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Reflections on a Resolution to suffer for Christ.
I M P R O V E M E N T. Co feeble is the Heart of Man, and yet so ready to trust to its own Sect. 181.
Strength! So gracious is the Lord Yesus Christ, that great Shepherd! W and Bishop of Souls, who gave himself to be smitten for his Flock, when Mat. xxvi. they had forsaken him ; and then returning, sought them out again, and fed them in richer Pastures than before !
How reasonable is it, that our Hearts should be fixed in the most · inflexible Resolution for his Service ! How fit, that we should every one
of us say with the utmost Determination of Soul, Lord, tho' I Would die Ver. 35. with thee, yet will I not deny thee! For how could Death wear a more graceful, or a more pleasing Form, than when it met us close by our Saviour's Side, and came as the Seal of our Fidelity to him?
Surely this is the Language of many of our Hearts before him, especially when warmed and animated by a Sense of his dying Love to us. Yet' let us not be high-minded; for Peter after this Declaration denied his Ver. 34, 35. Master; and all the Disciples. forsook him. Nor, on the other hand, let the View of that Frailty discourage, tho' it ought to caution us; for the Time came, when each of them acted as they here spoke ; and they who in his very Presence acted so weak a Part, thro’ the Influences of his strengthening Spirit refifted unto Blood, and loved not their Lives unto the Death for the Testimony of Jesus. (Rev. xii. 11.)
his Agony there ; during which his Disciples fall asleep,
MAT. XXVI. 36.
with them unto a Place 1 ples. Felus comes with them to the Place we called Gethsemane ; and
ye (LUK, mentioned above, which was called Gethsemane. Mat. XXVI.
as being a very pleasant and fertile Garden (a):
(a) Called Gethsemane, as being a very pleasant and fertile Garden.] It is well known, that D'inw x'd fignifies the Valley of Fatness. The Garden probably had its Name from Vol. II.
498 He takes Peter, James, and John with him into the Garden : Sect. 182. And when he was arrived just at the Entrance into [LUK. when he was at the w the Place whither he was used to retire, be Jays to Disciples, Sit ye here, while
Place, he] faith unto [his] Mat. XXV XVI. Eight of his Disciples, Sit ye down here a while, I go and pray yonder.
and observe what passes abroad, while I go and (MARK XIV. 32. LUKE pray in yonder Retirement.
. And as this was a very extraordinary Paffage 37 And he took with of his Life, he took along with him Peter, and the him Peter, and the two Sons two Sons of Zebedee, James
me of Zebedee, [ James and
John,) and began to be lor.. been Witnesses of his Transfiguration, and were rowfuí, [fore amazed,) and now chosen by him to be Witnesses of his Agony: very heavy. [MARK XIV. And as he went on with them towards a more 33.1 retired Part of the Garden, he began to be in a very great and visible Dejection, Amazement, and Anguish of Mind (6), on Account of some painful and dreadful Sensations which were then im
pressed upon his Soul by the immediate Hand of 38 God. Then turning to his Three Disciples, 38 Thon faith he unto
he says to them, My Friends, you never saw me them, My Soul is exceeding in greater Distress than now ; for my Soul is fur
sorrowful, even unto Death:
tarry rounded on all Sides with an Extremity of Anguish
its Soil and Situation, and lay in some little Valley between Two of those many Hills, the Range of which constitutes the Mount of Olives; and it is with some peculiar Reference to this Situation, that some have rendered it Torcular Olei, or a Fat of Oil.
(6) He began to be in great Dejection, Amazement, and Anguish of Mind.] The Words which our Transators use here, are very fat, and fall vastly short of the Emphasis of those Terms, in which the Evangelists describe this awful Scene : For autetatal signifies to be penetrated with the most lively and piercing Sorrow; and ad nuover to be quite depressed and almost overwhelmed with the Load: Mark expresses it, if poflible, in a more forcible and stronger Manner ; for exdoubce a imports the most shocking Mixture of Terror and Amazement ; and aspinutos in the next Derse intimates, that he was surrounded with it on every Side, so that it broke in upon him with such Violence, that, humanly speaking, there was no Way of Escape. I have endeavoured, as well as I could, to express each of these Ideas in the Paraphrafe. Dr. More truly obferves, that Christ's continued Refolution, in the midst of these Agonies and supernatural Horrors, was the most heroic that can be imagined, and far superior to Valour in Single Combat, or in Battle ; where, in one Case, the Spirit is raised by natural Indignation, and in the other, by the Pomp of War, the Sound of martial Musick, the Example of Fellow-Soldiers, &c. (See More's Theolog. Works, p. 38.)
