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work of man's redemption is finished. His soul was in our soul's stead. His righteousness covers our unrighteousness. His innocence cancels our guilt. He has done all for us. But it remains for us to appropriate the benefit. We must make it our own. He has restored to us the Tree of Life from the midst of the Paradise of God; but we must take and eat thereof if we would live for ever.2
St. Luke xxii. 46.
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
The last of the seven sayings from the Cross of Christ. The last words of our Lord when mortal. They are not found for the first time in this place. We find them in one of the Messianic Psalms, which, applying first of all, and in a limited sense, to the Psalmist's sorrows, were in their full meaning prophetic of our Saviour's sufferings. So when He adopts them and makes them His own, and takes them up
1 “That real union which is be- condemn them; fasten them to the twixt Christ and us, makes the Cross tree of shame." See also South, Ser. and Passion of Christ ours . . . Every xxxiii., “The Messiab's Sufferings for believer therefore is dead already for the Sins of the People.” his sins, in his Saviour; he need not 2 “ It is finished : that is, His sufferfear that he shall die again . . . Com- ings were now finished, both those of fort thyself therefore, thou penitent His soul and those of His body. The and faithful soul, in the confidence of storm is over. The worst is past. thy safety. Thou shalt not die but All His pains and agonies are at an live, since thou art already crucified end. He is just going to Paradise ; with thy Saviour. He died for thee; entering upon the joy set before Him. thou diedst in Him.”—Bp. Hall, Ser. Let all that suffer for Christ and with “ The Believer crucified with Christ." Christ, comfort themselves with this, He notes also that other lesson to that yet a little while, and they also be learned from the cross :-"Kill shall say, It is finished.”—Henry. your sins, or else they will be sure to 3 Pe. xxxi, 5. kill your souls. Apprehend, arraign,
into His sacred lips in that most mysterious moment on the Cross, He adds a word which in its fullest meaning the Psalmist could not use,-a word which in its special sense could be used only by the Son of God. He says, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Thus, and in these words, He rendered to the Father that human soul which for our sakes He had assumed. In a voice, and with a force which may well astonish us in the dying, proving the voluntariness of His surrender,' He loudly utters these last words. And then, there being no further reason to detain Him in life, He entered for us also on the state of death. With loud voice, for the sake of them that stood by, He utters this last cry from the Cross. He bowed His head, so one who watched every gesture faithfully records,—before He dismissed His spirit, and poured out His soul unto death. “Not that,” as one of the Ancients observes, “He bowed His head because He expired, but He then expired because He bowed His head. By the mention of all which things the Evangelist shews that He was Lord of all.” 5 It was His spirit or life or soul, which He shared in common with us, that He so surrendered. The Son of God when He came down from Heaven, and took upon Him our nature, became
perfect man.” His human nature, like ours, consisted of a human body and of a human soul, informed indeed, unlike ours, by the Divine nature. He shared in all things with us, though we share not in all things with Him. "In all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren," and so in this particular also of having a genuine, human soul, which shrank naturally from the approach of death; which would be an object of solicitude after death; which would exist in a disembodied state, the state of separate i St. John x. 17, 18.
one ever more sleeps at will, than 2 Compare the case of the proto- Jesus died at will. None ever more martyr Stephen, Acts vii. 59, 60. puts off his garment when he will, Bengel says,
“ The Father receives than He His flesh. No one ever the spirit of Jesus, and Jesus receives quits a place more at his own will, the spirits of the faithful."
than He this life. If the power of 3 St. John xi. 42.
the Saviour thus shines out in dying, * St. John xix. 30.
