The soul of His sufferings
(John MacDuff, "The Holy Mount" 1856)
"The place which is called Calvary." Luke 23:33
Christ's death on the cross was preeminently painful. It appears to have been devised with savage ingenuity, to cause as much suffering as possible. Hence the vital parts are left untouched; the wounds are inflicted upon the extremities of the body, iron spikes being driven through the hands and feet; while the poor sufferer has to hang in a position which admits of no change or rest, and burning inflammation works its way gradually to the seat of life. It was doubtless a death painful in the extreme; so much so, that the strongest term we have for expressing intense agony, the term "excruciating," is derived from it.
But the outward sufferings which the Savior bore on Calvary were nothing, when compared with His inward sufferings. His bodily agonies, as great as they were, were as light as a feather, in comparison with the agonies of His soul. The sufferings of His soul — were truly the soul of His sufferings. But of those soul-sufferings, what can we say?
We may, in some measure, describe what was going on without — but who can describe what was passing within?
We may describe the derision of the Jews — but who can describe the desertion of His Heavenly Father?
We may describe the soldiers spear — but who can describe the arrows of the Almighty?
We may describe the nails piercing His sacred flesh — but who can describe eternal justice piercing both flesh and spirit?
We may describe the cup of vinegar which He tasted — but who can describe the cup of wrath which He drank to its lowest dregs?
We may describe the accursed tree on which He hung — but who can describe the curse of the law which made it so?
In such an attempt — language fails, how poor is thought, and how impotent are the most emphatic representations! Truly, His soul-sufferings are unfathomable!
Reader, would you have your heart softened, and your love inflamed? Go to Calvary, to gaze on the wondrous spectacle which is there presented. While so doing let your language be,
"Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!"