Page images

SERM, he preserved the same dignified silence XIV.

before the Roman magistrate as he had done before the high priest of the Jews, answering very sparingly, and usually not at all, to his questions. Pilate appears to have been greatly surprised at this ; he was however perfectly convinced of Jesus' innocence, and over and over again declared that he found him quite guiltless of those offences which were laid to his charge: he laboured besides, earnestly, to be excused from condemning him ; and as there was a custom, at this time of the year, always to release one prisoner, he was desirous that Jesus should be the man, and proposed it to the people more than once; but they all, at the instigation of their rulers, cried out for the release of Barabbas, a rebel and a murderer, and intreated that he would crucify Jesus, and even threatened him that they should look on him as guilty of disaffection to his


master if he acquitted him. This last ar- SERM.

XIV. gument seems to have prevailed with him; and at length, though reluctantly, he complied with their wishes. This Pilate was a man of very bad character, and had been guilty of divers acts of oppression and injustice in the administration of his government; and it seems to have been a dread of provoking the resentment of the principal men of the Jewish nation, and inducing them to lay his crimes before Cæsar, and this among the rest, that he had suffered a person who called himself a king to escapethat prevailed on him to condemn one whom he knew to be innocent: he however, as I observed before, very reluctantly complied; and even in passing sentence called for water, and washed his hands (as if that would excuse him) saying, “ I am innocent of the blood “ of this just person, see ye to it.”-To which the Jews all replied, “ His blood be



upon us and upon our children!” Jesus was now again subjected to every kind of insult and outrage; he was scourged, spit upon, beaten; he had a crown of thorns placed on his head, a purple or scarlet robe (the dress of royalty) on his body, and a reed by way of sceptre put into his right hand, and the soldiers in mock humiliation bowed their knees to him, and cried, “ Hail king of the Jews!” At length they lead him to the place of execution, and fix him to the fatal cross; and with him, likewise, they crucify two robbers, the one on his right hand and the other on his left. Crucifixion was a death which the Romans never inflicted but on those whom they esteemed the vilest of criminals; it was most excruciatingly painful, and at the same time very lingering, since the sufferer was fixed to the cross by nails which were driven through his hands and feet, and he died by the blood which flowed from those


wounds. Some interesting and affecting SERM.

X circumstances occurred after Jesus was fixed to the cross. Great as must have been his sufferings, his usual benevolence, his usual amiable temper, does not forsake him. The miserable condition, in which he must now have appeared to his enemies, does not exempt him from their insults ; they continue to ridicule and to mock him, calling to him repeatedly to descend from the cross, that they might believe in him ; and reproaching him, that though he had saved others, he could not save himself:yet he does not lose his wonted patience; he does not break out into any angry remonstrances; on the contrary, he offers up for them his dying prayers,—" Father,

forgive them, they know not what they “ do.” Of the two robbers, who were crucified with him, one of them, unmindful of his own melancholy situation, joined in Vol. I. Q


SERM. their derisions with the surrounding mulXIV.

titude; on which he was rebuked by the other, who vindicated the innocence of Jesus, and then applying to him, and claiming his favour for thus speaking for him, he received that memorable promise

Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou « be with me in Paradise.” I must not omit another interesting and moving circumstance, which occurred at this time. Jesus seeing his mother, and John, that disciple whom he had always particularly loved, standing near the cross, anxious for her in the forlorn condition he was about to leave her (her husband being probably already dead) he said to her, looking at John,—“ Woman, behold thy son ;” and then addressing himself to John, he added, " behold thy mother :” and John, who perfectly conceived his meaning, took her from that hour to his own house. And


« PreviousContinue »