Page images
PDF
EPUB

dence, or looking on them as a fiction or uncertainty.

II. But faith can apply as well as realize ; and if it do so, it must needs overcome the heart. Ah! christian, canst thou look upon Jesus as standing in thy room, to bear the wrath of God for thee; canst thou think on it, and not melt? That when thou, like Isaac, wast bound to the altar, to be offered up to justice, Christ, like the ram caught in the thicket, was offered in thy room. That when thy sins had raised a fearful tempest, threatening every moment to bury thee in a sea of wrath, Jesus Christ was thrown over to appease that storm! Say, reader, can thy heart dwell one hour upon such a subject as this? Canst thou, with faith, present Christ to thyself, as he was taken down from the cross, drenched in his own blood, and say, These were the wounds that he received for me; this is he that loved

me,
and

gave himself for me ; out of these wounds comes that balm that heals my soul; out of these stripes my peace ? Oh you cannot hold up your heart long to the piercing thoughts of this, but your soul will be pained, and, like Joseph, you will seek a place to vent your tears.

III. Faith can also draw such thing from the death of Christ as will fill the soul with affection to him, and break the heart in his presence. When it views Christ as dead, it infers, Is Christ dead for me ? then was I dead in law, sentenced and condemned to die eternally ; "If one died for all, then were all dead.” 2 Cor. 5: 14. How woful was my case when the law had passed sentence on me! I could not be sure when I lay down, but it might be executed before I rose; there was but a breath between my soul and hell.

Again, Is Christ dead for me ? then I shall never die. If he be condemned, I am acquitted. " Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, it is Christ that died.” Rom. 8:34. My soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; I was condemned, but am now cleared ; I was dead, but am now alive. Oh the unsearchable riches of Christ! Oh love past finding out!

Again, Did God give up Christ to such miseries and sufferings for me? how shall he withhold any thing from me? He that spared not his own Son, will doubtless with him freely give me all things. Rom. 8:32. Now I may rest upon him for pardon, peace, acceptance, and glory for my soul. Now I may rely upon him for provision, protection, and all supplies for the body. Christ is the root of these mercies; he is more than all these, he is nearer and dearer to God than any other gist. Oh what a blessed, happy, comfortable state hath he now brought my soul into!

Once more, Did Christ endure all these things for me ? then he will never leave nor forsake me: it cannot be that after he has endured all this, he will cast off the soul for whom he endured it.

IV. Faith can also compare the love of Christ in all this, both with his dealings with others, and with the soul's dealing with Christ, who loved it. To compare Christ's dealings with others, is most affecting : he hath not dealt with every one as with me; nay, few there are that can speak of such mercies as I have from him. How many are there that have no part nor portion in his blood; who must bear that wrathi in their own persons, that he bare himself for me! He found me and singled me forth to be the object of his love, leaving thousands and millions still unreconciled; not that I was better than they, for I was the greatest of sinners, far from righteousness, as unlikely as any to be the object of such grace and love: my companions in sin are left, and I am taken. Now the soul is full, too full to contain itself.

Yea, faith helps the soul to compare the love of Christ to it, with the returns it has made to him. And what, my soul, have been thy returns to Christ since this grace appeared to thee? Hast thou returned love for love, love suitable to such love ? Hast thou prized, valued, and esteemed him according to his own worth in himself, or his kindness to thee ? Ah no, I have grieved, pierced, wounded his heart a thousand times by my ingratitude ; I have suffered every trifle to take his place in my heart. I have neglected him a thousand times, and made him say, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? Is this the reward I receive for all I have done and suffered for thee? Wretch that I am, how have I requited the Lord! This shames, humbles, and breaks the heart. And when from such sights of faith, and considerations as these, the heart is thus affected, it affords a good argument indeed, that thou art gone beyond all the attainments of temporary believers; flesh and blood hath not revealed this.

INFERENCE 1. Have the believing meditations of Christ, and his sufferings, such heart-melting influence? Then surely there is but little faith among men. Our dry eyes and hard hearts are evidence against us that we are strangers to the sights of faith. And,

2. Then surely the proper way of raising the affections, is to begin with the exercise of faith. It grieves me to see how many poor christians strive with their own dead hearts, endeavoring in vain to raise and affect them : they complain and strive, strive and complain, but can discover no love to the Lord, no brokenness of heart: they go to this ordinance and that, to one duty and another, hoping that now the Lord will fill the sails ; but come back disappointed and ashamed. Poor christian, hear me one word; possibly it may do thee more service than all the methods thou hast yet used. If thou wouldst indeed get a heart melted for sin, and broken with the sense of the grace and love of Christ, thy way is not to force thy affections, nor to vex thyself, and go about complaining of a hard heart, but set thyself to believe, realize, apply, infer, and compare by faith as you have now been directed; and see what this will do: "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn.” This is the way to raise the heart, and break it.

3. Is this the way to get a truly broken heart? Then let those that have attained brokenness of heart this way, bless the Lord whilst they live for so choice a mercy. A heart so affected and melted, is not attainable by any natural or unrenewed person ; if they would give all they have in the world, it cannot purchase one such tear or groan over Christ. Mark what characters of special grace it bears, in the description of it in Zech. 12:10. Such a frame as this is not born with us, or to be acquired by us; for it is there said to be poured out by the Lord upon us. Nature is not the principle of it, but faith; for it is there said, They shall look on me ; that is, believe and mourn. Self is not the end and centre of these sorrows; it is not so much for bringing condemnation upon ourselves, as for piercing Christ : "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn ;" so that this is sorrow aster God, and not an impulse of nature. It is the choicest and most precious gift, ranked among the prime mercies of the new covenant. Ezek. 36 : 26. "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” And God himself sets no common value on it : " The sacrifices of God are a bro. ken heart: a broken and a contrite spirit, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psa. 51:17. That is, God is more delighted with such a heart, than with all sacrifices; one groan, one tear, flowing from faith and the spirit of adoption, are more to him than the cattle upon a thousand hills. Again, " Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool ; where is the house that

ye

build me? and where is the place of my rest ?—But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Isa. 66: 1, 2. All the magnificent temples and glorious structures in the world give me no pleasure in comparison of such a broken heart as this. Oh then, for ever bless the Lord, who hath done so much for you.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge

of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.Acts, 2:23.

Having considered, in order, the preparative acts for the death of Christ, both by himself and his enemies, we now come to consider the death of Christ itself, which was the principal part of his humiliation, and is the chief pillar of our hope. And here we shall considcr, First, The kind and nature of the death he died. Secondly, The manner in which he bare it, namely, patiently, solitarily, and instructively; dropping divers holy and instructive lessons upon all that were about him, in his seven last words upon the cross. Thirdly, The funeral solemnities at his burial. Fourthly, The weighty ends and great designs of his death. In all which particulars, as we proceed to discuss them, you will have an account of the deep debasement and humiliation of the Son of God.

1. In this text we have an account of the kind and nature of Christ's death, which is here described gene

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »