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might be under great advantage by your prudence to prevent those irregularities and disorders in your parts, that prevail and greatly hinder the work of God in other parts of the country: but by such things as these you will weaken your own hands, and fill the coun. try with nothing but vain and fruitless and pernicious disputes. Persons when very full of a great sense of things, are greatly ex. posed; for then they long to do some thing; and to do something extraordinary, and then is the devil's time to keep them upon their heads, if they be not uncommonly circumspect and self-diffident.
I hope these lines will be taken in good part, from your assured Friend,
THE DOCTRINE OF MERIT.
The doctrine of merit is the bane of true Christianity, and of real vital religion. It is the nauseous scum arising from the ebullition of pride, in the corrupt hearts of fallen creatures. To suppose a creature, even of the highest order capable of meriting anything at the hands of his Creator is an affront to common sense. But, to imagine a sinner-a transgressor of the law of the Most High, to perform works meritorious in his sight, is an absurdity that wants a name; and can be nothing less than the spawn of hell, and the smoke of the bottomless pit, which stupifies and blinds the souls of men to their own destruction and perdition.
I am persuaded the idea of merit, never entered the minds of those pure spirits that worship before the throne; and it is that which can never enter the realms of bliss. No, the language there is, “ not unto us! not unto us! but unto thy name be all the glory.” And the saints at the judgement day, astonished at the condescension of their adorable judge, will, with holy wonder, ask, “ When saw we thee hungry, or thirsty," &c. spurning the idea of merit from them with the greatest abhorrence. I verily believe there is nothing in the whole empire of God that he more liates, than that pride which influences a sinful worm to imagine he can merit anything at his hands. “Can a man be profitable unto God, as a man that is wise may be profitable to himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous ? or is it any gain io hin that thou makest thy way perfect ?" Man's goodness ex. tendeth not unto him ; for when we have done all, we are upprofitable servants, and have done no more than we ought to have done.
Tucker on Predestination.
After all the fatigues of the disciples in preparing for their last Passover, and all their disquietudes in partaking of it, they needed sleep. When therefore Jesus led them from the hall of their feast, they supposed that he was leading them to the suburbs of Jerusalem for sleep. It was late at night when they left the hall, John 13: 30. “Twas on that dark and doleful
, night,” Watts says, hymn 1, book 3; but as Thursday was the thirteenth after the new moon of Nisan, the moon was nearly at its full, and therefore the evening of Christ's agony was one of those brilliant glorious evenings which the moonlight of Palestine distinguishes above all others. About 1052 years before this time, David, in his flight from Absalom, passed over the brook Kidron with his sorrowing friends, and ascended the Mount of Olives, “and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot, and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up weeping as they went up."* Ahithophel had gone over to Absalom the persecuting usurper. The king sung in reference to this apostacy,“ it was not an enemy that reproached me; then would I have borne it, &c. &c.” The 42nd, 43rd, 55th, and 143rd Psalms will let us into the sorrows which he felt when he crossed the Kidron. And now his descendant is crossing it, perhaps at the same place, and with eleven similar attendants; the Ahithophel of Jesus is on Mount Zion with the priests, as the Ahithophel of David was there with Absalom; he is concerting mischief against the son of the king, as his renegade pro
totype devised it there against the king himself. Jesus however, did not, as David, go up the Mount of Olives; he stopt at the foot of it, near the house of one who was his friend, and desirous of concealing him from his enemies. For several preceding nights he had lodged in the same garden, Luke 21: 37. John 18: 1, 2; and because it was his resort for sleep, there being no evidence for a common assertion that it was his resort for prayer, the traitor knew where to find him on this, the night preceding the crucifixion. According to Maundrell, the modern garden is 57 square yards in extent, retired, and secure, well adapted to purposes of rest and devotion. It is thus described by Rev. Jonas King, who visited it, in connexion with Rev. Pliny Fisk, ten years ago last April. As our Saviour's walk to Gethsemane, in the spring of 33, was strikingly similar to that of David ; so it was somewhat similar to that of our missionary, in the spring of 1823. “Having waited a little time," says
a Mr. King, “ for two men to accompany me, I went out of the city, passed over the brook Kedron, and entered the garden of sorrow.
It lies within a stone's cast of the brook Kedron. In it'are eight large olive trees, whose trunks shew that they are very ancient.
They stand at a little distance from each other, and their verdant branches offered a refreshing shade. The land on which they stand, and around them is sandy and stony, and it appears like a forsaken place. Around it is the appearance of a little wall, composed of small stones and broken down. On entering this garden, I requested the tiro men with me to sit down under one of the olives, which they did; and I went a little distance from them to another olive, and read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, and also in the four Gospels the scenes of that sorrowful night when the Son of man was betrayed into the hands of sinners. During this, some dark, fierce looking Bedouins, armed with long spears and swords, advanced on horse-back, and I was not without some fear that they would think me alone and attack me. After looking at me very attentively, and at the two men under the olives at a little distance from me, they passed by. The momentary fear which this excited brought to my mind, more impressively, the scene when Jesus was betrayed, and taken by a multitude who "came out against him with swords and with staves."'*
It was in Gethsemane, that the sufferings which distinctively made
the atonement began. " Jesus commenced his passion," says Quenstedt,“ in a garden, and in a garden he ended it; for in the place where he was crucified there was a garden,
* See Missionary Herald, Vol. 20. pp. 65, 66.
in which was a new sepulchre.” “ There was a peculiar propriety,” says Augustine (Sermon 71,)“ that the blood of the physician should be poured out, where the disease of the sick-man was contracted.”
