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MATTH. Xxvii. 45–53.
Non, from the sixth hour there was darkness over all
the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why kast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to
Jesús, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom: and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened ; and many bodies of saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city,
and appeared unto many. HAVING represented the death of Christ under the idea, 1. Of an expiatory sacrifice, in which the
victim was charged with the sins of the whole world : we proceed,
2. To consider it, as the body of all the shadows, the truth of all the types, the accomplishment of all the predictions of the ancient dispensation, respecting the Messiah. In fact, on what state or period of the Old Testament church can we throw our eyes, without discovering images of a dying Jesus, and traces of the sacrifice which he offered up?
If we resort to the origin of all our woes, there also we find the remedy. You will discover that Adam had no sooner by transgression fallen, than God promised him a seed, whose heel the seed of the serpent should bruise, but who in that very act of suffering, should bruise the serpent's head, Gen. iii. 15. You will find this same promise repeated to Abraham ; that seed announced anew to the patriarchs, and, taking St. Paul for your instructor, you will discover that this seed is Jesus Christ, Gal. iii. 16.
If you contemplate the temporal wonders which God was pleased to work in favour of the Jewish nation, you will discover every where in them an adumbration of the spiritual blessings which the death of Jesus Christ was to procure for the church. You will there see the blood of a lamb on the doors of the Israelites. It was the shadow of that Lamb without blemish and without spot, fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Pet. i. 19, 20. You will there behold a rock, which, when smitten, emitted a „stream sufficient to quench the thirst of a great people. This was a shadow of Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that it was Christ himself, who refreshes us
with living water, springing up into everlasting life, 1 Cor. x. 4. and John iv. 14. You will there behold a serpent lifted up, the sight of which healed the deadly wounds of the Israelites. It was a shadow of him who was to be lifted up on the cross.
If you look into the Levitical worship, you will perceive through the whole of it, types of this death: a perpetual sacrifice, the type of him whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, Rom. iii. 25. You will there behold victims, the types of him “ who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, to purge the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God," Heb. ix. 14. a scape-goat, bearing on his head all the iniquities of the children of Israel, Lev. xvi. 21. The type of him who suffered for us without the gate, Heb. xiii. 13.
If you run over the predictions of the prophets, you will find them, as with one mouth, announcing the death of Jesus Christ. Now it is Isaiah who lifts up his voice, saying, “ He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows . . . . who made his soul an offering for sin .. .. who is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth . . . . who was oppressed and was afflicted ...,
who was cut off out of the land of the living," ch. li. 3, &c. Now it is Daniel who holds up the same object : Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself, ch. ix. 26. Now Zacharias takes up the subject, and under the influence of prophetic inspiration, gives animation to the sword of the Lord of Hosts : Awake, O Sword,
against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow : smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered," ch. xiii. 7. Now the prophetic David, minutely describing his sufferings, in such affecting terms as these : “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring ? O my God, I cry in the day time but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent: I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people : all they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, and shake the head,” Ps. xxii. 1, 2, 6, 7. and, in another place : “ Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul : I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing : I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. weary of my crying, my throat is dried : mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.... for thy sake I have borne reproach, shame hath covered my face,
, . Reproach bath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness : and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none ; they gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me yinegar to drink,” Ps. Ixix. 1, 2, &c.
Such good reason have we to consider the death of Jesus Christ under this second idea : it is in our text. The Saviour appropriates to himself the prediction in the twenty-second, psalm ; My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? and, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, he gives occasion to Lis executioners to present him with vinegar, which
preceded his expiring exclamation, It is finished, as it is related by another of the evangelists.
3. The death of Jesus Christ is on the part of the Jews, an atrocious crime, which has roused the indignation of heaven, and armed universal nature against them. But where shall we find colours black enough to depict it? Here the most ardent efforts of the imagination must fall far below the reality, and the most lively images come short of truth.
Supposing we possessed the faculty of collecting, into one point of view, all that was gentle in the address of Jesus Christ, all that was fervent in his piety, humble in his deportinent, pure in his conduct': supposing us capable of making an enumeration of all the benefits wbich he accumulated on the heads of tbose monsters of ingratitude; the gracious exhortations which he addressed to them; the miracles of goodness which he performed among them, in healing the sick, and raising the dead: supposing we could display to you those malignant calumnies with which they loaded him, those abominable and repeated falsehoods, those cruel and remorseless importunities for permission to put him to death, worthy of the severest execration had they been employed even against the most detestable of mankind: could we represent to you all that was barbarous and inhuman in the punishment of the cross; by telling you that it was a huge stake crossed by another piece of wood, to which they bound the body of the person condemned to terminate his life upon it; that the two arms were stretched out upon that cross beam, and nailed, as well as both the feet, to the