|A Practical Exposition Upon The Fifty-Third Chapter Of Isaiah.
by Thomas Manton
THE FOURTH VERSE.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
THE prophet having given you the meanness of Christ's birth, and the manner of
his appearing in the world, beginneth now to draw towards his death and passion,
and in this verse entereth upon it, and doth not barely describe Christ's
agonies and fears, but showeth the cause of it, confuting the folly of the Jews,
who rejected Christ because he came under this disguise of meanness and
sufferings, by showing it was fiat their sakes: 'Surely he hath borne our
griefs, and carried our sorrows.'
This text is the rather to be prized, because as it is a clear conviction
against the Jews, so it is a ground of all consolation to Christians. It is a
clear demonstration against the Jews; they could never elude it, insomuch that
when Luther urged this place to them, they had but this poor shift, that
certainly the people of the Jews did not deserve these plagues and therefore the
Messiah needed not to take them away; or if they did deserve them, it was
because they did not persecute Christ enough, the pretended Messiah. Thus it is
usual with people to have an ill apprehension of their miseries. But other Jews
left all upon the reading of this chapter; and being asked why? they answered,
God was stricken and smitten, they could never put by that, they said. And it is
the ground of all consolation to Christians. Luther said all St Paul's epistles
were so, and those floods of consolation flowed out of this fountain: 'He hath
borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.'
Therefore, let us a little look upon it. The parts are two
1. Christ's love.
2. Man's unthankfulness.
1. Christ's love, which is set forth in that clause, 'Surely he hath borne our
griefs, and carried our sorrows.' And there consider
[l.] The certainty of what is averred of Christ: surely.
[2.] The acts of Christ's obedience, set forth in two words: he hath borne, he
[3.] The objects: they are griefs, sorrows.
2. Man's unthankfulness, in censuring Christ and despising him; and there
[1.] The persons: we.
 The guilt: esteeming Christ stricken and smitten of God. These are the
parts; and that I may open them, I shall go over them in a short comment and
explication, and then clear a doubt about the quoting of these words by St
Matthew. I shall first go over the words.
Surely. To note(1.) The reality of the' thing in regard of Christ's suffering,
it was verily and really done. (2.) To note the truth of the proposition; this
is a true proposition. Christ hath borne our griefs; he bore them, and it is
true that he bore them really. And then for the acts, he bore and carried. They
note a susception or taking up of things to put them upon our backs. And then
the objects, our griefs, our sorrows. The first word signifieth sicknesses, the
last wounds. The one importeth the sin, the other the punishment of sin. The
Septuagint translates it, ovoutoV taV amartiaV hmwn jerei kai peri hmwn odunatai
he beareth our sins, and is pained for our sakes. Then the specification of the
object, our sins, our griefs. It implieth, first, that it is for our sakes he
endured these sicknesses and sorrows for us. Secondly, He not only bore pains
for our sakes, but the pains that we should have endured, or at least equivalent
to what we should have borne and carried, if we had suffered for sin. And it
implieth not only the cause of suffering, but the quality of suffering. So much
for the first part.
2. For man's unthankfulness, yea, evil requital of Christ's love. For here is
first something implied, an unworthy refusal of him for our saviour: yet we.
Secondly, The ground of this refusal, expressed upon a false supposition or
surmise, that all these calamities came upon him by the just judgment of God: we
esteemed him stricken and smitten of God. Some read quasi leprosumstricken with
a leprosy. Leprosy was esteemed among the Jews as the greatest expression of
God's anger. They looked upon him as in the state of leprosy, as if he had the
expressions of God's anger upon him. And then as for smitten of God and
afflicted. Expressions are heaped up one upon another, to show the height of
Christ's sufferings, and their malice. He suffered much, and they looked upon
him as having all the expressions of God's anger: 'Stricken, smitten,
But you will say, Was not this true? was he not stricken and afflicted by God?
I answerTrue, but not in their sense; they did not look upon themselves
stricken and smitten by God in him. For the matter of the censure, it was right,
but for the form and manner of application to Christ, it is wrong.
