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“ to Him, and it shall be recompenced unto “ Him again? For of Him, and through Him, “ and to Him are all things: to whom be glory “ for ever. Amen."
« Our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be “ betrayed and given up into the hands of “ wicked men," who were bent on His destruction, and prepared for every act of cruelty which they could devise or perpetrate. When we survey the particulars, from the act of Judas to that of the soldier who pierced His sacred side, we shall be led from one gradation of wonder and astonishment to another, till we are lost in the mystery of Divine love. But “ wicked “men” were only the visible agents into whose hands He was given up, for there were other agents behind the scene. He was delivered into the hands of wicked spirits also, who were permitted to exert all
their power and to exercise all their malice. “ This is your hour," said the meek Sufferer to the chief priests and captains of the Temple and elders, “ and the power of « darkness." He was surrounded and assaulted by innumerable hosts of fiends, who hated His person and had felt His power, who all combined in a furious assault on His immaculate soul. But this is not all. For He was delivered up into the hands of Divine justice, to be dealt with as a criminal charged with the sin of the whole world. " It was exacted, and He was
made answerable." *
The third and concluding act of Divine love specified in our collect is our Lord's voluntary submission to death, even the death of the cross, This completed the dire catastrophe.
* Bishop Lowth's Version of Isa. liii. 7, first clause.
This “ finished the transgression, made an end “ of sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, and
brought in everlasting righteousness. The death which He died was attended with every circumstance of ignominy and lingering torture which could be inflicted; and it was moreover distinguished from other modes of execution by the peculiar curse which was attached to it by the Divine law-a law which was framed with an express view to the death of Christ. (Comp. Deut. xxi. 23. with Gal. iii. 13.) Lord of the universe was lifted up between hea ven and earth as unworthy of either, as too execrable to touch the one or the other. The command which, in case of crucifixion, was given for immediate burial, signified the same. The abominated object was to be removed directly out of sight. By the death of Christ the curse of the law was accomplished, the types were realized, and the prophecies fulfilled. (See Ps. xxii. 16, 17. Zach. xii. 10. John iii. 14.)
We proceed now to consider the end of those sufferings to which our Lord Jesus Christ submitted. This is noted in our collect for the purpose of securing Divine regard to our prayers from the Author of all grace, and of awakening gratitude in the hearts of those who join in our supplications. It was for the family of God that Christ was contented to suffer death upon the cross. His sufferings were PENAL, VICARIOUS, PROPITIATORY. They were not, like the sufferings of the martyrs, a mere confirmation of His sincerity and the truth of the doctrine which lle taught. They were not, like the sufferings of the Saints in general, purifying chastisements; for Christ needed no purification.
But they were strictly PENAL. They were of the same kind, and inflicted on the same account, as the punishment of the damned. Sin was the meritorious cause of them. They were the penalty of transgression. They were, moreover, VICARIOUS. For our Lord had no sin of His own. It was imputed sin, which He bore in His own body on the tree. “ He died " the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” Those who deny that Christ suffered in the place of sinners, are obliged to deny the inspiration of the Apostolic epistles. But to be consistent they must abandon the Gospel also, and thereby at once avow themselves Deists. For our Lord Himself has asserted the same truth, on which His Apostles have more largely expatiated; for He declared Himself to be “ the good Shepherd who giveth His life for the “sheep.” (John x. 11). And again He repeats it (ver. 15) “ I lay down my life for the
sheep.'And that His mode of expression means a proper substitution, can be doubted by no persons who are not grossly ignorant or wilfully blind. *
The sufferings of Christ were also PROPITIATORY. Their object was an atonement † for sin. They were an equivalent paid
* Comp. Rom. v. 6, 7, 8. “Raphelius (not ex Xen, in ver. 8.) has abundantly deinonstrated that Utreg quwe atolarn signifies that he died in our room and stead: nor can I find that αποθανείν υπερ τινος has ever any other signification than that of rescuing the life of another at the expence of our own: and the very next verse (i. e. ver. 7.) shews, independent on any other authority, how evidently it bears that sense here, as one can hardly imagine any one would die for a good man, unless it were to redeem his life by giving up his own." -Doddridge. Comp. Philemon 13. John xi. 50. 2 Cor. v. 14. 1 Tim. ii. 6.
t “ To atone, v. n. (from at one, as the etymologists emark, to be at one is the same as to be in concord, This VOL. II.
to Divine justice for human transgression, whereby satisfaction has been made to the injured Majesty of heaven, and the dignity of God's law maintained as it binds both to obedience and punishment; that thereby “ God may be “ just and the justifier of him that believeth in « Jesus.'
The propitiatory nature and design of Christ's sufferings are implied in all the typical sacrifices of the law, and strongly asserted in the gospel. It is admitted that a variety of questions on this subject may be started, and difficulties be proposed, which it is not in our power to solve. But it is enough for the conscious humble mind, that THE WORD OF GOD hath propounded it as THE OBJECT OF FAITH. It is the life and soul of Divine revelation. It is the line of separation between faith and infidelity. And “ he who believeth hath " the witness in himself," that this doctrine is true. All genuine convictions of sin prove the Divinity of a scheme so exactly adapted to afford peace to a guilty conscience and ease to a burthened heart. We are not called to explain it, but to believe it on the authority of God; and in proportion as we submit to that authority, we find increasing evidence which satisfies the soul, and enables it to rest all its hopes on this single foundation, “ that Christ is the propitia« tion for our sins." Reader, while others dispute the existence of the water of life, let us taste, yea and drink abundantly of it; and its refreshing and reviving qualities will afford us that evidence which experience only can give.
derivation is much confirmed by the following passage of Shakespeare, and appears to be the sense still retained in Scotland.”)
He and Aufidius can no more atone
The blessing which we implore is Divine regard to those for whom Christ was "contented to “ suffer death upon the cross,” who are here spoken of under the endearing title of God's family. This assumption of relationship to God is justified by Scripture language. (Eph. iii. 15.) The genuine members of the Catholic church are “sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty," and constitute “the household of God." They are brought into this happy circle by adoption and grace through the atoning. Saviour; and they publicly meet this day for the purpose of . blessing their Father which is in heaven for the inestimable benefit, and of magnifying the grace of their elder brother, from whose incarnation, sufferings, and death, they derive all their present comforts and future hopes.
The regard which we implore for ourselves as the family of God comprehends the communication of all those benefits, for the purchase of which our Lord Jesus Christ was a contented “ to be betrayed, to be given up into the hands « of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the “ cross.” To describe them, and to pay the Author of them the tribute of praise which is due to His adorable name, will be the employment of eternity. Pardon, holiness, and heaven are blessings of which we cannot fully comprehend the value, and for which no thanksgiving can fully compensate.
When on this day we implore these unspeakable blessings, how forcible is our plea! Can we ask in vain when, recalling Calvary to mind, we beseech “ Almighty God graciously to behold