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MESSIAH'S HUMILIATION AND TRIUMPH :
BY THE REV. SAMUEL DUNN. “ He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.”_
Psalm cx. 7. The precise application of this Psalm is easily determined. In the New Testament it is frequently quoted, and directly applied to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. David in spirit calls him "Lord.” He sits at the right hand of Jehovah. He reigns as a conqueror in Zion. He has an everlasting priesthood. He sways the sceptre of universal dominion. He is tremendous in his battles, victories, and judgments. He sets his foot on the necks of bis enemies. He is surrounded by noble, willing, happy subjects, who are arrayed in the splendid garments of holiness, and as numerous as the drops of dew in the morning.
The text informs us of the means by which he has attained to this lofty elevation : not by the mere arm of Omnipotence, but by suffering. His triumph is the result, the reward of his passion.
Waters in Scripture frequently signify afflictions. To drink of such waters is to endure afflictions. The word here rendered “ brook,” is in other places rendered “river,” “flood,” “ torrent.” The passage, therefore, strikingly brings before us Messiah's humiliation and triumph.
First. MESSIAH'S HUMILIATION. “He shall drink of the brook in the way."
This act of our divine Redeemer was,
1. Unparalleled. He had to stoop from the highest throne in heaven to this dark vale of tears ; to veil the coruscations of his glory, and to shroud himself in our frail humanity, before he could get at the brook. And he did not refuse : “ Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.” “ Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” He was subject to hunger and thirst, to cold and weariness. He had soon to drink of the bitter waters of envy and jealousy, of suspicion and misrepresentation, of ingratitude and insult, of denial and treachery. He was seized, buffeted, scourged, spat upon, crowned with thorns, unrighteously condemned, cruelly crucified. It took him thirty-three years to pass the brook. His whole life, from the manger to the cross, was one continued scene of suffering. He was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief. He was grieved at the hardness of the people's hearts. He wept over Jerusalem. His was travail of soul : his bodily were but faint pictures of his mental sufferings. The mere reading of what some of the martyrs endured, fills us with anguish. But when we lift the veil, we cease to wonder at the steady step with which they went to the
VOL. III.-FOURTH SERIES.
stake, at the songs of rapture they poured forth amid thick volumes of smoke. They were irradiated with the light of God's countenance, were specially strengthened by grace divine. But the brook at which the Saviour drank was one of unmitigated suffering. Heaven, earth, and hell combined to accumulate his woes, to embitter his draught. The powers of darkness assailed him. Malicious, barbarous men exhausted their ingenuity in augmenting his pangs. But most intolerable of all was the hiding of his Father's face. This extorted the most plaintive and heart-rending exclamation. It was more than a “cup” he had to drink. It was a flood of miseries ; deep, dark, muddy, and troubled waters. His sufferings were overwhelmingly severe, intensely keen, dreadfully excruciating. They challenge the universe to produce any sufferings like them,-incomprehensible, unutterable, unknown.