But now to answer one objection to the whole, and I have done with the
If this be the meaning of the words, how cometh it then to be quoted by Matthew
in another sense? Mat. 8:17, 'That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by
Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our
sicknesses.' Where it is applied to the healing of corporal and bodily diseases.
This is a doubt fit to be solved, and I shall answer it.
1. Some think, and, for aught I see, Junius is in the number, that this place is
to be meant of bodily diseases, as if it were an argument only brought to prove
that Christ was the Messiah by the power he exerted in curing those diseases;
and that this bearing and carrying intimated no more than the bare taking them
away. But if it be properly to be understood of diseases, how will the last
clause agree? for it is nonsense to think he was stricken and smitten of God
because he took away diseases.
2. Others therefore think that the proper and literal sense is concerning the
bearing and taking away of sins and punishments, though in an accommodative
sense it has respect to diseases bodily. But how is it said then, 'that it might
be fulfilled,' which is a note of difference when a text is quoted for the thing
contained in it, or the words alluded to in it? Therefore3. What is to be done
then? I answerWe must distinguish of the sense of a place. There is the proper
and full sense, and the less principal, secondary, and subordinate sense. So it
may be applied to diseases, which was some kind of representation of his great
love in taking away our sins, and is virtually so in this place, because
sicknesses are the effects of sin at least. And this action of Christ's taking
away diseases, was a type of his taking away sin. Now, Matthew applieth that to
the sign, which did more fully agree to the thing itself and the truth
signified. And observe this, for the clearing of this and other scriptures: as
the patriarchs in their actions, and in what they did, were types of Christ, so
Christ's own actions were in a manner types of what he himself would more
principally do, as casting out of devils, dispossessing of Satan, healing the
sick; and so the prophecy was fulfilled in the type: and it was a taste of
Christ's love when he cured the sick and healed every disease. And so upon the
cross, when he bare our sins, and suffered for them; as it is quoted by Peter,
who expressly followeth the Septuagint's translation of this place, saying, 1
Peter 2:24, 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.' Now
the words being explained, I shall give you several brief notes upon them; for
if I should speak largely, I shall prevent myself in the chapter. (1.) From that
deep assertion with which this truth is proposed, surely, look upon it, it is a
sure thing: this is a true proposition, that Christ did bear our sins and carry
our griefs; it noteth the truth of the thing, and the unquestionableness of it
this surely chiefly relateth to that our sins; though it is to the whole
sentence, yet to that emphatically. The note then is this:
Doct. 1. That it is a most unquestionable truth that Jesus Christ suffered for
our sins. As the centurion said, Mat. 27:54, 'Truly this was a just man, and the
Son of God.' They had some tremulous consent before, but then he puts it out of
question: truly it was so, he was some great man. But to prove it, take that
place: 1 Tim. 1:15, 'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.' It is a sure thing, an
unquestionable truth. So the gospel of salvation is a word of truth, Eph. 1:13.
In regard of its effects, it is called there the gospel of salvation; in regard
of its property, the word of truth.
I shall prove it to you a little by parts.
1. It is an unquestionable truth against the Jews that he did not die for his
own sins, for to those the prophet chiefly speaketh: and I should not be
faithful to the text if I did not hint it. John 8:46, Christ maketh this
challenge, 'Which of you convinceth me of sin?' not, Who can lay anything to my
charge? For they were ready to lay anything to his charge, and to object against
him as a traitor, deceiver, glutton, demoniac, what not; but they could not make
it good, nor convince him of it. Nay, it is worth the observation, that God
would not suffer him to be condemned till Pilate had solemnly acquitted hint
thrice by his own mouth. See it in one chapter, Luke 23:4, 'He saith to the
chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man;' and again, ver.
