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Pilate sits in the attitude of judge, and the Lord of all stands to receive His creature's sentence.

DXLV.

TAE SAME SUBJECT—continued.

St. John xix. 14-16.

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And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour : and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him.

Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King ? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

It was the Preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath, the day on which they prepared for the Great Sabbath of the Paschal week; and the Jews were impatient to have the deed done. On the evening of this day they proposed to partake of the type of that very Paschal Lamb, whom in the morning they by wicked hands had crucified and slain. It was about the third hour (as the correct reading would seem to be?) about nine of the clock according to our reckoning,

i St. Mark xv. 42. Lampe says, Greek symbol for 6 in the place of On the same sixth day of the week that for 3 (they are very similar in on which Adam was created, the form), we shall perhaps accept the new creation begins; the image of solution of Grotius and others, that, God is restored on the same day as seeing that the third and sixth were that in which it was first given; on both emphatic hours, the beginning what day the first Adam begins to of watches,—any event which took live, the second Adam dies for the place between them was said to befirst; on that same day in which the long to the latter towards which it Israelites make their exit out of was verging. We have something Egypt, another Moses girds Himself like it in the German. A quarter to the task of our redemption from past tuelve is Ein Viertel auf eins. the prison-house of sin.

According to Augustine (in S. Jo. Tr. 2 If we do not with a host of ap- cxvii. 2) the third hour of the day proved commentators, from Eusebius is the same as the sixth hour of the downwards, suppose here an error of Preparation. the copyist, the substitution of the

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when Pilate addresses them with,-not now as before, “Behold the man!" but, “Behold your King!” There seems a strange mixture in the speaker's mind. He is a compound of inconsistencies. We perceive an inward reverence for the accused, as for a prince in disguise; a sort of suspicion that this is the heir ; coupled with a scarcely suppressed contempt for the accusers, as worthy of one who is only in semblance a King. Urged by their leaders, the fickle multitude exclaim, “ Crucify !" Five days ago, in a moment of transient enthusiasm, and when apart from the influence of their leaders, we heard the same hail Him with “Hosanna!”1 And in answer to Pilate's next question, they do but proclaim their own shame. Thus they deny not Jesus only, but even the Messiah whom they expected, and themselves do the very thing which

” once they were ready to accuse Him of doing. And while they profess this sudden and new-born reverence for Cæsar, we know that they were continually conspiring against him; and that generation passed not away till their open rebellion brought his armies against them, and overwhelmed their city. * But this second mention of Cæsar revives Pilate's former fears. They have struck the right chord. He surrenders Him without another struggle. And now the cruel sport having ceased, the more cruel earnest begins. The soldiers“ remove the robe of scorn, and restore His own raiment, which has a purpose of prophecy to serve, and so lead Him away to instant execution, to the slow torture of the Cross.

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DXLVI.

CHRIST CRUCIFIED.

St. Luke xxiii. 26-31. And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the · St. John xii, 12, 13.

xxvii. 31. ? Bengel, who refers to Acts xvii. 7. 6 Compare Plato's almost prophetic 3 St. Matt. xxii. 15-22.

description of the just man crucified, * Lampe refers to Judges ix. 14. in the second book of the Republic, 5 St. John xis. 2 ; St. Matt. Pp. 361, 302.

cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

Part of the degrading punishment of the Cross consisted in carrying the instrument of death to the place of execution. Sometimes a passer-by was laid hold of to help the condemned to do what by himself he was physically unequal to. On the way, the band of Roman soldiers impress for this purpose a man whose name is recorded ; a man of Cyrene in North Africa, Simon by name, coming from that far country to keep the Feast. He was the father, so another of the Evangelists informs us, of two afterwards known as Christians, Alexander and Rufus.' He is made to join the sad procession; and many a sorry jest was made, we may suppose, at his expense by rough soldiers and malicious Jews, as taking up the Cross he followed Christ. But thus light was shed on that former saying of our Lord's; and who would not now regard this which happened to that man of Cyrene as the most honourable event that could be recorded in the annals of any family? What badge could be better than the Cross? And shall not we be content to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ for His body's sake, which is the Church? In the crowd that followed, all were not beartless. The women at least had some touch of natural pity. And our Lord, turning to them, in the pause while the Cross was being laid also upon Simon, took occasion to utter that last prophecy of the coming judgment of Jerusalem. He forgets His own sufferings in His compassion for them, and desire that they might flee from the wrath to come. Now they

