« ПредишнаНапред »
not in God your Saviour. Recollect your former wretched and helpless condition. Remember, if you can, the time when the Lord first looked upon you with a favourable regard. Recollect too, the many endearing proofs of his bounty, which you have often since that period received. But especially anticipate the exultation of that blessed day, when all the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; and when the Father of mercies, with a smile of infinite benignity, shall say, as he bids all heaven make merry, and be glad, “ These my children were dead, and are alive again; they were lost, and are found.”.
ON THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST.
HEB. iv. 15. For we have not a High-Priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
There are times, Christians, when we delight in no subjects so much as in those which relate to the grandeur of our blessed Redeemer. We can reflect on the dignity and splendor of his exaltation with rapture, and, I had almost said, are proud of the magnificence of the King of Glory. In the warmth of our affection and zeal, we are ready, like the hasty disciples, to call for fire from heaven, on those who speak disrespectfully of him whom we love, or who lightly esteem this rock of our salvation. We rejoice and triumph in a glorified Saviour. But there are also times--I believe that I do not mistake-say, Christians, if there be not times when you have different feelings blended with those lively and delightful emotions. You would not for the world admit any
unbecoming thoughts of Christ's exaltation ; yet you are secretly discouraged by it; as if his own glory would divert him from those tender regards for us which he once professed, and which our circumstances require. I know not how to account for this, but by confesse
ing, that we are too much influenced by sense and fancy. We imagine the man Christ Jesus to be altógether such an one as ourselves, and judge of his disposition and behaviour by the temper and conduct of others. We are often shocked with instances of persons, who having been suddenly and greatly advanced in life, and forgetting their old acquaintance, are shy of their best friends, and disown their obscure and indigent relations. If they condescend to show them any regard in private, they care not that the world should think they have, or ever had, any 'connexion with men of so mean and contemptible an appearance. Because we see them acting in so unbrotherly and unnatural a manner, unbelief suggests, that he who calls himself our elder brother, may discover a similar spirit. Had we been present with Christ when he appeared in our world, we please ourselves to think how freely we might have conversed with him, and how readily he would have pitied and relieved us. “ But since he is gone into a far country, and has received a kingdom, who knows,” we are ready to say, “how he is affected ?" I answer, the Spirit of God knows, and declares it to us in the text; “ We have not a high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Here the double negative is the most positive affirmation ; abundantly stronger, and more expressive, than if the Apostle had barely said, “ For we have a high-priest which can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." We have ; not, we had formerly, as if Christ had left his compassions when he went away. Thie Apostle bad represented him in all his celestial
deur ; and lest any should thence conclude, that, being passed into the heavens, he will be less concerned about his people on earth, he says, as it were, in our text, “ Let none think that the dignity of his glorified state has made him proud or forgetful. It is the same Jesus who was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; who was bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh ; and who, in all things, submitted to be made like to his brethren ; and, therefore, his heart is infinitely gracious, though his state is inconceivably glorious."
The difference in the Apostle's address, according to the different characters and ages of the persons to whom he wrote, is very observable. When he was writing to the Gentiles, he reminds them of their miserable condition before they were called to the knowledge of Christ by the gospel. “ Remember, (says he,) that at that time ye were without Christ ; being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise ; having no hope, and without God in the world:” But in treating with the Jews, he shows them, that, so far from being losers by embracing Christianity, they had all their former privileges unspeakably improved. They had a high-priest under the law, whose office was the life and glory of their worship; and we have also our High-priest under the gospel, who is the life and glory of our profession and obedience. The church has never lost any privileges once granted to it, by any alterations which God has made in his various dispensations.
Our Lord Jesus is in our text called a high-priest in a relative sense, or with reference to his type under
the law of Moses: but he is emphatically entitled to this appellation, because of the dignity of his person, the nature of his work, and the eminence of his endowments.
It is now our intention to illustrate this sentiment, expressed in the words before us, That, amidst all his glory, Christ truly and tenderly sympathizes with his suffering servants: and we shall briefly consider the nature, the objects, and the reality, of his sympathy.
First, The nature of the sympathy of Christ.
The word which is here rendered, " touched with a feeling," signifies to have compassion, to suffer, to grieve, to condole and lament with ; and is not to be taken metaphorically only, but has a proper and literal meaning. This I mention, to distinguish the pity of Christ as man and mediator, from that of God. God, who is a pure and perfect spirit, is represented as exercising pity. “ In all their affliction he was afflicted; and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them." But this is not to be understood literally. Real sympathy, as it implies suffering, belongs not to God. The
perfection of his nature raises him above it; and therefore these expressions mean, that he is as ready to help us, as if he felt our misery himself. But Christ, being man, has all the real affections of human nature. He has not the name, or the similitude only, but an experimental feeling of our distress. Indeed, in the glorified Mediator, it cannot be really afflictive, yet it is greatly impressive. This I mention, to dis. tinguish his compassions in heaven, from what they were on earth. The latter were attended with unea. siness. He was really pained in body, and grieved in