The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures
By Thomas Brooks, 1675
II. I shall now, in the second place, speak concerning Christ's SPIRITUAL sufferings, his sufferings in his soul, which were exceeding high and great. Now here I shall endeavor to do two things: First, To prove that Christ suffered in his soul, and so much the rather because that the papists say and write, that Christ did not truly and properly and immediately suffer in his soul—but only by way of sympathy and compassion with his body to the mystical body; and that his bare bodily sufferings were sufficient for man's redemption. Second, That the sufferings of Christ in his soul were exceeding high and great. For the first, that Christ suffered in his soul, I shall thus demonstrate.
(1.) First, Express Scriptures do evidence this: Isaiah 53:10, "When you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed," etc.; John 12:27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour—but for this cause came I unto this hour;" Mat. 26:37-38, "He began to be sorrowful and very heavy." These were but the beginnings of sorrow: he began, etc. Sorrow is a thing which drinks up our spirits, and he was heavy, as feeling a heavy load upon him; verse 38, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Christ was as full of sorrow as his heart could hold. Every word is emphatic—"My soul;" his sorrow pierced his heaven-born soul. As the soul was the first agent in transgression, so it is here the first agent in affliction. The sufferings of his body—were but the body of his sufferings. The soul of his sufferings—were the sufferings of his soul, which was now beset with sorrows, and heavy as heart could hold. Christ was sorrowful, his soul was sorrowful, his soul was exceeding sorrowful, his soul was exceeding sorrowful unto death.
Christ's soul was in such extremity of sorrow, that it made him cry out, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass;" and this was with "strong cryings and tears," Heb. 5:7. To cry, and to cry with a loud voice, argues great extremity of sufferings. Mark 14:33 says, "And he began to be filled with horror and deep distress!" Or we may more fully express it thus, according to the original, He begun to be terrified with horror, and to be satiated, filled brimful with heaviness—a very sad condition! All the sins of the elect, like a huge army, meeting upon Christ—made a dreadful onset on his soul! Luke 22:43-44, it is said "He was in an agony." That is—a conflict in which a poor creature wrestles with deadly pangs, with all his might, mustering up all his faculties and force to grapple with them and withstand them. Thus did Christ struggle with the indignation of the Lord, praying once and again with more intense fervency, "Oh, that this cup may pass away! If it is possible, let this cup pass away!" Luke 22:42-43; while an angel strengthened his outward man from utter sinking in the conflict.
Now, if this weight which Christ bore, had been laid on the shoulders of all the angels in heaven—it would have sunk them down to the lowest hell! It would have cracked the axle-tree of heaven and earth. It made his blood startle out of his body in congealed clotted heaps. The heat of God's fiery indignation made his blood to boil up until it ran over; yes, divine wrath affrighted it out of its accustomed channel. The creation of the world cost him but a word; he spoke and the world was made! But the redemption of souls cost him bloody sweats and soul-distress. What conflicts, what strugglings with the wrath of God! With the powers of darkness! What weights! what burdens! what wrath did he undergo when his soul was heavy unto death "beset with terrors," as the word implies, when he drank that bitter cup, that cup of bitterness, that cup mingled with curses—which made him sweat drops of blood! which, if men or angels had but sipped of, it would have made them reel, stagger, and tumble into hell!
The soul of Christ was overcast with a cloud of God's displeasure. The Greek Church, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, calls them "unknown sufferings." Ah Christians! who can speak out this sorrow? "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity—but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Proverbs 18:14. Christ's soul is sorrowful—but give me that word again, his soul is exceeding sorrowful—but if that word be yet too low, then I must tell you that "his soul was exceeding sorrowful—even unto death!" Not only extensively sorrowful, such as must continue for the space of seventeen or eighteen hours, even until death itself should finish it—but also intensively such. Of this sorrow is that especially spoken, "Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto Me, with which the Lord has afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger," Lam. 1:12.
Many a sad and sorrowful soul has, no question, been in the world—but the like sorrow to Jesus'—has never been seen since the creation. The very terms or phrases used by the evangelists speak no less. He was "sorrowful and heavy," says one; "amazed, and very heavy," says another; "in an agony," says a third; "in a soul-trouble," says a fourth. Certainly, the bodily torments of the cross were much inferior, to the agony of his soul. The pain of the body—is the body of pain. Oh—but the very soul of sorrow—is the soul's sorrow, and the very soul of pain is the soul's pain.
(2.) Secondly, That which Christ assumed or took of our nature, he assumed to this end—to suffer in it; and by suffering, to save and redeem it. But he took the whole nature of man, both body and soul; consequently, he suffered in both.
First, the assumption is evident, and needs no proof; that Christ took upon him both our soul and body, the apostle assures us, where he says, "That in all things it became him to be like unto us," Heb. 2:17; therefore he had both body and soul as we have.
Secondly, concerning the proposition, namely, That what Christ took of our nature, he took it by suffering in it properly and immediately—to redeem us. Now this is evident by that blessed word, where the apostle says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15. Hence I reason thus, that wherein Christ delivered us, he took part with us in—but he delivered us from fear of death; accordingly, he did therein communicate with us. Now mark, this fear was the proper and immediate passion of the soul, namely, the fear of death and God's anger. And the text gives this sense, Because the fear of this death kept them in bondage—but the fear only of the bodily death does not bring us into such bondage; witness that Song of Zacharias; "That we, being delivered from the hands of our enemies, should serve him without fear," Luke 1:74. This then is a spiritual fear, from the which Christ did deliver us; consequently, he did communicate with us in this fear; for the apostle says, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Heb. 2:18. Certainly that fear which fell on Christ was a real fear, and it was in his soul, and did not arise from the mere contemplation of bodily torments only, for the very martyrs in the encountering with them have feared little. Assuredly there was some great matter that lay upon the very soul of Christ, which made him so heavy, and sorrowful, and so afraid, and in such an agony.
But if you please, take this second argument in another form of words, thus: what Christ took of ours, that he in suffering offered up for us, for his assuming of our nature, was for this end, to suffer for us in our nature—but he took our nature in body and in soul, and he delivered our souls as well as our bodies; and the sins of our souls did need his sacrifice as well as the sins of our bodies; and our souls were crucified with Christ, as well as our bodies. Surely if our whole man was lost—then our whole man needs the benefit and help of a whole Savior; and if Christ had assumed only our flesh, our body—then our souls adjudged, adjudged to punishment, had remained under transgression without hope of pardon.
Several sayings of the ancients does further strengthen this argument. Take a taste of some. "If the whole man perished, the whole man needed a Savior. Christ therefore took the whole man, body and soul. If he had taken only flesh, the soul should remain liable to punishment of the first transgression, without hope of pardon. By the same reason, Christ must also suffer properly in soul, because not by taking our soul—but by satisfying in his soul, our soul is delivered."
"He took all our passions, or affections, to sanctify them all in himself—but Christ was sanctified and consecrated by his death, and so does he consecrate us," says Damascene. "For by one offering, he has perfected forever, those who are sanctified," Heb. 10:14. Consequently, by his offering of hid soul, and suffering in his soul, has he consecrated our soul and affections.
