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SERM. and thence improper to merit or satisfy for us;
beside their comparative meanness, and infinite distance from the majesty of God) they are but our fellow-servants, and have obligations to discharge for themselves, and cannot be solvent for more than for their own debts of gratitude and service to their infinitely-bountiful Creator; they also themselves needing a Saviour, to preserve them by his grace in their happy state?
Indeed, no creature might aspire to so august an honour, none could achieve so marvellous a work, as to redeem from infinite guilt and misery the noblest part of all the visible creation : none could presume to invade that high prerogative of
God, or attempt to infringe the truth of that reiterIsai. xlii. ated proclamation, I, even I, am the Lord, and
beside me there is no Saviour.
Wherefore, seeing that a supereminent dignity of
person was required in our Mediator, and that an immense value was to be presented for our ransom; seeing that God saw there was no man, and wondered (or took special notice") that there was no intercessor: it must be his arm alone that could bring salvation; none beside God himself could intermeddle therein.
But how could God undertake the business? Could he become a suitor or intercessor to his offended self? Could he present a sacrifice, or disburse a satisfaction to his own justice ? Could God alone contract and stipulate with God in our behalf ? No; surely man also must concur in the transaction : some amends must issue from him, somewhat must be paid out of our stock : human
Isai. lix. 16.
Tit. iii. 4.
John i. 14.
will and consent must be interposed, to ratify a SERM.
Here then did lie the stress; this was the knot, Eph. i. 8, which only Divine wisdom could loose. And so Ľuke i. 78.
Eph. i. 5. indeed it did in the most effectual and admirable way: for in correspondence to all the exigencies of Rom: v. 8. the case, (that God and man both might act their John vi. parts in saving us,) the blessed eternal Word, the Heb. x. 7. only Son of God, by the good will of his Father, Heb. v. 2; did vouchsafe to intercede for us, and to un- Eph. i. 6. dertake our redemptions; in order thereto volun- 1 Tim. ii. tarily being sent down from heaven, assuming Tit. 14. human flesh, subjecting himself to all the infirmi- 15; ii. 9. ties of our frail nature, and to the worst inconveniences of our low condition; therein meriting God's favour to us, by a perfect obedience to the law, and satisfying God's justice by a most patient endurance of pains in our behalf; in completion of all, willingly laying down his life for the ransom of our souls, and pouring forth his blood in sacrifice for our sins.
This is that great and wonderful Mystery of : Tim. iii. godliness, (or of our holy religion,) the which St Paul here doth express, in these words concerning our blessed Saviour; Who being in the form of Phil. ii. 6, God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God;
i . ü. 6.
Col. i. 22.
8 Constit. Apost. viii. 12. (Cotel. Pat. Apost. Tom. I. p. 402.)
SERM. but made himself of no reputation, and took upon
him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
In which words are contained divers points very observable. But seeing the time will not allow me to treat on them in any measure as they deserve, I shall (waving all the rest) insist but upon one particular, couched in the last words, Even the death of the cross, θανάτου δε σταυρου ; which by a special emphasis do excite us to consider the manner of that holy passion which we now commemorate; the contemplation whereof, as it is most seasonable, so it is ever very profitable.
Now then in this kind of passion we may consider divers notable adjuncts; namely these: i Its being in appearance criminal. 2 Its being most bitter and painful. 3 Its being most ignominious and shameful. 4 Its peculiar advantageousness to the designs of our Lord in suffering. 5 Its practical efficacy.
I. We may consider our Lord's suffering as
criminal; or as in semblance being an execution of Isai. lii. justice upon him. He, as the prophet foretold of
him, was numbered among the transgressors; and 2 Cor. v. God, saith St Paul, Made him sin for us, who
knew no sin: that is, God ordered him to be treated as a most sinful or criminous
who in himself was perfectly innocent, and void of the least inclination to offend.
So in effect it was, that he was impeached of the &c.; vii. 12. highest crimes; as a violator of the divine laws in
Matt. xxvi. 61; xxvii.
