William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

A Practical Exposition Upon The Fifty-Third Chapter Of Isaiah.

by Thomas Manton


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth he is
brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.

THE main drift of the prophet in this chapter, as I have showed, is to remove
the stone of stumbling and the rock of offence which lay in the way of the Jews
because of Christ's meanness and sufferings. They looked for a Messiah to come
fluttering with the pomp and royalty of an earthly prince; and therefore, when
they found nothing but a mean outside, a despised branch, and a withered root in
a dry ground, a man of no splendour, but of much sorrow, 'they did easily dash
the foot of their faith, and split all their hopes upon this rock, as if there
were nothing worthy of the arm of God to be found in Jesus. Against this scandal
the prophet maketh many defences, and showeth the several reasons why the
excellency of Christ was to be hid under the veil of meanness and miseries; and
therefore what a slender ground there was why it should be turned to the blemish
and disrepute of Christ.

1. His first argument was, because it was for our good, and for our sakes that
he did put on this disguise; and so being found in appearance like us, he might
be taken in our stead: 'Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our
sorrows.' And what foul ingratitude were this, not to know a friend because he
hath put on a disguise of meanness and misery for our sakes! Having fully
traversed this argument in the fourth, fifth, and sixth verses, he proceeds to
another, a second defence against the scandal, and that is

2. The voluntariness and willingness of Christ to undergo these sufferings. He
was not compelled to it unless by his own spirit. He might have come in the
lustre and glory of the Godhead. Or if not so, yet being a man, he might have
hid himself secretly from the malice of his adversaries; or, when seized upon
and taken, he might then have vouched his innocency, and have pleaded the matter
with them;. or have made a party among the people, and so, one way or another,
rescued himself from the ignominy and bitterness of that death that he was to
suffer. No, saith the prophet, here is nothing but patience and a willing
subjection to his Father's design: 'He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet
he opened not his mouth.' And, indeed, you had need ,observe these words, for
they were the occasion of the eunuch's conversion; for he was reading this very
place in Isaiah: Acts 8:32,' And the place of the scripture which he read was
this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the
shearer, so opened he not his mouth: And God sent Philip to join with him. And
usually such scriptures have been of greatest account that have proved effectual
to the converting of a sinner; as that place in Rom. 13:11, 'And that knowing
the time, that it is high time to awake out of sleep.; for now is our salvation
nearer than when we believed.' This scripture was the occasion of Austin's
conversion, as John chapter one was of Junius's conversion, and this of the
eunuch's. God sendeth the same Spirit to speak to you as to Philip, and you are
to hear with the same affection. These words are the second argument to take off
the scandal of Christ's death and bitter sufferings. And it is taken from the
willingness and ready patience wherewith he underwent those sufferings. I may
observe in the verse two parts:

1. The nature of the sufferings: he was oppressed, and he was afflicted.

2. The carriage of Christ under them: he opened not his mouth; which is
amplified and illustrated by two similitudes, of a lamb going to the slaughter,
and a sheep before her shearers.

The points hence may be many; but because the prophet doth so often double and
redouble expressions about the sufferings of Christ, and I have spoken so much
of almost every circumstance considerable in them already, I shall be enforced
now and hereafter to touch only upon the main thing held forth in every verse.
Notwithstanding, I shall endeavour to draw out the strength and sweetness of
every phrase in the comment and explication. Briefly, then, to go over the

