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which were to be endured the next day, when there should be darkness over all the earth, and at the same time a deeper darkness over the soul of Christ, of which he had now such lively views and distressing apprehensions.
2. The manner in which this bitter cup was now set in Christ's view.
(1.) He had a lively apprehension of it impressed at that time on his mind. He had an apprehension of the cup that he was to drink before. His principal errand into the world was to drink that cup, and be therefore was never unthoughtful of it, but always bore it in his mind, and often spoke of it to his disciples. Thus Matthew xvi. 21. “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day." Again ch. xx. 17, 18, 19. “And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, behold we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death. And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.” The same thing was the subject of conversation on the Mount with Moses and Elias when he was transfigured. So he speaks of his bloody baptism, Luke xii. 50. “ But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! He speaks of it again to Zebedee's children, Matthew xx. 22. “Are ye are able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.'
” He spake of his being lifted up. John viii. 28. “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have listed up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." John xii. 34. “The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" So he spake of destroying the temple of his body, John ii. 19. “Jesus answered, and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." And he was very much in speaking of it a little before his agony in his dying counsels to his disciples in the 12th and 13th ch. of John. Thus this was not the first time that Christ had this bitter cup in bis view. On the contrary, he seems always to have had it in view. But it seems that at this time God gave him an extraordinary view of it. A sense of that wrath that was to be poured out upon him, and of those amazing sufferings that he was to undergo, was strongly impressed on his mind by the immediate
power of God; so that he had far more full and lively apprehensions of the bitterness of the cup which he was to drink than he ever had before, and these apprehensions were so terrible, that bis feeble human nature shrunk at the sight and was ready to sink.
2. The cup of bitterness was now represented as just at hand. He had not only a more clear and lively view of it than before; but it was now set directly before him, that he might without delay take it up and drink it; for then; within that same hour, Judas was to come with his band of men, and he was then to deliver up himself into their hands to the end that be might drink this cup the next day; unless indeed he refused to take it, and so made his escape from that place where Judas would come; which he had opportunity enough to do if he had been so minded. Having thus shown what those terrible views and apprehensions were which Christ had in the time of his agony; I shall endeavour to show,
II. That the conflict which the soul of Christ then endured was occasioned by those views and apprehensions. The sorrow and distress which bis soul then suffered arose from that lively and full and immediate view which he had then given him of that cup of wrath ; by which God the Father did as it were set the cup down before him, for him to take it and drink it. Some have inquired, what was the occasion of that distress and agony, and many speculations there have been about it, but the account which the scripture itself gives us is sufficiently full in this matter, and does not leave room for speculation or doubt. The thing that Christ's mind was so full of at that time was without doubt the same with that which his mouth was so full of: it was the dread which his feeble human nature had of that dreadful cup, which was vastly more terrible than Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace. He had then a near view of that furnace of wrath, into which he was to be cast; he was brought to the mouth of the furnace that he might look into it, and stand, and view its raging flames, and see the glowings of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer. This was the thing that filled his soul with sorrow and darkness, this terrible sight as it were overwhelmed bim. For what was that human nature of Christ to such mighty wrath as this ? it was in itself without the supports of God, but a feeble worm of the dust, a thing that was crushed before the moth, none of God's children ever had such a cup set before them, as this first being of every creature had. But not to dwell any longer on this, I hasten to show
III. That the conflict in Christ's soul, in this view of his last sufferings, was dreadful, beyond all expression or conception.
This will appear
1. From what is said of its dreadfulness in the history. By one evangelist we are told (Matthew xxvi. 37.) “He began to be sorrowful and very heavy; and by another, (Mark xiv. 33.) “And he taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy.” These expressions hold forth the intense and overwhelming distress that his soul was in. Luke's expression in the text of his being in an agony, according to the signification of that word in the original, implies no common degree of sorrow, but such extreme distress that his nature had a most violent conflict with it, as a man that wrestles with all his might with a strong man who labours and exerts his utmost strength to gain a conquest over him.
2. From what Christ himself says of it, who was not wont to magnify things beyond the truth. He says, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” Matth. xxvi. 38. What language can more strongly express the most extreme degree of sorrow? His soul was not only "sorrowful,” but “exceeding sorrowful;" and not only so, but because that did not fully express the degree of his sorrow, he adds “even unto death ;" wbich seems to intimate that the very pains and sorrows of hell, of eternal death had got hold upon him. The Hebrews were wont to express the utmost degree of sorrow that any creature could be liable to by the phrase, the shadow of death. Christ had now, as it were, the shadow of death brought over his soul by the near view which he had of that bitter cup that was now set before him.
