The New Zealand Evangelist
The Cross Of Christ
The Cross Of Christ.
Men may speak and write about the cross of Christ; but it is not so proper to describe it, as to tell that it cannot be described. We may write about it; but if all its glory were described, the world would not contain the books. We may speak of it; but the most we can say about it, is that it is unspeakable; and the most that we know of it is, that it passes knowledge.
The makers and worshippers of images pretend to help us in this matter, by pictures presented to the eye of the body. But it is not the eye of sense or force of imagination, but the eye of faith that can give us true notions and right conceptions of this object. Men may paint Christ's outward sufferings, but not the inward excellence from whence this virtue flowed, namely, his glory in himself, and his goodness to us. Men may paint one crucified, but how can that distinguish the Saviour from the criminals? On each side of him we may paint his page 408 hands and his feet fixed to the cross, but who can paint how these hands used always to be stretched forth for relieving the afficted and during the diseased? or how these feet went always about doing good? and how they eure more diseases and do more good now than ever? We may paint the outward appearance of his sufferings, but not the inward bitterness nor invisible causes of them. Men can paint the cursed tree, but not the curse of the haw that made it so. Men can paint Christ bearing the cross to Calvary, but not Christ bearing the sins of many. We may describe the nalis piercing his sacred flesh, but who can describe eternal justice piercing both flesh and spirit? We may describe the soldier's spear, but not the arrows of the Almighty; the cup of vinegar which he but tasted, but not the cup of wrath which he drank out to the lowest dregs; the derision of the Jews, but not the desertion of the Almighty forsaking his Son, that he might never forsake us who were his enemies.
The sorrows he suffered, and the benefits he purchased, are equally beyond description: Though we desctibe his hands and his feet mangled and pierced, who can describe how in one hand, as it were, he grasped multitudes of souls ready to sink into ruin, and in the other hand an everlasting inheritance to give them; or how these bruised feet crushed the old serpent's head, and trampled on death and hell, and sin, the author of both. We may describe the blood issuing from his body, but not the waters of life streaming from the same source, scenes of spiritual and eternal blessings. We may paint how that blood covered his own body, but not how it sprinkled the souls of others; yea, sprinkles many nations. We may paint the crown of thorns he wore, but not the crown of glory he purchased. Happy were it for us, if our faith had as lively views of this object as our imaginations oft-times have of incomparably less important objects: then would the pale face of our Saviour show more powerful attractions than all the brightest objects of page 409 nature besides. Notwithstanding the gloomy aspect of death it would discover such transcendant majesty, as would make all the glory in the world lose its relish with us. We would see the evidence of the awful frowns of justice; but these frowns are not at us, but at our enemies, that is, our sins. The cross shews Christ pitying his own murderers, but shews no pity to our murderers. Therefore we may see the majesty of eternal justice tempered with the mildness of infinite compassion. Infinite pity is an object worth looking to, especially by creatures in distress and danger. There death doth appear in state, as the executioner of the law; but there he appears also deprived of his sting with regard to us. There we may hear also the sweetest melody in the world to the awakened sinner; that peace-speaking blood, that speaks better things than that of Abel; the sweetest and loudest voice in the world; louder than the thunder on Sinai; its voice reacheth heaven and earth; pleading with God, in behalf of men, and beseeching men to be reconciled unto God; speaking the most comfortable and the most seasonable things in the world, to objects in distress and danger, that is salvation and deliverance.
The Cross of Christ communicates a glory to all other objects, according as they have any relation to it; it adorns the universe; it gives a lustre to nature and to providence. It is the glory of the world that he who formed it dwelt on it; of the air, that he breathed in it; of the sun, that it shone on him; of the ground, that it bore him; of the sea, that he walked on it; of the elements, that they nourished him; of the waters, that they refreshed him; of us men that he lived and died among us, yea that he lived and died for us; that he assumed our flesh and blood, and carried it to the highest heavens, where it shines as the eternal wonder and ornament of the creation of God. It is the chief event that adorns the records of time, and enlivens the history of the universe. It is the light of life, a powerful light.page 410
Its energy is beyond the force of thunder, and it is more mild than the dew on the tender grass.