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THE PHYSICAL SUFFERING, OR CROSS OF CHRIST.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.—Heb. ii, 10.
It is a fact worthy of distinct notice, that our apostle is here making answer to the very same question that Anselm propounded for settlement, a thousand years afterward, in his very famous treatise, the Cur Deus Homo? And despite of the very great admiration won by this treatise, I feel obliged to suffer an impression, that the apostle has greatly the advantage; writing out his answer with a freer hand, and a far more piercing insight, and presenting, in fact, the whole subject more adequately, in a single sentence, than the much venerated father was able to do in the high theological endeavor of his volume.
In the verse previous to this sentence, which is my text, finding Jesus made a little lower than the angels, and, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, it is as if his mind began to ask, even as 249 Anselm did, why should he suffer thus, or come, in the way of suffering, at all? why could not God, the Almighty, strike out the needed salvation by a shorter method, without suffering, viz., by his omnipotent force? Whereupon he makes answer, virtually, that force is out of the question; because the needed salvation is a purely moral result, which can be accomplished only by moral means and motives—“For it became Him”—it was even a fixed necessity upon Him, the Almighty—“for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in the bringing of many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
The words bringing and captain, here occurring, have a relationship in the original, which would not be suspected, and which disappears in the English; as if we should read—“in the bringing on of many sons unto glory, to make the bringer on” &c. There is no importance however in this reading, such as might be supposed, for a captain is a leader and bringer on of course; only we conceive the passage more fitly, if the family relationship of the two words is understood. The declaration is, and that is the matter of chief importance, that God, the Almighty, must needs work morally in such a case, and not by force: and that Christ, the leader, is made perfect, or perfectly competent, as regards the moral new creation, or bringing up unto glory, by his cross and the tragic eloquence of his death.
That we may fully develop the apostle’s meaning in 250 this general announcement, and verify it in the orderly exposition of the points included under it, let us begin at the question where he appears to have begun himself; viz., why should Christ, in the redeeming of souls, and bringing then, unto glory, subject himself to physical suffering?—what, in other words, were the necessities and uses of that suffering?
I confine the question here, it will be observed, to his physical suffering. He encountered two distinct kinds of suffering, as we commonly use the term, viz., mental suffering, and bodily suffering; that which belongs to burdened feeling and wounded sensibility, and that which is caused by outward privation, or violence done against the physical nature; that which appears more especially in the agony, and that which appears in the death of the cross. The former kind of suffering I believe is never called suffering in the New Testament, but a being grieved; a bearing, or a burden, as in sympathy and loving concern; a being troubled in spirit, or very heavy; sorrow; agony. The word suffering is applied, meantime, I think, only to physical suffering; and was doubtless used by the apostle, in the present instance, as relating to Christ’s physical suffering only.
It is obvious enough then, at the outset, and as the first thing to be noted, that physical suffering, taken by itself, or as being simply what it is in itself, is never a thing of value. On the contrary it is; so far, a thing on the losing side of existence, a subtraction from the 251 general sum of good. It will not help a friend, or feed an enemy, or stop a fire, or cool a fever. To the sufferer himself, looking never to any thing beyond it, or consequent upon it, but simply at what it is, it has no inherent value, like wheat and wool, anal no market value, like gold. It is not, in fact, a commodity of any kind, exchangeable or not exchangeable, but a simple incommodity—a quantity purely negative and a worse than worthless fact.
