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1. What mere external pains and outward afflictions can do. These prey upon and consume our spirits. So David complains, "When thou with rebukes correctest man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away as a moth;" Ps. 39: 11; that is, as a moth frets and consumes the most strong and well-wrought garment without any noise, so afflictions waste and wear out the strongest bodies. They make the firmest constitution like a decayed garment: they shrivel and dry up the most vigorous and flourishing body, and make it like a bottle in the smoke. Ps. 119:83.
2. Consider what mere internal troubles of the soul can do upon the strongest body; they spend its strength and devour the spirits. So Solomon speaks, Prov. 17: 22, "A broken spirit drieth the bones," that is, it consumes the very marrow with which they are moistened. So Psa. 32: 3, 4, "My bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy on me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer." What a spectacle of pity did Francis Spira become, merely through the anguish of his spirit! A spirit sharpened with such troubles, like a keen knife, cuts through the sheath. Certainly, whoever hath had any acquaintance with trouble of soul, knows, by sad experience, how, like an internal flame, it feeds and preys upon the very spirits, so that the strongest stoop and sink under it. But,
3. When outward bodily pains meet with inward spiritual troubles, and both in extremity come in one day, how soon must the firmest body fail and waste away! Now strength fails apace, and nature must sink under the load. The soul and body sympathize with each other under trouble, and mutually relieve each other. If the body be sick and full of pain, the spirit supports, cheers, and relieves it by reason and resolution all that it can; and if the spirit be afflicted, the body sympathi
zes and helps to bear up the spirit: but if the one be overladen with strong pains, more than it can bear, and calls for aid from the other; and the other be oppressed with intolerable anguish, and cries out under a burden greater than it can bear, so that it can contribute no help, but instead thereof, adds to the burden, which before could not be borne; then nature must fail, and the friendly union between soul and body suffer a dissolution by such an extraordinary pressure. So it was with Christ, when outward and inward sorrows met in one day in their extremity upon him. Hence the bitter cry, "I thirst."
INFERENCE 1. How horrid a thing is sin! How great is that evil of evils, which deserves that all this should be inflicted and suffered for its expiation! The sufferings of Christ for sin give us the true account and fullest representation of its evil. Oh then, let not thy vain heart slight sin, as if it were but a small thing! If ever God show thee the face of sin in this glass, thou wilt say, there is no other such horrid representation to be made to man. Fools make a mock at sin, but wise men tremble at it.
2. How afflictive and intolerable are inward troubles! Did Christ complain so sadly under them, and cry, "I thirst?" Surely then they are not so light as some regard them. If they so scorched the very heart of Christ, preyed upon his very spirits, and turned his moisture into the drought of summer, they should not be slighted, as they are by some. The Lord Jesus was fitted to bear and suffer as strong troubles as ever befell the nature of man, and he did bear all other troubles with admirable patience; but when it came to this, when the flames of God's wrath scorched his soul, then he cries, "I thirst."
David's heart was, for courage, as the heart of a lion; but when God exercised him with inward troubles for sin, then he roars out under the anguish of it: "I am
feeble, and sore broken; I have roared, by reason of the disquietness of my heart. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me as for the light of mine eyes, it is also gone from me." Psa. 38:8, 10. A wounded spirit who can bear?" Many have declared that all the torments in the world are nothing to the wrath of God upon the conscience. What is the worm that never dies but the sting of a guilty conscience? This worm feeds upon and gnaws the vital, most sensible part of man; and is the principal part of hell's horror. In bodily pains, a man may be relieved by proper medicines; here nothing but "the blood of sprinkling" relieves. In outward pains, the body may be supported by the resolu tion and courage of the mind; here the mind itself is wounded. Oh let none despise these troubles, they are most intolerable!
3. How dreadful a place is hell, where this cry is heard for ever, "I thirst!" There the wrath of the great and terrible God flames upon the damned for ever, in which they thirst, and none relieves them. If Christ complained, "I thirst," when he had conflicted but a few hours with the wrath of God; what is the state of those who are to grapple with it for ever? When millions of years are gone, ten thousand millions more are coming on. There is an everlasting thirst in hell, and it admits of no relief. Think of this, ye that now add drunkenness to thirst, who wallow in all sensual pleasures, and drown nature in excess of luxury. Remember what Dives said in Luke, 16:24; "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." If thirst in the extremity of it be now so insufferable, what is that thirst which is infinitely beyond this in measure, and never shall be relieved? Say not it is hard that God should deal thus with his poor creatures. You
will not think so, if you consider to what he exposed his own dear Son, when sin was but imputed to him; and what that man deserves to feel, that hath not only merited hell, but by refusing Christ, the remedy, the hottest place in hell.
4. How should nice and wanton appetites be reproved! The Son of God wanted a draught of cold water to relieve him, and could not have it. God hath given us a variety of refreshments to relieve us, and we despise them. We have better things than a cup of water to refresh and delight us when we are thirsty, and yet are not pleased. Oh that this complaint of Christ on the cross, "I thirst," were but believingly considered; it would make you bless God for what you now despise, and beget contentment in you for the meanest mercies and most common favors. Did the Lord of all things cry, "I thirst," and had Lothing in his extremity to comfort him; and dost thou, who hast a thousand times forfeited all temporal as well as spiritual mercies, contemn and slight the common bounties of Providence? What! despise a cup of water, who deservest nothing but a cup of wrath from the hand of the Lord! Oh lay it to heart, and hence learn contentment with any thing.
5. Did Jesus Christ upon the cross cry, "I thirst?" Then believers shall never thirst eternally. Their thirst shall be certainly satisfied. So it is promised, "Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." Matt. 5:6. In heaven they shall depend no more upon the stream, but drink from the overflowing fountain. "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures: for with thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light shall we see light." Psalm 36: 8. There they shall drink and praise, and praise and drink for evermore; all their desires shal be filled with complete satisfaction. Oh how desirable
a state is heaven upon this account! and how should we be restless till we come thither, as the thirsty traveler is until he meet the cool, refreshing spring he seeks! This present state is a state of thirsting; that to come, of refreshment and satisfaction. Some drops indeed are received from the fountain by faith, but they quench not the believer's thirst; rather, like water sprinkled on the fire, they make it burn the more : but there the thirsty soul hath enough.
6. Did Christ in the extremity of his sufferings cry, "I thirst?" Then how great is the love of God to sinners, who for their sakes exposed the Son of his love to such extreme sufferings! Oh the height, length, depth, and breadth of that love which passeth knowledge! The love of God to Jesus Christ was infinitely beyond all the love we have for our children: and yet, as dearly as he loved him, he was content to expose him to all this, rather than we should perish eternally.
And it should never be forgotten that Jesus Christ was exposed to these extremities of sorrow for sinners, the greatest of sinners, who deserved not one mercy from God. This commends the love of God singularly to us, in that "whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5: 1. Thus the love of God in Jesus Christ still rises higher and higher in every view of it. Admire, adore, and be transported with the thoughts of this love! Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.