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Eglon, king of Moab, I have a message from God to you. Judges jii. 20.
In his name, and as his ambassador, I warn you of the dreadful consequences of your unnatural rebellion against him. You cannot make good your cause against him. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength; who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered? All nature is subject to him, and he can order the meanest part of it to be the executioner of his
vengeance upon you. If you refuse to submit, you shall as surely perish as you have a being. Of this you have reason to be apprehensive at all times, but especially at this time, when your almighty enemy is attacking your country with the terrors of war, and your neighbourhood with an epidemical raging distemper. Sicknesses are his soldiers, and fight in his cause against a rebellious world. He says to one, Go, and it goeth ; and to another, Come, and it cometh. And are you not afraid some of these deadly shafts may strike you now, when they are flying so thick around you ? God has for many a year used gentler weapons with you, but now he seems about to take the citadel by storm. Now, therefore, now without delay, lay down your arms and surrender yourselves to him. · I have also joyful news to communicate, even to you rebels, if you are disposed to hear it ; and that is, that your injured Sovereign is willing to be reconciled to you after all your hostilities, if you will now submit to the terms of reconciliation.
Therefore, I pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. Christ is not here in person ; but lo I am here to manage the treaty in his name, though I also am formed out of the clay.
THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS ILLUSTRATED IN THE METHOD
OF SALVATION, THROUGH THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST.
A SACRAMENTAL DISCOURSE.
JOHN XII. 27, 28. Now my soul is troubled : and what shall I
say? Father, save me from this hour : but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.
SHOULD a favourite child now come running to you, with all the marks of agony in his countenance, and with these words in his mouth, “I am troubled ; my very soul is troubled, and
I know not what to say ;" it would raise all the tender sensations of fatherly compassion and anxiety in your breasts, and you would solicitously inquire, " what ails my dear child, what is the cause of your distress ?” But here your ears are struck with a more strange and affecting sound ; you hear the source of all consolation complaining of sorrow : “ I am troubled ; my very soul is troubled, and in a commotion like the stormy ocean." You see the wisdom of God, the guide of the blind, pausing-hesitating--at a stand-at a loss what to say. And will you not so far interest yourselves in his sorrows, as solicitously to inquire, “ What ails my dear Lord ?" Judas has not yet betrayed him ; the rabble have not yet apprehended him, and dragged him away, like a fia. gitious malefactor : as yet his face is not dishonoured with spitting nor bruised with blows ; as yet I see no crown of thorns upon his sacred head ; 'no nails in his hands and feet ; no spear in his side ; no streams of blood and water running down his body. He is at liberty, and surrounded with his usual friends : nay, at this time even the despised Jesus begins to grow popular : the humble Je. sus, the man of sorrows, has just now entered Jerusalem in triumph, like a conqueror, surrounded with the applauses and ho. sannas of the multitude. Now also the first-fruits of the Gentiles are brought to him : a number of Greek proselytes beg an interview with him, and desire his instructions : a thing so agreeable to him, that as soon as he bears of it, he cries out, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. John xii. 23. And why does my Lord alter his voice so soon? Why, my blessed Jesus, why this sudden fall from joy to trouble, from triumph to sorrow and perplexity ? The reason was, that though his sufferings were not now upon him, yet he saw them approaching : he saw the fatal hour just at hand ; and this immediate prospect raises all the passions of his human nature, and throws him into a sea of troubles. He did not fall into his sufferings through inadvertency, or the want of foresight ; and his fortitude and resolution were not owing to any hopes of escape, or an expectation of better usage. But we are expressly told, that Jesus knew all things that should come upon him. John xviii. 4. He saw the rugged road before him, all the way from his cradle to his cross. He rushed into dangers with his eyes open, and went on courageously to encounter the last enemy, Death, fully expecting to meet him in all his terrors. Now the foresight of sufferings is a peculiar aggravation ; it brings them upon the anxious expectant by anticipation : they are reflected back upon him, before they are actually inflicted; and thus the pain of a few moments may be diffused through a length of years. And sometimes the expectation of an evil is more tormenting than the evil itself.* Our happiness is in a great measure owing to our being happily blind to the future, and ignorant of the calamities before us. But Jesus had not this mitigation of his sufferings : the cross, the scourge, the nails, the crown of thorns, were ever before his mind : so that he could say with yet greater reason than his servant Paul, I die daily, I am in deaths oft. By this painful foresight, the crown of thorns was always upon his head ; 'the nails were all his days fas. tened in his hands and feet ; and his whole life was, as it were, one continued crucifixion. How peculiarly aggravated, how long continued, how uninterrupted do the severities of his sufferings appear, when viewed in this light ! and how does this display his fortitude and the strength of his love ! though he had this tragical prospect before him, yet he did not draw back or give up the arduous undertaking ; but he resolutely held on his way ; he was irresistibly carried to meet all these terrors, by his ardent zeal for his Father's glory, and his unconquerable love to the guilty creatures whose salvation he had undertaken. Sometimes indeed he shews he was a man ; that he was capable of all the tender and painful sensations of human nature : and if he had not been such, his sufferings would have been no sufferings. At such times his innocent humanity seems struck aghast, pauses and hesitates, and would fain shrink away from the burden, would fain put by the bitter cup. But immediately the stronger principles of zeal for the divine glory, and love to man, gain the ascendant, calm all these tumults of feeble nature, and irresistibly impel him on to the dreadful encounter in its most shocking appearances. O! the generous bravery of the Captain of our salvation ! O! the allconquering power of his love ! The critics are in raptures on the bravery of Homer's Achilles, who engaged in the expedition against Troy, though he knew he should never return. But how much more worthy to be celebrated is the heroic love of Jesus, who voluntarily exposed himself to infinitely greater sufferings, when he foresaw them all, and knew what would be the consequence !