And the same exactly is true of Christ’s suffering. Taken as physical pain simply, nothing is to be made of it. All the worse and more deplorable is the loss or negation of it, that it is a suffering which has no relation to personal desert; and still more deplorable in the fact that, regarding the divine order of the sufferer, it is even a shocking anomaly, which reason can not comprehend and faith only can accept. God certainly did not want it as wanting to get so much suffering out of somebody. He does not exact a retributive suffering, even in what is called his justice, because he wants so much in quantity to even the account of wrong, but only that he may vindicate the right and testify his honor to it by a fit expression. Nothing could be more horrible, or closer akin to blasphemy, than to say that God wants pain for his own feeling’s sake; or because he is hungry for that particular kind of satisfaction. We have it as a proverb, that “revenge is sweet;” but I recollect no proverb which avers that justice is sweet; because the mind of justice is a right mind, as the mind of revenge is not; and, being right, no pain is sweet to it, not 252 even that which chastises injustice and sin. Besides, there is, it is agreed, no justice in the pains of Christ, as being due on his own account; and it ought to be as well agreed that God could not take them as compensations on account of others. That would be taking them as actual somethings, or quantities having value in themselves, when, in fact, they have, as we have seen, no value at all. Nay worse, if God takes them, he gets only incommodities for his satisfaction, and makes a gain that is purely harm and loss.
But some one will object in the question—are not the physical sufferings of Christ what are called, in the scripture, his sacrifice for sin? and what is the use of sacrifice but to atone God’s justice? I do not understand the scripture to speak of suffering and sacrifice in that manner. Thus we hear an apostle say—“made perfect through sufferings”—for what made perfect? for the satisfying of God’s justice? No, but “to bring many souls unto glory?” “Lamb of God that taketh away”—what? the pains of justice? No, but “the sins of the world.” “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree”—for what end? that God might be satisfied with his pains? No, but “that we being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness;” “By whose stripes”—what of the stripes? do they pay off the release of ours?—“by whose stripes ye were healed.” “For Christ also Lath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust”—in what view? to satisfy the justice of God? no, but “to bring us unto God.” All the lustral figures—those of washing, purging, sprinkling, 253 purifying, cleansing—set forth the sacrifice in the same manner, not as a way of reconciling God to us, but of reconciling us to God. And so universally—I do not know the instance where Christ’s cross and physical suffering are conceived as a making satisfaction to God’s justice.
Regarding Christ’s sufferings then as having no value in themselves, on the ground of which they may be accepted as compensations to justice, we must not leap to the conclusion that Christ could do nothing in a way of bringing men to God, without such sufferings. He could even have been incarnated into the world, in such a way as to involve no physical liability at all. He might even have been incarnated, I suppose, into the family of Cæsar, and strid into his mission, as a prince iron-clad, in all the dignities and immunities of the Empire. He might have taught the same doctrine, omitting only his call to take up the cross, which he taught as the son of Mary. He might have healed as great multitudes, with as kind a sympathy. He might even have been followed, if he chose, by trains of great people, as he was by the humble and the poor, dining at their tables, lodging in their palaces, receiving all the while the highest honors of genius. Or if it should be imagined that, teaching faithfully the same principles, and rebuking the same sins, and offering himself to men as the incarnate Word and Lord, he must of necessity provoke the hatred of enemies, and stir up powerful conspiracies of violence and bigot zeal, what suffering could they bring upon him, armed as he was 254 with miracle, strongly enough even to have routed the Roman army? As the posse that went out to arrest him could not strengthen their knees to stand, or their hands to seize, but fell backward on the ground even as moths fall off from flames they attack; as the moneychangers and trafficking priests fled away before him, taken by a strange panic that no single man ever raised before; so he could have withered Caiaphas by a look, and dashed his accusers away, as a rock tosses off the sea; making Pilate’s wife dream a great deal worse dreams than she did, and causing the poor servile magistrate himself to be a good deal “more afraid” than he was; and as to being gibbeted on the cross, if the conspiracy could have gone so far, he probably enough could have changed the wood into water, as he did the water into wine. There was, in short, no necessary condition of physical suffering implied in his Messiahship. He probably could not have been as complete a Saviour without physical suffering, but he could have been a wonderfully great character and beneficent teacher, as clear of spot or stain, as true in his truth, as wise in his wisdom, as evidently, and some would say, a great deal more evidently, divine.
