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the blood mixing with the perspiration, fell in large drops to the earth. But, although the severest part of the passion probably did not exceed an hour; yet, when the innocence and dignity of the sufferer are considered, it was a far more luminous display of the divine justice than can be made by the everlasting punishment of those who reject the everlasting happiness and life presented in Christ Jesus.
XV. Jesus, waking his sleeping disciples, went forward and discovered his person to the armed multitude, who were entering the garden to apprehend him. So alarmed were the chief priests and rulers at the increasing popularity of Jesus, and so intent were they on his destruction, that on the information of Judas, they convened an extraordinary assembly, and continued their sitting the whole night. The council, graHified by a sight of the prisoner, were embarrassed for evidence which would effect his life : they sought for false witnesses, but found none to their purpose. Many, indeed, appeared against him, but their accusations were not of a seditious nature; they concerned some of his religious expressions misunderstood. This embarrassment being insupportable, the high priest, contrary to every principle of judicature, adjured him by the living God to say, whether he was the Chist. To this solemn requisition our blessed Lord gave a full and positive answer, that hereafter they should see him on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; that is, they should see him as Moses and Israel saw him, on Mount Sinai; or as they themselves had wantonly solicited, when they demanded, in addition to that of miracles, a sign of his being the Messiah. This was enough : the high priest rent his garments at the presumed blasphemy; and sent away Jesus to be judged and condemned by Pi. late, the Roman governor. The whole council and their party followed to accuse him. Pilate, seeing the chief pricats and rulers at the gates, requested that they would try the prisoner according to their law. Thay replied in rehemcnt accusations, that he disse
minated seditious principles through all Jewry, and dissuaded the people from paying tribute; that he had assumed regal titles, and but five days before had received homage as a prince on his entrance into Jerasalem. They added further, that by their law he ought to die, and that they had not power to inflict the punishment. Impressed by these charges, and by the silence of Jesus, Pilate took him aside, and demanded who he was; whether he were a king, and what he had done. Jesus frankly acknowledged, that he was born to be a king, and came into the world to bear witness of the truth of his mission, but that his kingdom was not of this world. Satisfied with this reply, Pilate affirmed to the priests that he could not find the charges of sedition substantiated. They then brought forward the charge of blasphemy, that Jesus had entitled himself the Son of God. vernor, awed by hearing this, and by a note he received from his lady, requesting him to have nothing to do with that righteous man, on account of what she had dreamed concerning him the preceding night, perceived that the whole was a religious concern, and that the chief priests had accused him through envy. From that instant he endeavored to deliver Jesus by every effort of policy, instead of doing it by the dignified courage of a governor.
He said, “ I will chastise him, and let him go." The priests and ruleis, alarmed lest Christ should escape, became outrageous, and used strong words. • If thou let this man go," said they, “ thou art not Cæsar's friend : whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar." Pilate's fears were now addressed by the menace of an appeal to Rome; for it was again alleged, that Jesus, throughout Gallilee and Jewry, had excited the people to sedition. Hearing that Jesus was a native of Gallilee, governed by Herod, who was then in Jerusalem, Pilate hoped to have extricated himself from the business, by sending him to be judged by his own prince. But Herod and his courtiers, unable to extort a word from Jesus, wantonly derided him, and
sent him back to Pilate. This weak and wicked prince, instead of extricating the Saviour, as Lysias extricated St. Paul, ineffectually attempted his release, by availing himself of the custom of gratifying the people at the feast, by the release of a prisoner. He made the appeal in person; but the chief priests having influenced them to prefer a murderer, the vociferations were, not this man, but Barabbas."
XVI. Jesus was now delivered to be scourged, according to the custom of the Romans; and the soldiers having heard the false accusations, that he had aspired to regal dignity, platted a crown of thorns, and placed it on his head; a purple robe was procured, in which he was arrayed; a reed was substituted for a sceptre, and placed in his hand. They then bowed the knee, and paid him homage as the king of Israel. Others hearing that he was a prophet, covered his eyes, and smiting him, said, “ prophecy, who smote.” But God converted these indignities into real honors, by supporting him with victorious patience; by speedily raising him from the dead, and investing him with the sceptre of universal dominion.
