Nihil ad vos, ô viatores omnes; intuemini & videte an sit dolor par dolori meo, qui factus est mihi: quam afficit Jehova moerore die æstus iræ suæ.
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.
The words of a party in great extremity, and that two wayes. First, That he is in sorrow and pain, such as none other ever felt. Secondly, That being in this extremity, he is not regarded of any. It is well known that it is a grievous thing to flesh and blood to be afflicted; but so to be afflicted as no other, that is a high degree of misery; but that in this case there is none to have compassion, that is as much as can be said. [639/640] Against the crosses that befall us in this life, the ordinary comfort is, the first epistle to the Corinthians the tenth chapter, Nothing befalls us, but is such as pertaineth to man, but this was not any other mans case. And whereas there is none so heard-hearted, but will shew some relief, at least pitie a man in distress, here was none touched with any compassion.
For the verse itself, it is the Prophets speech in the person of the City of Jerusalem, lamenting the miseries that happened at the death of Josiah, but by the rule of reciprocation, whereby that which is said of the members, may be applyed to the head; as was said to Saul by Christ, why persecutest thou me? where it was the Church that was persecuted, Acts the ninth chapter, and to be expounded. If any member, then especially of them under the Law, Quibus ad contingebunt in figuris, the first epistle to the Corinthians the tenth chapter: therefore Isaacs sacrifice, Josephs selling by his brethren, and Davids betraying who were particular members of the Church, were types and figures of Christs being slain, sold and betrayed. If the eyes, or hand, or foot suffer, the head also suffers with it; much more may the sufferings of the whole body together be applyed to the head, as Out of Egypt have I called my sonne, that being a place of the deliverance of Israel, Gods first borne, Colossians the eleveneth verse is applyed to Christ, Matthew the second chapter. And according to this rule, this verse is by the ancients Fathers applyed to the passions and sufferings of our Saviour Christ.
Whether it be the Cities speech, or any other whosoever, it may well be the speech of Christs on the Cross, that he was then in that great extremity, which none ever endured the like; and yet being without cause, none vouchsafed to look at him. That is the drift of the words, and is set down first by way of complaint, Have ye no regard? Secondly, by way of Petition, Mark and regard.
In the Passion two things are to be considered, first the grievousnesse of his sufferings, noted in these words, If ever there were the like sorrow; secondly, the cause of it in these, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me. Upon which follow these three actions: First, to see; Secondly, to consider; thirdly, to regard and esteem of it, as a thing which concerns us.
As is implyed in the first words, which are thus read, Nonne ad vos pertinet, for the first point, here is some spectacle to behold, in as much as he directeth his speech to them, that passe by the way, Omnes qui transitis viam. When a stay is made, not of one, but of all, there is some great matter: and the holy Ghost tells us that there is no journey so important, nor haste so great, that should hinder us from considering of the sufferings of Christ. The motives that he useth to quicken our weaknesse, are two, the first taken from the thing itself; the other from the beholders. For the thing itself, we know those things that are rare, draw our eyes to behold them, therefore he saith, If ever there were sorrow like my sorrow: And this reason [640/641] he takes from the beholders; as Doth it not concern or pertain to you? For the things that were shewed, chiefly are such as concern us: as for the other things that appertain unto us, we respect them not. The sufferings consist as all other doe, either in sensu or damno, that is, either privatively or positively. That which is translated sorrow or prayer, is a blow or wound, which is a matter of sense; and it signifies such a blow as strikes off both root and leaves: that is it we are to consider in this spectacle. That which he felt was either in body or soul.
Touching his bodily sufferings, our own eyes are witness: For there was no part of him, neither skin, nor bone, nor sense, nor any part, wherein he was not stricken: His blessed body was an Anvile to receive all the stroaks that were laid on him. And we have no better argument hereof than Pilates Ecco homo, John the nineteenth chapter, for he thought they had brought him to that passe already that even the heard-hearted Jews would have pitied him. But that which is said here, sifuerit dolor sicut, is not verified of his bodily sufferings, as in that which he suffered in his soul: For in bodily sufferings many have been equall to him; but the suffering of the soul was most grievous, as the greatest heavinesse is the heavinesse of the heart: the afflictions of the body may be susteined, but a wounded spirit who can bear? Proverbs the eighteenth chapter. Therefore St. Paul calls that suffering which he felt in his soul, corpus mortis, Romans the seventh chapter. Upon these sufferings it is he that cryeth out, Ecce, si fuerit dolor sicut: The grievousnesse of whole suffering we argue not so much from that which is recorded of him, that he did [to be distressed and to be troubled] Mark the fourteenth chapter and the thirty third verse; that he was [in agony] Luke the twenty second chapter and the twenty fourth verse; that his soul was Matthew the twenty sixth chapter; as from the bloody sweat, Ecce si fuerat sudor; that is verified when no uncleannese is offerred; when a man lying on the cold earth (for then it was cold, so as they were fain to make fire) then to sweat, not tenues sudores, but granos sanguinis: He that considers this, may make a cause of it, that there was never any such sorrow or sweat. The cause of this sweat was bought, as indeed the word imports; wherewith the Lord hath boyled me, as in a furnace; as after in the next verse, Ignem misit Dominus, he was in a furnace of God's fierce wrath: therefore the Greek Church prayeth, By thy unknown sufferings, good Lord deliver us. For that which was taken from him, that was Poena Domini: he was spolyed both of earthly comforts and heavenly graces. For the first, He that had gone up and down feeding, healing, and preaching among the Jews, receives no comfort from the earth; their words were not his but Barabas. Again, his bloode be upon us and our children. Lastly, When he was on the Crosse they scorned him, He trusted in God, let him save him, and Thou that savest others, come down and save thyself. As for his Disciples, from whom he might have looked for most comfort, one of them betrayed him, another 641/642 denyed him, and all forsook him, and he is stript of all earthly comfort.