Messiah's drinking of the brook was,
2. Appointed. It was a brook “in the way:" placed intentionally in the way that he would have to pass ; placed there by infinite wisdom, boundless goodness, inflexible justice, unspotted holiness, and immutable faithfulness. Every attribute of Deity would have forbidden Christ's exaltation in our nature, until he had drunk the brook of suffering and death. His drinking of this brook was sanctioned by supreme authority. It was of divine appointment. The Father had a direct and holy agency in the sufferings of Christ. Bold men and evil spirits assaulted him ; but they could have had no power at all against him, unless it had been given them from above. “I have power,” said he, “ to lay down my life, and power to take it again : this commandment received I of my Father.” He gave himself for us according to the will of God. The Father assigned to Christ the whole portion of his sufferings. He foreknew, predetermined, and mixed the bitter ingredients of the brook. He sent him into the world to drink of it. He led him to it. Messiah was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” It even “pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief." Not that the Father could take pleasure, abstractedly considered, in leading his Son to the brook; but, considering how this would illustrate the divine perfections, tend to the honour of Jesus, and to the happiness of mankind, “ God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”
This act of Christ was,
3. Voluntary. He not only drank by authority, but of his own accord. It would have been an act of the highest injustice to have taken him to the brook without his most perfect concurrence. That he should stoop voluntarily, was an indispensable circumstance in such a proceeding; and he did it. His engagement was the dictate of his spontaneous, unmerited, unsolicited love. His undertaking excited his deepest interest. He early announced, by his Prophets, the ingredients of the brook. He struck off types of his sufferings. When the glorious era arrived for the full development of his purposes, he stretched his wings of love, bowed the heavens, and came down with rapture, exclaiming, “ Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." And this was not a burst of enthusiasm, a momentary emotion. He had time to consider the resolution, to survey the brook, and to calculate the consequences of entering it. And did He for one moment regret his engagernent ? Did he allow any object to divert his attention from the scene? Did he ever hesitate, or vacillate, or relax? Had he to be dragged, like a struggling victim, to the altar? He went deliberately, steadily, cheerfully to the brook. If he did not go voluntarily, why did he go? Where was the craft that could have ensnared him? Where was the might that could have overcome him, had he thought proper to resist? By his calm omnipotence, he could have baffled, paralyzed, and destroyed his foes. It was with the most perfect spontaneity then that he went to the brook. When he saw its troubled waters rising in the distance, he said, “ I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished !” When in Galilee, be showed unto his disciples “how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the Elders and chief Priests and Scribes, and be killed.” When Peter expostulated with him, he received the severe rebuke: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” He told Judas at the supper to go out and do quickly the deed of treachery on which he was bent. To his disciples he said, “For your sakes I devote myself a victim.” To the soldiers in the garden, he delivered himself without resistance or complaint. When accused and condemned at the bar of Pilate, he attempted no vindication. “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” There was a fixed and determined idea of self-surrender. He was virtually his own executioner. He did not absolutely delight in suffering; he was not indifferent to pain : but love nerved his purpose ; a love which the many waters could not quench, nor the torrent of floods drown; a love that, by its own intense vitality, burned on unquenchable in the very depth of the brook. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life.”
This act was, 4. Vicarious. He drank of the brook, not on his own, but on our, account. He possessed life in all its fulness, and throughout eternity. He was essentially, absolutely, and immutably holy. There was nothing in him that required, by any process of suffering, to be brought into conformity with the will of God. Had he been guilty of sin, he would have deserved to drink of the brook, and could not have been a substitute for us. But he was without sin, both original and actual, such an one as “became us." We had violated the law of God, and were justly exposed to the tremendous penalty,-everlasting death. We could make no atonement for our transgressions. Obedience to the law was out of the question : we had neither the ability nor the inclination to perform it. And even were we now to render it, present for past can never atone. All suffering is the effect of sin, and therefore can never “put it away." "Repentance is no requisition of the law, and so can be no satisfaction to it. But God is essentially holy, and must abhor sin : he is the very essence of justice, and must necessarily punish sin. We must, therefore, endure the penalty, unless “some other able, and as willing, pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death.” The Socinian indeed asserts, that vicarious atonement is contrary to reason, and therefore impossible; that no man can suffer except for his own sins, or be rescued unless he himself make the atonement. But is this correct? Do we not see vicarious interference in Providence? Do not children often become wise, wealthy, holy,
