Images de page
PDF
ePub

crown of glory. Was He stripped of His raiment? It was that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was He mocked, and reviled? It was that we might be honoured, and blessed. Was He reckoned a malefactor, and numbered with transgressors? It was that we might be reckoned innocent, and justified from all sin. Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was that He might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did He die a most painful, and ignominious death? It was that we might live for evermore, and be exalted to the highest glory. Let us ponder these things, for the very key to peace is a right apprehension of the vicarious sufferings of Christ.

SECTION CXCIV.

thyself. If thou be the Son of Likewise also the chief priests elders, said, He saved others;

Then said Jesus, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save God, come down from the cross. mocking him, with the scribes and 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. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation ? and we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

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.

For six hours, from nine, till three o'clock, the blessed Jesus hung, in agony, upon the cross, exposed to the mockery of both people, and rulers, who insulted Him in the very language which David a thousand years before had put into the mouths of the murderers of Messiah ! The Jews mocked our Lord as a helpless Christ, a Messiah unable to save Himself, and therefore unfit to be a Saviour of Israel. The ignorant Gentile soldier, on the contrary, mocked Him as a helpless king of the Jews, without a crown, a kingdom, or an army, and therefore only fit to be ridiculed. The Jews scoffed at His claim to be called the Messiah, the Gentiles scoffed at His claim to be regarded as a king; the cross, and the apparent weakness were, as usual, the stumbling block in both cases. There was one too even of His fellow sufferers who joined in reviling Him, saying "If thou be the Christ save Thyself and us;" but in the face of all this the other acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, and received in return an assurance of pardon, and that he should, that very day, accompany that Lord whom he had under such unparalleled circumstances acknowledged, into Paradise. On the strength of this remarkable example, many have deluded themselves into the belief, that every sinner, however flagrant his offences, however obstinate his perseverance in them, shall yet be secure of God's pardon, and of future happiness, if, before his death, he earnestly supplicates for it,

confessing his sins, and throwing himself upon the Divine mercy. But the case of the penitent thief affords no ground whatever for such a belief. It was a singular, and solitary instance, which can never by any possibility occur again; it bears no resemblance to the case of a death bed repentance in the present day; it holds out no encouragement to those who sin against conviction, and presumptuously flatter themselves that they shall have time, and inclination to repent on their death bed. This robber confessed his sins, and threw himself on the mercy of his Saviour, under circumstances which never did, and never can happen to any other man; he believed Christ to be the Saviour of the world, when the world was rejecting Him, when one of His disciples had betrayed, another denied Him, and all had forsaken Him. He believed Him to be the Son of God, when the Jews condemned Him, and the Gentiles crucified Him; he acknowledged the justice of his own sentence, and bore testimony to the innocence of Jesus, and was only anxious for salvation: for he had nothing to hope, or fear in a world which he was in the act of leaving, thus shewing his belief in the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom; his faith therefore was of that saving kind which would have expanded into all the actions of a Christian life, if time had been afforded. Now when we consider that not only the great majority of the Jews rejected our Lord altogether as an impostor, but that His own disciples formed completely false expectations as to the object of His mission, we cannot but admit that the faith of the penitent thief was of a very extraordinary kind. His education, and early prejudices, the example of his superiors, the defection of the disciples themselves, and the apparently abject situation of the Saviour, all

combined as obstacles to the faith he so boldly professed. We of the present day, however firmly we may believe in Christ, cannot possibly have the same merit in our faith, though we shall incur a tenfold greater amount of guilt, if we are deficient in it; if we do not feel it in our hearts, profess it with our lips, and display it in our lives.

SECTION CXCV.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ?” that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst.” Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, said, "It is finished; Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit :" and having said thus, he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

During the last three hours that our blessed Redeemer hung upon the cross, a supernatural darkness (a darkness unequalled by any except that which Moses, at the command of God, brought over the land of Egypt) covered the face of the earth, to the great terror, and amazement of the people present at His execution. This extraordinary alteration of the face of nature, was peculiarly proper whilst the Sun of Righteousness was withdrawing His beams, from the land of Israel, and from the world; not only because it was a miraculous testimony borne by God

Himself to His innocence, but also because it was a fit emblem of His departure, and its consequences, at least, till His light shone out anew, with additional splendour, under the ministry of the apostles. This darkness beginning at noon, and continuing till Jesus expired, was not the effect of an ordinary eclipse of the sun, which can only happen at a new moon, whereas the moon was now at the full, not to mention that total darkness occasioned by eclipse of the sun never continues more than about twelve minutes. This darkness was spoken of as a prodigy, by several heathen writers, from among which it will be sufficient to select one instance. The words of Phlegon, a Roman astronomer, are still preserved, who, speaking of the nineteenth year of the Emperor Tiberius, the year of our Lord's crucifixion, tells us, that the greatest eclipse of the sun that was ever known happened then, for the day was so turned into night, that the stars in heaven were seen. From this we also learn that the darkness which accompanied our Lord's crucifixion, was not, at some have supposed, confined to the land of Judea, but must have been, as the original words signify, universal.

[ocr errors]

All

And now let us turn our thoughts to the last words of the Saviour. Jesus when He had cried again with a loud voice, said, 'It is finished,' and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." What was then finished? that the prophet had foretold: all that the types had prefigured; all that the justice of God had required, as an atonement for sin, in order to the reconciliation of sinners to Himself; all that the honour of His law demanded; all that was necessary for the glory of His divine perfections, in man's salvation; all those sufferings by which

« PrécédentContinuer »