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made a shero of them openly, triumphing over them in it, Col. ii. 15.
3. The third buckler against the offence of the cross—the sovereign command of his heavenly Father; the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so 1 do, chap. xiv. 30, 31. What was the commandment given of the Father to Jesus Christ? You know it, my brethren; the commission which he had given him, was to deliver from the dreadful abysses of hell a world of miserable wretches, whom divine justice had there doomed to undergo the punishment of everlasting fire. This was the supreme will which the Redeemer had continually before his eyes. For this it was, that he saith when he cometh into the world : sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire : but a body hast thou prepared for me : burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required: then said I, Lo, I come : in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God, Ps. xl. 6, 7, 8. For this it was, that dismayed and cast down, as it were, to the ground at Gethsemane, at the bare apprehension of approaching sufferings, he prayed, saying: O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, but immediately added, nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt, Matt. xxvi. 39.
4. The fourth buckler against the offence of the cross the idea of the storm which was ready to burst on the authors of those sufferings, and upon a whole guilty nation which had obstinately rejected his ministry: If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me, hateik my Father also, ch. xv. 22, 23. This parricide
filled up the measure of the incredulity and barbarity of the Jews: it was going to put the last hand to an accumulation of criminality. But let not the impatience of the flesh hurry the spirit into the formation of precipitate judgment : let not the libertine and the profane here display their abominable system : let them not say, as they point to the cross of the Saviour, on which innocence is immolated to iniquity, Where is that Providence which guides the helm of the universe ? Where are those eyes which go up and down through the earth, to contemplate the actions of men? Where is that righteous Judge of all the earth, ever ready to administer justice ? Have a little patience, and you shall see that as this parricide constituted the most atrocious of all crimes, it was likewise speedily followed by the most tremendous of all punishments. You shall behold the accomplishment of the prophetic denunciation : Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children, Luke xxiii. 28. You shall behold the Jews driven to desperation, imploring assistance from the rocks and from the mountains, to shelter them from the strokes of that divine vengeance which pursues them : you shall behold that Jerusalem, that mur. deress of the prophets, deluged with her own blood : two millions of Jews offered in sacrifice to the jus. tice of that God, who requires at their hands the blood of the Messiah.
5. The fifth buckler against the offence of the cross--the spectacle of charity which Jesus Christ presents to his disciples : Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, ch. xv. 1S. Accordingly, when this divine Saviour had arrived at the period of his death, and had formed, if I may use the expression, the
ultimate resolution to die, every flood-gate of his charity is set open : from this fountain of love, whence emanated the heroic purpose of immolating himself for his disciples, we behold every other proof of affection gushing out in copious streams : Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth: but I have called you friends ; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you, ch. xv. 15. If you have been faithful to me while I was giving you strong proofs of my tenderness, is it possible you should be unfaithful, now that I am preparing to give you a demonstration of it still more irresistible? Is it possible you should choose the time of my crucifixion to betray me? Is it pos. sible you should deny your Redeemer, precisely at the moment when he is dying to accomplish the work of your redemption ?
II. Our blessed Lord having spoken to the disciples, of the cross which he was about to suffer, and this is the second article of meditation, proceeds to speak to them concerning their own. He disguises not either the horror or the weight of it: These things I have spoken unto you, that you should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues : yea, the time cometh, that tohosóever killeth you will think that he doth God service, ch. xvi. 1, 2. But while he utters a prediction so melancholy and discouraging, he softens it, and supplies them with motives the best adapted to fortify and sustain them against the fearful accomplishment of it. The objects which Jesus Christ presents to the eyes of his disciples, in the three chapters which we are attempting to analize, are the same which have supported our own martyrs and confessors in this age of fire and blood
when the enemies of religion have taken for their models the persecutors of Christ and of his apostles.
I suffer, I die for the gospel, said our confessors and martyrs within themselves, in the extremity of their sufferings : I suffer, I die for the gospel ; it is my highest glory ; it is my badge of conformity to my adorable Saviour; I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, Col. i. 24. I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus, Gal. vi. 17. It is one of the motives which our Lord himself proposes to his apostles : if the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
The servant is not greater than the lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you, ch. xv. 18, 20.
I suffer, I die for the gospel. The world places before me a theatre of misery and persecution only. Bui it is because I am not of this world I am looking and longing for another establishment of things, and every stroke aimed at me by the men of the world, is a pledge of my being a citizen of another, of a heavenly country. This is a farther motive suggested by Jesus Christ to his disciples : if ye were of the world, the world would love his own : but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world haleth you, ch. xv. 19.
I suffer, I die for the gospel. How glorious it is for a man to devote himself in such a cause ! How glorious it is to be the martyr of truth and of virtue! Our Lord suggests this likewise as a motive to his disciples: all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him who sent me, ch. xv. 21.
I suffer, I die for the gospel ; but God is witness of my sufferings and death: he feels every stroke which falls upon me: he who toucheth me toucheth
the apple of his eye, Zech. ii. 8. And as he is the witness of the barbarity of my tormenters, he will likewise be the judge and the avenger. This likewise is a motive suggested by our Lord to his disciples : he that hateth me hateth my Father also, ch. xv. 23.
I suffer, I die for the gospel : but I have before my eyes the great pattern of patience and fortitude. I derive the support which I need from the same source whence my Saviour derived his : I look to the Author and Finisher of my faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, Heb. xii. 2. and I aspire after the same triumph. This is a motive suggested by Jesus Christ to his disciples : in the world ye shull have tribulation : but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, ch. xvi. 33. What cross would not appear light, when the mind is supported by motives so powerful ?
III. We observed, in the third place, that our blessed Lord is, in this address, cautioning bis disciples against forgetfulness of his commandments. The presence of a good pastor is a bulwark against error and vice. The respect which he commands by his exemplary conduct, and the lustre which his superior intelligence diffuses, impress truth upon the understanding, and transfuse virtue into the lieart. He has his eyes ever open upon the various avenues through which the enemy could find admission into the field of the Lord, to sow it with tares, and by the exercise of constant vigilance, defeats the cunning of the wicked one.
Conformably to this idea, one of the most grievous solicitudes which, at a dying hour, have oppressed the minds of those extraordinary men to whom God committed the oversight of his church,