and happy, in consequence of their parents? And are not others ignorant, indigent, and wretched, in consequence of bad parental example ? There is, therefore, nothing contrary to the dictates of reason, in admitting vicarious interference. Our peculiar condition opened a way for such interference; and, if we were to escape punishment, rendered this interference necessary. Christ drank of the brook, either for himself, or for us. If for us, the doctrine of substitution is granted ; if for himself, we are driven to the monstrous conclusion, that God inflicted punishment on one who was perfectly holy, one who had not deserved punishment, and who could not be benefited by it. But the substitutionary character of Christ's sufferings is most unequivocally asserted, and strikingly inculcated, in the sacred volume. He is shown to be every way qualified for the work he undertook: he became related to us; he took on him our nature; placed himself in our circumstances, under the same law, liable to the same temptations, subject to the same passions, encompassed with the same infirmities, while he was perfectly free from the offence that rendered suffering necessary. He suffered, the just for the unjust; not merely for our instruction, or for our example, but in our stead. We may learn many lessons from the conduct of the martyrs. But the sufferings of the martyrs were not intended to exempt us from sufferings: they did not die in our stead. But Christ drank of the brook that we might not drink of it; he endured the penalty that we might escape it; he wept that we might smile; he died that we might live. This was its mysterious design ; this was its moral aspect. It was a grand expedient for reconciling the world unto God. And it was,
5. Expiatory. It accomplished the benevolent, the sublime, the God-like object at which he aimed. Here his drinking of the brook assumes a new character,mit rises infinitely in importance. We see its value, its efficacy, its benign tendency to us. He might have pitied us in our low estate, and voluntarily offered his services to attempt our rescue ; he might have kindled our admiration at the patience with which he endured the keenest sufferings, and excited our sympathy; and yet our destruction have been as inevitable as before. But we rejoice to know, that his having drunk of the brook has rendered our drinking of it unnecessary. He did not drink of precisely the same brook of which we should have drunk ; for we must have suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. His sufferings did not form an exact equivalent, neither less nor'more, for the penalty of our sins. His death did not change the character of God, or induce God to love us : on the contrary, it furnishes the strongest evidence of his love to us, and is ever represented as the brightest manifestation of it. It is the condition and consideration on account of which God can actually forgive our sins. As our moral Governor, he could not pardon us before: he can pardon us now. Christ, by drinking of the brook, has removed every barrier in the way of the egress of mercy, and opened a channel for its full flow; he has magnified the law, and made it honourable ; he has satisfied all the claims of infinite justice; and bas harmonized, upheld, vindicated, and illustriously displayed all the divine perfections. God can now be just, while he is the merciful justifier of those who believe in Jesus. Shout, earth and beaven, this sum of good to man! But the text presents,
Secondly. MESSIAN'S TRIUMPH. “Therefore shall he lift up the
head.” Had he perished in the brook ; had the ardour of his love consumed him; had the sufferings he was to endure been as unlimited in duration as ours would have been; had the full penalty been inflicted on us; or had he received no remuneration for his generous and arduous services ; whatever benefits might have resulted to us, our joy in their possession would have been, from such a consideration, greatly abated. To such a deduction, however, our consolation is not subject : all our desires with reference to him are fully satisfied. We see Jesus, who, for a little while, was made lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour. Christ suffered, and then entered into glory: because “he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; therefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Observe the connexion between his humiliation and his triumph. “ He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.” There is a connexion of succession. He had first to drink of the brook, and then to lift up the head. He did not, he could not, lift up his mediatorial head, until he had partaken of the brook. There is a connexion of influence : because he drank of the brook, he lifted up his head. His drinking of the brook gave him the right, invested him with the power, to lift up bis head. The one was the consequence of the other; followed it not casually or accidentally, but, as an effect follows its cause, designedly and necessarily. Such suffering could not but lead to such glorious results. Messiah lifted up his head,
1. In paradise. He bowed his head amid the mockings of men, the machinations of demons, and the convulsions of nature, at that memorable ninth hour, three in the afternoon. He then passed the brook. His sufferings terminated. The scene of humiliation closed. The marshalled hosts of hell were confounded, defeated, and exhibited to the derision of the universe. The great redeeming work was done. And before six o'clock the same evening, he lifted up his head in paradise, and received the grateful homage of those myriads of departed saints who had entered into bliss, by virtue of his atonement, and who now saw that the sacrifice of their redemption had been actually offered. He presented the penitent thief, washed, justified, and sanctified, as the purchase of his blood, as a specimen of his power, as a pledge of his universal triumph. He lifted up his head,
2. From the tomb. He was taken from the cross, and wrapped in grave-clothes. He was laid in the dark, damp, solitary sepulchre. A great stone was rolled to its door. The royal seal was set on it. Roman soldiers were appointed to guard it. Men and devils conspired to detain him a prisoner there. “But who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength ? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” The rising God forsakes his tomb. He wipes off the dishonour of the cross. He establishes his character. He gives the fullest evidence of the efficacy of his atonement. His resurrection is the proof, the pledge, the earnest, of the resurrection of his followers to eternal life. He lifted up his head,