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Johp xix. 18.
Jerusalem.. nalefactors, one on the right hand, and the other
on the left;
And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, Mark xv. 29. b Isa. lili. 12. And he was numbered with the transgressors.
And Pilate wrote a title 24,
John xix. 19.
enumerates this between St. Matthew and St. Mark, with respect to the potion offered to our Lord upon the cross. St. Matthew, he observes, tells us, they gave him vinegar, mingled with gall, bug perà xolñs repuyuévov, (Matt. xxvil. 34.) St. Mark, that they gave him louvpviouévoy olvov, (Mark xv. 24.) Schoetgen would reconcile the two passages by saying, ut myrrha una cum felle dicatur admixta potui, atque vinum fuisse acidum, quod indistincte vinum, et acetum appellari solet. He then goes on to shew, that the sour wine was indiscriminately named wine or vinegar; and the wine offered to our Lord might in like manner be called either wine or vinegar.
I cannot but conclude, after an attentive perusal of these and some other criticisms, that the simplest mode of interpreting the passages in question is the best, as being equally consistent and satisfactory. The first potion was probably given to our Lord in derision; the second, the stupifying draught usually administered to criminals; and the third called for from the sufferings of the moment. The hyssop mentioned by St. John in the next verse, may perhaps be considered as possibly to allude to one of the types, which were permitted to point out Christ as the typical paschal lamb. The Jews always commenced this feast by the eating of bitter herbs dipped in vinegar, which was considered as emblematical of purity: see Psalm li. 7.
It must be observed, that in Matt. xxvii. 34, instead of Eos, many MSS. read oivov. The posca, or common drink of the Roman soldiers, was known by each name: they both convey the same sense (c).
ON THE SUPERSCRIPTION ON THE CROSS. The Christian world is deeply indebted to the accurate and learned Dr. Townson, for his ingenious criticism on the title placed by Pilate on the cross. The apparent discrepancy between the accounts of this title given by the Evangelists, had been urged as an objection against the inspiration and veracity of the sacred writers. The superscription on the cross was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin ; and as the Evangelists all mention the title differently, Dr. Townson conjectured that it was possible it might have slightly varied in each language. As St. Luke wrote for the Gentiles in Achaia, it is probable that he would prefer mentioning the Greek inscription. As St. Matthew addressed the Jews, it is likely therefore that he should use the Hebrew: and as St. Mark principally wrote to the Romans, he would naturally give the Latin inscription. I have observed in my arrangement the order proposed by Dr. Townson. He remarks. the Evangelists all mention this superscription, but every one with some difference, except in the last words, The King of the Jews.
(c) See Archbishop Laurence's Sermon on Excess in Philological Speculation, p. 39, notes. Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii. p. 158, and part ü. p. 127-8. Schoete gen, Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 236. Adam Clarke's Commentary. Horne's Critical Introduction, second edition, vol. iii. p. 115.
Jerusalem. Mark xv. 26. the superscription of his accusation, Matt. xxvii,
And set up over his head his accusation written,
We may reasonably suppose St. Matthew to have recited the Hebrew :
JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And St. John the Greek :
JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS. If it should be asked, why the Nazarene was omitted in the Hebrew, and we must assign a reason for Pilate's humour, perhaps we may thus account for it: He might be informed that Jesus in Hebrew denoted a Saviour, (John xi. 49– 51), and as it carried more appearance of such an appellative, or general term, by standing alone, he might choose, by dropping the epithet, The Nazarene, to leave the sense so ambiguous, that it might be thus understood :
THIS IS A SAVIOUR, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Pilate, as little satisfied with the Jews as with himself, on that day, meant the inscription, which was his own, as a dishonour to the nation; and thus set a mo. mentous verity before them, with as much design of declaring it, as Caiaphas had of prophesying, that Jesus should die for the people, (John xi. 49–51.) The ambiguity not holding in Greek, the Nazarene might be there inserted in scorn again of the Jews, by denominating their King from a city which they held in the utmost contempt, (John i. 46.)
Let us now view the Latin. It is not assuming much to suppose, that Pilate would not concern himself with Hebrew names, nor risk an impropriety in speaking or writing them. It was thought essential to the dignity of a Roman magistrate, in the times of the Republic, not to speak but in Latin on public occasions, (Valerius Maximus, b. ii. c. ii. $ 2.) of which spirit Tiberius the Emperor retained so much, that in an oration to the senate, he apologized for using a Greek word; and once, when they were drawing up a decree, advised them to erase another that had been inserted in it. (Sueton. in Tiberi, c. 71. The two words were monopoly and emblem.) And though the magistrates in general were then become more condescending to the Greeks, they retained this point of state with regard to other nations, whose languages they esteemed barbarous, and would give themselves no trouble of acquiring. Pilate indeed, according to St. Matthew, asked at our Lord's trial, “Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ ?” And again, “What shall I do with Jesus, which is called Christ ?" But I judge this to be related, as the interpreter by whom he spake delivered it, in Hebrew.—(See Wolfius on Matt. xxvii. 2.) For if the other Evangelists have given his exact words, he never pronounced the name of Jesus, but spake of him all along by a periphrasis : “Will ye that I release unto you The King of the Jews ?” “ What will ye then, that I shall do unto Him whom ye call The King of the Jews ?” Thus he acted in conference with the Rulers, and then ordered a Latin inscription, without mixture of foreign words, just as St. Mark repeats it:
THE KING OF THE JEWS,
Mark xv. 26.
Jerusalem. and put it on the cross. And the writing was John xix. 19. in letters of Greek,
Luke xxiii.38. THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Mat.xxvii. 37.
