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The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast co vered him with shame. Selah.-Psalm lxxxix. 45.
BLESSED Jesus! we behold thee cut off in the prime of thy days, in the meridian of thy strength, and in the vigour of manhood. Thy body was not worn by disease, nor decrepit by age; but thy bones were full of marrow, and thy bow abode in strength, when, little more than thirty-three years old, thou didst cheerfully resign thy body to the cold arms of death! The periods of the incarnation and crucifixion of Jesus, are very particularly marked by the sacred historians. His birth was in the year that Augustus Cæsar, Emperor of Rome, issued his decree for taxing the Jewish people; after which event, he reigned nearly fifteen years, and was succeeded by Tiberius, his adopted son. It was in the fifteenth year of his reign, that Jesus, who was then about thirty years of age, entered on his public ministry. By the Mosaic law, none were allowed to minister in the priest's office, until thirty, nor after fifty years old.* Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi, but Judah; yet, as the priesthood cen
*Numbers iv. 3.
tred in him, it became him, when fulfilling all righteousness, to submit to this Jewish command. From the writings of the Apostle John, we can pretty clearly determine the public ministry of Jesus to have been three years and a half, that Evangelist having marked in the period four Passovers (annual Jewish festivals); one was celebrated not long after the baptism of Jesus, and two others are also recorded before the one at which Jesus was crucified; that memorable one when "the days of his youth were shortened, and he was covered with shame." A noble mind is far more sensible of shame, and feels it more acutely, than the body can any corporeal punishment, however severe. Yet Jesus, who possessed true nobility of spirit, was exposed to shame in all its varied forms. His companions were unlearned fishermen, publicans, and sinners; his character was vilified-he was accused of vices and crimes of the most odious nature, and his very name was a stigma of reproach. At his trial, he endured shameful indignities. The Jewish nation even preferred having a traitor and murderer restored to liberty, rather than Jesus. He was publicly scourged, spit upon, buffeted, and crucified as a malefactor. The only type of his crucifixion was the brazen serpent, and amidst all the ir
rational creation of God, the serpent only is pronounced accursed.* The circumstances attending the crucifixion, were of the most degrading and humiliating nature. Jesus suffered naked-his companions were two thieves. The spot was Golgotha, a place strewed with the unburied sculls of criminals. Nor were these things done in a corner, but at Jerusalem, the chief city of Jewry. The time chosen was the feast of the Passover, when all the Israelitish males† were wont to repair to the royal city, and thus became spectators of the shame and dishonour cast upon this despised man of Nazareth," who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is for ever set down at the right hand of the Majesty on High."
*Gen. iii. 14. John iii. 14.
+ Exod. xxiii. 17. Deut. xvi. 16.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.—Isaiah liii. 4, 5, 6.
"I PRAY thee, of whom did the Prophet speak these words?" was the inquiry of an Eunuch of great authority under Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, when reading this chapter. Philip replied by beginning at the same scripture, and preaching unto him Jesus. To him alone can we apply the whole chapter. In every part it bears so striking a resemblance, that it appears more like a history written by a contemporary, than the prediction of a Prophet who lived at least seven hundred years before the character described. These verses are more valuable than fine gold-they are the key of knowledge-they open to our view a work of immense wisdom and benefit-they make us acquainted with the counsel and plans of Jehovah.By them, a circumstance in the moral government of
God, which was before dark and mysterious, is now bright and attractive. They shed a glorious light on the person of Jesus.-By them we understand why he who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," was treated with such contempt and cruelty. We no longer see this part of God's moral government, as "through a glass darkly." The veil which is cast around his designs is withdrawn, and the glorious scheme of redemption bursts forth to our astonished senses, sparkling with wisdom, justice, mercy, and love. By them, we are taught that Jesus suffered, not for any sin of his own, but for the sins of his people. The prophet is particular on this point. The life and conduct of Jesus proved him exempt from all the corrupt principles and evil passions of the children of men. He alone is free from imperfection, and his character forms the most perfect model of all that is lovely, amiable, and exalted. In him was no sin, and even the unjust judge who delivered him for crucifixion, was compelled to declare he could find nothing worthy of death against him; no, nor yet Herod, for he had sent Jesus to him. No doubt both Herod and Pilate examined his conduct with eagleeyes, and gladly would have discovered, if possible, something which might give them a plea for condemn