by Jeremiah Burroughs
A Seventh discovery of Gods displeasure against sin, opened from the sufferings of Christ. First, See the several expressions of Scripture: 1 He was sorrowful to death, 2 He began to be amazed, 3 He began to be in an Agony. Secondly, See the effects of Christs being in an Agony, 1 He fell grovelling on the ground, 2 He sweat drops of blood, 3 He cries to God if it be possible to let this cup pass from me. Thirdly, There is eight Considerations of Christs sufferings.
Seventhly, And that is greater than all that hath been said: Put all the former six together; His dealings with the Angels, and with Man-kind; The dreadful giving of the Law; His dreadful Judgments for smalt sins; And examples of his wrath abroad in the world; And the eternal torments in Hell: Put all these six together, and yet I say all these six is not so much to manifest the displeasure of God against sin as this one that now I shall tell you of: and if there be any thing in the world that should make us to see the evil of sin, it should be this; if any thing make our hearts to shake and tremble at the evil of that sin of which it is so much guilt, then this I say that now I speak of should do it; and that is this, The dealings of God the Father with his Son: when Jesus Christ that was the second Person of the Trinity, God blessed for ever, came to be our Mediator, and to have but our sins imputed unto him; and according to Scriptures phrase, to be made sin: Do but then take notice how God deals with him, how God manifests himself to his own Son, when his own Son did but take mans sin upon him, to answer for it: do but then consider how God the Father did deal with him. The Scripture saith, he did not spare his Son, but let out the vials of his wrath upon him in a most dreadful manner. If we do but consider,
First, that Christ God blessed for ever should come and be in the form of a Servant, should be a man of sorrows as the Scripture speaks, that in the whole course of his life should live a contemptible life before men, and undergo grievous sufferings. But because I must hasten, do but look upon Christ in his Agony, and upon the Cross at his death, and there you will see the dreadful displeasure of God against sin, and in nothing more than that. True, there is the bright glass of the Law wherein we may see the evil of sin: but there is the red glass of the sufferings of Christ, and in that we may see more of the evil of sin than if God should let us down to Hell, and if there we should see all the tortures and torments of the damned in Hell, see them how they lie sweltering under Gods wrath there; it were not so much as beholding sin through the red glass of the sufferings of Jesus Christ, and that of his Agony. And give me leave a little to shew to you how God let out himself against his Son when he came into the Garden; and a little before when he was to die and suffer upon the Cross. And for this consider these two things:
First, The several Expressions the holy Ghost useth in the several Evangelists for the setting out of those dreadful things Christ suffered as a fruit of Gods displeasure upon him.
1 One Evangelist saith that Christ was very * sorrowful even to the death, Mat. 26. 38. he began to be (the word in the Original signifies) compassed about with sorrows, to have sorrows round about him, and as it were beset and besieged with grief; and it was to the very death, usque ad mortem, sorrowful to the very death: What was it for? upon the apprehension of the wrath of his Father, which he was to endure for the sin of man: he was sorrowful to the death in the apprehension of it. You it may be upon the sight of sin content your selves with some slight little sorrow. You will it may be, when * you are told of sin, cry, Lord have mercy upon me, I am sorry for it, and so pass it away. But Christ when God comes to deal with him, he makes his soul to be compassed about with sorrows, sorrowful to the death for our sins.
2 Another Evangelist tels us he began to be amazed, Mark, 14. 33. that is, when Christ came to drink the Cup of the wrath of his Father, due for our sins, he stood amazed at the sight of the dreadfulness of that Cup he was to drink of; because he knew what Gods wrath was, he understood what it was before he drunk of it; and this made him stand amazed at it. Many sinners hear Gods wrath, and this makes them fear, but they be not amazed at it, they can pass it away and they be not affected with it afterward; because they understand it not, they know not what it is for a Creature to stand before the wrath of an infinite Deity: Who knows the power of thy wrath? saith the Scripture: therefore they be not amazed. But Christ that knew full well what the wrath of God was, and saw to the bottom of it, he understood to the dregs what that Cup was; and he stood amazed at the sight of it when he was to drink it.
