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the effect of sullenness, and, though innocent of crimes alleged against him, he deigned not to vindicate his character, nor did his noble spirit stoop to load with reproach even his bitterest enemies. "Though reviled, he reviled not again; in his mouth there were no reproofs." Jesus, aware of the situation in which he stood as the sinner's surety, looked beyond the bar of Pilate, to the Tribunal of God's Justice for though no sin was in him, yet, by imputation, he was loaded with sin.* Though he was unjustly condemned to death by the Roman Governor, he viewed the sentence gone forth against him in the Court of Heaven, and, seeing the hand of the Lord in this matter, he was dumb, and opened not his mouth, "because thou, O God, didst it." This is discovered in the reply he made to Pilate's imperious question, "Knowest thou not, that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?" Jesus answered, "thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." Although innocent of the crimes preferred against him, at Pilate's bar, yet, Jesus knew that he stood charged before God, with the imputed mass of his people's sins
*Isaiah liii. 6.
for which he had made himself responsible. Is it not to this, we must attribute the otherwise extraordinary silence Jesus manifested at the injustice of Pilate's sentence?
My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore, kinsmen stand afar off.-Psalm xxxviii. 11.
How forcible and just the remark of the wisest of
men, "that every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts." But, in the day of adversity, how few are treated with kindness and attention by their former acquaintance and professed friends. At one time we see five thousand, and at another four thousand persons, partaking of the bounty of Jesus. Afterwards we behold a multitude following him; but, he who knew their motives declared it was "for the sake of the loaves and fishes." When he was so actively engaged in healing the sick and diseased, from all parts they crowd around, and call him Lord and Master; but, no sooner does the black cloud of adversity lower over the head of this Benefactor of our race, than the cringing throng depart; even his immediate disciples, who had shared his friendship, forsook him, and fled
at the very first appearance of danger. So precipitate were they that they stayed not to inquire or consider if mischief was likely to befal them, by their adherence to their Master. Only anxious for their own safety, they leave him alone and unprotected, to struggle with dangers and difficulties. But one disciple is found in the hall of Judgment, and even he, with oaths and curses, denies any knowledge of the despised Nazarene. But, were none found to espouse his cause? Did not the recipients of his bounty appear for his rescue? Were not those tongues whose powers of articulation Jesus had restored, heard to plead for mercy? Did not those eyes he had blessed with vision, with tears supplicate compassion for their benefactor? Were not those withered arms he had healed, upraised to shield from insult the giver of their strength? Did not those he had delivered from the power of the grave, boldly shed their hearts' blood to rescue, from the arm of cruelty and oppression, the restorer of their life? No! Silent as the grave was every tongue in his defence; no advocate was heard to plead his cause; no friendly arm was outstretched to succour or support the oppressed Saviour; "Lover and friends stood aloof from his sore, and his kinsmen stood afar off."
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.-Isaiah 1. 6.
FOR the fulfilment of this prophecy, we have only to go back to the hall Prætorium, where we behold the blessed Jesus surrounded by a band of Roman soldiers, who treat him with every species of indignity. Not content with having scourged him, (a punishment considered too ignoble to be inflicted on a free born Roman)* they proceed to insult his Kingly Office. The purple robe, the reedy sceptre, the crown of thorns, the bended knee, and the salutation, "Hail, King of the Jews," are all used in mockery. What cruelty, mixed with insult, was here; had sport only been intended, a crown of reeds had sufficed. But no, it must be a crown of thorns, and that not gently placed on his head, but its sharp points were forcibly struck in. His Prophetical Office is next profaned, by blindfolding and smiting him on the face, crying, prophesy who it was that smote thee. They even dare to spit in his face, which by every
* Romans xvi. 37.
people is considered the greatest indignity that can be offered, but especially so by the Jewish nation, amongst whom, if a father did but spit in his daughter's face, she was treated as unclean seven days.* The Romans were accustomed to present a civic crown, composed of oak leaves, to him who had saved the life of a fellow citizen, but when Jesus literally laid down his life to save from everlasting death a countless multitude, whom no man can number, of the citizens of earth, no such civic honours were awarded him. When our first parents apostatized from God, the earth was cursed for their sake, and made to bring forth briars and thorns, but Jesus only, of Adam's race, was ever crowned with thorns. What a spectacle for the angels of light to witness! The God of glory insulted and mocked by worms of the earth! To behold that sacred face, before which they were wont to bow with adoration and love, covered with shame and spitting. But the season of sorrow and of suffering is now past, and Jesus, the Son of the Most High, is receiving the just reward of his sufferings and humiliation.+ That head, torn and lacerated by the rugged thorn, is now adorned with
* Numbers xii. 14. † Isaiah xl. 10.