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of every nation under heaven. The amazing scene opened at the time of a Jewish festival, which called the nation together, to celebrate the Passover. And though the death of a common person might have been less regarded at such a season, yet the death of the most remarkable person then in the world, would be much more regarded when the curiosity and interested feelings of immense numbers were excited. Christ had endeared himself to his disciples and intimate friends, who loved him to adoration. He had wrought a great many beneficent miracles, which had conciliated the affections of the common people. He had attacked and silenced the erroneous Scribes and Phari
He had made high pretensions to divinity, by forgiving sins, by raising the dead, and by declaring that he had power to lay down his life, and power to take it again. He had awakened the jealousy of both the civil and ecclesiastical powers, by proclaiming himself to be the Son of God, and professing to be about to set up a new kingdom among men.
Not only all Jerusalem, but all Judea, felt deeply interested in the fate of such an extraordinary personage. This would naturally draw together persons of all characters, of all parties, and of all conditions, in vast multitudes, to see his death, and to mark everything that was said and done with the greatest sensibility and attention. And everything was said and done, to move every passion of human nature. The unprovoked malice, and virulence, and cruelty, and contempt that were poured upon the meek and lowly Jesus, were enough to create the highest indignation in every breast which had the least spark of humanity. But the conduct of Christ under all these indignities was still more astonishing and affecting. His mind was calm, his language was mild, and his heart was full of tenderness and forgiveness, while his whole body was suffering the keenest pains and tortures. Such a spectacle must have inspired the most unfeeling minds not only with admiration, but with sympathy and compassion. To heighten the solemn scene, and sensibility of all the surrounding spectators, the God of nature controlled the law of nature, and at noonday, spread a deep and solemn gloom over the face of the earth, more awful than Egyptian darkness. And to close the tremendous scene, Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost! Now every eye, and ear, and heart was full
, and all the people that came together to witness that amazing sight, began to move slowly and solemnly, smiting their breasts for anguish of heart. But though they were not able to speak, yet they were able to think. A train of serious and interesting reflections flowed from the affecting scene, which never has
been and never will be erased from their minds, and which they have carried and will forever carry with them, whether they have been saved or lost. Let us now, therefore, while the scene is before us in description, seriously carry our thoughts to Calvary, and contemplate some of the great truths and ob, jects which were exhibited by the crucifixion of Christ. And,
1. The crucifixion of Christ naturally leads the mind to reflect upon the mortal enmity of the human heart against God. This God had plainly declared in his word long before the death of Christ. The prophets under the Old Testament represent mankind as opposing God by their external disobedience to all his holy and righteous commands. But when Christ came, he more clearly and fully laid open the internal malig. nity and enmity of their hearts towards God. He represented them as serpents, a generation of vipers, possessing the very spirit of the first enemy of God and man. Few, however, would believe the representations of Christ or the prophets on the subject of total depravity. They highly resented what Christ said to them respecting their native enmity and opposition of heart to God. But their putting him to death on the cross, demonstrated the truth, they hated and denied. Christ was hated, opposed, and crucified, not for his humanity, but for his divinity. He claimed to be a divine person, and appealed to his works to justify his claim. He displayed his divinity by the miracles he wrought. He stilled the winds and the waves by his voice; and by his voice he gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, health to the sick, and even life to the dead. By these mighty works he displayed his divine power. He told men their thoughts, and discovered their secret purposes and designs, by which he proved his omniscience; and he spake and acted as God, in repeatedly and publicly forgiving sins. Such displays and professions of divinity drew upon him the hatred and malice of the Scribes and Pharisees, whom he knew and declared to be mortal enemies to God. He at length gave them opportunity to demonstrate their mortal enmity. Though he was the Lord of glory, the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, he gave up himself into their hands. Then it appeared how men would treat God when left to act without restraint. They would scourge him with their hands, abuse him with their tongues, and pierce him to the heart with their spears; for they actually did all these things when they imbrued their hands in the blood of Him, who was with God, and was God. The Jews and Gentiles, who represented the whole world of sinners, killed the Prince of life, and acted out their mortal enmity against their great Creator. Had every
one of the human race stood at the cross, each individual might have seen his own heart, and known by the most shocking deed that ever was done, that he was a mortal enemy to his Maker. Every son and daughter of Adam has had a heart that would, if possible, destroy its Creator. On the cross, as in a mirror, we may see our natural malignity and mortal enmity, and the natural malignity and mortal enmity of all mankind against our rightful Lord and Sovereign. Are we better, by nature, than they who hated, opposed, and actually crucified the Lord of life? No, in no wise. “ As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." The crucifixion of Christ by the wicked hands of men, demonstrates the mortal enmity of the human heart to God beyond all doubt or contradiction.