3 Another Evangelist hath this Expression, * (’tis in Luke 22. 44.) Christ began to be in an Agony: Now the word Agony, signifies a strife, a combat; it is taken from the word that signifies a combat in Battel. Christ was in an Agony, in a Combat: Combat, with what? with whom? With the Wrath of God, he saw coming out upon him to sink him; he saw the Curse of the Law come out upon him; he saw the infinite Justice of God, of the infinite Deity come out upon him: and he was in an Agony, in combat with the infinite Justice and wrath of God, and the dreadful Curse of the Law, and so Christ came to be in an Agony. These be the three Expressions of the Evangelists.
Secondly, Consider the Effects of Christs being in an Agony, and apprehending the wrath of his Father for sin.
1 One Effect was this, you shall find it in the story of the Gospel, that the text saith, he fell grovelling upon the ground upon the apprehension of Gods wrath and displeasure upon him for sin, which he was to suffer: he fell down grovelling upon the ground. When he that upholds the Heavens and the Earth by his Power, now falls grovelling upon the Earth, having the weight and burden of mans Sin upon him he falls upon his face, he falls to the ground. Certainly Brethren, Christ had that weight and burden upon him, that would have prest all the Angels in Heaven, and Men in the World down to the bottomless gulf of despair: If all the strength of all the men that ever were since the beginning of the world, and all the Angels in Heaven were put into one, and he had but that weight upon him that Christ had, it would have made him sink down into eternal despair: for had not Christ been God as well as Man, he could never have born it, but would have sunk down eternally: But the burden and weight was so great that he sinks down to the ground.
2 A second effect of Christs bearing the wrath of God for Sin is this, He sweat great drops of blood; the word in the Original is Clodders of Blood; Blood thickened into Clods. Never was there such a sweat; it was in the Winters night, a cold night, abroad upon the ground in a cold Winters night, and he had nothing else upon him to make him sweat but the burden of sin, and the weight of the wrath of God being upon him, he being under that burden sweat, and such a sweat as made the very blood break through his very Veins and run to Clodders, and so run down upon the ground Clodders of Blood: and all this but upon the apprehension of the wrath of God his Father against him for our Sin. Now you know when Porters be under great Burdens, sometimes they sweat; but never did any sweat like this sweat of Christ, being under the weight of mans Sin, sweat so as Clodders of Blood should fall from him: One would think fear should rather draw in the Blood; fear naturally draws in the blood to the heart: therefore it is that men and women when they are scared, and are afraid, they are so pale in their Countenance; fear causeth paleness in the outward parts, because the blood retires to the heart when they be afraid. But such was the amazement upon Christ, upon the apprehension of the wrath of his Father for Sin, that it sends out blood in Clodders trickling down his sides.
3 And then a third expression which shew the effect of Gods wrath on Christ, is the Prayer of Christ; Christ doth as it were shrink under this weight and burden of sin, and cries to God, if it be possible let this Cup pass from me. When we cry with vehemency, we say, if it be possible let it be thus or thus; but Christ cries out so three times. We may apprehend Christ taking as it were the Cup of the wrath of his Father in his hand, and because he knew it was the end wherefore he came into the world, that he must drink of it for satisfaction for mans Sin; and being willing to save Man-kind, that he knew could not be saved but he must drink the Cup, he takes it in his hand ready to drink it; but beholding the hideousness and dreadfulness of this Cup, and knowing what was in it, he puts it away, and cries, Father if it be possible, let this Cup pass: but now he sees if he did not drink it, all the Children of men must be eternally damned; for such was our misery, if Christ had not drunk this Cup, we had all eternally perished; therefore Christ puts it to his mouth again (as it were) the second time; but yet seeing what dreadfulness was in this Cup, and he knowing it, he takes it away again, and cries, If it be possible, let this Cup pass: but yet having love to Man-kind, being loth to see so many thousands of poor Creatures perish eternally, he puts it to his mouth again a third time; and yet seeing the dreadfulness of it, puts it away again, and yet saith, If it be possible let it pass. This might make a man tremble to think that he shall (as Job saith 21. Job) drink of the wrath of God: Thus it was with Christ, and all this while he did not drink it: But afterwards when he comes to the Cross, there he drunk the Cup of Gods wrath, and there he cries out with another cry more bitter than all the other, and that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? so that he apprehends himself forsaken. Oh the wrath of the Almighty that then was upon the Spirit of Jesus Christ at that time: What! for the son of God blessed for evermore thus to cry out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! Oh you Heavens how could you be able to behold such a Spectacle as this was, or the Earth be able to bear it! Truly, neither Heaven nor Earth were able; for the Scripture saith, that the Sun withdrew his light, and was darkened so many hours; it was from twelve to three, that the Sun withdrew his light and did not shine, but there was dismal darkness in the world as not being able to behold such a Spectacle as this: and the Earth shook and trembled, and the Graves opened, and the Rocks clove in sunder, the very stones themselves were affected with such a work as this; and the vale of the Temple rent asunder: these things were done upon Christs bearing of the Wrath of his Father for Sin. Here you have the fruits of Gods displeasure for sin, and in this you may see, surely sin must needs be a vile thing that causeth God the Father thus to deal with his own Son, when he had mans sin upon him.
