Morning, or, Action

Morning, or, Action  (1800s) 
by John Logan

MORNING, OR ACTION

SERMON,

ON THE

SUFFERINGS OF JESUS CHRISTː

BY THE

REV. JOHN LOGAN, F. R. S. Edinburgh.

TO WHICH IS ADDED.

THE CONSECRATION PRAYER.



NEWTON-STEWARTː

Published and sold Wholesale and Retail, by
J. M’Nairn.

Luke xxii. 44.

And being in agony.—

The agony of our Lord in the garden, and his complaints upon the cross, are the most extraordinary parts of his life. A dread of those sufferings which he was to undergo, appears to have made a strong impression upon his mind. Forebodings of them frequently disturbed his repose, and overwhelmed his spirits. Many days before his passion, he cried out, “Now am I troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.” It was probably with a view to console his mind in such a dejected state, that he was transfigured; that he re-assumed the glory which he had with the Father before the foundation of the world, and was favoured with the presence of Moses and Elias from the mansions of immortality; or, as we are informed by the Evangelist, they talked of that decease which he was to accomplish at Jeruselam. Magnaninity in all its exertions was a conspicuous part of his character. He who walked upon the water, who slept in tranquillity amid the storm, and who encountered the foe of mankind in the desert, cannot be accused a defect of courage. When a band of soldiers, with Judas at their head, came to apprehend him, and enquired for Jesus of Nazareth, he said unto them, “I am he;” and by the dignity of his demeanour, struck them with awe. When he was accused by the chief priests and elders before the judgment seat of Pilate, with that majestic silence which is sometimes the best expression of fortitude, the answered not a word. Nay, when he underwent the severest of his bodily sufferings upon the cross, he endured them with a tranquillity, a firmness and magnanimity, which display a mind truly great and undaunted. How, therefore, on some other occasions, his spirit was overwhelmed, is a subject worthy of our enquiry at all times; more particularly on this day, when we have assembled together to renew the memorial of his death upon the cross, and to recall the remembrance of all his sufferings.

In further discoursing upon this subject, I shall, in the first place, set before you the account which is given of his sufferings; and secondly, endeavour to assign the causes of them.

In the first place, I am to set before you the account which is given of his sufferings.

That night in which he was betrayed, the Saviour of the world went into the garden of Gethsemane, and ascended the mountain of Olives, as he was wont to do. This had been his accustomed retreat from the world, here was the hallowed ground to which he retired for prayer and contemplation; here the had often spent the night in intercourse with heaven. He was accompanisd by Peter, James, and John, the very same disciples twho had been the witness of his glorious ransfiguration, when Moses and Elias had appeared to him, and a voice had come from the overshadowing cloud, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” What a different scene now presented itself? the rays of glory shone no more, the Divine presence was withdrawn; the voice from heaven ceased; that time was how come, which is so emphatically called the hour and power of darkness.

He had lately, partaken of the passover with his disciples; that passover which, with so much earnestness, be had desired to eat; he had instituted the holy sacrament of the supper; he had delivered those divine discourses recorded in the Gospel of John; he had warned them against deserting him in the hour of temptation; he had selected three of them to attend him in his sorrows: nevertheless, even these three thus favoured, thus honoured, thus warned, forgot all that had been said and done, and, unconcerned, sunk into sleep. He was left alone to endure the bitterness of that hour.

