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ing, and ought not to be said. O, my brethren, you feel the horror of this, and yet you can bear to read of Christ's sufferings without horror; for what is that little child's agony to His ? and which deserved it more? which is the more innocent ? which the holier ? was He not gentler, sweeter, meeker, more tender, more loving, than any little child? Why are you shocked at the one, why are you not shocked at the other?
Or take another instance, not so shocking in its circumstances, yet introducing us to another distinction, in which Christ's passion exceeds that of any innocent sufferers, such as I have supposed. When Joseph was sent by his father to his brethren on a message of love, they, when they saw him, said, “ Behold, this dreamer cometh; come now, therefore, and let us slay him.” They did not kill him, however, but they put him in a pit in spite of the anguish of his soul, and sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites, and he was taken down into a foreign country, where he had no friends. Now this was most cruel and most cowardly in the sons of Jacob; and what is so especially shocking in it is, that Joseph was not only innocent and defenceless, their younger brother whom they ought to have protected, but besides that, he was so confiding and loving, that he need not have come to them, that he would not at all have been in their power, except for his desire to do them service. Now, whom does this history remind us of but of Him concerning whom the Master of the vineyard said, when He sent Him to the husbandmen, “They will reverence My Son ?" “ But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the Heir, come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance. And they caught Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him.” Here, then, is an additional circumstance of cruelty to affect us in CHRIST's history, such as is suggested in Joseph's, but which no instance of a brute animal's or of a child's sufferings can have; our Lord was not only guiltless and defenceless, but He had come among His persecutors in love.
3. And now, instead of taking the case of the young, innocent, and confiding, let us take another instance which will present to us our Lord's passion under another aspect. Let us
3 Gen. xxxvii, 19, 20.
6 Matt. xxi. 37–39.
suppose that some aged and venerable person whom we have known as long as we could recollect any thing, and loved and reverenced, suppose such a one, who had often done us kind. nesses, who had taught us, who had given us good advice, who had encouraged us, smiled on us, comforted us in trouble, whom we knew to be very good and religious, very holy, full of wisdom, full of heaven, with grey hairs and awful countenance, waiting for ALMIGHTY God's summons to leave this world for a better place ; suppose, I say, such a one whom we have ourselves known, and whose memory is dear to us, rudely seized by fierce men, stripped naked in public, insulted, driven about here and there, made a laughing-stock, struck, spit on, dressed up in other clothes in ridicule, then severely scourged on the back, then laden with some heavy load till he could carry it no longer, pulled and dragged about, and at last exposed with all his wounds to the gaze of a rude multitude who came and jeered him, what would be our feelings ? Let us in our mind think of this person or that, or consider how we should be overwhelmed and pierced through and through by such a hideous occurrence. But what is all this to the suffering of the holy Jesus, which
to read of as a matter of course! Only think of Him, when in His wounded state, and without garment on, He had to creep up the ladder, as He could, which led Him up the cross high enough for His murderers to nail Him to it; and consider who it was that was in that misery. Or again, view Him dying, hour after hour bleeding to death ; and how? in peace ? no; with His arms stretched out, and His face exposed to view, and any one who pleased coming and staring at Him, mocking Him, and watching the gradual ebbing of His strength, and the approach of death. These are some of the appalling details which the Gospels contain, and surely they were not recorded for nothing ; but that we might dwell on them. Do
you think that those who saw these things had much heart for eating or drinking or enjoying themselves. On the contrary, we are told that even “ the people who came together to that sight, smote their breasts and returned".” If these were the feelings of the people, what were St. John's feelings, or St.
