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THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, AND THEIR CONSEQUENT JOYS
Isaiah liï. 10, 11.—When thou shalt make his soul an
offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.
This chapter contains a most lively and moving account of
very tragical sufferings; and, if we have but a small share of humanity, we cannot hear it without being affected, even though we did not know the person concerned. Here is one so mangled and disfigured, that he has no form nor comeliness; one despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; one wounded, bruised, oppressed, afflicted; one brought as a lamb to the slaughter; one cut off out of the land of the living. And
* The sermon is dated Hanover, (a county in Virginia,) July 11, 1756 ; and is evidently a Sacramental Discourse. VOL. II.-2
who is he? Were he an enemy, or a malefactor, we could not but pity him. But this was not his character; “for he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” And he was so far from being our enemy, that “ he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities,” not for his own. Were he a child or a friend that had suffered such things, it would raise all our mournful and sympathizing passions to hear the history. But what if this should be the man that is God's fellow, the Redeemer, to whom we are bound by the most endearing obligations ! a person of infinite dignity and perfect innocence, our best friend, and only Saviour! What if it should be he? Would not this move your hearts, and raise all your tender passions? Or shall he die in such agonies unpitied, unlamented, unbeloved, when even a dying criminal excites our compassion? What do you think would be the issue, if I should make an experiment of this to-day? If I should make a trial, what weight will the sufferings of Jesus have upon your hearts? Do you think the representation of his sufferings and love would have any effect upon you? That they may have this effect, is my design in the prosecution of this subject; for that it is Jesus who is the hero of this deep tragedy, or the subject of these sufferings, we may learn from the frequent application of passages quoted from this chapter to him in the New Testament. This chapter has been a successful part of the Scriptures, and there are some now in heaven who were brought thither by it. This is the chapter the Ethiopian eunuch was reading, when he asked Philip,
Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or some other man?" and Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus: and he believed with all his heart and was baptized; and went on
his way homeward (and heavenward) rejoicing. Acts viii. 32, 35. This was the chapter that opened to the penitent Earl of Rochester the way of salvation through the sufferings of Christ, which alone relieved his mind from the horrors of guilt, and constrained him to hope that even such a sinner as he might find mercy. Oh! that it may have the same effect upon you, my brethren, to-day, that with the eunuch you may return home rejoicing!
The design and method I now have in view, is only to illustrate and improve the several parts of my text, especially those that represent how pleasing and satisfactory the conversion and salvation of sinners, by the death of Christ, is to him.
1. “When* thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.”+ An offering for sin is when the punishment of sin is transferred from the original offender to another, and that other person suffers in his stead. Thus the Lord Jesus was made a sin-offering for us. The punishment of our sin was transferred to him, and he bore it in his own body on the tree. He became our substitute, and took our place in law, and therefore the penalty of the law due to us was executed upon him. It is in this, my brethren, that we have any hope of salvation : blood for blood, life for life, soul for soul : the blood, the life, the soul of the Son of God, for the blood, and life, and soul of the obnoxious criminal. Here, sirs, your grateful wonder may begin to rise upon our first entrance on the subject; and
will find the wonders will increase as we go along.
* The particle bere rendered when is more generally rendered if; and then the sentence will read thus: “If thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin ;" the consequence will be, that " he shall see his seed,” &c.
† Or “when thou shalt make his soul sin.” It is a common Scripture phrase, whereby a sin-offering is called sin. And it is sometimes retained in our translation, particularly in 2 Cor. v. 21. “ He hath made him to be sin;" that is, a sin-offering for us, &c.