The severity of his sufferings in the garden, the anguish and the horror which then overwhelmed him, appear from the strong colours in which they are drawn by the sacred writers. They speak of his sorrow: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” They speak of his agony, that (illegible text) the most inexpressible torment of mind: “And being, in agony.” They speak of his fears “He was heard in that he feared. They speak of his cries, and his tears: “He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.” They speak of the prodigious effects his agony had upon, his body: “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood.” They speak of the desire he had to withdraw from his, sufferings for a timeː “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

They who are acquainted with the style of the holy Evangelists, know how remarkable they are for simplicity of narrative. They make use of no oratorical arts to interest the passions of their readers, they effect no threatenings or embellishments of cloquence, but place the plain action before our view, devoid of all ornament whatever. Historians contemporary to the events which they record, and who beheld the actions which they describe, usually give free vent to their passions in relating the occurrences of their history, and enter with the zeal of parties upon the various subjects which engage their attention. The sacred writers, on the other hand, lay aside every thing that looks like passion or party zeal; they relate events not like men who are interested in the facts which they describe: not like men who had acted a part in the history they write; not even with the ordinary emotion of spectators, but with all the simplicity, and conciseness, and brevity, of an evidence in a court of justice. The torments which our Saviour endured in the garden, therefore, must have been great and amazing, when the sacred writers cloth them with all the circumstances of terror, and paint them in all the colours of distress. What shall we say, then, to account for this dejection which our Lord felt, and for this desire which he expressed to be saved from his sufferings; in the ordinary course of human affairs, an innocent man of common fortitude resigns himself with acquiescence to his fate; his integrity supports him; a good cause and a good conscience carry him outwards through life and death, undaunted and undismayed. Hence, many illustrious and virtuous men in the heathen world, supported by the native fortitude of the human mind, poured contempt upon all the forms of death, and departed with magnanimity and with glory, If a man who had only innocence to support him, might this acquiesce in his doom, one whose sufferings were to be publicly useful, whose death was to be gorious to himself, and beneficial to the world, might rejoice in the midst of his sufferings, and result in the prospect of death. In the early times of the Christian Church, the first disciples followed their Lord in a bath that was marked with blood; persons of all ranks, of all ages, and of both sexes, braved the rage of the enemy, the sword of the persectutor, the fire of the tormentor, became candidates for the crown of martyrdom, and with triumph embraced that very form of death at which our Lord, to appearance, now trembled and stood aghast.

This leads us to the second thing proposed, which was to account for these appearances,—to assign the causes of our Lord’s peculiar sufferings. In general, then, there were circumstances in the passion of our Lord, of a singular kind, fully adequate to produce the effects here mentioned What these were will appear when we consider that our Lord died in a state where he was abandoned by his friends, and by mankind; and he died in a state of ignomy and that he died in a state, where, after suffering an agony of spirit, he was at last forsaken by his Father in heaven. While the two former of these can hardly, be paralleled in all their circumstances, the last is entirely peculiar to our Lord, and constitutes the chief brunch of his sufferings.

First, He died in a state where he was abandaned by his friends and by mankind.— From the beginning he found the world against him. He came into his own, and his own received him not. He was to be made perfect through sufferings, and many were the distresses which wring his heart, before the disease which he accomplished at Jerusalem.

This was the severest of all, from the manifold terrors that were now combined together. He had not only to carry his own cross, to have his head crowned with thorns, to be derided and buffeted, to be extended upon the accursed tree, to suffer the scourge, the nails and the spear. All this he was superior to; but to be abandoned by his friends, and by all mankind, at the very tune he was suffering for their sakes, was the peculiar and forlorn fate of the Saviour of the world.

The presence of our friends, in the hour of trial, gives a secret strength to the mind; it affords a malencholy pleasure to die among those with whom we lived. But this consolation our Saviour had not. He had chosen twelve friends to be the partners of his life, and the companions of his death.— One of these betrayed him; another denied him; all forsook him and fled.

It is some relief to the unhappy sufferer to have the passions of the spectators on his side; from their sympathy he derives courage, and the pain that is felt by many is alleviated to the one who suffers, But the high and the low, the Jew and the Heather, entered into the conspiracy against Christ.—

The priests and elders accused him. The High Priest cried out. “He is guilty of death.” Pilate, his judge, though conscious of his innocence, though he washed his hands from the guilt of his death, ordered him to be scourged, and allowed him to be crucified. The people, with a frantic ardour, sought his death. That very people, who, a few days before, upon his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, had strewed the way with palm branches, and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” that very people, such is the giddiness of the multitude, now cried out, “Crucify him, crucify: him.” Thus in his sorrows, he stood by himself a wreched individual without a friend. When the Shepherd was smitten, the sheep were scattered abroad. He trode the wine press alone.— Or the people there were none with him.— When he died for all, he was pitied by none.

