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others are filled with all joy and peace in believing-And this is peculiarly desirable. For
Observe, Lastly, the importance of this joy-This undeniably results from the concern our Saviour here expresses. Men often err; and we cannot conclude that a thing is eminently, or even really excellent and valuable, because they prize and pursue it: for what trifles, what follies, attract and influence many! But as the Lord Jesus thinketh so it is; his judgment is always according to truthAnd therefore, says he, These things speak I in the world, that my joy might be fulfilled in themselves. He knew the importance of this possession-to the honour of our religion, and the recommendation of the ways of godliness to others to our activity and zeal in the divine life-to our weanedness from the world—to our support in trouble—and our comfort in the valley of the shadow of death. In all these the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Let the Saviour's concern regulate the concern of ministers. Let them be helpers of our joy, and seek the tongue of the learned, that they may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
Let the Saviour's concern regulate the concern of Christians. They should distrust themselves; but they should be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. They should watch and be sober ; yet they should be scripturally confident. Are the consolations of God small with them ?' They are not small in themselves, and they were not small in the experience of the first believers. If therefore they are small with us, is there not a cause? Is there not some secret thing with us? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord. Let us resolve to sacrifice whatever has caused him to hide his face from us. Let us pray, Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Let us ask and receive that our joy may be full.
APRIL 2._"Now is my soul troubled ; and what shall I say? Father, Have me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name." ---John xii. 27, 28.
Here we see the Saviour's anguish in realizing the approach of the closing scene of his life. Yet the trouble of his soul could not have been produced by the certainty of his suffering and death only; it must have principally regarded the nature of thein. Unless we allow this, he loses his pre-eminence. Some of the sages of antiquity met their end with firmness. Socrates and Seneca died with composure. Stephen did not say, “Now is my soul troubled" when they were leading him to be stoned. Paul' did not tremble when he said, “I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” We have read of martyrs who issued from their prisons with singing, and embraced the stake. And though crucifixion was ignominious and painful, many of the Lord's followers had to bear a death much more torturing and lingering; yet they were not troubled or afraid. But his sufferings and death were to redeem us from the curse of the law; and therefore he was inade a curse for us. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. And here it is that we
see what a dreadful evil sin is. Many deem it a light thing: but hear him saying, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” See him «
sore amazed and very heavy.” Behold “his sweat, as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.” A Christian can never deem sin a trifle, or be reconciled to it, after he has seen the agonies of him who was pierced by it-And as the citizens of Rome, upon the uncovering of the wounded and gory body of Cæsar, rushed forth to find and avenge his murderers, so every Christian flees to arms at the sight of the death of Jesus.
"Furnish me, Lord, with heavonly arms,
From grace's magazine;
With every darling sin." -He here speaks as one in a strait; as if struggling between inclination and conviction, his feeling and his work — And what shall I say ? Father, save me from this hour ?-But for this cause came I unto this hour.” There is no real difficulty here. He was human as well as divine; and the Godhead did not absorb the humanity, or change its attributes. The word was made flesh, and had all the passions and infirmities of our nature, sin only excepted. But suffering in itself can never be agreeable to our nature for then it would be no longer suffering. If therefore we submit to it, it is not from pleasure, but for some reason or purpose. This reluctance instead of being inconsistent with submission, serves to enhance it, and is even necessary to it. There is no resignation in giving up what we do not value. If we had no inclination to food, there would be no self-denial in fasting. There is no virtue in a stone; and there is no patience in bearing what we do not feel--Patience is injured by feeling too little, as well as by feeling too much ; by despising the chastening of the Lord, as well as by fainting when we are rebuked of him.
Our Saviour therefore acquiesces in the event. But in his mode of expressing it, he leads us to observe two things concerning his death. First, that it was not casual: "For this cause came I unto this hour.” It was written in the volume of the book-It was a covenant transaction. He assumed a body and entered our world for the very design—"The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"-- He became incarnate to die. Secondly, it was voluntary—“For this cause came I unto this hour.” He was not compelled or deceived into the business; but as it was fore-appointed, so he foreknew and foresaw it; and acted from independence and choice. He loved us and gave himself for us. He had his eye upon this scene from the beginning, and in all his travels of wo held it in view till he reached it, saying, “Lo! I come to do thy will, O God. I delight to do thy will: yea, thy law is within my heart."
Hence his pious prayer—" Father, glorify thy name.” As if he had said, “If my sufferings will be for thine honour, let them fall upon me, regardless of my feelings. Did he then question this? By no means. His language is rather the expression of confidence. “ Í know that my death will infallibly and infinitely advance thy praise ; and therefore I cheerfully bow to thy pleasure” --Just as he said, after instituting his own supper, and when about to enter Geth.
semane: “But that the world may know that I love the Father ; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence."
But what is it to glorify his name? Glory is the display of excellence. God's excellence cannot be increased, but it may be made known; and this is the design of God in all his operations. The heavens declare his glory. All his works praise him.
And every labour of his hands shows something worthy of a God”
"But in the grace that rescued man,
His brightest form of glory shinos;
In precious blood, and crimson lines." If God had punished sinners in their own persons according to their desert, his law would have been magnified, and his righteousness and truth confirmed; and thus he would have been glorified. And this glory of God is secured here: but observe the additional advantage. Had the wicked been punished, though his law would have been magnified, and his truth and righteousness confirmed, we could have seen nothing else-nothing of his mercy and love: but here mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other. We see the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us by Christ Jesus. And we draw the consolatory conclusion : " He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall be not with him also freely give us all things ?"
