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ON TIIE SI JPATHY OF CHRIST.
IIEB. iv. 15. For we have not a High-Priest which cannot be touched
with the fecling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
There are times, Christians, when we delight in no subjects so much as in those which relate to the grandeur of our blessed Redeemer. We can reflect on the dignity and splendor of his exaltation with rapture, and, I had almost said, are proud of the magnificence of the King of Glory. In the warmth of our affection and zeal, we are ready, like the hasty disciples, to call for fire from heaven, on those who speak disrespectfully of him whom we love, or who lightly esteem this rock of our salvation. We rejoice and triumph in a glorified Saviour. But there are also times- I believe that I do not mistake-say, Christians, if there be not times when you have different feelings blended with those lively and delightful emotions. You would not for the world admit any unbe. coming thoughts of Christ's exaltation; yet you are secretly discouraged by it; as if his own glory would divert him from those tender regards for us which he once professed, and which our circumstances require. I know not how to account for this, but by confess
ing, that we are too much influenced by sense a fancy. We imagine the man Christ Jesus to be al gether such an one as ourselves, and judge of his c position and behaviour by the temper and conduct others. We are often shocked with instances of p sons, who having been suddenly and greatly advanc in life, and forgetting their old acquaintance, ares of their best friends, and disown their obscure a indigent relations. If they condescend to show th any regard in private, they care not that the wo should think they have, or ever had, any connexi with men of so mean and contemptible an appearan Because we see them acting in so unbrotherly and natural a manner, unbelief suggests, that he who ca himself our elder brother, may discover a simi spirit. Had we been present with Christ when appeared in our world, we please ourselves to thi how freely we might have conversed with him, a how readily he would have pitied and relieved “ But since he is gone into a far country, and has ceived a kingdom, who knows," we are ready to sa “ how he is affected ?" I answer, the Spirit of G knows, and declares it to us in the text; “ We ha not a high-priest which cannot be touched with t feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all poir tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Here t double negative is the most positive affirmatio abundantly stronger, and more expressive, than ift Apostle had barely said, “ For we have a high-prie which can be touched with the feeling of our inf mities.” We have; not, we had formerly, as if Chr had left his compassions when he went away. T Apostle had represented him in all his celestial gra
deur; and lest any should thence conclude, that, be. ing passed into the heavens, he will be less concerned about his people on earth, he says, as it were, in our text, “ Let none think that the dignity of his glorified state has made him proud or forgetful. It is the same Jesus who was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; who was bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh ; and who, in all things, submitted to be made like to his brethren ; and, therefore, his heart is infinitely gracious, though his state is inconceivably glorious.”
The difference in the Apostle's address, according to the different characters and ages of the persons to whom he wrote, is very observable. When he was writing to the Gentiles, he reminds them of their miserable condition before they were called to the knowledge of Christ by the gospel. “ Remember, (says he,) that at that time ye were without Christ; being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise ; having no hope, and without God in the world :” But in treating with the Jews, he shows them, that, so far from being losers by embracing Christianity, they had all their former privileges unspeakably improved. They had a high-priest under the law, whose office was the life and glory of their worship ; and we have also our High-priest under the gospel, who is the life and glory of our profession and obedience. The church has never lost any privileges once granted to it, by any alterations which God has made in his various dispensations.
Our Lord Jesus is in our ixt called a high-priest in a relative sense, or with ri ference to his type under
the law of Moses: but he is emphatically entitled this appellation, because of the dignity of his pers the nature of his work, and the eminence of his dowments.
It is now our intention to illustrate this sentime expressed in the words before us, That, amidst all glory, Christ truly and tenderly sympathizes with suffering servants: and we shall briefly consider nature, the objects, and the reality, of his sympath
First, The nature of the sympathy of Christ.
The word which is here rendered, "touched w a feeling,” signifies to have compassion, to suffer, grieve, to condole and lament with ; and is not to --taken metaphorically only, but has a proper and I ral meaning. This I mention, to distinguish the f of Christ as man and mediator, from that of G God, who is a pure and perfect spirit, is represen as exercising pity. " In all their affliction he v afflicted; and the angel of his presence saved the in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them.” I this is not to be understood literally. Real sympat as it implies suffering, belongs not to God. The p fection of his nature raises him above it; and the fore these expressions mean, that he is as ready help us, as if he felt our misery himself. But Chr being man, has all the real affections of human ture, He has not the name, or the similitude on but an experimental feeling of our distress. Inde in the glorified Mediator, it cannot be really afflicti yet it is greatly impressive. This I mention, to c tinguish his compassions in heaven, from what th were on earth. The latter were attended with un siness. He was really pained in body, and grieved
spirit. But there is nothing of perturbation or unhappiness abore : however, the sense wlrich he has of our condition, is as effectual, and is much for our good, as if he were painfully atlectid by our miseries. Heis as much disposed to help us, as desirous of our salvation ; as warınly picads our cause in heaven, and as eagerly ressents the injuries dove us on carth, as it he were suffering the same things lumself.
Secondly. Consider the objects of his sympathy.
They are liis people on earth, under all their infirmities, and all their afflictions. Though Christ is sat down among glorified saints, we must not think that he confimes lus love and favour to them. Those on earth are as much his purchase and charge, as those in lieaven ; and as their circumstances call for greater pity, so we may be certain, that he will not be deficient in compassion or regard. Did he not leave the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness, to go after that which was lost; and is he not as compassionate since his returu? Certainly he is; and attends to our concerns amidst the glories of heaven. For Christ is not entered into the holy places, made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself; now to appear in the presence of God for us. We must not think that, because eminent saints are dis. tressed, persec:ited, and tempted, Christ is regardless of their welfare. He sympathizes with them in their afflictions, and interests himself for their deliverance.
Saul, Saul, why persecutes, thou me?" But when they are tempted to sin, and feel that depravity which they lament and oppose, so that they cannot do the things which they would, does the sympathy of Christ then reach to them ? Yes; for, though he never did