3. From the effect which it had on his body, in causing that bloody sweat that we read of in the text. In our translation it is said, that “ his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” The word, rendered great drops, is in the original opoußor, which properly signifies lumps or clots ; for we may suppose that the blood that was pressed out through the pores of his skin by the violence of that inward struggle and conflict that there was, when it came to be exposed to the cool air of the night, congealed and stiffened, as is the nature of blood, and so fell off from him, not in drops, but in clots. If the suffer
, ing of Christ had occasioned merely a violent sweat, it would have shown that he was in great agony; for it must be an extraordinary gries and exercise of mind that causes the body to be all of a sweat abroad in the open air, in a cold night as that was, as is evident from John xviii. 18. " And the servants and officers stood there who had made a fire of coals, (for it was cold) and they warmed themselves; and Peter stood with them, and warmed bimself.” This was the same night in which Christ had his agony in the garden. But Christ's inward distress and grief was not merely such as caused hiin to be in a violent and universal sweat, but such as caused him to sweat blood. The distress and anguish of his mind was so unspeakably extreme as to force his blood through
the pores of his skin, and that so plentifully as to fall in great clots or drops from his body to the ground. I come now to show,
IV. What may be supposed to the special end of God's giving Christ beforehand these terrible views of his last sufferings; in other words, why it was needful that he should have a more full and extraordinary view of the cup that he was to drink, a little before he drank it than ever he had before; or why he must have such a foretaste of the wrath of God to be endured on the cross, before the time came that he was actually to endure it.
Answer. It was needful, in order that he might take the cup and drink it, as knowing what he did. Unless the human nature of Christ had had an extraordinary view given him beforehand of what he was to suffer, he could not, as man, fully know beforehand what he was going to suffer, and therefore could not, as man, know what he did when he took the
to drink it, because he would not fully have known what the cup was—it being a cup that he never drank before. If Christ had plunged himself into those dreadful sufferings, without being fully sensible beforehand of their bitterness and dreadfulness; he must have done he knew not what. As man, he would have plunged himself into sufferings of the amount of which he was ignorant, and so have acted blindfold; and of course his taking upon him these sufferings could not have been so fully his own act. Christ, as God, perfectly knew what these sufferings were; but it was more needful also that he should know as man; for he was to suffer as man, and the act of Christ in taking that cup was the act of Christ, as God man. But the man Christ Jesus hitherto never had had experience of any such sufferings as he was now to endure on the cross; and therefore he could not fully know what they were beforehand, but by having an extraordinary view of them set before him, and an extraordinary sense of them impressed on his mind. We have heard of tortures that others have undergone, but we do not fully know what they were, because we never experienced them; and it is impossible that we should fully know what they were but in one of these two ways, either by experiencing them, or by having a view given of them, or a sense of them impressed in an extraordinary way. Such a sense was impressed on the mind of the man Christ Jesús, in the garden of Gethsemane, of his last sufferings, and that caused his agony. When he had a full sight given him what that wrath of God was that he was to suffer, the sight was overwhelming to him ; it made his soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Christ was going to be cast into a dreadful furnace of wrath, and it was not proper that he should plunge himself into it blindfold, as not knowing how dreadful
the furnace was. Therefore that he might not do so, God first brought him and set him at the mouth of the furnace, that he might look in and stand and view its fierce and raging flames, and might see where he was going, and might voluntarily enter into it and bear it for sinners, as knowing what it was. This view Christ had in his agony. Then God brought the cup that he was to drink, and set it down before him, that he might have a full view of it, and see what it was before he took it and drank it. If Christ had not fully known what the dreadfulness of these sufferings was, before he took them upon him, bis taking them upon him could not have been fully his own act as man; there could have been no explicit act of his will about that which he was ignorant of; there could have been no proper trial, whether he would be willing to undergo such dreadful sufferings or not, unless he had known beforehand how dreadful they were; but when he had seen what they were, by having an extraordinary view given him of them, and then undertaken to endure them afterwards; then he acted as knowing what he did; then his taking that cup, and bearing such dreadful sufferings, was properly his own act by an explicit choice; and so his love to sinners, in that choice of his, was the more wonderful, as also his obedience to God in it. And it was necessary that this extraordinary view that Christ had of the cup he was to drink should be given at that time, just before he was apprehended. This was the most proper season for it, just before he took the cup, and while he yet had opportunity to refuse the cup; for before he was apprehended by the company led by Judas, he had opportunity to make his escape at pleasure. For the place where he was, was without the city, where he was not at all confined, and was a lonesome, solitary place; and it was the night season; so that he might have gone from that place where he would, and his enemies not have known where to have found him. This view that he had of the bitter cup was given him while he was yet fully at liberty, before he was given into the hands of his enemies. Christ's delivering himself up into the hands of his enemies, as he did when Judas came, which was just after his agony, was properly his act of taking the cup in order to drink; for Christ knew that the issue of that would be his crucifixion the next day. These things may show us the end of Christ's agony, and the necessity there was of such an agony before his last sufferings,
1. Hence we may learn how dreadful Christ's last sufferings
We learn it from the dreadful eflect which the bare