1. As to what was done to Christ, or the nature of his sufferings 'He was
oppressed, and he was afflicted.' There is a great deal of variety about the
rendering of these words, because of the diversity of the Hebrew pointings. The
vulgar readeth, Oblatus quia ipse voluit he was offered because he would.
Symmachus renders it, He was brought, and he obeyed. But these do not follow the
best pointed Bibles, though they do not much vary from the sense intended in the
verse. Those come nearer that render, He was punished and troubled; for the
first word signifieth, to exact a thing with rigour and molestation, and is
applied to this case: as if a man should come and molest a surety for the debt
of another for whom he is engaged. I find most of the best interpreters going
this way; and Junius rendereth it, exigitur poena, our punishment is exacted of
Christ: the creditor came upon him for our debt; as if the word did point to
that great truth which is held forth in other places, that Christ died for us as
our surety. And therefore he is called 'the surety of a better testament,' Heb.
7:22. Mat. 20:28, he is said '.to give his life, lutron anti pollwn, as a ransom
for many.' He laid down his life to set us free from the debt and engagement; so
that they that are Christ's need not fear that the debt will be required of them
again: Luke 12:58, 'Lest the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer
cast thee into prison, where thou shalt remain till the uttermost price be
paid.' I say this is a very comfortable truth for God's people, that the surety
had paid the debt for them, so that they need not fear the officer or the
prison; God hath exacted it of Christ. Or you may, if you will, read, as
generally our translation, 'He was oppressed,' as the Seventy render both words
by one, he was evilly dealt with and evilly entreated and so our translation
maketh it to be read with an emphasis, 'He was oppressed and afflicted;' that
is, it was such an affliction as did amount to an oppression, and yet he bore it
patiently. 'Oppression,' saith Solomon, 'maketh a wise man mad,' Eccles. 7:7. A
wise man, that is a man that hath the greatest command over himself. The heart
stormeth and rageth when it meets with such usage as it did not expect, or hath
not deserved. But Christ was oppressed and afflicted, and he opened not his
mouth. And indeed the sufferings of Christ, in reference to man, do best of all
come under the notion of oppression; for the other word 'afflicted,' it is well
rendered, and therefore I will not criticise upon it.

2. How Christ bore it, or his carriage under it. It is given first in general:
'He opened not his mouth;' and then it is particularly amplified by two

First, In the general: 'He opened not his mouth.' 'This shows two things:
1. The great patience of Christ. When all this was upon him, not an impatient
word dropped from him, either against God or his enemies. And, indeed, you shall
find in scripture that holy patience is many times expressed by holding our
peace. Discontent easily breaketh out into daring and provoking language. The
tongue and lips speak unadvisedly against God, therefore the bridling the tongue
is a great sign of patience. Hence it is said, Lev. 10:3, that 'Aaron held his
peace' when a remarkable judgment was upon him. Stormy hearts will soon boil
over; but Aaron held his peace. I conceive it was not out of the greatness of
his sorrowas, indeed, griefs are not always utterablebut out of the greatness
of his patience. As David, Ps. 39:9, 'I was dumb, and opened not my mouth,
because thou didst it.' He sweetly acquiesced in Providence. And so in the
person of Christ, Ps. 38:13, he saith, 'I as a deaf man heard not, and I was as
a dumb man that openeth not his mouth;' as if he had been either deaf or dumb,
not sensible of the injury, nor willing to speak of it. Thus Christ suffered
unjustly for our sake and in our stead, yet spoke not a word. This showed his
great patience.

2. His great love to man, showed in his wonderful silence, even then when he
might justly have spoken in his own defence, but would not seem to interrupt the
design of God. It is witnessed in many places that Jesus held his peace when
they asked him questions about his innocence, as I shall show you by and by out
of several places. I conceive it hinteth that great silence that Christ
manifested upon all his accusations.

But some may object, and say, How can this be, since Christ did sometimes open
his mouth? Did not he say to the soldiers, 'Are you come out against me as
against a thief and a robber?' And he said to Pilate, 'Thou hast no power unless
it be given from above.' And he prayed for them, Luke 23:34, and rebuked him
that smote with the sword, and forbade Peter to use it. How, then, doth this
suit with these words, 'He opened not his mouth'?

