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which you have sinned away from your souls. Do not go about from one to another complaining; nor yet sit down desponding under your burden. But,
Search diligently after the cause of God's withdrawment: urge him importunately by prayer, to show thee wherefore he contends with thee. Job, 10: 2. Say, Lord, what evil is it which thou so rebukest? I beseech thee show me the cause of thine anger: have I grieved thy Spirit in this thing, or in that? Was it my neglect of duty, or my formality in duties? Was I not thankful for the sense of thy love, when it was shed abroad in my heart? O Lord, why is it thus with me?
Humble your soul before the Lord for every evil you shall be convinced of: tell him, it pierces your heart that you have so displeased him, and that it shall be a caution to you, whilst you live, never to return again to folly invite him again to your soul, and mourn after the Lord till you have found him. If you seek him, he will be found of you. 2 Chron. 15: 2.
Wait on in the use of means till Christ return. Oh be not discouraged; though he tarry, wait you for him; for, blessed are all they that wait for him.
FIFTH SAYING OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS-"I THIRST."
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst."—John, 19: 28.
These words were spoken by Christ upon the cross, a little before he bowed the head and yielded up the ghost. They are recorded only by the evangelist John.
1. The person complaining is Jesus. This is a clear evidence that it was no common suffering: great and resolute spirits will not otherwise complain.
2. The affliction or suffering of which he complains is thirst. His soul thirsted, in vehement desires and longings, to accomplish and finish the great and difficult work he had undertaken; and his body thirsted, by reason of those unparalleled agonies it endured. It was the latter, the proper natural thirst here intended, when he said, "I thirst." Now, "this natural thirst," of which he complains, "is the raging of the appetite for moist nourishment, arising from the scorching up of the parts of the body for want of moisture." And, amongst all the pains and afflictions of the body, there can scarcely be named a greater and more intolerable one than extreme thirst. The most mighty and valiant have stooped under it. Samson, after all his conquests and victories, " was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant; and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" Judges, 15: 18. Hence, Isa. 41: 17, thirst is used to express the most afflicted state: When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them;" that is, when my people are in extreme necessity, under extraordinary pressure and distress, I will be with them, to supply and relieve them. Thirst causes a most painful compression of the heart, when the body, like a sponge, sucks and draws for moisture, and there is none. And this may be occasioned either by long abstinence from drink, or by the laboring and exhaustion of the spirits under grievous agonies and extreme tortures.
Now, though we find not that Christ had tasted a drop since he sat with his disciples at the table-after that no more refreshment for him in this world—yet
this was not the cause of his raging thirst: it is to be ascribed to the extreme sufferings which he had so long conflicted with, both in his soul and body. These preyed upon him, and drank up his very spirits.
3. The time when he thus complained was "when all things were now accomplished," that is, when all things were even ready to be accomplished in his death; a little, a very little while before he expired, when the pangs of death began to be strong upon him: and so it was both a sign of death at hand, and of his love to us, which was stronger than death, and would not complain sooner, because he would admit of no relief, nor take the least refreshment until he had done his work.
4. The design and end of his complaint was, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled," that is, that it might appear, for the satisfaction of our faith, that whatsoever had been predicted by the prophets, was exactly accomplished, even to a circumstance, in him. Now it was foretold of him, "They gave me gall for my meat, and, in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink," Psalm 69:21; and herein it was verified. Hence, Such were the agonies of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, as drank up his very spirits, and made him cry, "I thirst."
"If I should live a thousand years, and every day die a thousand times the same death for Christ that he once died for me, yet all this would be nothing to the sorrows Christ endured in his death." At this time the Bridegroom Christ might have borrowed the words of his spouse, the church, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." Lam. 1: 12.
The sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross were twofold, namely, his corporeal, and spiritual
sufferings. We shall consider them distinctly, and show how both these meeting upon him in their fulness and extremity, must drink up his spirits, and make him cry, "I thirst."
I. His corporeal and more external sufferings were exceedingly great, acute, and extreme; for they were sharp, universal, continual, and unrelieved by any inward comfort.
1. They were sharp sufferings; his body was racked in those parts where sense more eminently dwells-in the hands and feet; "They pierced my hands and my feet." Ps. 22:16. Now Christ, by reason of his exact and excellent temper of body, had doubtless more quick, tender, and delicate senses than other men. Sense is, in some, more delicate and tender, and in others dull and blunt, according to the temperament and vivacity of the body and spirits; but in none as it was in Christ, whose body neither sin nor sickness had any way enfeebled or dulled.
2. His pains also were universal, not affecting one, but every part; they seized every member; from head to foot, no member was free from torture: for, as his head was wounded with thorns, his back with bloody lashes, his hands and feet with nails, so every other part was stretched and distended beyond its natural length, by hanging upon that cruel engine of torment, the cross. And as every member, so every particular sense was afflicted.
3. These universal pains were continual, not by fits, but without any intermission. He had not a moment's ease by the cessation of pain; wave came upon wave, one grief upon another, till all God's waves and billows had gone over him. To be in extremity of pain, and that without a moment's intermission, will quickly overcome the stoutest nature in the world.
4. His pains were altogether unrelieved. If a man
have sweet comforts flowing into his soul from God, they allay the pains of the body: this made the martyrs shout amidst the flames. Yes, even inferior comforts and delights of the mind will greatly relieve the oppressed body. But now Christ had no relief this way; not a drop of comfort came from heaven into his soul: but, on the contrary, his soul was filled up with grief; so that instead of relieving, it increased unspeakably the burden of the outward man. For,
II. Let us consider these inward sufferings of his soul, how great they were, and how quickly they spent his natural strength, and turned his moisture into the drought of summer.
1. His soul felt the wrath of an angry God, which was terribly impressed upon it. The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion; but what is that to the wrath of God? "Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him." Nahum, 1:6. Had not the strength that supported Christ been greater than that of rocks, this wrath had overwhelmed and ground him to powder.
2. And as it was the wrath of God that lay upon his soul, so it was the pure wrath of God, without any alloy or mixture: not one drop of comfort came from heaven or earth; all the ingredients in his cup were bitter: "For God spared not his own Son." Rom. 8:32. Had Christ been abated or spared, we had not.
3. Yea, all the wrath of God was poured out upon him, even to the last drop; so that there is not one drop reserved for his redeemed to feel. Christ's cup was deep and large, it contained all the fury and wrath of an infinite God! and yet he drank it up: he bore it all.
III. It is evident that such extreme sufferings, meeting upon him, must exhaust his inmost spirits, and make him cry, "I thirst." For let us consider,