We might now pass on to the consideration of that sacred humanity as taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb, where it lay in all its innate purity, sanctity, and incorruptibility, perfuming the grave, and consecrating the tomb as the sleeping-place of those who die in the Lord. Thence we might pass to the resurrection of that incorruptible body, whereby he was declared to be the Son of God with power; (Rom. 1:4;) thence to the continuance of the blessed Lord upon earth during the forty days of his tarrying here below; thence to his ascension on high when he led captivity captive; thence to his sitting at the right hand of God in our nature; and thence to his second coming at the great day. All these successive steps are full of blessedness to believing hearts, when they can meditate upon them, and through faith, hope, and love in them, rise up into sweet union and communion with their most gracious and glorious Lord, as their once suffering but now risen and exalted Head. We purposed briefly to look at these gracious features of our Lord's sacred humanity; but they are subjects of such deep importance, and so full of grace and glory, that we feel we cannot thus lightly pass over them. We have, indeed, already much exceeded our intended limits when we sat down to meditate on this fruitful theme. We are, then, in a strait, whether abruptly to close this subject with the departing year, or embrace the opportunity of resuming it in a different form in the opening season; and we have decided, if spared to see a returning year, to devote a few pages to these divine realities; not, however, as the continuation of the Review which we shall finish with this Number, but as a series of distinct independent papers.
But as we are still at the cross of our suffering Lord, we cannot leave that sacred spot without dwelling for a few moments on several points most intimately connected with it. Three at this present moment offer themselves to our mind.
1. The work accomplished by the sufferings, blood shedding, obedience, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the benefits and blessings which spring out of it. It was a finished work. Here is all our salvation and here is all our hope. When were such words ever uttered on this earth as those which his gracious lips spoke from the cross, "It is finished?" Well may we cry, in the language of our sweet Christian Psalmist,
"Holy Spirit, repeat the word,
There's salvation in it."
Standing, then, at the cross of our adorable Lord, and hearing these gracious words from the lips of him who cannot lie, if blessed with living faith, we may see the law thoroughly fulfilled, its curse fully endured, its penalties wholly removed, sin eternally put away, the justice of God amply satisfied, all his perfections gloriously harmonized, his holy will perfectly obeyed, reconciliation completely effected, redemption graciously accomplished, and the church everlastingly saved. Here we see sin in its blackest colors, and holiness in its fairest beauties. Here we see the love of God in its tenderest form, and the anger of God in its deepest expression. Here we see the sacred humanity of the blessed Redeemer lifted up, as it were, between heaven and earth, to show to angels and to men the spectacle of redeeming love, and to declare at one and the same moment, and by one and the same act of the suffering obedience and bleeding sacrifice of the Son of God, the eternal and unalterable displeasure of the Almighty against sin, and the rigid demands of his inflexible justice, and yet the tender compassion and boundless love of his heart to the election of grace.
Here, and here alone, are obtained pardon and peace; here, and here alone, penitential grief and godly sorrow flow from heart and eyes; here, and here alone, is sin subdued and mortified, holiness communicated, death vanquished, Satan put to flight, and happiness and heaven begun in the soul. O what heavenly blessings, what present grace, as well as what future glory flow through the sacred humanity of the Son of God! What a holy meeting-place for repenting sinners and a sin-pardoning God! What a healing-place for guilty, yet repenting and returning backsliders; what a door of hope in the valley of Achor for the self-condemned and self-abhorred; what a safe spot for seeking souls; and what a blessed resorting-place for the whole family of God in this valley of grief and sorrow!
2. Another most blessed fruit of the sacred humanity of our adorable Redeemer is that in that nature he learned the experimental reality of temptation and suffering, and thus became able to sympathize with his tempted and afflicted people. It was necessary under the law that the high priest "would have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself also was compassed with infirmity." (Heb. 5:2.) Our great High Priest was not compassed with infirmity, like the high priest under the law, and therefore had no need to offer sacrifice for his own sins; (Heb. 5:3;) but that he might be "a merciful" as well as "faithful" high priest—faithful to God and merciful to man, "He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb. 2:17, 18.) "We have not, therefore, a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Heb. 4:15.)
Here we see the wisdom and grace of the Father in preparing, and the love and pity of the Son in assuming a nature like our own, sin only excepted, that he might have a real experience of every form of suffering and of temptation. Those only can feel for others in trouble and sorrow who themselves have walked in the path of tribulation; nor can any one really sympathize with the tempted but those who have themselves been in the furnace of temptation. Thus our blessed Lord became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; hid not his face from shame and spitting; endured poverty, hunger, thirst, and nakedness; was betrayed by one disciple, denied by another, and forsaken by all; was oppressed and was afflicted, not only as a part of his meritorious, suffering obedience, but that by a personal experience in his holy humanity of sorrow and affliction he might sympathize with his mourning, afflicted people. And as with affliction, so with temptation; the gracious Redeemer endured every sort of temptation which Satan could present to his holy soul, for "in all points he was tempted like as we are, yet without sin," (Heb. 4:15,) that he might feel for and sympathize with the tempted.