When the person of Jesus now exhibited the extreme of mockery and misery, Pilate exposed him to the people, probably hoping to excite their compassion : but they still cried for Barabbas. “ What then, said he, “ shall I do with Jesus?” They cried, “ crucify him! erucify him ?”. “ What,” said he, “ shall I crucify your king ?” They replied, “ we have no king but Cæsar.”
He then took water and washed his hands, affirming that he was innocent of his blood : and oh! how dreadful to add, this infatuated crowd dared even the vengeance of heaven: “ His blood," said they, “ be upon us and upon our children!"
Jesus being sentenced to the cross, was instantly led away to Calvary, and crucified between two thieves, amid the insults of his foes, and the tears of his friends. The chief priests and rulers followed with the crowd, to feast their eyes with his sufferings, and to excite the multitude to deride him. “They wagged their keads, saying, he saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the Christ, let him come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” This extreme of depravity was never exceeded but by the piety of Jesus, who said, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
About the ninth hour, his suffering humanity made its - last complaint—" My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” Knowing now, that every minutiæ of the prophecies respecting his death was accomplished, and that atonement was made for the sins of the world, he said, “ IT IS FINISHED!” and taught us how to die by commending his spirit into the hands of the Father.
The sun for three hours veiled himself in sackcloth, and refused to see the deed. The earth trembled beneath its guilty inhabitants. The rocks rent; many of the saints arose from their graves, and appeared to their friends in Jerusalem. Many of the
populace were undeceived. There is no hypocrisy in death. It is scarcely possible for a man who prayed for his crucifiers to be an impostor; or for one, who with his last breath could commend his spirit to God to be a wicked person. 6 Truly,” said the centurion, “ this man was the Son of God."
0! most gracious Father, what a tragic, but instructive scene is here disclosed ! Signifieantly, indeed, was the veil of the temple rent from the top to the bottom. The mangled body of that spotless lamb, covered with gore, discloses the mystic reference of all the sin-offerings. This Calvary, without the gate; and that cross, streaked and sprinkled with blood, show the pre-signification of the red heifer, slain without the camp, and the sprinkling of its blood upon the veil. It is I and my fellow-worms who have sinned! Our crimes have pierced his body, and nailed it to the tree; but he suffered to put our sin away. Ah! this is the curse, and this is the death our crimes have merited; but he died that we might live. We see now of whom Isaiah spake in these elegiac words : “ He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” Oh! may we look on him whom we have pierced; and mixing our sorrows with his, may we die to sin as he died for sin; that being planted in the likeness of his death, we may be also in the likeness of his resurrection.
XVII. Jesus was interred in a new sepulchre, which Joseph of Arimathea had hewed out of a rock, for himself. Here the sacred body, after its hard con-flicts, reposed till the third day, that the reality of the Saviour's death might be recognised; that they dark abode might be cheered; and the grave constituted the softest bed on which the saints ever slept. Here also, with worldly historians, the scene closes. in the shades of oblivion ; but with Jesus Christ, the period is yet to come. Having spoiled the powers of darkness on the cross, and vanquished death by making his soul an offering for sin, he could not be detained in the tomb. The payment of the ransom emancipates the captive: therefore, the angel of the Lord, descended and rolled away the stone, and the conqueror arose from the dead, and assumed his kingdom and immortal glory.
The poor heart-broken disciples, till revived by the tidings of their master's resurrection, were covered with a sable gloom of pensive grief. But, as mariners when cast on reefs of rock in a dark night, and give up life and all for lost, are elated with joy to find themselves safely floated by the morning tide, “ were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” They then perfectly understood his words>" Ye shall have sorrow,
but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” And even in the depth of their gloom and grief, their integrity preserved them from shame. Two of them said to the supposed stranger, “ we trusted it bad been he which should have redeemed Israel."
Immediately after the resurrection, Jesus hasted to comfort his weeping friends, particularly Mary and