14, 'Pilate said to the chief priests, and the rulers, and the people
altogether, I have examined him before you, and have found no fault in him
touching those things whereof ye accuse him;' and in ver. 22, 'And he said unto
them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death
in him.' And there was nothing but popular tumult, and a confused noise of
voices. 'Crucify him, crucify him,' but no cause specified. Just as Tertullian
saith of the old Christians, Suo jure non inimicum vulgus invadit lapidibus et
incendiiswhen they were dismissed from the judges, the common people would tear
them in pieces, but they could assign no cause. Therefore, 'surely he hath borne
our griefs.' As in the place before quoted, the centurion and they that were
with him, when they saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, were
forced to testify his innocence, Surely this was some hero, some man highly
favoured by the gods.
2. It is an unquestionable truth that he died for our sins, in that
[1.] It is the sum of all truth: 2 Cor. 1:20, 'For all the promises of God are
in him yea, and in him Amen.' It is called 'a more sure word of prophecy,' 2
Peter 1:19. That part of the prophets that concerned Christ was more sure than
all revelations and voices.
[2.] This truth is confirmed by God's oath, Heb. 6:14-19, when God made a
promise to Abraham, 'because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
saying, Surely in blessing I will bless thee;' which, as the apostle reasoneth
there, belongeth to us, through Christ. So that we have two immutable
thingsGod's promise, and God's oath. Surely that is God's oath; if not, let me
not be God.
 This a truth confirmed by Christ's own testimony, by the apostles and
witnesses chosen to this purpose, whom the world was not able to withstand. And
by a multitude of miracles wrought by them, and extraordinary gifts bestowed on
them. Therefore it should be entertained as a sure truth, as a sure word of
Use. It serveth to show us how this proposition is to be entertained by us, as a
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation and belief. Such truths are so
commended to us to show how they should be received. It is to check our unbelief
that these asseverations and commendations are annexed to great truths. A
physician commendeth some medicines, not that they need it, but that the patient
may the better take them. So we say it is true, not as if there were a doubt of
it, but that the act of your faith may be the more revived and exercised upon
these truths. Now then close with this truth both in the general and
1. In the general, look upon it as a faithful saying, that Christ the Son of God
came into the world. There is a great deal of difference in men's assent to the
gospel in the general. Every one doth not believe it to be a word of truth.
First, In some there is but a conjectural apprehension; it may be true, or it
may not, for they never made a strict inquiry into it, only received it by
tradition. As the men of Samaria. Christ telleth them, 'Ye worship ye know not
what,' John 4:22. So they take up the gospel at haphazard, not knowing the worth
of it, never feeling the power of it, nor experiencing the comfort of it.
Secondly, In others there is but opinion, in which the mind is strongly swayed
to think it true, but they cannot tell how it may prove. There are fears and
doubts of the falsehood, as well as of the truth of it. They cannot contradict
it, and yet cannot settle in it, for the establishing of their souls. There may
be seine ungrounded overly persuasions, which may work in them that which the
apostle calleth an enlightening. and a tasting of the powers of the world to
come, Heb. 6:5. As some were drawn into baptism in the primitive church out of a
probable conceit of the truth of the gospel, there may be some flashy momentary
lightnings, but in few there are real and thorough persuasions of the truth of
2. In particular, we should get the riches of assurance of understanding that we
may fetch comfort out of it for ourselves. We should all say, For our sins
Christ died; and if that word be too common, my sins. Take heed of making God a
liar: 1 John 5:10, 'He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he
believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.' Here is the oath of the
Spirit of God, 'Surely he hath borne our griefs.' There should be the like
confidence in our hearts as there is truth in the proposition. Do not doubt of
the sure word of promise. Many are loth to determine upon comfort; they are
afraid of presumption; they are afraid to look upon the promises on the bright
side: why then, look upon them in the humbling way. Claim by the apostle's
tenure, 'He came to save sinners, of whom I am chief,' 1 Tim. 1:15. He came to
die for sinners; why not than for me? I am sure I am as much a sinner as any
other man, and more too. The faithful saying is, that Christ came to die for
sinners surely I am sinner enough for Christ to save,that you can say by
experience. Why, if the word be true, it is as true Christ came to take away our
But how shall I look upon this as a faithful saying, that Christ came to die for
my sins? Is not that to believe a lie, suppose I be a reprobate?