In the second place, He died in a state of ignominy. The death of of the cross was not only painful and tormenting, but ignominious also, and accursed,— a death that was never inflicted upon free men, but reserved for slaves and malefactors for the basest and the vilest of the human kind. There is implanted in the mind of man a strong abhorrance of shame and disgrace. The sense of ignomy is more pungent in a noble nature, than the feelings of pain. To want the appearance of innocence, while, at the same time, we preserve the reality; to lie under the imputation of heinous crimes, to die the death of a criminal, and leave the world with an indelible stain upon our name and memory, is one of the sorest trials that virtue can meet with upon earth. Yet even this our Lord had to suffer. He had to endure the cross, and submit to the shame. It was foretold by the prophet, that he should be “numbered among transgressors.” And although, he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and seperate from sinners, yet he was impeached of the highest crimes; not only as a violator of the Divine law, in breaking the Sabbath, and frequenting the company of sinners, but also as an imposter, deluding the people; as a Blasphemer, assuming to himself the prerogatives of God; and as a seditious person, perverting the nation, usurping royal authority, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar. “If he had not been a malefactor,” said the Jews to Pilate, “we should not have delivered him up to thee.” The resentment of such a situation our Lord felt strongly, and discovered in that remarkable speech, “Are ye come against me as against a thief, with swords and with staves?” Thus, our Lord was not only he sufferer, but in appearance a criminal, he had not only to endure the pain but the ignomy of the cross; not only to be wounded and tormented, but also to be mocked, reviled, and scorned by the vilest of mankind. Then were fulfilled the words of the mystical Prophet, “I am a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me, laugh me to scornː they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord, that he would deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”—

There is not a circumstance in the history of mankind so ignominous, and to an ingenuous nature so tormenting, as the following which is recorded by the Evangelists.— Pilate said, “Shall I release Jesus? they all cried, not this man,” but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

There is a misapprehension into which we are apt to fall, in considering the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Whenever he appears before our eyes, the splendour of his Divinity overcomes the mind, and in the Lord of Glory, the man of sorrows is forgotten. But, my friends, you are to remember that as God is by his nature incapable of pain or sorrow, in all scenes of distress, the Divinity withdrew, that the Humanity might suffer. Yes, Christians, the man Christ Jesus was like one of ourselves, as encompassed with the same infirmities, and subjected to the same distresses; as accessible to sorrow, and as sensible of ignomy and pain.

Thirdly, Our Lord died in a state, where after undergoing an agony of spirit, he was at last forsaken by his Father in heaven.—

The presence of God, and the aids of his Holy Spirit, have always been the consolation of good men in their afflictions. They experienced the fulfilment of these promises. “As thy days are, so shall thy strength be. When thou goest through the waters, I will go with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. Our fathers trusted in thee,” saith the Psalmist, “they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.”—

But in the sufferings, endured by the Redeemer in the garden, and on the cross, God departed from him, and the divine presence was withdrawn.

Christians! what an hour was that, which our Saviour passed in the garden of Gethsemane! In the time of his passion, his torments succeeded one another. He was not at the same time betrayed, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, pierced with a spear, extended on a cross, and forsaken by his Father; but here all these torments rose before him at once all his pains were united together: what he was to endure in sucession, now crowded into one, moment, and his soul was overcome. At this time, too, the powers of darkness, it should seem, were permitted to work upon his imagination to disturb his Spirit, and make the vale through which he was to pass appear more dark and gloomy.

