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21 Then said the

SECT.
CXC.

1

Mat.

408

The chief priests and rulers mock and deride him. Now wben this inscription was drawn up, the chief priests of the Jews were very much offend- chief priests of the

ed at the form in which it was expressed ; and not, The king of the John XIX. 21 therefore objected against it, and said to Pilate, Jews; but that he said,

Do not write, The king of the Jews; for we i am king of the Jews. entirely disown him under that character, as

thou well knowest ; but rather write, that he 22 said, I am the king of the Jews.

But Pilate,

22 Pilate answered,

What I have written, who was very much displeased at the importu. I have written. nity by which, contrary to his inclination and judgnient, they had extorted from him the sentence of death he had passed upon Jesus, answered with some warmth, What I have written, I have teritten, and, whoever may object against it, I am determined it shall stand as it is. When therefore they were unable to procure

Mit. XXVII. 39. XXVII. any alteration, they were determined publicly to ple stood beholding

And (Luke, the peo39

turn it into a jest; and therefore some of them and) they that passed went in person to Calvary to insult and scoff at by, reviled him, wagJesus even in bis last moinents. And the com- ging their heads, –

[MARK XV. 29. mon people, that stood bcholding the execution, LUKE XXIII. 35.-) reviled bim; and even they that passed by on the

road blasphemed him, shaking their heads at him, 40 in an upbraiding scornful manner;

40 And saying, ing, Ah thou vain boaster, that wouldest destroy [Ah] thou that dethe temple, and build it again in three days! Jet and buildest it in three us now see if thou canst save thyself ; and if thou days, save thyself ; art indeed the Son of God, give us a proof of (and) if thou be the thy power now, and come down from the cross ; down from the cross. for in thy present circumstances that will be the (MARK XV.—29,30.]

most proper miracle thou canst work in confir41 mation of thy pretended mission. And in like 41 Likewise also the

manner also the chief priests, together with the chicf, priests, [LUKE, scribes and elders, and the rulers also themselves, them derided him, and] the malice of wbose hearts had made them to [mocking, said among forget the dignity of their characters, and to at- themselves, with the

elders, tend among the mob upon this base and barba- (MARK XV. 31.rous occasion, joined with them in their scoffs, Luke XXIII.-35.)

and with a scornful sucer derided him; [and] 42 mocking, said one to another, Ay, this is he

42 He saved others, that saved others, and undertook to give them if he be [LUKE, Christ,

himselshe cannot sare: perfect deliverance and everlasting happiness; the chosen of God, (bulnow you see he cannot save himself from the most infamous execution : if he be really the

true

And say

the

jesty of the Roman empire; in Greek, for gar language of the place.—Thus the itie the information of the vast vumbers of Hel- scription set up in the temple, to probibit lenists who made use of that language, as strangers from coming within those sacred indeed most provinces of the Roman em- limits, was written in all these thrre lanpire did (see Brerewood's Inquiries, chap. guages. Sue Joseph. Bell. Jud. lib. via i-iv.); and in Hebrew, as it was the vulo cap. 2 [al. vii. 4.] '4.

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SECT. cxc.

One of the malefactors reviles him,

409 the king of Israel, let true Messiah, the Elect of God, and in consehim now come down from the cross, (Luke, quence of that Divine choice be the king of Isand save himself,] (that ruel, as he has so often pretended, let him now Mat. we may sce,] and we come down from the cross, [and] save himself from XXVII. [MARX XV.–31," 37. death, that we may see a demonstration of bis 42 LUKE XXII.-35.]“ saving power, and we will then believe him f.

43 He trusted in Nay, they were at once so profane and stupid 43 God, let hiin deliver as to borrow on this occasion the words foretold him now, if he will by David (Psal. xxii. 3.) and to say," Ile trustI am the Son of God.' ed in God, and boasted of his interest in him ;

let him deliver him now, if he will have him,
or if he delighteth in him ;" for he has often
said, I am the Son of God: the priests themselves
not observing that this was the very language
which the murderers of the Messiah are there

described as using. LUKE XXIII, 36. And the soldiers also, who kept guard at that Luke And the soldiers also mocked him, coining time, joined with the rest of the spectators, and XXIII. to him, and offering mocked him ; coming to him, and offering niin 36 him vinegar, vinegar to drink in the midst of his agonies; 37 And saying, f (compare John xix. 29, p. 416,), And saying, 37

be
Jews, save thyself.

