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spirit. But there is nothing of perturbation or un. happiness above: however, the sense which he has of our condition, is as effectual, and as much for our good, as if he were painfully affected by our miseries. He is as much disposed to help us, as desirous of our salvation; as warmly pleads our cause in heaven, and as eagerly resents the injuries done us on earth, as if he were suffering the same things himself.
Secondly. Consider the objects of his sympathy.
They are his people on earth, under all their infir. mities, and all their afflictions. Though Christ is sat down among glorified saints, we must not think that he confines his love and favour to them. Those on earth are as much his purchase and charge, as those in heaven ; and as their circumstances call for greater pity, so we may be certain, that he will not be deficient in compassion or regard. Did he not leave the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness, to go after that which was lost; and is he not as compassionate since his return? Certainly he is; and attends to our concerns amidst the glories of heaven. For Christ is not entered into the holy places, made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself; now to appear in the presence of God for us. We must not think that, because eminent saints are distressed, persec.ited, and tempted, Christ is regardless of their welfare. He sympathizes with them in their afflictions, and interests himself for their deliverance. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” But when they are tempted to sin, and feel that depravity which they lament and oppose, so that they cannot do the things which they would, does the sympathy of Christ then reach to them? Yes; for, though he never did any thing that was in the least degree sinful, he has been strongly tempted to it, and has suffered greatly for it; and “ in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempt. ed.” Neither the extremity of affliction, nor disala lowed and resisted sin, are proofs of the withdrawing of our Saviour's condolence. Thirdly. We proceed to speak of the reality of
. his compassion.
This appears from his taking our nature upon him. One important design of his incarnation, was to ren. der him as a mediator, tender-hearted and merciful. “Wherefore, in all things, it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest in things pertaining to God; and to make reconciliation for the sins of his people. His assuming our nature, indeed, did not increase the mercifulness of God, for nothing can be added to that, which is infinite ; but it enabled him to pity from experience. He submitted to our infirmities, that he might have a lively sense of misery in his own person, and so be inclined to compassionate the dis. tresses of others. Now Christ has our nature still in heaven, and possesses all its merciful dispositions. He was anointed on purpose to bind up the brokenhearted, and to comfort all that mourn : and no one could be better disposed for such a charitable under. taking, than the meek and lowly and affectionate Jesus.
What then is become of all his affection and sweetness ? Did he leave it behind him when he ascended to heaven, or is it not rather improved in that world of perfect harmony and love?
The reality of Christ's sympathy appears also, from
the near and intimate relations that exist between Christ and his people,
You can hardly mention that relation, which calls for pity and kindness from one to another, which Christ does not sustain. Is a brother born for adversity? “Go to my brethren,” says Christ, “and tell them I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” But a parent is more than a brother. Children are ourselves renewed; but did ever a parent feel more tenderness for a beloved child in distress, than Christ manifested towards his sorrowing disciples ? “ I will not leave you comfortless,” says
“ I will come to you.” But a husband is nearer than either. All the world would detest the man, who possessing abundance himself, should leave the companion of his life to want and wretchedness. Will all the honours and happiness of heaven, then, cause Christ to forget the Church, which he has purchased with his own precious blood? or shall “the bride, the Lamb's wife,” be neglected and forgotten? The Apostle assures us to the contrary. “For this cause,” says he, “shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery ; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” Christ is a spiritual head to his people, as is intimated in the verses immediately preceding those which have just now been quoted. “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church ; for we are members of his body,
; of his flesh, and of his bones.” Now the head is the principal seat of the senses, and therefore will suffer with
every inferior member. The union between
Christ and believers is so near, that if you injure one, you affect both; and if you be kind to one, you do good to both. “Inasmuch,” says Christ, “as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Again, it is said, “ Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Christ's sympathy further appears, from the offices which he retains in heaven, or his unchangeable priesthood.
The appointment of a High-priest had mercy and condolence in its very design. “ For every highpriest taken from among men, is ordained for men, in
, things pertaining to God; that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way ; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity." A hard-hearted priest would have been the greatest absurdity, because his office was established on purpose for the miserable. Can our ever-living Highpriest, then, whose love was stronger than death, be forgetful or unmindful of those whom he has redeemed ?,
I would only add, that the compassion of Christ is evident from his types in the Old Testament. I will mention two, if we may consider Joseph as a type our Saviour. When this young man was advanced to the highest honours in the court of Pharaoh, he discovered all imaginable tenderness for his brethren. Though he behaved roughly to them at first, to convince them of their sinful cruelty towards him, yet his heart was afterwards overcome with tender affection. The other type is the high-priest who carried
the names of the twelve tribes upon his breast when he entered into the holy of holies. It was, indeed, an admirable contrivance of Divine Wisdom and mercy, that this should be the time of putting on the breast-plate; in order to convince us, that the compassions of Christ are as strong, and that he has the state of believers upon his heart as particularly and affectionately, now he is in heaven, as when he dwelt in our world.
But having said enough, we trust, to convince you of the compassion of Christ, let this interesting subject, in the first place, lead us to admire Christ's love to us, and en kindle and inflame our affection to him.
What is more worthy of admiration, than that we should have such a place in the regard of our exalted Redeemer, that he should be affected with our condition, and be as much concerned for our safety, as if his own happiness depended on ours? It was a great request of the dying penitent, “ Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom;" but it is no more than what he does for every one of his people. Misery and distress always attract his notice, and ex. cite his regard. Surely, never was kindness equal to his; that, after he had spent his life on earth in disgrace and contempt, he should carry the marks of human barbarity and guilt with him into heaven; and there employ himself for the good of those who had been some of his fiercest and most inveterate enemies. Look over heaven and earth, and there is no such love to be found as that of Christ. He has in himself two springs of compassion, while angels and men have but one: his divine pature is one, and his