May 13, 2015
The following are two more excerpts from Dr. Lightfoot’s sermons that expound his Biblical objections to what became the “orthodox” teaching about Christ bearing, on top of all his affliction from the wicked, the wrath of God as well. Judge for yourself whether he has been arguing in a Scriptural manner or not.
HORAE HEBRAICAE ET TALMUDICAE ;
HEBREW AND TALMUDICAL EXERCITATIONS
GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN ;
(excerpt, pp. 367-368)
Ver. 28 ; “ I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” This petition of our Saviour’s, “ Father, glorify thy name,” was of no light consequence, when it had such an answer from heaven by an audible voice : and what it did indeed mean, we must guess by the context. Christ, upon the Greeks’ desire to see him, takes that occasion to discourse about his death, and to exhort his followers, that, from his example, they would not love their life, but, by losing it, preserve it to life eternal. Now by how much the deeper he proceeds in the discourse and thoughts of his approaching death, by so much the more is his mind disturbed, as himself acknowledgeth, ver. 27.
But whence comes this disturbance ? It was from the apprehended rage and assault of the devil. Whether our Lord Christ, in his agony and passion, had to grapple with an angry God, I question : but I am certain, he had to do with an angry devil. When he stood, and stood firmly, in the highest and most eminent point and degree of obedience, as he did in his sufferings,—it doth not seem agreeable [congruum], that he should then be groaning under the pressures of divine wrath ; but it is most agreeable, he should, under the rage and fury of the devil. For,
I. The fight was now to begin between the serpent and the seed of the woman, mentioned Gen. iii. 15, about the glory of God, and the salvation of man. In which strife and contest, we need not doubt but the devil would exert all his malice and force to the very uttermost.
II. God loosed all the reins, and suffered the devil without any kind of restraint upon him to exercise his power and strength to the utmost of what he either could or would ; because he knew his champion Christ was strong enough, not only to bear his assaults, but to overcome them.
III. He was to overcome,—not by his divine power,—for how easy a matter were it for an omnipotent God to conquer the most potent created being ;—but his victory must be obtained by his obedience, his righteousness, and his holiness.
IV. Here then was the rise of that trouble and agony of Christ’s soul, that he was presently to grapple with the utmost rage of the devil ; the divine power, in the mean time, suspending its activity, and leaving him to manage the conflict with those weapons of obedience and righteousness only.
It was about this, therefore, that that petition of our Saviour, and the answer from heaven, was concerned : which may be gathered from what follows, ver. 31, “ Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
“ ‘ Now is my soul troubled (saith he), and what shall I say ?’ It is not convenient for me to desire to be saved from this hour ; for for this very purpose did I come : that therefore which I would I beg of thee, O Father, is, that thou wouldst glorify thy name, thy promise, thy decree, against the devil, lest he should boast and insult.”
The answer from heaven to this prayer, is, “ I have already glorified my name in that victory thou formerly obtainedst over his temptations in the wilderness ; and I will glorify my name again in the victory, thou shalt have in this combat also.”
Luke iv. 13 ; “ When the devil had ended all his temptations, he departed from him for a season.” He went away baffled then : but now he returns more insolent, and much more to be conquered.
And thus now, the third time, by a witness and voice from heaven, was the Messiah honoured according to his kingly office : as he had been, according to his priestly office, when he entered upon his ministry at his baptism, Matt. iii. 17 ; and, according to his prophetic office, when he was declared to be he, that was to be heard; Matt. xvii. 5, compared with Deut. xviii. 15.
* * * * *
A S E R M O N,
(excerpt, pp. 234-237)
HEBREWS, x. 29
And hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he
was sanctified, an unholy thing.
Therefore, as the Scripture saith, “ The life is in the blood,”—so are we to look for something besides the bare substance of his blood, that flowed from him, and besides the bare flowing of his blood from him ; something that was as the life of that blood, that gave it the vigour, virtue, and efficacy, of justifying and saving. And what was that ? You will say, His infinite ‘sufferings ;’ let me add, His infinite ‘ obedience :’ in both which is included, the supposal of the ‘ dignity of his person ;’ and the whole is spoken.
I shall not much insist upon his sufferings, because his obedience to those sufferings was the life of those sufferings, the very life of his death, as I may so phrase it, and that, the dignity of his person computed in, that gave virtue, vigour, efficacy, to his sufferings, death, and blood.
Of his sufferings, I shall only say thus much ; ‘ That he suffered as much as God could put him to suffer, short of his own wrath ; and that he suffered as much as the devil could put him to, with all his wrath.’ You will say, I speak too high, when I say, ‘ He suffered as much as God could put him to suffer ;’ and that I speak too low, when I say, ‘ short of his own wrath.’ I dare not say, ‘ He suffered the wrath of God,’ as many do ; but the prophets and apostles teach me, that he suffered the tryings of God. And more he could not be put to suffer, than what he did. “ It pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief ;” Isa. liii. 10. And more could not be laid upon him, than what was laid. Have you seriously weighed the meaning of those words of our Saviour himself [Luke, xxii. 53], “ This is your hour, and power of darkness ?” The plain English of it is, “ ‘ This is your hour,’ that God hath let you loose upon me, to do with me, what you will, without restraint : and so hath he let loose upon me the kingdom of darkness, in its utmost power, at the full length of the chain, to do against me the utmost it can do. I was daily with you in the temple, and ye stretched out no hands against me : for then providence restrained them, because the hour was not yet come. But ‘ this is your hour ;’ and now hell, and all its power, and all its agents, are let loose against me ! and providence does not check them with any restraint.”
