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ESSAYS ON THE FIFTY-THIRD CHAPTER OF ISAIAH. ESSAY III.-JESUS DESPISED AND REJECTED OF MEN.
Isaiah, liii. 3.-He is despised and rejected of men'; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
HERE the Prophet foretells another step in Christ's humiliation; "He is despised and rejected of men." It was said before, that Jesus would not be desired; here it is said that he is despised, yea rejected. The transition from indifference to contempt, and then to rejection, is easy and natural. When sinners have no sense of the value of a Saviour, and no eyes to see his excellency and beauty, they will soon proceed to despise, and then to reject him. Awful as it is to despise and reject the divine Saviour, yet the Scriptures assure us that it would be, and that it has been the case, with a very large proportion of mankind. "Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to Him whom man despiseth, to Him whom the nation abhorreth." Isa. xlix. 7. His own nation despised him, and set him at nought; they abhorred him, or, as our Lord says in the parable, they "hated him," and said, "We will not have this man to reign over us." Luke, xix.
Self-righteous Pharisees despised our Lord's doctrine, when he said, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon ;" a doctrine that struck at the root of their principles. The Pharisees, "who were covetous, heard all these things, and they derided him.” Luke, xvi. 14. Jesus was often despised in the course of his ministry, but the greatest contempt was poured upon him at the time of his condemnation and death. He was despised in the high priest's court, when they spit in his face and buffeted him. He was despised, when Herod with
his men of war set him at nought. He was despised, when the soldiers of Pilate clothed him with purple, crowned him with thorns, and mocked him as a king. But he was universally despised when he hung upon the cross, both by Jews and Gentiles: "the people stood beholding; and the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ the chosen of God." Luke, xxiii. 35. Thus rulers and people, soldiers, priests, and all orders of men, united in despising and reviling a suffering Saviour; so that he might well say, as it was written of him, "I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." Psalm xxii. 6.
Jesus was rejected as well as despised: he ceased to be held in estimation with the multitude. For a time they honoured and followed him; but they soon rejected him with the utmost contempt. 66 Not this man, but Barabbas," was the exclamation of the great body of the Jewish people; and thus they "denied the Holy One, and the Just," and preferred a robber and a murderer before Him who " did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth."
He was, also, "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." He, beyond all others, could say, "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath," Lam. iii. 1; nor was there ever any sorrow like unto his sorrow. "A man of sorrows!" Nothing can be more expressive than the original, which signifies such sorrow as makes the heart sore. His sorrows were not only many and great, but distressing beyond all/ that can be conceived; and well did he himself declare how very grievous and heavy they were, when he said, "My soul is exceed
ing sorrowful, even unto death.”Matt. xxvi. 38.
"A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."-Jesus knew what grief was, he knew it to its full extent, and by his own experience. When he took human nature, he at the same time partook of the infirmities to which human nature is subject, sin only excepted. It was one step in Christ's humiliation to take the infirmities of our nature, that, knowing them by his own personal experience, he might sympathize with his people in their afflictions. Jesus can feel for his afflicted and tempted people, because he was afflicted and tempted himself: "For we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," Heb. iv. 15; and it is greatly for the comfort of his people in all their afflictions and trials, that they can look up to Jesus as having been himself acquainted with grief, and therefore being as full of pity as he is of power.
"And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; or as it is rendered in the margin, "He hid as it were his face from us." There is an ambiguity in the passage, but it is applicable to Jesus in each of these senses. For, when he came into the world, the people hid their faces from him, they were ashamed to own him as their Saviour; they were unwilling to look to him for salvation; they refused to come to him that they might have life. Let the reader consider, whether he has not hid his face from the divine Saviour. When his salvation has been set before him, has he not often covered, as it were, his face, and refused to see it? With true believers, it is an humbling consideration, "We hid, as it were, our faces from him." When called by the Gospel to look to Jesus, how often have we been more willing to look to some earthly object, and
how backward to turn our eyes to
the great object of our faith and hope, "Jesus Christ, and him crucified!"
Or it may be, "He hid as it were his face from us." He concealed his divine glory under the form of a servant; and not only so, but his face was covered with shame and confusion. Psalm xliv. 15, "The shame of my face hath covered me." Being despised and rejected of men, he was as one whose face is turned away through shame and contempt; so that in either sense the words of the Prophet will apply to our blessed Saviour. Our faces are by nature turned away from him, when we refuse to look to him for salvation; and his face was hidden from the sons of men by the contempt and shame which was poured upon him,as it was written of him, Psalm lxix. 7," Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face."
"He was despised, and we esteemed him not."-Never was this more exactly fulfilled, than when Jesus was sold for the vile price of thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave who was killed by accident. Exodus, xxi. 32. At this vile rate Jesus was valued. "A goodly price that I was prized at by them."-Zech. xi. 13. He was no more esteemed than if he had been the vilest slave, though no language can express his value. If the worth of the soul be great,
"that a man would be nothing profited who should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul;" how great is the value of Jesus, without whom every soul of man must have been lost for ever! Moses esteemed even the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (Heb. xi. 26); and another Apostle tells us, that "to them who believe, Christ is precious."-1 Pet. ii. 7. But while the sinner has no value for his own soul, he will have no regard for Jesus the Saviour; no sensibility
of the exceeding greatness of his love, and no value for what he hath done and suffered to save sinners; and whenever a sinner is brought by the grace of God to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, he will look back on his past neglect of his Saviour with shame and sorrow, and confess with the Prophet, "He was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Let those who are now despising or undervaluing Christ, consider, how they would like to be despised and rejected by him, at the last great day. Many despise the Saviour who are not at all aware of it, nay, who profess to honour him. How often, when the name of Christ and his salvation are introduced, is the subject treated with scorn, as well as those who bring forward the unwelcome topic! and what is this but despising Jesus himself? How awful are the words of Jesus, "Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.”—Mark, viii. 38. Sinners, who have no value for Christ, think little of their sin in hiding their faces from him; but woe will be to them if he hides his face from them in the day of their trouble. If he says, as Deut. xxxii. 20, "I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in
QUERY ON ACTS, XXVII. 29.
