghost.”
* John X. 18.
1.- First, then, the emphatic words, “ It is finished,” announced to St. John, and through him, to the Church at large, that the sufferings of Jesus were at an end. And Oh! the sufferings of Jesus ! What mind can measure, what arithmetic compute, what stretch of imagination conceive them? Go and count the sparks that fly upward to the Heavens, or the rain-drops that fall downward to the earth, or the sand-grains that stretch along the sea shore, for as soon may you count the sufferings of Jesus. () remember, Brethren, and the thought may have never occurred to you before, that upon the head of Jesus as He hung upon the cross, were heaped, not only the sins, but the sorrows of a world, In the chapter of Isaiah which has been read this evening, it is said, “ Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,”* and this, before it is said, “ The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Perhaps we cannot better follow the order of Scripture, than to say, that in the garden He sustained our sorrows, while on the cross He bore away our sins. And I would ask you to contemplate the scene of Gethsemane, and tell me whether it does not reveal an intenseness of suffering, an agony of endurance, not to be surpassed by that of Calvary. The anguish in the garden was purely mental, while that on the cross was bodily as well as mental; but even there the bodily was absorbed in the mental, and of all the exclamations that issued from the Saviour's lips, none is to be compared with that agonized utterance, wrung from Him in the bitterness of soul-anguish, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me ?"* In the garden we behold the prostrate form, and the brow bathed in blood, the result of intense, internal suffering ; on the cross we behold the writhing body, and the life-blood streaming from every pore, the result of incessant, external torture. Which, think you, was hardest to bear? O do not our hands hang down, and our knees totter, and our crushed spirits droop and drag heavily, under the pressure of one sorrow? Contemplate then the sorrows of a world, the superincumbent weight of every pang that has pierced the heart, of every grief that has wrung
* Is. liii. 4.
the soul, of every care that has lined the cheek of every child of sorrow and of sin throughout the countless generations of Adam's race, all pressed down upon one head; and then say, whether the agony of the garden does not all but reach the anguish of the cross, and whether any but an Almighty Being could have thus concentred in his single self a world's suffering, the sad result of a world's sin.
But it is not only in the garden and on the cross that we are called to contemplate a suffering Saviour, we may trace Him through every stage of His life, as the “ Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."* From the first hour He entered on His ministry, up to the hour which saw its close, His whole course was marked by suffering, which, had His nature been merely human, must have utterly crushed and over-mastered it, long before it expired on the cross. Immediately after His baptism in Jordan, He is “led up,” the words of St. Mark are even more emphatic, -He is “driven up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the Devil,” † and there He is for forty days and forty nights, enduring not only the assaults of hunger, but
* Is. liii. 3.
+ Mark i. 12.