Imatges de pÓgina
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above those which the ministry of angels had thrown around the ancient ceremonial.

The third consideration by which Paul vindicates the humanity and suffering of Christ from any degrading imputations, relates to the propriety of this very plan of humiliation and suffering to redeem the world. “For it became bim, for whom are all things, and by whom are all thing's, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one : for which cause,” &c.

1st. It became the all-perfect Sovereign and Proprietor of all things, as he condescended to provide salvation for man, to provide a perfect Savior. As there is nothing wanting in the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, it was proper and becoming in him “ in bringing many sons to glory,” to adopt a perfect plan-perfect in its arrangements—in its operation—and in its efficacy. Any thing imperfect, or in any way defective would have been unworthy of the character of Jehovah. But in making a scheme of redemption perfect, it was necessary that the great agent of the enterprise be made to endure suffering. He could not complete the work without it. It was written in the law, and uncompromisingly insisted on by justice. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” If man is saved, bis deliverer must suffer, or justice must. But justice is immutable and inviolable, and suffering is the only alternative. If Jesus therefore had not suffered to the satisfaction of the entire penalty of the law, his atonement would have been insufficient, redemption at best would have been but partial, and the failure would have reflected seriously upon the sovereign God who devised it. But not so is Jehovah to be censured. And by thus looking at his character, and at the nature of the case, every one will see at once a peculiar fitness and propriety in the plan apparently so degrading, and that it entirely becomes his perfection.

2d. But not only so, the apostle shows further that the ancient Scriptures, to which the Jews were ready to ascribe the very highest authority, spoke both of the Savior, and in the name of the Savior, in terms which plainly involved his humanity and suffering ; and that from this consideration also, though he were a mere man, and did suffer intensely and die shamefully, he was nevertheless entitled to their confidence and acceptation. “For both he that sanc

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tifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one ; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them," &c. Whether all these quotations when they were originally penned were intended by the Spirit to be prophetic of Christ, or whether the apostle by an argumentum ex concessis merely wished to employ the opinions of his opponents against themselves without vouching for the precise accuracy of that particular application of all the passages-alluded to, has been much debated by expositors, and involves much difficulty to decide. But whether we consider the manner in which the passages are applied from Paul, or from his Jewish antagonists, their point in this connection is clear and unaltered. That Christ was a man, none in the days of the apostles would venture to deny. This fact the Jews endeavored to construe into an argument against his Messiahship. These passages then are adduced to show, and do inost conclusively show, that there was good Scriptural authority to resolve all doubt and controversy as to this point-that the prophets spoke of him as a man, and that this was no tenable ground upon which to base their opposition to his authority and claims.

3d. The apostle finally shows, that the humanity and sufferings of Christ were the very things which accommodated him to our circumstances and wants. Or in other words, that the propriety of the plan is further to be inferred from its adaptation to the end proposed. “Besides, he surely doth not succor the angels, but he helpeth the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”And this is the most blessed thought in the whole argument. Like a brilliant ray from the throne it falls upon our path, throwing its hallowing light on every object of hope, and kindling up joy and gladness in every considerate heart. And in order to let our souls

repose a little in the delightful sunshine, let us spend a few thoughts in contemplation of our need, and the ample provisions of Divine grace for our relief.

The most deplorable feature of our fallen condition is our utter guiltiness, and our utter obnoxiousness to the Divine perfections. That we are sinners is a matter recorded in history—declared by revelation—and felt in all human experience. Though “God made man upright, he has sought out many inventions” of evil. However bright and promising were the first openings of his existence, he has blighted the fairest ornaments of bis nature by bis disobedience and continued transgression. The diadem that sparkled on his brow when his Creator first pronounced him lord of the earth, has lost its lustre. In every faculty of his soul he has become depraved and polluted. Our sins are written out in the sweat-tears--painsand dying groans of suffering humanity, and in the travailing pangs and convulsive throes which disturb the peace of all creation. Death—temporal—spiritual-eternal, is the sentence under which we all by nature rest. See then the glory and fitness of the plan in the exact adaptation of Christ to save us from our sins. Two considerations show that human nature in our Redeemer is utterly indispensable. First, there was a specific kind of punishment to be endured for which no other nature was qualified. Part of the penalty was the separation of the soul from the body; but man alone is possessed of such a compound nature, and therefore could not have met this feature of the penalty. Secondly, it is a peculiarity in the Divine government, that the ends of justice require identity of nature in the offender and his Redeemer. Any thing else would destroy the personality of guilt, and all our ideas of moral government. The sentence was pronounced upon man, and the full execution of it could only be had by the death of man. The suffering of no other nature would have met the case. How dear then to the sinner should be the humanity of the Savior! It is the very qualification which our case requires. And instead of making it a subject of contempt, ought we not rather to adore that matchless compassion which led him to the assumption of all the infirmities of mortal nature, only that he might the more effectually secure our salvation. Surely this is a fit and a glorious plan; for see