Add to this, that our Saviuor having now come to the close of his public life, his whole mediatorial undertaking presented itself to his view; his eye ran over the history of that race which he came to save from the beginning to the end of time; he had a feeling of all the misery, and a sense of all the guilt of men. If he looked back into past times, what did he behold? The earth field of blood, a vale of tears, a theatre of crimes. If he cast his eyes upon that one (illegible text) which he lived, what did he behold? That nation to whom he was sent, rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, imprecating his blood to be upon them and their children, and bringing upon themselves, such (illegible text) desolation as has not happened to any other people. When he looked forward to succeeding ages, what did he behold? He saw that the wickedness of men was to coninue and abound, to erect a Golgotha in every age, and by obstinate impenitenice to crucify afresh the Son of God. He saw that in his blessed name, and under the banners of his cross, the most atrocious crimes were to be committed, the sword of persecution, to be drawn, the best blood of the earth to be shed, and the noblest splits that over raced the world to be cut off; he saw that for many of the human race, all the efforts of saving mercy were to be defeated; that is death was to be of no avail; that his blood was to be shed in vain; that his agonies were to be lost, and that it had been happy for them if he had never been born.— He saw that he was to be wounded in the house of his friends; that his name was to be blasphemed among his own followers that he was to be dishonoured by the wicked lives of those who called themselves his disciples; that one man was to prefer the gain of iniquity, another the blandishments of pleasure, a third the indulgence of malicious desire, and all of you, at times, the gratification of your favourite passion; to the tender mercies of the God of peace, and the dying love of a crucified Redeemer. While the hour revolved that spread forth all these things before his eyes, we need not wonder that he began to be in agony, and that he sweated as it were great drops of blood.

On the crows that agony returned, and was redoubled. Judge of what he felt (illegible text) the expressions of the Prophet in the mystical psalm, “My God, my God, why ha(illegible text) thou forsaken me, why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words (illegible text) my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not, and in the night-season I am not silent. Our father trusted in thee: they trusted, and they didst deliver them. But I am a worm, (illegible text) no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. I am poured out like water. My heart is melted like wax in the midst of my bowels, thou hast brought me to the dust of death.”

This constituted what the ancient church called the unknown sufferings of Christ. In the cup which the Father gave him to drink, there was something sharper than the vinegar, and more bitter than the gall. The darkness which at that time covered the face of the earth, was but a faint emblem of that blacker cloud which overwhelmed this soul. What the degree of these unknown sufferings was, how they were inflicted, or how they were sustained, we cannot tell. But the complaint of dereliction, which the Saviour then uttered, the sense which all nature had of its Creator rising in wrath, when the earth trembled, the rock were rent asunder, and the grave gave up its dead; testify that they were such as God only could inflict, and the Son of God only could sustain.

Never was there sorrow like unto this sorrow, wherewith the Lord now chastened him in the day of the fierceness of his anger. Upon his agony in the garden, an angel from heaven strengthened him. But in this hour, when he bore the sins of his people, when the pangs of death took hold of him, when the sorrows of hell encompassed him; in this hour of inutterable woe, where the heavenly messengers, and where was the countenance of his father who used to comfort him, and to smile upon him? Alas! from his Father proceeded those very sufferings, the severest of all which he was now experiencing. From him came the cup of trembling, which he was now doomed to drink, and the vials of vengeance which were now poured upon his head. Abandoned and smitten, and overwhelmed, he cried out, “My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?”

The measure of his woe was now full. The sufferings of Christ were compleated.— Before he bowed the head and yielded up the ghost, he looked up to the heavens, and saw the darkness disappearing from before the throne of God. Filled with celestial satisfaction, “Father,” said he, “into thy hands I now commit my spirit.” There was but one pang more, The last cloud was vanishing from the sky, and all was to be serene for ever.

