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they could neither fulfil the command enjoined, of watching with their Lord, or be fully competent to describe the agonies he endured. But it is here observable, that the four evangelists concur in mentioning that all the disciples (excepting Judas, who had quitted them whilst at supper,) entered into the garden of Gethsemane; and each of them recites the same account of this most awful scene, excepting John, whose heavy sleep, occasioned perhaps by his excess of grief, prevented the incessant watch he was bound to have maintained. *
“And he left them and went away again and prayed the third time, saying the same words; Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” “ And in this last address his combat was so violent and severe, that he was almost overwhelmed, and therefore for his assistance against the powers of darkness, which united their force against him, in the most terrible manner,”7-" there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening
* There is not, however, an indispensable necessity that the writers of the sacred volume should have been always eyewitnesses of the facts which they relate; nor was it indeed possible that they should invariably have been so. As for instance, Moses could not have witnessed the creation of our lower heavens and earth. But all Scripture having been given by inspiration of God, every deficiency of this kind has been, from this unfailing source, amply and clearly supplied ; and from hence we are certainly indebted for the relation of that very extraordinary transaction, Christ's temptation in the wilderness, as the history does not make mention of any human witness of it.
him” — " suggesting such holy consolations as were most proper to animate his soul in such a terrific struggle.”* As his bitter sorrows, sore amazement, and heaviness increased, his torturing dread of sight being now overpowered by darkness, doubtless increased also.
Previous unto his seizure with these horrific terrors, though he then declared that his soul was troubled, and exclaimed, “ What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour;" yet he checked the petition by reasoning calmly and justly, “For this cause came I unto this hour; Father, glorify thy name.” But amidst the dreadful complication of unparalleled sorrows with which he now conflicted, weaknesses, infirmities, and fears, appear to have so oppressed and borne so heavy on him, as to make him almost despair of proving victor in the tremendous contest in which he was engaged; and somewhat to avert his eye from the stupendous purposes to be achieved by his death, from the joy set forth before him, and the glory that should follow. For though he ever maintained the most perfect resignation to his Father's will, and the most determined resolution to fulfil it, he persevered (as St. Paul informs us) with strong crying and tears in offering up prayers and supplications unto him who was able to save him from death—continuing to manifest the weakness of humanity, by fostering a hope that his Almighty Father might adopt some other plan for the vindication of his glory than that Omniscience had eternally determined on, namely, by his sufferings and death.
The counsels of omniscience could not, however, be possibly overthrown: this was impossible; for had it been possible, God had doubtless granted his beloved Son's request. But God well knew him in whom He formed his everlasting purpose. The stone God laid in Zion was a tried stone; the foundation on which He builded was a sure foundation. And though we know He did not save his beloved Son from death, yet we are expressly told “he was heard in that he feared.” The woman's seed, as was of old predicted, obtained full victory. Here his fears were gloriously removed; his prayers were fully answered ; though crucified in weakness, he was raised in power. And it must not pass unremarked, that by the appearance of one angel ministering unto Christ, we derive the comforting assurance that if the great heavenly hero, the express design of whose mission it was to endure, in its most extreme extent, every trial and temptation incident to probationary states, was not left wholly unsuccoured to wade through his heaviest distress, that we also shall never, in our extremest exigencies, be left wholly destitute of support.
But to appreciate justly the small degree of aid supplied to our Lord, we should reflect that, supposing the kind solace of one fellow-mortal to be the only source from whence our succour flowed, yet it would far, far exceed the succour extended unto our Lord. For what was the ministration of one humble friend—what the appearance of one angel, to strengthen him who was the great Lord of angels? And the end proposed by this celestial minister's appearance, it should be peculiarly observed, was not to console or sympathize with the illustrious sufferer, but to strengthen him ; for while he fostered the smallest ray of hope that the bitter cup could be removed from him, it naturally produced an undecided and perplexed state of mind. To remove which, by ending all his hope of possible escape, and irrevocably determining his inevitable doom, appears to have been the end intended by the angel's ministration.
As the following considerations are entirely selected from the inspired volume, we shall, we trust, be pardoned for conjecturing that the considerations urged at this awful moment, to the great Lord of angels, by his humble ministrator, may have been somewhat of the nature of these we now venture to state.
Sole heir of all things, Creator of all worlds,
Frail thing, in which thou art now envellop'd, is The appointed instrument to spoil the power Of darkness. But it is the appropriate Wisdom of thy Father's counsel to confound The mighty by weak things, and base, and even Things despised, hath the Almighty chosen; Yea and things which are not, to bring to nought the Things that are; who dare t' oppose Omnipotence, Which to defy, the wily potentate, fraught With weak malice, and presumption impious, Now doth try. To defeat his stratagems, my Utmost powers I'll now exert, by recalling To thy mind the magnitude immense of God's Eternal purpose, purposed in thee; from Which thy pungent sorrows, by him contriv’d, does Somewhat now avert thine eye, bending it down To this earthly clod, and fixing it on grief. O raise it to yon radiant orbs, teening With intellectual life, whose countless hosts Assemble now to behold thy momentous Contest. O raise it to those glorious realms Which to thine omnipresent eye all open Lie; where thy bless’d Father reigns, enthroned in light, 'Midst cherubims and seraphims of glory. These all bend down to view thy wondrous combat With hell's infernal chieftain, and his combined Compeers, who are all up in arms 'gainst thee. Their Faith now waits the event of thy great Father's Glory, breaking full forth in bright unsullied Lustre; for that shall be reveal’d. The virtue Of this great link of Beings, forming the vast Progressive chain of moral excellence which Terminates in Deity, will be shook, if The consummate wisdom of its Head is not Made manifest by the serpent's ruin. But If his impotence thou openly dost show, It will stand for ever firm; thy triumph be Complete, and by the shedding of thy blessed Blood, the intellectual system of the . Boundless universe will be at peace with God.