Dr. Whitby will not allow, that these Agonies, arose from the immediate Hand of GOD upon him; which he thinks not to be the Cafe, even of the Damned in Hell. But it seems impossible to prove that it is not. He rather thinks, it might arise from a deep Apprehention of the Malignity of Sin, and the Misery brought upon the World by it. But considering how much the Mind of Christ was wounded and broken with what he now endured, so as to give some greater external Signs of Distress, than in any other Circumstance of his Sufferings, there is Reason to conclude, there was something extraordinary in the Degree of the Impression : And it surely comes much to the same, whether we say, that GOD by his own immediate Agency impressed some uncommon Horrors on his Mind; or that the Strength of his Spirits, and perhaps the Tone of his Nerves, were so impaired, that the View he had of these Things thould affect him to a Degree of exquisite and uncommon Sensibility,
And prays, that if possible the Cup might pass from him. 499 nury ve here and watch and Sorrors which tortures me encen almoft wuto Sed ilo with me: (Luk. and pray, Death ; and I know that the Infirmity of Humans that ye enter not into Temp
Mat. XXVI. brin'n MARK XIV. . Nature must quickly sink under it without someo LUKE XXII.-40.] extraordinary Relief from God; to him there
fore I will apply with the greatest Earnestness :
falling by it. See Mat. xxvi. 31. Sect. 181. MARK XIV. 35. And he And going on a little Way from thence into a Mark XIV. went forward a little, (Luk. more retired Part of the Garden, when he was 35. and was withdrawn from
now withdrawn about a Stone's Throw from the and kneeled down,) and fell Place where he left them, be first humbly knelt (on his Face]on the Ground, down, and then, as the Ardor of his Devotion and prayed, that if it were increased, he próstrated himself on his Face to the poffible The Hour might pass from him. [MAT. XXVI. Ground, and prayed, that if it were posible, that 39.-- LUKE XXII. 41.] dreadful Season of Sorrow, with which he was
then almoft overwhelmed, might be thortened, 36 And he said, Abba, and pass from him. And be said, Abba, Father, 36 Father, all Things are pofli- I know that all Things proper to be done are pofa ble unto thee; TO my father, if it be pollable, take pble to thee ; and oh my Father, if it be so far away this Cup, [and let it posible, as to consist with what thy Wisdom has passs from me ; neverthe appointed for the Advancement of thy Glory, and Jess, not what I will, but
the Salvation of thy People, I earnestly beseech
thee, that thou immediately wouldīt take away
(c) Watch with me.) Had they done this carefully, they would foon have found a rich Equivalent for their watchful Care, in the eminent Improvement of their Graces by this wonderful and edifying Sight.
(d). Take away this Cup. Nothing is more common, than to express a Portion of Comfort or Distress by a Cup, alluding to the Custom of the Father of a Family, or Master of a Feast, to send to his Children or Guests a Cup of such Liquor as he designed for them. See Note (C) on Mat. XX. 22. pag. 266. and compare with the Texts which are there referred to, Pfal. xvi. 5. xxiii. 5. lxxv. 8. Yer. xvi. 7. xlix. 12. Lam. iv. 21. Ezek. xxiii. 32, 33. Hab, ii. 16. and Rev. xiv, 10. xvi. 19. In some of which Texts there may, perhaps, be a Reference to the Way of executing, some Criminals by sending them a Cup of Poison ; which is well known to have been an Eastern, thonot (so far as I can learn) a Jewiss Custom:
Hab. ivi. s. xxiii. 5. 2;. pag266. and a cup of such Licher of a Family, ortion of Comfort
His Disciples sleep, and are exhorted to Watchfulness.