as the rulers and people had done, If thou
art really, as thou hasi frequently pretended,
the King of the Jews", before thou undertakest
to deliver them, save thyself from our power,
and so begin to assert thy claim to a supreme

authority. 39 And one of the

And one of the malefactors also", who hung on 39 malefactors which were hanged, the cross with hiin, regardless of that innocence (or crucified with him, and dignity which Jesus manifested under all his cast the same in his sufferings, and unaffected with a sense of his him, saying, If thou own aggravated guilt, upbraided him with the

sanne

bc

f He saved others, &c.] Nothing could & If thou art the king of the Jews.) As be baser than thus to upbraid him with this claim seemed to them the most dero. this saving power, which was not a vain gatory to the Roman authority, it is no pretence, but had produced so many no. wonder that the soldiers grounded their in. ble and stupendous effects. And it was sults on this, rather than on his professing equally unreasonable to put the credit of hiinself the Son of God. his mission on his coming down from the h One of the malefactors also.] We are cross : a vigorous spring might possibly told indeed by Matthew, in the plural num. have forced the nails from the hands and ber, that the thieves cast the same in his feet of a crucified person, so that he might teeth ; and Mark also says, that they that have leaped from the cross. What Christ were crucified with him reviled him; and had so lately done before their eyes, and hence some inser that he who afterwards in part on themselves in the garden, was proved penitent, at first joined in the blase a far more convincing display of a divine phemy: but had that been the case, surely power than merely to have descended Luke, in so particular a narrative as his, now could have been. And though they would not have omitted it. I therefore protnise upon this to believe him, there rather conclude, with most critics, that it is no room to think they would have is what is commonly called an enallage of yield d to conviction ; but all they meant numbers, the plurai being (as elsewhere) was to insult him by it, as thinking it put for the singular (Scc nolefon Mark impossible he should escape out of their xiv. 5, sect. exiv. p. 151, and note a on hauds.

Mark i. 21, sect, XXXV. Vol. VI. p. 190.)

į When

CXC.

410 The penitent thief is told he should be that day in paradise, SICT. same (reproach, and) scornfully blasphemed him be Christ, save thysels

as an impostor, saying, If thou art the Messiah, 44. Mark XV.–32.) Luke why dost thou not save thyself and us, who are XXIII, now dying with thee? But the other, awaken 40. But the other 40 ed

rebuked a sense of his sin, and convinced in his answering, heart that Jesus was indeed the promised Mes- thou fear God, secing

him, saying, Dost not siah, answered his companion, and rebuked him, thou art in the same

condemnation!
saying, Dost thou not fear God, even now when
thou thyself art in the same condemnation? la
such an awful circumstance as this, dost thou
dare to increase thy crimes with thy dying breath,

and to behave thyself so insolently in the imme-
41 diate view of God's righteous tribunal? And 41 And we indeed

we indeed are justly thus condemned; for we re- justly; for we receive
ceive no inore than what is due for the notorious deeds : but this man
crimes we have committed : but this (man) has hath done nothing 2-
done nothing by any means amiss, nor is there the miss.
least insolence or absurdity in that high claim

which he has made, though appearances be for
42 the present so much against it. And, having 42 And he said unto

thus rebuked his companion, and testified his Jesus, Lord, remember
full persuasion of the innocence of Jesus, he then into thy kingdom.
directed his discourse to him, and said to Jesus,
Jooking upon him with the humblest and the
most contrite regard, Lord, though this wretch
derides thy mission, 'I firmly believe it; and I
beg that thou wouldest graciously remember me
when thou comest into that thy kingdom, to which

I doubt not but God will raise thee in spite of
43 death and hell i And Jesus, turning towards

43 And Jesus said him, said to him, with a mixture of the great- say unto thee, To-day

unto him, Verily, I est dignity and mercy, Verily, I say unto thee, shalt thou be with me and solemnly assure thee of it as a most certain in paradise. truth, that This very day thou shalt be with me in paradise, sharing the entertainments of that garden of God, the abode of happy spirits when

separate i When thou comest into thy kingdom.] from the preternatural darkness, wrought Some have inferred from hence, that this so powerfully as to produce, by a sudden malefactor had learnt something of Christ in and astonishing growth in his last moments, prison, and have urged the possibility of his all the virtues which could be crowded into having exercised, perhaps, a long and deep so small a space, and which were eminently repentance there, against the supposition of manifested in his confessing his own guilt, the sudden change that most have supposed in in his admonishing his companion for a this case. Bu: Christ's kingdom was now the crime which he feared would prove fatal subject of so much discourse, that he might, to him, in his vindicating the character of on that day, and indeed in a few minutes Christ, and reposing his confidence in him of it, bave learnt all that was necessary, as as the Lord of a kingdom beyond the grave, the foundation of this petition. I cannot when his enemies were triumphing over therefore but look on this happy man (for him, and he himself, abandoned by most such, amidst all the ignominy and tortures of his friends, was expiring on a cross. of the cross, he surely was) as a glorious The modesty as well as the faith of his instance of the power as well as sovereignty petition may also deserve our attentive of Divine grace, which (as many have oba remark, served) perhaps, taking the first occasion

k Thou

схе.

