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SERM. merit, and discharging the utmost satisfaction in our XXXII. behalf.
2. Death passing on him as a malefactor by public sentence, did best suit to the nature of his undertaking, was most congruous to his intent, did most aptly represent what he was doing, and imply the reason of his performance. For we all are guilty in a most high degree, and in a manner very notorious; the foulest shame, together with the sharpest pain, is due to us for affronting our glorious Maker; we deserve an open condemnation and exemplary punishment: wherefore he, undertaking in our stead to bear all, and fully to satisfy for us, was pleased to undergo the like judgment and usage; being termed, being treated as we should have been, in quality of an heinous malefactor, as we in truth are. What we had really acted in dishonouring and usurping upon God, in disordering the world, in perverting others, that was imputed to him; and the punishment due Isa. liii. 6. to that guilt was inflicted on him. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all. He therefore did not only sustain an equivalent pain for us, but in a sort did bear an equal blame with us, before God and man. Acts ii. 23. 3. Seeing, by the determinate counsel of God, it was appointed that our Lord should die for us, and that not in a natural, but violent way, so as perfectly to satisfy God's justice, to vindicate his honour, to evidence both his indignation against sin, and willingness to be appeased; it was most fit that affair should be transacted in a way, wherein God's right is most nearly concerned, and his providence most plainly discernible; wherein it should be most
apparent that God did exact and inflict the punish- SERM. ment, that our Lord did freely yield to it, and submissively undergo it, upon those very accounts. All judgment, as Moses of old did say, is God's, or is Deut. i. 17. administered by authority derived from him, in his name, for his interest; all magistrates being his officers and instruments, whereby he governeth and ordereth the world, his natural kingdom: whence that which is acted in way of formal judgment by persons in authority, God himself may be deemed in a more special and immediate manner to execute it, as being done by his commission, in his stead, on his behalf, with his peculiar superintendence. It was therefore in our Lord a signal act of deference to God's authority and justice, becoming the person sustained by him of our Mediator and Proxy, to undergo such a judgment, and such a punishment; whereby he received a doom as it were from God's own mouth, uttered by his ministers, and bare the stroke of justice from God's hand, represented by his instruments. Whence very seasonably and patiently did he reply to Pilate, Thou hadst no power over John xix. me, (or against me) except it were given thee from above: implying that it was in regard to the originally supreme authority of God his father, and to his particular appointment upon this occasion, that our Saviour did then frankly subject himself to those inferior powers, as to the proper ministers of divine justice. Had he suffered in any other way, by the private malice or passion of men, God's special providence in that case had been less visible, and our Lord's obedience not so remarkable. And if he must die by public hands, it must be as a criminal, under a pretence of guilt and demerit; there must be a
SERM. formal process, how full soever of mockery and outXXXII. rage; there must be testimonies produced, how void soever of truth or probability; there must be a sentence pronounced, although most corrupt and injurious for no man is in this way persecuted, without colour of desert: otherwise it would cease to be public authority, and become lawless violence; the persecutor then would put off the face of a magistrate, and appear as a cut-throat or a robber.
4. In fine, our Saviour hardly with such advantage, in any other way, could have displayed all kinds of virtue and goodness, to the honour of God, to the edification of men, to the furtherance of our salvation.
The judgment-hall, with all the passages leading him thither, and thence to execution, attended with guards of soldiers, amidst the crowds and clamours of people, were as so many theatres, on which he had opportune convenience, in the full eye of the world, John xviii. to act divers parts of sublimest virtue: to express his insuperable constancy, in attesting truth, and maintaining a good conscience; his meekness, in calmly bearing the greatest wrongs; his patience, in contentedly enduring the saddest adversities; his entire resignation to the will and providence of God; his peaceable submission to the law and power of man; his admirable charity, in pitying, in excusing, in obliging those by his good wishes, and earnest prayers for their pardon, who in a manner so injurious, so despiteful, so cruel, did persecute him, yea, in gladly suffering all this from their hands for their salvation; his unshakeable faith in God, and unalterable love toward him, under so fierce a trial, so dreadful a temptation. All these excellent virtues and graces, by the matter being thus ordered, in a
degree most eminent, and in a manner very conspi- SER M. cuous, were demonstrated to the praise of God's name, and the commendation of his truth; for the settlement of our faith and hope, for an instruction and an encouragement to us of good practice in those highest instances of virtue.
It is a passable notion among the most eminent pagan sages, that no very exemplary virtue can well appear otherwise than in notable misfortune. Whence it is said in Plato, that to approve a man heartily righteous, he must be scourged, tortured, bound, have his two eyes burnt out, and in the close, having suffered all evils, must be impaled, or crucified". And, It was, saith Seneca, the cup of poison which made Socrates a great man, and which out of prison did transfer him to heaven1, or did procure to him that lofty esteem, affording him opportunity to signalize his constancy, his equanimity, his unconcernedness for this world and life. And, The virtue, saith he again, and the innocence of Rutilius would have lain hid, if it had not (by condemnation and exile) received injury; while it was violated, it brightly shone forth. And he that said this of others, was himself in nothing so illustrious, as in handsomely
Magnum exemplum nisi mala fortuna non invenit. Sen. de
Prov. c. 3.
̔Ο δίκαιος μαστιγώσεται, στρεβλώσεται, δεδήσεται, ἐκκαυθήσεται τω ὀφθαλμῶ, τελευτῶν πάντα κακὰ παθὼν ἀνασχινδιλευθήσεται. Plat. de Rep. 2.
Cicuta magnum Socratem fecit. Sen. Ep. 13.
Calix venenatus, qui Socratem transtulit e carcere in cœlum. Sen. Ep. 67.
Equalis fuit in tanta inæqualitate fortunæ, &c. Sen. Ep. 104. Rutilii innocentia ac virtus lateret, nisi accepisset injuriam ; dum violatur, effulsit. Sen. Ep. 79.
BARROW, VOL. III.
SERM. entertaining that death to which he was by the bloody tyrant adjudged. And generally, the most honourable persons in the judgment of posterity for gallant worth, to this very end (as such philosophers teach) were by divine Providence delivered up to suffer opprobrious condemnations and punishments, by the ingrateful malignity of their times. So that the Greeks, in consistence with their own wisdom and experience, could not reasonably scorn that cross Contr. Ep. which our good Lord (did not only, as did their best
worthies, by forcible accidental constraint undergo, but) advisedly by free choice did undertake, to recommend the most excellent virtues to imitation, and to promote the most noble designs that could be, by its influence.
So great reason there was that our Lord should thus suffer as a criminal.
Sen.de Prov. 2, 3,
II. We may consider, that in that kind his suffering was most bitter and painful. Easily we may imagine what acerbity of pain must be endured by our Lord in his tender limbs being stretched forth, racked, and tentered, and continuing for a good time Ps. xxii. 16. in such a posture; by the piercing his hands and his feet, parts very nervous and exquisitely sensible, with
Ps. cv. 18. sharp nails, (so that, as it is said of Joseph, the iron entered into his soul;) by abiding exposed to the injuries of the sun scorching, the wind beating, the weather searching his grievous wounds and sores. Such a pain it was; and that no stupifying, no transient pain, but one both very acute and lingering: for we see, that he together with his fellow-sufferers had both presence of mind and time to discourse. Mark xv. Even six long hours did he remain under such tor
ture, sustaining in each moment of them beyond the