7 Luke xxii. 48.
Mary Magdalen's, or St. Mary's, our Lord's blessed mother? Do we desire to be of this company ? do we desire, according to His own promise, to be rather blessed than the womb that 'bare Him, and the paps that He sucked ? do we desire to be as His brother, and sister, and mother $ ? Then, surely, ought we to have some portion of that mother's sorrow! When He was on the cross and she stood by, then, according to Simeon's prophecy, “a sword pierced through her soulo.” What is the use of our keeping the memory of His cross and passion, unless we lament and are in sorrow with her ? I can understand people who do not keep Good Friday at all; they are indeed very ungrateful, but I know what they mean ; I understand them. But I do not understand' at all, I do not at all see what men mean who do profess to keep it, yet do not sorrow, or at least try to sorrow. Such a spirit of grief and lamentation is expressly mentioned in Scripture as a characteristic of those who turn to CHRIST. If then we do not sorrow, have we turned to Him? “ I will pour upon the house of David,” says the merciful Saviour HIMSELF, before He came on earth, speaking of what was to come,“ upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born ?.”
One thing I will add, if there be persons here present who are conscious to themselves that they do not feel the grief which this season should cause them, who feel as they do at other times, let them consider with themselves whether perhaps this defect does not arise from their having neglected to come to church, whether during this season, or at other times, as often as they might. Our feelings are not in our own power; God alone can rule our feelings; God alone can make us sorrow, when we would but cannot sorrow ; but will He, if we have not diligently sought Him according to our opportunities in this house of grace? I speak of those who might come to prayers more frequently, and do not. I know well that many cannot come. I speak of those who can, if they will. Even if they come as often as they are able, I know well they will not be satisfied with their own feel. 8 Matt. xii. 46, &c.
9 Luke ij. 35.
i Zecb. xii, 10.
ings; they will be conscious even then that they ought to grieve more than they do; of course none of us feels the great event of this day as he ought, and therefore we all ought to be dissatisfied with ourselves. However, if this is not our own fault, we need not be out of heart, for God will mercifully lead us forward in His own time; but if it arises from our not coming to prayers here as often as we might, then our coldness and deadness are our own fault, and I beg you all to consider that that fault is not a slight one. It is said in the Book of Revelation, “ Behold HE cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him?.” We, my brethren, every one of us, day rise from our graves, and see Jesus Christ; we shall see Him who hung on the cross, we shall see His wounds, we shall see the marks in His hands, and in His feet, and in His side. Do we wish to be of those, then, who wail and lament, or of those who rejoice? If we would not lament at the sight of Him then, we must lament at the thought of Him now. Let us prepare to meet our God; let us come into His Presence whenever we can ; let us try to fancy as if we saw the cross and Him upon it; let us draw near to it, let us beg Him to look on us as He did on the penitent thief, and let us say to Him, “LORD, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom 8.”
Let this be added now to the prayer, my brethren, with which you leave this church. After I have given the blessing, you will say to yourselves a short prayer. Well; fancy you see Jesus Christ on the cross, and say to Him with the penitent thief, LORD, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom ;”
Remember me, LORD, in mercy, remember not my sins, but Thine own cross; remember Thine own sufferings, remember that Thou sufferedst for me, a sinner; remember in the last day that I, during my lifetime, felt Thy sufferings, that I suffered on my cross by Thy side. Remember me then, and make me remember THEE now."
2 Rev. i. 7.
3 Luke xxiii. 42.
ATTENDANCE ON HOLY COMMUNION.
John v. 40.
“ Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.”
St. John tells us in to-day's epistle that “ God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." Yet in the text the Son HIMSELF, our Saviour, sorrowfully and solemnly expostulates with His own brethren, “ Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” “ He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” We know from history, as a matter of fact, that they did not receive Him, that they did not come to Him when He came to them; but He says in the text that they would not come, that they did not wish to come, implying that they, and none else but they, were the cause of their not coming.
Does it not seem a plain natural instinct that every one should seek his own good? What then is meant by this unwillingness to come for the greatest of goods, life ; an unwillingness, which, guided by the light of Scripture and by experience, we can confidently affirm to prevail at this day as widely and as fully as in the age
in which Christ said it?
1 First Sunday after Easter.