Ans. [l.] The word of God excludeth none but those that exclude themselves. We
are to go to God's revealed will; that we are bound to believe, though in his
secret will it should not be truth. As Abraham was bound to believe, after God's
command, that Isaac should die under his hand, though God had otherwise
purposed; for you know it is said, 1 Tim. 2:4, 'Who will have all men to be
saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.' God showeth them that the
promulgation of the gospel is general.
 Though every wicked man is not bound to believe that his sins are pardoned,
yet he is bound to come to Christ that he may obtain forgiveness. Therefore I
close this proposition with a great deal of joy, that surely Christ came to
pardon our sins, and to carry our griefs. So much to this use and point.
2. From the first act of Christ's love, with the object of it: 'He hath borne
our griefs;' that is, took our sins upon him: the point is:
Doct. 2. That Jesus Christ bore the guilt of our sins.
All our griefs were really transacted and cast upon him. The scriptures delight
much in the expression of Christ's bearing our sins, and it implieth two
1. A sublation, a taking of them away from us.
2. A susception of them upon himself. Look, as the sacrifice is said to bear the
iniquities of the people, and the two goatsthe slain goat and the
scape-goattyped out Christ's death and resurrection Lev. 16:22, 'And the goat
shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited;' so Christ
is said to 'bear our sins in his own body upon the tree,' 1 Peter 2:24the guilt
and the punishment of them. So Heb. 9:28, it is said, 'Christ was once offers d
to bear the sins of many;' and John 1:29, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sins of the world,'-airei: the word signifieth both to bear and to take
away. Now, this bearing, in the language of the scripture, implieth a real
susception of guilt; not only Christ's taking away of sin from us, but a taking
of it into his own person; as Ezek. 18:20, 'The son shall not bear the iniquity
of the farther, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son;' that is,
his wickedness and his guilt shall not be transacted upon him. Now Christ bore
[l.] That he might make a change with us: 2 Cor. 5:21, 'He was made sin for us
that knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' He
would take our sins, that we might have his righteousness. What a great exchange
is were! As if a king should take a beggar's weeds and dunghill rags for his own
royal robes. It was much for Joshua to have his filthy garments taken from him,
more to have change of raiment; most of all that Christ should take such
cast-off rags upon himself. We are righteousness in him, he is sin in us. In the
great contrivance of the covenant, everything is done by way of exchange. The
Son of God was made the Son of man, that the sons of men might become the sons
of God. He took our misery that we might have his glory. He was born of a woman
that we might be born of God. Christ was really sin for us, that we might be
really righteous in him.
[2.] That he might destroy sin in us, by taking it into his own person: 1 Peter
2:24, 'He bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might be dead unto
sin,'-apogenomenoi: the word signifieth that we might be unborn to sin: it
cannot be fully rendered. We were before dead in sins: Christ would make us dead
to sin, and, therefore, he took it into his own person. You know some foul
diseases pass from us by the transmission of the infection to others. Christ was
infected, as it were, by our corruptions, that we might be free. We, that were
dead in sins, are now dead to sin, the vigour and strength of sin being
extinguished by virtue derived from Christ's bearing of them, whereby the soul
is restored to health again.
The uses of this point are:
1. To discover to us the love of Christ, whereby our faith hath somewhat to fix
and dwell upon. The love of Christ is seen in that he would not only take away
the guilt of sins, but take it into his own person. Here is the lowest
condescension, and so the highest expression of love, that he was 'made sin.'
This is that which is most abhorrent from the purity of the divine nature, to be
sin; and yet he was so for our sakes; that was the lowest step and condescension
that could be. Christ was made many things for us, but there is the highest
wonder of his love, that he should be made sin for us. Usually that is the
highest expression of love, when men do not only stoop beneath themselves, but
do that which is contrary to their natures, to do us good. As when a stern man
doth not only serve our necessities in his own way, but with great affability;
and when a modest man is bold for our sakes. These things take with us, when men
deny their very tempers and dispositions to serve us. This was the greatest
self-denial in Christ, to become sin. Oh, work it upon your hearts, and display
it before your faith! Here is cause of triumph: Col. 2:14, 'Whatever was
contrary to us, Christ took it away, nailing it to his cross.' How nailed it? It
was nailed when Christ was nailed: he bore it in his own person. Oh, how hath
God provided for the triumph of our faith!