Eden, and Gethsemane, and the burial garden at Calvary are the three scenes, where entered, and was attacked, and defeated the arch enemy of God and man.
There are some views of the scene at Gethsemane more impressive than the crucifixion itself. At the foot of Olivet, there was none of the noise and bustle of Calvary; there was none of the coarseness and roughness of driving the nail, and thrusting the spear, and drawing the blood. All was spiritual, refinr ed agony. It was the agony of a soul, working with immense power, at dead of night, in entire solitude, on events which were yet to come. Let it be remembered on reading of this mental anguish, that it arose before a blow was struck by the executioner; and that thousands of martyrs, even while enduring the cross which Christ was anticipating, were free from the least resemblance of such anguish. Let it be remembered, that thousands even of the more delicate sex, that multitudes of children of both sexes, have suffered tortures externally more excruciating than the Saviour's, and have felt none of his dejection. While bound to the rack and the wheel, while tied to the stake, and consumed by slow fires, while lingering whole days on the cross, they have triumphed ; triumphed in the very man who was so severely depressed in view of his sufferings; triumphed in the very depression of that man; and, while their own feelings at death were so different from his, have venerated him as their model in all things; and yet have triumphed in the difference between his death and theirs. “How can these things be?” Let them be remembered.
Every reader of the Evangelists must have noticed the distinctions which Christ, during his ministry, had been accustomed to copfer on Peter, James and John. There was an uncommon forwardness in these disciples, as is seen in Matt. 20: 22, 26, 33, 35; and perhaps on this account they were deemed most promising candidates for usefulness. John too was peculiarly amiable in his disposition. We perceive in Mark 3 : 16, 17, 18, 19, that Christ distinguished these three from the remaining nine, by new and honorable names; in Luke 22 : 8, and similar passages, that he was in the habit of committing to them the transaction of important business; in Mark 5 : 37, and Matt. 17: 1, that he had permitted them alone to witness one of his most illustrious miracles, and even his transfiguration on Tabor. "It was fit," says Quenstedt, “as he had exbibited to these disciples a specimen of his celestial joys, when his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light, that he should now exhibit to the same a specimen of his infirmity and bitter distress.” He therefore, bidding the eight to remain behind, takes with him his three intimates to a more secluded part of the garden. Now his agony came on. “My soul,” he says, “is exceeding sorrowful ; it seems as if I should die under my trouble.” Matthew asserts with emphasis that he now began to be sad, and full of anguish (Lvatiotai xar admuoveiv.) Mark, that he was “ struck with fear and wonder," (ixhaubecohui,) as well as with anguish. He was agitated with dread and anxiety.
He had, ere this evening, meditated on his crucifixion. "I have a baptism to be baptized with," he had said (Luke 12: 50,) "and how am I perplexed, hampered, straightened, (ourézouar,) till it be accomplished.” But he had never, probably, meditated upon it as he did now. He had attended principally to the good which would ensue from it, rather than the misery it would cost him. He bad indeed a few minutes before, been consoling his disciples with a description of its glorious results. But now, all on a sudden, he turns his eye from the bright to the dark side of the picture. He confines his view to the multitude of woes which throng around him. His own bodily pains, the unpardonable treason of Judas, the lie and the profanity of Peter, the dispersion of the eleven, the sins of his murderers, the fearful consequences of his death on the beloved people; things like these rushing all at once into his mind distressed him. He cannot but be grieved at the foresight, that such multitudes in all future ages, and in all lands, would shut their eyes against his clear light, and sink deeper in despair, than if he had not died for them. But there is another grief more poignant than all. There is a mysterious, awful "cup," the very thought of which filled him with shuddering. We shall see at the close of our essay what this cup was. So intensely was Jesus afraid of it, that he sought now, notwithstanding his fatigue to relieve his fears in prayer.* He chose however, as is common with sufferers, to pray alone. He withdrew to a solitary spot about eighty yards from the three intimates. He fell first upon his knees, afterwards prostrate on his face. No finite mind can conceive the poignancy of his distress during this prostration. It exceeded, probably, all his corporeal distress on the cross. He continued in prayer a whole hour. We do not know all his
* It must be borne in mind, that though Christ was God, he chose to take no advan. tage from his Divinity during his sufferings; but to pass through all in his simple human nature; to endure the same fears, and long for the same helps, and adopt the same means of preservation, as ordinary men.