WEDNESDAY, THIRD WEEK IN LENT
ON OTHER LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM CHRIST IN HIS PASSION
Consider first, that in the passion of Christ his meekness is no less admirable than his humility. These two he jointly recommended in life to be learned of him, Matt. xi. 29. And these two he jointly taught in death by his great example. ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer he opened not his mouth.’ Isai liii. 7. ‘The Lord God hath opened my ear,’ saith he, Isai l. 5, 6, ‘and I do not resist – I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have turned not away my face from them that rebuke me, and spit upon me.’ And why all this? But ‘to leave us an example that we should follow his steps,’ 1 Pet. ii. 21, 23. ‘Who when he was reviled did not revile; when he suffered he threatened not; but delivered himself to them that judged him unjustly.’ O let us learn from the consideration of the behaviour of our Lord in his sufferings to suppress all the risings of our passion and pride, and to imitate his meekness and silence; who in the midst of affronts and injuries of all kinds, ‘became as a man that heareth not, and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.’
Consider 2ndly, that the devotion to the passion of Christ is the great means to teach a Christian patience under all the crosses and sufferings we are exposed to during our mortal pilgrimage. We cannot live without crosses and sufferings; and ‘in our patience’ under them, ‘we are to possess our souls.’ Luke xxi. 19. Patience both sweetens and sanctifies all our sufferings; ‘patience is necessary for us, that doing the will of God, we may receive the promise.’ Heb. x. 36. ‘Patience hath a perfect work; that we may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.’ James i. 4. As none hath ever gone to heaven but by the way of the cross, so none can ever come thither without patience. Now, this all-necessary virtue of patience is best learned in the school of the passion of Christ by the consideration of the multitude and variety of his sufferings; and the manner in which he endures all for the love of us. How shall a sinner (who has deserved hell for his crimes) pretend to complain, or think much of any sufferings in life or death, when by a serious meditation he sets before his eyes the far greater sufferings of the innocent Lamb of God, endured with an unwearied patience, for his sins?
Consider 3rdly, what further lessons are to be learned from the contemplation of the passion of Christ. 1. Of charity for our enemies; by considering the Son of God, praying for them that crucified him, and dying for his enemies. 2. Of perfect resignation, and conformity in all things to the holy will of God; by the great example of the prayer of our Lord in his agony, ‘not my will but thine be done;’ and the consideration of the great sacrifice that he made of himself to his Father upon the cross, without the least reserve. 3. Of the spirit of voluntary mortification and self-denial; by seeing how the Son of God allows himself no ease or comfort in his sufferings; but both in life and death makes choice of what is most disagreeable to natural inclination. O my soul, these are necessary lessons indeed. See thou study them well at the foot of the cross, sitting under the shadow of thy beloved. O dear Jesus, do thou, by thy eternal grace, teach me effectually these virtues, by that mercy and love that nailed thee to the cross.
Conclude by loving and blessing thy God for having sent thee so excellent a master from heaven to teach thee the way thither by his sufferings and death. Let these be always before thy eyes, and thou shalt never miss thy way.