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death upon the cross: we are entering upon the most holy season of the whole year. May we approach it with holy hearts! May we renew our resolutions of leading a life of obedience to His commandments, and may we have the grace to seal our good resolutions at His most sacred Supper, in which " Jesus Christ is evidently set forth crucified among us.” It is useless to make resolves without coming to Him for aid to keep them; and it is useless coming to His table without earnest and hearty resolves; it is provoking God " to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death.” But what shall be said of those who do neither the one nor the other,—who neither vow obedience, nor come to Him for grace ?—who sin deliberately after they have known the truth—who review their sins in time past in a reckless hard-hearted way, or put them aside out of their thoughts —who can bear to jest about them, to speak of them to others unblushingly, or even to boast of them, and to determine on sinning again,—who think of repenting at some future day, and resolve on going their own way now, trusting to chance for reconciliation with God, as if it were not a matter to be
anxious about? This state of mind brings upon a man a judgment heavier than all the plagues of Egypt,--a judgment compared with which that darkness which could be felt is the sun's brightness, and the thunders and hail are the serene sky, the wrath to come.
Awake, then, my brethren, with this season, to meet your God, who now summons you from His cross and tomb. Put aside the sin that doth so easily beset you, and be ye holy even as He is holy. Stand ready to suffer with Him, should it be needful, that you may rise together with Him. He can make bitter things sweet to you, and hard ways easy, if you have but the heart to desire Him to do so. He can change the Law into the Gospel. He can, for Moses, give you HIMSELF. He can write the Law on your hearts, and thereby take away the hand-writing that is against you, even the old curse which by nature you inherit. HE has done this for many in time past. He does it for many at all times. Why should He not do it for you? Why should you be left out? Why should you not enter into His rest? Why should
you not see His glory? O, why should you be blotted out from His book ?
ISAIAH liii. 7.
"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; HE
is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.”
ST. PETER makes it almost a description of a Christian, that he loves Him whom he has not seen ; speaking of CHRIST, he says, “whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Again he speaks of "tasting that the LORD is gracious?.” Unless we have a true love of CHRIST, we are not His true disciples; and we cannot love Him unless we have heartfelt gratitude to Him; and we cannot duly feel gratitude, unless we feel keenly what He suffered for us. it seems to us impossible, under the circumstances of the case, that any one can have attained to the love of CARIST, who feels no distress, no misery, at the thought of His bitter pains, and no selfreproach at having through his own sins had a share in causing them.
I know quite well, and wish you, my brethren, never to forget, that feeling is not enough; that it is not enough merely to feel and nothing more; that to feel grief for CHRIST's sufferings, and yet not to go on to obey Him, is not true love, but a mockery. True love both feels right, and acts right; but at the same time as warm feelings without religious conduct are a kind of hypocrisy, so, on the other hand, right conduct, when unattended with deep feelings, is at best a very imperfect sort of religion. And at this time of year especially are we called upon to raise our heart to Christ, and to have keen feelings and piercing thoughts of sorrow and shame, of compunction and of gratitude, of love and tender affection and horror and anguish, at the review of those awful sufferings whereby our salvation has been purchased.
1 1 Pet. i. 8. ii. 3.
Let us pray God to give us all graces ; and while, in the first place, we pray that He would make us holy, really holy, let us also pray Him to give us the beauty of holiness, which consists in tender and eager affection towards our LORD and Saviour ; which is in the case of the Christian, what beauty of person is to the outward man, so that through God's mercy our souls may have, not strength and health only, but a sort of bloom and comeliness; and that as we grow older in body, we may, year by year, grow more youthful in spirit.