He took my heart to amend it, etc. Now he has amended it, in that he consecrated it by his offering, Heb. 10:14; He has taken that for us, which was most in danger for us, etc., that is, our soul. But Christ has not otherwise delivered us from the danger—but by entering into the danger for us; this danger of the soul is the fear and feeling of God's wrath.
(3.) Thirdly, Christ bore our sorrows, Isaiah 53:4. Now what sorrows should we bear—but the sorrows due unto us for our sins; and surely these were not corporal only—but spiritual also, and those did Christ bear in his soul. The same prophet says, verse 10, "He shall make his soul an offering for sin;" accordingly, Christ offered his soul as well as his body. Again, our Savior himself says, "My soul is very heavy unto death," Mat. 26:38. Certainly it was not the bodily death which Christ feared, for then he would have been weaker than many martyrs, yes, than many of the Romans, who made no more of dying, than of dining; therefore Christ's soul was truly and properly stricken with heaviness, and not with the beholding of bodily torments only, as some dream. But,
(4.) Fourthly, That whereby Adam and we ever since, do most properly commit sin (in our souls)—by his soul sufferings, has Christ, the second Adam, made satisfaction properly for our sin. But Adam did, and we all do properly commit sin in our souls; our bodies being but the instruments. Consequently, Christ by, and in his soul, has properly made satisfaction.
[1.] First, The truth of the proposition is confirmed by the apostle, "As by one man's disobedience we are made sinners, so by the obedience of one, the many shall be made righteous," Romans 5:19. Christ then satisfied for us by the same way wherein Adam disobeyed. Now Adam's soul was in the transgression as well as his body, and accordingly was Christ's very soul in his sufferings and satisfaction, and Christ obeyed, that is, in his soul; for obedience belongs to the soul, as one observes upon those words of the apostle: Phil. 2:8, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." "Who does not understand," says the same author, "that obedience belongs to the human soul?"
That there is a kind of dying in the soul when it is pierced with grief, besides the death of the soul, either by sin or damnation—is not disagreeing to the Scripture. Simeon says to Mary, "A sword shall pierce through your soul," Luke 2:35. Look, as then the body dies, being pierced with a sword, so the soul may be said to die or languish, when it is pierced with grief. What else is crucifying but dying? Now, the soul is said to be crucified, as is evident by that passage of the apostle, "I am crucified to the world," Gal. 6:14, when as yet his body was alive.
[2.] Secondly, For the assumption.
1. However it is admitted that the body is the instrument of the soul, both in sinning and suffering—yet the conclusion is this—that because sin is committed in the soul principally and properly, therefore the satisfaction must be made in the soul principally and properly. The bodily pains affecting the soul are not the proper passions of the soul, neither is the soul said to suffer properly, when the body suffers—but by way of compassion and consent.
2. We grant that in the proper and immediate sufferings of the soul, the body also is affected: as when Christ was in his agony in the garden—his whole body was therewith stirred and moved, and it did sweat drops of blood. But it is one thing when the grief begins immediately in the soul and so affects the body, and when the pain is first inflicted upon the body and so works upon the soul, there the soul suffers properly and principally; of which sufferings we speak here neither properly nor principally, which is not the thing in question.
3. It is not the reasonable soul which is affected with the body, for it is a ground in philosophy that the soul suffers not—but only the sensitive part. But the grief that we speak of, which is an atonement for sin, must be in the very reasonable soul where sin took the beginning, and so Ambrose says upon those words of Christ, "My soul is heavy to death." It is referred to the assumption of the reasonable soul, and human affection.
Pride, ambition and infidelity began in Adam's soul, and had their determination there. In the committing of those sins, the body had no part. Indeed with the ear they heard the suggestion of Satan—but it was no sin until in their minds they had consented unto it. Therefore seeing the first sin committed was properly and wholly in the soul—for the same the soul must properly and wholly satisfy.
Because sin took beginning from Adam's soul, the satisfaction also must begin in Christ's soul—as Ambrose says, "I begin there to win in Christ, where in Adam I was overcome." Then it follows that the sufferings of Christ's soul took beginning there, and were not derived by sympathy from the stripes and pain of the body. We infer, then, that therefore Christ's soul had proper and immediate sufferings, besides those which proceeded from sympathy with his body, and all Christ's sufferings were satisfactory. Consequently, Christ did satisfy for our sins properly and immediately, in his soul.
But if you please, take this fourth argument in another form of words, thus—The punishment which was pronounced against the first Adam, our first surety, and in him against us—that same punishment, did Christ, the second Adam, our next and best surety, bear for us—or else it must still lie upon us to suffer the punishment ourselves. But the punishment threatened and denounced against Adam for transgression, was not only corporal, respecting our bodies—but spiritual also, respecting our souls. There was a spiritual malediction due unto our souls, as well as a corporal, etc.
Look, as God put a sanction on the law and covenant of works made with all of us in Adam, that he and his posterity should be liable to death, both of body and soul; which covenant being broken by sin, all sinners became liable to the death in both of body and soul; so it was necessary that the redeemed should be delivered from the death of both by the Redeemer's tasting of death in both kinds, as much as should be sufficient for their redemption. O sirs, as sin infected the whole man, soul and body, and the curse following on sin left no part nor power of the man's soul free; just so, justice required that the Redeemer, coming in the place of the people redeemed, should feel the force of the curse both in body and soul. But,
(5.) Fifthly, "He shall see of the travail of his soul," Isaiah 53:11. Here the soul is taken properly, and the travail of Christ's soul is his sufferings; for it follows, "and he shall bear their iniquities." But,
(6.) Sixthly, Christ gave himself for his people's sins. "Who gave himself for our sins," Tit. 2:14; "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquities," etc., Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 2:6. But the body only is not himself; consequently, the apostle says, Phil. 2:7, "Christ did empty (or evacuate) himself;" or, as Tertullian expounds it, "he drew out himself, or was exhausted himself," which agrees with the prophecy of Daniel, chapter 9:26, "Messiah shall have nothing, being brought to nothing by his death, without life, strength, esteem, honor," etc. Hence we conclude that if Christ were exhausted upon the cross, if nothing was left him, that he suffered in body and soul, that there was no part within or without free from the cross—but all was emptied and poured out for our redemption.
Again, we read that Christ, "through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God," Heb. 9:14. Whatever was in Christ, did either offer or was offered; his eternal Spirit only did offer; consequently, his whole human nature, both body and soul, was offered. Thus Origen witnesses in these words, "See how our true priest, Jesus Christ, taking the censer of his human flesh, putting to the fire of the altar—that is, his magnificent soul, wherewith he was born in the flesh—and adding incense—that is, an immaculate spirit—stood in the midst between the living and the dead. Thus you see that he makes Christ's soul a part in the sacrifice."