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i St. Mark xv. 21. 2 St. Matt. xvi. 24. VOL. II.

3 St. Matt. xxiii, 37, 38; St. Luke xix. 41-44.

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weep for Him as going to a cruel death; but could they see the calamities coming upon themselves and their descendants, they would begin to weep for themselves. Barrenness among the Jewish women was ever accounted a calamity. In that time of terror, however, it would be regarded as a blessing. Those alone would be reckoned happy who had no children to share their suffering. And He repeats the figure of their ancient Prophets, who represent the people as preferring rather to be overwhelmed in an earthquake, than to be left to fall into the hands of their cruel enemies. In the proverbial question ? with which He closes, is intimated the severity of the impending judgment. A green tree is not consumed so readily as a dry one. If He and His however are thus called to suffer, let them conclude what is in store for those who really are ripe for destruction.”

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DXLVII.

THE SAME SUBJECT - continued.

St. Jolin xix. 17-22.

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha : where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one,

, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

So, as another Isaac, He goes forth, bearing the wood of His sacrifice, carrying the trophy of His victory. For the Cross was His Altar, and the Cross His crown of triumph; at

Hos. x. 8. 2 Ezek. xx. 47. 3 1 St. Pet. iv, 17, 18,

6. Let us go

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once the instrument and the emblem of His victory over sin and death. So “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter," without the city-gate, to the place well known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; and which Gentiles as well as Jews might recognize by its expressive name, suggestive of the hideous signs of death which lay scattered there; so fulfilling another point prescribed in the Law, in that He “suffered without the gate.” And, that we may make the application our own,

forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” So they crucified Him, fastening Him by nails driven through His hands and feet to a Crose

a of wood, according to the cruel and ignominious mode which the Romans, with all their civilization, practised in the case of slaves and foreigners; offering Him first however the cup

of sharp spiced wine, which He declined to drink. He tasted it, thus showing that He knew its purpose, and by way of acknowledgment it might be of the friendly hand that supplied it ;3 but He will not abate His sufferings even so much as this, or overcloud His human mind.* And now He prays for His executioners, making for them what excuse He can, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” 5 The malefactors or evil-doers who were crucified with Him, one on His right hand and the other on His left, were not what we understand by petty thieves. “They were probably offenders of a kind which had sprung up in Palestine in consequence of the convulsed and lawless state of the country; among whom must have been found every grade of guilt;"? who, beginning by being insurgents against Roman rule, pro1 Heb. xiii, 12, 13.

salem to provide some such stupefy? St. Matt. xxvii. 34 ; St. Mark xv. ing potion, as a sort of anæsthetic, at 23. The thin wine of St. Mark is least in part. It was a sort of applithe same as the vinegar of St. cation of Prov. xxxi. 6. It may reMatthew. It was the customary mind us of the bags of gunpowder beverage served out to the Roman provided by the friends of Latimer soldier, and called by either name. and Ridley at the stake. St. Mark speaks of it as mingled * See The Christian Year for the with myrrh. It was thus medicated. Tuesday before Easter. St. Matthew notes its bitterness. It 5 St. Luke xxiii. 34. had a taste like gall. He has in 6 See the original word in St. mind the prophetic Psalm, lxix. 21. Matthew and St. Mark.

3 It seems to have been a humane ? A Plain Commentary. custom with wealthy women at Jeru

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