I answerHe never spoke to hinder our redemption, neither railingly nor
revilingly; for so Peter explaineth it, I Peter 2:23, 'Who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to
him that judgeth righteously.' He used no threatening, no revilingno, many
times not a modest reply, when a man would think he might very well have made
it. Thus you see the meaning of the phrase, 'He opened not his mouth.'
Secondly, Now for the particular resemblance; as

1. That he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter. The scripture often useth this
similitude; for, indeed, it was not a casual similitude, but a standing type of
Christ; as the lamb in the daily sacrifice, Exod. 29:38, which was offered to
God daily, morning and evening, for pardonwe being only accepted through his
mediation; and the Paschal lamb in the Lord's Supper importeth Christ's being
offered to God, for Christ is called a lamb in scripture, I conceive, for three

[1.] As it is an emblem of innocence, meekness, and patience, as the lamb was to
be without spot and blemish. Therefore, St Peter saith, 1 Peter 1:18, 'We are
redeemed by the blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot and blemish.' A pure,
harmless, undefiled lamb.

[2.] As it may import weakness and slenderness of appearance in the world.
Christ is nothing in show, though mighty in power: Rev. 6:15, 16, 'And the kings
of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and
the mighty men, hid themselves in dens, and rocks, and mountains, and said to
the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that
sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,' that is, even from
Christ. Christ in his weakest appearance was but as a lamb, yet such a lamb as
at the last day will make the wolves to shake.

[3.] It noteth the meekness and sweetness of Christ, willingly yielding to be a
sacrifice for us. Christ, when he cometh to judgment, is expressed in Hosea and
other places to be as a lion; but when to save, then as a lamb. When he cometh
to destroy men, he cometh as a lion; but when he cometh to destroy sins, he
cometh as a lamb. Thus here, and John 1:29, 'Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh
away the sins of the world.' This was the Lamb the prophet Isaiah foretold, and
the sacrifices prefigured that Lamb, 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world,' Rev. 13:8. Well, then, you see the force of the expression here, that
Christ went as sweetly and readily to the work of our redemption as an innocent
lamb to the slaughter or shambles.

2. The next similitude is, 'As a sheep before her shearers is dumb.' Of all
creatures the sheep is the most silent. Hogs whine and hout, but sheep are dumb
before the shearer. Christ did not open his mouth, unless to pray, instruct, and
reprove, as before mentioned. Many points might be observed, but I will sum up
all in this one.

Doct. That Jesus Christ underwent cruel and bitter sufferings for us with a
great deal of willing patience.

For this I take to be the intent of this verse, to show how ready Christ was to
accomplish the office of the mediatorship: Rev. 1:5, he 'loved us, and washed us
from our sins in his own blood.' For in all his conflicts with malicious
accusations and opprobrious speeches, he would do no violence, nor express
anything that might be an occasion to divert him from his purpose; but, as a
lamb is brought to the slaughter, so he opened not his mouth. I shall prove the

1. By some scriptures that assert it, and show the willingness of Christ: Phil.
2:8, 'He humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the
cross.' With a great deal of willing patience he complied with the sorest 'and
most bruising act of the mediatorship. He was 'obedient to death, eves the death
of the cross.' So it is said, Eph. 5:25, 'Christ loved the church, and gave
himself for it.' And in other places: Heb. 10:7, with its parallel, Ps. 40:7,'
In the volume of thy book it is written of me, Lo, I come to do thy will, O
God.' Christ doth, as it were, exult in the command, and rejoice over the work
of redemption: 'Lo, I come to do thy will 1'

2. By several passages in the history of Christ's life.

[1.] His longing for it before it came. When a man desireth a thing, he is
impatient till he obtain his desire; every minute is tedious till he doth enjoy
it: Luke 12:50, 'I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened
till it be accomplished!' That baptism was the laver of his own blood.
Earnestness of expectation straiteneth joy, and a man cannot let out his spirit
upon other things till he hath what he waiteth for. 'How am I straitened!' saith
Christ. He consulted with himself, that thou, and I, and others, have souls to
be saved, and therefore he would not do otherwise: Luke 20:15, 'With desire have
I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.' The earnest and
vigorous bent of his desire is shown in that expression, 'With desire have I

