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DISCOURSE XLII.

Isaiah liii. 3.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of forrows, and

acquainted with grief. WHEN our Lord was led away to be crucified, and the women bewailed and lamented his misery, he turned about to them, and said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves. Words, which we may very properly apply to ourselves for the direction of our devotion on this day of his crucifixion: a day it is of sorrow and mourning, but not for his fake, who, crowned with glory and honour, is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; but for our own, whose fins brought down this load of- wo and of misery upon our blefled Redeemer. If we consider with how unbounded a love he embraced us in our lowest state of weakness, and with how cool an affection we daily approach to him ; how much he gladly endured upon our account, and how unwillingly we suffer any thing upon his ; if we reflect how earnestly he laboured to save our souls, and how carelessly and wantonly we throw them away; what pains and forrows he underwent to perfect our redemption, and to what empty pleasures we facrifice all his sufferings, and our own eternal happiness, it will shew us where the true cause of our grief lies, and how vainly we compliment our Lord, by venting our indignation against his ancient crucifiers, which ought to be spent upon ourselves, who are daily renewing his shame, and crucifying him afresh.

Whilst therefore I represent unto you this scene of wo, and endeavour to place before you this man of sorrow, acquainted with grief, let every Christian · heart supply this necessary admonition, All this he suffered for my fake; then cast one look upon your. selves, and see how you have deserved all this love: this will teach you how to divide your affections, to admire and adore the unbounded goodness of your Redeemer, and to lament and weep only for yourselves.

Many prophecies there are relating to our Lord, which regard only some particular actions and circumstances of his life; but this in the text points at no single calamity that befel him, but is a general description of his condition during his abode on earth: it begins at his cradle, and ends with his cross, pursuing him in every step, and discovers to us the Son of God through the darkest veil of for. row and affliction.

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world: in wildom he ordained them all, and in mercy he has revealed some of them to the children of men. How gracious was it in him to forewarn the world by the spirit of prophecy of the mean appearance of their Redeemer, that their faith might be armed against the reproach and contempt

which attended his poverty, and the great scandal of his cross ! In human reckoning a mean condition bespeaks a mean man ; but here the case is otherwise : for, when God had foretold the mean appeafance of his Son, his poverty became a proof of his authority, and the lowness of his condition shewed the excellency of his person. He was a man of forrow, and acquainted with grief; and had he not been fo, we could never have believed him to be that glorious Redeemer, who, as the spirit of prophecy foretold, should be despised and rejected of men. The consideration therefore of our Saviour's sufferings is not only an argument to inflame our love, but to strengthen our faith likewise; shewing as well that he is our Redeemer, as how much he underwent for the sake of our redemption.

There are three things then which may deserve your attention in this subject :

First, The wisdom and goodness of God in determining to send his Son into the world in a state of poverty and affliction.

Secondly, The evidence of prophecy, that he should so appear in the fulness of time, .

Thirdly, The historical evidence, that he did so appear, and that in him the prophecies had their completion.

First, The wisdom and goodness of God in determining to send his Son into the world in a state of poverty and affliction.

The sufferings of Christ we find often infifted on by the sacred writers, as an evidence of the mercy of God towards mankind. Thus St. Paul; He that Spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how fall he not with him also freely give us all things? And again ; God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet finners Christ died for us. So likewise St. John; Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us. This indeed was a great demonstration of his love; for, as our blessed -Lord himself hath told us, Greater love hath no man

than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - Were it then ever so hard to render an account of Christ's sufferings to the inquisitive, to the reasoners of this world; yet, since it is plain his sufferings were upon our account, if we consider them as an ar. gument of God's goodness, and our Redeemer's love : to us, it stands clear of all difficulties whatever, and :plainly speaks how much our salvation was the care of Heaven. Perhaps we cannot see the reasons that made it necessary for Christ to die, that the world might live: but this we certainly know, that if Christ died, that the world might live, he had an exceeding great tenderness for the world, and we are bound to him in the strictest bonds of gratitude and love. And, since this scene lies so open to our view, it shews great perverseness of mind, and a base ungenerous disposition, to shut our eyes upon it, and to harden our hearts against the impressions of so much kindness, and to amuse ourselves with curious inquiries into the hidden reason of this mystesious love. What is it that your Lord requires of you, but to love and to obey him ? What greater inducement can you have to both than this, that he first loved you, and laid down his life for you? Could you give ten thousand reasons for the expediency of his so doing, yet your love and your

still your

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obedience would stand upon the same bottom, that Christ died, that you might live. What purpose then of religion would it serve, to know these hidden things of God ? Knowledge will save no man. And who would not choose rather to be found in the number of the most ignorant lovers of Christ, and of his word, than among the profoundest inquirers into the secret mysteries of providence ? Would you see the goodness of God? Nothing plainer, Christ died for you. Would you encourage yourself in the practice of virtue by the expectation of God's assistance and favour? Or would you comfort yourself in your repentance, and be glad to know that God will receive

you,

if tuin from the evil of your ways? Go, learn to rea' sort of St. Paul: If God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not with hini also freely give us all things?

; Thus far then, that is, as far as we are concerned to go, our knowledge is clear and distinct, and the sufferings of Christ afford us such an argument for love and obedience, as the weakest man must understand, and the wisest must adore.

But farther : though we cannot enter into the hidden wisdom of God, and see the reasons which : made it necessary for Christ to suffer ; yet if we consider his sufferings with respect to ourselves, we may discern many wise ends of Providence in this dispensation.

: First, with regard to his being a teacher, his sufferings set him above the reach of suspicions. What: ends could he have to serve by his doctrine, who met with nothing but misery and affliction, as the.

YOL, II.

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