(7.) Seventhly and lastly, Christ's love unto man, in suffering for him, was in the highest degree and greatest measure that could be; as the Lord says, "What could I have done any more for my vineyard that I have not done unto it?" But if Christ had given his body only, and not his soul for us—he had not done for us all he could, and so his love should have been greatly impaired and diminished. Consequently, he gave his soul also, together with his body, to be the full price of our redemption. And certainly the travail and labor of Christ's soul was most acceptable unto God. "Therefore I will give him a portion with the great, because he has poured out his soul unto death," etc., "and bore the sins of many," Isaiah 53:12. Doubtless the sufferings of Christ in his soul, together with his body—does most fully and amply commend and set forth God's great love to poor sinners. Before I close up this particular, take a few testimonies of the fathers, which do witness with us for the sufferings of Christ—both in soul and body.
It is evident that as his body was whipped—just so, his soul was truly and truly grieved, lest some part of Christ's suffering should be true, some part false. Consequently, Christ's soul as properly and truly suffered as his body. The soul had her proper grief, as the body had whipping; the whipping, then, of the body was not the proper grief of the soul. Whole Christ gave himself, and whole Christ offered himself; consequently, he offered his soul, not only to suffer by way of compassion with his body, as it may be answered—but he offered it as a sacrifice, and suffered all passions whatever incident to the soul. The same author expounds himself further thus: "Because this God took whole man, therefore he showed in truth in himself the passions of whole man; and having a reasonable soul, whatever infirmities of the soul without sin he took and bare." If Christ, then, did take and bear all the passions of the soul without sin, then the proper and immediate grief and anguish thereof, and not the compassion only with the body. To these let me add the consent of the Reformed churches: "Christ did suffer both in body and soul, and was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted."
Now the testimonies of the fathers, and the consent of the Reformed churches, affirming the same, that Christ was crucified in his soul, and that he gave his soul a price of redemption for our souls. . . . Who can then doubt of this—but that Christ truly, properly, immediately suffered in his soul, in all the proper passions thereof, as he endured pains and torments in his flesh; and if you please, this may go for an eighth argument to prove that Christ suffered in his soul.
2. Secondly, That the sufferings of Christ in his soul were very high, and great, and astonishing, both as to the punishment of LOSS, and as to the punishment of SENSE. All which I shall make evident in these four particulars:
[1.] First, That Jesus Christ did really suffer neglect from God; that he was indeed deserted and forsaken by God is most evident: Mat. 27:46, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But to prevent mistakes in this high point, seriously consider, 1. That I do not mean that there was any such desertion of Christ by God as did dissolve the union of the natures in the person of Christ. [Forsaken, 1. By denying of protection; 2. By withdrawing of solace: The union was not dissolved—but the beams, the influence was restrained. —Leo.] For Christ in all his sufferings still remained God and man. Nor, 2, do I mean an absolute desertion in respect of the presence of God. For God was still present with Christ in all his sufferings, and the Godhead did support his humanity in and under his sufferings. But that which I mean is this—that as to the sensible and comforting manifestations of God's presence, thus he was for a time left and forsaken of God. God for a time had taken away all sensible consolation and felt joy from Christ's human soul, so that divine justice might in his sufferings be the more fully satisfied. In this desertion, Christ is not to be looked upon simply as he is in his own person, the Son of the Father, Mat. 3:17, in whom he is always well pleased, Mark 1:11—but as he stands in the room of sinners, surety and cautioner, paying their debt; in which respect it concerned Christ to be dealt with as one standing in our stead, as one guilty, and paying the debt of being forsaken of God, which we were bound to suffer fully and forever, if he had not interposed for us.
There is between Christ and God, 1. An eternal union natural of the person; 2. Of the Godhead and manhood; 3. Of grace and protection. In this last sense, he means forsaken according to his feeling. Hence he said not, My Father, my Father—but, My God, my God; which words are not words of complaining—but words expressing his grief and sorrow. Our Lord Christ was forsaken, not only of all creature comforts—but that which was worse than all, of his Father's favor, to his present apprehension, left forlorn and destitute for a time, that we might be received forever. Christ was for a time left and forsaken of God, as David, who in this particular was a type of Christ's suffering, cried out, Psalm 22:1, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? why are you so far from my help?" He was indeed really forsaken of God; God did indeed leave him in respect of his sense and feeling. ["My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." Christ spoke these words that thereby he might draw the Jews to a serious consideration of his death and passion, which he underwent, not for his own but for our sins.] So was Christ truly and really forsaken of God, and not in pretense or show, as some affirm. Athanasius, speaking of God's forsaking of Christ, says, "All things were done naturally and in truth, not in opinion or show." Though God did still continue a God to David—yet in David's apprehension and feeling he was forsaken of God. Though God was still a God to Christ—yet as to his feeling he was left of God, to wrestle with God, and to bear the wrath of God, due unto us. Look, as Christ was scourged, that we might not be scourged, so Christ was forsaken, that we might not be forsaken. Christ was forsaken for a time, that we might not be forsaken forever (Ambrose).
Fevardentius absolutely denies that Christ did truly complain upon the cross that he was forsaken of God; and therefore he thus objects and reasons: "If Christ were truly forsaken of God, it would follow that the hypostatic union was dissolved, and that Christ was personally separated from God, for otherwise he could not be forsaken."
To what he objects we thus reply, first, If Christ had been totally and eternally forsaken, the personal union must have been dissolved—but upon this temporal and partial rejection there follows not a personal or general dissolution. But secondly, As the body of Christ, being without life, was still hypostatically united to the Godhead, so was the soul of Christ, though for a time without feeling of his favor. The forsaking of the one does no more dissolve the hypostatic union than the death of the other. If life went from the body, and yet the deity was not separated in the personal consecration—but only suspended in operation, so the feeling of God's favor, which is the life of the soul, might be intermitted in Christ, and yet the divine union not dissolved.
Thirdly, Augustine does well show how this may be when he says, That the passion of Christ was the sweet sleep of his divinity; like as when in sleep the soul is not departed, though the operation thereof be deferred; so in Christ's sleep upon the cross the Godhead was not separated, though the working power thereof were for a time sequestered. Look, as the elect members of Christ may be forsaken, though not totally or finally—but in part and for a time, and yet their election remain firm still; the same may be the case of our head, that he was only in part forsaken, and for a time, always beloved for his own innocency—but for us and in our person, as our pledge and surety, deserted.
There are two kinds of forsaking; one is for a time and in part; so the elect may be, and so Christ was forsaken upon the cross: another which is total, final, and general; and so neither Christ nor his members ever was nor never shall be forsaken. Christ, in the deepest anguish of his soul, is upheld and sustained by his faith, "My God, my God," whereby he shows his singular confidence and trust in God, notwithstanding the present sense of his wrath.
QUESTION. But how can Christ be forsaken of God, himself being God; for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all three but one and the same God? Yes, how can he be forsaken of God, seeing he is the Son of God? and if the Lord leaves not his children, who hope and trust in him, how can he forsake Christ, his only-begotten Son, who depended upon him and his mighty power?
Answer. 1. First, By God here we are to understand God the Father, the first person of the blessed Trinity. According to the vulgar and common rule, when God is compared with the Son or Holy Spirit, then the Father is meant by this title God; not that the Father is more God than the Son—for in dignity all the three people are equal—but they are distinguished in order only; and thus the Father is the first person, the Son the second, and the Holy Spirit the third.
