Page images



MATTHEW Xxvii. 28, 29, 30.

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail King of the Jews. And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

SOLAR eclipses are not miraculous appearances. Men acquainted with the situations and revolutions of the celestial orbs foretel these appearances, and affirm, that the intervention of the moon between our earth and the sun is the cause of his eclipse. Certain it is, that an obscuration of light, or a comparative darkness, is perceived during the time that this luminary is eclipsed.

The humiliation of the Son of God is the eclipse of the Sun of Righteousness. In a qualified meaning, this figure is admissible in his humiliation. Infamy and reproach covered him in the days of his flesh; and, toward the end of these days, intercepted his rays, hiding, like a dark body, the brightness of his glory from the eyes of the world. Foreseeing this, a prophet says, "His visage was so marred "more than any man, and his form more than the sons of "men. He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we "shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire "him;" and relating this, an apostle says, "Who being in "the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with "God. But made himself of no reputation, and took up"on him the form of a servant, and was made in the like"ness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he "humbled himself, and become obedient unto death, even "the death of the cross."

The obscuration of the Sun of Righteousness, in his humiliation, was not however a total eclipse. Made flesh, and dwelling among men, the Lord Jesus Christ was then what he is now, the glory of Israel, and the light of the world. Through the body of his flesh, and the cloud of his sorrows, disciples "beheld his glory, the glory as of "the Only Begotten of the Father;" and, through the infamy which covered his name, and hung all round the lat ter part of his humiliation, we now, by his word and spirit, behold a glory in his countenance, brighter than the sun, shining in his strength, and a beauty in the disfiguration of his face, which compels us to acknowledge him to be "God manifest in flesh." A prophet fortels one day, that shall be "not day nor night," the light being not clear nor dark, but a mixture of both qualities. So is the light of the Sun of Righteousness, in his humiliation; and in looking down to him at this period, we behold an unparalleled mixture of light and shade, of glory and infamy, of honor and dishonor, and of beauty, meanness, and shame.

It was not intended, that the humiliation which eclipsed the glory of the Sun of Righteousness should be concealed. He himself, on the contrary, appointed the whole of it, the darkest parts not excepted, to be recorded, preached, proclaimed, commemorated; and this day we are assembled to preach, proclaim, and commemorate it, according to his appointment in the record. In that part of the record which is our text, darkness presents itself to the eyes of natural men. But men, the eyes of whose understanding are enlightened by the spirit of wisdom and revelation, behold his glory beaming through the darkness, and believe that the sufferer, though deeply shaded, hath indisputable claims to his honorary titles, "Sun of Righteousness,” and "Light of the World." We shall therefore speak, first of the sufferer; then concerning the indignities which he suffered; and, lastly, by the light of other texts of scripture, which testify of him, concerning the glory that breaks forth in his suffering these indignities.

Concerning the sufferer, we speak in the first place. When our Lord Jesus Christ is the theme, speakers are `not straitened for want of matter. By the witness which God hath testified of him, and recorded in the scripture, they are thoroughly and richly furnished. No particulars

in it are uninteresting, and yet many must be omitted. Some are mentioned in one discourse, and others equally important left to another. In this we observe, that the sufferer is Son of the Highest, Kinsman of the human race, Undertaker for the elect of God, Horn of their salvation, Author and finisher of their faith, and Sun of Righteousness, or Light of the world. These are splendid titles, and his claim to each appears in the following illustrations:

[ocr errors]

First, The sufferer is the Son of the Highest. "The "Highest," is one of the lofty titles, which distinguishes and exalts the living and true God; and "the Son of the High"est" is a glorious title, with which, according to the prediction of Gabriel, the Saviour of the world is honored. “Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and "shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall "be called the Son of the Highest." In the course of his ministry, he laid claim to it, and frequently affirmed himself to be the Son of God. When he claimed the title Son of God, or Son of the Highest, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, or one with the Father. The real import of it is given by the apostle, when he affirms him to be "the brightness of glory, and the express image "of the Father."-Every perfection essential to the Father dwells bodily and essentially in the Son; and the singular titles, "Own Son," "Dear Son," "Beloved Son," "Only "Begotten Son," exalt him above creatures, and equal him to the Highest.