But this is not all. The blessed Redeemer had not only to sympathize with the sorrows and temptations, but experimentally to learn the graces of his believing people. He had therefore to learn obedience in the same way that they learn it, for "he learned obedience by the things which he suffered;" (Heb. 5:8;) was taught in the school of affliction the inward experience of submission to God's will, meekness under injury and oppression, and lowliness of heart as a heavenly grace. Therefore he could say, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." (Matt. 11:29.) Let us not think that the blessed Lord had no inward experience in his holy soul of spiritual graces, or that his divine nature supplied to his human the grace of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit that was given him without measure, (John 3:34,) who not only anointed him as Prophet, Priest, and King, but dwelt in him in all his fullness, bestowed upon him every spiritual grace, as faith, trust, hope, love, prayer and supplication, patience, long-suffering, zeal for the glory of God, and with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, all counsel and might, all heavenly knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isa. 11:1, 2.) All these gifts and graces dwelt in his sacred humanity,* and were drawn into exercise by the Holy Spirit, so that the blessed Lord believed, hoped, and loved; prayed, sighed, and groaned; trusted in God and lived a life of faith in him, just in the same manner and by the same Spirit and power, though in an infinitely higher degree, and wholly unmixed with sin, as his believing people do now. So that just in the same way as his sacred body was fed and nourished by the same food as ours, so was his holy soul sustained by the same communications of grace and strength as maintain in life the souls of his people now.
Thus he learned experimentally not only their trials and temptations, their griefs and sorrows, both natural and spiritual, but their joys and deliverances, their manifestations, their waiting hope, their trusting confidence, their patient expectation, their obedient submission, and in a word the whole compass of their experience.** If any think it is derogatory to the Deity of our blessed Lord, to believe that he had a spiritual experience of the same graces that his people have, for being God, they might argue he could not need them, let them explain why his body needed human food, or why his soul had an experience of sorrow and temptation. Could not his divine nature, as in the wilderness, have supported the human without food? And is it not equally derogatory to say that the blessed Lord had an experience of affliction and temptation, as of joy and deliverance? As our great Exemplar, as our suffering Head, the blessed Lord was delivered as well as tempted, rejoiced in spirit as well as sighed and wept, was made glad with the light of his Father's countenance as well as felt the hidings of his face.***
* If space admitted, we could easily show from those Psalms in which, beyond all controversy, Christ speaks that all the graces which we have here enumerated dwelt in him and were expressed by him. Lot our spiritual readers examine Psalms 18, 22, 40, 69, all of which the most indubitable external and internal evidence assigns to Christ, with an eye to this particular point, and trace it for themselves.
** Thus in reading David's deliverances and blessings, though we know that they were really David's, and truly felt and acknowledged by him as such, yet we may often say, "A greater than David was here." Thus compare Psalm. 18:16-19. with verses 43, 44.
*** Our blessed Lord had no experience of regeneration or of repentance; for the one is the quickening of the soul out of death, and the other implies the existence of sin. These two things are to be carefully distinguished from his experience of faith, trust, etc.
III. The third point connected with the sacred humanity of Jesus as obedient unto death, is the example he has left to his believing people that they would walk in his steps. It will little profit us to have the clearest views of the Lord's suffering humanity if it produce no impression on our hearts and lives. At the foot of the cross there stood those who mocked the sufferings and shame of the blessed Redeemer; there were those who looked on with callous indifference; and there were those who mourned and wept, believed and loved. So now there are those who mock the eternal Sonship and suffering humanity of the blessed Jesus; and there are those who look upon his suffering Majesty without faith and without feeling, without any sorrow for sin or any thirst after holiness. And there is a small remnant who look and believe, and as led into the fellowship of his sufferings, mourn and weep. These see and feel that there is a knowing him and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; (Phil. 3:10;) a bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body; (2 Cor. 4:10;) a being crucified with Christ; (Gal. 2:20;) a determination to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified; (1 Cor. 2:2;) and a glorying in his cross as the only effectual means whereby the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world; (Gal. 6:14.) We need not wonder that in our day there is such a form of godliness and such a denial of the power. It must ever be so when men are ignorant—willingly ignorant of the suffering humanity of the blessed Lord, and know so little of the mystery of the cross.
One word more, and for the present we close the subject. All union and communion with God is only through the humanity of Jesus. The God-man unites God and man. In union with God by his Deity, in union with man by his humanity, the Lord Jesus is the Arbitrator who lays his hand upon them both. (Job 9:33.) This made holy John say, "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:2, 3.) Happy are those who can say with him, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ;" but this those only can experimentally say who having been blessed with a manifestation of his Person and work can add—"He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself—he who believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son." (1 John 5:10.)