Answer. 2. Secondly, Our Savior's complaint, that he was forsaken, must be understood in regard of his human nature, and not of his Godhead; although the Godhead and manhood were never severed from the first time of his incarnation—but the Godhead of Christ, and so the Godhead of the Father, did not show forth his power in his manhood—but did as it were lie asleep for a time, that the manhood might suffer.
Answer. 3. Thirdly, Christ was not indeed utterly forsaken of God in regard of his human nature—but only as it were forsaken—that is, although there were some few minutes and moments in which he received no sensible consolations from the Deity—yet that he was not utterly forsaken is most clear from this place, where he flees unto the Lord as unto his God, "My God, my God," as also from his resurrection the third day.
Answer. 4. Fourthly, Divines say that there are six kinds of forsakings—
1. By disunion of person;
2. By loss of grace;
3. By diminution and weakenings of grace;
4. By lack of assurance of future deliverance and present support;
5. By denial of protection;
6. By withdrawing of all solace and comfort.
Now it is foolish and impious to think that Christ was forsaken any of the first four ways, for the unity of his person was never dissolved, his graces were never either taken away or diminished, neither was it possible that he should lack assurance of future deliverance and present support that was eternal God and Lord of life. But the two last ways he may rightly be said to have been forsaken, in that his Father denied to protect and keep him out of the hands of his cruel, bloody, and merciless enemies, no ways restraining them—but allowing them to do the uttermost that their wicked hearts could imagine, and left him to endure the extremity of their fury and malice. And, that nothing might be lacking to make his sorrows beyond measure sorrowful, withdrew from him that solace and comfort that he was accustomed to find in God, and removed far from him all things for a little time that might any way lessen and assuage the extremity of his pain.
[2.] Secondly, That Jesus Christ did feel and suffer the wrath of God which was due unto us for our sins. The prophet Isaiah, chapter 53:4, says, "That he was plagued and smitten of God"; and verse 5, "The chastisement of our peace was upon him." To be plagued and smitten of God is to feel and suffer the stroke of his wrath. And so to be chastised of God, as to make peace with God or to appease him, is so to suffer the wrath of God as to satisfy God and to remove it. And truly how Christ should possibly escape the feeling of the wrath of God incensed against our sins, he standing as a surety for us with our sins laid upon him, and for them fully to satisfy the justice of God, is not Christianly or rationally imaginable.
And whereas some do object that Christ was always the beloved of his Father, and therefore could never be the object of God's wrath:
I answer, By distinguishing of the person of Christ, whom his Father always loved, and as sustaining our sins, and in our room standing to satisfy the justice of God; and as so the wrath of God fell upon him and he bore it, and so satisfied the justice of God, that we thereby are now delivered from wrath through him. Just so, the apostle, Romans 5:9, "Much more, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath by him;" 1 Thes. 1:10, "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
It is a groundless conceit of some learned heads, who deny the cause of Christ s agony to be the drinking of that cup of wrath that was given to him by his Father, John 18:11, saying that the sight of it only, and of the peril he saw we were in, was the cause of his agony; for the cup was not only showed unto him, and the great wrath due to our sins set before him, that he should see it and tremble at the apprehension of the danger we were in—but it was poured not only on him—but into him, that he for the sins of his redeemed ones should suffer it sensibly, and drink it, that the bitterness thereof might affect all the powers of his soul and body; for the Scripture does sufficiently testify that not only upon the sight and apprehension of this wrath and curse coming on him the holy human nature did holily abhor it—but also that he submitted to receive it upon the consideration of the divine decree and agreement made upon the price to be paid by him, and that upon the feeling of this wrath, this agony in his soul, the bloody sweat of his body was brought on. [Heb. 5:7; Mat. 26:38, 39, 42, 44; 1 Cor. 6:20, and 7:23.]
QUESTION. But how could the pourings forth of the Father's wrath upon his innocent and dear Son, consist with his Fatherly love to him? etc.
ANSWER. Even as the innocency and holiness of Christ could well consist with his taking upon him the punishment of our sins; for even the wrath of a just man, inflicting capital punishment on a condemned person, even if it is his own child, can well consist with fatherly affection towards his child suffering punishment. Did you never see a father weep over such a son that he has corrected most severely? Did you never see a judge shed tears for those very people that he has condemned? There is no doubt but wrath and love can well consist in God, in whom affections do not war one with another, nor fight with reason, as it often falls among men; for the emotions ascribed unto God are effects rather of his holy will towards us, than properly called emotions in him; and these effects of God's will about us do always tend to our happiness and blessedness at last, however they are diverse one from another in themselves.
[3.] Thirdly, That Jesus Christ did feel and suffer the very torments of hell, though not after a hellish manner. I readily grant that Jesus Christ did not locally descend into hell, to suffer there among the damned, neither did he suffer hellish darkness, nor the flames of hell, nor the worm that never dies, nor final despair, nor guilt of conscience, nor gnashing of teeth, nor great indignation, nor eternal separation from God. These things were absolutely inconsistent with the holiness, purity, and dignity of his person, and with the office of a mediator and redeemer. But yet I say that our Lord Jesus Christ did suffer in his soul for our sins such pain, horror, terror, agony, and consternation, as amounted unto, and are in Scripture called "The sorrows of hell." "The sorrows of hell did compass me about," Psalm 18:5, or the cords of hell did compass me about, such as with which they bind malefactors when they are led forth to execution. Now these sorrows, these cords of hell, were the things that extorted from him who passionate expostulation, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Mat. 27:46. Christ's sufferings were unspeakable, and somewhat answerable to the pains of hell. Hence the Greek Litany, "By your unknown sufferings, good Lord deliver us."
Funinus, an Italian martyr, being asked by one why he was so merry at his death, since Christ himself was so sorrowful; "Christ," said he, "sustained in his soul all the sorrows and conflicts with hell and death due to us; by whose sufferings we are delivered from sorrow and the fear of them all." It was a great saying of a very learned man, that "setting the eternity of punishment aside, which Christ might not sustain, Christ did more vehemently and sharply feel the wrath of God than ever any man did or shall, no not any person reprobated and damned excepted." And certainly the reason annexed to prove this expression is very weighty, because all the wrath that was due for all the sins of the elect, all whose sins were laid on Christ, Isa 53:6, was greater than the wrath which belonged to any one sinner, though damned for his personal sinning. And besides this, if you do seriously consider those sufferings of Christ in his agony in the garden, you may by them conjecture what hellish torments Christ did suffer for us. In that agony of his, he was afraid and amazed, and fell flat on the ground, Mat. 14:33-34. He began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and says unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death," Luke 22:44; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. He did sweat clotted blood to such abundance, that it streamed through his apparel, and did wet the ground; which dreadful agony of Christ, how it could arise from any other cause than the sense of the wrath of God, parallel to that in hell, I know not.