Thirdly, Consider yet further, for there is much in it, and if this do not shew the evil of sin, and cause you to fear and tremble, those that be guilty of sin, and their consciences tell them so; if their hearts tremble not, certainly their hearts be hard, and their minds be blinded, and little hopes can they have for the present of ever having their parts in these sufferings of Christ; what shall Christ suffer such sufferings, and wilt thou go away and have slight thoughts of sin? shall sin be so great a burden to Christ, and wilt thou be so merry under it? Certainly you see it is more than you were aware of: for you to say, I trust in Jesus Christ, and hope to be saved by Jesus Christ; you see how Christ felt sin, the Scripture saith he was made a Curse: Were it not we had it from the holy Ghost, no man or Angel durst say so, that Christ should be made a Curse; in the abstract, not Cursed, but made a Curse: What! he that was God and Man, by the sin of man was made a Curse! Oh the displeasure of God against sin! But yet to give it you a little more fully, see these Aggravations, and you will say, certainly the displeasure of God was great against his Son.
1 As first, All that Christ suffered he perfectly knew it long before he suffered, and yet it was so dreadful unto him. Oh Brethren, there be many men and women understand nothing at all of the wrath of God against sin, these think there is no great matter in it: Of all the men and women in the world, when they come to suffer this wrath, it will be dreadful to them, because it come unexpectedly; they that went on merrily and cheerfully in the ways of sin, and for the wrath of God, never thought of it; now then when the wrath of God comes on them, it will be more dangerous and intolerable: This is the reason why many people when their consciences are awakened upon their sick Beds, then they despair, crying and roaring under Gods wrath and rage with despair: Why? Because they never in their lives came to understand the danger of sin, and of Gods wrath for sin; and because it comes now suddenly upon them, they be not able to bear it. But it was not so with Christ, Christ understood this long before; he knew what it would be before he took our Nature, and he knew what it would be when he came in humane Nature to undertake it. Those men and women that know not what storms and tempests are, it is grievous to them when they come to know them suddenly; when they are in the midst of a storm or tempest at Sea, Oh they are grievous: but Mariners that know beforehand what they are like to meet withal, it is not grievous to them. But Christ though he knew it beforehand, yet how dreadful was it to him when it came?
2 Consider, Christ had no sin in himself to weaken his strength, and take away his strength, and so make the burden greater; he had no sin but only by imputation. But now when the wrath of God comes upon us, we having so much sin in our Natures, this weakens us, and will therefore make the burden of Divine wrath so much the more intolerable to us: For as it is with a sound man, If a great weight be laid upon a man healthful and strong, he feels not the burden of it; but if you lay the same weight upon a man very sick and weak through distemper of body, it is grievous to him: So here, If the weight of Sin were so grievous to Christ that had no distemper of weakness, how grievous will it be to a sinner that is distempered, and so weakened with sin? If the shoulders of a Porter be sore, and all the Skin off, and a boil upon his shoulder, how grievous would the burden be then? So it is with us, when God comes to lay the burden of his Wrath upon us, we be but weak Creatures at the best, but through the distemper of sin in our hearts we are more weak and more unable to bear: because we be sore, and have boils of sin; this makes Gods wrath much more dreadful; but it was not so with Christ.
3 Christ had absolute perfect Patience, there was not the least impatience in Christ: therefore when Christ that had perfect Patience, and yet did thus cry out and sweat, and was thus sorrowful under it, surely there was some fearful burden in this. Some men and women will lie and roar out under some pains, and it may be it is great, but had they perfect patience, they would not make such dolor and out-cries: it is through the weakness of their Patience that they make such out-cries, and manifest such sense of their affliction. But Christ made not such out-cries through impatience.