30. up unto
divers instances; as a designer to subvert their reli- SERM. gion and temple ; as an impostor, deluding and seducing the people; as a blasphemer, assuming to himself the properties and prerogatives of God; as 40. a seditious and rebellious person, Perverting the Luke xxiii. nation, inhibiting payments of tribute to Cæsar, Matt. usurping royal authority, and styling himself Christ xxvii. 63. a king: in a word, as a malefactor, or one guilty of enormous offences"; so his persecutors avowed to Pilate, If, said they, he were not a malefactor, John xviii. Kakorolós, we would not have delivered him thee. As such he was represented and arraigned; as such, although by a sentence wrested by malicious importunity, against the will and conscience of the judge, he was condemned, and accordingly suffered death.
Now whereas any death or passion of our Lord, as being in itself immensely valuable, and most precious in the sight of God, might have been sufficient toward the accomplishment of his general designs, (the appeasing God's wrath, the satisfaction of divine justice, the expiation of our guilt ;) it may be inquired, why God should thus expose him, or why he should choose to suffer under this odious and ugly characteri? Which inquiry is the more considerable, because it is especially this circumstance which crosseth the fleshly sense and worldly prejudices of men, so as to have rendered the gospel offensive to the superstitious Jews, and despicable to conceited Gentiles. For so Tryphon in Justin Martyr", although from conviction by testi5 Constit. Apost. v. 14. [Cotel. Pat. Apost. Tom. I. p. 317.]
Cur si Deus fuit, et mori voluit, non saltem honesto aliquo mortis genere affectus est? &c.—Lact. Instit. iv. 26.
* Just. M. Dial. cum Tryph. [p. 197 A, B.] [El 8è kai áriuos oŰrws
1 Cor. 1. 23.
SERM. monies of scripture, he did admit the Messias was
to suffer hardly, yet that it should be in this accursed manner, he could not digest. So the great adversaries of Christianity (Celsus', Porphyry",
, Julian") did with most contempt urge this exception against it. So St Paul did observe, that Christ crucified was unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness. Wherefore, to avoid those scandals, and that we may better admire the wisdom of God in this dispensation, it may be fit to assign some reasons intimated in holy scripture, or bearing conformity to its doctrine, why it was thus ordered. Such are these.
I As our Saviour freely did undertake a life of greatest meanness and hardship, so upon the like accounts he might be pleased to undergo a death most loathsome and uncomfortable. There is nothing to man's nature (especially to the best natures, in which modesty and ingenuity do survive) more
σταυρωθήναι τον Χριστόν, απορούμεν· επικατάρατος γαρ ο σταυρούμενος
ό εν τω νόμω λέγεται είναι. ώστε προς τούτο ακμής δυσπείστως έχω. παθητών μεν τον Χριστόν ότι αι γραφαί κηρύσσουσι, φανερόν έστιν ει δε διά του εν τω νόμω κεκατηραμένου πάθους, βουλόμεθα μαθεϊν, ει έχεις και περί τούτου αποδείξαι.]
Orig. con. Cels. Ι. p. 83. [Πώς δ' ουκ άντικρυς ψεύδος το υπό του παρά τω Κέλσα Ιουδαίου λεγόμενον, ότι, “Μηδένα πείσας μέχρι έζη, ότι (όγε) μηδε τους εαυτού μαθητάς, εκολάσθη και τοιαύτα υπέμεινε ;”] VII. p. 368. [Τον δε βίω μεν επιρρητοτάτω, θανάτω δε οικτίστα χρησάμενον, θεόν τίθεσθε.]
Aug. de Civ. Dei, x. 28. (Opp. Tom. vir. col. 263 c.] [Hunc autem Christum esse non credis; contemnis enim eum propter corpus ex femina acceptum, et propter crucis opprobrium.]
Cyril. c. Jul. VΙ. Οpp. Tom. VI. p. 194 c. [Είτα και δυστυχείς άνθρωποι-το του σταυρού προσκυνείτε ξύλον, εικόνας αυτού σκιαγραφούντες εν τω μετώπω και προ των οικήματων εγγράφοντες, άρα αξίως άν τις συνετωτέρους υμών μισήσειεν, ή τους άφρονεστέρους ελεήσειεν, οι κατακολουθούντες υμίν εις τούτο ήλθον ολέθρου, ώστε τους αιωνίους αφέντες θεούς επί των Ιουδαίων μεταβήναι νεκρόν.]