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of life; not indeed an entire contempt of life, but a preference for those invisible but eternal things which are better than life, for truth and for duty. Here was shown a superiority over the fear and the infliction of bodily pain in one of its severest forms. Not that we were taught, against the express teachings of nature, that pain is not to be feared and avoided, but that it is not to be feared so much as God and his commandments are to be loved, nor to be avoided at the risk of offending conscience and inflicting severer pains upon the soul. Here was shown a superiority over the fear of man ; a gentle, noiseless, unassuming, but yet a real and high superiority ; not angrily, not proudly, not unreasonably setting at nought the opinions of society, or despising the persons of men, but, being founded on a farseeing and all-comprehending love of mankind, which cared for their true interests more earnestly, and discerned them more clearly, than they did themselves, rose above their petty opposition and rage, which could only endure for a moment, as it did above the pangs of the body, which alone they had the power to kill.
Regard these manifestations. Look at this voluntary death for truth and virtue. Contemplate these exhibitions of superiority of mind over matter; of soul over sense; of the love of duty and of God over the love of life and its enjoyments ; of the pure and wise love of man over the selfish and slavish fear of man; and when they are united with the reverence which is due to the Founder of our religion, say whether their influence is to be overrated. It is not necessary, indeed, that they should be drawn at length and explained, in order that they may produce their effects. And this is just what we mean to say:
Without explanation, they have been understood. Without discourse, they have been felt. The sight of the cross itself has always been the best revelation of its greatest mysteries. Many a Christian character has been formed by it. Many a champion of truth has been armed by it. Many a sufferer for righteousness' sake has indued himself with invincibility by putting on the mind of his Master. He has been surrounded by those who have been lovers of the world more than lovers of God; his integrity has been tempted; his conscience has been argued with ; his love of life and his fear of pain and death have been appealed to; but when he
has looked to the cross, and to him who is hanging so still thereon, he has perceived with a glance the mind of his Saviour, and has armed himself with the same, and has felt strong to answer, “My part is taken. I must follow him. Indifferent to life, indifferent to its comforts and endearments, God knows that I am not; but I cannot enjoy them, I dare not enjoy them, on your conditions. For yourselves, live ; remain on the earth a few hours longer ; try to believe that the greatest good is here ; try to prove to yourselves that truth and liberty are names alone ; try to laugh at the enthusiasm which holds them to be real and priceless; enjoy your fortunes, your houses, your families, your comforts, your ease; - I turn away my face from them all; I go to suffer, and to die.'
The mind of Jesus,- the same mind,- this it is which has been clothing and arming men with the armour of salvation, and the whole armour of God. And it has been proved not only by those who have fought against death, but by many others, who, not called into that field, have contended victoriously against the enemies of the spirit, Whoever, by regarding the death of his Master, has been made strong by that high example to deny himself forbidden gratifications, or resist unjust impositions at the risk of any worldly possession or pleasure, has armed himself with the same mind as his, and the death of Christ has thus been his salvation. We say, the death of Christ has thus been his salvation; for what other meaning are we to give to the words of the apostle which immediately follow those already quoted; "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin ; that he no longer should live the re of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.' He hath ceased from sin. Having endured temporal privation or suffering, for the sake of spiritual health and the cause of eternal liberty, and thus recognised and acknowledged the supreme worth of the soul, and the superiority of its interests over the interests of the body, he hath ceased from sin ; he hath overcome earthly allurements; he hath shown himself to be spiritually minded; he hath obeyed the will of God rather than the lusts of men. It is not meant that there is henceforth no possibility of his sinning, but that his life is guided by the pure principles of religion, and is free from the dominion of flesh and sense. He has been redeemed by the cross of Christ. He has armed himself with the mind of his suffering and dying Master, and thus his sufferings and his death have saved him.
