“A place called Gethsemane. “—Matthew 25:36
My soul, let thy morning meditation be directed to the garden of Gethsemane, that memorable spot, sacred to the believer, because so much beloved and resorted to by Jesus. Here Jesus oft came with his disciples. And here, my soul, do thou often take the wing of faith, and flee in devout contemplation. Was this place dear to thee, thou precious Redeemer? And was it not because here thou didst enjoy the sweetest refreshing in communion with the Father? Was it not because here thou knewest would begin the conflict and the agony, in which the great business for which thou camest on earth would be accomplished. Didst thou abide here, Lord, a whole night, after a day’s constant preaching to the people, the week only before thy crucifixion. (See Luke 21:37.) And when the night was past, didst thou again repair to the temple to the same employ? Was Gethsemane dear to Jesus! Was here his favourite haunt? And shall not my soul delight to be oft here in solemn meditation? Will not my Lord lead me there, and go with me there, and sweetly speak to me there; that while, in imagination, I tread the sacred ground, my soul may view the several spots, and say—Here it was, perhaps, my Redeemer was withdrawn a stone’s cast from his disciples, that the powers of darkness might more furiously assault his holy soul; and here stood the angel sent from heaven to strengthen him; and here the Lord Jesus was in his agony, when the sweat of his body forced through all the pores great drops of blood, falling down to the ground! Is this Gethsemane? And why Gethsemane? The Jews call it Ge-hennom, or hell; for here it was that Josiah burnt the idol vessels. 2 Kings 23:4-10. And it is the same as Tophet, the only word the Jews used for hell after their return from the Babylonish captivity. The field of Cedron was indeed a dark and gloomy place; and by its side ran the foul and black brook which Jesus passed over when he went into Gethsemane. Here David, of old, went mourning and lamenting, when Ahitophel, like another Judas, betrayed him, and his life was sought after. 2 Sam. 15:23. And here the Son of David passed also, when the man of whom David by the spirit of prophecy spake, (Ps. 41:9.) which eat bread with Jesus, lifted up his heel against him. And was this Gethsemane the favoured spot of Jesus, because here he had so sweetly enjoyed communion with his Father, and because he here should encounter the powers of darkness? Learn then, my soul, from thy Jesus where thou oughtest to seek grace in a refreshing hour, to comfort a trying hour. Say, my soul, where should be thy dying place, but where thy God hath most blessed thy living place? There, Jesus, make my seasons (if needs be) of conflict, where thou hast sanctified and made blessed by thy Bethel visits. And was a garden the favoured spot of Jesus? Yes, it was in a garden the first Adam lost himself and his posterity; there, then, Jesus will recover the forfeited inheritance. Did the devil begin in heaven to ruin man? Why, then, in Gethsemane Jesus will begin to conquer hell for man’s recovery. Did Satan, from the garden, bind and carry captive the first Adam? Then from a garden also shall he cause to be bound, and carried away to the cross, the second Adam,” that he, by death, might destroy him that had the power of death—that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, are all their life-time subject to bondage. “Solemn Gethsemane! awful, but hallowed spot! Here would I often come here contemplate Jesus, my blessed Surety, groaning, yet! conquering; pressed under all the hellish malice of the devil, yet triumphing over all; deserted by his disciples, sweatiug a bloody sweet, sustaining the wrath of offended justice, drinking the cup of trembling! Is this Gethsemane? Oh, thou Lamb of God, thou paschal Lamb! here oft bring me; here shew me thy loves: and as thy joys were here turned into sorrows, give me to see how the curses which I deserved, but which thou didst endure, were converted into blessings; and that by thy stripes I am healed. Hail sacred Gethsemane!
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."