Orthodox divines do generally take Christ's sufferings in his soul, and the detaining his body in the grave, put in as the close and last part of Christ's sufferings, as the true meaning of that expression, "He descended into hell," not only because these pains which Christ suffered both in body and soul were due to us in full measure—but also because that which Christ in point of torment and vexation suffered, was in some respect of the same kind with the torment of the damned. For the clearing of this, consider, that in the punishment of the damned there are these three things:
1. The perverse disposition of the mind of the damned in their sufferings;
2. The duration and perpetuity of their punishment;
3. The punishment itself, tormenting soul and body.
Of these three, the first two could have no place in Christ. Not the first, because he willingly offered himself a sacrifice for our sins, and upon agreement paid the ransom fully, Heb. 9:14, and 10:5-8. Not the second, because he could no longer be held under sorrows and sufferings than he had satisfied divine justice, and paid the price that he was to lay down, Acts 2:24. And his infinite excellency and glory made his short sufferings to be of infinite worth, and equivalent to our everlasting sufferings, 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Cor. 6:20. The third, then, only remains, which was the real and sensible torments of his soul and body, which he did really feel and experience when he was upon the cross. O sirs! why must you question Christ's undergoing of hellish pains, when all the pains, torments, curse, and wrath which were due to the elect—fell on Christ, until divine justice was fully satisfied. Though Christ did not suffer eternal death for sinners—yet he suffered that which was equivalent, and therefore the justice of God is by his death wholly appeased.
It is good seriously to ponder upon these scriptures: Psalm 18:51, "The sorrows of hell compassed Me about." Psalm 88:31, "My soul is filled with evil, and my life draws near to hell;" Psalm 86:13, "You have delivered my soul from the nethermost hell." In these places the prophet speaks in the person of Christ, and the Papists themselves do confess that the Hebrew word Sheol, that is here used, is taken for hell properly, and not for the grave; therefore these places do strongly conclude for the hellish sorrows or sufferings of Christ. Just so, Acts 2:27, "You will not leave my soul in hell." If Christ's soul be not left or forsaken in hell—yet it follows it was in hell; not that Christ did feel the sorrows of hell after death—but that he did feel the very sorrows of hell in his soul while he lived.
Certainly the whole punishment of body and soul which was due unto us, Christ our Redeemer was in general to suffer and satisfy for in his own person—but the torments and terrors of hell, and the vehement sense of God's wrath, are that punishment which did belong to the soul; consequently, Christ did suffer the torments and terrors of hell. By the whole punishment you are to understand the whole kind or substance of the punishment, not all the circumstances, and the very same manner. The whole punishment then is the whole kind of punishment—that is, in body and soul—which Christ ought to have suffered, though not in the same manner and circumstance.
1. Neither for the place of hell locally; nor
2. For the time eternally; nor
3. For the manner sinfully.
When we say Christ was to suffer our whole punishment, all such punishments as cannot be suffered without sin, as desperation and final reprobation, are manifestly excepted. Christ bore all our punishment, though not as we would have borne it—that is, 1. Sinfully; 2. Eternally; 3. Hellishly. But he did so bear all our punishment as to finish all upon the cross; and in such sort as God's justice was satisfied, his person not disgraced, nor his holiness defiled, and yet man's salvation fully perfected, Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 9:14, and 10:15. We constantly affirm that Christ did suffer the pains of hell in his soul, with these three restrictions—
1. That there be neither indignity offered to his royal person;
2. Nor injury to his holy nature;
3. Nor impossibility to his glorious work. All such pains of hell then as Christ might have suffered—
1. His person not dishonored;
2. His nature with sin not defiled;
3. His work of our redemption not hindered, we do steadfastly believe were sustained by our blessed Savior. Consider a few things.
First, Consider the ADJUNCTS of hell, which are these four:
1. The place, which is infernal;
2. The time, which is perpetual;
3. The darkness, which is unspeakable;
4. The tormentors the spirits and devils, who are irreconcilable. Now these adjuncts of hell Christ is freed from. For the dignity of his person, it was not fit that the Son of God, the heir of heaven, should be shut up in hell, or that he should forever be tormented, who is never from God's presence sequestered, or that the light of the world should be closed up in darkness, or that he who binds the evil spirits should be bound by them, etc.
Secondly, Consider the EFFECTS, or rather the DEFECTS, of hell, which are chiefly these two:
First, The deprivation of all virtue, grace, holiness;
Secondly, The real possession of all vice, impiety, blasphemy, etc.
Now the necessity of the work of Christ does exempt him from these effects; for if he had been either void of grace, or possessed with vice, he could not have been the Redeemer of poor lost souls; for the lack of virtue he could not have redeemed others; for the presence of sin he would need to have been redeemed himself; and from fretting indignation and fearful desperation, the piety and sanctity of his nature does preserve him, who, being without sin, could neither by indignation displease his Father, nor by desperation destroy himself. Just so, that, if you consider either the adjuncts of hell or the effects, then I say we do remove all them as far off from the holy soul of Christ as heaven is from hell, or the east from the west, or darkness from light, etc.
Thirdly, Consider the punishment itself. Now, concerning this, we say that our blessed Savior, as in himself he bore all the sins of the elect: so he also suffered the whole punishment of body and soul in general that was due unto us, for the same which we would have endured if he had not satisfied for it; and so consequently we affirm that he felt the anguish of soul and horror of God's wrath, and so in soul entered into the torments of hell for us, sustained them and vanquished them. Calvin, speaking in honor of Christ's passion, says, "When he saw the wrath of God set before him, presenting himself before God's tribunal laden with the sins of the whole world, it was necessary for him to fear the deep bottomless pit of death." Again says the same author, "Such an object being offered to Christ's view, as though God being set against him, he were appointed to destruction; he was with horror affrighted, which was able a hundred times to have swallowed up all mortal creatures—but he, by the wonderful power of his Spirit, escaped with victory." "What dishonor was it to our Savior Christ," says another Fulk, "to suffer that which was necessary for our redemption," namely, that torment of hell which we had deserved, and which the justice of God required that he should endure for our redemption; or rather, what is more to the honor of Christ, than that he vouchsafed to descend into hell for us, and to abide that bitter pain which we had deserved to suffer eternally; and what may rather be called hell than the anguish of soul which he suffered, when, he being yet God, complained that he was forsaken of God? O sirs, this we need not fear to confess, that Christ, bearing our sins in himself upon the cross, did feel himself during that combat as rejected and forsaken of God and accursed for us, and the flames of his Father's wrath burning within him; so that to the honor of Christ's passion we confess that our blessed Redeemer refused no part of our punishment—but endured the very pains of hell, so far as they tended not neither to the derogation of his person, deprivation of his nature, destruction of his office, etc.
