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an affliction to which he was totally a stranger until now.
3. The manner in which he uttered his sad complaint, was with a remarkable vehemency: "he cried with a loud voice," not like a dying man, in whom nature was spent, but as one full of vigor, life, and sense He stirred up the whole power of nature when he made this griev ous outcry. There is in it also an emphatical reduplication, which shows with what vehemency it was uttered; "My God, my God." Nay, to increase the force and vehemency of this complaint, here is an affectionate interrogation, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" It is as if he were surprised by the strangeness of this affliction : and rousing up himself with an unusual vehemency, turns himself to the Father, and cries, Why so, my Father? Oh what dost thou mean by this? What! hide that face from me that was never hid before! What! hide it from me now, in the depth of my other torments and sorrows! O what new, what strange things are these! Hence,
God, to heighten the sufferings of Christ to the uttermost, forsook him in the time of his greatest distress, to the unspeakable affliction and anguish of his soul. This proposition shall be considered in respect to the desertion itself; the design or end of it; and its effect and influence on Christ.
I. The desertion itself. Divine desertion, generally considered, is God's withdrawing himself from any, not as to his essence, for that fills heaven and earth, and constantly remains the same; but as to the manifestation of his favor, grace, and love: when these are gone, God is said to be gone. Devils and the damned are absolutely and for ever forsaken of God. It is in another sense that he sometimes forsakes his dearest children, that is, he removes all sweet manifestations of his favor and love for a time. This desertion of Christ by his Father, was,
1. A very sad desertion, such as was never in all respects experienced by any, nor can be to the end of the world. All his other sufferings were but small to this; they bore upon his body, this upon his soul; they came from the hands of vile men, this from the hands of his Father. He suffered both in body and soul; but the sufferings of his soul were the very soul of his sufferings. Under all his other sufferings he opened not his mouth; but this touched the quick, so that he could not but cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou for saken me?"
2. It was a penal desertion, inflicted on him as a satis faction for those sins of ours which deserved that God should forsake us for ever, as the damned are forsaken by him. As there lies a twofold misery upon the damned in hell, namely, pain of sense, and pain of loss; so upon Christ answerably, there was not only an impression of wrath, but also a subtraction or withdrawment of all sensible favor and love.
3. It was a real, not fictitious desertion. He doth not personate a deserted soul, and speak as if God had withdrawn the comfortable sense and influence of his love from him; but the thing was so indeed. The Godhead restrained and kept back, for this time, all its joys, comforts, and sense of love from the manhood. This bitter doleful outcry of Christ gives evidence enough of its reality.
4. This desertion took place in the time of Christ's greatest need. His Father forsook him at that time, when all earthly comforts had forsaken him, and all outward evils had broken in together upon him; when men, yea, the best of men stood afar off, and none but barbarous enemies were about him. When pain and shame, and all miseries weighed him down; then, to complete and fill up his suffering, God stands afar off too.
5. It was such a desertion as left him only to the sup
ports of his faith. He had nothing now to rest upon but his Father's covenant and promise. And indeed, the faith of Christ manifested itself in these very words of complaint in the text. For though all comfortable sights of God and sense of love were obstructed, yet you see his soul still cleaves to God. His faith laid hold on God, "Eli, Eli:" "My God, my God;" thou, with whom is infinite and everlasting strength; thou that hast hitherto supported my manhood, and according to thy promise upheld thy servant; what! wilt thou now forsake me? My God, I lean upon thee. To these supports and refuges of faith this desertion shut up Christ: by these things he stood, when all other visible and sensible comforts shrunk away, both from his soul and body.
II. Consider the designs and ends of Christ's desertion, which were principally satisfaction and sanctification. Satisfaction for those sins of ours which deserved that we should be totally and everlastingly forsaken of God. This is the desert of every sin, and the damned do feel it, and shall to all eternity. God is gone from them for ever: not essentially; the just God is with them still, the God of power is still with them, the avenging God is ever with them; but the merciful God is gone, and gone for ever. And thus would he have withdrawn himself from every soul that sinned, had not Christ borne that punishment for us in his own soul. If he had not cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" we must have howled out this hideous complaint in the lowest hell for ever, "O righteous God, thou hast for ever forsaken me."
And as satisfaction was designed in this desertion of Christ, so also was the sanctification of every desertion of the saints. For he having been forsaken before us, and for us, whenever God forsakes us, that very forsaking is sanctified, and thereby turned into a mercy to
believers. Hence are all the precious fruits and effects of our desertions: such as the earnest exciting of the soul to prayer, Psa. 77:2; 88: 1-9; fortifying the tempted soul against sin; reviving former experiences; Psa. 77:5; enhancing the value of the Divine presence with the soul, and teaching it to hold Christ faster than ever before. These, and many more, are the precious effects of sanctified desertion; but how many or how good soever these effects are, they all owe themselves to Jesus Christ, as their Author; who, for our sakes, would pass through this sad and dark state, that we might find in it such blessings.
III. Consider the effects and influence of this desertion upon the spirit of Christ. It did not drive him to despair, yet it even amazed him, and almost swallowed up his soul in the deeps of trouble and consternation. This cry is a cry from the deeps, from a soul oppressed even to death. Let but five particulars be weighed, and you will say, never was there any darkness like this; no sorrow like Christ's sorrow in this deserted state.
1. This was a new thing to Christ, such as he never was acquainted with before. From all eternity until now there had been constant and wonderful outpourings of - love, delight, and joy, from the bosom of the Father into his bosom. He never missed his Father before; never saw a frown or a veil upon that blessed face before. This made it a heavy burden indeed.
2. As it was a new thing, and therefore he more amazing, so it was a great thing to Christ; so great, that he scarce knew how to support it. Had it not been a great trial indeed, so great a spirit as his would not have so drooped under it, and made so sad a complaint of it. It was so sharp, so heavy an affliction to his soul, that it caused him, who was meek under all other sufferings as a lamb, to roar under this like a lion; for so much those words of Christ signify; "My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from the voice of my roaring?" Psalm 22 : 1.
3. It was, too, a burden laid on in the time of his greatest distress; when his body was in tortures, and all about him was full of horror and darkness. He suffered this desertion at a time when he never had such need of Divine supports and comforts.
4. So heavy was this pressure upon Christ's soul, that in all probability it hastened his death. It was not usual for crucified persons to expire so soon; and those that were crucified with him were both alive after Christ's spirit was gone. Some have hung more than a day and a night, some two full days and nights, in those torments alive; but never did any feel inwardly what Christ felt. He bore it till the ninth hour-then makes a fearful outcry and dies.
INFERENCE 1. Did God forsake Christ upon the cross as a punishment to him for our sins? Then as often as we have sinned, so oft have we deserved to be forsaken of God. This is the just recompense and desert of sin. And, indeed, here lies the principal evil of sin, that it separates between God and the soul. By sin we depart from God, and, as a due punishment of it, God departs from us. This will be the dismal sentence in the last day, "Depart from me, ye cursed." Matt. 25. Thenceforth there will be a gulf fixed between God and them. Luke, 19: 20. No more friendly intercourse with the blessed God for ever. Beware, sinners, how you say to God now, "Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways," lest he say, "Depart from me," shall never see my face.
2. Did Christ never make such a sad complaint and outcry till God hid his face from him? Then the hiding of God's face is certainly the greatest misery that can possibly befall a gracious soul in this world. When they scourged, buffeted, and smote Christ, yea, when