“Being in an agony.”—Luke 22:44
My soul, art thou still in Gethsemane? Look at Jesus once more; behold him in his agony; view him in his bloody sweat, in a night of cold, and in the open air, when we are told the servants, in the high priest’s hall, were obliged to make a fire of coals to warm themselves. In such a night was thy Jesus, from the extremity of anguish in his soul, by reason of thy sins, made to sweat great drops of blood. Look at the Lord in this situation; and as the prophet, by vision, beheld him coming up with his dyed garments, as one that had trodden the wine fat; so do thou, by faith, behold him in his bloody sweat; when, from treading the winepress of the wrath of God, under the heavy load of the world’s guilt, his whole raiment was stained with blood. Sin first made man to sweat: and Jesus, though he knew no sin, yet taking out the curse of it for his people, is made to sweat blood. Oh thou meek and holy Lamb of God! methinks, I would, day by day, attend the garden of Gethsemane by faith, and contemplate thee in thine agony. But who shall unfold it to my wondering eyes, or explain all its vast concern to my astonished soul! The evangelists, by their different turns of expression to point it out, plainly shew, that nothing within the compass of language can unfold it. Matthew saith, the soul of Jesus was “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. “Matt. 26:38. The sorrows of hell, as is elsewhere mentioned, encompassed him. Ps. 18:5. My soul, pause over this. Was Jesus’s soul thus sorrowful, even with hell sorrows, when, from the sins of his people charged on him, and the penalty exacted from him as the sinner’s surety, the wrath of God against sin, lighting upon him, came as the tremendous vengeance of hell? Mark describes the state of the Lamb of God as “sore amazed.” The expression signifies the horror of mind; such a degree of fear and consternation as when the hairs of the head stand upright, through the dread of the mind. And was Jesus thus agonized, and for sins his holy soul had never committed, when standing forth as the surety of others? John’s expression of the Redemer’s state on this occasion is, that he said,” his soul was troubled.” John 12:27. The original of this word troubled, is the same as the Latins derive their word for hell from. As if the Lord Jesus felt what the prophet had said concerning everlasting burnings. Isa. 33:14. “My heart,” said that patient sufferer, “is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” Ps. 22:14. Hence Moses, and after him Paul, in the view of God’s taking vengeance on sin, describe him under that awful account —”our God is a consuming fire” Deut. 4:24. Heb. 12:29. Beholding his Father thus coming forth to punish sin in his person, Jesus said—”Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, therefore my heart faileth me,” Ps. 40:12. And Luke folds up the account of Jesus with “being in an agony;” such a labouring of nature as implies an universal convulsion, as dying men with cold clammy sweats: so Jesus, scorched with the hot wrath of God on sin, sweated, in his angony, clots of blood! My soul, canst thou hold out any longer? Will not thine eye-strings and heart-strings break, thus to look on Jesus in his agony!. Oh precious Jesus! were the great objects of insensible, inanimated nature, made to feel as if to take part in thy sufferings; and am I unmoved? Did the very grave yawn at thy death and resurrection; and were the rocks rent, while my tearless eyes thus behold thee? Oh gracious God, fulfil that promise by the prophet,” that I may look on him whom I have pierced, and mourn as one that mourneth for his only son, and be in bitterness as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.”
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."