Imágenes de páginas

OTercomc by the severe trials that await you, nor be tempted to desert me. Yet at the same moment, seeling for the insirmity of human nature, he adds, "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." That is, I know your hearts are right, and your intentions good; but the weakness of your frail nature overpowers your best resolutions, "and the thing which ye would ye do not." "He went away again the second time, .inJ 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. Then conieth he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me." That is, henceforth, hereafter (for so the original strictly means) you may take your rest; your watching can be of no surther use to me: my trial is over, my agony is subdued, and my destiny determined. I shall soon be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, therefore, let us go and meet this danger. Behold, he that betrayeth me is at hand.

This is the account given us of what is called our Saviour's agony in the garden; in the nature and circumstances of which there is certainly something "difsicult to be understood;" but it is at the same time pregnant with instruction and consolation to every disciple of Christ.

We may observe in the sirst place that the terror and distress of our Lord's mind on this occasion seems to have been extreme, and the agony he endured in the highest degree poignant and acute. He is laid here to be "exceeding sorrowsul, even unto death." St. Mark adds, that he was "sore amazed and very heavy*;" and St. Luke tells us, that "being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood salling down tS the groundf." To what cause

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


could these uncommonly painsul sensations be owing I There is great reason to believe that they could not arise solely from the sear of death, or of the torments and the ignominy he was about to undergo; for many great and good men, many of the primitive martyrs for instance, and of our sirst reformers, have met death and tortures without seeling, at least without expressing, such excessive terrors of mind as these.

But it should be considered, that besides the apprehensions of a death in the highest degree excruciating and disgracesul, to which in his human nature he would be as liable as any other person, there were several circumstances peculiar to himself, which might exceedingly embitter his seelings-f«-\d exasperate his sufferings.

In the place, from the foreknowledge of every thing that could besal him, he would have a quicker sense and a keener perception of the torments he was to undergo, than any other person could possibly have, from the anticipation of suture sufferings.

In the next place, the complicated miseries which he knew that his death would bring upon his country, for which he manisested the tenderest concern; the distress in which it would plunge a mother and a friend that were insinitely dear to him; and the cruel persecutions and asflictions of various kinds, to which he foresaw that the sirst propagation of his religion wc^ld expofe his beloved disciples; all these considerations operating on a mind of such exquisite sensibility as his, must make ,a deep and painsul impression, and add many a bitter pang to the anguish, which preyed upon his foul. Nor is it at all improbable, that his great enemy and ours, the prince of darkness, whom he came to overthrow, and with whom he maintained a constant conflict through lise, and triumphed over by his death; it is not I say,, at all improb-stable, that this malignant Being should exeij^.his utmost power, by presenting real and raising up imaginary terrors, to shake the constancy of his soul, and deter him from the great work he had undertaken. These, and a multitude of other agonizing distresses, unknown and inZ 2

conceivable to us, which might necessarily spring from G> vast, so momentous, so stupendous a work, as the salvation of a whole world, make a plain distinction between our Saviour's situation and that of any other martyr to the cause of truth, and most clearly prove that there never was " a sorrow in every respect like unto his sorrow*." It is evident, indeed, that there was some other cause of his agony besides that of his approaching death : for it is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that he was heard in that he fearedf; that is, was delivered from the terrors that oppressed him ; and yet we know he was not delivered from the death of the crofs.

And it should be observed in the last place, that notwithstanding his temporary agonies of mind, notwithstanding he was "sore amazed and exceeding sorrowsul, even unto death ;" notwithstanding lie prayed most earnestly and servently " that the bitter cup of asfliction might, if possible, pass away from him yet, upon the sinal result, he manisested the utmost sirmness and fortihide of soul: and the constant termination of his prayer was, not my mill but thine be done. He submitted with the most persect resignation to thofe very calamities which he selt fo acutely, and deprecated so earnestly ; and went out from the garden to meet the dangers that approached him with that noble and dignisied address to his slumbering disciples, "Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me." It is evident then that this remarkable incident in the history of «ur Lord, which has given occasion to so much unsounded and idle cavil, instead of lowering his character in the slightest degree, adds fresh lustre to it, and encreases our veneration for his exalted virtues.'

And what is of no less importance, it presents to us instructions the most edisying, and reflections the most consolatory to the weakness 6f our nature.

We see in the sirst place, that our Lord did not pretend to that unseeling heroism, that total insensibility to pain and affliction, which some of the ancient philofophers af

* Lam. i. iz- f Heb- v. 7. .

sected. On the contrary, in his human nature he selt like man; he selt the weight of his own sorrows, and drops the tear of sympathy for thofe of others. To thofe, therefore, who are oppressed and bowed down (as the best of men sometimes are) with a load of grief, who sind, as the Psalmist expresses it, "their Belli and their heart sailing," and their spirits sinking within them, it must be a most reviving consideration to reflect that in this state even of extreme depression, their it is no guilt; that is no mark of God's displeasure; that even his beloved Son was no stranger to it; that he was a man of sorrows, and' well acquainted with grief; that therefore he is not a hard, unseeling obdurate master, who cannot be touched with our insirmities, but one who was in all things tried and afflicted as- we are, yet without sin." He knows what sorrow is ; he knows how hard it sometimes presses even on the sirmest minds; and he will not sail to extend that relief to others, for which even he himself applied with so much servency to the Father of all. 4 .

From his example too, on this occasion, we learn what. conduct we ought to observe when distress and misery overtake us. We are hot only allowed but encouraged by what he did, to put up our petitions to the Throne of grace, for help in time of need. We are permitted to pray for the removal of our calamities with earnestness and with servour; we may implore the Almighty that the bitter cup of affliction may pass away from us ; but the conclusion must always be (what his was) " not my will, O my Father, but thine be done." And one thing we may be assured of, that if the evils which overwhelm us are not removed, yet our supplications shall not be in vain: we mail at the least be enabled to bear them. And though we must not expect to have an angel lent from heaven to support us, as was done to Jesus ; yet we may expect, and expect with considence, that a more than angelic comforter, even the Spirit of God, will shed his healing influence over our souls, and preserve us from sinking even under the severest trials.

And there is still one further lessen of no small importance, which this part of our Saviour's history may teach. .


Extreme affliction, as we all but too well know, has a natural tendency, not only to depress our spirits, but to four our tempers, and to render us fretsul and irritable, and severe towards the sailings of others. But how did it operate on our blessed Lord? Instead of injuring, it seemed rather to improve the heavenly mildness of his disposition, and to make him more indulgent to the sailings of his followers. For when in the very midst of all his anguish, they could so sar forget his sorrows, and their own prosessions of attachment to him, as to sink into sleep, how gentle was his reproof to them for this want of sensibility and attention to him ?" Could you not watch with me one hour ?' And even this affectionate rebuke he immediately tempers with a kind excuse for them: the spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak."

I now proceed in the melancholy narrative. "Ancl while he yet spake, lo! Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever 1 shall kiss, that same is he: hold him sast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come ? Then came they and laid hands on Jesus, and took him."

"And behold one of them which were with Jesus (St. Peter) stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest, (whofe name was Malchus) and smote off his ear." Here again we see the warmth and vehemence cf Peter's temper, which prompted him to a well-meant, though injudicious display of his zeal in his Master's cause. "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place, for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scripture be sulsilled, that thus it must be V

From this reproof to Peter, we are not to inser that the use the sword in self-desence is unlawsul; but that the

« AnteriorContinuar »