« PreviousContinue »
hand; they bow the knee before him, and mock him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! They spit upon him, and take the reed and smite him on the head; he is blindfolded, struck on the face, and asked to prophesy who smote him. Here was humiliation indeed !
But if we go to the garden, we find Him suffering from the hand of God. There was the agony and bloody sweat; there was the cry,“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” A second time he prayed, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” A third time he prayed, saying the same words. "Oh what must his sufferings have been !
If we go from the garden to the cross, what suffering do we see there? The wrath of God (due to sin and transgression) coming down upon him to the uttermost.
We have been reading to-night, that Christ to redeem bis people from the curse of the law, was made a curse for them; as it is written, “ Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,” &c.
The curse of God we can have no conception of, but by the cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That was tasting death indeed!
None ever tasted death like Jesus. He tasted the bitterness of it to the utmost extreme, and the curse is turned into a blessing.
We trace him from his sufferings and death to the tomb; we see the chief priests and pharisees making the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. They thought, no doubt, they had got the upper-hand, and perhaps Satan thought so too ; but how soon were they undeceived !
Christ could not be holden of death,“ Because it was not possible that he should be holden of it, or that he, the Holy One of God, should see corruption.”
Thus, then, we see that “Jesus made a little lower than the angels,” refers to his great work of substitution,-his doing and dying, --- fulfilling the law in our room, place, and stead ; his dying—“the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to
“We see him made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,” in order to redeem his church from the curse of the law, and the ruins of the fall, to raise it to heaven and glory. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, we read that he was made better than the angels,
so much better than the angels,” and the reason is obvious. The angels are only creatures, they were never united to Deity, whereas Christ was the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person, Hence he is so much better than the angels.
He was made lower than the angels, by covenant purposes and stipulations, by God the Father, by ancient settlement, before the world began, when he undertook to be our Surety. He was then made lower than the angels, -and by the act of his own,—that he might fulfil his covenant engagements. It is written, “ He made himself of no reputation,” &c. Here we see he was active, and carried out all he engaged to do, Consequently, he that was passive, when made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they, was active when made a little lower, in order to accomplish the redemption of his people.
The question may be asked, “Was all this necessary ?” That is soon answered, for the apostle says, “If there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily, righteousness should have been by the law," and all his dreadful sufferings would have been avoided:“ But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe (Gal. iii. 22). It was necessary that Jesus should suffer all he did suffer, in order that he might bring us to heaven.
When Adam fell, he forfeited every blessing. He was turned out of Paradise, and we in him have forfeited all. We can claim nothing. But Jesus became poor in order to deliver us from the curse of the broken law, and what he suffered, was for our guilt. The apostle writes in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, “ For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he
was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich ” (viii. 9). Thus he comes down to the depths of our misery, in order to raise us up to the heights of his glory. If a child fall into a pit, you know there is no getting him up without going down. And there was no other way of salvation or deliverance from “the horrible pit and miry clay,” but Jesus taking upon him our nature, and suffering and dying in our stead.
He, in whom was nothing but holiness and purity, had all our sins imputed to him -“ For God hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” God“ laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”
Let us, then, look to Jesus; for he is the very source of life, pardon, and peace. If you feel your need of the mercy and compassion of God; if you want faith, and hope, and love; if you want humility and patience, look to Jesus ; for he is “ the author and finisher of our faith."
Now, Jesus having done his humiliation work,--having finished the work his Father
him to do,-his exaltation takes place. Having "led captivity captive,” he ascends through the air, and as he approaches the confines of the throne, the heavenly host who proclaimed his advent, shout in chorus, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates ; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.”
Jesus then advances to his glorious high throne, and God the Father places him at his right hand, for it is written, “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
With respect to his exaltation, we find he is “crowned with glory and honour." We hardly know how to make a distinction, for no one word could express the sublime view to our mind.
We see him crowned by God the Father, as the glorious Head of his body, the church, Sovereign of heaven, and the universal Governor of all things; for all things are submitted to his government, and “all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth."
In the 7th verse of the chapter from which our text is taken, we read, “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels ; thou crownest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands ; thou has put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour.” You observe this is expressive of the excellence of his person and work.
We know that if a man undertakes some very important, and very difficult work, when he has accomplished it, he gets the praise and honour due to him ; and the greater and more diffieult the undertaking, the greater the honour and glory But there was no work like the work of Jesus! And he as the righteous King, having performed his work in righteousness, sits as King for ever!
“For unto which of the angels said God at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee ?” &c. None! And the reason is plain,they could not accomplish, for they had no capacity to carry out the grand purposes of Deity. It must be by one whose power is infinite. Christ has all the glory of his great mediatorial work, and all the credit of it.
Those who have felt the blessedness of His work in their souls will give him all the honour; those who see from what a state of degradation, and from what a deep and horrible pit they have been brought, will give him “the glory due unto his name;" they will sing with heart and voice, “ Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. v. 13).