To the Editor of the Christian Guardian.
whom is no faith;" then they shall find these words verified in the most awful sense; "When he hideth his face, who then can behold him?"—Job, xxxiv. 29.
The believer's prevailing desire is to seek his face: "When thou sáidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek."-Psalm xxvii. 8. Past neglect of the Saviour will humble the believer greatly, and he will desire above all things to have the face of the Lord turned towards him, and shining upon him. The believer will remember why Jesus was 'despised and rejected of men;" why he became " of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" that it was part of his humiliation, part of what he had to endure in consequence of his engaging to make atonement for sin; and this will endear him the more to his believing people. It will also prepare them for those trials which they must expect in the world; for, if Jesus was despised, so will be his people. "The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord: it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord." And, therefore, instead of thinking it some strange thing, let those who believe in Jesus go forth, taking up the cross and bearing his reproach; yea, and rejoice if they are counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. LITOREUS.
IN an age like the present, when every shallow dabbler in infidelity is ready to throw his modicum of wit into the balance of controversy, to embarrass the minds of simplehearted Christians, and deceive, if
weapons of defence against the enemies of our most holy faith. The following passage from the twenty-seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, 29th verse, has excited abundant ridicule among nautical infidels :
Then, fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks, they cast
four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day."
Now, say the objectors, it is contrary to all known usage to cast anchors out of the stern; and consequently, such a measure would be more likely to occasion shipwreck than to prevent it. How is this apparent inconsistency to be accounted for?
BEFORE Jehovah Joshua stood,
When, lo! the Lord's severe rebuke
Hears the Redeemer's angel voice,
Pluck'd from the fire?" O! hear him say,
Set on his head a mitre fair,
A robe of righteousness divine,
Hear now, O Joshua! thou and thine,
"Men that are wondered at" like thee,
The stone with seven eyes inlaid
Light and perfection “in one day ”
And cleanse the soul for God.
Come then, my neighbour, and recline
His righteousness, and love, and light,
And thou, redeem'd and bought by blood,
Portsea, August 23d, 1821.
REVIEW OF BOOKS.
Statement respecting the Prevalence of certain immoral Practices in His Majesty's Navy: addressed to the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Hatchards. 1822 -Pp. vi. and 40.
We know not when we have been so completely shocked and disgusted by any circumstance whatever, as by the perusal of this pamphlet. Our first impression on looking into it was, that some wellmeaning but injudicious individual had been excited, by an extreme case of depravity, to inflict an undeserved reproach upon the whole body of our naval commanders; but, as we proceeded in our examination, as we compared one circumstance with another, and conversed with some esteemed and valuable friends, intimately acquainted with or actually belonging to the navy, instead of pronouncing the publication a false and scandalous libel, we are compelled to declare our full conviction that the Articles of War, the Act of Parliament for the Government of the Navy, and the Royal Proclamation for the Suppression of Vice, are at this moment most grossly violated on board His Majesty's fleet; and we therefore deem it our bounden duty to protest against the existing evils, and to call upon all within the circle of our influence to exert themselves for the production of a remedy.
To some, indeed, of our readers these immoral practices may at first sight appear foreign to our publication; they are confined, it may be said, to a narrow space, and affect only a small part of the community. But this is by no means the case. Immense multitudes of our countrymen are in one way or other connected with the naval service. A very large proportion of our seamen serve during some part or other of their lives on board ships of war;
their relations and friends are dispersed throughout the land; and it will therefore be found, on a careful investigation, that corrupt and disgraceful practices cannot exist in our navy without diffusing their baneful influence in every class of society. And when we consider how many of the junior branches of respectable families are educated for the naval service; how many persons in military and civil departments occasionally sail on board His Majesty's ships; and how great is the effect which our officers and seamen produce on colonial and missionary establishments, to say nothing of the tendency of their conduct in foreign ports and harbours; it will be surely allowed that the existence of any base or degrading practice in our navy may well call forth the animadversions of a Christian Guardian.
Nor is our interference merely voluntary. We have been called upon to step forwards and render all our aid; and we dare not refuse the call. The subject, indeed, is both painful and delicate; and we can scarcely be intelligible without offending the feelings of some of our readers; but if the most guarded allusions which we can make are distressing to the virtuous mind, how horrible must be the scenes to which they refer, and what painful emotions must be excited in the breast of a pious parent on the reflection, that to the full view of those awful scenes he has introduced an affectionate and an ingenuous child! At the same time it is of the utmost importance, that such persons should be acquainted with things as they are; that parents and guardians, the legitimate and responsible advisers of youth, should understand what is the actual state of that service to which they are about to introduce their charge. To their careful, their