4 Consider, Christ had the strength of an infinite Deity to support him: He had the strength of God, he was God and Man, he had the strength of the Divine Nature to support the Humane Nature which no Creature can have as Christ had; for there was an Hypostatical union between the Divine and Humane Nature at that time, and yet notwithstanding the Hypostatical union of both Natures, yet Christ expresseth himself thus, and is thus sensible of the Wrath upon him for the sin of Man.
5 Consider, Christ was the Captain of all that were to suffer hereafter: and therefore he would if he had had no more upon him than that which the humane Nature could have born, have manifested (one would think) abundance of Resolution and Magnanimity, and not have cried out so: and surely had there not been the suffering of the Wrath of the Deity, and the Curse of the Law in it; certainly he that was the Captain of all that were to suffer, he would have manifested it to be a light burden he met withal; for there be many Martyrs have suffered outwardly as great Extremities as ever Christ did, for outward torture, and born them with joy; therefore seeing the Martyrs many of them suffering greater tortures to their bodies, and have born them with Joy; no sorrow, nor crying out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? nor, If it be possible, let this cup pass, but endured them with a great deal of Joy. Now how comes it to pass that the Martyrs did bear them with such joy, and Christ the Captain of them all falls to the Earth, and cries out so? Certainly there was more in Christs sufferings than in all the sufferings in the world, more of the displeasure of God.
6 Consider, That it was through the strength of Christ that all that ever did suffer were enabled to suffer what they did undergo. Now if Christ had that strength, that through him all the Martyrs were enabled to suffer what they did; certainly Christ had abundance of strength in himself to suffer when he came to it: How comes it to pass then that the strength whereby they were enabled to suffer being from Christ, they manifested not that horror and trouble that Christ himself did? Certainly therefore Christ suffered other manner of things than they did.
7 Consider this, Christ did know what an infinite good his sufferings would do: that by suffering he should save so many thousands, reconcile God and man, glorify his Father, that he should do the greatest work for God and his Father that ever was; that by his sufferings there should be that work done that should be matter of eternal praise, and Hallelujahs of the Saints and Angels eternally in the Heavens: And yet though Christ knew and understood what good should be done by his sufferings, yet see how sensible he was of the greatness of it. One would have thought the good he saw to be done should much have lightened it; and so certainly it did.
8 Consider, Christ did know his sufferings were to continue but a little while; though they were extreme, yet that they should last but for a few hours, and then he should be glorified. And yet though he did understand his sufferings were to last but a few hours, and then himself should come to glory; yet for all this they were thus hideous and dreadful to him. Oh Lord, then how hideous shall the sufferings of the damned be to them, when as every damned soul that goes to Hell, knows certainly how he must lie to all eternity; after thousands of thousands, and ten thousand millions of years; after so many thousands of years as there be drops in those mighty Waters which you sail over; yet the time is no more expired than the very first moment they entered into those miserable torments.
Consider of this thus you that have to do in the great Waters, consider how many drops there might be in the Sea, as big as the bill of a Bird could carry, and that this Bird should be supposed once in a thousand years to carry away one drop, yet this Bird would sooner empty that mighty Sea than the torments of the damned should be at an end. Oh how dreadful will it be to them when as Christs tortures which he did endure but a little while, made him to cry out so. Oh Brethren, put all these together and then know the evil of sin. Oh that we could apprehend it now before we come to feel it. For this is the end for which I speak of these things and present them before you, that you may now know them, and never come to feel experimentally what they be. Blessed be those that in hearing tremble and believe, and do not come to know by experience that dreadful evil in them. If God should in his infinite wisdom have studied (as one may so speak) from all Eternity to have found out a way to have presented sin to be dreadful to the Children of men, we could not conceive how infinite Wisdom should from all eternity have found out an Argument to manifest the evil of sin more, or so much as in the sufferings of Jesus Christ: So that in them God doth as it were say, Weil, I see wretched Men and Women will not believe the evil of sin; well, among other Arguments, I will have one, that if possible, shall Convince all wicked hard hearts in the world to make them see what sin is, and that is in my Son, in my dealings with my Son; and that wrath of mine I shall lay upon my Son; this shall make it appear to them what sin is. Now if God have done this on purpose to render Sin odious and abominable, and a most dreadful Evil; Oh wo then to that Soul, that after all this shall go on in ways of Sin pleasingly and delightfully, and easily entertain Sin.
From the Evil of Evils by Jeremiah Burroughs