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thing. It would have been a violation of his own most noble precepts, and setting a striking example of disobedience to his own laws.
His death was the only alternative.
He chose rather to suffer and die, than to be untrue, for a single moment, to the great work of the world's redemption. He gave his life freely to the cause he loved — nobly perished in the way of duty — and, in this respect, his death was that of a martyr.
III. This brings me to remark, that the sacrifice of Christ was an attestation of the truths he taught, and of the divinity of his mission.
Had Jesus been an impostor, knowingly and intentionally, we should naturally expect to find him, at least, using some efforts to keep himself out of any very serious personal difficulty. We should hardly look for his risking much of his own comfort, or taking upon himself voluntarily much suffering.
If he were not, as he claimed to be, the long looked-for Messiah, having the basis of his authority in the express will of God, - had he not perfect truth on which to rest his claims, he
would have been most likely to avoid, as far as he had ability, all those severer trials to which he submitted, and sought, in some way, his own private interest and advantage. At least, he would not have taken the cup of death so meekly and resignedly, and quaffed it to the very dregs, in the most uncomplaining submission.
Indeed, it only wanted a manifest effort, on his part, to avoid all personal sacrifice, to render powerless, in a great degree, the whole proofs of his claims to a divine appointment.
Had the world seen him shrink when brought to the trial, — had the people seen him managing with art and shrewdness, to keep out of the way of harm himself, it would have thrown suspicion on his claims in a moment. Had he endeavored to shun the officers, who were sent to arrest him, or tried, in any way, to escape the awful doom he saw before him, it would have been said at once, especially to all except his warmest friends, that he had little sincerity or devotion to what he professed; that, after all, he was no divine messenger, who must do his duty, at all hazards ; and it would have been immediately seized upon, and used to his discredit. But so far from this,
he told his followers frankly, long beforehand, that he must suffer many things at the hands of the Jews, and finally be put to death ; and there was no apparent effort or struggle made from the beginning to avoid this terrible doom. He might easily have taken himself out of Judea into some of the neighboring countries, or kept himself secreted from the power of his foes, or certainly he might have made the attempt to do so, or in some way, tried to avoid his fate, had he wished to do it; but no traces of such an effort can be found connected with his whole history.
To be sure, there were some instances in which he cautioned his disciples against exposing him to his enemies, but this was only because he had not accomplished his work, or, as the record expresses it, because his hour had not come; but when it did come, he made no attempt to evade or shun it, and even severely rebuked Peter, for endeavoring to shield or defend him. thy sword in its sheath,” says he; which my Heavenly Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
Here, then, was the highest proof that he could possibly give of his sincerity, and deep devotion.
6 Put up 66 the cup
He had announced himself as the Son of God. He had told his followers that God had sent him; that he was no mere selfish speculator, building up a system of his own, but doing a great work for the Father, doing it at his will, and at his bidding, and that there was no choice, on his part, but to carry it through, even though he perished in the attempt. I
say, that Jesus had professed all this. He had plainly announced it from the beginning ; and now, the meek and unswerving fidelity with , which he gave himself up to his awful fate, testified, as with a voice from heaven, that he was honest and sincere in these declarations, and that deep in his own soul, he felt the reality of the solemn truths he had uttered.
With these proofs of his entire purity and devotion, I am willing to accept gratefully his divine testimony. I am willing to receive his declaratiors as coming directly from the Father. For he must have known absolutely, whether his claims were well founded ; and when you prove his sincerity, you prove the truth and divinity of his mission.
Here, then, was another important object
accomplished in the sufferings and death of Christ. They were a solemn attestation of the validity of his claims to the Divine Sonship.
IV. Another fact that made the sacrifice of Christ necessary, was, that it served to develop all the higher beauties and glories of his personal character, and render him an exalted and perfect example for us, and for the world, in all ages.
The eminent and profound Dr. Spurzheim, from his clear insight of the facts of human nature, and keen and discriminating observation, seemed to think that an intimate acquaintance with, and a somewhat deep participation in human suffering, was a necessary element in purifying, elevating, and perfecting a truly noble and beautiful character! He would not, of course, suppose that the genius of the best and most exalted were not wrapped up in the hearts of many who had never passed the fiery ordeal of tribulation; but that, in all such, they were latent, or dormant; that they needed the stern influence of trials and sufferings, to call them out, and develop their full and vigorous growth; and true to this idea,