[2.] In not preventing it when he knew it. Many are cast unawares upon danger,
but Christ knew it, and foretold it before he came to suffer: Luke 18:32,
'Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets
concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished: that he shall be delivered to
the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on.' He
knew which way the divine decrees and predictions ran, yet he went to Jerusalem.
He could have kept himself safe from danger, yet he offered himself to it. It
was in his power to have commanded twelve legions of angels, but the scripture
saith it must be so. He could have kept himself and his disciples safe too, for
he had power enough John 10:17,18, 'I lay down my life, no man taketh it from
me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power
to take it again.' Unless he had been pleased to lay it down, no man could have
taken it from him. Voluntarily he submitted to it. Creatures do things out of
necessity, because they cannot do otherwise, but Christ might have prevented it,
for he knew it before: John 18:4, 'Therefore Jesus, knowing all things that
should come upon him, went forth and saith unto them, Whom seek ye? '
[3] His cheerful casting himself upon it: John 14:31, 'Arise, let us go hence.'
Presently, upon the end of that sermon, Christ went into the garden, where he is
taken. So he saith to Judas, John 13:27, 'What thou doest do quickly.' Not to
encourage him to the evil in his treasonable fact, but to show how willing he
was to undertake our redemption.

[4.] In submitting to his Father's will in his highest agonies and conflicts:
Luke 22, 'Not my will, but thine be done.' Here was no murmuring, but a sweet
submission and acquiescence at the appointment of God. Many may seem to submit
to God till they come to be pinched with the soreness of the trial. It is then
you may discern and try your readiness in submitting to God's will.
15.] By his silence. When he heard the false witnesses, he held his peace and
answered nothing, Mark 14:61; so Mat. 27:13, 'Then saith Pilate unto him,
hearest thou how many things they witness against thee? and he answered him
never a word;' so Mark 15:5, 'But Jesus yet answered nothing, so that Pilate
marvelled and he questioned him in many words, but he answered him nothing.'
Christ holdeth his peace, that we might speak and have boldness with the Father,
and taketh the accusation patiently, that he might break it off from us. His not
answering was to show our guilt; and yet he carried it so that nothing could be
clearly proved to impeach his own innocency: Mat. 26:62,63, 'And Jesus held his
peace, and the high priest arose and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? 'Not
as if his silence did (as it doth in others) come from suppressed anger, or
scornful stubbornness, but patience and meekness: 'He opened not his mouth.' Not
a malicious taunt, or proud reproach, nor angry threatenings; nothing but
silence, nothing but what argued oppressed innocence.

[6] By forbidding all violence that might seem to hinder this intention: Mat.
26:52, 'Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place.' If he
opened his mouth, it was to forbid violence, and to pray for his persecutors:
Luke 22:51, 'And he touched his ear, and healed him.' Every one of these things
showeth a sweet submission, and readiness, and willingness in Christ to suffer
for us.

Now the reasons why it must be so are these:

1. That he might be fit for the Mediatorship, that all things might come freely
and sweetly to you from his Father. He offered himself willingly, that thou
mayest have mercies willingly. All wicked men's blessings seem to be extorted
from Providence; they have them, as it were, invito Deo (reluctantly from God):
Hosea 13:11, 'I gave thee a king in mine anger.' So the murmuring Israelites had
quails in anger: Ps. 78:31. Now Christ went willingly, that his own people might
have everything from the heart of God as well as his hand: Jer. 32:41, 'I will
rejoice over them to do them good.' One of the conditions, as divines observe,
how it may stand with the justice of God to punish the innocent for the nocent,
is, if he be willing; for God could not have extorted our debt of Christ, unless
he had been willing. When Paul would take Onesimus his debt upon himself,
Philemon might justly require it of him: Philem. 18,19, 'If Onesimus hath
wronged thee aught, put it upon my account, and I will repay it' It would not
stand with God's justice to force the obligation upon Christ, but Christ
voluntarily engageth himself; if these souls owe thee aught, put it on my
accountI will repay it. There was not only an ordination of God the Father, but
a voluntary susception and undertaking of. God the Son; he cheerfully and
willingly submitted to have sin translated upon him, and to be liable by
engagement; put that on my account, and I will repay it.