If then Christ’s physical sufferings, taken as such, had no value, and if he could have been incarnated in the human state without suffering—doing and teaching, to a great extent, the same things—why did he come under conditions of suffering, what uses did he expect to serve by it, such as would compensate the loss? It was done I answer, that he might be made perfect by 255 such suffering—perfect, that is, not in his character, but in his official competency; perfect as having gotten power over men, through his sufferings, to be the sufficient bringer on, or captain, he undertakes to be, in bringing many sons unto glory.
Does he then, it may be asked, undertake the suffering as having that for his object or as consenting to it for effect’s sake? He of course knows that he will suffer, and how, and when, and by whom, arid with what result, but he does not fall into the weakness of those partly fanatical martyrs who undertook the particular merit of being somehow murdered. Coming down to do a work of love, he simply took the liabilities of a human person doing such a work. He was not ignorant of the immense value or power of a right and great suffering, as regards the possible effect of it, and as sin would certainly be exasperated by his goodness, and drag him down to suffering, he meant beforehand to make it a right and great suffering, and so to win dominion by it. He suffered understandingly, therefore, as the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world, though not as aiming to get himself afflicted, or to make an ostentation of being wronged.
What, then, we have now to look after, is the manner and degree of that power over men’s convictions and feelings, which Christ obtained by his physical suffering. And the points to which I call your attention are such as these.
1. The manner in which, by his physical suffering, he 256 magnifies and sanctifies the law in men’s convictions. This in fact was a kind of first point to be carried in getting the necessary power over fallen minds. The speculation that requires him to suffer in a way of helping God to justify himself in the forgiveness of sins, before certain great judicial minds in other worlds and spheres, is a speculation that to say the least travels far, and the scripture gives it no help. The true Christian idea appears to be that Christ is magnifying the law, and making it honorable, not before the remote altitudes, but before the sinning souls of this world by whom it has been trampled. How else shall they ever be regained? God is an essentially practical and not a romantic being. He will not concern himself about the figure he makes in the forgiveness of sins, before the outlying populations of his realm, if only he can bring transgressors down to ask forgiveness here on earth, by making the pinnacles of order smoke before their guilty consciences.
See then how he does it in the matter of Christ’s physical suffering. He came into the world with a perfect right to be exempted from such suffering. There is nothing in his character to require this kind of discipline, or even to make it just. He also had power to put all suffering by, and sail over the world as the stars do, in a region of calm and comfort above it. He could have exorcised the wild hate of his enemies, as he did the poor lunatics of the Gergesenes. By his power of miracle, if not without, he could have driven Pilate and his accusers out of the judgment-hall into the 257 street, passing intact through all the conspiracies of his enemies, even as Moses passed through the sea. But he would not so far infringe on the penal order of God’s retributions., Looking on society, in its madness against him and against the truth, as grinding in God’s mill of retribution, swayed, and rent and tortured by exasperating causes in the guilt of its own transgression, he refuses to take himself out of the general torment. Having taken humanity, he takes all the judicial liabilities of human society under sin, preferring, in this manner, to submit himself to the corporate order of God’s judgments, and testify in that manner, his profound homage to law and justice. He will not so much as parry any one of the bad causations loosened by sin. He will let the world be to him just that river of vinegar and gall which its sins have made it to itself. So he bears the world’s bitter curse, magnifying, even by his pains, the essential sanctity of law and justice.
