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righteous designs of God. The crown of thorns, which they put upon his head, was another mark to the same effect, and shewed him to be the person upon whom the curse of our sin was transferred. This case is singular ; the history of mankind does not inform us that this act of cruel mockery was ever practised upon any other sufferer, except of late, amidst the murderous executions in that devoted country, France; where, as we are told, one poor sufferer was crowned with thorns, and treated with the indignities peculiar to the death of Jesus Christ.
The whole race of mankind, for whom Christ suffered, are divided into the two parties of Jews and Gentiles; frequently signified by two individual
persons. To represent these, two malefactors suffered with him; of whom one. a pattern of the Gentiles, repented of his error, glorified a suffering Saviour, and received a promise of being taken into Paradise : while the other, like the Jews went on reviling him, and, in the insolent language of the Jews, bade him save himself. The rending of the veil of the temple, when he gave up the ghost, was a sign that his death was the removing of that partition which excludes man from the residence of God, and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. As to the place or spot on which he suffered death, we suppose it to have happened on that very mountain (Moriah) where Isaac had been offered up by Abraham, as a prelude to his death and resurrection; according to the words of a prophecy founded on that event, which strictly signify, in this mountain the Lord will provide * ; i. e. will provide that true lamb for a sacrifice, which shall take away the sins of the world.
the sins of the world. Certain it is,
Gen. xxii, 14.
his death happened without the gate of Jerusalem, as the sacrifice was carried without the cump to be burned ; to shew, in a figure, how he should be rejected as an alien and an outcast by his own people, and delivered over to the Gentiles. The apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, hath thus applied this circumstance of our Saviour's cleath; grounding upon it this important lesson, that we must prepare ourselves to be rejected as he was, and go to him without the camp *, bearing the like reproach of being cast out by the world for his sake, as he was for ours.
As the lights of Heaven had borne their testimony to his birth and his death; so did nature still correspond with his resurrection. He rose from the dead at the springing of the morning, when the day-light was going to appear : on which consideration the rising of every morning should remind us of Christ's resurrection, and of our own deliverance from the grave, when the day of life shall dawn upon us.
When Christ was apprehended by his enemies in the garden, in consequence of the treason of Judas, a
a remarkable occurrence fore-shewed to the spectators what the event should be; that is, how these indignities should terminate in his resurrection. At the time when he was seized, to be led away to the high priest, this singular circumstance is related by St. Mark, that he was followed by a certain young man, with a linen cloth cast about his naked body, (who he was, or whence he came, it is not said) and that, when the enemies of Jesus laid hold of him, he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.Thus it fell out in the case of Jesus himself: he was laid hold of, and every measure was taken to prevent his escape, even from death itself: but when the linen cloth was cast about his naked body, he left it behind him in the sepulchre, and fled naked from those who had seized him.
* Heb. xiii. 13.
Much learning may be derived from other circumstances, which I can but briefly mention. The coat of Christ was without a seam; it was, therefore, not rent into parts; to shew, that the Christian church should be of one piece throughout; with the same mind, the same doctrines, and the same worship. A division of the garment denotes a separation of the people; as Samuel interpreted when Saul rent the mantle of the prophet; the Lord, said he, hath rent the kingdom from thee this day. All who pretend to have put on Christ should wear this seamless garment; they should be possessed by a spirit of uniformity, and be studious to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and of Christian charity.
· The preference given to Barabbas, a thief and a murderer, should warn us of what often hath happened, and often will happen ; that treason, sedition, and murder shall, on certain occasions, when it pleases God to introduce confusion and misery, find better acceptance with the people, and with those who mis lead them, than the excellent doctrine and exemplary patience of Jesus Christ, which do not accord with the mistaken views of worldly and ambitious men; who are more nearly allied to Belial, the dæmon of discord, than to the God of peace and order.
From the apparently helpless condition of Christ at his death, it was argued, that God had forsaken him, and that he might be taken and persecuted with impunity : so do the wicked promise themselves, that ihe cause of his church and his religion is impotent in itself, because God gives the power for a time to those
who mock at, and trample upon it. But the triumph of the wicked is short. The time soon came, when the king sent forth his armies, and destroyed those mur. derers, the Jews, and burnt up their city, Jerusalem. So shall they all perish, and their habitation shall be laid waste, and the earth they live upon shall be burnt up, who now indulge themselves in the contempt of Christianity.
The departure of Christ from this world was in such a form as gave us a sign of his future appearance in judgment, and how it shall be. A cloud took him from us into heaven'; and a cloud shall bring him to us again: he shall so come as he was seen to go : whence we have that warning in the Revelation, behold he cometh with clouds! In that aweful day, they will be best pleased to meet him, who now in this life, while, through those clouds, we behold him with the eye of Faith, adore his character, and love his church, and study his wisdom, and delight in his truth, and keep his commandments.