« הקודםהמשך »
minds when threatened with want and ruin? Would his confidence in the hour of success inspire them with fortitude when ready to be overwhelmed with calamities and opposition? Would his serenity and possession of soul in the midst of enjoyment, and surrounded with applause, teach them patience when exposed to suffering and reproach? But while the example of Jesus Christ, had he been placed in an elevated station far above the generality of mankind, would have given little or no light except to the few who approached nearer to his own level, the low and suffering condition in which he appeared renders his example universally useful, and pregnant with instruction and comfort to men of all ranks and all characters. To the rich it exhibits a striking pattern of humility, moderation, selfdenial and a contempt of the world. To the poor, every virtue suitable to their condition, is preached in the most effectual manner : contentment, industry, patience, meekness, forgiveness of injuries, fortitude in danger and superiority to temptation. Well might the carpenter's son, the despised Nazarene, say “learn of me for I am meek and lowly
The humble appearance of Jesus not only rendered his life a pattern of such virtues as were useful for the imitation of mankind, but even displayed his virtues with greater lustre, The light of virtue always shines brightest in the night of affliction. It is in the school of adversity that the best lessons are acquired. The path of suffering has ever been the road to honour. In the field of danger the noblest laurels are reaped. Who are the the characters that have attracted the admiration of the world, and have been held forth as patterns for the imitation of future ages ? Not they who have been born in affluence, who have been nurtured in the lap of prosperity, who have spent their days in ease and indolence : but they who after passing their youth in obscurity and amid hardships, who after struggling with fortitude against the evils of life, have, through their own merit, risen superiour to the disadvantages of fortune and situation, and exhibited that perfection of character, which the school of adversity alone can produce; which men are ambitious to imitate, and God himself beholds with complacency. In like manner the Captain of our salvation, the authour and finisher of our faith, was
made perfect through sufferings. And having learned obedience by the things which he suffered he is now highly exalted and crowned with glory and honour; a glory which is exceedingly increased by comparison with his former state of humiliation and abasement.
5. The humiliation of our Saviour was absolutely necessary in order to the discharge of his mediatorial office: whether we consider him as the substitute or the intercessor of sinners.
The penalty threatened against sin was death ; which included not only the separation of soul and body, but also the various temporal evils; such as pain, disease and want, which since the commission of sin, have fallen upon our race.
To deliver mankind from this dreadful sentence was the end for which a Saviour was appointed. The very name of our Lord implied this; “ thou “shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save “ his people from their sins.” This being the end of his coming into the world, it was indispensably requisite that he should appear in a suffering and not in a triumphant state ; that he should humble himself, and be found
in fashion as a man, and become obedient unto death. For all the attributes of deity required to be vindicated by such a procedure, Justice declared that the sinner could not escape unless the punishment due to his offence was endured either by himself or by a substitute ; and therefore the substitute must endure all the pains and miseries of this life and at last undergo the sentence of death denounced against sin. The holiness of God required that he should testify his hatred and indig. nation against sin, in the most striking manner. The divine wisdom saw it proper to hold forth to all his subjects an awful example of the evil consequences of transgression. Thereford did he send his only begotten and well beloved Son into these regions of pain and misery, in a condition which ill accorded with that glory which he had with him before the world was. For this cause did Jesus leave the abodes of happiness, to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. For this cause. did he lead a life of poverty and distress, reproach and persecution, and at last submit to a painful, an accursed and an ignominious death upon the cross. But being thus made perfect through sufferings, he is become the
authour of eternal salvation to all those who are sanctified. By this humiliation he has procured what could not have been obtained by an act of power and authority. He has satisfied the divine justice, and expiated the guilt of sin. He has vindicated the holiness of God and made honourable the law.. He has exhibited an awful proof of the evil nature of sin, which could not be blotted out without so costly a sacrifice as the humilia ation, sufferings, and death of the beloved Son of God.
In a word, the humiliation and sufferings of Christ were necessary in order to the due discharge of that part of his priestly office which consists in interceding for sinners. The reasoning of St. Paul on this subject, will render every other unnecessary. Every high
priest taken from among men, he tells us, “ must be such as can have compassion on the
ignorant and on them that are out of the “ way, for that he himself also is compassed “ with infirmity. For as much then as the “ children are partakers of flesh and blood, “ Christ also took part of the same. For it be“ hoved him to be made in all things like un“ to his brethren, that he might be a merciful