“ He tasted death for every man.' That relates to the efficacy of his death. He will carry out the virtue of it to every one interested in it. Some may think this passage relates to every man and woman, without exception; but such a conclusion cannot be warranted from the word of God. It relates to every one interested in the sovereign purpose of God as seen in the grand doctrine of predestination. “He tasted death: “ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” This efficacious work comes to the heart of every man interested in Christ. The Holy Spirit convinces them of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and opens their heart to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save their souls," and this produces the most blessed effects.
Every man for whom Jesus died looks to Jesus, and this produces great humility of mind, and he exclaims with the poet,
" The more thy glories strike mine eyes,
The bumbler I shall lie;
Unmeasurably high." If you see Jesus exalted, you will lie in the dust, your pride will be laid low; you will say, like Abraham,“ I which am but dust and ashes ;” and like David, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my father's house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ?" Take Moses, Isaiah, Job, &c., as instances of the humility of mind produced by acquaintance with God. Christ's gentleness lays us low, and makes us great ; it has such a marvellous influence on our mind, that we feel ourselves to be « less than nothing and vanity," and “unworthy of the least of all his mercies.”
A sight of Jesus, while it humbles, is also a great source of comfort to a believer, for he can see a remedy for all his diseases; he can see there is forgiveness of sins; he can plead before God, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ; and obtain pardon, peace, and reconciliation.
If, my dear hearers, the revelation of Christ thus lays you low, and raises you up, you have cause for the greatest gratitude.
In conclusion, I would say, “Look to Jesus the author and finisher of your faith.” As you feel your feebleness, look to him, and your strength will be renewed. Looking to Jesus will give you confidence and peace. And when you come to die, in looking to Jesus, death will lose its terrors, for He has triumphed over death, hell, and the grave, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. He sits on his throne to receive the purchase of his_blood, and give them an everlasting welcome, saying, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." May God bless his own word for his name's sake. Amen,
(Taken down by W. A. Adams, a member of the church.)
THOUGHTS ON EXOD. III. 7, 8.
“I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them."
The appearance of God to Moses, on Mount Horeb, was one of the most remarkable appearances recorded in holy writ ; and the life of Moses was one of the most remarkable in the world's history. His entrance on the stage of human life was full of peril, for his mother had to hide him from the servants of the blood-thirsty Pharaoh. His preservation was accomplished by means of that king's daughter, who, possessing more tenderness than her father, saved the child's life, and brought bim up as her own son,-employing the child's mother as his nurse.
By these means he was doubly educated. At his mother's knee, he learned the history of his own people, and the promise of his people's God; in the court of
Pharaoh, he became "learned in all the learning of the Egyptians :" by both means God fitted him for the work to which he had appointed him.
But his education was not altogether finished there. After forty years' life in Egypt, and nearly all that time surrounded by the pomp and circumstance of the most powerful monarchy then existing, and himself possessed of almost royal dignity, he had yet to learn some lessons in solitude, while a stranger in a strange land. Hence in Midian, while keeping his father-in-law's flock, he found his way to Mount Horeb (which, with singular propriety in after years, when writing the history of the Exode, he called, “ The Mount of God"); and there we find him and his flock :--they grazing peacefully on the mountain side,—he occupied in meditation.
Although not recorded, we may fancy that he many times "resorted thither," and many times sat there indulging in recollections of the past, and hopes and fears, faith and doubt as to the future. And we may fancy him, on this occasion, occupying his thoughts on the history of his people, then subject to bitter slavery; and while calling to mind the lessons he had learned from his mother-nurse, he felt deep sorrow and depression take possession of his soul, mingled with hope for the future, touched now and then with a doubt as to the fulfilment of the promise of deliverance, which to him was probably shrouded in a film of age. While thus occupied-peering, as we might imagine, into the future-he is suddenly aroused from his reverie, and attracted by the sight of a bush on fire, but unconsumed. After watching awhile, he turns aside to see “why the bush is not burned,” but is stopped by the solemn awe-inspiring injunction to remove his shoes, for the place where he stood was holy ground !
What strange and mingled feelings must have filled his mind as he stood by that unconsumed bush, and heard that mysterious voice! How his heart must have increased its beatings, how conflicting his feelings, how insignificant he must have felt himself to be in the presence of the Invisible! Fear took possession of him, for“ he was afraid to look on God;" yet that strange, unearthly, but gracious revelation, “I am thy father's God,” must have drawn out his affections and kept him spell-bound. The words touched him very closely, and must have fallen on his ears in gentle and soothing tones. He was in the presence of his father's God, and his father's God was holding converse with him. While listening with beating heart and wrapt attention, his thoughts leap backwards to his ancestors over a space of four hundred years, and his doubts and fears must have been rapidly dispelled, as he heard those gracious words,“ I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows, and I have come down to deliver them.”
How condescending are these words ! God knew all the history of Israel by his infinite knowledge ; but he seems to imply more. He had taken a personal special interest. He had never lost sight of them in all their afflictions, but had kept watch and ward over them during their dreary slavery. He had, as it were, (as a generous benefactor will often do) made himself acquainted with all their condition, their trials, their oppressions, and their sorrows; and so he had been gracious to make a special acquaintance with them and their afflictions. And in thus manifesting himself to Moses, we have a most striking type of Israel's condition : :—they were in the midst of fiery trials, and yet, like the bush, they were not consumed.
The whole incident shows most powerfully God's condescension. He appears often to his people by some endearing relationship. Here it is “thy father's God.” When thus revealing himself to any of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, what comfort it produces ! If God is my father's God, and he himself tells me so, I must have an interest in his love and compassion. He does not so reveal himself to the wicked —the children of Satan. He makes no gracious communications to those who are acting in high rebellion against him. He honours his own children with a visit from himself, and seems (to speak after the manner of men) to delight in surprising his people. He appears in a manner unexpected, and at a time when all seems dark and dreary. And those to whom he thus appears are the children of the “ Holy One of Israel.” He delights to call them,“ My people,” and show himself “their God."
During all the time of Israel's sojourn in Egypt, God had allowed nothing to escape his vigilant eye. Not only does he “know the proud afar off” (Psa. cxxxviii. 6), but he knows also the way of the righteous” (Psa. i. 6). Side by side the two races dwelt—the proud and the righteous ; and the all-seeing eye of Him who never slumbers nor sleeps was constantly upon then, and showed, in Israel's case, the truth of Peter's testimony (2 Ep. ii. 9), “He knoweth how to deliver the godly." David tells us (Psa. xliv. 21) that God "knows the secrets of the heart ;" and Nahum says, “ The Lord knoweth them that trust in him” (i. 7). Israel's secret was that of sorrow, and they trusted in God, for “they cried, and their cry came up unto God” (Exo. ii. 23). Elihu preached the same doctrine to Job, a man of deep affliction, “He that is perfect in knowledge is with thee...... He is mighty in wisdom” (Job xxxvi. 4, 5). And David, again, says, “ He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust” (Psa. ciii. 14).
How sweet is that remembrance of God! He “remembered” his covenant with Abrabam. He forgets not his promises nor our weakness, but shows himself tender and compassionate in all his dealings.
How comforting all these little insights into the Divine knowledge! To the man of business tried by adverse circumstances, it is sweet to remember that “the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous," and if it be a rough way, there is, here and there, a little spring of sacred joy, and secret strength, which enables him to go on his journey. To the Christian afflicted by sickness, it is very precious to know, that his God is one that knows his frame and remembers ” his weakness, and therefore pities him as a father pities his children. To those who have seen death in their chambers, and have lost, for a time, earth's best beloved, how dear the thought that our Saviour has tasted death for us, and has removed its sting! In the midst of such sorrow, we call to mind the scene at Bethany, -when Martha and Mary wept sore at their brother's death,—the Saviour, with love in his heart and compassion in his voice, says gently, “I am the resurrection and the life." We may almost fancy hearing that voice speak to us, “ Fear not, I am with thee, I know thy sorrows, and I will be with thee, even unto the end ;” and we resign the dear ones of earth to the heavenly Keeper.
To the soul tried and tempted, and who, fainting, reels to and fro under the attacks of Apollyon, the remembrance of the Lord's knowledge of his extremity gives strength : when feeble it gives him courage, and joy when brokenhearted. Satan is then vanquished by the power of the Spirit working mightily in the poor, distracted, and cast-down warrior.
How many, and how various are the trials of the Lord's people ! and yet how many, also, and how various are the Lord's ways of giving relief ! Some need food, and straightway a secret supply is discovered ; some want health, and sometimes by means the most unexpected, health is given ; some want spiritual understanding in the deep things of God, and by a little incident, or a word spoken, a flood of light is let into the soul, which, as good Bunyan would have said, ravishes it with the sight of the inany wonderful things revealed ; some are tempted sorely by Satan to doubt their interest in the “ covenant ordered in all things and sure," to doubt the love of Christ, to doubt the word of God's promise, to doubt the willingness of Christ to bless and save them ; they forget for a time, it may be, the former loving kindnesses of God, they write bitter things against themselves, and declare that the Lord had forgotten to be gracious, and had cast them off. How Satan rejoices at such weakness ! how mightly he seems to come in, even like a flood, and cast down the poor, heart-broken soul, and exult over him as if he had finally conquered him! But, like the bush on Mount Horeb, though surrounded by fire, the Christian is not consumed : he may be cast down, but he is not destroyed. He turns to the Lord who bought him, he thinks of his former joys, he reminds the Lord of his former loving-kindnesses, and lifts up again the voice of prayer, and straightway the Lord appears to him,--not to upbraid him with his backslidings