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might fully suffer) but he was so entirely swallowed up with the weight of his Father's wrath; that it overwhelmed the sense of bodily pain. Here again we are constrained to eye Jesus in the character of a surety. He had become a surety for rebel man, and he truly smarted for it. He felt the awful extent of the tremendous debt he had engaged to cancel, he found the wrath of God "as an overwhelming flood," as "deep waters in which there was no standing." At that soul-appalling season, the phials of divine vengeance were poured out, and he drank of the cup of trembling from the hand of the Lord; not a sip merely, but he drank of it to the very dregs. He felt by bitter experience that God's wrath is a consuming fire; for by it, his "heart was melted like wax, in the midst of his body." The sorrows of his soul, were occasioned by the sins of the world imputed to, and charged upon, him, and for which he then endured the wrath of God. Yes, in the six hours Jesus hung upon the cross, he had to struggle with the sorrows of death and with the fierce anger of God; he was forsaken by his Father, and suffered his divine wrath, which indeed constitutes the tremendous curse. If the thought should arise in the mind, how that Infinite Being who is emphatically described
as a God of Love, could find in his heart to use such severity toward him, whom he styles "his only-begotten, well-beloved Son, he in whom the Father is always well pleased," it should be remembered, that God sustains two relations towards Christ; the love of a Father to him as a Son, and the claim of a Judge toward him as a surety. Although God never expressed so much anger toward Christ,* as when he hung upon the cross, yet in fact, he was never so well pleased with him as then.† Yea, he was more pleased with him, than he had been displeased by all the sins that creatures have committed or can commit. It is true, mercy is God's delight, but justice is his sceptre, whereby he rules, governs, and judges the world. His attribute of wisdom, gives to both their fullest demonstration and accomplishment. The plan of reconciliation, the scheme of redemption, by Jesus; is God's masterpiece: in which all his attributes meet, and harmonise. If we would know the abhorrence God bears toward sin, then we must look at the cross of Jesus. There it is God has exhibited the greatest manifestation of his hatred toward it, by his treatment of him who became the sinner's surety.
*Zechariah xiii. 7.
+ John x. 17.
Psalm lxxxv. 10,
ing of the old world, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, together with the eternal punishment of the miserable inhabitants of the bottomless pit; never can display God's detestation of sin so forcibly, as the astonishing events which once transpired at Gethsemane and Calvary. If Jesus could not endure to be deprived of the light of God's countenance for a few short hours; then how wretched the state of those who are banished his presence for ever! Jesus well knew the blessedness of God's favour; he could bear with composure, the utmost torments that wanton cruelty could inflict; but he could not behold in silence, the angry countenance of his Father, or endure to be deprived of the refreshing presence of the Lord. Does not this display the love and compassion of our Jesus, in a most endearing point of view, when we behold him voluntarily submitting, not only to corporeal punishment, but also to the curse and wrath of God for us, and for our salvation?
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.-Zechariah xiii. 7.
THIS verse, at the first reading, may appear involved in difficulty, but a little attention will enable us to discover to whom it refers. We hear a solemn call for a sword to awake. What sword? Surely it can be none other than the sword of divine justice, which had so long delayed to execute the punishment due to the violators of God's righteous law. But against whom is it directed? Against fallen and rebellious man? No, but against "my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts." The next interesting question which arises, is, Who is this Shepherd? We answer, Jesus. In the Old Testament, the Messiah is often discovered to us, in the character of a shepherd, and in the New, we find every description fully realised in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who is the true Shepherd of Israel. But why is the sword called upon to awake against him? This may require a little history, but is easily answered from the records of divine truth. Mankind in the person of Adam their federal head, and since, each
individual, distinctively, has broken God's righteous law, not only the decalogue delivered to Moses, but the law of nature; man owing all to his bountiful Creator and Preserver, was, in point of common justice, bound to render to his Lord the tribute of his love and gratitude. But who, amongst the human race, can venture to stand forth, and appealing to Omniscience itself, affirm, that he has "loved the Lord his God, with all his mind, with all his soul, and with all his strength; and his neighbour as himself?" No, it is in vain to endeavour to conceal a truth God has declared so publicly; that by "the deeds of the law, no flesh living shall be justified." Man having rendered himself amenable to God's holy law, stands exposed to all its awful consequences. But "be astonished, O heavens, and wonder, O earth," to behold this great, this good shepherd, stand forth as the voluntary surety of his flock, engaging to take all their guilt, and its punishment, upon himself. Thus becoming responsible, for all their mighty debt, having placed himself in their law room, the sword of divine justice was called upon to execute its tremendous punishment, (the punishment due to the whole flock) on the person of their surety shepherd.
We would next direct our attention to the words,