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But how did he conduct himself under his trials ?
[Not so much as one hasty word escaped him ; nor one angry feeling betrayed itself in him : “ when he was reviled, he reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.”
Truly “ he was as a lamb led to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so opened he not his mouth."
In all this, he was an example to us: “He suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps." He submitted to all those indignities, on purpose that he might shew us how to act under similar trials: and God permits us to be brought, in some small degree, into similar circumstances, on purpose that we may“ be conformed to his image'," and be “made perfect in the very same way” that he was ', and enter into glory by the very same path. To this, then, must our minds be made up: we must be willing to endure sufferings for well-doing; to submit to them, however great they be, with unruffled patience; and to “commit ourselves to God in welldoing, as into the hands of a faithful Creatoru."] Let us LEARN then from hence, 1. How we are to regard the Lord Jesus Christ,
[Many who profess to believe, and even to preach, the Gospel, confine their views of Christ almost exclusively to him as dying for our sins, or as reigning in glory to carry on and perfect his work in our behalf. This, doubtless, is a most important view of him : it is the very foundation of all our hopes. Yet is it by no means a complete view: and they who confine themselves to it are greatly deceived: and, whether willingly or not, they grievously dishonour him. He must be regarded as an example: nor is he less glorious in that view, than in any other. Nay, if we omit to regard him in that light, we suffer an irreparable loss.
Would we know what treatment we must expect, if we will faithfully serve our God? Look at him. Not all the wisdom of his lips, nor all the blamelessness of his deportment, nor all the wonders which he wrought, could avert from Him the hatred, the contempt, the cruelty, of an ungodly world. Who then are we, that we should hope to escape these things?
Would we know how to conduct ourselves under sufferings inflicted on us for righteousness'sake? Look at him. Behold his meekness, his patience, his long-suffering, and forbearance ; yea, and hear him praying for his very murderers: and then say, whether this be not the spirit that becomes you.
s Heb. ii. 10. and v. 8.
Would we know the issue of such a life? Look at him; and see him seated at the right hand of God, and all his enemies become his footstool. Such shall be the end of all who tread in his steps: “having suffered with him, they shall surely reign with him."
Take him then, beloved, as your example; and be content to “suffer with him, that you may also be glorified togethery."]
2. How we are to approve, ourselves his faithful servants
[If we are to bear injuries from others, we must, beyond all doubt, be good and gentle" ourselves; “shewing all meekness to all men :" and, however injured by others, we must endure unto the end. We must not draw back through fear of sufferings; or faint under them, when they are inflicted on us. If we enlist under the banners of an earthly prince, we expect to fight his battles: we do not, when we hear of an enemy, desert and hide ourselves. We do not, when we meet him in the field, lay down our arms. We rather gird ourselves to the fight, and say, 'Now is the time for me to display my zeal in the cause I have espoused, and my fidelity to him whom I have engaged to serve.' Thus, then, must you do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You must not be ashamed of wearing, if I may so speak, his uniform; and of shewing, in the face of the whole universe, on whose side you are.
Yet, remember that it is with his armour only that you must go forth to the battle. You must “ be armed with righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” Your breast-plate, in particular, must be of that material: “ your helmet must be the hope of salvation;" and your sword, “the sword of the Spirit, the word of Godz.” It was “ by death that the Lord Jesus Christ overcame deatha ;," and it is “ by patiently enduring, that you also must obtain the promise of an eternal inheritance b." Keep, then, your eyes fixed on the “ Captain of your salvation;" and, “ being faithful unto death, you shall receive at his hands the crown of life."]
x 2 Tim. ii. 12. a Heb. ii. 14.
y Rom. viii. 17. b Heb. vi. 15.
THE VICARIOUS SACRIFICE OF CHRIST. 1 Pet. ii. 24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness : by whose stripes ye were healed.
AN attentive reader of the New Testament cannot but have observed, that there is one subject in particular to which the Apostles frequently recur, and on which they delight pre-eminently to dwell : and that is, the great work of redemption. St. Paul scarcely ever has occasion to mention the name of Christ, but he digresses from his main subject, to indulge the feelings of his heart in expatiating upon the glory and excellency of his Divine Master. It is the same with the Apostle Peter. He has been speaking to servants; and instructing them to bear with meekness and patience any injuries that may be inflicted on them for the Gospel's sake : and he has proposed to them the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose patience, under the most painful sufferings, was altogether unmoved and inexhaustible. But he could not be satisfied with the bare recital of the Saviour's excellence. Having touched on the subject, he must enlarge upon it, and not leave it till he has more fully declared the greatness of our obligations to him. Yet was this digression not by any means irrelevant to his purpose. It had a manifest bearing upon his main subject; and was, in that view, capable of the richest improvement.