what will it be, for hope or fear, when 5 Chrys. in S. Jo. Hom. lxxxv. He shall come to judge ! And so Augustine (Tr. cxix. 6). No
spirits; which He is careful to commend, in dying, to the Father of spirits; with which He now enters into the world beyond the grave. There we leave Him in that abode, among the departed spirits and souls of the righteous, in Paradise, with the blessed dead, on the happy side of Hades, till the set time of that first Easter morn. Thus He became “ obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.” In that moment when this last loud voice was heard from the Cross, that moment most precious, most mysterious, the work of man’s redemption was accomplished, Christ's work was consummated, expiation for sin was made.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Matthew xxvii. 51-53.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent ; and the graves were opened ; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
"The veil of the Temple ” was that curtain which separated the rest of the Sanctuary from the most holy place, the “ holy of holies” beyond it. Many things this rending of it signified; as that Christ our Great High-priest is about to enter into Heaven itself, having obtained eternal redemption for us; 3 and that we may now boldly enter even into the holiest place through the virtue of His blood.* The earthquake, and rending of the rocks where the Jews were in the habit of depositing their dead, followed close upon that last cry from His Cross which marked the departure
2 Ex. xxvi. 31-33; Heb. ix. 3. Josephus, Antt. 11. vi. 4.
3 Heb. vi. 19, 20; ix. 12. · Heb. x, 19, 20.
of our Saviour's soul. But it was not till after His resurrection that those who were thus stirred in their sepulchres were raised from the dead. They had “fallen asleep in Christ;" they had departed this life in His faith and fear, looking to Him as the Messiah, and framing their lives by His law of love; and back He conducts them with Himself, a kind of first-fruits from the dead ; an earnest of the resurrection of the whole company of the faithful; a pledge of their entrance into the Heavenly city, new Jerusalem.? This then the Evangelist records by anticipation. The sepulchres of the Jews being without the walls, therefore they went into Jerusalem. Still it is called “the holy city," as we still speak of the holy Church. This it is by profession and by consecration. This one day it shall be altogether.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Matthew xxvii. 54-56.
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
The Centurion, the Officer in command of the company of soldiers charged with the crucifixion of our Lord, was moved, together with the rest, by the signs and portents which accompanied that event. What particularly struck
· Bp. Wordsworth notes the use of to by St. Ignatius, ad Magnes. 9. the masculine participle (rendered 2 St. Mark uses the Latin form of came out) after (as it is in the original) the word. In both languages, howthe neuter noun, bodies; “indicating ever, it means the commander of an personal life and action ;” and that hundred men. the fact of this resurrection is referred
the Centurion—who, as St. Mark minutely informs us, was directly opposite the suffering Saviour—was that last ery from the Cross, followed by the prompt surrender of His life. This giving up the ghost, yielding up His breath, breathing forth His soul, immediately upon that cry, marked it as His own act and deed. So that even this Roman, pagan as he probably was, who had just heard Him say, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,"? is constrained to confess, "Truly this man was the Son of God." He was not ignorant that this had been one of the charges against Him that He, being in the estimation of the Jews no more than a man, had said that “God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” 4 But in the opinion of this independent witness He had now proved it, proved it even in the moment of His death, proved that He was what He had claimed to be. Thus as St. Luke also says, he gave glory to God, confessed the truth, saying also, “ Certainly this man was the just one;" the very title elsewhere given by this Evangelist, after the Prophets, to the Messiah. And now the deed is done, the sad spectacle is over, and there seems a revulsion of feeling in the spectators. They who, stirred up by chief-priests and elders and scribes,' had shouted “Crucify,” and had mocked Him, showed now some symptoms of remorse. “And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts,”—that sign of grief—“and returned.” 8 But there is a group that still lingers on the scene, as if loath to leave the spot where all their hope is dead. These were “all His acquaintance; "9 those who i St. Mark xv. 39.
shew that His life was not forced frum 2 " The miracle was not in the Him, but was freely delivered by death, but in the voice. The strange- Him into His Father's hands"ness was not that He should die, but Henry. St. John s. 17, 18. that at the point of death He should 3 St. Luke xxiii. 46. cry so loud.”—Pearson, On the Creed, + St. John v. 18; x. 33; xix. 7. Art. iv. “The voice of dying men is s Josh. vii. 19. one of the first things that fails. With 6 Acts iii. 4; vii. 52; xxii. 14. a panting breath, and a faltering
? St. Matt. xxvii. 20, 39, 41; St. tongue, a few broken words are hardly Luke xxiii. 23, 35, spoken, and more hardly heard. But & St. Luke xxiii. 48. Christ, just before He expired, spoke 9 St. Luke xxiii, 49. like a man in His full strength, to