Secondly, The sufferer is the kinsman of the human To a part of our race, the Lord Jesus bears a special relation, but he dwells in the nature common to the whole. Partaking of flesh and blood, of which all, as well as the children, are partakers, every man under heaven, upon the revelation of him, is warranted to call him kinsman. Here "we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even "the hidden wisdom which he ordained before the world, "unto our glory." By the constitution of the person of Christ, God-Man, the redemption of the elect is obtained in the human nature. While the relation of a kinsman, which their Redeemer bears by flesh and blood to the whole race, is pleadable before the throne of grace, every man, whom sin hath enslaved and the law condemned, is called to come to the throne, and for justification of life plead not the sufficiency only, but the suitableness also of his

righteousness, as a righteousness wrought out in our na ture by the kinsman of our race.

Thirdly, The sufferer is the undertaker for the elect. The elect are a part of our race chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; and for their salvation, the Lord Jesus is undertaker and surety. All that the precept of the law of works requir ed to be done by them, he undertook to perform, and what its penalty denounced, he engaged himself to bear. Nor hath he failed in either: Woe would have been unto us if he had failed. He could not fail. "He shall not fail nor "be discouraged," saith a prophet sent to foretel his success. The indignities related in our text, which were operations of the curse of that law, would have discouraged any or dinary man. But our undertaker endured them in the most satisfactory manner, without failing in any one point. With respect to all that he undertook to do and to suffer, he cried, before he gave up the ghost, Finished—the righteousness, fulfilling the precept, is wrought out; and the satisfaction, magnifying the penalty, is completed. Indignities some of his chosen may be called and honoured to suffer for his sake: they may be stripped and scourged, spitted on, mocked, condemned, and crucified. But their sufferings for his name are not like his in their stead, operations of the curse of the law of works. The satisfaction, which by suffering and dying he made, is the shield that protects them from its vengeance. Blessed are ye whom it covers! Through it no arrow can pierce. Hold it up believers, and rejoice in it all the day!

Fourthly, The sufferer is the Horn of salvation, which God raised up in the house of David. This title, which distinguishes and adorns our Lord Jesus Christ, is beautiful in expression, and rich in sense and meaning. In the Psalms, you observe David frequently boasting and triumphing in it; and at the circumcision of the forerunner of Messiah, Zacharias revives the use of it in his prophetical devotion: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he "hath visited and redeemed his people; and hath raised "up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant "David." The horn of an animal is its weapon, both for defence and vengeance. With this it defends itself, and with this it pushes down the enemy. In some prophecies, korn is an emblem of the power of a king, and the

strength of his kingdom, and, with the highest propriety, is transferred to the Lamb of God, in whose office the powers of salvation and destruction are vested, and in whose administration these powers are exerted. The horns of the bulls of Bashan were not able to break the horn of the Lamb. In the hall of the governor, these gaped and roared, and pushed at him; and on Calvary, where he was crucified, it was presumed that all his purposes were broken. But on the third day, the Horn of Salvation budded, and, anointed with fresh oil, soon after his resurrection, became, like the right hand of the Lord, both glorious and terrible-glorious in the salvation of millions, and terrible in the destruction of multitudes.

Fifthly, The sufferer is the Author and Finisher of faith. This title, like all the titles of our blessed Saviour, is important and interesting, and, by the apostle to the Hebrews, is set immediately before a description of the state of his mind in suffering and dying for our sins: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, "who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the "cross, despising the shame." In this connection, it directs us to look unto Jesus, not only as the bestower and perfecter, but as the example and model of faith. In his own exercise he is the prince and leader, who goes before believers, and who, in trusting and hoping himself, leaves them a finished and perfect pattern of trust and hope.

Sixthly, The sufferer is the Sun of Righteousness, or the Light of the World. Under this glorious title, the last of the prophets foretels the brightness of his rising: "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righte"ousness arise, with healing in his wings." In his birth he was deeply obscured. The babe, wrapped in swadling clothes and lying in a manger, was unlike the Sun of Righteousness; and the man of sorrows was not acknowledged to be the glory of Israel, and the light of the world. From his agony and seizure in the garden, to his death and resurrection, this glorious sun was thought to be totally eclipsed. His visage was marred, his face discoloured with spittle, his head crowned with thorns, his back furrowed with cords, and his hands and feet pierced with nails. But under this darkness, the title Sun of Righteousness existed, and through it light beams upon the

« PreviousContinue »