Page images

"all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."


False witnesses did rise up: they laid to my charge things that I knew not.-Psalm xxxv. 11.

WHERE shall we find one more unjustly accused, than Jesus. They falsely declare him to be a blasphemer and seducer of the people. His enemies, in order to give an appearance of justice to their proceedings, (for they were determined to destroy him) proceeded to call witnesses against him; a mock trial ensues before Caiaphas the High Priest; but, though the witnesses are perjured, their testimony agrees not together. They indeed accuse him of having threatened to destroy their temple and build it again in three days; but they can prove nothing. It is true, that Jesus, when speaking of his death and resurrection, said, destroy this temple, and after three days I will raise it up again. But this he spake of his


body, of which their temple was a type.* It was the honoured spot, in which the Lord met with and blessed his people, and the body of Jesus was ho* noured as the dwelling place or temple of the Lord of Glory. God did indeed dwell in an house of clay which, agreeably to his own prediction, was laid low, even to the ground, and, after three days, he raised it up again, without human aid or art. These words are made the subject of their accusation; but, the charge is so childish and ridiculous, that it deserves to be treated with contempt. It is a little extraordinary, that they did not bring against him the prophecy he had delivered of the utter ruin which, before that generation should have passed away, he had declared the Romans would bring upon their devoted city and temple. But they cautiously refrain from speaking on that subject, and proceed to accuse him of blasphemy, but here again they can prove nothing. Caiaphas artfully enough, adjures the condemned, by the living God, to tell him plainly, if he were the Christ, the Son of God. To which question Jesus replies, by boldly declaring his Godhead, and saying, that hereafter they should see him coming in the clouds of Heaven, as

* John ii, 19-21. † Col. ii. 9.

their Judge. The High Priest then rent his mantle, and they pronounced him worthy of death. By the law of Moses, persons guilty of blasphemy, were to be stoned to death. The Jews being a conquered people, had not the power to inflict so severe a punishment, they, therefore, take Jesus before the Roman Governor, and vehemently accuse him of perverting the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying, that, he himself was Christ a King, and that he stirred up the people, beginning from Galilee to Jerusalem. But how false and unjust the accusation. Cæsar, throughout his vast dominions, had not a more honourable or obedient subject, nor one who by example or precept, better taught the true interest of the king and nation. He, indeed, preached from Galilee to Jerusalem, but not with words of sedition and strife, for he stirred up the people to practise such a refined and exalted system of ethics, that those of the far-famed heathen moralists sink into insignificance and contempt, when their sentiments are compared with the doctrines of morality as taught by Jesus and his Apostles." Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully

use you and persecute you, and whatsoever ye would

that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them." He taught the people throughout all Jewry, to "render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's." He even wrought a miracle to furnish the means of paying his own and disciples' tribute money. But we cannot find an instance of his working a miracle to supply his own necessities, although so poor that he had not where to lay his head, He ever taught the Jewish nation and his Apostles, and through them the world, to render unto all men their due, whether of tribute, custom, or honour. He enjoined them to submit themselves to the Powers that be, and, to obey the laws of their Sovereigns and civil Magistrates so far as they might be in unison with the commands of God. Although he spoke so freely of the duties of the subject, he treated the great ones of the earth as men accountable to God, for the talents entrusted to their charge. His Apostles, taught by their divine Lord and Master, neither flattered the vices, nor courted the favours of kings or nobles, for they were no sycophants. Although the doctrine of Jesus was so pure and Godlike, and his life displayed every virtue, (for in his spirit there was no guile) and, is the only one amongst Adam's race, who was free from

sin, yet against him was the tongue of the slanderer busy, and calumny dared to raise her voice. Yea "false witnesses did rise up and lay to his charge things that he knew not."


But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus, I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. Psalm xxxviii. 13, 14.

DOES not the perusal of these words lead the mind back to the palace of Caiaphas, and the hall of Pilate, when Jesus appeared there, surrounded by his bloodthirsty persecutors, who, in the bitterness of their malice, vehemently and unjustly accuse him of crimes his soul abhorred. But, the meek and lowly Jesus beard their falsehoods with silent composure. Their calumnies aroused no angry passions in his spotless soul. Though conscious of the injustice of their proceedings, he made no remonstrance. Pilate marvelled at his silence, and exclaimed, hearest thou not how many things these witness against thee? But Jesus answered not a word. He was 68



a deaf man who heard not, or as one that is dumb so

he opened not his mouth." Yet his silence was not

« PreviousContinue »