This title then read many of the Jews: for the John xix. 20. 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 Pi- John xix. 21. late, 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 John xix. 22. written,
It is very possible that a better account may be given of the three forns of the inscription ; but I think I am well founded in asserting that there were variations in it, and that the shortest was that of St. Luke, in the Latin.—Townson's Works, vol. i. p. 199.
S. Reger has published a dissertation on the title on the cross, and comes nearly to the same conclusions as Townson, who does not however refer to, nor appear to have seen, his treatise. He supposes that the inscription varied in each language, and that they might have been written on three several tablets in this manner:
He mentions many opinions on the imagined difficulty—“Alii enim duos Evangelistas Matthæum et Lucam duo verba oŭrós Toriv, non ex titulo descripsisse, sed sententiæ perficiendæ gratiâ adjecisse. Alii vero Marcum et Johannem dicta verba neglexisse ; præterea tres reliquos cognomen Nazareni ; Marcum et Lucam vero Nomen proprium JESUS omisisse, quamobrem ex omnium Evangelistarum descriptionibus tres conformes formant inscriptiones, hoc modo :
Το 2ο η νε» ΠΤ ούτός έστιν Ιησούς ο Ναζάραιος ο Baoileds 'lovdaiwv. Hic est Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judæorum-See the Dis. sertation ap. Crit. Sac. vol. xi. p. 241, &c. &c.
MARK XV. part of ver. 22. and ver. 26.
Jerusalem. 22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, the place of a skull. 26 And—was written over
LUKE xxiji. ver. 38. 38 And a superscription also was written over him—THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
JOHN xix. part of ver. 18. 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side
Christ prays for his Murderers.
LUKE xxiii. part of ver, 34.
The Soldiers divide and cast Lots for the Raiment of Christ.
part of ver. 34. JOHN xix, 23, 24, Mat. xxvii. 35. And they crucified him %. John xix. 23. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified e Matt. xxvii.
Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to
ON THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. He hangs upon the cross, for us, and for our salvation! The Son of God dies for the restoration of man! The manifested God, who was present at the creation of this scene of his glory; who, for the sins of one generation of man, brought the deluge of waters upon the earth; He who was seen in the firmament, commanding the fire to descend upon the cities of the Plain ; the dweller between the cherubim, the form which tabernacled in the moving flame, guiding his people through the wilderness ; the King of glory, the Lord of angels, the Ruler of the universe, "the man that was the fellow of Jehovah," the future Judge of the world, He hangs upon the cross and offers himself a willing sacrifice for the sins of an offending world. That this holy and mighty Being should die as a man, amidst the indignities and cruel mockings of the higher as well as of the lower ranks of his people, for the sins of those who pierced him, and of all who in ages to come should believe in this wonderful atonement, is a mystery so truly sublime, that the intellectual powers of man, while in the body, cannot fully comprehend its effects and benefits. The wonderful and holy Being, whose mysterious death we are now contemplating, is revealed to us, not merely as the Lord of mankind, but as the superior of angels. Evil spirits
Jerusalem. * Or, wrought.
every soldier a part; and also his coat. Now the John xix. 23. coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
knew him, and fled : good spirits ministered to him. He spake of the invisible world, as of the scene of existence to which he had been accustomed, and of angels and devils as his obedient or rebellious subjects. It is evident, therefore, that the actions of our Lord, while in his state of humiliation, were the subjects of attention to an innumerable host of intellectual and spiritual creatures who, we may suppose, are all more or less interested in the heavenly sacrifice. Angels in humble submission desired to look into this great mystery ; fallen spirits retained the malignity of their evil nature, saw, believed, and trembled. They fell from their high estate by their own pride and ambition, without external temptation, and they are left to the consequences of their wilful disobedience. Man, having been created of a compound nature, and liable to evil, did not, like them, fall away by his own original, innate perverseness, but by the enticements of a superior and evil spirit. For man Christ died—For man there is hope of salvation, and at this solemn moment the seal was affixed to his pardon. Now was the sentence of eternal punishment pronounced upon the evil spirits. Satan fell as lightning from heaven; and the captivity of hell was led captive. The voice of mercy, confirmed the angels in their obedience, and taught them also that there was no more sacrifice for sin : and the human race were emancipated from the bondage and degradation of the Fall, and exalted to become, with the angels, the sons of God. Thus was moral order, which had been disturbed through the dominion of evil, by the sin and disobedience of the first Adam, restored to the whole universe by the triumphant sacrifice of the second Adam.
Sufficient, therefore, is revealed to us to convince us of the necessity of this great atonement, and to demonstrate to us the holy indignation of the Almighty God, against sin and sinners. We all carry about within us, the sad marks of our fallen nature. The remembrance of some past sin continually arises to embitter our happiness, and to convince us that we have no power to help ourselves. Man requires some other atonement; some other intercession. His former sins cannot be cancelled by penitence or reformation (a), the only offering he has it in his power to make; “ the convert and the sinner are the same individual person : and as such, must be answerable for his whole conduct. His sentiments of himself can only be a mixture of approbation and disapprobation, satisfaction and displeasure. His past sins must still, hovrever sincerely he may have reformed, occasion self-dissatisfaction : and this will ever be the stronger the more he improves in virtue. Now, as this is agreeable to truth, there is reason to conclude, that God beholds him in the same light." Therefore man's redemption must be accomplished by other than himself. It is further evident that the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin; they were not of the same nature and origin as man, and therefore incapable of making an expiation for the sin he had contracted. These were only the types and figures of a more perfect sacrifice of that holy victim who was appointed before the foundation of the world. Neither could the sacrifice of any ordinary man make
(a) Balguy, as quoted by Archbishop Magee, p. 94. vol. i.