Here it may be queried whether the Lord Jesus Christ underwent the very self-same punishment that we should have undergone, or only that which did amount and was equivalent thereunto? To which I answer, that in different respects both may be affirmed. The punishment which Christ endured, if it be considered in its substance, kind, or nature, so it was the same with that the sinner himself would have undergone. But if it be considered with respect to certain circumstances, adjuncts, or accidents which attend that punishment, as inflicted upon the sinner, so it was but equivalent, and not the same. The punishment due to the sinner was death, the curse of the law, upon the breach of the first covenant. Now this Christ underwent, for "he was made a curse for us," Gal. 3:13. The adjuncts attending this death were the eternity of it, desperation going along with it, etc. These Christ was freed from, the dignity of his person supplying the former, the sanctity of his person securing him against the latter; therefore in reference unto these, and to some other things already mentioned, it was but the equivalent, not the identical sufferings. But suppose there had been nothing of sameness, nothing beyond equivalency in what Christ suffered—yet that was enough, for it was not required that Christ should suffer every kind of curse which is the effect of sin—but in the general accursed death. Look, as in his fulfilling of the law for us, it was not necessary that he should perform every holy duty that the law requires; for he could not perform that obedience which magistrates or married people are bound to do—it is enough that there was a fulfilling of it in the general for us. So here it was not necessary that Jesus Christ should undergo in every respect the same punishment which the offender himself was liable unto—but if he shall undergo so much as may satisfy the law's threatenings, and vindicate the lawgiver in his truth, justice, and righteous government, that was enough. Now that was unquestionably done by Christ.
Objection 1.But some may object and say, How could Christ suffer the pains of the second death without disunion of the Godhead from the manhood? For the Godhead could not die. Or what interest had Christ's Godhead in his human sufferings, to make them both so short and so precious and satisfactory to divine justice for the sins of so many sinners, especially when we consider that God cannot suffer?
Answer 1. I answer, It follows not that because Christ is united into one person with God, that therefore he did not suffer the pains of hell; for by the same reason he should not have suffered in his body, for the union of his person could have preserved him from sufferings in the one as well as in the other, and neither God, angels, nor men compelled him to undertake this difficult and bloody work—but his own free and unspeakable love to mankind, as himself declares, John 10:17, "Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life;" verse 18, "No man takes it from me—but I lay it down of myself." If Christ had been constrained to suffer, then both men and angels might fear and tremble—but as Bernard says well, "The willingness of him who died pleased God, who offered himself to be the Redeemer of fallen man." Isaiah 53:12; Pa. 40:7-8; Heb. 10:9-10.
Answer 2. But secondly, I answer from 1 John 3:16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us." The person dying was God, else his person could have done us no good. The person suffering must be God as well as man—but the Godhead suffered not. Actions and passions belong to people. Nothing less than that person who is God-man could bear the brunt of the day, satisfy divine justice, pacify divine wrath, bring in an everlasting righteousness, and make us happy forever. But,
Answer 3. Thirdly, I answer thus, Albeit the passion of the human nature could not so far reach the Godhead of Christ, that it should in a physical sense suffer, which, indeed, is impossible—yet these sufferings did so affect the person, that it may truly be said that God suffered, and by his blood bought his people to himself; for albeit the proper and formal subject of physical sufferings is only the human nature—yet the principal subject of sufferings, both in a physical and moral sense, is Christ's person, God and man, from the dignity whereof the worth and excellency of all sorts of sufferings, the merit and the satisfactory sufficiency of the price did flow, Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18-20; 1 Cor. 6:20, and 7:23.
O sirs! you must seriously consider, that though Christ as God in his Godhead could not suffer in a physical sense—yet in a moral sense he might suffer and did suffer. For he being "in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God—but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Phil. 2:6-8. Oh, who can sum up the contradictions, the railings, the revilings, the contempts, the despisings and calumnies that Christ met with from sinners, yes, from the worst of sinners!
Objection 2.But how could so low a debasing of the Son of man, or of the human nature assumed by Christ, consist with the majesty of the person of the Son of God?
Answer. We must distinguish those things in Christ, which are proper to either of the two natures, from those things which are ascribed to his person in respect of either of the natures or both the natures; for infirmity, physical suffering, or mortality are proper to the human nature. The glory of power, and grace, and mercy, and super-excellent majesty, and such like, are proper to the Deity. But the sufferings of the human nature are so far from diminishing the glory of the divine nature, that they do manifest the same, and make it appear more clearly and gloriously; for by how much the human nature was weakened, depressed, and despised for our sins, for our sakes, by so much the more the love of Christ—God and man in one person—toward man, and his mercy, and power, and grace to man, do shine in the eyes of all who judiciously do look upon him.
Objection 3.How could Christ endure hell fire without grievous sins, as blasphemy and despair, etc.?
Answer. 1. I answer, That we may walk safely and without offence, these things must be premised: First, That the sorrows and sufferings of hell be no otherwise attributed to Christ, than as they may stand with the dignity and worthiness of his person, the holiness of his nature, and the performance of the office and work of our redemption.
[1.] First, then, For the soul of Christ to suffer in the local place of hell, to remain in the darkness thereof, and to be tormented with the material flames there, and eternally to be damned, was not for the dignity of his person, to whom for his excellency and worthiness both the place, manner, and time of those torments were dispensed with.
[2.] Secondly, Final rejection and desperation, blasphemy, and the worm of conscience, agrees not with the holiness of his nature, "Who was a lamb without a spot," Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19, and therefore we do not, we dare not ascribe them to him. But,
[3.] Thirdly, Destruction of body and soul, which is the second death, could not fall upon Christ; for this were to have destroyed the work of our redemption, if he had been subject to destruction. But,
[4.] Fourthly and lastly, Blasphemy and despair are no parts of the pains of the damned—but the consequents, and follow the sense of God's wrath in a sinful creature that is overcome by it. But Christ had no sin of his own, neither was he overcome of wrath, and therefore he always held fast his integrity and innocency, Rev. 16:9, 11. Despair is an unavoidable companion, attending the pains of the second death, as all reprobates do experience. Desperation is an utter hopelessness of any good, and a certain expectation and waiting on the worst that can befall; and this is the lot and portion of the damned in hell. The wretched sinner in hell, seeing the sentence passed against him, God's purpose fulfilled, never to be reversed, the gates of hell made fast upon him, and a great gulf fixed between hell and heaven, which renders his escape impossible; he now gives up all, and reckons on nothing but uttermost misery, Luke 16:26.
Now mark, this despair is not an essential part of the second death—but only a consequent, or, at the most, an effect occasioned by the sinner's view of his remediless, woeful condition. But this neither did nor could possibly befall the Lord Jesus. He was able, by the power of his Godhead, both to suffer and to satisfy and to overcome; therefore he expected a good outcome, and knew that the end should be happy, and that he should not be ashamed, Isaiah 50:6-7, etc.; Psalm 16:9-10; Acts 2:26, 28, 31. Though a very shallow stream would easily drown a little child, there being no hope of escape for it unless one or another should step in seasonably to prevent it—yet a man who is grown up may groundedly hope to escape out of a far more deep and dangerous place, because by reason of his stature, strength, and skill he could wade or swim out. Surely the wrath of the Almighty, manifested in hell, is like the vast ocean, or some broad, deep river; and therefore when the sinful sons and daughters of Adam, which are without strength, Romans 5:6, are hurled into the midst of it, they must needs lie down in their confusion, as altogether hopeless of deliverance or escaping. But this despair could not seize upon Jesus Christ, because, although his Father took him and cast him into the sea of his wrath, so that all the billows of it went over him, Isaiah 63:1-3, seq.—yet being the mighty God, with whom nothing is impossible, he was very able to pass through that sea of wrath and sorrow, which would have drowned all the world, and come safe to shore.
