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tree, so that the body of the sufferer, sinking with its own weight, and suspended by its nerves, was speedily reduced to one vast wound, till the violence and slowness of the torment at length delivered him, and the blood drained off drop by drop, thus exhausted the stream of life : supposing us to have detailed all the ignominious circumstances which accompanied the death of Christ ; that crown of thorns, that purple rohe, that ridiculous sceptre, that wagging of the head, those insulting defiances to save himself, as he had saved others-supposing, I say, all this could be collected into one point of view, we should still believe that we had conveyed to you ideas much too feeble, of the criminality of the Jews.
Nature convulsed, and the elements confounded, shall supply our defects, and serve, this day, as so many preachers. The prodigies which signalized the death of Jesus Christ shall persuade more powerfully than all the figures of rhetoric. That darkness which covers the earth, that veil of the temple rent in twain, that trembling which has seized the solid globe, those rocks cleft asunder, those yawning graves, those reviving dead, they, they are the pathetic orators who reproach the Jews with the atrocity of their guilt, and who denounce their impending destruction. The sun shrowds himself in the shades of night, as unable to behold this accursed parricide, and what courtly poets said in adulation, namely, that the orb of day clothed himself in mourning, when Julius Cesar was assassinated in the senate-house, was here realized under special di
rection of divine Providence. The veil of the temple is rent asunder, as on a day of lamentation and wo. The earth trembles, as refusing to support the wretches, whose sacrilegious hands were attacking the life of him who fastened the foundations thereof, Job xxxviii. 6. and founded it upon its bases, Ps. civ. 5. The rocks cleave, as if to reprove the Jews for the hardness of their hearts. The dead start from their tombs, as coming to condemn the rage of the living
4. The death of Jesus Christ is a system of morality, in which every virtue is clearly traced. If the divine justice be an object of fear, where is it more powerfully inculcated than on the cross of Jesus Christ? How very terrible does that justice there appear! It goes in pursuit of its victim into the
very heaven of heavens. It extends on the altar a Divine Man. It spares not the Son of God, his own Son. And thơi, miserable sinner, who canst present nothing to the eyes of thy Judge but what is odious and abominable, how shalt thou be able to escape his vengeance, if violating the laws of the gospel thou renderest thyself so much the more worthy of condemnation, that thou hadst, in that very gospel, the effectual means of deliverance ?
If vice is to be held in detestation, where is this lesson so forcibly taught as from the cross of Jesus Christ? Let the man who makes light of sin, who forms to himself agreeable images, and feeds on flattering ideas of it, learn, at the cross of Christ, to contemplate it in its true light: let him form a judgment of the cause from the effects; and let him never think of sin, without thinking, at the same time, on the pangs which it cost the Saviour of the world.
If we wish for models to copy, where shall we find models so venerable as on the cross of Christ? Let the proud man go to the cross of Christ ; let him there behold the Word in a state of humiliation; let him there contemplate the person who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and condescended to submit to the punishment of a slave : the person who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; let the proud man look to him, and learn to be humble. Let the voluptuous repair to the cross of Christ; let him there behold the flesh crucified, the senses subdued, pleasure mortified, and learn to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Let the implacable repair to the cross of Christ ; let him there contemplate Jesus Christ dying for bis enemies, praying even for his murderers, and learn to put on bowels of mercies. Let the murmurer go to the cross of Christ; let him go and study that complete submission which this divine Saviour yielded to the most rigid commands of his Father, and learn to resign himself in all things to the will of God.
If we are bound to love our lawgiver, where can we learn this lesson better than at the cross of Christ? From that cross we hear him crying aloud to the guilty and the wretched : “Behold, O sinners, behold the tokens of my affection : behold my hands and my feet: behold this pierced side : behold all these wounds with which my body is torn: behold all those stripes of the justice of my Father, which I en
dure for your salvation.” At a spectacle so moving, is there an obduracy so invincible as not to bend? Is there a heart so hard as to refuse to melt ? Is there a love so ardent as not to kindle into a brighter flame ?
5. The death of Jesus Christ is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but which all the difficulties that reason can muster, are unable to impair.
It is a mystery inaccessible to reason : let it explain to me that wonderful union of greatness and depression, of ignominy and glory, of an immortal God with a dying man.
Let reason explain to me, how it comes to pass, that though God is unsusceptible of suffering and dying, the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ should, however, derive all their efficacy from his nature as God.
Let reason explain to me, how Jesus Christ could satisfy divine justice, and be, at the same time, if the expression be lawful, the Judge and the party condemned, the Avenger and the party avenged, he who satisfied, and he to whom satisfaction was made.
Let reason explain to me, how Jesus, nailed to the cross, is nevertheless worthy of the adoration of men and of angels, so that the Jew who crucifies him, is at once his executioner and his creature.
Let reason explain to me, above all, that mystery of love, which we see displayed on the cross of Jesus Christ, and how God, who is so great, and so highly exalted, should have vouchsafed to perform, in behalf of man, a being so low and contemptible, wonders so astonishing. Bend, bend, proud reason, un
der the weight of these difficulties, and from the extent of these mysteries, learn the narrowness of thy own empire.
It is the wisdom of God in a mystery, which none of the princes of this world knen, 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8. It is the great mystery of godliness, 1 Tim. iii. 16. These are the things of the Spirit of God, which the natural man receiveth not, 1 Cor. ii. 14. This is the stumbling block of the Jen: this is to the Greek foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23. These are the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, 1 Cor. ii. 9. This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but it is a mystery, whose truth and importance all the difficulties which reason can muster, are unable to impair.
The gospel tells us not that greatness and depression, that ignominy and glory, that the mortal and the immortal nature, were confounded in the person of Jesus Christ. It siinply informs us that God, in the depths of his infinite wisdom, knew how to unite depression to greatness, glory to ignominy, the mortal to the immortal nature. This is a mystery inaccessible to reason, but against which reason has no title to murmur.
The gospel does not tell us that God, who is unsusceptible of either suffering or death, suffered and died, but that the subject susceptible of suffering united to the impassible, suffered; that the mortal united to the immortal subject, died; and that, in virtue of this union, his sufferings and death possess an infinite value. This is a mystery inaccessible