Herein also he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. At present, indeed, we see comparatively but little of this glory : yet even now the sight is enough to fix and fill the mind of believers. And not only are they relieved and refreshed by the contemplation, but they are sometimes carried away, and catch glimpses of those irradiations reserved for another life, which will draw forth the wonder and praise of the heavenly world for ever-and angels desire to look into these things.
We love not to consider Christ only or chiefly as our model. But after holding him forth in his higher characters as our sacrifice, and righteousness, and strength, it is more than allowable to bring him forward as our example. And then nothing will be more acceptable to Christians. The love shed abroad in their hearts by his cross, will make them long to resemble him, and pray that they may be changed into the same image, from glory' to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. And this conformity is not only desirable but necessary. “If any man,” says he, “ will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Remember there fore that " he suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should tread in his steps." We may feel our sorrows, and even desire the removal of them ; but we must do it as he did : “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will
, but as thou wilt.” Like him also we must, as sufferers, regard the honour of God, and be concerned that his Name may be glorified by our trials.
“Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires." You cannot do this in the same way with him. His sufferings were mediatorial, atoning, and meritorious. But yours may be instructe ive, encouraging, and useful. They may recommend your religion,
and prove that God never forsakes his people, but is with them in trouble, and comforts them in all their tribulation, and enables them to acknowledge“ he hath done all things well.” “It is good for me that I have been afflicted."
APRIL 3.—"They sung an hymn.”—Matt. xxvi. 30. This is a circumstance not mentioned by the other evangelists. But it is very instructive.
We should like to have known the very hymn they sung. The psalms the Jews used at the end of the passover began with the one hundred and thirteenth, and ended with the one hundred and eighteenth. Was the hymn here used one of these? Or was it any one else of the compositions of David, “the sweet Psalmist of Israel ?" Or was it the words of any other pious poet?. We cannot determine. We have every reason to believe the subject of it was suited to the occasion ; and never had language been so honoured before. We might also have wished to know the manner in which they performed it-Was it recitative or choral ? Symphonious or responsive? But how did he join? Oh! to have seen the emotions of his countenance, to have heard the strains of his voice !-But the Scripture is not designed to indulge our curiosity. It therefore only says, “ They sung an hymn." But the fact itself teaches us that singing is a Christian ordinance. It is sanctioned by our Lord's own example. And the authority for the usage was not overlooked by the Apostles; as we see both in their practice and precepts. Thus at Philippi we find Paul and Silas at midnight not only prayed, but “sung praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them.” And thus Paul says to the Colossians, “ Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” And James enjoins those who are merry to "sing psalms."
But observe by what this singing was immediately preceded, and by what it was immediately followed.
It was immediately preceded by the administration of his own supper. Hence we learn that singing should accompany this sacred ordinance. “ Joy becomes a feast” — And this is a feastma feast of love and friendship-a feast of reconciliation between God and usa feast upon the sacrifice—a feast in which we are reminded that “his filesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed.” And we ought not only to be thankful for such a death, but for such a memento and emblem of it. For here we have signs so lively and sensible that before our eyes he is evidently set forth crucified among us. And what an honour that we, who are not worthy of the children's crumbs, are allowed to sit down with the King at his table, as a proof that “we are fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of faith !"
" While all our hearts, and all our songs,
Lord, why was I a guest ?"
Join to adınire the senst:
Olives." Now this garden may be viewed as a place of suffering, and of retirement; and so two things may be observed. First, That the prospect of suffering should not prevent our joy and praise. Though our Saviour had announced the treason of Judas; foresaw the denial of Peter, and the desertion of all the disciples; and knew that he was now going into Gethsemane 10 agonize there, and there to be apprehended and led away to crucifixion-yet this does not hinder his previously singing a hymn! Does not this say to his followers, rejoice evermore ? In every thing give thanks ? A Christian should say with David, " I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. I look for changing scenes and trying dispensations, but I shall always have to sing of mercy as well as judgment-and of mercy in judgment.” “Come," would Luther say to Melancthon, a wise man, but more timorous than himself, when prospects looked dark and distressing at the beginning of the Reformation : “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth psalm : and let earth and hell do their worst.” Should it not reprove and humble us, that we have so little of the mind that was in Christ Jesus, especially when we consider the greatness of his sufferings, and the comparative lightness of our own? If we are not filled with murmurings and complainings, we are often silent in his praise, as if we had nothing to be grateful for, though encompassed with his goodness. The impression of one trial will make us insensible to the claims of a thousand blessings. But Christ might well sing. He knew God would be with him in the trying scene. And will he not be with you ? Has he not said, " I will be with thee in trouble ?" -And he had a joy set before him at the end of his conflict, the prospect of which might well induce him more than to submit. And have not you? Could you see the issue of all your trials, you also would-you must-rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Secondly, Thai religious ordinances and engagement should not lead us to dispense with retirement. When therefore they had ended the communion by singing a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives, whither he had often resorted for prayer and meditation. It is alone, after you have left the worship, and especially the table of the Lord, it is there that you can revive the remembrance; that you can bring home to yourselves what you have heard and seen; that you can call your consciences to an account; that you can yield yourselves afresh unto the Lord ; that you can implore that divine influence which alone giveth the increase.
The neglect of this practice will explain the reason why many who attend the services of the sanctuary derive so little advantage from them-" Through desire a man' having separated himself seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.
APRIL 4." And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus."--Luke xxiii. 26.
In the course of a few hours he had taken many a weary and painful step. From the communion chamber he had walked to the garden of Gethsemane--From Gethsemane he was hurried away, bound as a prisoner, to Annas-From Annas to Caiaphas-From