Objection 4.But when did Christ suffer hellish torments? They are inflicted after death, not usually before it—but Christ's soul went straight after death into paradise. How else could he say to the penitent thief, "This day shall you be with me in paradise"? Now, to this objection I shall give these following answers:
Answer 1. First, That Christ's soul, after his passion upon the cross, did not really and locally descend into the place of the damned, may be thus made evident:
[1.] First, All the evangelists, and so Luke among the rest, intending to make an exact narrative of the life and death of Christ, has set down at large his passion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension; and besides, they make rehearsal of very small circumstances; therefore we may safely conclude, that they would never have omitted Christ's local descent into the place of the damned, if there had been any such thing. Besides, the great end why they penned this history was, that we might believe that "Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and that thus believing we might have life everlasting," John 20:31. Now there could not have been a greater matter for the confirmation of our faith than this—that Jesus, the son of Mary, who went down to the place of the damned, returned thence to live in all happiness and blessedness forever. But,
[2.] Secondly, If Christ did go into the place of the damned, then he went either in soul, or in body, or in his Godhead. Not in his Godhead, for that could not descend, because it is everywhere, and his body was in the grave; and as for his soul, it went not to hell—but immediately after his death it went to paradise—that is, the third heaven, a place of joy and happiness: "This day shall you be with me in paradise," Luke 23:43; which words of Christ must be understood of his manhood or soul, and not of his Godhead; for they are an answer to a demand, and therefore unto it they must be suitable. The thief makes his request, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom," verse 42; to which Christ answers, "Truly I say unto you, Today shall you be with me in paradise." "I shall," says Christ, "this day enter into paradise, and there shall you be with me." Now, there is no entrance but in regard of his soul or manhood, for the Godhead, which is at all times in all places, cannot be properly said to enter into a place, Psalm 139:7, 13; Jer. 23:23-24. But,
[3.] Thirdly, When Christ says, "Today shall you be with me in paradise," he does intimate, as some observe, a resemblance which is between the first and second Adam. The first Adam quickly sinned against God, and was as quickly cast out of paradise by God. Christ, the second Adam, having made a perfect and complete satisfaction to the justice of God, and the law of God, for man's sin, must immediately enter into paradise, Heb. 9:26, 28, and 10:14. Now to say that Christ, in soul, descended locally into hell, is to abolish this analogy between the first and second Adam. But,
Answer 2. Secondly, It is not impossible that the pains of the second death should be suffered in this life. Time and place are but circumstances. The main substance of the second death is the bearing of God's fierce wrath and indignation. Divine favor shining upon a man in hell, would turn hell into a heaven. All sober, seeing, serious Christians will grant, that the true, though not the full joys of heaven may be felt and experienced in this life: 1 Pet. 1:8, "Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not—yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory," or glorious; either because this their rejoicing was a taste of their future glory, or because it made them glorious in the eyes of men. The original word is glorified already; a piece of God's kingdom and heaven's happiness aforehand. Ah, how many precious saints, both living and dying, have cried out, "Oh the joy! the joy! the inexpressible joy that I find in my soul!" Eph. 2:6, "He has made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." What is this else—but even while we live, by faith to possess the very joys of heaven on this side heaven!
Now look, as the true joys of heaven may be felt on this side heaven, so the true, though not the full pains of hell, may be felt on this side hell; and doubtless Cain, Judas, Julian, Spira, and others have found it so. That writer hit the mark, who said, "The judge's tribunal-seat is in your soul, God sits there as judge, your conscience is the accuser, and fear is the tormentor." Now if there be in the soul a judge, an accuser, and a tormentor, then certainly there is a true taste of the torments of hell on this side hell.
Answer 3. Thirdly, The place hell is no part of the payment. The laying down of the price makes the satisfaction. This is all that is spoken and threatened to Adam, "You shall die the death," Gen. 2:17; and this may be suffered here. The wicked go to hell as their prison, because they can never pay their debts, otherwise the debt may as well be paid in the market as the jail. [Peter says, the devils are cast down to hell, and kept in chains of darkness, 2 Pet. 2:4. And Paul calls the devil the prince that rules in the air, Eph. 2:2. The air then is the devil's hell. Well, then, seeing this air is the devil's present hell, we may safely conclude that hell may be in this present world; and therefore it is neither impossible nor improbable that the cross was Christ's hell.]
Now Christ did discharge all his people's debts in the days of his flesh, when he offered up strong cries and tears, Heb. 5:7, and not after death. Look, as a king entering into prison to loose the prisoners' chains, and to pay their debts, is said to have been in prison; so our Lord Jesus Christ, by his soul's sufferings, which is the hell he entered into, has released us of our pains and chains, and paid our debts, and in this sense he may be said to have entered into hell, though he never actually entered into the local place of the damned, which is properly called hell; for in that place there is neither virtue nor goodness, holiness nor happiness, and therefore the holiness of Christ's person would never allow him to descend into such a place. In the local place of heaven and hell, it is not possible for any either to be at once, nor yet at sundry times successively, for there is no passing from heaven to hell, or from hell to heaven, Luke 16:26. The place of suffering is but a circumstance in the business. Hell, the place of the damned, is no part of the debt, therefore neither is suffering there locally any part of the payment of it, no more than a prison is any part of an earthly debt, or of the payment of it. The surety may satisfy the creditor in the place appointed for payment, or in the open court, which being done, the debtor and surety both are acquitted, that they need not go to prison. If either of them go to prison, it is because they do not or cannot pay the debt; for all that justice requires is to satisfy the debt, to the which the prison is merely extrinsic. Even so the justice of God cannot be satisfied for the transgression of the law—but by the death of the sinner—but it does not require that this should be done in the place of the damned. The wicked go to prison because they do not, they cannot, make satisfaction; otherwise Christ, having fully discharged the debt, needed not go to prison.
Objection 5.But the pains and torments which are due to man's sins are to be everlasting, so how then can Christ's short sufferings counterbalance them?
Answer 1. That Christ's sufferings in his soul and body were equivalent to it; although, to speak properly, eternity is not of the essence of death, which is the payment of sin and threatened by God—but it is accidental, because man thus dying is never able to satisfy God, therefore, seeing he cannot pay the last farthing, he is forever kept in prison, Mat. 18:28, 35. Look, as eternal death has in it eternity and despair necessarily in all those who so die, so Christ could not suffer. But what was lacking in duration was supplied—
1. By the immensity of his sorrows conflicting with the sense of God's wrath, because of our sins imputed to him, so that he suffered more grief than if the sorrows of all men were put together. Christ's hell-sorrows on the cross were meritorious and fully satisfactory for our everlasting punishment, and therefore in greatness were to exceed all other men's sorrows, as being answerable to God's justice.
