صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


smart; and to reflect upon ourselves dying under it, s E R M. leaving the world with an indelible stain upon our name and memory, is yet more grievous. Even to languish by degrees, enduring the torments of a long, however sharp disease, would to an honest mind seem more eligible, than in this manner, being reputed and handled as a villain, to find a quick and easy dispatch.

Of which human resentment inay we not observe a touch in that expostulation, Be ye come out as Luke xxii. against a thief with swords and saves ? If as a man he Matt, xxvi. did not like to be prosecuted as a thief; yet wil- 55. lingly did he choose it, as he did other most distasteful things, pertaining to our nature, (the likeness of man) and incident to that low condition, the form of a Jervant) into which he did put himself: such as were, to endure penury, and to fare hardly, to be fighted, envied, hated, reproached through all his course of life.

It is well faid by a Pagan philosopher, that No man dotb express such a respect and devotion to virtue, as doth he who forfeiteth the repute of being a good man, that he may not lose the conscience of being suchy. This our Lord willingly made his case, being content not only to expose his life, but to prostitute bis fane, for the interests of goodness.

Had he died otherwise, he might have seemed to purchase our welfare at a somewhat easier rate; he had not been so complete a sufferer ; he had not tasted the worst that man is liable to endure : there had been a comfort in feeming innocent, detracting from the perfection of his sufferance.

Whereas therefore he often was in hazard of John v. 18. death, both from the clandeftine machinations and viii. 37. 40. the outrageous violences of those who maligned him, 19. 25. *.

32. 39

» Nemo mihi videtur pluris æftimare virtutem, nemo illi magis effe devotus, quam qui boni viri famam perdidit, ne consciçatiam perderet, Sen. Ep. 81.



Luke ix.

32, 33. Mark ix. 31.

s E R M. he did industriously shun a death so plausible, and

honourable, if I may so speak; it being not so difgraceful to fall by private malice, or by sudden

rage, as by the folemn deliberate proceeding of men in public authority and principal credit.

Accordingly this kind of death did not fall upon John vi, 64. him by surprise, or by chance ; but he did from the

beginning foresee it ; he plainly with satisfaction did aim at it: he (as it is related in the Gospels) did

Jhew his disciples, that it was incumbent on him by Matt. xvi. God's appointment and his own choice ; that he

ought it is said) 10 Suffer many things, to be rejected by 22. xviii. the chief priests, elders, and scribes, to be vilified by them,

to be delivered up to the Gentiles, to be mocked and fcourged, and crucified, as a flagitious Nave. Thus would our blessed Saviour, in conformity to the rest of his voluntary afflictions, and for a consummation of them, not only suffer in his body by sore wounds and bruises, and in his soul by doleful agonies, but in his name also and reputation by the foulest scandals; undergoing as well all the infamy as the infirmity which did belong to us, or might befal us : thus meaning by all means thoroughly to express his charity, and exercise his compassion towards us; thus advancing his merit, and discharging the utmost satisfaction in our behalf,

2. Death passing on him as a malefactor by public sentence, did best suit to the nature of his undertaking, was most congruous to his intent, did most aptly represent what he was doing, and imply the reason of his performance, For we all are guilty in a most high degree, and in a manner very notorious; the foulelt Thame, together with the sharpest pain, is due to us for affronting our glorious Maker; we deferve an open condemnation and exemplary punishment: wherefore he, undertaking in our stead to bear all, and fully to satisfy for us, was pleased to undergo the like judgment and usage; being termed, being treated as we should have been, in quality of

an III.

an heinous malefactor, as we in truth are. What we S ER M. had really acted in dishonouring and usurping upon God, in disordering the world, in perverting others, that was imputed to him; and the punishment due to that guilt was inflicted on him. All we like sheep Ifa. lii. 6. have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all. He therefore did not only sustain an equivalent pain for us, but in a sort did bear an equal blame with us, before God and man.

