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view the sufferings of Jesus, but in connexion with the precious truth, that it was "for the transgression of his people he was stricken."
For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they have pierced my hands and my feet. Psalm xxii. 16.
WE cannot with any degree of consistency, apply these words to David. It is true he was often surrounded by foes, and encompassed by adversaries; but, never were his sorrows and sufferings of the kind here described. By the spirit of Prophecy, he spoke of the sufferings of Jesus, and to him alone can we with truth apply these words, or indeed, the whole Psalm.
We see Jesus surrounded by men, who, for their ungovernable rage, are not unaptly compared to dogs; and the assemblies before whom he was brought, proved by their conduct towards him, that they were unjust Rulers. What they called the Hall of Judgment, was, in this case, the seat of injustice and oppression. On every side, did the assemblies of the wicked enclose him; yea, they crucified him, by
which act they pierced his hands and his feet. Crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment, but one used by the Romans, and they considered it so disgraceful that it was not allowed to be executed on a Roman, however heinous his crimes. It was only slaves, and persons belonging to the conquered territories of the Roman Government, who were sentenced to a death alike ignominious, * painful, and lingering. It was shameful, as the condemned always suffered naked; it was extremely painful, for they placed the sufferer on the cross when on the ground, the feet and outstretched arms, were then nailed to the wood, which being upraised, and one end fixed in a hole in the ground, the sudden jirk occasioned the most excruciating pains to the whole body. And when we consider that the nails were driven through the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet, the most nervous parts of the body, the mind sickens at the thought, and is unwilling to dwell longer on so distressing an object; humanity sends forth a wish that death may speedily relieve the sufferer. But, as no wound is inflicted on any part of the body absolutely necessary to existence, the unfortunate sufferer often lingers many an
Hebrews xii. 2.
hour in this extreme agony, before the powers of nature are exhausted and death closes the scene.
This is but a faint outline of the sufferings of crucifixion, to which the Priests and Rulers sentenced the blessed Jesus, whom we see going forth to the place of execution, carrying his own cross, and fainting beneath the load. His unfeeling persecutors, fearing, lest he should expire by the road, and thus disappoint them in their cruel design, lay hold of a Cyrenian, named Simon, whom they compel to bear the cross to Calvary, a spot, rendered sacred to memory by the sufferings of Jesus, who humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross. Yes, he who could command a legion of angels to his rescue, here submitted to a painful and ignominious death. Do we hear the Prophet inquire " Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth the wine-vat?" Jesus replies, I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the people there was none with me; and "I looked and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold therefore, mine own arm brought salvation." Whenever we look to the cross of Jesus, we should eye him as "the surety of his people," as the "just suffering for the unjust, to bring sinners unto God.",
It was for them he wept, bled, groaned, agonized, and died. But while Christ crucified is to the "Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness, it is unto them that are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Jesus, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, "suffered without the gate." "Let us therefore go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Jesus suffered a painful, shameful, and ignominious death, to deliver his people from the bitter pains of eternal death. His crucifixion is the procuring cause of their salvation; for he died that they might live. Ought we not to admire and adore the wisdom of our God, who could cause such invaluable good to spring out of what, distinctly considered, was an act of such injustice and cruelty. We see the persecutors of Jesus full of fury and indignation, executing their cruelties on the innocent object of their abhorrence. But, at the same time, we discover, that by their instrumentality, the designs of God are accomplished. Not that their crime is in the least degree lessened.
malice, envy, injustice, rage, and
No, the hatred,
cruelty, was all
their own act and deed, and the sin and guilt, conse
quent on the foul transgression, is with justice laid to
their charge. The moral evil of the act, is in nowise diminished by the Lord's overruling it to accomplish his purposes and making it minister to his glory. He can make “the wrath of man praise him, but the remainder of that wrath he will restrain."
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?—Psalm xxii. 1.
If we would know whose language this is, we must by faith ascend the hill of Calvary; there, taking our stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus, we hear him utter the dolorous cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." We do not find a word of complaint of the pains and sufferings of his mangled body escape his lips. They are borne in patient silence, the cruelties inflicted by the puny arm of flesh, cannot extort a groan or a murmur from the holy sufferer. This mournful exclamation, was not occasioned by the agonies of his body. He was not incapable of feeling them in their highest extent, (for his human nature was left to its infirmities, that he