2. By the dignity and worth of him who suffered. Therefore the Scripture calls it the blood of God. The damned must bear the wrath of God to all eternity, because they can never satisfy the justice of God for sin. Therefore they must lie in hell, world without end. But Christ has made an infinite satisfaction in a finite time, by undergoing that fierce battle with the wrath of God, and getting the victory in a few hours, which is equivalent to the creatures bearing it and grappling with it everlastingly. This length or shortness of durance is but a circumstance, not of any necessary consideration in this case. Suppose a man indebted £100, and likely to lie in prison until he shall pay it—yet utterly unable, if another man comes and lays down the money on two hours' warning, is not this as well, or better done? that which may be done to as good or better purpose in a short time, what need is there to draw it out at length? The justice of the law did not require that either the sinner or his surety should suffer the eternity of hell's torments—but only their extremity. It does abundantly counterpoise the eternity of the punishment, that the person who suffered was the eternal God. Besides, it was impossible that he should be detained under the sorrows of death, Acts 2:24. And if he had been so detained, then he had not "spoiled principalities and powers, nor triumphed over them," Col. 2:15—but had been overcome, and so had not attained his end. But,
Answer 2. Secondly, The pains of hell which Christ suffered, though they were not infinite in time—yet were they of an infinite price and value for the dignity of the person who suffered them. Christ's temporal enduring of hellish sorrows was as effectual and meritorious, as if they had been perpetual. The dignity of Christ's person did bear him out in that which was not fit for him to suffer, nor fit in respect of our redemption; for if he should have suffered eternally, our redemption could never have been accomplished. But for him to suffer in soul as he did in body, was neither derogatory to his person nor harmful to his work. Infinitely in time Christ was not to suffer.
Times are in the world where the sun rises and sets. Unto this time he died. But where there is no time, there he was found, not only living—but conquering. Christ, God-man, suffered punishment in measure infinite, and therefore there is no ground why he should endure it eternally; and indeed it was impossible that Christ should be held by death, Acts 2:24, because he was both the Lord of life and the Lord's Holy One, 1 Cor. 2:8; Acts 2:27. But,
Answer 3. Thirdly, If the measure of a man's punishment were infinite, the duration needs not be infinite. Sinful man's measure of punishment is finite, and therefore the duration of his punishment must be infinite, because the punishment must be answerable to the infinite evil of sin committed against an infinite God. O sirs, continual imprisonment in hell arises from man's not being able to pay the price; for could he pay the debt in one year, he needs not lie two years in prison. Now the debt is the first and second death; and because sinful man cannot pay it in any time, he must endure it eternally. But now Christ has laid down the price to the full, for all his chosen ones, and therefore it is not required of him, that he should suffer forever, neither can it stand with the holiness or justice of God to hold him under the second death, he having paid the debt to the utmost farthing. Now that he has fully paid the debt himself, witnesses John, chapter 19:30, saying when he had received the vinegar, "It is finished;" so verse 28, "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were accomplished." Though there are many interpretations given of this—yet doubtless this alone will hold water—namely, that the heavy wrath of the Lord which did pursue Christ, and the second death which filled him with grievous terrors, is now over and past, and man's redemption finished. He speaks here of that which presently should be, and in the yielding up his Spirit was accomplished.
And thus you see that Jesus Christ did feel and suffer the very torments of hell, though not after a hellish manner; and you see also that Christ did not locally descend into hell. We shall make a few INFERENCES from hence:
1. First, then, Oh, how should these sad sufferings of Christ for us endear Christ to us!Oh, what precious thoughts should we have of him! Psalm 136:17-18. Oh, how should we prize him! how should we honor him! how should we love him! and how should we be swallowed up in the admiration of him! As his love to us has been matchless, so his sufferings for us has been matchless. I have read of Nero, that he had a shirt made of a salamander's skin, so that if he did walk through the fire in it, it would keep him from burning. Just so, Christ is the true salamander's skin that will keep the soul from everlasting burnings, Isaiah 33:14; and therefore well may Christians cry out with that martyr Lambert, "None but Christ, none but Christ!" So every believer should esteem nothing worth a looking on—but that Jesus who has redeemed him with his own blood, 1 Cor. 6:20; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18-19.
Oh, then, what infinite cause have we to exalt and cry up our dear Lord Jesus, who by the hellish sorrows that he suffered for us, has freed us from that more dreadful bondage of sin, Satan, and wrath that we lay under! Oh, prize that Jesus! Oh, exalt that Christ! Oh, extol that Savior, who has saved you from that eternal wrath—which all the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth could never have saved you from!
"The name of Jesus," says Chrysostom," has a thousand treasures of joy and comfort in it, and is therefore used by Paul some five hundred times." "The name of a Savior," says Bernard, "is honey in the mouth, and music in the ears, and a jubilee in the heart." "Christ is a whole paradise of delight," says Justin Martyr. "I had rather," says Luther, "be in hell with Christ, than in heaven without him, for Christ is the crown of crowns, the glory of glories, and the heaven of heaven." Austin says, "that he would willingly go through hell to Christ." Bernard says, "he had rather be in his chimney-corner with Christ, than in heaven without him." One cried out, "I had rather have one Christ, than a thousand worlds!"
Jesus, in the Chinese tongue, signifies the rising sun, and such a rising sun was he to Julius Palmer, that when all concluded that he was dead, being turned as black as a coal in the fire, at last he moved his scorched lips, and was heard to say, "Sweet Jesus!" Mal. 4:2. It was an excellent answer of one of the martyrs, when he was offered riches and honors if he would recant: "Do but," said he, "offer me something that is better than my Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall see what I will say to you." Now, oh that the hellish sorrows and sufferings of Christ for us, might raise in all our hearts such a high estimation, and such a deep admiration, as has been raised in those worthies last mentioned! It was a sweet prayer of him who thus prayed, "Lord, make your Son dear, very dear, exceeding dear, and alone dear and precious to me." Whenever we seriously think of the great and sore sufferings of Christ, it will be good to pray as he prayed. But,
2. Secondly, If Jesus Christ did feel and suffer the very torments of hell,(though not after a hellish manner,) then let me infer—that certainly there is a hell, a place of torment provided and prepared for all wicked and ungodly people. Danaeus reckons up no less than nineteen different kinds of heretics, which deny the doctrine of hell; and are there not many erroneous and deluded people, who stoutly and daily assert that there is no hell but what men feel in their own consciences? Ah, how many are there that rejoice to do evil, and delight in their abominations, and take pleasure in unrighteousness! [Jer. 11:15; Proverbs 2:14; Isaiah 65:3; 2 Thes. 2:11; Mat. 25:41; Isaiah 30:33.] But could men do thus, dared men do thus—did they really believe that hell was prepared and fitted for them, and that the fiery lake was but a little before them? Heaven is a place where all is joyful, and hell is a place where all is doleful. In heaven there is nothing but happiness, and in hell there is nothing but heaviness, nothing but endless, easeless, and remediless torments. Did men believe this, how could they go so merrily on in the way to hell?
Cato once said to Caesar, "I believe that you think all that is said of hell to be false and mythical." Just so, I may say to many in this day, Surely you think that all that is spoken and written of hell is but a story. Don't you look upon the people of God to be of all men the most miserable, and yourselves of all men the most happy? Yes! Oh—but how can this be, did you really believe that there was a heaven for the righteous and a hell for the wicked? It is an Italian proverb, "He who has not seen and lived some time in Venice does not understand what a city it is." This in a sense is true of hell.