3. Seeing, by the determinate counsel of God, it was Aets ii. 13. appointed that our Lord should die for us, and that not in a natural, but violent way, so as perfectly to fatisfy God's justice, to vindicate his honour, to evi, dence both his indignation against sin, and willingness to be appeased; it was most fit that affair Thould be transacted in a way, wherein God's right is most nearly concerned, and his providence most plainly discernible; wherein it should be most apparent that God did exact and inflict the punishment, that our Lord did freely yield to it, and submissively undergo it, upon those very accounts. All jiddgment (as Mo-Deut. i. 17, ses of old did say) is God's, or is administered by authority derived from him, in his name, for his interest; all magistrates being his officers and instruments, whereby he governeth and ordereth the world, his natural kingdom : whence that which is acted in way of formal judgment by persons in authority, God himself may be deemed in a more special and immediate manner to execute it, as being done by his commission, in his stead, on his behalf, with his peculiar superintendence. It was therefore in our Lord a signal act of deference to God's authority and justice, becoming the person sustained by him of our Mediator and Proxy, to undergo such a judgment, and such a punishment; whereby he received a doom as it were from God's own mouth, uttered by his ministers, and bare the stroke of justice from God's hand, represented by his instruments. Whence


SER M. Fery seasonably and patiently did he reply to Pilate,

Thou hadt 1:0 power over me, (or against me) except it

were given thee from above : implying that it was in John xix. regard to the originally supreme authority of God 11. x2l'špi.

his father, and to his particular appointinent upon this occasion, that our Saviour did then frankly subject himself to those inferior powers, as to the proper ministers of divine justice. Had he suffered in any other way, by the private malice or passion of men, God's special providence in that case had been less vifible, and our Lord's obedience not so remarkable. And if he must die by public hands, it must be as a criminal, under a pretence of guilt and demerit ; there must be a formal process, how full soever of mockery and outrage ; there must be testimonies produced, how void loever of truth or probability ; there must be a sentence pronounced, although most corrupt and injurious : for no man is in this way perfecuted, without colour of desert: otherwise it would cease to be public authority, and become lawless violence; the persecutor then would put off the face of a magistrate, and appear as a cut-throat, or a robber,

4. In fine, our Saviour hardly with such advantage, in any other way, could have displayed all kinds of virtue and goodness, to the honour of God, to the edification of men, to the furtherance of our salvation,

The judgment-hall, with all the passages leading him thither, and thence to execution, attended with guards of soldiers, amidst the crowds and clamours of people, were as so many theatres, on which he had opportune convenience, in the full


of the John xvii. world, to act divers parts of sublimest virtue : to i Tim. vi. exprels his insuperable conftancy, in attesting truth,

and maintaining a good conscience ; his meekness, in calmly bearing the greatest wrongs ; his patience, in contentedly enduring the saddest adversities; his entire relignation to the will and providence of God; his peaceable submission to the law and power ofs E R M. man; his admirable charity, in pitying, in excusing, 111. in obliging those by his good wishes, and earnest prayers for their pardon, who in a manner so injurious, so despiteful, so cruel, did persecute him, yea, in gladly suffering all this from their hands for their salvation ; his unshakeable faith in God, and unalterable love toward hiñ, under fo fierce a trial, so dreadful a temptation. All these excellent virtues and graces, by the matter being thus ordered, in a degree most eminent, and in a manner very confpicuous, were demonstrated to the praise of God's name, and the commendation of his truth; for the settlement of our faith and hope, for an instruction and an encouragement to us of good practice in those highest instances of virtue.


It is a paffable notion among the most eminent Pagan sages, that no very exemplary virtue can well appear

otherwise than in notable misfortune. Whence it is said in Plato, that to approve a man heartily righteous, he must be scourged, tortured, bound, have his two eyes burnt out, and in the close, having suffered all evils, must be impaled, or crucified z. And, It was, faith Seneca, the cup of poison which made Socrates a great man, and which out of prison did transfer him to beaven, or did procure to him that lofty eiteem”, af. fording him opportunity to signalize his constancy, his equanimity, his unconcernedness for this world and life. And, The virtue, faith he again, and the innocence of Rutilius would have lain bid, if it had not

2 Magnum exemplum nisi mala fortuna non invenit. Sen. de

Prov. c. 3.

ο δικαις μαςιγώσε), τρεβλώσεται, δεδήσε), εκκαυθήσεται το όφθαλμώ, τελευτών πάντα κακα παθων ανακινδύλευθήσεται. Ρlat. de Rep. 2.

* Cicuta magnum Socratem fecit. Sen. Ep. 13.

Calix venenatus, qui Socratem tranftulit e carcere in cælum. Sen. Ep. 67

Æqualis fuit in tanta inæqualitate fortunæ, &c. Sen. Ep. 104.


« السابقةمتابعة »