He suffers nothing as from justice to himself, and therefore makes no satisfaction to the justice of God. But he powerfully honors that justice in its dealings with the world, by refusing to let even his innocence take him out of the murderous and bloody element it mixes. Hence the marvelous, unheard of power his life and gospel, and especially his suffering death, have exerted in men’s consciences. His suffering has this wonderful divine art in it, that it sanctifies both forgiveness and justice, and makes them common factors of good, in the conscience of all transgression.258
2. The physical suffering of Christ has an immediate values under that great law of human nature, that ordains the disarming of all wrong, and the prostration of all violence, by a right suffering of the evils they inflict. Nothing breaks the bad will of evil so completely, as to have had its way, and done its injury, and looked upon its victim. And if the victim, suffering even the worst it could do, still lives unvanquished, the defeat is only a more absolute and stunning paralysis. Thus in the bitting of horses, the animal champs the bit as if he would crush it, and throws himself on the rein as if he would snap it, till finding that he only worries and galls himself, he at last gives way to what has not given way to him, and so is tamed, or, as we say, broken to the rein. So when the wrath of transgression hurls itself upon the Lord’s person, sparing not his life, nor even letting him die easily or in respect, the bad will is only the more fatally broken that, accomplishing so much in a way so dreadful, it has yet accomplished nothing. It has mocked him, tortured him, thrust him out of life, only to find him still alive and see him go up to reign! In one view it has succeeded against him, and he has been seemingly crushed under the heel of its malignity. It has pierced the noblest heart and seen it bleed. It has finished the worst, most shocking, deed of murder ever conceived, And yet that murdered one still lives and loves! How dreadfully crest-fallen now and weak is that bad will, how nearly slain itself by what it has done! Nay, to have only spent so great malignity, and come to the 259 point of exhaustion, would produce a nearly mortal weakness. Suffering kills, how often, the wrong-doing that inflicts it. The man of blood who looks upon his murdered enemy is disarmed by the sight. Even if there seemed to have been some provocation, how tender, and soft, and low-spoken, how visibly gentled in feeling is he, standing in the room where his lifeless adversary lies! That dead face looks imploringly up to him, and his fire is extinguished by natural relentings. How much more when the murdered one is a friend inherently good, bearing a much honored name and great; how much more, if he is the incarnate Son of God; still more, if he is not only killed, but crucified, hung up thus to be looked upon depending from his cross—sad, broken flower, which the spite of so great beauty has plucked! O how weak, irresolute, guilt-broken, now, is all sin, when confronted by that suffering goodness which reveals at once, both its spite and its impotence! “I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest”—How piercing is the word!
3. The sublime morality, or moral worth of Jesus, could never have been sharply impressed, except for the sensibilities appealed to by his physical suffering. If he had come as one born of a good family, if he had been a considerable owner of real estate, if he had made his journeys in a chariot, lodging, at night, with distinguished senators and persons of consideration, if he had been a great scholar among the Rabbis, or had been familiar to the people in the livery of a judge, or a priest, winning great popularity by the profuseness 260 of his charities, and exciting even applause by his attention to low people and his tender ministry to their diseases; dying finally by some of the modes that are common, to be followed to his burial by multitudes that come to weep their loss at his grave—if, I say, he had lived in condition, and died as one admired for his excellence, the real depth of his virtue could never even have been conceived. He would only have been looked upon as fulfilling the type of a graciously benevolent gentleman, and described as the John Joseph Gurney of his time. No, it was only as he waived the honors of condition in his birth, and the comforts of property in his life, became a footman, hungered often, slept under the sky shivering with cold, spent himself daily in exhausting sympathies and got almost no sympathy in return, met the looks of crafty messengers and spies on every side, and scarcely found a place, except in the lone recesses of the mountains, where his ear was not all day, perhaps all night, saluted by the carping sounds of bigot voices quarreling with his doctrine, ending finally his hunted, hated, weary life, by a slave’s death on the cross—this too, even for enemies, as truly as for his friends—it is here that we begin to really look down into the deeps of his great bosom, deeps holy and divine, that no mortal plummet has sounded! And so he is made perfect through sufferings, able to wake a sense in our bosoms of what love is, quickening thoughts in us that are new, opening sensibilities never before consciously opened. All the most effective powers, in short, of moral impression, contained in his character, would 261 have been wanting, if he had not borne the lot of wrong and bitter suffering.
