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dents, if through the medium of your Repository, they would favour me with some observations on the character and merits of these dissertations in general, and of the one in question in particular.
I am, Sir,
IV. A YOUNG man, who purposes to begin the study of Hebrew, would be much indebted to any one of the learned readers of the Monthly Repository, if he would be so good as to state in an early number of this work the authority of the Masoretic or vowel points in the Hea brew language and the present opinion of the best Ilebraists concerning them. He would be grateful also at the same time for a catalogue of the most useful elementary Hebrew books, grammars, lexicons, concordances, &c. To answer these inquiries will not be difficult to a man of learning; and the apswers will be of great value to the Inquirer, who is desirous of labonring for improvement, but knows not how to begin, and is afraid of labouring in vain.
Dur Lord's Agony in the Garden. Two Discourses. By the late Rev. W. Turner, of Wakefield.
(Concluded from p. 429.) Let us now go on to inquire, what we may reasonably conclude to be our Lord's intention in this petition:“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” By the words, “ if it be possible,' he doth not mean, if this thing can possibly be done, or, if thou canst do it. For, as St. Mark records his words, he professed, “ Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee. But, if this thing may be done consistently, with the great purposes of thy unerring wisdom; take away this cup from me. In the common language of the Jews, death was expressed by the word cup, and our Lord himself had often before used the same word in speaking of his own approaching death. Thus Matt. xx. 22. “ He asked the two sons of Zebedee, whether they could drink of the cup that he was to drink of?” i.e. could die with him and for him by a violent death, such as himself was to suffer. So VOL. II.
also, after he was seized by the officers and soldiers, he reproved Peter, for having wounded a servant of the high-priest in rashly attempting to rescue him, by saying: “ The cup which my Father bath given me, shall I not drink it?” i. e. shall I not wil. lingly submit to suffer that death which God hath appointed me? Hence I belive our Lord hath commonly been understood as imploring from his Father in this petition, to be exempted from those sufferings, and that death on the cross, which were now near approaching, provided it might be rendered consistent with the purposes of his divine wisdom and benevolence, and the redemption and salvation of mankind could be effected in any other way; however, he humbly referred it to his Father's goodpleasure. It is supposed also, that he was induced to offer up this petition through the strong and innocent reluctances of hu. man nature against sufferings and death.
But I cannot help thinking, (with Dr. Whitby on the place), that this interpretation conveys in it something infinitely diminishing to our Lord's character, and inconsistent with his whole preceding disposition and conduct in relation to the expectation he always had of the sufferings and death appointed him ; and moreover, it imputes to him (what one would be very unwilling to impute to him, though but for a moment only), a want of fortitude and consistency, and a compliance with the infirmities of animal nature (which however innocent in themselves, and as a necessary result of our constitution, do certainly betray us into guilt when they prevail on us to draw back from our known duty, and from compliance with a command of God), beyond. what several of his followers have shewn under the expectation and in the suffering of violent deaths for his sake. Our Lord perfectly well knew, that the whole plan of the divine counsels for the redemption and salvation of mankind was founded in, and dependant on his approaching public death and resurrection: consequently, he knew, that it was not possible, consistently with the execution of this plan, that he could be exempted from them; and therefore, we cannot suppose, that he could for one moment entertain a desire, much less offer up a prayer to his Father for such an exemption. We know, he had always before spoken with the most perfect calmness and steady resolution about enduring them, as of a matter absolutely determined on within himself: and in the space of a few minutes after the offering up of this very petition to his Father, we find bim speaking to Peier, in relation to his last sufferings and death, with the same spirit and in like manner, as he was wont. said be," which my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?"
" The cup,
I am therefore very unwilling to admit, that our Lord meant at all to beg of his Father an exemption from suffering and death on the cross.
There is another interpretation, which may be given of our Lord's petition in the text, much more consistent, I think, with his general character and conduct, consequently, much more eligible, and which, I am strongly persuaded, exhibits our Lord's real meaning
I readily acknowledge he means here a cup of death, and prays that it may pass, or be taken away from him; but I apprehend, he means something very different from his death on the cross. It was this cup, this present cup of death, or deadly cup, which was now put into his hand, and of which he was actually drinking; not that cup of death, which he was to drink the day following on the cross. In short, he means the grievous sufferings he then endured, which, if not removed, must, in the natural course of things, soon issue in his death.
At the beginning of these sufferings he declared to the three disciples, “ My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death :" i.e. I feel the functions of life ready to sink under the load of distress which overwhelms my spirit. And whoever considers with attention the symptoms of his agony described by St. Luke, will, I presume, readily allow, that, in the natural order of things, it would not be possible for a human frame to subsist long in such a condition without suffering death. Such symptoms would certainly prove the agonies of death in any other person, in whom they should take place and continue for any considerable time.
