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about complaining of a hard heart, but set thyself to believe, realize, apply, infer, and compare by faith as you have now been directed; and see what this will do: "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn. This is the way to raise the heart, and break it.
3. Is this the way to get a truly broken heart? Then let those that have attained brokenness of heart this
way, bless the Lord whilst they live for so choice a mercy. A heart so affected and melted, is not attainable by any natural or unrenewed person ; if they would give all they have in the world, it cannot purchase one such tear or groan over Christ. Mark what characters of special grace it bears, in the description of it in Zech. 12:10. Such a frame as this is not born with us, or to be acquired by us ; for it is there said to be poured out by the Lord upon us. Nature is not the principle of it, but faith; for it is there said, They shall look on me ; that is, believe and mourn. Self is not the end and centre of these sorrows; it is not so much for bringing condemnation upon ourselves, as for piercing Christ : "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn;" so that this is sorrow aster God, and not an impulse of nature. It is the choicest and most precious gift, ranked among the prime mercies of the new covenant. Ezek. 36 : 26. "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away
the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” And God himself sets no common value on it : The sacrifices of God are a broken heart: a broken and a contrite spirit, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psa. 51 : 17. That is, God is more delighted with such a heart, than with all sacrifices; one groan, one tear, flowing from faith and the spirit of adoption, are more to him than the cattle upon a thousand hills. Again, " Thus saith the Lord, The heaven.
is my throne, and the earth is my footstool ; where is the house that ye build me? and where is the place of my rest ?-But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Isa. 66:1, 2. All the magnificent temples and glorious structures in the world give me no pleasure in comparison of such a broken heart as this. Oh then, for ever bless the Lord, who hath done so much for you.
THE NATURE OF CHRIST'S DEATH.
“ Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge
of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts, 2:23.
Having considered, in order, the preparative acts for the death of Christ, both by himself and his enemies, we now come to consider the death of Christ itself, which was the principal part of his humiliation, and is the chief pillar of our hope. And here we shall consider, First, The kind and nature of the death he died. Secondly, The manner in which he bare it, namely, patiently, solitarily, and instructively; dropping divers holy and instructive lessons upon all that were about him, in his seven last words upon the cross. Thirdly, The funeral solemnities at his burial. Fourthly, The weighty ends and great designs of his death. In all which particulars, as we proceed to discuss them, you will have an account of the deep debasement and humiliation of the Son of God.
1. In this text we have an account of the kind and nature of Christ's death, which is here described gene
rally, as a violent death, Ye have slain him; and more particularly, as a most ignominious, cursed, dishonorable death, Ye have crucified him.
2. The causes of it are here likewise expressed, both principal and instrumental. The principal cause, permitting, ordering, and disposing all things about it, was " the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” There was not an action or circumstance but came under his most wise and holy counsel and determination.
The instruments effecting it were their wicked hands.” This foreknowledge and counsel of God, as it did no way necessitate or constrain them; so neither doth it excuse their conduct from the least aggravation of its sinfulness. God's end and manner of acting was one thing, their end and manner of acting another. His most pure and holy; theirs, most malicious and da. ringly wicked. In respect to God, Christ's death was justice and mercy. In respect to man, it was murder and cruelty. In respect to himself, it was obedience and humility. Hence, Our Lord Jesus Christ was not only put to death, but
to the worst of deaths, even the death of the cross. To this the apostle gives a plain testimony, "He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, Phil. 2:8; where his humiliation is both specified, he was humbled to death; and aggravated by a most emphatical reduplication, even the death of the cross. So Acts, 5 : 30, " Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree:" it did not suffice you to put him to a violent death, but you also put him to the most base, vile, and ignominious death ; "you hanged him on a tree.” And here we will consider the nature, the manner, and the reasons of Christ's death.
I. As to the kind or nature of his death, it was violent, painful, shameful, cursed, slow, and unalleviated.
1. It was a violent death. Violent in itself, though voluntary. "He was cut off out of the land of the liv. ing.” Isa. 53:8. And yet "he laid down his life of himself; no man took it from him.” John, 10:17. I call his death violent, because he died not a natural death, he lived not till nature was exhausted with age. He was but in the flower and prime of life. And indeed, he must either die a violent death, or not die at all ; partly, because there was no sin in him to open a door to natural death, as it doth in all others; partly, because else his death had not been a sacrifice acceptable and satisfactory to God for us. That which died of itself was never offered up to God, but that which was slain in its full strength and health. The temple, which was a type of the body of Christ, John, 2: 19, did not drop down as an ancient structure decayed by time, but was pulled down by violence, when it was standing in its full strength. Therefore he is said to suffer death, and to be put to death for us in the flesh. 1 Pet. 3: 18.
2. The death of the cross was a most painful death. Indeed in this death were many deaths, contrived in one. The cross was a rack as well as a gibbet. The pains which Christ suffered upon the cross are by the apostle emphatically styled "The pains of death,” Acts, 2: 24; but properly they signify the pangs of travail. His soul was in travail, Isa. 53, his body in bitter pångs; and be. ing, as Aquinas says, of the most excellent, exact and just temperament, his senses were more acute and deli. cate than ordinary; and so they continued all the time of his suffering, not in the least blunted by what he endured.
3. The death of the cross was a shameful death: not only because the crucified were naked, and exposed as spectacles of shame; but mainly, because it was a kind of death which was appointed for the basest and vilest of men. Free-men, when they committed capital crimes, were not condemned to the cross. No, that was the
death appointed for slaves. Tacitus calls it servile supplicium, the punishment of a slave: and Juvenal says, Pone crucem servo, Put the cross upon the back of a slave. And yet it is said of our Lord Jesus that he not only endured the cross, but despised the shame. Heb. 12:2. Obedience to his Father's will, and zeal for our salvation, made him disregard its reproach.
4. The death of the cross was a cursed death. Upon that account he is said to be "made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Gal. 3: 13. However, as the learned. Junius has well observed, this curse is only a ceremonial curse ; for otherwise it is neither in itself, nor by the law. of nature, or by the civil law, more execrable than any other death. And the main reason why the ceremonial law affixed the curse to this, rather than to any other death, was with respect to the death Christ was to die. And therefore, reader, see and admire the providence of God, that Christ should die by a Roman, and not a Jewish law. For crucifying, or hanging on a tree, was a Roman punishment, and not in use among the Jews. But the Scriptures cannot be broken.
5. The death of the cross was a very slow and linger. ing death. They died leisurely, which still increaseth and aggravateth the misery of it. If a man must die a violent death, it is a favor to be despatched : as they that are pressed to death beg for more weight. On the contrary, to hang long in the midst of tortures, to have death coming upon us with a slow pace, that we may feel every tread of it as it approaches, is a misery. And surely in this respect it was worse for Christ than for any other that was ever nailed to the tree. For all the while he hung there he remained full of life and acute sense. His life departed not gradually, but was whole in him to the tast. Other men die gradually, and, towards their end, their sense of pain is much blunted; they