by Robert Hawker
He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. -Philip. ii. 8.
My soul, dost thou not feel, at every step towards Calvary, somewhat of the angel's words when he cried, "One woe is past, and behold there come two woes more hereafter?" Rev. ix. 12. Surely, never was there a manifestation of the holiness of Jehovah, nor the utter detestation of God against sin, as was set forth in the crucifixion of Jesus. Would men, would angels, see what sin really is, let them go to the cross of Jesus. The casting rebellious angels out of heaven, the curse pronounced upon the earth, the drowning the old world by water, the burning of Sodom by fire; nay, the millions of miseries among men, and the unquenchable fire of hell; though all these may make the souls of the awakened exclaim against sin, yet all these are slight and inconsiderable things, compared to the wrath of God poured out upon the person of God's own Son, when he died the accursed death of the cross. My soul, take thy stand this day at the foot of the cross. Behold the Lamb of God! There see divine justice more awfully displayed than would have been in the everlasting ruin of all creation. And Oh may it be thy portion, my soul, while looking unto Jesus, to say as Paul did-" I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
But, my soul, while thou lookest up to Jesus hanging on the painful tree, contemplate the sufferings of the Lord Jesus in his sacred body. The death of the cross was a violent death; for as there was no sin in Jesus, there could not have been those seeds of death, which in all the race of Adam, are found to bring forth fruit unto death. Precious thought this, even in the moment of beholding Jesus's life taken by violence. Had Jesus not died by a violent death, he would have been no sacrifice; for that which died of itself naturally, could not by the law have been offered to God. The death of Jesus was also a cursed death; for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Behold, my soul, thy Lord thus lifted up a spectacle between heaven and earth, as if cursed and despised both of God and man. The death of Jesus was a painful death, in which many deaths were, as it were, contained in one. The nails driven through the most feeling parts of the hands and feet, and the body stretched forth on the transverse timber; in this manner the cross, with the Lord Jesus fastened upon it, was lifted up in the air, until the bottom fell into its socket, which suddenly shook the whole and every part of his sacred body; and thus the whole weight hanging on his pierced nailed hands, the wounds in both hands and feet by degrees widened as he hung, until at length he expired in tortures.
Precious, precious Redeemer! was it thus thou didst offer thy soul an offering for sin? Was there no method, in all the stores of Omnipotency, for satisfying divine justice, but by thy holy, harmless, undefiled body dying the violent, cursed, painful death of the cross? Oh by the crimson fountain of thy blood, which issued from thy pierced side, enable me to sit down, day by day, until I find my whole nature crucified with thee in all its affections and lusts. Let there be somewhat, dearest Lord, of an holy conformity between my Lord and me; and if Jesus died for sin; may my soul die to sin; that by mortifying the deeds of the body I may live; and by carrying about with me always the dying of the Lord Jesus, the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in my mortal body.