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to see who is standing nigh, conforming them to His own great sacrifice? While they were with us, they were not ours, but His: they were permitted to abide with us, and to gladden our hearts a while; but they were living sacrifices, and ever at the point of being caught up to heaven.
And so, lastly, in all that befalls ourselves, we too are not our own, but His; all that we call ours is His; and when He takes it from usfirst one loved treasure, then another, till He makes us poor, and naked, and solitary-let us not sorrow that we are stripped of all we love, but rather rejoice for that God accepts us : let us not think that we are left here, as it were, unseasonably alone, but remember that, by our bereavements, we are in part translated to the world unseen. He is calling us away, and sending on our treasures. The great law of sacrifice is embracing us, and must have its perfect work. Like Him, we must be made "perfect through suffering." Let us pray Him, therefore, to shed abroad in us the mind that was in Christ; that, our will being crucified, we may offer up ourselves to be disposed of as He sees best, whether for joy or sorrow, blessing or chastisement; to be high, or low; to be slighted, or esteemed; to be full, or to suffer need; to have many friends, or to dwell in a lonely home; to be passed by, or called to serve
Him and His kingdom in our own land, or among people of a strange tongue; to be, to go, to do, to suffer, even as He wills, even as He ordains, even as Christ endured, "who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God."
"About the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me ?"
I HAVE chosen these awful words, spoken in our Lord's last agony, that we may have, by the help of the Eternal Spirit through whom He offered Himself to God, a fuller and truer understanding of the depth of His bitter passion. The feelings of our lower nature so strongly draw us to dwell on the crucifixion which He suffered in the flesh, that we think too little of the mystery of His spiritual agony. And yet the pains He suffered in the body are but faint tokens of the agony He suffered in the soul. The torment of the fleshly crucifixion, unutterably great as it was, lasted for a few hours only, and for once; but His spiritual agony was at all times throughout His ministry on earth. He suffered day by day. His last sufferings in the flesh were not endured alone: they were shared
by two men like ourselves, and their fleshly pangs outlasted His. But He was suffering a twofold crucifixion. His cross was, as it were, a sacrament of sorrows, having an outward and an inward anguish. Our eyes fasten on the material cross, the outward and earthlier, the more human portion of His sufferings: but His intenser agonies were all within; his keenest anguish was the spiritual cross: and this is what we will now for a while consider.
In these words of the twenty-second Psalm, it is plain that He spoke of more than His agonising death. They were no doubt in part wrung from Him by the torment of His wounded body; but they have a deeper meaning. This forsaking was manifestly one of a more awful and oppressive kind. Of such a holy mystery it is hard to speak without seeming to be guilty of an over-boldness, which makes our thoughts sound like irreverence: it is a depth rather to be mused over than to be spoken of: so that when we hear our own thoughts aloud, they seem almost more than we designed to venture on.
Let us, then, consider the nature of His spiritual cross. It was the being brought under all the conditions of a sinner, though Himself without sin. Sin tried upon Him all its powers; first to lure, afterwards to destroy. As, for instance:
1. He was tempted by direct suggestions of evil.
We read that He "was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." It was a foremost part of His warfare with the powers of spiritual wickedness. All before Him had sinned. Satan had won his masteries over all. The first man Adam, the patriarchs, prophets, and saints, all God's earthly servants in their day had sinned. Hitherto the prince of this world had triumphed, carrying all before him. But now was manifested one more servant of God, with whom the whole contest lay. He was brought into the world as the leader and prince of saints; and all powers of evil thronged about Him. How far the true mystery of His person was known, is not revealed to us: but we find the tempter saying, "If thou be the Son of God," plainly shewing that he knew at least the name of Jesus. Be this as it may, all powers of evil gathered upon Him, and strove with Him. He was assailed with a temptation to mistrust His heavenly Father, to be vainly confident of God's protection, to forego His own allegiance and homage for a mighty bribe. All these suggestions of evil were made to pass vividly before His spiritual consciousness; and who shall conceive the pangs of such a trial? The lures of sin are hateful just in the measure of the holiness of him that is tempted. A sinner has no distress in the worst solicitations of evil; even though resisted, it is not the solicitation,