Imágenes de páginas

and with his own blood to have entered into the holy place not made with hands, and to have appeared as before the mercy-seat in the presence of God for us.

Q. What did our Saviour suffer?

A. When the blessed Jesus took upon him human nature, be became subject to all the frailties, and infirmities, and sufferings of mortality. His whole life, from his birth in the stable to his death upon the cross, was a life of suffering; particularly in his last bitter passion, he suffered most exquisite pains and tortures in his body, and unutterable fears, and sorrows, and anguish in his soul.

Q. Was not the death of Christ in the highest degree ignominious and painful?

A. After the Saviour had been buffeted, scourged, spit upon, and mocked by the people and their rulers, he suffered the painful and ignominious death of the cross. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment, and considered as the most ignominious and painful: it was painful, because those parts of the body which are most sensible of pain were pierced with nails, and the death was lingering; and the punishment of crucifixion was ignominious, because it was inflicted only upon the vilest criminals.

Q. How does it appear that our Saviour suffered in his mind?

A. In the garden of Gethsemane his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; and he prayed thrice with vehemence, that the cup might pass from him. The agony of his soul forced a passage through the innumerable pores of his body, and he sweat drops of blood. Suffering on the cross the holy indignation of God against the sins of man which he sustained, he broke out in the bitter exclamation, 46 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"

Q. What was the cause of the anguish and agony which the Saviour suffered?

A. God laid on his Son Jesus Christ the iniquities of mankind. The Saviour, possessed of perfect knowledge, fully understood the infinite evil and guilt of the sins of men which he sustained: he was inflamed with the most ardent desire to maintain the authority of God, which he knew these sins violated: he considered that the fallen race of man, whom he tenderly loved, lay under the wrath of God, on account of these sins: the infinite purity of his nature must have inspired him with the deepest abhorrence of all iniquity. If we consider all these circumstances, we shall

not wonder at his anguish and agony. For if the view of the guilt of his own sins alone, which he but imperfectly conceives, fills the sinner with bitter sorrow and remorse; no bounds can be set to the grief of the Saviour, no measures to his anguish, which proceeded from a full apprehension of the transgressions of so many millions of sinners. The Lord laid on him the iniquities of all mankind.

Q. Why was it necessary that Christ should thus suffer? A. Christ suffered, that he might teach us to expect suffering, and to afford us an example of patience and resignation: he suffered, that he might assure us of his sympathy and compassion for us under all our afflictions: he suffered, that he might admit us to a share in those everlasting glories which were the reward of his sufferings. The principal object of his sufferings was to redeem us from sin and everlasting death, by making an atonement for our sins: for remission of sin being impossible, by the inscrutable decree of God, without effusion of blood, our redemption could not be wrought but by the blood of the Redeemer: the sufferings and death of Christ, being of infinite value and efficacy, expiated the guilt of our transgressions. The blood of Christ is called the blood of the covenant; because God, in consideration of the sufferings and death of Christ, was pleased to establish a covenant of grace and mercy, wherein he promises and engages to forgive the sins of all those who truly repent and believe.

Q. How do you prove from Scripture, that Christ, by his sufferings and death, made an atonement for our sins?

A. Christ himself declares, "that he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many;"k that "his blood is shed for many, for the remission of sins." He represents himself as "the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep."m St. Paul expressly declares, that "Christ died for the ungodly ;"" that " he died for our sins, according to the Scriptures;" that he tasted death for every man." The ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews treats at large of the doctrine, that Christ" appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself." St. Peter says, "that we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ;" and St. John declares, that Christ" is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours

j Heb. x. 29.
m John x. 11.
p Heb. ii. 9.

k Matt. xx. 28.

n Rom. v. 6.
q 1 Pet. i. 19.

1 Matt. xxvi. 28.

o 1 Cor. xv. 2.

only, but for the sins of the whole world." That Christ made, by his sufferings and death, an atonement for sin, is a doctrine which lies at the foundation of the Christian system, and affords the most lively display of the infinite love of God, and the most animating motives to trust in his mercy.

Q. How do you vindicate the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction, or the substitution of an innocent person to suffer for the guilty?

4. The scheme of vicarious satisfaction is not unjust; because the Saviour was infinitely willing to suffer in the place of man; and God, who was offended, was willing to accept the satisfaction of the substitute. The scheme is not unreasonable; because a greater good was obtained, by affording sinful man, through the satisfaction of Christ, an opportunity of obtaining everlasting happiness, than could have been obtained, by inflicting on man, personally, the punishment of his transgressions: and by the suffering of Christ in the place of man, the authority of God, and the dignity of his government, are maintained, and a glorious display afforded of all the divine perfections.