4. It is only by his suffering in the flesh that he reveals or fitly expresses the suffering sensibility of God. As certainly as God has any sensibility, such as belongs to a perfect mind and heart, that sensibility must be profoundly moved by all misery, impurity and wrong. Impassible, physically speaking, he is not impassive to evils that offend, or grieve, his moral perfections. Indeed his vast and glorious nature is, in this view, nothing but an immense sensibility, whose dislikes, disgusts, indignations, revulsions of pity, wounded compassions, afflicted sympathies, pains of violated tenderness, wrongs of ingratitude, are mingling and commingling, as cups of gall, for the pure good feeling of his breast. So far he suffers because he is a perfect being, and according to the measure of his perfection. Why if he could not hate what is hateful, pity what is pitiful, mourn for the hopeless, burn against the cruel, scent the disgusts of the impure—if all bad things and all good were just alike to him, what is he better than granite or ice? No, the glorious, all-moving fact is, that there is a great sensibility at the head of the worlds, and a mental suffering as great, when the worlds go wrong!
This accordingly it is, that we, as sinners, need most of all to know and to feel, and this that Christ, for our salvation’s sake, has taken the flesh and suffered even death, to impress. Nature, in her scenes and objects, had no power to express this moral pain of God’s heart. 262 The ancient providential history was trying always vainly to elaborate the same; testifying, in almost every chapter, of God’s sorrows, griefs, repentings, loathings, displeasures, and his afflictions over the afflicted. Nothing could ever express it but the, physical suffering of Jesus. Here, for the first time, a vehicle is, found that will sufficiently bring home to our guilty feeling God’s wounded feeling, and put us in real acquaintance with that suffering state of love, which his unseen goodness feels.
And every thing turns here, you will perceive, on the matter of physical suffering; for, to our coarse human habit, nothing else appears, at first, to have much reality. In the agony, for example, the real suffering is mental, and the great struggle, a struggle purely of feeling. But if it were not for the physical symptoms attendant, the prostrations, the audible groans, and above all, the body dripping, in blood-like drops, forced through the skin by the pains of the mind—were it not for these physical tokens we should get no impression of a suffering sensibility, that would be of much account. We should only look on drowsily, doubting probably. how much, or what kind of, reality there may be in this rather dull scenic of the gospels!
And here is the precise relation of the agony and the cross. One is the reality, the other is the outward sign or symbol. Having all the mental sensibility Christ has regarding our sin, and shame, and wrong, and fearfully lost state, he still needs to be made perfect through physical sufferings, or by these to have his higher sensibility 263 brought forth into power. He is perfect before, in all the pains of his perfect sensibility, but to our coarse, sensuous, undiscerning habit, there is nothing of much meaning in him, till we watch him undergoing his murder! This physical suffering we can understand; the other is a great way off and very dim.
In one view it is even a scandal that we make so much more of the cross than we do of the agony. And yet the cross was appointed for the culminating point of the gospel, partly in a way of condescension to our lowness and the want of our coarseness, and is really the greater for that reason. The grand thing to be revealed is that which stands in the agony; and the superior value of the cross, or physical suffering, lies in the fact that it comes to us, at our low point, speaking to us of the other, in a way that we can feel. When we look on Jesus suspended by nails through his hands and feet, and set up to die a slow death, in delirium and thirst and fever, we do have raised in our bosoms a little natural sensibility. And, taken hold of by that, our apprehensions will perhaps be sufficiently fixed, at last, to let us in where that deeper, and warmer, and more agonizing, sensibility heaves unseen in the mental compassions of God!