2. That he might set off the worth of his love to us. Willingness and freeness
commendeth a kindness, extorted courtesies lose their value. Therefore it is
said, 'He loved us, and gave himself for us.' We see among men it would be ill
taken to do a thing grudgingly. Decius rode cheerfully into the gulf for the
good of his country; nay, in some men it is a kind of corruption to be
over-forward with their favours: Prov. 17:18, 'A man void of understanding
striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend;' that is,
before his friend desires and seeks for it. Many men, rather than lose the
praise of their kindness, undo themselves, their stock being, soon spent. It is
folly to be over-lavish and easy in such kindnesses. Therefore much more now
would Christ commend his love to us: this ocean and overflowing of comforts
being in Christ, it was the commendation of his love; he strikes hands and
becometh surety before he is asked; it is the enhancement of Christ's love, and
therefore he willingly submitted to it.

But you will object, How did Christ do it willingly? did not he pray that the
cup might pass from him? and did he not fear and stagger at it? Heb. 5:7, 'Who
in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with
strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was
heard in that he feared.'

I answer1. Briefly, Christ's prayers are rather for our example and comfort,
and that he might leave us a pattern where to go, and to whom to apply ourselves
in all our straits, than to declare his willingness to decline this hot service:
he would be tempted in all things like us, except sin, Heb. 4:15, that he might
be 'touched with the feeling of every infirmity.' He would be touched with such
a conflict as came nearest to a sin of infirmity, but without sin. Jesus did it
that we might know ourselves in the like case, when we struggle with the sense
of guilt and the apprehension of divine wrath.

2. To show himself truly man. Christ prayed against the cup, 'Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass.' He doth not contend with instruments, but
beseeches God. Christ's prayers against the cup were as the prayers of a private
man; and so Christ would show all the passions of our nature; for if he had not
prayed that the cup might pass, he must have put off all natural affections,
because Christ, as a private person, looked upon it as a mere suffering, it
being the nature and duty of man to decline all those things that are grievous
and painful to him; and Christ having the same love, and hatred, and fear that
we have, as a private person, he would manifest it at this time.

3. As a common and public person, namely, as our Mediator and surety, so he was
extremely willing and desirous to do this great office of love for us. For so it
followeth, he sweetly submitted to his Father's will: 'Father, not my will, but
thine be done: Not my will as a private person, but thy will, which is more to a
public person, let that be done; it was not in reference to the work, but how he
should go through with it.

2dly, For his fears: these were not a shrinking from the work, but only a
natural consternation and retirement of the spirits upon so ghastly an
apprehension as he then had of his Father's wrath against him for our sins. When
the cold hands of death were put into his bosom to pluck out his heart, no
wonder if there were a struggling; it is natural to be moved with things that
are nigh. These fears were a part of the fire in which this sacrifice was to be
burnt and offered to God. No wonder, therefore, if the Spirit of the Godhead did
freely give 'up the manhood to be scorched with these fears: Mark 14:38, 'The
spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' The willing spirit giveth up the
flesh to this weakness.

3dly, For his tears: they were such an eruption and overflow of his love; a part
of that deluge by which he would drown the world of sin and wickedness.
Divers inferences may be drawn from hence.

Use 1. Is consolation, and that more generally. Here is comfort for believers,
for your faith to feed upon. You may be sure that God accepted Christ for you,
for he willingly offered himself to be a sacrifice for you. He went as a lamb to
the slaughter, and this lamb taketh away the sins of the world. You have it
twice proclaimed from heaven that God was well pleased with Christat his
baptism and at his transfiguration: Mat. 3:17; and Mat. 17:5, 'This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' God is pleased in Christ with you. Your
willing sacrifices are acceptable to the Lord; God had no respect to Cain and
his offering, because it was offered with a grudging mind. The Lord loveth a
cheerful giver. Christ gave himself cheerfully and willingly for you; therefore
the Lord loveth him, and loveth you for his sake. Among the heathens, a
sacrifice that came unwillingly to the altar was thought ominous, as when the
beast did show much reluctance, or did roar, or bleat much. O Christians! your
sacrifice came willingly; he was not haled to the altar with rigour, but he went
as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb. Go
and urge it to God; willing sacrifices are pleasing to him; Jesus Christ did not
offer himself with a grudging mind.