You will ask, how are we to learn to feel pain and anguish at the thought of Christ's sufferings? I answer, by thinking of them, that is, by dwelling on the thought. This, through God's mercy, is in the power of every one. No one who will but solemnly think over the history of those sufferings, as drawn out for us in the Gospels, but will gradually gain, through God's grace, a sense of them, will in a measure realize them, will in a measure be as if he saw them, will feel towards them as being not merely a tale written in a book, but as a true history, as a series of events which took place. It is indeed a great mercy that this duty which I speak of, though so high, is notwithstanding so level with the powers of all classes of persons, learned and unlearned, if they wish to perform it. Any one can think of Christ's sufferings if he will; and knows well what to think about. “ It is not in heaven that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the sea for us? but the word is very nigh unto thee;" very nigh, for it is in the four Gospels, which, at this day at least, are open to all men. All men may read or hear the Gospels, and in knowing them, they will know all that is necessary to be known in order to feel aright; they will know all that any one knows, all that has been told us, all that the greatest saints have ever had to make them full of love and sacred fear.
ow, then, let me make one or two reflections by way of stirring up your hearts and making you mourn over Christ's sufferings, as you are called to do at this season.
1. First, as to these sufferings you will observe that our Lord is called a lamb in the text; that is, He was as defenceless, and as innocent, as a lamb is. Since then Scripture compares Him to this inoffensive and unprotected animal, we may without presumption or irreverence take the image as a means of conveying to our minds those feelings which our Lord's sufferings should excite in us. I mean, consider how very horrible it is to read the accounts which sometimes meet us of cruelties exercised on brute animals. Does it not sometimes make us shudder to hear tell of them, or to read them in some chance publication which we take up? At one time it is the wanton deed of barbarous and angry owners who ill-treat their cattle, or beasts of burden; and at another, it is the cold blooded and calculating act of men of science, who make experiments on brute animals, perhaps merely from a sort of curiosity. I do not like to go into particulars, for many reasons; but one of those instances which we read of as happening in this day, and which seems more shocking than the rest, is, when the poor dumb victim is fastened against a wall, pierced, gashed, and so left to linger out its life. Now do you not see that I have a reason for saying this, and am not using these distressing words for nothing? For what was this but the very cruelty inflicted upon our LORD? He was gashed with the scourge, pierced through hands and feet, and so fastened to the Cross, and there left, and that as a spectacle. Now what is it moves our very hearts, and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes ? I suppose this first, that they have done no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which makes their sufferings so especially touching. For instance, if they were dangerous animals, take the case of wild beasts at large, able not only to defend themselves, but even to attack us;
much as we might dislike to hear of their wounds and agony, yet our feelings would be of a very different kind; but there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who never have harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it. Now this was just our Saviour's case : He had laid aside His glory, He had (as it were) disbanded His legions of angels, He came on earth without arms, except the arms of truth, meekness, and righteousness, and committed Himself to the world in perfect innocence and sinlessness, and in utter helplessness as the Lamb of God. In the words of St. Peter, “ Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth ; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again ; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed HIMSELF to Him that judgeth righteousness.” Think then, my brethren, of your feelings at cruelty practised upon brute animals, and you will gain one sort of feeling which the history of Christ's Cross and Passion ought to excite within you. And let me add, this is in all cases one good use to which you may turn any accounts you read of wanton and unfeeling acts shown towards the inferior animals ; let them remind you, as a picture, of Christ's sufferings. He who is higher than the angels, deigned to humble Himself even to the state of the brute creation, as the Psalm says, “I am a worm, and no man scorn of men, and the outcast of the people *.” 2. Take another example, and you
see the same thing still more strikingly. How overpowered should we be, nay not at the sight only, but at the very hearing of cruelties shown to a little child, and why so ? for the same two reasons, because it was so innocent, and because it was so unable to defend itself. I do not like to go into the details of such cruelty, they would be so heart-rending. What if wicked men took and crucified a young child ? What if they deliberately seized its poor little frame, and stretched out its arms, nailed them to a cross bar of wood, drove a stake through its two feet, and fastened them to a beam, and so left it to die? It is almost too shocking to say ; perhaps, you will actually say it is too shock
3 1 Pet. ii. 22, 23.
4 Psalm xxii. 6.