Again, it is to be considered that the death of Christ was an exceedingly ignominious one in the eyes of the world at that time. The death of the cross was a punishment reserved almost exclusively for convicts and slaves. We all can understand how different from each other are what is called a death of honor, and what is thought a death of shame. We all know how the one is illustrated by the glowing light of eloqence, and crowned with the choicest wreaths of poetry, and how the other is left to darkness and to weeds. Comparatively it is easy to die a death which the opinions and customs of men have surrounded with glory. Thousands have chosen such a one. But to undergo a death which men term ignominious; to be made a warning spectacle ; to suffer and die not only without applause, but almost without commiseration; to be exposed as a criminal, where they who pass by may wag their heads and point the finger, that is the trial, that is the agony. It is not to be supposed that the mind of Jesus was insensible to the appalling circumstances of such a death, but yet he triumphed over them, and then, on the cross, he taught the world the memorable truth, to be kept in the hearts of his disciples for ever, that honor and dishonor do not depend on circumstances, however appalling, but on the character of the victim, and the cause in which he suffers. Though he was like God, in the power and dignity with which God had invested him, yet he humbled himself, and submitted to the death of a slave. How soon the disciples learnt, from this exhibition of the mind of their Saviour, what is glory and what is shame. How high it raised them above the misconceptions and false notions of the world. How deeply they came to reverence the very instrument of that death, which before was looked upon with abhorrence. God forbid that I should glory,' exclaims the Apostle Paul, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. He had armed himself with the mind of his Master; that same mind with which he encountered public shame as well as bodily torture, rather than renounce his heavenly commission, and give up the cause of mankind, and prove false to his own spirit. Here was a mind prepared to perform miracles. Here was armour to defend the inner man from the
weapons of ignominy as well as death, and enable him to beat down, not only the opposition and the cruelty of the world, but its scorn and mockery also, under his feet. Many and many have armed themselves with the same. He despised the shame,' has been the motto of their shield, and so they have despised it, and accounted it honor and gain. This is one of the truest and most distinguishing sentiments of Christianity, this feeling of the real and paramount honor of virtue and devotion to God's service. It has been inspired into the hearts of the obedient and holy by nothing so much as by the death of Christ; not even so much by his precepts and commands, as by the clear and ever-present manifestation of his cross.
But this is not the whole. This is not the entire description of that perfect mind of our suffering Master, with which every true disciple of his has armed himself more or less completely. Let it be noted, that the mind of Jesus in his sufferings and death, was not alone a mind exalted above the dread of pain and of disgrace, but also above the least expression of resentment, desire of revenge, or murmur of discontent. That was the heaven of heavens into which his soul had ascended, while his flesh was quivering in mortal anguish. At that dreadful hour, when some word of reproach or repining might have been expected, if ever from him, his mind was all forgiveness to his enemies, and all resignation to his Father. A few sentences of pardon, and sympathy, and piety were all that escaped from his lips. This day shalt thou be with me in paradise;' Son, behold thy mother; Mother, behold thy son ;' the first stanza of the funeral hymn of his nation, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!! Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ;' It is finished ;' • Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit ; ' — these were all. And what a mind they show! the heroism of perfect love. All that is verily Christian, in what is called the Christian world, has partaken of this mind, and formed itself upon this model, the pattern of the courage, and fortitude, and love, of the death of Christ. Armed with this
same mind, the apostles went forth conquering and to conquer. Mail-clad with the same constancy, resignation, and long-suffering, the protomartyr Stephen, though stoned to. death in the highway, achieved a victory like that of his Leader; and soon afterwards, James followed him in the path of conquest, though ‘killed with the sword,' at the command of a tyrant. We see how early the great example of the Master's death infused itself into the souls of his disciples. We see how well they understood from his lifeless body, that which they had learned so imperfectly from his living lips. We see how closely they could now emulate and copy the victories of him who loved us and gave himself for us. They received full supplies of wisdom and courage from that very cross, at the erection of which they had fled in despair. They labored, as Jesus did, for the welfare of mankind, and died, as he died, in the divine and all-vanquishing love of those by whose hands they were slain. For them, and for all who have been of the same mind, and have achieved similar conquests, a glorious promise is written ; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.'
So far, then, from being unimportant in itself, we regard the example of the death of Christ as most important, all important. So far from being inferior in consideration to some other more mystical points of doctrine relating to his death, it has done almost all that has been done in counteracting the evil tendencies of those dogmas, and in preserving among Christians, in their feelings, convictions, and practice, if not in their creeds and books, the true doctrine of the cross, which has kept streaming down in direct illumination from the cross itself. If the idea of a stern and strange divine justice, which could not be merciful till it had exact ed a full satisfaction, has been unpropitious to the formation of a gentle and forgiving character, the sight of a dying Saviour, who bore all, and forgave all, has often come in, to check the hostile influence, and teach a more Christian lesson. If the idea that men are saved by the imputed merits of the Saviour, has tended to paralyze individual exertion, as useless and worthless, the exhibition of them on the cross has excited more generous thoughts, preserved the inner life in its vigor, and compelled men actively and sav