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is the most powerful restraint: "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?” Rom. 6:2. We are crucified with Christ, what have we to do with sin? When thy heart is yielding to temptation, think, how can I do this, and crucify the Son of God afresh? As David poured the water brought from the well of Bethlehem on the ground, though he was athirst, for he said, "It is the blood of the men,” (that is, they hazarded their lives to fetch it ;) much more should a christian pour out upon the ground, yea, despise and trample under foot, the greatest profit or pleasure of sin ; saying, Nay, I will have nothing to do with it, I will on no terms touch it, for it is the blood of Christ : it cost blood, infinite, precious blood to expiate it.
Are you afraid your sins are not pardoned, but still stand against you before the Lord ? What more relieving, what more satisfying, than to see the cup of the new testament in the blood of Christ, which is "shed for many, for the remission of sins ?" "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is Christ that died.”
Are you staggered at your sufferings, and the hard things you must endure for Christ in this world ? Doth the fesh shrink from these things, and cry, Spare thyself? What is there more likely to fortify thy spirit with resolution and courage, than such a sight as this? Did Christ meet the wrath of men, and the wrath of God too? Did he stand with unbroken patience and stedfast resolution under such troubles, and shall I shrink for a trifle ? Ah, he did not serve me so! I will arm myself with the like mind. 1 Pet. 4: 2.
Is thy faith staggered at the promises? Here is what will help thee " against hope to believe in hope, giving glory to God.” For this is God's seal added to his covenant, which ratifies and binds all that God hath spoken.
Dost thou idle away precious time, and live unusefully to Christ in thy generation? What more fit both to convince and cure thee, than such remembrance of Christ as this? Oh when thou considerest thou art not thine own, thy time, thy talents are not thine own, but Christ's: when thou shalt see thou art bought with such a price, and so art strictly obliged to glorify God with thy soul and body, which are his, 1 Cor. 6 : 20, this will powerfully awaken a dull and sluggish spirit! In a word, what grace is there that this remembrance of Christ cannot quicken? What sin cannot it mortify? What duty cannot it animate ? Oh it is of singular use to the people of God!
4. Though all other things do, yet Christ never can become uninteresting. Here is an ordinance to preserve his remembrance fresh to the end of the world. The beauty of this Rose of Sharon is never lost or withered. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. As his body in the grave saw no corruption, so neither can his love, or any of his excellencies. Other beauties have their prime and their fading; but Christ abides eternally. Our delight in creatures is often most at first acquaintance; when we come nearer to them, and see more of them, our delight is abated: but the longer you know Christ, and the nearer you come to him, still the more do you see of his glory. Every farther prospect of Christ entertains the mind with a fresh delight. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.
THIRD PREPARATIVE ACT OF CHRIST FOR HIS OWN DEATH
AGONY IN THE GARDEN.
"And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled
down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed morc.carnestly: and his siccal was as it were great drops of llood falling down to the ground.” Lnike, 22:41-44.
The hour is now almost come, even that hour of sorrow, of which Christ had so osten spoken. Yet a little, a very little while, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. He has affectionately recommended his children to his Father. He has set his house in order, and ordained a memorial of his death to be left with his people. There is but one thing more to do, and then the tragedy begins. He recommended us, he must also recommend himself by prayer to the Father; and when that is done, he is ready.
This last act of Christ's preparation for his own death is contained in this scripture, wherein we have an account of his prayer; of the agony aitending it; and of his relief in that agony, by an angel, that came and comforted him.
In a praying posture he will be found when the enemy comes; he will be taken upon his knees: he was pleading hard with God in prayer, for strength to carry him through this heavy trial, when they came to take him. And this was a very remarkable prayer, both for the solitariness of it, he withdrew about a stone's cast from his dearest intimates; no ear but his Father's must hear what he had now to say–for the vehemency and importunity of it; these were those strong cries that he poured out to God in the days of his flesh, Heb. 5:7and for the humility expressed in it; he fell upon the ground, he laid himself as it were in the dust, at his Father's feet. Hence we note, Our Lord Jesus Christ was praying to his Father in an
extraordinary agony, when they came to apprehend him in the garden.
In explaining this last act of preparation on Christ's part, I shall speak of the place where he prayed, and of the time, the matter, and the manner of his prayer.
I. The place, where this last and remarkable prayer was poured out to God, was the garden : St. Matthew tells us it was called Gethsemane, which signifies the valley of fatness, or of olives. This garden lay very near to the city of Jerusalem, on the east, towards the Mount of Olives. Between it and the city was the brook Cedron, which rose from a hill upon the north, and over this brook Christ passed into the garden, John, 18:1; to which perhaps the psalmist alludes in Psalm 110 : 7, "He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore he shall lift up the head.”
Christ went not into this garden to hide or shelter himself from his enemies. No, had that been his design, it was the most improper place he could have chosen, being the place where he was wont to pray, and a place well known to Judas, who was now coming to seek him. John, 18 : 2. He repairs thither, not to shun, but to meet the enemy; to offer himself as a prey to the wolves, which there found him, and laid hold upon him. He also resorted thither for an hour or two of privacy before they came, that he might there freely pour out his soul to God.
II. The time when he entered into this garden to pray was the shutting in of the evening; for it was after the passover and the supper were ended. Then (Matthew, 26:36) Jesus went over the brook into the gården, between the hours of nine and ten in the evening, as it is conjectured ; and so he had between two and three hours to pour out his soul to God; for it was about midnight that Judas and the soldiers came and apprehended him. This shows us in what frame and posture Christ desired to be found : and by it he left us an excellent pattern of what we ought to do, when imminent dangers are near us, eren at the door. It becomes a soldier to die fighting, and a minister to die preaching, and a christian to die praying. If they come, they will find Christ upon his knees, wrestling mightily with God by prayer. He spent no moment of his life idly; but these were the last moments he had to live in the world, and here you see how they were filled up and employed.
III. Consider the matter of his prayer, or the things about which he poured out his soul to God in the gar. den. He prayed, saying, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”
By the cup, understand that portion of sorrows then to be given to him by his Father. Great afflictions and bitter trials are frequently expressed in Scripture under the metaphor of a cup: "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and a horrible tempest ; this shall be the portion of their cup," Psalm 11:16, that is, the punishment allotted to them by God for their wickedness. So Ezekiel, 23:32, 33; "A cup deep and large;" Isaiah, 51:17; " Thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling and wrung them out.” Such a cup now was Christ's cup; a cup of wrath ; a large and deep cup, that contained more wrath than ever, was drunk by any creature, even the wrath of an infinite God; a mixed cup, mixed with God's wrath and man's in the extremity; and all the bitter aggravating circum