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"And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi! eloi! lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?”

GREAT and marvellous is the work of redemption; the God of Heaven manifested in human flesh; "coming to his own, and his own rejecting him;"* eternal justice, truth, and goodness, apparently sanctioning the iniquity and oppression of wicked men, by abandoning the most excellent of the sons of men, the chiefest among among ten thousand, to the malevolence of triumphant enmity. Never, through thirty-three years of humble suffering, did the man of sorrows experience such anguish of soul as when he uttered the exclamation, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"

This expression, which is contained in the latter clause of the verse that has been read in your hearing, shall form the subject of the present discourse.

Let us consider the import of the expression, "forsaken,” as here used; let us endeavour satisfactorily to ascertain in what sense it might be said that God, whose love of moral goodness is unchangeable, whose compassions are infinite, whose truth and whose faithfulness endure forever, abandoned our guiltless Saviour, his own beloved Son, in the struggles of the expiring hour. This is the more necessary, as many mistaken notions, I am persuaded, are enter• John, i. 11.

tained on this subject, and many unadvised explications given of it. Nor can it be improper that we endeavour to instamp on our minds correct and lasting impressions of every incident and circumstance of our Lord's mediatorial functions; inasmuch as not his death only, but all the events of his publick and official life, have this day been commemorated in the holy Eucharist.



Certainly, then, we are not to infer from this exclamation of Jesus Christ, that he was under the least apprehension that God, his father, was actually displeased with him, or that the thunders of the divine wrath and indignation were, in very deed, directed against him as against a sinIt is impossible that he should apprehend what, in the nature of things, could not be true. "No man knoweth the Father save the Son;" and he well knew him. He well knew that the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and that the eyes of his favour behold the upright." As long as God exists, he cannot cease to delight in piety and virtue; he cannot cease to cherish the pious and virtuous. ever some may think of the imputation of our guilt to the Redeemer, there can be no imputation of guilt, except as to its penal consequences. A God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite understanding may see fit to appoint an innocent being to sustain the severest of temporary sufferings, in the place, and for the benefit of a guilty being; but a God of everlasting truth and faithfulness can never so far forget his gracious promises, nor ever so far confound the unchangeable distinctions of right and wrong, as to be displeased with the most perfect obedience that could possibly be rendered to his will, or to recompense the most transcendant virtue with the manifestations of his fierce anger. that with respect to this doctrine of the imputation of sin, we ought ever to discriminate between God's indignation against sin, and the penal effects of it. He cannot but be indignant against a sinner, although for wise and gracious reasons, the penal effects of his indignation may be trans



ferred from the sinner to one who knows no sin. It would have ill-befitted the character and office which Jesus was appointed to fill, that guile should be found in his mouth. Spotless perfection was essential to the merit of his atoneWith this perfection he was richly adorned. "He," of a truth, knew no sin; neither was guile found in his mouth." He was a man after God's own heart. And is it to be imagined that he was, at any period of his sufferings, or in any circumstances of melancholy or desertion, the true and proper object of God's fiery indignation? It is not to be imagined; for it is impossible. It is not to be imagined; for holy scripture asserts the contrary. Holy scripture declares that because "Like a good shepherd, he laid down his life for the sheep of his Father's pasture, therefore, did his Father love him."* And is it to be believed that God can both love and be enraged against any being at one time and in the same event? Is it to be believed that God could love his Son because he died for us, and yet that the sufferings experienced by that Son in doing that for which he was beloved, were the visitations of God's anger against him?

Now, as such a transfer of displeasure from sin, that merits it, to the most excellent virtue, which cannot possibly provoke it, is unreasonable, absurd, and by no means to be imagined, I must be allowed to repeat what has already been observed, that our Lord, in making the exclamation in the text, did not, in the most remote degree, apprehend himself to be the object of his Father's displeasure. With such an apprehension, many circumstances of his conduct are irreconcilable. Was the memorable prayer which he offered for his murderers consistent with such an apprehension? Father forgive them; for they know not what they do!"+ Ought we not in reason to conclude from this prayer, that he was secure of possessing his Father's love, which alone could entitle him to intercede in this manner in behalf of others? Was the assurance which he gave the peni

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tent malefactor consistent with such an apprehension? "Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise."* Ought we not in reason to conclude from this assurance, that he was infallibly certain the Heavens were to receive him, till the times of the restitution of all things? That he had power to admit others into an association with him in glory? and, consequently, that he had not lost his Father's love and approbation? Were his dying words consistent with such an apprehension? "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Do not these words imply a conviction that his Father was well pleased with him, and disposed to receive him into his bosom? Finally; were those expressions of his to which I have already alluded, consistent with such an apprehension? "I am the good shepherd: the good ́shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life."

Thus, we have seen both that our blessed Lord had no reason to suppose himself the object of his Father's displeasure, and that, in fact, he was in no degree apprehensive of it; and consequently, we must account, on some other principle, for his exclamation, "My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me?"

Our Lord may be said to have been forsaken by his Father, in that those mighty succours were withdrawn which had favoured him in the extremity of former conflicts. He was left to tread the wine-press alone. In his own strength he had to encounter the malice of enmity, and the weaknesses of nature. On a former occasion, in his agony, "there appeared an angel unto him from Heaven, strengthening him." "Now, without friend or auxiliary, he contended against "principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickednesses in high places."

Again:-Our Lord may be said to have been forsaken by his Father, inasmuch as the light of the divine countenance *Luke, xxiii. 43. Luke, xxiii. 46. + John, x. 11. § John, x. 17. | Luke, xxii. 43.


was obscured to him. It is evident and undeniable that good men enjoy a certain freedom of intercourse with the God of Heaven, to which men of the world, and men of pleasure, that is, the mass of unbelievers, are utter strangers. And it is reasonable to suppose that this intercourse would subsist in a more than common degree of familiarity and suavity between God the Father and his only begotten Son, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. Long had such intercourse subsisted. But at length there was a time when its freedom was restrained. At length there was a time when Jesus cried with a loud voice, and said, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken *me?" Why is it that this darkness that covers the earth is but a faint emblem of the black and comfortless clouds that shrouds my soul? Why must thy Son, in whom thou hast declared thyself well pleased, and whom thou hast permitted to walk in the light of thy countenance, why must he breathe his last sigh in the unpropitious midnight of impervious and joyless gloom?

Further:--Our Lord may be said to have been forsaken by his Father, in as far as his extreme sufferings were prolonged. For six hours had he endured the pains of crucifixion, together with the contemptuous insults of a misguided people. At the ninth hour, when the bloody and savage scene was drawing near a close, he uttered the pathetick exclamation, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?"

To what has been said, I will only add, it appears to me not improbable that our Lord, at the time he made this appeal to his Father's love, was, more than he commonly had been, exposed to the malevolent attempts of the evil spirit. You cannot forget his own words to the chief priests and captains of the temple, and the elders, who came to take him; words spoken in the near prospect of his extreme and most bitter passions; words of mysterious and frightful import; "This is your hour, and the power of darkness."* It is * Luke, xxii. 52. 53.

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