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Prizing Stagnant Water; Folly of Preferring Creatures to God

"Would you not consider a person foolish and absurd, who should extravagantly love and prize a drop of stagnant water, and yet view the ocean with indifference or disgust? or who should constantly grovel in the dust to admire a shining grain of sand, yet neglect to admire the sun which caused it to shine? Of what folly and absurdity, then, are we guilty, when we love the imperfectly amiable qualities of our fellow worms, or admire the sublimity and beauty of the works of nature, and yet exercise no love to him to whom they are indebted for all; him whose glory gilds the heavens, and from whom angels derive everything that can excite admiration or love."
Edward Payson
Legacy of a Legend
p. 7

The Cross: Natural, Unnatural, Preternatural, and Supernatural

The death of the Lord Jesus Christ is a subject of never-failing interest to all who study prayerfully the scripture of truth. This is so, not only because the believer’s all both for time and eternity depends upon it, but also, because of its transcendent uniqueness. Four words appear to sum up the salient features of this mystery of mysteries: the death of Christ was natural, unnatural, preternatural, and supernatural. A few comments seem called for by way of definition and amplification.
First: the death of Christ was natural. By this we mean that it was a real death. It is because we are so familiar with the fact of it that the above statement appears simple and commonplace, yet, what we here touch upon is to the spiritual mind one of the main elements of wonderment. The one who was “taken, and by wicked hands” crucified and slain was none other than Jehovah’s “Fellow.” The blood that was shed on the accursed tree was divine—“The church of God which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). As says the apostle, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).
But how could Jehovah’s “Fellow” suffer? How could the eternal one die? Ah, he who in the beginning was the Word, who was with God, and who was God, “became flesh.” He who was in the form of God took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men; “and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). Thus having become incarnate the Lord of glory was capable of suffering death, and so it was that he “tasted” death itself. In his words, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” we see how natural his death was, and the reality of it became still more apparent when he was laid in the tomb, where he remained for three days.
Second: the death of Christ was un-natural. By this we mean that it was abnormal. Above we have said that in becoming incarnate the Son of God became capable of suffering death, yet it must not be inferred from this that death therefore had a claim upon him; far from this being the case, the very reverse was the truth. Death is the wages of sin, and he had none. Before his birth it was said to Mary, “that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Not only did the Lord Jesus enter this world without contracting the defilement attaching to fallen human nature, but he “did no sin” (1 Pet. 2:22), had “no sin” (1 John 3:5), “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In his person and in his conduct he was the Holy One of God “without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19). As such death had no claim upon him. Even Pilate had to acknowledge that he could find in him “no fault.” Hence we say, for the Holy One of God to die was un-natural.
Third: the death of Christ was preter-natural. By this we mean that it was marked out and determined for him beforehand. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Before Adam was created the Fall was anticipated. Before sin entered the world, salvation from it had been planned by God. In the eternal counsels of Deity, it was fore-ordained that there should be a Saviour for sinners, a Saviour who should suffer the just for the unjust, a Saviour who should die in order that we might live. And “because there was none other good enough to pay the price of sin” the only-Begotten of the Father offered himself as the ransom.
The preternatural character of the death of Christ has been well termed the “undergirding of the Cross.” It was in view of that approaching death that God “justly passed over the sins done aforetime” (Rom. 3:25 RV). Had not Christ been, in the reckoning of God, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, every sinning person in Old Testament times would have gone down to the pit the moment he sinned!
Fourth: the death of Christ was super-natural. By this we mean that it was different from every other death. In all things he has the pre-eminence. His birth was different from all other births. His life was different from all other lives. And his death was different from all other deaths. This was clearly intimated in his own utterance upon the subject: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to take it again” (John 10:17, 18).