WE often make a great and painful effort to realize, as we call it, our Lord's sufferings, to think how transcendentally great they must have been, hoping in that way to kindle our love and devotion. The result, I think, is generally disappointment. The Church teaches us to avoid all such carnal struggles. It is humility we want, not exaltation. It is in submission to Love, not in striving to understand, and to measure, its workings, that we enter into our Lord's Mind, and follow His Example. The person, who most simply confesses his own want of charity, and desires to rest himself and all upon the infinite Charity of God, that he and they may be filled with it, will see most into the Divine meaning of the Passion. And there is no clashing between that and its human meaning. The Divine Charity reveals itself in suffering, can reveal itself perfectly to us only in suffering. We are suffering ourselves; we see suffering all about us. If God had not met us, and held converse with us in suffering, we must be strangers to Him. The Passion does not want theoretical explanations. It explains itself to the hungry man by his hunger, to the sick man by his sickness, to the man, who is suffering from the unkindness of others, by that bitterness; to him, whose past is crowded with fearful images, by his recollections; to him, who trembles at the future, by his dread; to him, who grieves over the sins and divisions of the Church, by that appalling vision; to him, whom the accumulated sorrows of humanity are crushing, by the death-anguish which he has to bear. Everyone feels that the Son of Man is entering into his grief--knowing the inward source of it, penetrated by the sense of it, as he never can be. All that we feel weakly, imperfectly--all that we wish to feel and do not--we are sure was part of His sympathy and agony. What in us is mixed so consciously with selfish retrospections, indignations, apprehensions, we are sure was in Him the perfect sorrow of Love, possessing the most exquisite intenseness, just because it had no alloy--because it found no compensation or relief in hard or vengeful thoughts of any creature. He bore the burden alone.--Sermons on the Prayer Book, p. 287.
THE CROSS gathered up into a single transcendent act the very meaning of all that had been, and all that was to be. God was there seen in the might and power of His Love, in direct conflict with Sin, and Death, and Hell, triumphing over them by sacrifice. But if this was so, that Cross must testify of Him, Who is with the Father now, exhibiting that obedience, of which this was the consummate token. It must testify of Him, who lives for ever and ever, upholding all things and all men, by that obedience; Who will be always the Mercy-seat, the Propitiation, the Living Bond between God and His universe. The reconciliation has been made in Him, by His Sacrifice. It can continue only in Him; there can be no intercourse and fellowship between heaven and earth, except in Him. Whenever any other way than this shall be devised by men; any way to God by their own high imaginations; or by their intercessions and sacrifices; or by the intercession and sacrifice of any intermediate power find helper; then it must be proclaimed more and more loudly: "None of these schemes can avail you; they will not deliver you from sin; they will fasten the chains of sin more closely about you; they will bring your consciences into the very bondage, from which God is seeking to set them free. One Sacrifice--the Sacrifice of God Himself--has been made once for all. He, Who has offered it, is the Mediator between you and God. You can only know what God's Mind and Will is toward you and to all men, when you behold it in His Acts--His Sufferings. These tell you, that there is an Unchangeable Friend, an Eternal High priest, in Whom the Creator and creature are for ever atoned,"
An unutterable horror is assailing the Son of God; He is crying for deliverance from it. What is this horror; how may we dare to conceive of it? The words on the Cross utter what it was; but for them we must be silent. The sense of separation from the Father; the sense of a mass of evil, around, above, beneath, pressing upon Him, belonging to Him, which was contrary to God, which was tearing the world from God;--this, surely, if we may trust the words of inspiration, was that Death, from which He cried to be delivered. But, in entering into that Anguish, in bearing that Death, in casting Himself upon His Father to deliver Him from it, He was entering into human anguish, He was bearing man's death, He was acquiring that compassion for the most ignorant, for those who had wandered furthest from the Divine Fold, which none can have, who is not compassed with infirmity. What sacrifice could be like this? We are told that the blood of bulls and calves could not put away sin; because sin is separation from God, and their blood could establish no connexion with God. Here we have the whole reason why His Blood could take away sin; because He Who offers it is One with God; because, under all the pressure of that which divides from God, He cleaves to Him, trusting in Him through all, certain that neither life nor death, nor principalities nor powers, shall be able to separate Him--or therefore the nature which He has taken--from His Father's Love.--Sermons on Sacrifice, pp. 262, 263, 277-279.