2. More particularly, there is comfort against sad thoughts about sin. The great
aggravation upon which the soul doth so bitterly reflect is the willingness of
it; and, indeed, here lieth much of the evil of sin. It was that which
heightened Ephraim's guilt, that he willingly walked after the commandment,
Hosea 5:11; that is, so readily complied with Jeroboam's calves; and, indeed,
the foulness of the fact is not so much to be gathered from the grossness of the
acts of it, as from the propension, and inclination, and disposition of the
heart towards it, and the fulness of the will to it, a deliberate readygiving
ourselves to it. Wilfulness in sin maketh the heart very sad when it cometh to
see it. But, blessed be God, here is an answer to ityou have a willing Saviour.
Though there be in you much reluctancy against God's will, and much readiness to
offend, yet you could not be so ready to sin as Christ was willing to die for
you: 'With desire have I desired to eat this passover.' How earnest was he to
show his love! Have you felt the rage of lust in your bosoms? Christ felt the
rage of love. He was straitened till he were baptized with blood for your sakes.
This is the true reflection upon Christ, when we see enough in him to stop the
mouth of conscience 'Who shall condemn? it is Christ that justifieth.'
Use 2. Is exhortation to bless and praise God. This was the endearment of his
love, the willingness of it. Oh, how much are we indebted to him! The very
argument that faith useth in the heart is the willingness of Christ to serve us
in this business: Gal. 2:20, 'I live by the faith of the Son of God, who hath
loved me, and gave himself for me.'

Use 3. Is instruction. It giveth out divers lessons, for Christ's life is a
praxis of divinity, and the rules of religion exemplified.

1. To show us how we should give up ourselves to the service of Christ, how we
should come with the sacrifice of ourselves and duties with a ready and cheerful
heart. When you feel any reluctancy and regret of spirit, oh, remember Christ
offered himself willingly. The Socinians would make Christ's sufferings to serve
for some other use, only to be exemplary; but certainly they were not only to
leave us an example: 1 Peter 2:21, 'Christ suffered for us, leaving us an
example that we should follow his steps;' but he died in our room and stead, and
for our sakes. And therefore we should give up ourselves to him. The scripture
speaketh often of the free-will offering of the saints: Ps. 119:108, 'Accept, I
beseech thee, the free-will offering of my mouth, O Lord;' Ps. 110:3, 'They
shall be a willing people in the day of thy power.' Bernard saith, Lord, I will
willingly sacrifice myself to thee, because thou wert willingly sacrificed for
me. Christ was sacrificed willingly, not for his own gain but your benefit; and
will you not give up yourselves to God, when it is better you should be given to
him than left to yourselves?

2. It showeth us what we should do in all our straits, wants, and calamities
that befall us. The saints are as lambs in the midst of wolves, Luke 10:3: show
yourselves lambs in suffering, as well as like lambs in danger, not like swine
that whine and yell. You should not open your mouth against God. Do not please
your own carnal mind by murmuring, but rather resign up yourselves to God's
disposal; this is somewhat hard to do. The saints have been troubled with carnal
reasonings, as Job, and David, and Jeremiah, and Habakkuk; but learn of a higher
instance, Jesus Christ, who, though innocent, did not murmur under his
sufferings, but bore all with a ready and willing patience. Oh, therefore yield
up yourselves to God with great patience, both in life and death.

3. It teacheth us not to use reviling and threatenings words to men. You may be
wronged, so was Christ; he was more innocent than you can be, for it is
impossible but something of the flesh will discover itself in us; but what a sad
thing is it to see the people of God bring a railing accusation against others!
Consider, Christ opened not his mouth, but went as a lamb to the slaughter, and
as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb.


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