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It may be supposed, that no supernatural sagacity was necessary to predict the sufferings and death of Jesus. A man in humble circumstances,-attacking directly the strongest prejudices of the learned and powerful,-teaching doctrines which had a tendency to overthrow existing establishments, and introduce a new order of things,—could scarcely, it may be said, rationally expect to escape severe sufferings, and a violent death. It would be easy to shew, that these reasonings go on a very partial view of the subject, and that from the remarkable popularity of Jesus at one period, with a variety of other circumstances, arising out of the peculiar character and situation of the Jews, his sufferings and death were by no means so certain, or even so probable, as they have been represented ;-but I content myself with remarking, that Christ Jesus not only predicted in general that he should suffer and die, but foretold a variety of particulars about his sufferings and death, which no human sagacity could have foreknown. Who, unless illuminated from above, even on the supposition that his sufferings and death were in themselves obvious, could have foretold whether he was to fall by assassination, popular tumult, or the forms of legal procedure? Yet this was most explicitly predicted by our Lord : Behold,” said he, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the high priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify.” Could mere human sagacity have foreseen that he was not to be put to death by stoning, the punishment appointed by the Jewish law for his supposed crimes, but by a Roman mode of inflicting capital punishment, - crucifixion ? Yet, at a very early period of his ministry, he said, “ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilder
ness, so shall the Son of man be liftted up.” Surely no unprejudiced person can contemplate these proots of Jesus' knowledge of futurity, without feeling inclined to exclaim, with Nathaniel, “ Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel !"
That foresight of our Lord's sufferings, which, when viewed in connection with the event, so clearly establishes the divinity of his mission, may be viewed also as greatly aggravating the severity of these sufferings. Every person knows, by experience, that the expectation of evil is itself a severe evil. The
apprehension of an affliction as probable, though we have no certainty of its befalling us, is painful, and the degree of pain is proportioned to the degree of probability. The prospect of unavoidable evil is peculiarly dreadful. Happily the Author of our nature, by "putting the times and the seasons in his own power,” has but seldom inflicted this severe chastisement on his human children. It was otherwise with our Lord. He was perfectly acquainted with all the unparalleled sufferings which lay before him. He lived in daily expectation of Judas' treason, the disciples' desertion, the high priest's condemnation, the Roman governor's sentence,—the torture of the scourge, -the shame of the cross,—the hiding of his Father's countenance,-and the pressure of his indignation. Now, though we know all this could not induce the Son of God to abandon his undertaking, we should be reasoning on the supposition, that “he was” not “in all things made like unto his brethren,” were we to draw the conclusion, that all this
him pain. When these events happened, he felt pain; and, no doubt, he felt pain, too, in the anticipation of them. When traversing the streets of Jerusalem, the sad thought must often have occurred, “Through these streets I am soon to be dragged an execrated
prisoner.” When resorting to Gethsemane, as he was wont, “here,” must he have thought, “am I to lie stretched in speechless agony and sore amazement." Lifting up his eyes to Calvary, he must, in imagination, have beheld his cross. With this scene of certain suffering constantly before him, need we wonder if the tradition of the ancients should prove true, that, during the whole of his life, Jesus of Nazareth was never known to laugh, though he often sighed and wept?
In our Lord's foresight of his sufferings, we have also a striking illustration of the greatness of his love. The Redeemer was a voluntary sufferer. Had he not so willed it, he needed not to have suffered at all; had he not so willed it, he needed not to have suffered in this particular form. What a wondrous proof of the Saviour's love to us, that, in order to obtain our salvation, he was not only willing to endure sufferings so severe and varied, but to have, during the whole of his humbled life, the prospect of all these severe and varied sufferings! It was wonderful that he should suffer for us at all ; but the wonder increases when we reflect, that he suffered that often by anticipation which he suffered once in reality. As the Saviour's voluntarily submitting to endure this anticipated view of his sufferings illustrates his love, surely his persisting in the great work of our redemption, notwithstanding the full comprehension he had of its difficulties, places the same amazing truth in a very striking point of view. In giving himself for us, he was perfectly aware of the extent of the sacrifice he was making ; yet he cheerfully made it. He set his face as a flint, and refused to be dismayed. " He stedfastly set his face to go up to Jerusalem,” though well aware of all the agonies which awaited him there.
2d, The text leads us to consider Christ's sufferings
were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and counsel had before time determined to be done." Every part of our Lord's suffering was arranged according to the plan formed by Infinite Wisdom; the time, the place, the agents, the manner, the degree, the duration, all were determined.
Another idea, with respect to our Saviour's suffer. ings, suggested by their being termed a baptism, is, that they marked the sacredness of his character, and, as it were, consecrated him to an important office. The baptisms, whether of persons or of things, under the legal economy, were intended to denote their sacred character; to mark them out as devoted to the peculiar service of God, John's baptism certainly intimated, that they who submitted to it, were devoted to the service of that Messiah, of whom he was the forerunner; and the baptism of our Lord's disciples had a similar signification. The sufferings of Christ most strikingly marked him out as the servant of God, and the substitute of sinners. When we contemplate him sustaining the wrath due to an elect world, nor sinking under the load, who does not hear the heavenly voice, “Behold my servant whom I uphold!" When we survey the number and severity of his sufferings, and, at the same time, reflect on the purity of his na. ture and the perfection of his character—when we behold the pure, the perfect Jesus, suffering anguish unspeakable are we not obliged to say, He is the victim of our transgressions ? He “ bears our sins in his own body on the tree.”
Closely connected with that now illustrated, is the idea, that by his sufferings, as by a baptism, was the Saviour consecrated to the discharge of high and important functions. By a baptism of water and the Spirit, as the oil of gladness, was the Saviour conseused in the service of God was baptized, either by affusion or immersion, by water or by blood. John's baptism is expressly asserted to be of God; and there can be no doubt the baptism of our Lord's disciples had the same high origin. To whatever baptism then the reference is made, it suggests the idea of divine appointment.
The doctrine of divine predestination, is not merely clearly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, but necessarily results from the first principles of religious truth. It is a doctrine confessedly mysterious, yet demonstrably true. Though liable to abuse, it is, when properly explained, calculated to serve many important practical purposes; and while its admission is attended with considerable difficulties, it cannot be consistently denied, without, at the same time, renouncing our belief in the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God. All is ordered. “ God worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.”
That the sufferings of Christ, in particular, are the result of a divine appointment, is most evident. They & were intimated in the first promise, shadowed forth in a great variety of types, and predicted most circumstantially in a great variety of prophecies. The language of Scripture on this subject is most express. “ Truly,” said the Saviour himself, “truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined.” The Apostle Peter, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, as the ransom for the forfeited souls of men, says, he was fore-ordained ed before the foundation of the world.” I shall add only one other testimony to this doctrine: “ Of a truth," exclaimed the primitive believers, on hearing the account of Peter and John's appearance before the Jewish Sanhedrim, “ of a truth, O Lord, against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel,