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those who receive it. Those who supplicate in earnest, supplicate for all good, to themselves, and to their fellow men, leaving it to God to determine, time, manner, and measure, and every thing relating to the subject.
As a state of condemnation is a most uncomfortable state, pardon will be most earnestly sought after, by all who are sensible of the need and importance of it.
If we have been pardoned or if we wish to be pardoned, we must equally wish to be sanctified; for if we continue under the dominion of sin, a pardon can avail us but little; since it regards only actual trespasses, without removing the disposition to trespass again. To know God, and ourselves, our duty, and our interest; and to have every thing pertaining to life, and godliness, plainly set before us, is essential to our welfare, present, future, and everlasting; and as for this knowledge we are altogether dependant upon God, each one who is sensible of his dependance, will be inclined to address him, and say, That which I know not teach thou me!
Our circumstances in the world, so far as our comfort is concerned, or our usefulness, may be considered as important; and it is therefore, permitted to us, to make them an article in our supplications.
A peaceful death, and a glorious immortality, being blessings of so much value, that other blessings are valuable only as they stand connected with these; for these we may ask, without any apprehension, that we can ask too frequently, or too importunately.
What would be good for us, would, circumstances being similar, be good for others, and as we are required to love our neighbor as ourselves, our duty in this respect is plainly marked out in relation to others.
This spirit of supplication, which is to be poured upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, will be very different from that spirit by which pharisees, and all formalists of old times, were actuated, who chose the most frequented places for their devotions, that they might have a greater number of witnesses. That was rather a spirit of ostentation, than of supplications.
What we are next to consider is, the mourning which will take place with the cause which is to excite it. And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son; and shall be in bitterness for him, as one is in bitterness for his first born.
There can be no doubt, that what is described in this language is, the crucifixion of Christ; together with the feelings which will be excited in the people descended from those who nailed him to the cross, and pierced his side with a spear, when they shall come to look back upon this horrid deed of their fathers, and consider it as their own; unbelief being the same in all, and always producing the same effects in like circumstances, and with like incentives.
But by what grammatical rules; or by what rules of interpretation, will those persons proceed to examine this passage, who can see in Christ nothing but a man and who acknowledge no difference between him and the malefactors who were crucified with him, except, that he might have exceeded them in the regularity of his life. Whoever is the speaker, he speaks, first, of himself, and then of another; for he says me, and him, using both the first person and the third. Such language, applied to a common case, would be a great incongruity; for where the object is simply one, it ought not to be described as having a two fold existence.
The speaker is, evidently, God, and yet he says, they shall look upon me whom they have pierced. This is equivalent to what is said in the New Testament, where God is represented as purchasing the church with his own blood. Though no one supposes that a spirit could shed blood, since blood is connected with flesh, and though no one supposes, that God could die, yet if God was united with the man Christ Jesus, he might speak of himself as pierced, when the man Christ Jesus was pierced. That there was an actual union of two natures in one person, must be acknowledged by all who acknowledge the scriptures to be true; for nothing is plainer than, that Jesus Christ possessed every attribute of God, both natural, and moral.
We read of God; and of the son of God; and if there be many who have the same gross conceptions upon this sub
ject that Nicodemus had about being born again, the difficulty is with them, for the scriptures are explicit. The distinction of person in the Godhead, could not be marked with more accuracy than it is in the text, where God speaks of himself in the first person, and of his only begotten Son in the third, exhibiting the humanity of Christ, as suffering; and his divinity as rendering his sufferings, meritorious.
Had not Christ assumed a mortal body, he could not have died; and had not his body been a temple for God himself to dwell in, his death would have been a common event, and no more important effects would have resulted from it than from the dissolution of any earthly tabernacle.
The first of these assertions no one will undertake to call in question; and the last is equally undeniable with the first. To be consistent then, if we admit the doctrine of the atonement, we must admit likewise, the deity of Christ; for if we deny one, we virtually deny the other.
If any talk of an atonement, who maintain, that human nature is not sunk in deep depravity, they appear to me to understand, neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm; for if an atonement be any thing, it is a remedy suited to none but an extreme case, which no one understands, so as to manage it, but he who understands all things; and is capable of accomplishing all things.
What the sorrow is which the parent experiences who has lost his only son, especially when that is his first born, and only child; such, and much greater, will be the sorrow of the persons whose case is referred to in the text.
Their mourning, among other things, will be excited by the contemplation of those sufferings which the Savior, in his own person, endured. He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. A hostile world arranged itself against him as soon as he was born. We read of those who sought the young child's life; and that he was carried by his parents into Egypt, that he might be safe from the rage of Herod.
While the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; the Son of man testified that he had not where to lay his head.
He came to his own, and his own received him not. The Jewish nation, eminently his own people, because of peculiar favors granted to them; and his brethren among that people, believed not on him, but rejected him, and formed plots to effect his destruction. In the little company of his disciples one was a traitor, and sold himself for thirty pieces of silver; another denied him, and with oaths, and curses, declared that he had no knowledge of him; and all finally forsook him and fled.
He experienced many temptations, at different times from the devil; his soul was, while he was in the garden of Gethsemane, exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; he was in an agony; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground; he was buffeted, and spit upon; and, in every way, insulted; he was nailed to the cross; and his death was attended with such tortures, that no parallel case can be found, nor can any tongue describe it. Eyes that never wept before, would weep; and the heart that never felt before, one throb of sympathy, would break, were half these woes detailed in some romance. Does it then surpass belief, that the tenderest feelings will be awakened, and experienced, when the inquiry shall be made in earnest Are these things so?
Here we may add this consideration, that those who mourn for the sufferings of Christ, mourn also for their own criminality; and consider unbelief as the spear with which they themselves, have pierced his side. To the world at large, it appears to be no more sin to disbelieve the gospel, than to disbelieve any idle legend; but the case is far different, in the view of every convinced sinner: for every such person is persuaded, that he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar. Is there no sin in making God a liar? Can there be any sin so great? May not all sin be traced to this, as its principle, and root? Whatever then, may have been the conduct; whether more, or less, exceptionable, if unbelief has been the character; when we are brought to see things in their proper light, we shall see in ourselves abundant occasion for lamentation, mourning and woe.
Finally let it be observed, that this kind of sorrow has this circumstance connected with it, that every one who is a
subject of it, sees and laments, that he has brought damage upon himself, and others, by his sin. The evils of life would be reduced within a small compass, if we would stay ourselves upon the God of salvation; confide in his veracity; faithfulness; and compassion; and regulate our conduct by the rules of his Word; and were we to pursue this course, we should find a double object obtained; for as evils diminished, in the same ratio, good things would be multiplied. Prosperity and adversity, though according to our estimate, they depend upon outward circumstances, have, in fact, very little to do with any thing but the state of the mind; and if it be admitted, that others can injure us, it is still true, that no one can injure us so much as ourselves.
In all our connexions likewise, the good, or the evil, that we shall do, will be according to our principles, and practices; and in exact proportion to our influence, as members of the community. One sinner destroyeth much good. You may class me as you will, if sinner be a term appropriate to my character, it will be true of me, as it was of St. Paul before his conversion, that I shall be injurious. It may be said of sin as of a contagious disease, that we know not how far it will spread; and therefore, we can make no calculation concerning the extent of the injury which a single act of sin may produce.
Such is the nature of that sorrow which we have under consideration; and such are the causes from which it originThe Jews, when they shall become a penitent people, will be acquainted with the subject; and all people, of every name, and country, will be possessed of the same feelings when repentance shall give them the same character.
Having given a general representation of that time of wonderful humiliation to which we are referred, the text proceeds to speak of it more particularly. First it is compared to a memorable mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddon of which we have an account in the thirty fifth chapter of the second book of Chronicles. This mourning was for the death of Josiah, a king of Judah, very distinguished for his piety and for the reformation which he effected or attempted among his people. He was but eight years old when he began to reign, and he ended his reign