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THE

COMPARATIVE COINCIDENCE

OF

REASON AND SCRIPTURE.

CHAPTER I.

OUR last volume having concluded by recording the triumphant victory obtained by our blessed Saviour over our infirmities, and the power of darkness, in the garden of Gethsemane, we proceed to remark that this conquest was most glorious and illustrious; for the greater and more complicated were the extent of the obstacles to the performance of duty and the display of perfect magnanimity with which the great Redeemer was destined to conflict and overcome, was the extent of the merit of his conquest. To resist the mean and importunate impulses which extreme timidity, sudden panic,* and excessive horror would

* It is probable that our blessed Lord twice experienced this dire sensation in the garden of Gethsemane. First, when he began to suffer from a deprivation of divine comforts; and, secondly, on his finding an imperious necessity for his sufferings.

VOL. III.

B

excite; when in the very midst of all the torments which these sensations were capable of producing, to act in direct opposition to them; and instead of cowardly skulking away from danger, to rise up at once and meet it with firm presence of mind, unshaken resolution, and undaunted courage; though oppressed, afflicted, and dejected, to evince the most determined and spirited intrepidity, was the highest possible augmentation of the glory of the triumph.

Dr. More truly remarks, "that Christ's continued resolution in the midst of such dreadful agonies and horrors, was the most heroic that can be imagined, and far superior to valour in single combat, or in battle, when surrounded by fellowsoldiers."* And Doddridge observes, on the wonderful scene we have just contemplated, "That though the sorrow and amazement, distress and anguish he endured, were such, that in his agony the sweat ran from him like great drops of blood; though no human enemy was near, yet such invisible terrors set themselves in array against him, that his very soul was poured out like water; nor was there any circumstance of his sufferings in which he discovered a greater commotion of spirit; nevertheless his pure and holy soul bare all this without any irregular perturbation. In all this he sinned not by a murmuring word or an impatient thought; he shone the brighter for the furnace of affliction, and gave us at once the most wonderful and the most amiable pattern of resignation to the Divine dis

* See More's Theological Works, page 28.

posal, when he said, Father, not as I will, but as thou wilt."*

We are disposed to conjecture that when this dreadful struggle was decided, the violent agitation of the Saviour's animal frame did pro. bably abate. There is no period of condemned malefactors' sufferings in which they for the most part evince so much mental misery, and consequent corporeal agitation, as while enduring a state of suspense, vainly indulging the hope of a reprieve, and at the awful moment which terminates their delusion. And the torturing period when the human nature of the blessed Redeemer evinced such excessive commotions, was clearly while enduring a state of suspense; struggling with those distressing doubts which we have noted in the foregoing relation; indulging the hope of escape, and at the terrific moment which banished every hope of escaping his irrevocable doom. An undecided state of mind is in itself a state of uneasiness, but when the pendant question to be solved carries momentous import, touching so closely as to compel us speedily to determine whether stern duty does insist upon our patiently submitting to the endurance of an excruciating death, or whether we can with unblemished virtue save ourselves from it, it then becomes a state of torment, eminently calculated to agonize our animal frame.

We do of course suppose, annexed to the perplexity, power to refuse the endurance of the impending calamity. This This power was in many

Doddridge.

instances possessed by the early Christian martyrs, who nobly rejected temporal deliverance, that they might obtain eternal. And this power by our blessed Saviour was completely possessed; the glorious act was all his own; and when the conflict was decided, and he gone forth to meet his deadly foes with patient resignation, the violent agitation of his human nature appears to have subsided, as we find no further mention, though this distress was to be soon succeeded by those very sufferings, the apprehension of which, as Dr. Porteus observes, "he so acutely felt, and so earnestly deprecated." But though the violent commotion of the blessed Redeemer's corporeal frame was probably abated at this momentous crisis, yet there is much reason to believe that the dreadful horrors with which he was seized on his entrance into the garden of Gethsemane, continued to molest him (perhaps) with unabated violence, during the doleful scenes on which he was then entering; as it was just previous to his departure from the garden he declared that this was the hour delivered by God unto the power of darkness; and furthermore, by its being just as his agonies both of mind and body were on the point of terminating, that we find him uttering that most lamentable exclamation, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" rendering it certain that he was left to wade through his succeeding sufferings unsuccoured by his Father's consolation, heightening and enhancing the glory of that dignified magnanimity which in every stage and in every circumstance of his unparalleled trials he so eminently displayed.

"Now when our Lord was thus retired to the garden, Judas also that betrayed him, knew the place; for Jesus often resorted thither in company with his disciples, and had particularly done it again and again since his coming up to spend this passover at Jerusalem. (Compare Luke xxi. 37.) Judas therefore, taking with him a band of soldiers, or a Roman cohort, with their captain, (see ver. 12,) and some Jewish officers, sent for that purpose from the chief priests and other Pharisees belonging to the Sanhedrim, who were chiefly concerned in this affair, came thither with torches and lamps and hostile weapons, which they brought with them, though it was now full moon, to use their arms if they should meet with any opposition, or to discover him by their lights if he should go about to hide himself, as they foolishly imagined he might, among the private walks or other recesses of the garden.

“And immediately, while he was yet speaking to his disciples, and giving them the alarm already recorded, behold this very Judas, one of the twelve apostles, came into the garden, and with him a great multitude of persons of very different stations and offices in life, who were sent with authority from the chief priests and scribes and elders of the people. And more effectually to execute their orders, they were armed with swords and staves to seize him by violence, if any resistance should be made to the attempt; and there were also with them some persons of superior rank and quality, who full of impatient and malicious zeal, could

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