Q. Did Christ suffer in his divine nature?

A. The divine nature is of infinite and eternal happiness, and therefore incapable of suffering. Our blessed Saviour suffered, therefore, only in his human nature. But since there was a mysterious, but intimate conjunction of both the divine and human natures in his person, the attributes, properties, actions, and passions of the one may, with propriety, be attributed to the other; and therefore, as Christ was the Son of God, as well as the Son of man, it may be said that his sufferings were the sufferings of God the Son.

Q. What instruction should we derive from the commemoration of the sufferings of Christ?

A. Since it was necessary that the Son of God should take upon him our nature, and suffer and die to atone for our sins, we should learn the infinite evil and guilt of sin, and should be excited sincerely and deeply to confess our unworthiness, and renounce our sins. The sufferings of Christ should impress us with a lively sense of his infinite love towards us, and excite us gratefully and zealously to serve him. The enjoyments of this life cannot be so valuable, nor its calamities so considerable, as we are apt to suppose, since the blessed Saviour himself was destitute of

z. 1. John ii. 2.

the common comforts and conveniences of life, and shared so largely in its afflictions and sufferings. Prosperity, therefore, is not a certain sign of God's favour, nor affliction an evidence of his displeasure. We should bear with patience and resignation the evils of this life, which we deserve to suffer, since our innocent Redeemer sustained infinitely greater sufferings on our account. The sufferings of Christ too should animate us with the joyful confidence, that we have an almighty Intercessor and Guide, who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and who will, therefore, be always as ready as he is able to support and succour us under all our trials. The contemplation of the sufferings of the Son of God for us, who were his enemies, is one of the most powerful means of subduing in our hearts the emotions of malice and revenge, and of cherishing the sentiments of benevolence and charity.





WHAT is the fast of this day designed to comme


A. The fast of Easter Even is designed to commemorate the state in which our Saviour was between his death and his resurrection; for, "after he died for us, he was buried, and went down into hell."

Q. In what sense is the descent of Christ into hell to be understood?

A. There would be no impropriety in supposing that, in the interval between his death and resurrection, Christ went in the place of condemned spirits, to proclaim, in the kingdom or residence of the great adversary and destroyer of men, the glorious triumphs of his cross. But Christ's de

Though the Church, by reciting, in the epistle for this day, the passage. which is commonly applied (doubtless improperly) to prove Christ's descent into the place of torment, may be thought to favour this opinion; yet, from the rubric before the Apostles' Creed, it appears that she considers Christ's descent into hell as meant of his descent into the place of departed spirits,

scent into hell is, with more propriety, thought to mean his descent into the place where the souls of the faithful rest in hope till the resurrection. The word hell is expressed in the original by two words,* one of which is used to denote the place of torment, and the other the place of departed spirits; and in this latter signification it is supposed to be

used in the Creed.

Q. What proof have you from Scripture, of the existence of a place where the souls of the departed rest till the resurrection?

A. The Scriptures represent the rewards of heaven, and the punishments of hell, as adjudged to the righteous and the wicked at the general judgment after the resurrection. As, therefore, it is contrary to reason and Scripture to suppose that, after death, the soul is for any time in a state of insensibility, the souls of the righteous and the wicked must remain till the general judgment, in a state distinct from the proper heaven of happiness and hell of torments; the souls of the righteous, in the joyful expectation of the consummation of their bliss, both in body and soul, in the heavenly kingdom of their Saviour; and the souls of the wicked, in the fearful anticipation of being doomed to that hell of torments, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.†

Q. What provision has the Church made for our devotion on this day?

A. The Church, on this day, directs us to private acts of meditation and abstinence; and calls us, in her public service, to a consideration of the glorious consequences of our Saviour's death, burial, and resurrection, which are set forth in the lessons, epistle, and gospel for the day.

Q. In what manner was our Saviour buried?

A. According to what was predicted concerning the Messiah, Christ" made his grave with the rich." Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, and a disciple of Jesus, begged his body from Pilate; and having wrapt it in a linen cloth, put it into his own new tomb; which the Jews rendered secure, by shutting it up with a stone, sealing the stone, and setting a

Téerve and adus.

For a more full explanation of Christ's descent into hell, the reader is referred to an excellent sermon of Bishop Seabury; and the author, in an appendix to an Address at the Funeral of the Right Rev. Bishop Moore, has endeavoured to give a complete view of the doctrine of the descent into hell

s Isa. liii. 9.

« AnteriorContinuar »