The language of raised passions is abrupt and hurrying ; and in such language does our Lord here speak. Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ? " What petition shall I ask of my Father ? such an hour of distress is a proper time to address him. But what shall I say to him ? shall I yield to the reluctance of my frail, human nature, that would draw back from suffering? shall I urge the petition my feeble flesh would put into my mouth, and say, Father, save me from this hour ?* Father, dismiss me from this undertaking, and resign the glory which thou wouldst gain by the execution of it. Father, if it be possible, save sinners in some easier way; or let them perish, rather than that I should suffer so much for them. Shall this be my petition ? No; I cannot bear the thought, that my Father should lose so much glory, and the objects of my love should perish, It was to suffer for these important purposes that I came unto this hour. For this I undertook to be the sinner's Friend and Mediator ; for this I left my native paradise, and assumed this feeble flesh and blood ; for this I have spent three-and-thirty painful years in this wretched world, that I might meet this dismal liour. And now, when it is come, shall I Ay from it, or shall I drop an undertaking which I have so much at heart, and in which I am so far engaged ? No ; this petition I will not urge, though it be the natural cry of my tender humanity. What then shall I say? Father, glorify thy name. This is the petition on which I will insist, come on me what will. Let the rabble insult me, as the offscouring of all things ; let false witnesses accuse me, and perfidious. judges condemn me, as a notorious criminal ; let the blood-thirsty murderers rack me on the cross, and shed every drop of blood in my veins, still I will insist upon this petition ; and not all the tortures that earth and hell can inflict shall force me to retract it ; Father, glorify thy name : display the glory of thy attributes by my sufferings, and I will patiently submit to them all. Display the perfections of thy nature, exhibit an honourable representation of thyself to all worlds by the salvation of sinners through my death, and I will yield myself to its power in its most shocking forms. Let this end be but answered, and I am content. This consideration calms the tumult of passions in
* This sense is more easy if we read, Πάτερ σώσον με έκ της ώρας ταύτης, as a question. The original will bear it; and so Grotius, Doddridge, &c. understand it. VOL. II.
my breast, overpowers the reluctance of my human nature, and makes it all patience and submission."
I intend, my brethren, to confine myself at present to this part of my text, this petition on which Jesus insists, and in which his mind acquiesces after perplexity and hesitation : Father, glorify thy name. And it evidently suggests to us this important truth, that the divine perfections are most illustriously displayed and glorified in the method of salvation through the sufferings of Christ.
This truth I shail endeavour to illustrate, after I have premised that it is most fit and proper that the glory of God should be the last end of all things, and particularly, that it should be his own principal end in all his works. He is in himself the most glorious of all beings, the supreme excellence, and the supreme good ; and it is infinitely fit and reasonable that he should be known and acknowledged as such, and that it should be his great end in all his works to represent himself in this light. It is but justice to himself, and it is the kindest thing he can do for his creatures, since their chief happiness must consist in the enjoyment of the supreme good, and as they cannot enjoy him without knowing him. Selfishness in creatures is a vile and wicked disposition, because they are not the greatest or best of beings; but for God to love and seek himself above all, is the same thing as to love and seek what is absolutely best ; for such he is. The aims of creatures should reach beyond themselves, because God, the supreme gond, lies beyond them ; they should all terminate upon him, and should not fall short of him, as they cannot fly beyond him, because he is the supreme excellence, and it is not to be found any where else. But for this reason he must aim at himself, if he aims at what is absolutely best ; for he only is so. For creatures to aim principally at their own glory, to set themselves off, and make it their end to gain applause, is vanity and criminal ambition, because they are really unworthy of it, and were formed for the glory of another, even of the great Lord of all. But for God to make his own glory his highest end, for him to aim at the display of his attributes in all his works, is most decent and just, and infinitely distant from a vain ostentation, because there is nothing else so excellent, and so worthy of a display ; his perfections deserve to be represented in the most illustrious light, and demand the highest veneration and love from the whole universe. In short, for God to aiın at his own glory in