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face, derided, clothed with mock robes, buffeted, scourged, spit upon. Never were there such indignities heaped on any head, as on that which was destined to wear many crowns. And, for his sufferings !—who can contemplate that hour of darkness in the garden of Gethsemane, when his soul was overwhelmed with amazement and horror; or behold his lingering torments on the cross, without being appalled? It is a trial to human fortitude, to be obliged merely to think of what he actually endured. And for whom ? For the sinners of Jerusalem! for many of that infatuated multitude who were impatient for his crucifixion : for some, there is reason to believe, who were employed in nailing him to the cross ! for a Saul, who was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against his followers : for millions of proud and daring offenders, whom this unparalleled love was to soften and disarm!
2. They contemplate and adore, in the death of Christ, a new display of the divine perfections.
The wisdom and the power of God are every way manifest. His goodness may be traced in innumerable portions of his works. He had displayed his justice in the punishment of fallen angels, who were reserved in chains of darkness against the judgement of the great day. But there remained a new view of the divine character. God was pleased to present himself in a new light to the adoration of his creatures. He was pleased to shew, in the same transaction, the most determined hatred to sin, with the utmost compassion to the sinner; the most inflexible adherence to rectitude, with the utmost riches of grace to the undeserving; —“a just God, yet a Saviour.” He resolved to exhibit, in the person of his Son, a new spectacle to the universe : a person the most majestic, and the most humble; the most powerful, and the most compassionate; an authority, which should subdue to itself “all principality;"--a Saviour, who should “feed his flock like a shepherd;”—“ the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” and “ the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
3. They rejoiced at the immense accession of happiness, which they perceived to flow from the death of Jesus Christ.
(1.) How safe is the worship of Christ !
(2.) How necessary to inquire how we stand affected toward the Saviour !
(3.) How much the supreme love of Christ, and a humble affiance in his merits, tends to prepare for the happiness of heaven!
THE GLORY OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
Psalm cxlv. 11.—They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom.
The absolute dominion of God, as the universal Proprietor and Lord, is an object which deserves most devoutly to be celebrated. It is, in fact, the
frequent theme of the praises dictated under the inspiration of the Spirit in the sacred oracles. But there is another of the dominions of God, considered in relation to his saints,—an empire of knowledge and of love, whose administration is entrusted to his Son-which is celebrated in still sublimer strains, and forms the principal theme of the New Testament. This is emphatically denominated the kingdom of heaven, or that kingdom which the God of heaven should set up, given to “ the saints of the Most High,” which is to be of everlasting duration, and never to be succeeded by another. Whether the Psalm before us is intended to describe this species of rule and authority, in distinction from the other, I shall not undertake to determine ; but, as these divine compositions are unquestionably frequently employed in portraying the kingdom of Christ or the Messiah, it is hoped it will not be deemed improper to consider the words in that light.
Let us direct our thoughts, then, for a short season, to the glory of the kingdom of Christ. With this [view], it may be proper to reflect on the following particulars :
I. The glory of it is manifest in its origin and the method by which it was acquired. It had its origin in ineffable mercy, under the direction of perfect wisdom and rectitude. It occupied the thoughts, and was the object of the counsels of the Eternal, before the heavens were stretched out, or the foundation of the earth was laid. It formed
the centre of the divine designs, and the ultimate point to which every other purpose of God was directed. As it was designed to be the spiritual reign of God over the mind, and at the same time to be a [unanimous, harmonious] kingdom, in which the sovereign and the subjects are always understood to be of the same nature, it was necessary, in order to its establishment, that God should become incarnate ; it was necessary, not only for the redemption of his church, but also for the purpose of their being governed as they were intended to be governed. Ere the government could be placed “ on his shoulder,"* it was necessary for the Messiah to be “ a child born and a son given.”
Again, since in this kingdom the “ tabernacle of God” was to be “ with men,” and he was to “ dwell amongst them,”+ and such a condescension of mercy would have been utterly unbecoming “ the blessed and only Potentate,” I without a signal reparation to the divine honour tarnished by rebellion, it was requisite a sacrifice for sin should be made, worthy of the occasion, which could nowhere be procured but by “ the offering of the body of Christ, once for all.” S The inefficiency of the typical sacrifices under the law proclaimed the necessity of one of intrinsic validity and infinite value. Thus the foundation of this empire was laid in the incarnation and atonement of the Son of God; and the solidity * Isaiah ix. 6.
† Rev. xxi. 3. I 1 Tim. vi. 15.
Heb. x. 10.
and extent of its foundations, great as they are, are but proportioned to the majesty and duration of the edifice.
“Every battle of the warrior,” says the prophet Isaiah, “ is with confused noise, and with garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”* The kingdom of which we speak is acquired by conquest, but of a nature totally different from military conquest. The weapons employed in achieving it are purely spiritual—the burning of conviction, the light of truth, the fire of love. The simple testimony of Christ, the publication of the gospel by the “foolishness of preaching,” have produced the most wonderful changes in the world, far beyond those which have been effected by violence or the sword. Before these simple but efficacious instruments, the powers of darkness have been overcome; “Satan has fallen like lightning from heaven;"* temples have been overturned, oracles have been struck dumb, the arm of persecuting power has been withered; and men have, in every part of the world, passed through chains, and racks, and fires, into the kingdom of God. Heavenly truth, love, and wisdom have grappled with all the powers of falsehood and sophistry, combined with all the blandishments and terrors of the world, and have gained decisive victory. From the smallest beginnings, and by the most contemptible instruments to human appearance, the gospel, by“ commending itself to every man's conscience in the sight * Isaiah ix. 5.
+ Luke x. 18. VOL. V.