From such a subject, Christians, what sentiments arise in your breasts, and what reflections ought we to conclude with? How is the condition of our Redeemer now changed? From a scenes of terror and distress, he is exalted to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. As the sun broke out from the eclipse which is then suffered, so did the light of his Father’s countenance upon his soul. Shame and sorrow, and suffering, were succeeded by glory, and victory, and triumph.

What consolation does this not yield to Christians in all their afflictions! The High Priest under the law was taken from among men, that he might have compassion on the ignorant, and on those that were out of the way; for that he himself was also compassed with infirmity. So likewise “we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, but without sin. It behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”

I shall conclude with another reflection. Persons of humane and compassionate feelings, when they hear an account of their Saviour’s sufferings, are apt to be moved with pity for his distresses, and to be actuated with indignation against his enemies.—

But those passions, in the present case, my brethren, are misapplied. “Weep not for me, ye daughters of Jerusalem,” said our Lord, when in the midst of his sufferings.—

These sufferings were not intended to excite the sighs of sensibility, and the tears of distress. Sympathy is not the proper return for his love. His sufferings are the objects of your faith, and ought to awaken your gratitude. Neither vent your wrath against the enemies and the crucifiers of your Saviour. Look inwards, O man! search thine own bosom; there dwell the murderers of thy Lord. Thy sins, thy crimes, thine unhallowed desires and unmortified passions, were the actors in that dreadful scene. The Jews, and the Romans were but instruments in their hands— but the feeble executioners of that wrath which they provoked and drew down. On these, therefore, exhaust thy vengeance: Bring forth those enemies of thy Saviour, and slay them before his eyes.

How will it affect the mind with contrition and godly sorrows, when, on this solemn occasion, you call up your past sins to your remembrance. How will it grieve you to think, as one by one they pass before you in review, that each of them added a pang to your Saviour’s agony, and formed the bitter ingredients of that cup which he drank! Will not this consideration break your covenant with death, and disannul your agreement with hell? Can you ever again cherish those sins in your heart, which not only crucified the Lord of Glory upon Mount Calvary, but which every now crucify him afresh, and put him to open shame?

But, Christians, I hope better things of you. On this occasion, let me beseech you, by the sufferings of your crucified Redeemer, to break off your iniquities by repentance.—

solve sincerely, by the grace of God, to (illegible text) no longer in sin. Finally, implore the distance of the Divine Spirit, to renew our wills, and purify your souls. Then may rejoice in this the day of your solenmity, (illegible text) be welcome guests at the table of the Lord. Then shall ye be joyfully invited to (illegible text) marriage-supper of the Lamb. Then (illegible text)ll Jesus manifest himself to you in the making of bread. He shall say unto your (illegible text), “Be of good cheer, thy sins are forsaken thee;” and inspire into you the well (illegible text)unded hope of sitting down with him to the table above, where, in his presence, ye (illegible text)ll rejoice for evermore. Which may God (illegible text)nt, and to his name be the praise! Let (illegible text) pray.


PRAYER.

“Son of the Most High! Thou art worthy (illegible text) take the book of life, and to open the seals hereof; for by thine agony in the garden, and by thy sufferings and death upon the (illegible text)ss, thou hast redeemed us unto God by (illegible text) blood. Thou didst tread the wine-press (illegible text)ne; thou stainedst thy garments in blood; (illegible text)n pouredst out thy soul unto death. But (illegible text)e agony is now over. Thou hast seen (illegible text) travail of thy soul, and tasted the joy that was set before thee! Come now from thy holy hill, glorious in thine appearel, travelling in the greatness of thy strength speaking in righteousness, mighty to save!

“Thou art now ascended on high, and exalted to the right hand of the Father! A greatness is below thee! The principalities of heaven worship thee: the powers of darkness tremble at thy nod: the heavens and the earth are subject to thy dominion: thou hast the keys of hell and of death: thou hast all power over the visible and invisibl worldsǃ

“In obedience to thy commands, we now come to shew forth thy death. Bless (illegible text) we beseech thee, and manifest thyself to us in the breaking of bread! Lord remember us when thou art now come to thy kingdom: and accept of the solemn dedication which we are here this day to make of ourselves unto theeǃ

“Our Father which art in Heaven, &c.

