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ON THE CRUCIFIXION.
PREACHED ON GOOD FRIDAY.
ST. LUKE XXIII. BEGINNING OF V. XXXIII.
And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified bim.
HIS day being appointed by our church SERM. to be kept holy, in memory of our Saviour's crucifixion, I shall give you a short account of the principal circumstances which preceded and accompanied that most important event. There being, as we might expect, some small difference in the man
SERM. ner in which the four evangelists relate their story, some of them omitting particulars which others have put down, I shall not confine myself to any one of them, but shall draw from the writings of all the four whatever may appear to me most worthy of our notice.
When Jesus Christ had finished the work which he came upon earth to perform, when he had given men all the instruction for their conduct which was necessary, and had proved to them sufficiently, by the miracles which he performed, that he was sent by God, he prepared himself to complete the purpose of his coming, by submitting to a voluntary death; and accordingly, though he well knew the malice of his enemies, and the plots which they were laying for his destruction, he resolutely determined to go up to Jerusalem, at the great feast of the passover. The chief priests and elders of the Jews had all along hated Jesus, partly
partly from envy on account of the inno- SERM. cence of his life, and the great character which his wisdom and his miracles procured him, and partly because he affirmed himself to be the Christ whom their prophets had foretold would come, and whom indeed themselves expected: but they erroneously looked for a very different sort of Christ from him; they looked not for a meek, an humble, a lowly Saviour, a companion of the poor, and a friend of the distressed, but they flattered themselves with the hopes of a mighty prince, who should free them from the yoke of the Romans, to which they now reluctantly submitted, and should enable them to subdue and place them at the head of all the nations of the earth. Their disappointment was great, and their rage at this disappointment not less. The bulk of the people, however, who had been spectators of our Saviour's wonderful works, had seen the
SERM. dumb made to speak, the deaf to hear, the XIV. blind to see, and even the dead raised,loved and respected him: these enemies of his, therefore, were afraid to seize him openly, lest a tumult should be made, and the people rescue him, and accordingly they sought and found means, by corrupting one of his immediate followers, Judas Iscariot, to execute their plan privately, when only his usual attendants were about him.
It may seem perhaps extraordinary that Jesus, who certainly had a perfect knowledge of future events, should choose such a person as Judas to be an apostle; but there are reasons which may be given for it, that take away the wonder. The twelve. apostles were always about Jesus; now, perhaps, it might have been said, if they had all continued united, that the religion which they afterwards preached, was concerted amongst them for some worldly end,
end, and was a false religion; but as one SER M. of them went so far as to betray his master, he certainly would have discovered the secret, had there been one; or had there been any blot in Christ's life or manners, he could not but have been glad to have revealed it but we find nothing of this kind; on the contrary, when he saw his injured master seized, and likely to be executed, his conscience smote him, he returned the wages of his iniquity, and went and put himself to death. So you see our Lord's choosing such a person as Judas for an attendant has its uses. It was while they were sitting at table, partaking of the feast of the passover, that he gave the first hint that one of the twelve should betray him; and they were all much hurt at it, and anxiously solicitous each of them to know if it should be himself; but Peter beckoned to John, who was placed next to Christ, to ask him which of them it P 2