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Behold how all imaginable circumstances seem to conspire to increase the infamy thrown on that sacred head, which now most worthily wears a crown of eternal glory! “Of a truth, O Lord, against thy holy child Jesus, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the chief priests, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel had determined before to be done."-Acts iv. 27, 28. The wisest person on earth was by Herod and his soldiers derided as a fool; the most deserving was condemned by the chief priests; and the most innocent was treated as a criminal by Pilate, and furiously demanded as a public victim by the Jews. All the proofs of his innocence are overborne by a loud and senseless cry; and those Hosannas with which the streets and temple were so lately echoing, are exchanged into “ Crucify him! crucify him !” So uncertain is human applause, and so unrighteous may human judgments be!
Who can, without trembling, read that dreadful imprecation, “ May his blood be on us and on our children !”—words which, even to this day, have their remarkable and terrible fulfilment in that curse which has pursued the Jews! Lord, may it at length be averted, and even turned into a blessing! May they look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn, till all the obstinacy of their hearts be subdued 1- till they bow down in glad submission to that King whom God has set on his holy hill, and thus are brought themselves to reign with him in everlasting honour and joy!
• How shocking is it to think that there should ever be such perverseness, obstinacy, and inhumanity in the heart of man, as were found among the high priests, populace, and soldiers, against so innocent, meek, and divine a person as our blessed Lord! The hideous nature of sin may be seen in the treachery of Judas, in the invidious, false accusation of the high priest and others, in the unrighteous judgment of Pilate against the convictions of his own conscience, in the vile abuses of the officers, soldiers, and mob, all combining against our blessed Saviour, and in the whole of the complicated sufferings he endured to “ make reconciliation for iniquity.” Oh! what is man ! how fickle, wicked, and vain 1 — one day crying, “ Hosanna to the Son of David I” — and a few days after, “ Crucify him! crucify him ! Release to us not this man, but Barabbas !" But whoever were the criminal instruments of cruelty, and whatsoever were the righteous terrors of God against him, the transgressions of his people were the procuring cause of all. Had it not been for their sins, he had never been falsely accused, reproached, insulted, crowned with thorns, scourged, spit upon, and crucified, and had never been filled with bitter anguish under his Father's desertions. But the prophecies of a suffering Saviour were then to be fulfilled in him; and God overruled and ordered all things, to accomplish the eternal counsels of his own will, for the redemption of the church, and, at the same time, to give an honourable testimony to Christ's personal innocence and excellence, and to his character as his Son, and the true Messiah !
They shall look upon me whom they have pierced. — Zech. xii. 10.
saith the LORD of hosts : smite the Shepherd.—Zech. xiii. 7.
SACRED NARRATIVE. PILATE saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief-priests answered, We have no king but Cæsar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross, went forth into a place called in the Hebrew Golgotha; where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. - John xix. 1518. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.—Luke xxiii. 34.
And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews; for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief-priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written. John xix. 19. 22.
And one of the malefactors which were hanged said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. — Luke xxiii. 39, 42, 43.
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat, -woven without seam. They said, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. — John xix. 23, 24. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.—John xix. 25-27.
And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.-Matt. xxvii. 46-49.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished : and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs : but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.— These things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.—John xix. 30. 32, 33, 34, 36, 37.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE SACRED NARRATIVE. When the Redeemer was suspended in agony upon the cross, the assembled rabble had a full view of the innocent victim; and from the position of the muscles of the body, and the great consumption of flesh which had taken place, by reason of continual grief, they could easily number the protruding bones.