Now, our Lord perfectly well knew, that it was not that kind of death which was appointed to him to suffer for the redemption of the world. He could therefore see no reason, why that cup of death might not pass from him without his drinking it up: i. e. actually dying under his present sufferings; or any reason which rendered it at all improper to implore his father to take it away, if he pleased.
No doubt, God might have very wise and good ends in view in putting this deadly cup into his hand, and causing him to drink so much of it, or suffer so much by it; and I have endeavoured to point out two of those ends which actually were answered thereby: yet, as the redemption of the world, that great errand on which he was sent into it, was to be effected by another kind of sufferings and death, it might very possibly, and very probably, be quite consistent with the counsels and will of God, that this species of suffering and death might be removed ; consequently, it was perfectly consistent with our Lord's general character and spirit to pray for their removal.
This proved the case in fact: without his drinking up this cup of death, i, e. without actually dying by the mortal symptoms of his present bodily disorder, the purposes of divine wisdom were effectually answered : partly, by his suffering so much from this deadly cup now put into his hand, and thereby having experienced what men suffer from bodily maladies, and ihe agonies of death consequent thereon: partly, by the offering up of these humble and submissive petitions, and the perfect resignation he yielded to the will of his Father, whereby his own character and his example to us of an unreproved piety were greatly illustrated, and then the cup was instantly removed.
What confirms me in a persuasion, that the interpretation I have now offered, exhibits our Lord's real meaning in this petition, is a passage of St. Paul in the v. chap. of Hebrews and the 7th verse; where, I think, he undoubtedly refers to this transaction in the garden, and hath these words : “ Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, (that death which was instantly invading him), and he was hcard, in that he feared.” Or, as the words of the original are more truly, as well as more intelligibly transJated in the margin: “ He was heard for his piety:
Let us compare these words of the apostle with the evangelists' account of our Lord's agony in the garden. The apostle says, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears: The evangelists tell us what his prayers and supplications were, and describe the great earnestness wherewith he prayed. The apostle intimates, that the purport of his prayer was, that he might be saved from death. The evangelists give us his words thus: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”
“ Whence tis plain in what sense the apostle understood the word cup. The apostle says he prayed to him that was able to save hiin from death. One of the evangelists, gives his words thus : “ Abba, Father, all tbings are possible unto thee, take away this cup from me." The apostle says he offered up this prayer with great piety. The evangelists give us these as his words : “ Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done:” and again: “If this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." The apostle assures us, that he was heard for his piety: i.e. his petition was granted, he was saved from death as he requested. But from what death
was he saved? From the approaching death on the cross ? By no means. Therefore it was not this death from which he prayed to be saved ; but from some other death; even that which was that moment attacking him, and under the grasp and power whereof he felt hiniself sinking. From this indeed he was saved, for an angel was commissioned from heaven to remove it, and to strengthen him.
As wbat I have now offered is, I apprehend, in some measure a new attempt to clear up this affecting and difficult passage of the gospel history, I would propose it with all possible submission to the judgments of the considerate, who love and pursue scripture knowledge. If it be thought to place this transaction in a light, that renders the whole consistent with our Lord's general character, and consequently, to do him any honour, and afford believers in him any satisfaction, I shall rejoice in having proposed it.
Allow me further to suggest briefly, a few practical reflections this part of our Lord's history.
First : From hence we may derive great consolation and support under all our afflictions, and particularly under bodily infirmities and sufferings, by considering, that our great high-priest who is ascended up into heaven, and now appeareth in the presence of God for us, is not one who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, since he was in all points tempted, or tried, like as we are, yet without sin. Forasmuch, as we are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also took part in the same, and shared in all the sufferings and sorrows we endure : he knows, therefore, how to pity and help us. Especially, they who through bodily infirmities suffer the unknown and inexpressible distresses of a disturbed and sorrowful spirit, may draw some comfort and relief from this thought, that their Saviour and future Judge tasted all the bitterness of this cup of anguish in a much higher degree than themselves : he, therefore, will abundantly pity, and make every proper allowance for them. He is not unacquainted with the sensations of a heart agiiated with fear, distress and anxiety; and he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax: on the contrary, he will heal the broken in heart, and bind up their wounds.
Secondly. We may derive from the example of Christ on this occasion
useful directions for our own conduct under all afflictions, and particularly under bodily sufferings. Observe with what peculiar earnestness and emphasis he flies to God in this dreadful hour, and claims his relation to him, as his Father.
O my Father,” &c. and again," Abba, Father, all things are