« AnteriorContinuar »
pangs of an ordinary death. But as the case was so SERM. hard and sad, so the reason of it was great, and the XXXII. fruit answerably good. Our Saviour did embrace such a passion, that, in being thus content to endure the most intolerable smarts for us, he might demonstrate the vehemence of his love; that he might signify the heinousness of our sins, which deserved that from such a person so heavy punishment should be exacted; that he might appear to yield a valuable compensation for those pains which we should have suffered; that he throughly might exemplify the hardest duties of obedience and patience.
III. This manner of suffering was (as most sharp and afflictive, so) most vile and shameful; being proper to the basest condition of the worst men, and unworthy of a freeman, however nocent and guilty. It was servile supplicium, a punishment never by the Romans, under whose law our Lord suffered, legally inflicted upon freemen, but upon slaves only; that is, upon people scarcely regarded as men, having in a sort forfeited or lost themselves. And among the Jews that execution which most approached thereto, and in part agreed with it, (for their law did not allow any so inhuman punishment,) hanging up the dead bodies of some that had been put to death, was held most infamous and execrable: for, Cursed, Deut. xxi. said the law, is every one that hangeth upon a tree; Gal. iii. 13. cursed, that is, devoted to reproach and malediction ; Accursed by God, saith the Hebrew, that is, seeming to be rejected by God, and by his special order ex-go. posed to affliction.
Chrys. tom. vi. Or. 61.
Indeed, according to the course of things, to be c Quod etiam homine libero, quamvis nocente, videatur indignum. Lact. iv. 26.
SERM. set on high, and for continuance of time to be obXXXII. jected to the view of all that pass by, in that cala
mitous posture, doth infuse bad suspicion, doth provoke censure, doth invite contempt and scorn, doth naturally draw forth language of derision, despite, and detestation; especially from the inconsiderate, hardhearted, and rude vulgar, which commonly doth think, speak, and deal according to event and appearance: (-Sequitur fortunam semper, et odit Heb. x. 33. damnatos—) whence beatpigeolar, to be made a gazing-stock, or an object of reproach to the multitude, is by the apostle mentioned as an aggravation of the hardships endured by the primitive Christians. And ΕξεμυκτήEğμ- thus in extremity did it befall our Lord: for we eisov. ivéπαίζον read, that the people did in that condition mock, jeer, and revile him, drawing up their noses, abusing Luke xxiii. him by scurrilous gestures, letting out their virulent Matt.xxvii. and wanton tongues against him; so as to verify that prediction, I am a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh
6, 7, 8.
33. xxi. 9. me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Luke iv. 15.
The same persons who formerly had admired his glorious works, who had been ravished with his excellent discourses, who had followed and favoured him so earnestly, who had blessed and magnified him, (for he, saith St. Luke, taught in the synagogues, being glorified by all,) even those very persons did then behold him with pitiless contempt and despite. In correspondence to that prophecy, Ps. xxii. 17, they look and stare upon me, eiotńkei ó λads Dewpär, Luke xxiii. the people stood gazing on him, in a most scorn
ful manner, venting contemptuous and spiteful re
proaches; as we see reported in the evangelical SERM. story.
Thus did our blessed Saviour endure the cross, Heb. xii. 2. despising the shame. Despising the shame, that is, not simply disregarding it, or (with a stoical haughtiness, with a cynical immodesty, with a stupid carelessness) slighting it as no evil; but not eschewing it, or not rating it for so great an evil, that to decline it he would neglect the prosecution of his great and glorious designs.
There is innate to man an aversation and abhorrency from disgraceful abuse, no less strong than are the like antipathies to pain: whence cruel mock- Heb. xi. 36. ings and scourgings are coupled as ingredients of the sore persecutions sustained by God's faithful martyrs. And generally men with more readiness will embrace, with more contentedness will endure the cruelty of the latter, than of the former; pain not so smartly affecting the lower sense, as being insolently contemned doth grate upon the fancy, and wound even the mind itself. For, the wounds of Prov. xviii. infamy do, as the Wise Man telleth us, go down into the innermost parts of the belly, reaching the very heart, and touching the soul to the quick.
8. xii. 18.
We therefore need not doubt, but that our Saviour as a man, endowed with human passions, was sensible of this natural evil; and that such indignities did add somewhat of loathsomeness to his cup of affliction; especially considering that his great charity disposed him to grieve, observing men to act so indecently, so unworthily, so unjustly toward him: yet in consideration of the glory that would thence accrue to God, of the benefit that would redound to us, of the joy that was set before him, when he Heb. xii, 2.
SERM. should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied, he most willingly did accept, and most gladly Isa. liii. 11. did comport with it. He became a curse for us, Heb. xii. 3. exposed to malediction and reviling; he endured
Gal. iii. 13.
the contradiction, or obloquy, of sinful men: he Isa. liii. 3. was despised, rejected, and disesteemed of men: he in common apprehension was deserted by God, Isa. liii. 4. according to that of the prophet, We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; himself even seeming to concur in that opinion. So was he Gal. iii. 13. made a curse for us, that we, as the apostle teacheth, might be redeemed from the curse of the law; that is, that we might be freed from the exemplary punishment due to our transgressions of the law, with the displeasure of God appearing therein, and the disgrace before the world attending it. He chose Phil. ii. 7. thus to make himself of no reputation, vouchsafing to be dealt with as a wretched slave, and a wicked miscreant, that we might be exempted, not only from the torment, but also from the ignominy which we had merited: that together with our life, our safety, our liberty, we might even recover that honour which we had forfeited and embezzled.
But lest any should be tempted not sufficiently to value these sufferances of our Lord, as not so rare, but that other men have tasted the like; lest any should presume to compare them with afflictions incident to other persons, as Celsus did compare them Cels. vii. P. with those of Anaxarchus and Epictetus; it is re
quisite to consider some remarkable particulars about them.
We may then consider, that not only the infinite dignity of his person, and the perfect innocency of his life, did enhance the price of his sufferings; but
some endowments peculiar to him, and some cir- SERM. cumstances adhering to his design, did much augment their force.
He was not only, according to the frame and temper of human nature, sensibly touched with the pain, the shame, the whole combination of disasters apparently waiting on his passion; as God (when he did insert sense and passion into our nature, ordering objects to affect them) did intend we should be, and as other men in like circumstances would have been; but in many respects beyond that ordinary rate: so that no man, we may suppose, could have felt such grief from them as he did, no man ever hath been sensible of any thing comparable to what he did endure; that passage being truly applicable to him, Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like to my Lam. i. 12. sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger; as that unparalleled sweating out great lumps of blood Luke xxii. may argue; and as the terms expressing his resentments do intimate. For, in respect of present evils, he said of himself, My soul is exceeding sorrowful Matt. xxvi. to death; he is said adnμoveiv, to be in great anguish John xiii. and anxiety, to be in an agony or pang of sorrow. Mark xiv. In regard to mischiefs which he saw coming on, he 33is said to be disturbed in spirit, and to be sore amazed, or dismayed at them. To such an exceeding height did the sense of incumbent evils, and the prospect of impendent calamities, the apprehension of his case, together with a reflection on our condition, screw up his affections.
21. xii. 27.
And no wonder that such a burden, even the weight of all the sins (the numberless most heinous sins and abominations) that ever were committed by