In opening to you his words, I will, J. Consider the work of redemption, as here set
forthAnd, that we may enter the more fully into it, let us distinctly shew, 1. Who is the person here spoken of
[He was a man : for what he did, he did “ in his own body." But was he a mere man? No: he was God as well
as man, even “ Emmanuel, God with us." He was " Jehovah's Fellowb;" “ the Mighty God;" “ God over all, blessed for evermored." He it was, “who, being in the form of God, and thinking it not robbery to be equal with God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the crosse.”]
2. What he did for us
[He, “his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” What this imports, will be understood by referring to the rites by which it was shadowed forth. Under the law, sacrifices were offered. The victims were beasts : to them were transferred, by the imposition of hands, the sins of the offender: in the offender's stead they died; their flesh was consumed upon the altar: and, through the sacrifice thus offered, the sins of the offerer were forgiven.
But Jesus, who came down from heaven to redeem us, had no other offering to make but his own body: on him, therefore, our sins were laid : and the cross was, as it were, the altar on which he was placed; and the fire of God's wrath, the flame with which he was consumed.
Stupendous mystery! But “it is a true saying, and worthy of all acceptation."] 3. For what end he did it
(Doubtless he did it, in the first place, to effect our reconciliation with God; as St. Peter says, in the very next chapter, “ He died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God?.” But he had also a further end in view; namely, to destroy in us the power of sin; and to restore us to that life of righteousness which is indispensable to our happiness, either in this world, or in the world to come. In truth, if this were not effected, it would be to little purpose that an atonement had been made for sin: for as long as sin retained its dominion over us, we must of necessity have a very hell within us: nor would heaven itself be any source of blessedness to us, for want of a disposition suited to it, and a capacity to enjoy it.]
4. What is already the issue of it to every believing soul —
[" By his stripes” every believing soul“ is healed.” The whole elect world was virtually healed in him, as soon as ever his sacrifice was offered; even as a debtor is absolved, the very moment that his debt is discharged; or a captive is liberated, the very instant that the redemption price is paid for him. But really, and in fact, our souls are healed, the very instant we believe in Christ: “our sins are blotted out as a morning cloud," and are “ put away from us as far as the east is from the west;" “ nor shall they be remembered against us any more for everk." A principle of grace, too, is infused into the soul, just as the cruse of salt was into the fountain by Elisha the propheth; and by it are its deadly qualities corrected; so that whatsoever proceeds from it in future is, comparatively at least, salubrious: the Holy Spirit in him is “ a well of water, springing up unto everlasting lifei. "]
a Matt. i. 23.
b Zech. xiii. 7.
c Isai. ix. 6.
That we may not lose sight of the objects for which this mystery is here adduced, we shall, II. Improve it in the precise view in which the
Apostle intended it to be applied· We must bear in mind, that he is speaking to servants, and exhorting them to take patiently whatever injuries they may be called to sustain for righteousness' sake. For their direction and encouragement, he proposes to them the example of our Lord Jesus Christ : and, not content with specifying his conduct under the most cruel injuries, he suggests the ulterior ends of his sufferings, and the benefits which we derive from them; intending thereby to fix our attention on that mysterious subject, 1. As a balm for all our wounds
[Be it so; we are suffering wrongfully, and because we endeavour to maintain a good conscience towards God. But what are our sufferings, when compared with those which our blessed Lord endured for us? Hear the revilings that were cast on him: “ Say we not well, that thou hast a devil, and art madk?” Behold the sufferings inflicted on him! Go into the hall of Pilate; and there see the thorns driven into his temples, and his sacred body torn with scourges, “ the ploughers ploughing on his back, and making long their furrows?!" Behold his meekness and resignation; and will not you be ashamed to complain? Will you not rather take up your cross with cheerfulness; and “ rejoice that you are counted worthy to partake of his sufferings, and be conformed
8 Heb. viii. 12. b 2 Kings ii. 19–22. i John iv. 14.
k John vii. 20. viii. 48. and x. 20. Nothing less than this would sufficiently express their contempt for him.
1 Ps. cxxix. 3.