And as for his soul, that was bereaved of all heavenly graces or influence, there was a traverse or drawn-bridge drawn, as appeareth by his words, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? It is not so with the Martyrs; for they in the mid'st of their pains and sorrows, feel drops of heavenly consolation, which make them cheerfull. But it was not so with our Saviour; there was a sequestration, whereby the influence of his divinity was restrained from his humanity, whereupon ensued that cry, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? there was never the like cry. Thirdly, From the party that complaineth, we may argue, there was never the like sorrow: A little thing done to a person of great excellencie, doth aggravate the matter; but never the like person suffered, and never the like sorrow: Exodus 23.3. God takes order, men shall not handle the poor beast barbarously, but be ready to relieve and help him; but more respect is to be had of a man, although a Malefactor, and much more an Innocent as he that fell among theeves and was hurt, Luke the tenth chapter: But if it be not only an Innocent, but an exalted person, as Josiah, then great respect is to be had; but ecce, major Josiah hic, Matthew the twelfth chapter; it is Christ that suffers: of whom not only Pilate saith Ecce, John the nineteenth chapter but the Centurion confesseth Verè hic salis est Deus; this makes it a cause not to be matched. The cause of those his sufferings is imputed not to the bloody Soldiers, or hard-hearted Jews, or high Priests & Scribes, but afflixit Deus. When God doth as well chasten in wrath, as christen in his displeasure, this is not done in his mercifull chastisement, but in his wrathfull displeasure, in die furoris ejus, nay his colour was red. When God is angry, or punisheth grievously, it is for some grievous sinne, and is for some notable sinne, of which it may be said non sicut, had our Saviour deserved the wrath of God in such manner. Pilate confesseth, He foundeth nothing in him, John the fourteenth chapter and the thirtieth verse, Why then did he suffer? It was foretold, the Messias should be slain, Daniel the ninth chapter and the twenty first verse, not of himself, but for others. He that took not a penny was made to pay for all: That is the nature of suretyship; he undertaking to be our surety, our debt became his. It is a pityfull thing to see a Lamb have his throat cut, but if he will be a Sacrifice, it must be so. Christ undertook to be our Surety, to be a Sacrifice to God for our sinnes; therefore he was wounded for our sinnes, By his stripes we are healed, Posuit Deus super cum iniquitates omnes nostras, Isaiah the fifty third chapter. That stroak that brought forth that bloody sweat, and the forsaking that brought forth that cry, should have light upon us.
The parts to us. Have we no regard? Had it not concerned us, as a thing for our benefit, yet we ought to have had compassion, and not only as unsensible Creatures; for at the time of Christs sufferings, the rocks and stones clave, and the vaile of the Temple was rent, Matthew the twenty seventh chapter. [642/643] Thus were the insensible Creatures moved at his sufferings, and men not moved a whit. Our Saviour sheweth, that albeit he felt such a great blow; yet neither the sense of his sufferings, nor his being bereft of all comfort, did grieve him so much as this. That we have no regard of it; therefore followeth this petition, Mark now; though heretofore ye have had no regard, yet now behold it.
It consists of three points: First, to see, He was as the brasen Serpent, set up, that all men should cast up their eyes; so he saith, John the twelfth chapter, If I were to lift lift up I will draw all men to me. Secondly, To see, and not to consider, is a folly: to see and look with gazing, is that which the Angels found fault with, Acts the first chapter: We must not only look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Hebrews the twelfth chapter; but, as it followeth, recogitate: think on him again and again, what great things he suffered, what comfort he was bereft of, He that had suffered was the Sonne of God, Hebrews the second chapter, and he suffered for us. Consider the love wherewith Christ was moved to suffer this for us; and the benefit that comes to us from his passion: he being an innocent, there was not necessity for him to dye, and having guards of Angels, as Matthew the twenty sixth, he could not be compelled to suffer, but he did it willingly: He first made him a body fit to suffer, and then spoyled that body for us; and that was love, and never the like love, whether we respect God or Christ. God gave his only Sonne; no greater benefit could be given us, then that. Christs love appears to us, by his obedience to his Father: His love to us is shewed, that for us, he that was the greatest person that ever was, became obedient to death, even that of the Crosse, that he suffered not only a shamefull, but cursed death, Factus est maledictum, Galatians the third chapter; for cursed is every one that hangeth on tree: Never was there the like love, his very death had been sufficient for our redemption: For it is God himself that offered this sacrifice; and this he did to make us consider his love, Si fuerit amor sicut. But in regard of the benefit that comes to us, his death is our testament, whereby we come to an inheritance; the day of wrath to him, is our day of reconciliation and jubilee; his stripes, our medicine, his forsaking, our receiving to favour. Thus are we to consider his sufferings, in respect of the fruit that comes to us by it: We are to have a sympathie, as also to conceive an antipathie against sinne.
The cause of his grievous passion, we must shew it, pertains to us, not only by looking and thinking on it, but by doing something, as Luke the twenty third chapter, Hoc facite in commemorationem: the thing to be done, is the celebrating of his Sacraments; and that is a mean, to be a partaker of his sufferings, and we shall be united to him, and all that he hath deserved. By these his sufferings shall be ours, omnia ejus nostra. As God hath given us his sonne to dye for us, so cum filio dabit omnia, Romans the eight chapter and the thirty second verse.