Doct. 3. I might further observe, that sin is our soul-sickness.
He took our griefs or sickness. The more gracious, the more healthy the soul is:
3 John 2, 'I wish above all thing that thou mayest prosper and be in health,
even as thy soul prospereth.' Gaius had a healthy soul in a sickly body. As a
disease blasteth the perfection and beauty of the body, so doth sin that of the
soul,it doth not thrive and prosper under it. There are some sins that bear a
great analogy and resemblance with outward diseases, and affect the soul just as
they do the body. But I will not speak to that now.
I proceed to a fourth point from the second act of Christ's love.
Doct. 4. That the Lord Jesus Christ took not only our sickness but our sorrows.
He did not only bear our griefs, but carried our sorrows; that is, took not only
our guilt, but our punishment upon him; that is, the very wrath that we should
have endured if we had suffered for sin, even the curse of the law and the wrath
of God. He put himself in our stead; Christ would give us an experience of what
he freed us from in his own person. That I may make this out to you,
consider:(1.) What; (2.) How; (3.) Why Christ suffered.
1. What Christ suffered. His sufferings were not only outward and visible, such
as he endured in the garden, in the hall, and on the cross,buffetings,
scourgings, taunting insultations, being mocked, spit upon, crowned with thorns,
pierced, crucified. Not only these, but inward sufferings, such as were:
[1.] The assaults of spiritual wickednesses. The devil, seeing Christ under
great agonies, thought he had a great advantage upon him, and therefore was very
busy with him. Now God gave him leave, and Christ offered as it were the
occasion, being stirred with passions; though, as a glass of clean water that is
shaken, there was no filth to arise. God gave Satan leave, the chains of his
providence being taken off from him, as in that place, Luke 22:53, 'This is your
hour, and the power of darkness: h wra, kai h exousia tou skotouV. Hell's
licentious time,it was, as it were, let loose to do what it would. The devil,
who would tempt Christ in his fasting, would now much more in his dissolution
and desertion: hell had a kind of license to tempt Christ, so far as it might
stand with the innocency of his person.
 The desertion of God the Father, whereby all comfort was eclipsed and hidden
from his soul; he was sequestered from all sense of comfort, though the union
were not dissolved. Therefore, he crieth out, Mat. 27:46, 'My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?' Though he lost his Father's love, it was not as if he
had apprehensions that there was any change in God towards him; God was the same
to Christ still, though not appearing in the same way: as the sun is the same,
whether it shine through a red or green glass, and so casteth sometimes a
comfortable and sometimes a bloody reflection.
[3.] He suffered inwardly the impressions of his Father's wrath, and that was a
heavy burden indeed; and, therefore, he saith, Mat. 26:38, 'My soul is exceeding
sorrowful, even unto death.' It is said, Gal. 3:13, He was 'made a curse for
us;' not only deprived of love, but made a curse. He suffered so much of the
wrath of God, and underwent the curse of the law, so far forth as it might stand
with ME office and person, that, if he had not been God, he would have remained
under that curse to all eternity.
2. How he suffered. It was with a great deal of reluctancy and consternation
expressed in his prayers, fears, grief; insomuch that he needed an angel to
comfort him; and yet, notwithstanding, he was in so great an agony, that he
sweat great drops of blood: the word is Jromboi, crumbs and clots of blood, Luke
22:44. That implieth a great deal of consternation of mind. Ordinarily, men,
when they are in a great passion, emit sweat; but the impression of it was so
strong upon Christ that he emitted blood,nay, thick clots of blood, a sign that
his soul laboured under the violence of strong passions. How poorly, then, do
they provide for the honour of our Saviour that say he suffered no more than the
cruelty and malice of men! The martyrs have suffered a great deal of more
outward cruelty from men cheerfully, when they have been sawed, burned, melted,
roasted, harrowed, boiled it lead or oil. They never felt much agonies and
consternations, and, therefore, there was more in Christ's suffering than man's
3. Let us consider why he suffered, and how that will clear the conclusion we
have in hand.