I might insist to show you, that, whereas God, from the day of Adam’s fall, had pitched a combat and field, to be fought betwixt the serpent and the seed of the woman, in which the ‘serpent should bruise his heel,’ and he ‘break the serpent’s head ;’—the hour of that encounter being now come, the Godhead of Christ suspends its acting ; the providence of God suspends its restraining, and lets Satan loose to do the utmost of his power and malice, and leaves Christ to stand upon the strength of his own unconquerable holiness. The providence of God hath the devil in a chain, yea, as to wicked and ungodly men. Else, why are they not carried bodily to hell by him ? Why are they not hurried to their own place by him, body and soul together ? But here God let the chain quite loose ; ‘ Satan, do thy worst against him ; use all they power, rage, and malice.’—But all would not do ; for God very well knew, what a champion he had brought into the field to encounter him. And, therefore, I may very well say it again, ‘ That God put him to suffer as much, as he could put him to suffer on this side his own wrath ; and the devil put him to suffer as much, as he could do with all his rage and power.’
But his sufferings were not all, that gave his blood and death that virtue, that most justly is ascribed to it, of justifying and saving. The torments that he suffered, were not the godfather, that named his blood by that precious name of justifying and saving ; but it was that infinite obedience, that he showed in bowing so low as to undergo those sufferings. And there especially does the Scripture lay and lodge the stress of it ; “ By the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous [Rom. v. 19] :”—“ He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross [Phil. ii. 8] ;”— “ Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered [Heb. v. 8].”
Our Saviour, in his sufferings and death [for to that I will confine my discourse concerning his obedience, as the text confines us to treat only of his blood, and as the Scripture more peculiarly lodges his obedience there. For, though he performed obedience to God all his life, yet the obedience that he showed to, and in, the shedding of his blood,—was the very apex and top-stone of his obedience. And for this it is, that I scruple to say, that he suffered the wrath of God in his sufferings ; because it is hard to think, that he lay under the depth of God’s displeasure, when he was now in the highest pitch of obeying and pleasing God] : I say, that our Saviour, in his sufferings and death, had to deal with God and Satan, upon different accounts ;…. And with one and the same instrument, as I may call it,—his obedience, he effected these contrary effects….
I. Christ was to break the head of the serpent, as the serpent had broke the head of Adam and all mankind. He was to conquer the devil, who had conquered man. And what was that, by which he conquered him ? By his divine power, as he was God ? That had been no great mastery ; for the great God, by his omnipotent power, to conquer a creature. When he did but exert a little of his divine power at his apprehension, he made Judas, and all his band of ruffians, to “ go backward, and fall to the ground [John, xviii. 6].” But he was to conquer Satan by righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. He had not needed to have been incarnate, to conquer the devil by his omnipotent divine power ; but he was to conquer him, and he did conquer him, by obedience and holiness.
John xiv. 30 : “ The prince of this world cometh, saith he, and hath nothing in me.” And he came with all his forces, all his fury, all his power ; and do all he could, he could find nothing in him, that could serve his turn. All that he did, or could do, could not move him one hair’s-breadth from obeying God, and persisting in his holiness. The apostle, in the ninth of this Epistle, ver. 14, saith, “ He offered himself without spot to God.” One spot had spoiled all the offering ; but the devil could not fix one spot upon him, though he flung against him all the sink of hell : but still he keeps to his obedience and holiness. “ Vicisti, Galilaee ;” Julian, a child of the devil, once said, “ O Galilean ! thou hast overcome me.” The devil, himself, hath cause to say so now. The devil let loose upon him, to do the utmost against him that he could, without any restraint, to bring him from his obeying of God, and so to foil him ; and all will not do. All the temptations, and tricks, and assaults, that the anvil of hell could forge and sharpen, were bent and used against him, and all return blunted, and avail nothing. All that Satan can do, cannot bring from him one repining word for all his tortures ; not one desponding thought, for all his pangs ; not one unbecoming passage, for all his passion. But still he will obey God, come what will ; he will still retain his holiness and integrity, let devils and men do what they will.
Satan, art thou not conquered ? O devil, where is thy power now ? O hell, where is thy victory ? Thanks be given to God, that hath given us such victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Satan, thou hast not the first Adam now in handling, who was foiled by one devil ; and, in one and the first temptation, presented to him. Now all the power and army of hell is let loose ; all the machinations of the bottomless pit put in practice against the second Adam ; but all to no purpose : he stands, like a rock, unmoved in his righteousness and obedience, and, by such a “death, destroys him, that had the power over death, the devil.”