Let us not be too much taken, my friends, by the typology in which our gospel is here and there so feebly and pretensively dressed—the low perceptions, and the short culture, always putting their cheap honors and ornaments upon it. I speak not here of the cross set up as a symbol on our peaks of architecture, 264 worn upon the person, painted on the banners of the religion itself; but I speak of the crucifixes, and the carefully carved distresses of the dying Lord, the droppings of blood, the contortions of form, the pallors of death so elaborately painted, and the generally overdone studies of art, by which Christ’s dying woe is magnified as being, not the sign, but the all of his suffering. The very shallow, feeble, look of such art, the want of all high insight in it, is abundantly mortifying. There is scarcely a doubt that Christ suffered more intensely in the agony, where the pain was wholly mental, than he did upon the cross. Even the external signs appear to indicate as much. In the same way too, his chief suffering, on the cross, was probably mental and not bodily. For. some reason, his suffering on the cross was so much more severe than that of the malefactors crucified with him, that he died whole hours before them; not because they did not suffer as great physical pain as he, but because he had a moral sensibility so vast, a horror of wrong so deep, a concern of love for his enemies so wrenched with agony, that his heart broke and his breath stopped, as it were before the time. This now—would that we could think it—was the real suffering to him! and the physical suffering of the cross was probably a matter of consequence to him principally in the fact that, considering our low, dull, habit, there might be force enough in it to initiate, or pricl in, as it were, some faint impression of the other. And this it is, this only, that makes it a salvation. It is a cross before the eyes, for beings that 265 live in their eyes, and are too coarse to apprehend the spiritual things of God in a spiritual manner—in that way a type of the more wondrous and tremendous cross that is hid in God’s perfections from eternity. O, it is for this, to make sin feel this unseen, tender, sensibility, this pain of goodness, this fatherhood of sorrow—this it is that Christ has undertaken to impress, and for this end he is made perfect through sufferings. Once more—
5. It was necessary that Christ should suffer in the body, and get power over men by that kind of suffering, because the world itself is put in a tragic economy, requiring its salvation to be an essentially tragic salvation. God has made the world, we all agree, for the great sentiments it will organize and bring into play, and souls themselves to be lifted by that play, in those great sentiments. Hence the wonderful affinity of our human nature for the tragic exaltations.
There may have been a prior necessity that a free moral kingdom should include peril, disorder, suffering, great struggles to escape great woes, sacrifices in the good, wrongs suffered by the good, to regain and restore the evil; in other words, there may have been a prior necessity that the plan of God’s moral universe should be essentially tragic in the cast of it. But, whatever may be true in this respect, we can see, every man for himself, that so it is. No merely fine sentiment, or morally high, is quite sufficient for us. The festive, the gay, the triumphal, the melo-dramatic tenderness, the pastoral sweetness, the flutes of domestic arbors, the 266 gongs of public liberty—none of these quite satisfy, not even the mighty love-passion strikes our highest cords of tension till it draws blood! Blood! blood! we must have blood! Human history therefore moves on trailing in blood, tragic in its characters, and scenes, and its material generally.
The great crimes are tragic, and the great virtues scarcely less so. The tribunals sprinkle their gate-posts with blood. The stormy passions, honor, jealousy, and revenge, are letting blood in all ages; and the little ones of trust, and truth, and worth, do the bleeding. And then all the epics and romances, and a great part of the world’s poetry go on to add imaginary pangs and troubles, and torture us still more with bloody felicities that are fictitious. Practically the world has a general fashion of suffering. Right is trampled everywhere,, goodness fights with wrong, nations fall, heroes bleed, and all great works are championed by suffering. Some Prometheus, torn by his eagle, bleeds painfully on every rock waiting to be loosed from his chain. So if Christ will pluck away eternal judgment for the world, he must bleed for it. So great a salvation must tear a passage into the world by some tragic woe—without shedding of blood there is no remission.
This blood—O, it is this that has a purifying touch, working lustrally, as the divine word conceives, on all the stains of our sin, washing us, making us clean, sprinkling even our evil conscience. This tragic power of the cross takes hold, in other words, of all that is dullest, and hardest, and most intractable, in our sin, and 267 moves our palsied nature, all through, in mighty throbs of life.