[1.] He suffered to free us from the wrath which he endured, that was one end: 1
Thes. 1:10, 'Even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come.' Therefore, he
underwent it in his own person; and the pains of hell did in a manner compass
him round about. The ground of this reason lieth in this, that Christ was our
surety and substitute, and, therefore, was to subject himself to that wrath
which we had deserved by our sins, and should have endured in our persons, if he
had not redeemed us from it. Our surety must carry our sorrows. He was to suffer
not only for us, but in our name and stead; and the surety was to pay the same
sum of money that the debtor oweth Heb. 7:22, Jesus was 'made a surety of a
better testament.' The debt of punishment was to be exacted of him, as well as
the debt of obedience. Jesus was made our surety, and he fully satisfied God's
justice for that punishment that we owed to him by suffering it in his own
 He was to suffer to satisfy for our sins that be had taken upon him; for our
sins were really put upon Christ, as was shown in the former point. And if the
sins and the punishment, which was the wrath of God, it followeth by a necessary
consequence, that he who bore our griefs should also carry our sorrows. The
ground of this reason is, because, as God meant to magnify his mercy at this
time, so also his justice. He would not pardon sin without satisfaction for sin
in us, or in our surety: Ps. 116:5, 'Gracious is the Lord, and righteous.' Now,
if God had restored mankind without requiring our sins of Christ, he had only
discovered his mercy. Nay, if an ordinary death had been accepted, as some dream
of an acceptation, it had been all grace still. Now, it was God's design to
express his justice as well as his mercy; Rom. 3:25, 'Whom God hath set forth to
be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for
the remission of sins.' And the apostle repeateth it, ver. 26, 'To declare, I
say, his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him that
believeth in Jesus;' that is, that he might be acknowledged just, even while of
mercy he forgave sins. This is what the light of nature teacheth men, that
justice must be satisfied before mercy could have a free passage. And, indeed,
in the business of believing, the soul sticketh here: God is a just God, and
this was what made the most seeing and knowing heathens to be at a loss how
divine justice could be satisfied; and, therefore, to expiate guilt, they would
give all that was near and dear, to them,the fruit of their bodies for the sin
of their souls. Whereas the gospel, you see, holdeth it forth in a sweet
way,Christ suffering the infinite wrath of his Father, even as much as would
have sunk any soul to hell eternally, if it had been laid upon him. These
arguments, I conceive, are sufficient. I will not traverse all the arguments and
doubts that might be objected. Solid and fundamental truths are much weakened
and lessened in the hearts of the hearers, when they are proposed in a
controversial way; and therefore, lest I should prejudice this comfortable
doctrine, while I go about to confirm it, I shall only touch upon two objections
that concern the main state of the point.
Object. 1. If Christ made a full satisfaction by bearing our sorrows and his
Fathers wrath, how then doth God love us freely?how is mercy magnified?
I answer brieflyThe freeness of God's love or mercy doth not exclude the
fulness of Christ's merit. You shall see the apostle joineth both together,
God's mercy and Christ's merit: Rom. 3:24, 'Being justified freely by his grace,
through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.' Freely, in respect of us; we
could contribute nothing of desert, nor nothing of satisfaction toward it. There
can be no price paid by ourselves, nor by any for us. We could not satisfy for
ourselves, nor merit a satisfier. And therefore there is a great deal of
freeness of mercy held forth in it, in that God freely gave Christ for us. The
scriptures always speak of Christ as a gift: 'For God so loved the world, that
he gave his only-begotten Son.' There are divers respects that set out the
freeness of the gift. First, In that he gave him of his own accord. We could not
enlarge our thoughts to such a desire, Isa. 65:1. As God said in another like
case, 'I am found of them that sought me not.' It is impossible that man or
angel could take in such a contrivance in his thoughts to ask it of God.
