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come down from the cross, and we will be the very time when Jesus was dying on the lieve him.”
cross, he begged to be remembered by him
when he came into his kingdom. “Lord In the mean time nothing could be more (said he) remember me when thou comest false and hypocritical than this pretension into thy kingdom.” Nor did he make this of the stiff-necked Jews; for they continued request in vain : The great Redeemer of in their unbelief, not withstanding they well mankind answered him, “ Verily, I say unknew that he raised himself from the dead; to thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paa much greater miracle, than his coming radise." down from the cross, would have been; a miracle attested by witnesses, 'whose vera But let us attentively consider the history city they could not call in question. It was of our blessed Saviour's passion, as it offers. told them by the soldiers whom they them to our view events absolutely astonishing. selves placed at the sepulchre, to watch the For when we remember the perfect innobody, and whom they were obliged to bribe cence of our great Redeemer, the uncomlargely to conceal the truth. It is therefore mon love he bore to the children of men, abundantly evident, that if the blessed Jesus and the many kind and benevolent offices he had descended from the cross, the Jewish did for the sons and daughters of affliction : priests would have continued in their infi. when we reflect on the esteem in which be delity; and consequently that their decla was held all along by the common people, ration was made with no other intention, how cheerfully they followed him to the rethan to insult the Redeemer of mankind, motest corners of the country, nay, even thinking it impossible for him now to es. into the desolate retreats of the wilderness, cape out of their bands.
and with what pleasure they listened to his
discourses; when we consider these partiThe soldiers also joined in this general culars, I say, we cannot help being astoscene of mockery, “If thou be the king nished to find them at the conclusion rushof the Jews, (said they) save thyself.” If ing all of a sudden into the opposite exthou 'art the great Messiah expected by tremes, and every individual, as it were, the Jews, descend from the cross hy a mi combined to treat him with the most barbaracle, and deliver thyself from these ex rous cruelty. cruciating torments.
When Pilate asked the people if they deNor could even one of the thieves forbear
sired to have Jesus released, bis disciples, mocking the great Lord of heaven and earth, though they were very numerous, and might though labouring himself under the most
have made a great appearance in his behalf, racking pains, and struggling with the ago. remained absolutely silent, as if they had nies of death. But the other exercised a
been speechless, or infatuated. The Romost extraordinary faith, at a time when
man soldiers, notwithstanding their gene
ral had declared him innocent, insulted our great Redeemer was in the highest affliction, mocked by men, and hanged upon
him in the most inhuman manner. The the cross, as the most ignominious of ma
Scribes and Pharisees ridiculed him. The lefactors. This Jewish criminal seems to
common people who had received him have entertained a more rational and ex with Hosannas, a few days before, mockalted notion of the Messiah's kingdom,
ed him as they passed by, and railed at him as than even the disciples themselves. They
a deceiver. Nay, the very thief on the cross
reviled him. expected nothing but a secular empire: he gave strong intimations of his having an idea of Christ's spiritual dominions; for at This sudden revolution in the humours
of the whole nation, may seem unaccount: But now, my soul, take one view of thy able. But if we could assign a proper reason dying Saviour, breathing out his soul upon for the silence of the disciples, the princi the cross! Behold his unspotted flesh laceples which influenced the rest might be rated with stripes, by which thou art healed! discovered in their several speeches. The See bis hands extended and nailed to the followers of the blessed Jesus bad attached cross; those beneficent hands, which were themselves to him in expectation of being incessantly stretched out to unloose thy hearaised to great wealth and power in his king- vy burdens, and to impart blessings of every dom, which they expected would have been kind! Behold his feet rivetted to the accursestablished long before this time. But see ed tree with nails ! those feet which always ing no appearance at all of what they had went about doing good, and travelled far so long hoped for, they permitted him to and near to spread the glad tidings of ever. be condemned, perhaps, because they lasting salvation! View his tender temples thought it would have obliged him to break encircled with a wreath of thorns, which the Roman yoke by miracle.
shoot their keen afflictive points into his bles
sed bead; that head which was ever mediWith respect to the soldiers, they were tating peace to poor lost and undone sinners, angry that any one should pretend to and spent many a wakeful night in ardent royalty in Judea, where Cæsar" had esta prayer for their happiness! See him labour. blished his authority. Hence they insulted ing in the agonies of death! Breathing out our blessed Saviour with the title of king, his soul into the hands of his Almighty Faand paid him in mockery, the honours of a ther, and praying for his cruel enemies ! Was sovereign.
ever love like this! was ever benevolence
so finely displayed ! As for the common people, they seem to have lost their opinion of him, probably O my soul, put thou thy trust in that because he had neither convinced the coun bleeding, that dying Saviour! Then, though cil, nor rescued himself when they con the pestilence walketh in darkness, and the demned him. They began, therefore, to sickness destroyeth at noon-day; though consider the story of his pretending to de thousands fall besides thee, and ten thousand stroy the temple, and build it in three days, at thy right hand, thou needest not fear the as a kind of blasphemy, because it requir- approach of any evil! Either the destroying ed divine power to execute such an under-angels shall pass over thee, or dispense the faking.
corrections of a friend, not the scourges of
an enemy, which, instead of hurting, will The priests and scribes were filled with work for thy good. Then, though prothe most implacable and diabolical malice faneness and infidelity, far more malig. against him, because he had torn off their nant evils, breathe their contagion, and mask of hypocrisy, and shewed them to taint multitudes around thee, ihou shalt the people in their true colours. It is be safely bid in the hollow of his hand, and therefore no wonder that they ridiculed
freed from every danger. his miracles, from whence he derived his reputation.