Again how it lists up our hopes by making Christ “a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for

the sins of the people." No one fully understands our wants or our situation, without being a man, and moving in the walks of men. We have many feelings which are peculiar to ourselves, and which no other order of beings can enter into.. We have fears and forebodings of wrath-we have sensations of despair and hopelessness which none but such as have felt them can properly appreciate. Paul struck upon this chord of human experience when he spoke of the unregenerate, as being through fear of death all their lifetime subject to bondage.” How important then again is the humanity of the Savior—that he should experience as we do the trials and woes of life-that he should feel himself every pang of our helplessness; and hence the more sensibly feel the deep necessity for the strictest fidelity in the discharge of the duties of his office. " Here was a race of sinners and sufferers. They were exposed to the wrath of God. They were liable to everlasting punishment. The judgment impended over their heads, and the day of vengeance hastened on. All now depended upon the great High Priest. All their hope was in his fidelity to the great office which he had undertaken. If he were faithful, all would be safe; but if he were unfaithful, all would be lost. Hence the necessity of entering fully into the feelings, fears, and dangers of man; that he should become one of the race, and be identified with them, so that he might be qualified to perform with faithfulness the great trust committed to him."! No other plan can be conceived better adapted to impress our mediator with so lively a sense of the urgent necessity for unflinching fidelity in our behalf; and certainly none more desirable and blessed in the view of a suffering world. For mark

Further, how it enlivens our sympathies and encourages our faith in having rendered Cbrist a merciful and brotherly Savior. “For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” By our sins we have brought upon ourselves such a moral weakness that renders it almost impossible for us to do a good deed, or think a good thought even with all the gracious helps by which we are now surrounded. Our affections have been so long accustomed to run into a wrong channel, that even after our change it is exceedingly difficult to prevent their return. With all the strength that we are able to call into requisition, the world still exercises a power over us which we can scarcely

Barnes' Notes, in loc.

resist. We are driven hither and thither almost entirely at the mercy of the storm. But Jesus, having in reality a nature like ours, experienced our infirmities, and himself passed through the fiery ordeal of this world's woe, knows how to pity us, and how to feel for us. Having passed through similar temptations and reverses, and weathered similar storms, he " can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." As one that has himself been afflicted is better able to sympathize with the suffering,—or as one that has been bereft of tender relationships is better qualified to give consolation to the mourning ; so Jesus, having gone through all the ills of life, and dwelt under the heavy clouds which hang over all the walks of human existence, has a heart that beats in sympathy for those who are struggling here over rocky heights and stormy seas. There is not a pain the christian pilgrim feels, but Jesus helps to bear it. There is not a fear which rises in his breast, but Jesus helps to calm it. As a fond mother hangs with tears over the bed of her suffering child, so the compassionate Savior bends from between the cherubim over his afflicted children on the earth. Nay, his sympathy is still more intense; for a woman may forget her child, but Jesus can never forget those who put their trust in him.

« His heart is made of tenderness,

His soul is filled with love." Let no inglorious imputation then attach itself to the apparently humiliating plan of human redemption. Christ indeed was a man, he was born like a man, he lived like a man, he suffered as a man, and he died as a man. But instead of being ashamed of such a truth, we proclaim it upon the houšetops, we throw it upon the wings of the winds to be borne to the four corners of the earth, as the sweetest hope to the bleeding and despairing world, and as the most glorious truth that has ever reached the ear of man. Christ's humanity is not only one of the grand foundation stones upon which the edifice of our salvation is built; but it is the only tie that links us to the throne. It is this that encourages us to hope that we shall find a welcome reception when we come to the mercy-seat; that we shall find help in the day of trouble, and a friend when all others forsake ús. This is the great-glorious—inexpressibly bopeful mystery of godliness, “God manifest in the flesh.

Go then, christian sufferer, tossed by temptation and vexed by sore troubles, go to Jesus. “For in that he himself hath suffered,

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