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for his want of sensibility ; but because he was fully alive to it, and yet refused to revenge it, we admire him for his magnanimity.
That this was truly the nature of our Lord's feelings we have demonstrative evidence to prove; and, indeed, if he had not had the desires of the flesh to contend against, we cannot conceive how mockery and derision could have wounded him, or reproach broken his heart: to him they would have formed no temptation. But when we consider him as one possessed of every
human feeling, and consider that he had left the abodes of blessedness on an errand of mercy to his rebellious children ; and that, by his miracles, he had given such manifest evidence of his heavenly origin, and of the benign object of his mission; we are amazed at his forbearance in enduring such contradiction of sinners against himself, and that, “when reviled, he reviled not again, " " when he suffered, threatened not;" but submitted to be spit upon, clothed in mock royalty, crowned in wanton derision with thorns, scourged and crucified with thieves ; while he possessed the power of crushing his adversaries in a moment. When we further consider, that, after being betrayed by one of his disciples, denied by another, and deserted by all, he hung upon the cross, writhing under the tortures of a most excruciating death; and that even in his agony the malignity of his persecutors remained unabated, but that they continued even then to treat him with cruel derision, calling him to come down from the cross and then they would believe him; and giving him vinegar and gall to quench his parching thirst: when we consider all this, and yet see him suppressing every natural feeling, and not only refraining from making his vengeance to alight upon them, but even breathing out a prayer to his father in their behalf, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ;" then we see a pattern of magnanimity and holiness, not only more sublime than the world had ever before witnessed, but such as it could never have conceived. It was by thus mortifying the desires of the flesh and of the mind that he conquered all the power of the enemy.
There was another trial combined with all the rest, which mightily aggravated them, and which he endured from inberiting our fallen nature (for Adam before his sin could never have known it); I mean the hidings of his Father's countenance. We may see what bitter anguish this occasioned him when expiring upon the cross. Yet this is a trial to which his saints in all ages have been subject; as the book of Job, the Psalms, and the Prophets abundantly testify; and to which multitudes of his people are subject at the present day, and by which they are often driven to the brink of despair.
In the death of Christ there was a double sacrifice : com
bined with the crucifixion of his body there was the crucifixion of the natural desires and feelings of the mind. This, indeed, seems clearly typified in the sacrifices for sin under the Law. The internal parts of the animal were consumed upon the altar, in the temple; while the external parts were carried and burnt without the camp. The temple was the type of our Saviour's body, in which his human soul was given as an offering for sin; while his body was carried without the gate of Jerusalem, and there crucified.
The inward mortification of every carnal desire, which proceeded during the whole course of his sorrowful life, rendered him a living sacrifice, as all his followers are commanded to be. This was peculiarly manifest, however, in Gethsemane and on the cross, when, in an especial manner, the load of a world's guilt lay on him, and the insupportable weight of his heavenly Father's wrath, for our sakes, oppressed him. The depth of suffering he then endured no human mind can ever fathom ; as is evident from the language employed in describing it. Psalm cii. 3: “ My bones are burned as an hearth; my heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin." Yet we are not to suppose, from the extent of our Saviour's sufferings, that they were different in their nature from those to which his own people are liable during the days of their pilgrimage. The Psalms which describe his inward sufferings and temptations, were in general, there is no doubt, a description of the personal feelings of those who wrote them. David, that he might be able to describe the feelings of our Lord, was brought into circumstances somewhat similar, and wrote what he himself experienced. Job, also, when plunged into the depths of distress, in describing his own anguish of spirit gives us much insight into the inward agony which oppressed our Lord. He also speaks of his “veins being consumed within him.” He, though the most patient of men, shewed how powerful is the tendency of such complicated misery to stir up the evil passions of our nature; and thus enables us better to understand the conflict which our Saviour endured in keeping them in subjection.
While the Old Testament saints were thus evidently partakers in Christ's sufferings, it is no less clearly revealed that his people still endure the same kind of suffering which he endured, though never in the same degree. Many, in their distress, can find no language so appropriate in which to describe their own spiritual depression as that of those Psalms which are descriptive of our Lord's sufferings; and often their consolation springs from that very circumstance. They had thought themselves deserted by God, till their minds were enlightened to see, that,
in lamenting the hidings of their Father's countenance, they were only fellow-sufferers with Christ. Indeed, I think there is no doctrine more clearly revealed, or upon which more stress is laid in the Scriptures, than the perfect union into which Christ brings his believing people with himself. Not only is it said that he was tempted in all points like as we are, and therefore able to succour those that are tempted; and that he was made in all things like unto his brethren; but his people are said to be “partakers of his sufferings ;" his sufferings are said to " abound in them ;" they are said “lo bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” “to be crucified with him," and “to bear his reproach.” When enduring suffering and temptation, they flee to the same strong-hold in which he found refuge. It was to God that he, in his extremity, cried for deliverance, and poured out his complaints, and was engaged whole nights in prayer. When tempted of Satan, he beat him back with the same weapon which is put into our hands,—the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Indeed, it is very remarkable in how many instances the same forms of expression are applied to our Lord, that are used regarding bis people. He is said to be "anointed by the Holy Spirit, “justified by the Spirit," "to cast out devils by the Spirit of God,” “to be sent by God,” and “raised by him from the dead," and to be “the first-fruits of them that slept.” God is said to have performed miracles by Christ. He is said to be “chosen out of the people,” to be "anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” to be "made a little lower than the angels.” He had a human will distinct from that of his Heavenly Father, as the act of praying clearly testifies; but in his prayer he says expressly, “ Not my will, but thine be done :” “Why hast thou forsaken me!” His people are said to be “members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones,” “ branches of the same vine,” “living stones of the same building,” “brethren" of the same family, and to be united to him as a bride to her husband. They are said “to be baptized into Christ,” “ to have put on Christ,” to be “fellowheirs with him," " to be partakers of the Divine nature," and “ to reign with him." Christ is said to be a temple of God, and so are his people. He says to them, “I ascend unto my Father and your father, to my God and your God.” Nay, he even prays, " As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”
He descended to the lowest depths of their humiliation, that he might raise them to the height of his glory. They drink of the same cup that he drank of, and are baptized with the same baptism that he was baptized with. We are commanded “ to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow him." He pleased not himself
, but was among his people as he that serveth, even condescending to wash the disciples' feet. He
He says, that
“of himself he could do nothing." He was "crucified in weakness," was "strengthened ” by an angel.
