MONDAY, THIRD WEEK IN LENT
ON THE GREAT ADVANTAGES OF DEVOTION TO THE PASSION OF CHRIST
Consider first, that the consideration of the passion of Christ is the sovereign means of all good to Christian souls. ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up,’ saith our Lord to Nicodemus, John iii. 14, 15, ‘that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have everlasting life.’ As then the looking at the brazen serpent, (which was a figure of the death of Christ,) was the means of divine appointment to heal the Israelites, who were bitten by the fiery serpents sent among them for their sins, and to rescue them from temporal death; so the contemplation of the passion of Christ, is the great means to heal Christian souls from the bites of the infernal serpent, and to deliver them from everlasting death. Every sinner that looks for mercy, must return to God with his whole heart, and that by faith, hope, love, and repentance. Now it is in meditating on the passion of Christ we contemplate the great object of our faith the chiefest ground of our hope; the most pressing motive of divine love; and the strongest and most effectual inducement to repentance for our sins. O! let us embrace then this great means of bringing us to God, and to all good.
Consider 2ndly, that as the belief of Christ crucified is the most fundamental article of the Christian’s faith, so it has the greatest influence of all other articles on our justification; according to that of the Apostle, Rom. iii. 23, 24, 25, ‘that we all have sinned and need the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God had proposed to be A PROPITIATION THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD,’ &c. ‘Tis then through faith in his blood we are to be introduced to the divine mercy and ‘tis by meditation on his passion we are to be introduced to a lively faith in his blood. So that the devotion to the passion of Christ is the shortest way to come at justifying faith. It has no less influence on our hope, by setting before our eyes how much God has loved us in giving his only Son, and the great grounds we have to look for all good through him. For as the Apostle writes, Rom. viii. 32, ‘He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, hath he not also with him given us all things.’ O what an earnest indeed has God given us of all mercy, grace, and salvation in the blood of his Son! O what may not poor sinners hope for from such and so great a Redeemer, if they apply to this sacred passion by daily meditations, and offer up their humble supplications to his Father, through him, and his infinite merits.
Consider 3rdly, that as nothing contributes so effectually to our justification and sanctification as the love of God; so nothing contributes more effectually to excite this heavenly love in our souls than the devotion to the passion of Christ. For there he must clearly discover the incomprehensible goodness of God, and the inexhaustible treasures of his divine love for us. This excites in us a desire of returning love for love; life for life. This attracts us, like Magdalene, to the feet of our crucified Saviour, with an earnest desire to wash them with penitential tears, flowing from, and enlivened by, divine love. This makes us grieve for our past ingratitude, in having had hitherto so little sense of his goodness and love; this makes us lament the share our sins have had in nailing him to the cross; this teaches us to offer our whole hearts to him, in order to make him the best amends we are capable of by loving him henceforward, both in time and eternity. Thus the devotion to the passion of Christ introduces that penitential love to which our Lord attributes the remission of sins, when he says of Magdalene, Luke vii. 47, ‘Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much.’
Conclude to station thyself at the foot of the cross, and by the daily contemplation of the sufferings of thy Redeemer, so to exercise thy soul in faith, hope, love, and repentance, as to secure to thyself mercy, grace, and salvation.