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They contradicted one another in some essential particulars. Yet was it considered enough for their purpose who were determined on His doom.

DXXXI.

THE SAME SUBJECT- continued.

St. Matthew xxvi. 62–68.

And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

To the first challenge of the High-priest, now rising excitedly in the midst,' and professing to regard His silence as an admission of guilt, Jesus answers nothing. "As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." He did as the evangelic prophet foretold He would. But to the second solemn adjuration,-when He was put on His oath, and challenged to declare if He indeed claimed to be the Son of the Blessed,3-He solemnly declares, (assuming the mysterious name, I am," as thou hast said.

1 St. Mark xiv. 60.

2 Is. liii. 7.

3 St. Mark xiv. 61; Rom. i. 25; 2 Cor. xi. 31.
Ex. iii. 14.
5 St. Mark xiv. 62.

And if Jesus were a mere man, if He is not the Son of God, He would indeed have been guilty of the blasphemy with which they charged Him. How can modern deniers of His Divinity get over His own words? And He adds, referring to Daniel's prophecy,' that they should yet see Him, whom they regarded as a mere man, fulfilling that prophecy, and sitting on the right hand of God; His Assessor in the judgment. And “ And now the High-priest, in rending his garments, acted a real and deep tragedy for himself; for he thus declared that the . . . Jewish priesthood was rent, and already no more." 2 The rabble now suppose that they have license to do as they list. And the Judge, who should have restrained them from insulting even the guilty, encourages them in their cruelty towards the innocent. Little they knew, while giving vent to their own passions, that they were even so fulfilling a prophecy.3 They spat upon Him, a sign of their contempt; and proceeded to positive cruelty, striking Him with their fists and with their wands of office; and having blindfolded and beaten Him, they bid Him in derision to name the offender, and so give proof of the supernatural knowledge He claimed. "And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him." 5

DXXXII.

PETER DENIES AGAIN.

St. Mark xiv. 66-72.

And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them

1 Dan. vii. 13.

2 I. Williams. 1 Sa. xv. 27, 28.

3 Is. 1. 6. 4 St. Luke xxii. 64.

5 St. Luke xxii, 65.

And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilæan, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

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Peter we left warming himself over the charcoal-fire in the court-yard of the High-priest's palace, with the attendants and loiterers gathered there. Presently these idlers 2 regard him, discover him to be not one of themselves, and, halfcarelessly, half-seriously, so it would seem, they charge him with being a follower of Jesus the Nazarene.3 It appears to have been one of the maid-servants who began the banter; the same probably who had admitted him through the gate,* who now recognized him." And Peter for the second time denies all knowledge of his Lord." He even affects to be ignorant of what they are talking about." Then, finding himself in danger, he withdraws to the porch; where the first signal is heard of the Saviour's warning." encountered by another maid-servant, who points the by-standers as having been with the accused. The first maid too seems to have encountered him again, and also to have pointed him out to the rest as one of them. A man also of the crowd appears to have recognized him at this time. And Peter reiterates his denial, corroborating it with that refuge of the guilty, an oath. Thus, so far from recanting, he confirms this second error.10 For the present therefore, as before," he escapes further molestation. At

1 St. John xviii. 18.

2 St. John xviii. 25. He puts them all together whose several questions elicited the second denial.

3 St. Mark xiv. 67.

4 St. John xviii. 16, 17.

5 St. Luke xxii. 56.

6 St. Luke xxii. 57.

7 St. Mark xiv. 68.

Here he is

him out to

St. Luke xxii. 58. 10 All these circumstances are grouped around, and together constitute the second denial. St. John xviii. 25. Bengel says, "The denial at one time, in one paroxysm, to several interrogations of several persons, is reckoned as one."

11 St. John xviii. 17.

8 St. Mark xiv. 69.

this cost he purchases a temporary immunity. But about the space of an hour after,1 some one seems to have pointed him out to those that were at hand, confidently affirming that he was with Jesus. Peter pretends not even to know what he is talking about. The rest now chime in. It is enough for them that he is a Galilæan. His accent betrays him. The natives of Galilee spoke with a provincial pronunciation. Another of the by-standers now comes forward. Peter had been forward when he should have been cautious; and in the garden, at the recent apprehension of his Lord, he had, we remember, aimed a blow at one of the band who came for that purpose; and now a relative of the wounded man, another of the servants of the High-priest (being a kinsman to him whose ear Peter had cut off), half recognizes him and enquires, Did not I see thee in the garden with Him? 3 And he who is craven when he should be courageous, for this third time denies; denies now with oaths and imprecations, a relic of the rough habit of his former life," all knowledge of this man." So in his terror he is bold enough to style the Son of God. And immediately, while he was yet speaking," is heard the crowing of a cock; that second and special cock-crowing to which the Lord in his sad prediction had referred. And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. He was not far off, in the custody of the slaves in one of the open rooms looking out upon the courtyard. That look recalled Peter to himself. It reminded him of the warning he had failed to keep in mind. It pierced him to the heart. And when he thought thereon, he wept. Men are not easily moved to tears. How deep must have

1 St. Luke xxii. 59.

2 St. Luke xxii. 60.

3 St. John xviii. 26.

Alford remarks that "We are not bound to require accordance. in the recognitions of Peter by different persons. There may have been many on each occasion of denial, and independent narrators may have fixed on different ones among them. . . I do not see that we are obliged to limit the narrative to three sentences from Peter's mouth, each expressing a

4

denial and no more. On three occasions during the night he was recognised, on three occasions he was a denier of his Lord: such a statement may well embrace reiterated expressions of recognition, and reiterated and importunate denials, on each occasion."

• Bengel.

6 St. Mark xiv. 71.
7 St. Luke xxii. 61.
* St. Mark xiv. 72.

been the repentance that could draw tears not just from the eyes, but from the heart, of that rugged fisherman of Galilee! Peter doubtless never heard that signal afterwards but he called to mind that scene in the High-priest's house. Peter fallen has been compared to a candle which may be more easily re-kindled the moment it has been blown out, than if it is allowed to cool into death and stiffness.1

DXXXIII.

CHRIST BEFORE THE COUNCIL.

St. Luke xxii. 66-71. St. Matthew xxvii. 2.

St. Luke xxii. 66-71.—And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe and if I also ask you, ye will not answer me. nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.

St. Matt. xxvii. 2.—And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

After His apprehension in the garden, our Lord was taken first to the abode of Annas, afterwards to that of Caiaphas;

1 66

That we may prevent so great a ruin, we must not mingle with such company who will provoke or scorn us into sin; . . ... we must stand upon our guard that a sudden motion do not surprise us . . . let us not enter further into our sin, like wild beasts intricating themselves by their impatience... But he also, by returning and rising instantly, became to us a rare example of penitence, and

his not lying long in the crime did facilitate his restitution. For the Spirit of God, being extinguished by our works of darkness, is like a taper, which, if, as soon as the flame is blown out, it be brought to the fire, it sucks light, and without trouble is re-enkindled; but if it cools into death and stiffness, it requires a longer stay and trouble."-Jer. Taylor, Life of Christ, ad Sect. xv.

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