And this is Christianity; meeting us just where we most require to be met. Christ is a great bringer on for us, because he suffers for us. Christianity is al mighty salvation, because it is a tragic salvation. Why my friends, if it were not for this generally tragic way in things about us, and especially in religion, I fear that we should have a more dull time of it than we think. Indeed I suspect that even the same is true of the general universe—it probably is and is forever to be an essentially tragic universe. With, a fall and an overspreading curse at the beginning, and a cross in the middle, and a glory and shame at the end, where souls struggle out, through perils, and pains, and broken chains, or bear their chains away unbroken still and still to be—how moving, and mighty, and high, must be the sentiment of it! O how grandly harrowing is that joy, how tremulous in tragic excitement is that song of ascription, roaring as a sea-surge round the throne—“unto him that loved us, and washed us, from our sins in his blood!”
Concluding at this point, my brethren, the exposition I have undertaken, you will not fail to note how it gathers in its force upon this table and rite of communion before us. These symbols, bread and wine, body and blood, represent exactly what is most physical in Christ’s suffering. But they do not stop in that, as if there were a value in the pains. They are even 268 a language, as that was, bearing an impression of something higher. They say “made perfect through sufferings;” calling up to be thought, and received, just all that I have here been trying to unfold, of the power which our Master was obtaining, by his dreadful cross and passion.
Back of the wood and the nails, back of the suffering body, there was another cross, another suffering, even that of God’s deep love, struggling out through the blood and the pain, to make its revelation felt in us. And this for what? To bring many sons, that is to bring us all, unto glory.
Suffering and glory! even so; in that tragic copula, the gospel stands, and it is remarkable how many times it recurs. “Ought not Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?” “For the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor”—“The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow”—“A witness of the suffering of Christ, and a partaker of the glory that should be revealed”—“Who hath called us unto eternal glory, by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile”—responses all, as it were, to the word “made perfect through sufferings in bringing many sons unto glory.”
Here, too, as you have noted, Christ’s sufferings for us, and ours for him, and his glory, and our glory, are blended all together, heaving in a common passion, shining in a common glory. And thus it is, my brethren, that our ascended Master, by these communion tokens, pledges us to-day our right to suffer with him, 269 and to be strengthened with him according to his glorious power. And what we call his glory, is, if we rightly understand, but this same glorious power, or powerfulness of glory—no phantom of display, or dazzling crown, conferred by servile worshipers wanting a hero, but that most solid kind of merit which is an element and power of day, on all who are blessed in the sight. When Christ was transfigured in the mount, the shining as the sun, the glistering whiteness, which are called—“the excellent glory,” were yet but a surface glory in themselves, and were only good as types of that inherent, practical glory, that belonged to his nature, and was just now dawning on discovery in his suffering sacrifice. The immense power he gets in being made perfect through sufferings, is itself his glory. And so the state of glory in us is the solid power that we are to obtain, by following in our Master’s steps, by suffering patience and sacrifice. When Christ says, “the glory which thou gavest me I have given them,” that glory is the sense we have in them, as God’s martyrs and servants, of a somehow divine brightness and transforming luster. There is something felt which yet we do not see, and we call that invisible something, glory. It is splendor of soul, or the halo that is on it, when the blur and disorder and opaque mixture of wrong are all gone bye; or it is the state of perfect strength, concord, liberty in good, freeness of knowledge, purposes eternally set, great sentiment hallowed by great principle, and uttered by and through great action, when Christ, who is himself the glory of 270 the Father, has put himself fully upon us, and when so the divine splendor and power, and truth, and righteousness, are become our eternal investiture. And therefore it is, that the very state of glory for which we hope is set forth as a daylight element, bathing holy minds forever, whose sun is the Revelation of God by suffering—“For the Glory of God doth lighten it and the Lamb—is the light thereof. O, thou divine Lamb; suffering symbol in the flesh, of God’s suffering love in the spirit, what shall be the light of our seeing forever, but that which may shine out from thee!271
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