Secondly, Freely, because, as we cannot deserve it, so we cannot requite it. God
giveth Christ to them that can give nothing for him. But this must be the work
of another place.
Object. 2 is this, How did Christ suffer our punishment, since his sufferings
were but temporary, and ours to be eternal? There are divers answers. I will
give you that which is most satisfying.
1. I distinguish of our punishment; it may be considered two ways as to the
substance, and as to the circumstances of it. For the substance, Christ suffered
it fully, even infinite wrath, though not with such circumstances as could not
stand with his person and office.
2. That those circumstances, the eternity and duration of our punishment, are
not so much in regard of the punishment itself, as the persons that undergo it.
It is because they cannot conquer and get above it. Now Christ was such an
excellent person that he could not only undergo infinite wrath, but get above
it. Christ could set himself free by his own power. The scriptures hint this
answer in that expression, Acts 2:24, 'Having loosed the pains of death, because
it was not possible he should be holden of it.' Death and the curse were, as it
were, in travail; for look, what pains and throes a travailing woman sustaineth
till she be delivered of her burden; even such pangs did the grave and the curse
feel till Christ were gotten free from them, for it was impossible he could be
holden of it. Thus for that objection. Those curses that would have continued
upon him for ever and ever, Christ conquered by the power of his Godhead, for he
was to suffer triumphantly.
Use 1. Is exhortation, to press you to three duties:1. To observe this great
work of God, to put the punishment of our sins upon Christ.
[1.] Meditate upon it in your thoughts. Here is enough to take them up to all
eternity. Deep sufferings seem to challenge from us a serious contemplation:
Lam. 1:12, 'Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there
be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord
hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger,'which some have applied to
Christ, though I think improperly. I quote it only to show you that a transient
glance, a mere passing by, is not enough for deep sorrows; you must behold and
see. The scripture speaks of looking upon him whom we have pierced, Zech. 12:10.
And observe it seriously; it is not a slight turn of the thoughts this way that
will serve. What is the reason that men that know the evil of sin and the mercy
of Christ do not more love Christ and hate sin? They have but a slight and
superficial apprehensionit swimmeth upon the top of their thoughts, and is
readily up: It is true we are all sinners, and God is merciful. These men,
though they speak often of it, do least of all believe it. Therefore do not
hastily run over these truths. The scriptures always, when they express the love
of God, they seem to give occasion for some pause of the thoughts: 'God so loved
the world!' 'Behold what manner of love!' and the like. The works of God's
providence require an accurate search: Ps. 111:2, 'The works of the Lord are
great, and to be sought out by all that take pleasure therein.' Much more the
great contrivance of the covenant. Take it into your thoughts, what it is to
have a God suffering, and a God punishing.
[2.] Observe it with admiration. One said he had gotten this good by philosophy,
that he had learned to admire at nothing. The more you know of the things of
God, the more you will admire at everything, especially at this great mystery.
There is an observation of curiosity, when men look into every turning of it by
their reasons, and so lose themselves in a mist of errors. The Christian way is
to look upon it with admiration, to admire the wisdom of God, that he should in
such a sweet way magnify infinite wisdom and infinite justice at the same time.
This very thing, the sufferings of Christ, the angels desire to pry into, 1
Peter 1:12; if you consult the context, you will find it so. He alludeth to the
two angels that were set upon the mercy-seat, which was the covering of the ark,
and typed out Christ. They would fain see the utmost of this mystery. They
desire to look into it out of a thirst of knowledge, or a delight in meditation.
So 1 Tim. 3:16, 'Seen of angels;' that is, this was the ravishing object that
took up their thoughts.