Seeing that the Lord our Saviour entered into so complete a union of circumstances and feelings with his people, it would indeed be truly wonderful, if he had never entered into their nature, but was only in that of the unfallen Adam ; which is as really distinct from it as that of the angels.
To sum up all in few words:
While our blessed Lord is, in almost innumerable passages of Scripture, declared to be perfectly holy, and without blemish, it is yet said of him that he was manifest in the flesh, and was in the likeness of sinful flesh. By the word flesh, in Scripture, is almost invariably meant, not the mere bodily frame, but the whole human constitution, with all its sinful passions and propensities. We have shewn that guilt is not charged upon God's people for inheriting those sinful propensities, unless they yield to their influence; but, on the other hand, the peculiar holiness of the saints consists in mortifying them, and keeping them under subjection. We have seen that our Lord was the true seed of the fallen woman; that his genealogy is carefully traced down through a long line of fallen mortal men; and that at last he was made of a fallen mortal woman. We have seen that there was nothing in his appearance or ordinary deportment to distinguish him from our fallen race; for even his brethren, for a time, believed not in him. We have seen that he entered into the condition and experienced the same feelings with his fallen creatures: he wrought for his daily bread; he suffered grief, pain, hunger, thirst, weariness, and had no certain dwelling-place.; and at last expired in anguish upon the cross. We have endeavoured to shew that these circumstances and feelings belong to us only as fallen creatures ; and that Adam in his unfallen state could neither have suffered pain of any kind, nor death, either natural or violent; for “death is the wages of sin.” We have seen that our Lord was in all things made like unto his brethren, and was tempted in all points like as we are. We have endeavoured to shew that there is no temptation to sin but through our natural desires, and that Satan cannot influence us but through their instrumentality.
On examining the particular temptations, recorded in Scripture, with which the devil attacked our blessed Lord, we found that it was through the desires of the flesh—pride, anger, revenge, &c.—that he assailed him; and that our Lord conquered him through the power of the Holy Ghost, by means of the sword of the Spirit, and subdued every passion which Satan attempted to excite. There was no sin in being assailed by these evil passions, when they were resisted and mortified; and there would have been no temptation if these passions had not existed in our Lord's human nature. It is the great fight
of the Christian to crush the evil passions which war against the law of his mind; and it was this mighty conquest which the Captain of our salvation achieved, and by means of which be destroyed death and him that had the power of death; and it is because Christ thus triumphed over the propensities of the nature which he took, and over the spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience, that he gives to us the hope of victory. Because “ he himself suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour those that are tempted.”
Again: we have endeavoured to shew, that while there is not one solitary passage of Scripture to prove that our Saviour came in the unfallen nature of Adam, there are many passages to shew that his nature was in all respects that of his fallen regenerate people. That his sorrows and temptations were truly those of our nature is manifest from this circumstance, that his deepest anguish and sufferings are described by Job, by David, and by the prophets, when they are giving vent to their own true and natural feelings, when under temptation and affliction, similar, but never to the same extent, as those to which our Lord, for our sakes, was exposed. Nor is the truth less manifest from the New Testament, where the most perfect and inseparable union in nature, in feeling, in temptation, in suffering, are described to subsist between Christ and his people, of whom it is yet true that in their flesh dwelleth no good thing.
In fine, if there be one truth demonstrable from the Scripture, it is, in my opinion, that Christ came in our fallen nature; and if there be one error which is more than another calculated to subvert the whole scheme of redemption, and to inundate the church with every species of heresy, it is that our Lord came in the unfallen nature of Adam, as that nature will appear to those who have duly considered and understood its constitution.
We cannot conclude without one word of caution to those who are in arms against the doctrine we have endeavoured to uphold, and who are ready to condemn those who maintain that our blessed Lord, with perfect sinlessness, was manifested in our fallen nature. The bitterest persecutions the world has seen have been those which were instigated by a mistaken zeal for purity and holiness. Our blessed Lord himself was put to death for the supposed breach of the Sabbath. In fine, let the opponents of the doctrine, that Christ appeared in our fallen nature, pause, and consider whether, in attempting to exalt the holiness of our Lord, they are not raising him far above the possibility of his sympathizing with human feeling, and our sympathizing with him; and, in fact, degrading the holiness they attempt to magnify.
An Elder of the Church of Scotland,