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"31. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your “ law. The Jews, therefore, said unto
him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death;
32. That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what « death he should die.”
From the tribunal of the high priest, our blessed Lord is hurried away to that of the Romans. Pilate, the Roman governor, before he examines his prisoner, inquires of his accusers the nature of the crime they had to alledge against him : to which, conscious they had no charge against him which they could prove, they only reply, in general terms, That if he had not been a malefactor they would not have brought him for judgment. Pilate, who knew the rancor and envy
of his accusers, wishing to escape from any share in a business which he could not but see was founded in malice, and to throw the whole upon the Jews themselves, desires them to take and judge him according to their law: for, although under the Roman yoke, they still retained the free use of their religion, as well as the power of trying causes where the punishment did not extend to the life of the accused party. This, however, would not answer the purpose of the Jews; who, being determined on the destruction of our blessed Lord, applied to Pilate for that condemnation which they could not adjudge themselves,
" 33. Then Pilate entered into the Judgment-hall again, and called Jesus, “and said unto him, Art thou the king of
“ the Jews?
34. Jesus answered him, Sayest thou " this thing of thyself, or did others tell 6 it thee of me?
35. Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? “ Thine own nation, and the chief priests, “ have delivered thee unto me. What “ haft thou done?
36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is
“ not of this world. If my kingdom wero “ of this world, then would my
servants fight, that I should not be delivered to “ the Jews : but now is my kingdom not “ from hence.
37. Pilate, therefore, said unto him, " Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, “ Thou sayest that I am a king. To this " end was I born, and for this caufe came " I into the world, that I should bear wit“ ness unto the truth. Every one that is “ of the truth heareth my yoice."
His accusers, knowing the jealousy of the Roman government, had (as we learn from St. Luke, chap. xxiii. ver. 2.) artfully introduced into their charges against him, that he pretended to be the king of the Jews. Pilate, therefore, returns into the Judgment-hall; and, having sent for Jefus, afks If this charge against him was
ue? This question he might put either in derision of our blessed Lord, whose appearance indicated no fymptom of royalty, or to gain information on a subject which, in his station of governor for the Romans, he might think very material. Our Lord answers in a manner to satisfy Pilate that the Romans had no cause of jealousy from his claims, declaring his kingdom not to be of this world, or to be established by force, otherwise he should have employed worldly means to save himself from the malice of the Jews and in support of his rights. He adds, in reply to the repeated questions of Pilate, That, though a king, his kingdom was of a spiritual nature ; that he came into the world to preach the doctrine of truth, and that all who were friends to truth would attend to his voice.
“ 38. Pilate saith unto him, What is " truth? And, when he had said this, he
went out again unto the Jews, and faith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
39. But ye have a custom that I " should release unto you one at the Paffover: will ye, therefore, that I release unto you the King of the Jews ?
“ 40. Then cried they all again, say. ing, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now “ Barabbas was a robber."
Pilate having asked “What is truth ?' returns, without waiting for an answer, to the Jews, and declared That having exa, mined Jesus, he could find no fault at all in him. Too many there are (I fear) who, like Pilate, will not give themselves the trouble, or time, to search into the truth and beauty of Christ's divine gospel, tho' like him they may ask some barren ques. tions on the subject. Pilate, who saw the injustice of the Jews' proceedings with respect to Christ, and was desirous to let him escape, now proposes to them, with a view to release Jesus, that they should use the privilege they possessed, of having a prisoner released to them at the Passover: an indulgence granted to them by the Roman government. This, however, would have totally defeated their revengeful purposes; and the chief priests and elders, therefore, persuaded