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ceeded, as outlaws use to do, to various acts of violence. And so “the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, He was numbered with the transgressors."! And they are on His right hand and on His left, as in His own parable. There was usually a writing of accusation over the head of the sufferer. It was in modern Hebrew for the Jews; in Greek for the whole world; in Latin for the soldiers and any other of the Roman people. And if this remind us again of Babel's ancient curse, and of the earth no longer of one language and of one speech,—we may bethink us of that approaching Pentecost, when the curse began to be taken off. Pilate resolutely refuses to alter what he has written in order to please the Jews. It is his only instance of firmness in the whole case. It might be he felt it to be nothing more than the truth. And at the same time he knows it will annoy them. He has suffered enough, so he thinks, from these tormentors. But to be angry with those who have led us into sin, is no expiation of sin.
THE SAME SUBJECT- continued.
St. John xix, 23, 24.
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
St. Mark xy. 28; Is. liii. 12. guage was, like labour, a temporal 2 St. Matt. xxv. 33.
penalty inflicted on our race for sin; 3 Acts ii. 6-8. In his address but, being like labour originally when installed Lord Rector of Elin- penal, like labour it becomes, by the burgh, Mr. Gladstone thus defended ordinance of God, a fertile source of the study of ancient languages as blessing to those who use it aright." necessary to a knowledge of ancient The sentence in each language Deed peoples :-“ There is a profound rela- not have been precisely the same. tion between thought and the investi- One of the Evangelists may have ture it chooses for itself; and it is as a given the Hebrew version, another general rule most true, that we can- the Greek, and another a Greek not know men or nations unless we rendering or paraphrase of the Latin know their tongue. Diversity of lan- original.
What things were these that the soldiers did ? They, all unwittingly, fulfilled a minute and memorable prediction of the Scripture; and they, as unwittingly, furnish us both by word and deed, both in their act and by their language, with a lesson against schism. A thousand years before, an inspired Hebrew Prophet had exactly predicted what now these pagan soldiers exactly do.' And while concerning the seamless robe of Christ they say, “Let us not make a schism” or rent,” can we fail to be reminded of the folly and mischief of rending Christ's Church by“our unhappy divisions”?3 The Scripture which they fulfilled is that contained in the memorable Psalm 4 which our Lord Himself stamped as peculiarly His own; its opening words being one of those seven sayings from the Cross, which in that time of anguish He uttered there. And the lesson which these have, all unconsciously, left to the Church, is one which the Lord, in His final charge and parting prayer, Himself impressed upon His Disciples. “ These things therefore the soldiers did.” They fulfilled the Scripture, and they instruct the Church. The "garments” were the outer, flowing robe; the “coat ” or “vesture” was the inner, close-fitting tunic, for which they gambled in this heartless, inhuman way. Precious relics, which Prophets and Kings would have prized ! sitting down they watched Him there;”: type of a careless world, which looks on unconcernedly while Christ is suffering; which pursues its business or its pleasure while He is hanging on the Cross; which makes nothing even of the Good Friday of His Passion.
1 “Not that the prophecy made them do it, but it was fulfilled by their doing it.”—Baxter.
2 See the original.
3 Form of Prayer for the Twentieth of June.
· The Twenty-second.
THE SAME SUBJECT—continued.
St. Matthew xxvii. 39-44.
And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
The passers-by, void even of humanity, and looking upon Him as a mere impostor overtaken at last, vent their double blasphemies." They are going to their business or their pleasure, but they can pause for this purpose. Their ears are deaf to that question from His Cross, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by ?”? They cast in His teeth that
, former saying 3 which they failed to understand, but failed not to treasure up against Him. Nor would the same people believe when the third day was come, and the Temple of His Body was raised up. Now He resists the temptation to save Himself in order to save us. They are playing Satan's part, bidding Him put His Father to the proof, challenging Him to give this proof of His Sonship. “And the people stood beholding.” Some in that crowd seemed stupefied. They are scarcely satisfied with their success. They have their misgivings, and require to be stirred up by their savage rulers who “derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God."5 So they taunted Him who, to save others, would not save Himself.
See the original word. 2 Lam. i. 12. 3 St. John ii. 19-21; St. Matt.
· St. Matt, iv. 5-7.
In their taunt, “He trusted in God," there seems to be a reference to the readiness with which He allowed Himself to be apprehended, as though sure of being rescued. Little they knew that by their words, their gestures even, they were but fulfilling the prophecies which went before concerning Him. “That we may see,” they said, “and believe;”2 though we know that they had seen and believed not.3 “And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar,”—some of the sour wine which had been served out to them with their mid-day meal,—"and saying, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself.” 4 They took up the Jewish taunt, dwelling however upon His claim to be King of the Jews; whereas these made it the point of their reproach that He claimed to be King of Israel, that is, the Messiah.? The two outlaws, sad to say, join in this reproach. They cannot understand how, if He has the power He claims, He can allow Himself and His countrymen thus to suffer at the hands of the heathen. Thus are ungodly men ever dictating to God what He should do, while they consider not their own rebellion against Him. One of these however, we shall see, comes to a better mind.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xix. 25-27.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
6 So Por
| Ps. xxii, 7, 8. Compare the remarkable passage in Wisdom ii. 13-21.
2 St. Mark xv. 32.
5 The word both in St. Matthew and in St. Mark is no stronger than this.
y, as Plutarch tells us, begins to doubt whether there can be a Providence when Providence seems against him.
Of the group which stood by the Cross of Christ, the four faithful women, who followed Him from Galilee and ministered unto Him,' are prominent figures. There were the three Marys: His Mother, who realized now that prophetic word of old Simeon,“ A sword shall pierce through thine own soul also;” Mary the wife of Clopas or Alphæus, the mother of James the less and of Joses; 2 and Mary of Magdala. The other of the four we gather from two former Gospels 3 to have been Salome, the mother of our Evangelist himself. He is that Disciple to whom, as to another Son, the Lord commended the Mother He must now leave. This is the distinguishing title by which he loves to describe himself.' Observe, that the Lord gave no direct command. He says no more than this, “ Behold thy Son! Behold thy Mother!” But love needs no command. Love will obey at a voice, a glance, a gesture. Love can interpret and anticipate the wishes of the beloved. Thus the Disciple whom Jesus loved understood and fulfilled the desire of the Lord he loved. From the foot of the Cross he took for his own this living legacy. Henceforth she shares his substance. She was ever with him, and all that he had was hers. Nor can we fail to notice the plain lesson of filial duty, enjoined upon us in a commandment of the Decalogue as interpreted in the Catechism of the Church, and enforced both by the word and in the example of our Master Christ. “Honour thy Father and thy Mother, which is the first commandment with promise;" and one particular part of my duty towards my neighbour is, “to love, honour, and succour my Father and Mother."
i St. Matt. xxvii. 55. ? St. Matt. xxvii. 56.
3 St. Matt. xxvii. 56; St. Mark xv. 40.
· St. John xiii. 23; xx. 2; xxi. 7, 20.
See the original phrase.
© Augustine (in 8. Jo. Tr. cxix. 2) dwells here upon this lesson. “He does that which He bids us do ... The cross to which He is nailed, becomes also the chair of the Master who still teaches as He dies."