The Sweat and the Blood (Herle)

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 26.djvu/253 - Wikisource, the  free online library

Charles Herle (d. 1659) was a Presbyterian pastor in England who was also a commissioner to the Westminster Assembly. At one point he was the prolocutor (chairman) of the Assembly. He published various sermons and essays as well as a devotional called “Contemplations and Devotions on the Severall Passages of our Blessed Saviour’s Death and Passion”. Although this devotional isn’t overly easy to read, it is quite edifying and insightful. Here’s the opening devotional where Herle discusses the sweat and the blood. I’ve edited it slightly for readability.

Sweat and blood are the two best emblems of labour and passion, of doing and suffering. And so, the best epitomes, or, if you will, journals of our Saviour’s life and death. For both sweat and blood made up the travails of his soule; the first wrote in sweat, the other in blood. His life – what other was it then a continued sweat of passive action,He went about alwayes doing good?” His death, what, but as incessant a bloodshed of active passion? “He poured out his soule to death?”

Nor can we find any two things in nature that may better serve for the indexes, or rather seals, of those his two testaments, than these two: First, his sweat and blood – that of the Law, working out in sweat salvation with fear and trembling. Second, that of the Gospell, buying it out with blood in price and value.

In these two therefore doth Christ begin his passion, it being to be the execution of both those Testaments, the complement of the one, and supplement of the other. Nor is it without yet further mystery; in these two (Sweat and Blood) begins this our second Adam’s execution, because in these two (upon the matter) begins the first Adam’s sentence; the Sweat of his brow, whereby he must live the life; the blood of mortality, whereby he must dye the death…

In an insightful way, Herle use the imagery of sweat for work/labor and the imagery of blood for suffering/death and for the law/gospel distinction. Christ, as the Last Adam, worked (sweat) to earn salvation for us. And he suffered (bled) and died to pay for our sins. That’s why Herle said that sweat and blood are the best “journals” of our Savior’s life and death. What wonderful imagery!

Again, this isn’t the easiest reading in the world, but if you are interested you can find “Contemplations and Devotions on the Severall Passages of Our Blessed Saviour’s Death and Passion” by Herle online in several places.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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