2. The death of Christ on the cross leads every one to reflect on what he deserves at the hand of divine justice. This is not what men are apt to realize, but let them approach the cross of Christ, and there read their righteous doom. God had threatened Adam with death for the least sin. His prophets, in his name, had threatened death to the least transgressor, saying, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” And Christ himself expressly told sinners that they deserved the damnation of hell. But this truth never appeared so clearly before as it did on the cross, while sinners were displaying the malignity and ill desert of sin by perpetrating the cruel and ignominious death of Christ. Nor is this all : at that awful hour God was holding up his Son in the agonies of death, and bleeding at every pore, in the view of the whole intelligent creation, to exhibit his sense of the infinite guilt and ill desert of sinners. By this conduct, he said to angels, men, and devils, “ Behold my
beloved Son extended on the cross; see his bleeding veins; hear his dying groans; and know, that vengeance is mine, and I will give my impenitent enemies a just recompense of reward."
Christ stood in our place; God laid on him the iniquities of us all; he bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him; and the stripes which he received we deserved. While every person looks at Christ, suffering the extremest pains and tortures, he is constrained to reflect upon what he has deserved at the hand of a holy and righteous God. Did Christ die ? then every sinner deserves to die. Did Christ the Son of God suffer extreme pain and anguish for a few hours ? then every sinner deserves to suffer future and eternal misery. In meditating on the suffering Saviour, every one is led to look into hell, and see the due reward of his deeds. In the death of Christ, the justice of God shines brighter than it could have done by turning all nations into hell, and pouring upon them the vials of his wrath forever. In a dying Saviour, we may see that we deserve to die; and in a suffering Saviour, we may see that we deserve to suffer, without measure and without end. 3. The death of Christ should lead us to reflect
the distinguishing grace of God, in giving his Son to die for our salvation. His love to sinners appears in his causing his sun to rise, and his rain to fall upon them, and loading them with the bounties of providence. His love also appears in the promises of good things to mankind, both before and since the coming of Christ; but we must turn our eyes to the cross, and contemplate the reproaches, the pains, and the agonies of his dearly beloved Son, dying in our nature and in our place, in order to form clear and just conceptions of his astonishing grace in sending him to seek and save them that are lost. God knew, when he formed the scheme of redemption, and ordained myriads of mankind to eternal life, that their salvation would require the incarnation, sufferings, and death of the Son of his love. He had a clearer view from eternity of the sufferings of Christ on the cross than any of the spectators had at the time of the tremendous scene. But yet he so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to die, that sinners might live. All his love to mankind from eternity unto eternity seemed to be concentrated to a point, when he unsheathed the sword-of his justice and bathed it in the vicarious blood of his Son, for the salvation of sinners. This was love indeed, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;" yea, says the apostle, “ God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Never was such love displayed in heaven, and never was such love displayed on earth, before or since the day that Christ bled on the cross. While we have the scenes of the crucifixion before our minds, can we refrain from admiring the love of God the Father in the unspeakable gift of his Son to this guilty and miserable world!
4. By the death of Christ we are sensibly led to reflect upon his boundless love to sinners. He knew what he must do and suffer, when he undertook to save them from their sins, and restore them to the favor of their injured and offended Sovereign. All the while he was upon earth, he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows on his tender heart. While the world were unconscious of his gracious design, and total strangers to his ap
proaching sufferings, he constantly anticipated the day and the hour of his darkness and death on the cross. And as the appointed and anticipated time drew nearer and nearer, the awful scene pressed heavier and heavier on his troubled breast. But his love to God and man was stronger than death. “What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” With such ardent and benevolent feelings, he went into the garden, where he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, and prayed again, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” He now girded up the loins of mind and magnanimously met his betrayer and his murderers; he undauntedly stood before Pilate; he meekly sustained the wounds and insults of his enemies; he patiently carried his cross; and finally made his soul an offering upon it. Thus Christ on the cross acted out all that love to sinners, which he had professed to feel for them before he died. He had said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." And the apostle says, “When we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die ; yet peradventure for å good man some would even dare to die;" but Christ died for his mortal enemies, who actually imbrued their hands in his blood. Here we see the length and breadth, the height and depth of that love, which passeth all understanding. What love was this? was it human love? was it angelic love ? No, it was love divine, and of love divine the highest possible expression. Pause, ponder, and reflect to see
"Extended Deity on human weal.” 5. The death of Christ brings into view the vast worth of the human soul. Christ died to save the souls of men from eternal death. How precious then must the souls of men be, which he was willing to redeem by his blood! He taught the value of the soul in his preaching. He put the solemn question to his hearers, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”. But his death speaks louder than his words. When he hung expiring on the cross, he proclaimed to the world, and even to the universe, the infinite worth and importance of the souls of men. No description of the soul, no declarations of its worth, and no representation of its final state, could give such an impressive sense of its value, as Christ's giving up his own precious life to redeem it. How did that cross which debased the Lord of glory, magnify and exalt the