Come then, my soul, let us take sanctu
ary under that tree of life, the ignominious In short, the thief also fancied that he cross of thy bleeding Saviour, let us fly for might have delivered both himself and them, safety to that city of refuge opened in his if he had been the Messiah; but as no such bleeding wounds. These will prove a sadeliverance appeared, he upbraided bim for cred hiding-place, not to be pierced by the making pretensions to that high character. flames of Divine wrath, or fiery darts of
temptation. His dying merits, his perfect | tional splendour, in the ministry of his obedience, will be “ as rivers of water in a apostles. dry place, or as the shadow of a great rock in a dreary land.”
Nor was the darkness which now covered
Judea and the neighbouring countries, be. But particularly in that last tremendous ginning about noon and continuing till Jesus day, when the heavens shall be rent asunder, expired, the effect of an ordinary eclipse of and wrapped up like a scroll : when his Al
the sun. It is well known that these phænomighty arm shall arrest the sun in bis ca mena can only happen at the change of the reer, and dash the structure of the universe moon : whereas the Jewish passover, at to pieces ; when the dead, both small and which time our dear Redeemer suffered, was great, shall be gathered before the throne always celebrated at the full.
ll. Besides, the of his glory, and the fates of all mankind total darkness of an eclipse of the sun, never hang on the very point of a final irreversible exceeds twelve or fifteen minutes, whereas decision : then, if thou hast faithfully trust this continued full three hours. Nothing, ed in him, and made his precepts thy con. therefore, but the immediate hand of that stant directors, thou shalt be owned and Almighty Being, who placed the sụn in the defended by him. O reader, may both centre of the planetary system, could have thou who peruseth, and he who hath write produced this astonishing darkness. Non ten this for thy soul's advantage, be cover. thing but God, who first lighted this glorious ed, at that unutterable important juncture, luminary of heaven, could have deprived it by the wings of his redeeming love ; then of its cheering rays. Now, ye scoffers of Ise shall we bebold all the horrible convulsions rael, whose blood ye have so earnestly desiof expiring nature with composure, with red, and wished it might fall upon you and comfort! we shall even welcome the con your children, behold, all nature is dressed summation of all things, as the
" times in the sable veil of sorrow, and, in a lanof refreshing from the presence of the guage that cannot be mistaken, mourns the Lord."
departure of its Lord and Master; weeps
for your crimes, and deprecates the venBut see the sun, conscious of the suffer.
geance of heaven upon your heads ! Happy ing of our Saviour, and as it were to hide for you that this suffering Jesus is compasits face from the detestable action of mor
sion itself, and even, in the agonies of death, tals, is wrapped in the pitchy mantle of cha.
prays to his heavenly Father to avert from otic darkness ! This preternatural eclipse you the stroke of his injustice ! of the sun continued for three hours, to the great terror and astonishment of the This preternatural eclipse of the sun, was people present at the crucifixion of our considered as a miracle by the heathens dear Redeemer. And nothing could be themselves : and one of them cried out, more proper than this extraordinary altera " Either the world is at an end, or the God tion in the face of nature, while the Son of of nature suffers." And well might he use Righteousness was withdrawing his beams, the expression : for never, since this planenot only from the promised land, but from tary system was called from its primitive the whole world : for it was once a mira chaos, was known such a deprivation of light culous testimony given by the Almighty in the glorious luminary of day. Indeed, himself to the innocence of his Son, and a when the Almighty punished Pharaoh, for proper emblem of the departure of him refusing to let the children of Israel depart who was the light of the world, at least, out of his land, the sable veil of darkness was till his luminous rays, like the beams of for three days drawn over Egypt. But this the morning, shone out anew with addi. darkness was confined to a part of that kingNo. 16.
don; whereas this that happened at our love to his friends and followers; the beloved Saviour's crucifixion was universal.
disciple had also a token of his high esteem.
He singled him out as the only person among When the darkness began, the disciples his friends to supply his place with regard to naturally considered it as a prelude to the de- his mother. Accordingly, he desired him exJiverance of their Master. For though the pressly to reverence her in the same manner chief priests, elders, and people, had sar as if she had been his own parent. A duty castically desired him to descend from the which the favourite disciple gladly underaccursed tree, his friends could not but be took, carried her with him to his house, and persuaded, that he who had restored limbs maintained her from that hour to the day of for the maimed, and eyes for the blind; who her death, her husband Joseph having it had given speech to the dumb, and called seems, been dead some time. the dead from the chambers of the dust, might easily have saved himself, even froun
Thus in the midst of the heaviest sufferings the cross.
that human nature ever sustained, the bles
sed Jesus demonstrated a divine strength of When, therefore, his mother, his mother's
benevolence. Even at the time when his sister, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved own distress was at the highest pitch, and disciple observed the veil of darkness begin nature was dressed in the robe of mourning to extend over the face of nature, they drew
for the sufferings of the Redeemer of mannear to the foot of the cross, probably in ex
kind ; his friends had so large a share of bis pectation that the Son of God was going to concern, that their happiness interrupted shake the frame of the universe, unloose the sharpness of his pains, and, for a short himselt from the cross, and take ample ven
time engrossed his thoughts. gence on his cruel and perfidious enemies.