CONSECRATION PRAYER.


[This Prayer is pronounced by the Minister standing at the head of the Communion-Table, to which he has now descended from the Pulpit. And the Addresses to the Comminicants are all afterwards delivered successively (illegible text) this place.]

“Eternal Jehovah! Lord of the heavens and of the earth, God of glory, we bend before thy thone, Thy children prostrate themselves with holy adoration at thy footstool. The heavens are bright with thy glory, The earth is full of thy praise. The great universe is thy temple. Thy name is Jehovah, who alone hast, of thyself, being and immortality.

“Thou mighest have continued for ever alone in the enjoyment of thine own perfections, though angels and men had never been. But to extend life, to communicate happiness, and to diffuse joy, thou didst rise from thy throne, thou raisedst thine arm over the void, thou spakest this earth into existance, thou madest us after thine own image, and has watched ever us from the beginning of time, even until this day.

“When we transgressed against thy commandments, and last our original innocence, thy mercy forsook us not. Thou hadst compassion upon the offspring of Adam. Thine eye looked with, pity; thou didst lay our help upon One who was mighty to save. Him, in the fullness of time, the Ambassador of peace and reconciliation, and love, thou didst send. Our ears have heard the joyful sound; our eyes have seen the salvation of our God. This isaa day of the Son of Man!

“Glory be to God, that peace is proclaimed on earth, and good-will to the children of men. Hosanna to the Son of David! blessed be he who came in the name of the Highest to save us! Hallelujah, Hallellah, to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever!

God of the patriarchs! who saw afar off this day which we now commemorate: God of the prophets! who foretold its arrivalː God of the righteous men! who desired its approach: God of the evangelists and appostles! who first beheld the day of the Messiah: God of the martyrs and confessors! who honoured it with their blood: God of our fathers! who within these walls have kept it in remembrance: God of our children who will commemorate it when we shall sleep in the dust: God of time! God of eternity! descend now, make thyself known to us, and fill this house with thy glory.

“Father: Almighty! Creator of the world great parent and preserver of men, who didst contrive the mystery of our redemption, which we now come to commemorate Son of the Most High! Redeemer of the world, Intercessor, Friend, and Patron of the human race, who by thy death upon the cross, didst accomplish the mystery (illegible text) our redemption, which we now come commemorate: Eternal Spirit! proceeding from the Father and the Son, Author of the divine life, Comforter of the faithful, Inhabitant of the temple of a pure heaven, (illegible text)o dost apply to the penitent the benefits (illegible text) that redemption which we now come to commemorate,— Father, Son, and Holy spiritǃ God blessed for ever; be now present; (illegible text) now propitious, and hear the prayers of (illegible text)y people.

“Thou hast brought us to thy holy mountain; make us joyful in thy house of prayer. We have come to thy temple; may we behold thy glory; may the beauty of our God (illegible text) upon us, and make all thy goodness to (illegible text)ss before us. Open unto us the fountain of life, that we may drink and live. Now command the blessing, even life for evermore.

“May these elements of bread and wine, which, in the name, and by the authority, of the Lord Jesus Christ, we now set apart (illegible text) represent his body and blood, convey to (illegible text)e faithful the graces of the new covenant. May the bread become the bread of life; may the fruit of the vine be a foretaste of that wine which is for ever new (illegible text) the kingdom of the Father. Eating of his bread, and drinking of this cup, may (illegible text)e never after hunger or thirst again. Hear, God, these our humble praises and (illegible text)ayers. May they now ascend before thee with acceptance from this table, upon which the the emblems of the Lamb sacrificed, to the throne of the Lamb reigning in glory. Now, to the Father, and the Son and the Holy spirit, be all glory, and honour, dominion and power, time without end.— Amen.”


This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.