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Pilate saith unto him, What is truth ? And when he had said this,
ke went out again unto the Jews, and saith anto them, I find in him no fault at all. JESUS was, by the Jewish council
, brought before Pilate the Roman governour, and accused as one who perverted the nation from their allegiance, and forbade to give tribute to Cesar, saying, that he himself was a king. Pilate having heard the charge, demanded of him, “ Art thou the king of the Jews ?” Jesus acknowledged, that he had called himself a king. But he added, “My kingdom is not of this world." If it were, “then would my servants fight; that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” As I have not permitted, much less attempted any thing of this kind, it is manifest, that
my kingdom is not from hence.” Pilate says, « Art thou a king then ?” And yet thy kingdom not of this world? “ What sort of kingdom dost
thou claim ?” Jesus explains the matter.-" It is as thou sayest :” I am a king. But my kingdom consists in the power and dominion of truth. this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth ;" might reveal it by my doctrines, confirm it by my works, and impress it on men's hearts by my spirit. “Every one, who is of the truth, heareth my voice.” They who believe the truth, and act under its influence, are my subjects.
Pilate seems, from this answer to be satisfied that Jesus had no design against the civil government. He probably viewed his prisoner, as a new philosopher, who was introducing some peculiar system of opinions, which he affected to call by the name of a kingdom. But as long as he meddled not with affairs of state, Pilate was willing, that he should teach his own system, and name it according to his own fancy.
Thus far Pilate discovered a commendable honesty and candour. But his indifference to the doctrine of Christ was highly censurable. When Jesus said, “I came to bear witness to the truth ;" Pilate indeed asked, “What is truth ?” But, with. out waiting for an answer, he went out to the Jews, and said, “I
" I find no fault in him.” He was nei. ther disposed to condemn him as a usurper, nor to hear him as a teacher.
As Pilate was a Roman, who had resided but a short time in Judea, probably he was little acquainted with the scriptures of the Jews, and their expectations concerning the Messiah. He had, however, full information, that this Jesus assumed a high character. The report of his numerous miracles, and engaging manner of teaching, could not have escaped the governour's ears. He now had an opportunity to see Jesus, and converse with him personally. He had heard his prisoner declare, that Voz. II.
he was sent into the world to bear witness to the truth. He must have been convinced, from what had passed in his presence, that this was no ordina. ry person, who now stood before him. He repeatedly acknowledged, that he could find no fault in him. Well he knew that the Jews had delivered him for envy. Various expedients he tried to calm their rage, and effect his release. And, finally, when he gave sentence against him, he washed his hands before the multitude, and said, “I am innocent from the blood of this just man : See ye to it.”
From these circumstances, it is evident that he entertained a high opinion of Jesus.
The governour had now the fairest opportunity to learn the character which Christ had assumed, and the doctrine which he came to teach. He was sitting on his judgment seat, and Jesus was standing before him. He might propose what questions he pleased : And to questions of importance, proposed with an honest intention, Jesus certainly would have returned a full answer. Pilate was acting in his official capacity, and no man would interrupt him. Who could wish to be under better advantages than these? But good as they were, no use did he make of them.
You think, perhaps, it had been happy for us, if Pilate had shown a little more regard to his own question. It was really important; and you wish to know, how this divine instructor would have answered it. His answer might have solved many doubts, which often arise on the same question.
To Pilate indeed it was important to have received an answer; and it was his own indifference which prevented it. But to you the question is already answered. And whatever Jesus might have said on this occasion, you would have learnt from it nothing more than you may now find in reading his gospel. All his instructions are, in effect, answers to the same question.
Our divine Lord perfectly knew what was in man. If Pilate proposed the question as a matter of curiosity, it might be expected, that Christ would answer it, as he answered other curious ques. tions, by turning the enquirer's attention to something, which more nearly concerned him. But if his desire had been to receive instruction in such truths as immediately related to his duty and salva. tion, the answer of Jesus would have been, in sub. stance, the same, as he at other times gave to similar questions. On your own account then, you have no cause to regret that Pilate's indifference prevent. ed an answer.
If you enquire, what is the truth, in some of the questions, which have divided theological and met. aphysical disputants ; as how sin first entered into God's creation, and why he has permitted it to exist ; wherein consists the moral freedom of rational beings, and how God carries on the great scheme of his government without controling this freedom ; how the divine and human natures are united in Jesus Christ ; or even how flesh and spirit are united in man-If such as these are your enquiries, I cannot promise you, that you will find an answer in the gospel. And I much doubt whether Christ would have answered them, if they had been proposed when he was on earth.
But if your enquiries are concerning things of real importance to your salvation, you may certainly meet with abundant satisfaction.
“God has given you all things, which pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called you to glory and virtue.”
Do you wish to know the character of the Deity, and how he is to be worshipped ? Read Christ's discourse with the woman of Samaria. There you learn, that “God is a Spirit ; and they who wore ship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
And they who thus worship him, are accepted, in whatever place their devotions are offered. Read also Paul's sermon to the people of Athens. There you are taught that “God who made the world, and all things therein, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped by men's hands, as though he needed any thing from them, seeing he giveth to all life and breath, and all things ; and in him we live and move, and have our being."
Would you know wherein your true happiness consists ? Read the beginning of Christ's sermon on the mount. There you will find, that happiness little depends on external circumstances, but is essentially connected with a holy and virtuous temper of mind.
Are you solicitous to understand the nature and extent of moral duties? Read on in the same ser
There you have them, stated with precision, explained with perspicuity, and rescued from the vile interpretations, by which men of corrupt minds had perverted them.
Would you be instructed, what is your great business in life, and what is the most worthy object of your pursuit ? Still read on. The Saviour tells you, “ Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moths corrupt, and thieves break through and steal ; but lay up for yourselves in heaven treas. ures which will never fail.”—“Take no thought for things which concern the body ; but seek first the kingdom of God, and these things shall be added.”
Do you enquire, what you must do to be saved ? Read Christ's answer to the rich young ruler.
“If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” When, professing to have done this from his youth, he asked, what more was necessary, Jesus replied, “ If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven : And come, follow me.” You hence