500 Se£t. 182. resolve to say, Not as I will, but as thou wilt ; for
t ho' Nature cannot but shrink back from these
Sufferings, it is the determinate Purpose of my
shall see fit to appoint.
the Disciples,] and findeth
them sleeping ; and faith the Three Disciples, and notwithstanding the Dif- unto Peter, Simon, sleepest tress that he was in, and the Command that he thou ? couldst not thou had given them to watch, he finds them all asleep: watch one Hour? (What,
: could ye not watch with me And be particularly says to Peter, (who had but one Hour:MAT,XXVI. lately made such solemn Protestations of his pe- 40.] culiar Zeal and Fidelity,) What, Simon, dost thou sleep at such a Time as this ? and after thou hadît just declared thy Resolution to die with me, coulds thou so soon forget thy Promise to stand by me, and not so much as watch or keep awake but for one Hour, when I was in such an Agony ? And you that were to ready to join with him in the same Profession, could neither of you be mindful of me, and in this Time of my extream Distress were ....
ye all fo unable to watch one single Hour with me? 38. I must again exhort you, to watch and pray with 38 Watch ye, and pray, : the greatest Earneftness, that ye may not enter into belt ye enter into Tempta.
tion: the Spirit truly is and fall by that Temptation, which is now ap- willing ] but the Flesh is proaching (e): The Spirit indeed is forward and weak. (MAT. XXVI. 41.) ready to express the dutiful Regard that you have for me, and I know, your Resolutions of adhering to me are very sincere ; but yet, as your', own present Experience may convince you, the Flesh is weak (f), and as you have been so far prevailed upon by its Infirmities, as to fall asleep at this very unseasonable Time, so if you are not
in . more (e) Watch and pray, &c.] How poorly is this Exhortation answered by those Vigils and Nocturnal Offices of the Romish Church, which are said to have had their Original from hence? Rhemijl Teftam. pag. 79. — I think it more proper on a Review, to render sles 8xigurale in the preceding Verse, with Dr. Hammond, Were ye fo unable Or, than to retain our Version of s7ws, what, which seems a less common and less forcible Sense.
0 The Spirit indeed is forward and ready, but the Flesh is weak.) So gentle a Rebuke, and so kind an Apology, (as Archbishop Tillotson very justly and beautifully observes,) were the more remarkable, as our Lord's Mind was now discomposed with Sorrow, so that he must have the deeper and tenderer Sense of the Unkindness of his Friends. (See Tillotf. Works, Vol. ii. pag. 435.) - How apt are we to think Affiliation an Excuse for Peevishness? But how unlike are we to Christ in that Thought, and how unkind to ourselves, as well as our Friends, to whom in such Circumstances, with our best Temper, we must be more tro blesome than we could with!
He repeats his Prayer with Submiffion to his Father's Will. 501
i more upon your Guard, and more importunate Sect. 182
in seeking for Affistance from Above, it will soon ?
gain a much greater Victory over you.
ther, if it be necessary, in pursuance of the great
Flesh and Blood.
down with Weariness and Sorrow : And he ad-
fame Fault again. Mat. XXVI. 44. And And having roused them for the present from Mat. XXVI. he left them, and went away their Sleep, he left them, and went away again, 44. again, and prayed the third Time, saying the same and prayed the third Time, speaking much the same Words;
Words as before, or offering Petitions to the same LUKE XXII. 42: Say. Effect (6); Saying, Father, if thou pleasest to Luke XXII. ing, Father, if thou be willing remove this Cup from take away this Cup from me, and to excuse me 42.
me; from the Continuance of this bitter Anguilh and
(8) Speaking much the same Words.] It is plain, by comparing ver. 39. and 42. that the Words were not entirely the same ; and it is certain, that nog os often fignifies Matter : So that no more appears to be intended, than that he prayed to the fame Purpose as before,
(b) Take away this Cup from me.] The observing Reader will easily perceive by the Paraphrase, that I do not suppose our Lord here prayed to be excused entirely from Sufferings and Death. Such a Petition appears to me so inconsistent with that steady Constancy he always shewed, and with that lively Turn, (John xii. 27, 28. pag. 306.) in which he seems to disown such a Prayer, that I think even Hooker's Solution, tho the best I have met with, is not satisfactory. (Hooker's Ecclef. Polity, lib. v. $. 48.) It appears to me much safer to expound it, as Sir Matthew Hale does, (in his contemplations, Vol. i. pag. 59.) as relating