2. To learn that which God teacheth us in such an instance. There are many
profitable lessons. I will but name them:First, There is the evil of sin. God
would express his hatred against it by punishing it in Christ. Sin is such a
thing, that when Christ did but take the guilt of it into his own person, he
must suffer the infinite wrath of his Father. Secondly, Then the impartial
severity of divine justice: God spared not his own Son. It is said, 2 Peter 2:4,
that he 'spared not the angels that sinned,, but cast them down to hell.' But
lo, here is a greater instance: Rom. 8:32, 'He spared not his own Son,' when he
bore our sins by imputation. No prerogative then can hinder. In vain do men
pretend privileges against God's wrath. There is nothing but Christ that hath
borne wrath that we can oppose against wrath. There is nothing that stoppeth the
long furrows but the casting God's Son in the way. Think of this, that you may
fear before him. God is a consuming fire, Heb. 12:29. He was so in Christ in a
sense, and is so to all out of Christ. Thirdly, The law's dignity and
indispensableness. God would fulfil every tittle; not the least iota must pass
away, but it must be fulfilled in Christ, both in regard of the duty it
commandeth, and the curse it annexeth to the breach of it. Fourthly, The love of
God in providing amply against all our scruples, that he would offer us mercy in
such a way as he might declare his justice, and so satisfy all our doubts. There
is a saying usual in some men's prayers, 'We appeal from thy justice to thy
mercy.' This expression is not so warrantable. God's justice and God's mercy
both look comfortably upon a sinner through Christ. It is mercy, and mercy
purchased, when justice is satisfied. God is now faithful and just. That which
before caused our greatest horror, causeth now our greatest triumph. God is a
just God. What would men have given heretofore to appease justice? It could
never enter into men's thoughts which way that should be done, till the gospel
3. To render praise and thanksgiving to God. We enjoy a great deal of benefit by
it, and great benefits require a great deal of duty. Here is a double motive to
praise. The wrath of God is taken away from us, and Christ endured it for us. As
to its being taken away from us, consider what it is to be freed from the wrath
of God. What should we have endured if Christ had not made such a satisfaction!
You cannot expect that I should give you a map of hell. I have observed that
great truths never do well when they are painted by fancy. War and hell are
rather pleasant in the description than horrible. It is like there may be a
little shrinking in the soul; as a gentle fresh gale that is let out upon the
face of the sea may a little furl the surface and upper part rather than stir
the billows, it doth not work soundly. A mere relation is better than a
passionate description. Oh, consider, then, what it is to be deprived of all
sense of the favour of God, to be delivered over to torments ceaseless, endless,
and remediless. One flash of God's wrath into our consciences, how doth it make
us roar! And if a drop be so irksome, what is it to have an ocean of wrath
poured upon us, and to be overwhelmed in soul and body! Oh, what a mercy is it
that our Saviour hath delivered us from this everlasting vengeance of hell-fire!
I had rather you should enlarge your hearts to think of these things than expatiate upon them.
To have all this taken away should make us abound in praise. And then, in the next
place, consider how Christ took it upon himself. 'He hath carried our sorrows!'
There are some rare instances and representations of those in story that have
exposed themselves to violence and cruelty for others; as in Damon and Pythias,
Pambo, &c. But none riseth so high as this, to wit, the leaving of infinite
glory to suffer infinite wrath for usthat was a hard exchange. Oh, then, work
it upon your thoughts, that you may live to that God that gave himself for you.
The main argument that faith urgeth upon the soul is drawn from Christ's
suffering for us Gal. 2:20, 'The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the
faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' I should have
been given, but he gave himself in my stead.
Use 2. Is information to the children of God to show the happiness of those that
have an interest in Christ's death. There is no wrath against them: Isa. 27:4,
'Fury is not in me.' There may be sometimes filii sub ira (children under
wrath); they may have some apprehensions of God's wrath through their own sins,
when they have offended God. They must get a new act of pardon assured to them
and to their consciences. There may be displeasure, though not wrath. There may
be afflictions, and that in pursuance of divine vengeance; though for the matter
they may be the same as light upon wicked men, yet their habitude and use is
changed unto God's children. They are of exceeding great use to them, to quicken
them to duties, to humble them for sin, to keep lusts low, to prevent vanity and
pride of heart, and to bring us nearer to God. So much for this verse.