Page images

his defire to promote the kingdom of righteoufnefs among men, we recognize another plan of a more particular nature, in which he feems to be more immediately interested. This we may call the moral plan of his Providence. It is in this latter fenfe that the words now under confideration are to be understood. The most exalted piety, the most extenfive benevolence, the greatest humility, the utmost meekness, patience and refignation; Lo! these, and every other virtue, fhone forth with the greatest luftre through the whole of the character of Jefus. The uniform piety and purity of his conduct give an irrefragable evidence to every declaration that he made; and force us, if we will not believe himself, at least to believe him for his works' fake. It is proper to be remarked, that the scheme, or plan of Providence, and the view of accomplishing it, were objects to the enlarged and comprehenfive mind of the Son of God, in a degree and manner different from that in which they can be supposed to be objects to the wifest and most enlightened of his followers. The whole scheme was at once in his eye; the beginning, the progrefs, and the refult of it were fenfibly present

prefent to him. He difcerned the connexions and dependencies, and that infinite series of events which it comprehends. He faw the particular end, which every action of his life, and every instance of his fuffering promoted, as precifely as one fkilled in works of human art can difcern the particular tendency and purpose of every part of any piece of workmanship that is prefented to him. Ever intent upon fulfilling that part which was allotted to him, just before he resigned his spirit, he cried out, It is finished. As it appears, therefore, both from the conduct and declarations of our Saviour, that the promoting the glory of God, and the fulfilling the plan appointed by his Providence, was his conftant and invariable aim while he dwelt with mankind; it is extremely reasonable to conclude, that by the laft words he uttered he intended to fignify to the world, that this plan was now accomplished; that the intentions of divine Providence, as far as they regarded his miffion, his life, his fufferings, his death, had their completion. The general strain and tenor of the paffage confirms. what has now been advanced. After this, Jefus knowing that all things were now ac


complished, that the fcriptures might be fulfilled, faith, I thirst. Now there was fet a vessel full of vinegar, and they filled a Spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyffop, and put it to his mouth. When Jefus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he faid, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost‹. But though this is the most general sense in which we are to understand these words, and though we cannot affign any other that is not comprehended in the explication now given, yet they very rationally admit of a more particular and confined interpretation. Let us, therefore, confider the more particular parts of this great and extensive plan, which our Saviour might have had in view when he expreffed himself in this manner.

I would obferve, then, in the fecond place, that we may confider these words as a declaration from our Saviour, that his fufferings were now ended. As endued with the feelings of human nature, fuch a long and continued course of sufferings, fuch an uninterrupted series of the fevereft affliction, could not fail to affect his spirit in the most sensible manner. And the confcioufnefs that now


f John xix, 28, 29, 30.

the measure of his forrows was full, joined to the forefight of his speedy deliverance from them, made him cry out in these memorable words, It is finished. Those confolations, which even the indulgent Father of mercy had, by an extraordinary difpenfation of Providence, withdrawn from his own blamelefs Son, were now, in fome measure, reftored. He commends his fpirit into his hands. He faw the concluding scene of that wretchedness to which he had voluntarily fubmitted, the bitter and the baleful cup of grief he had drained to the very dregs. Still his unshaken foul, with astonishing patience, bore every fhock, and encountered every foe; and not all the extremity of pain and ignominy engaged him to quit the body, till he had experienced the laft indignity which it was decreed for him to endure. But when he received the vinegar, he declared that all his forrows were now accomplished, and by one voluntary effort he refigned that facred fpirit which had exhibited fuch miraculous instances of every human and divine virtue.

In the third place: We may confider these words as a declaration that the offences of

[blocks in formation]

men were now expiated, and that the justice of God was fully fatisfied. This explication is perfectly agreeable to what has been advanced in the preceding part of this discourse; and in this light they have commonly been confidered.

There is nothing more plainly afferted in fcripture, than that Chrift Jefus fuffered in our room and stead, the just for the unjust; that he gave bis life a ransom for many; that we receive atonement by him. Men who have confidered the divine perfections in a particular view, have raised many objections against this doctrine: but I know of no method by which we can become acquainted with the nature and attributes of the Supreme Being, but by a ferious and humble attention to the works of God, to the ufual method of administration, as it is discovered in the government of the world, and to the revelation which, in his mercy, he hath vouchfafed to dispense to mankind. If we attend to the method of God's government of the world, we meet with many inftances where fome are involved in punishment for the faults and crimes of others. The deliverance from calamities that were deferved,


« PreviousContinue »