But now the moment, when he should reThe blessed Jesus was now in the midst of
sign his soul into the hands of his heavenly his sufferings. Yet when he saw his mother
Father approached, and be repeated part, and her companions, their grief greatly af
at least of the twenty-second psalm, utterfected his tender breast, especially the dis
a loud voice these remarkable tress of his mother. The agonies of death,
words, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani ? (that under which he was now labouring, could is) My God, my God, why hast thou for
saken me, (Or as the words may be rendernot prevent his expressing the most affectionate regard both for her and for them. For
ed) My God, my God, how long a time
hast thou forsaken me!" that she might have some consolation to support her under the greatness of her sor Some believe that our blessed Saviour rerows, he told her, the disciple whom he peated the whole psalm ; it having been the loved, would, for the sake of that love, custom of the Jews, in making quotations supply his place to her after he was taken to mention only the first words of the psalm from them, even the place of a son : and or section, which they cited. If so, as this therefore he desired her to consider him as psalm contains the most remarkable parti. such, and expect from him all the duties of culars of our dear Redeemer's passion, bea child. Woman, said he, behold thy ing, as it were, a summary of all the pro
phecies relative to that subject, by repeating
it on the cross, the blessed Jesus signified Nor was this remarkable token of filial that he was now accomplishing the things affection towards his mother the only in that were predicted concerning ihe Messiah. stance the dying Jesus gave of his sincere And as the psalm is composed in the form
of a prayer, by pronouncing it, at this the sepulchres hewn in them were opened ; time, he also claimed of his Father the and many bodies of saints deposited there performance of all the promises he had awakened after his resurrection, from the made, whether to him, or to his people, sleep of death, left the gloomy chambers of the chief of which are recorded in the the tomb, went into the city of Jerusalem, latter part of the psalm.
and appeared unto many.
Some of the people who stood by, when And as the rending the vail of the temple they heard our blessed Saviour pronounce | intimated, that the entrance into the holy the first words of the psalm, misunderstood place, the type of heaven, was now laid him; probably from their not hearing him open to all nations ; so the resurrection of a distinctly, concluded that he called for number of saints from the dead demonstraElias. Upon which one of them filled a ted, that the power of death and the grave, sponge with vinegar, put it on a reed, and was broken ; the sting was taken from gave him to drink; being desirous to keep death, and the victory wrested from the him alive as long as possible, to see whe grave. In short, our dear Redeemer's conther Elias would come to take him down quests over the enemies of mankind were from the cross.
shewn to be complete; and an earnest :
was given of the general resurrection of the But as soon as Jesus had tasted the vine- / dead. ger, he said, “It is finished.” That is, the work of man's redemption is accomplished ; Nor did the remarkable particulars which, that great work which the only-begotten Son attended that awful period, when Jesus gave of God came into the world to perform, is
the ghost, affect the natives of Judea finished. In speaking these words, he cried only.—The Roman centurion, who was with an exceeding loud voice; and after the placed near the cross to prevent disorders shout, he addressed his Almighty Father, of any kind, glorified the Almighty, and in words which form the best pattern of cried out,, “ Truly this was the Son of a recommendatory prayer, at the hour of God ??? And all the people when they be: death, “Father, into thy hands I com held heaven itself bearing witness of the mend my spirit.” And having uttered truth of our great Redeemer's mission, these words," he bowed his head, and smote their breasts, and retired. yielded up the ghost.”
They had been desirous with loud voices, But behold! at the very insiant that the to have him crucified ; but when they saw blessed Jesus resigned his soul into the the face of the creation wrapt in the gloomy hands of bis heavenly Father, the vail of the mantle of darkness, during his crucifixion, temple was miraculously rent from the top and found his death accompanied with an to the bottom; probably in the presence of earthquake, as if nature had been in an the priest, who burnt incense in the holy agony when he died, they rightly interpreted : place, and who doubtless publ: 3. d the ac these prodigies to be so many, testimonies count when he came out: for our blessed from the Almighty, of his innocence ; and , Saviour expired at the ninth hour, the very their passions, which had been inflamed and time of offering the evening sacrifice. exasperated against him, became quite calm,
or rather exerted in his behalf. Some were Nor was this the only miracle that hap- angry with themselves for neglecting the pened at the death of the great Messiah ;; opportunity the governor gave them of savthe earth trembled from its very founda- | ing his life. Some were stung with remorse tions, the flinty rocks burst asunder, and for having been active in procuring Pilate