Reflections on the mercy of Christ to the penitent thief. 411

separate from the body k; and there shall thy sect.
departing soul, as soon as thou hast breathed
thy last, immediately begin to reap the fruits of
that faith which breaks through so dark a cloud, xxIII.
and honours me in the midst of this infamy and 43
distress.

Luke

IMPROVEMENT.

XIX.

xxvii.

How great and glorious does the Lord Jesus Christ appear in John the midst of all those dishonours which his enemies were now

23, 24 heaping upon him! While these rapacious soldiers were dividing the spoils, parting his raiment among them, and casting lots for his vesture, God was working in all to crown him with a glory which none could take from him, and to make the lustre of it so much the more conspicuous by that dark cloud which now surrounded bim.

His enemies upbraided him as an abandoned miscreant, deserted Mat. both by God and man; but he (though able to have come down

39.-43 from the cross in a moment, or by one word from thence to have struck these insolent wretches dead on the place, and to have sent their guilty spirits to accompany the fiends under whose influence they were), yet patiently endured all, and was as a deaf man, who heard not their reproaches, and as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth ; (Psal. xxxviii. 13.) But as soon as the penitent thief addressed him with that humble supplication, the language of re- Luke pentance, faith, and hope, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom, he inmediately hears and answers bim : and in how gracious and remarkable a phrase ! This day shalt thou be with 43 me in paradise. What a triumph was here, not only of mercy to the dying penitent, but of the strongest faith in God, that when to an eye of sense he seemed to be the most deserted and forgotten by him, and was on every side beset with the scorn of them that were at ease, and with the contempt of the proud, he should speak from the cross as from a throne, and undertake from thence, not only to dispense pardons, but to dispose of seats in paradise !

Most ungrateful and most foolish is the conduct of those who take encouragement from hence to put off their repentance perhaps to a dying moment: most ungrateful in perverting the grace of the Redeemer into an occasion of renewing their provocations against him, and hardening their hearts in their impieties : and

most

xxiii. 42.

k Thou shall be with me in paradise.) Bos and the word paradise originally signified a has shewn (in his Erercit. Philol. paye 19, garden of pleasure, such as those in which 50) that this expression, pit' to ign, thon the eastern monarchs made their inagnitishall be with mi', was the language used cent banquets. See Raphel. Annot. ex when inviting guests to an entertainment; Xenoph. p. 119. VoL, VII.

3F

a His

412

Jesus's mother and other women standing near the cross.

Схс.

SECT. most foolish to imagine that what our Lord did in so singular a

circumstance is to be drawn into an ordinary precedent. This Luke criminal had, perhaps, never heard of the gospel before; and now xili. 42. how cordially does he embrace it? Probably there are few saints

in glory who ever honoured Christ more illustriously than this dying sinner, acknowledging him to be the Lord of life, whom he saw in the agonies of death ; and pleading his cause when his friends and brethren forsook him, and stood afar off. (Compare Mat xxvi. 86, and Luke xxiii. 49.)

But such is the corruption of men's hearts, and such the artifice of Satan, that all other views of him are overlooked, and nothing remembered, but that he was a notorious offender, who obtained mercy in his departing moments. The Lord grant that none who read this story here may be added to the list of those who, despising the forbearance and long-suffering of God, and not knowing that his goodness leads to repentance, have been emboldened to abuse this scripture, so as to perish, either without crying for mercy at all, or crying for it in vain, after having trea. sured up an inexhaustible store of wrath, misery, and despair; (Rom. ii. 4, 5.)

SECT. CXCI.

Jesus, having recommended his mother to the care of John, and suf

fered many agonies and indignities on the cross, expires; amaz. ing prodigies attending his death, and alarming the consciences of the spectators.

Mat. XXVII. 454-54. Mark XV. 33–39. LUKE XXIII. 44–48. John XIX. 25–30.

SECT,

JOHN XIX. 25.

Jony XIX. 95. ND while he suffered all these insults and NOW there stood by cxci. . AND

the cross of Jesus, sorrows, there stood near the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his John Mary his mothera, and his mother's sister (whose mother's sister, Mary XIX. 25.

the

name

a

Ilis mother.) Neither her own danger, among the disciples after our Lord's ascen. nor the sadness of the spectacle, nor the re sion, which Like observes, Acts i, 14. proaches and insults the people, could Andreas Cretcnsis, a writer of the seventh restrain her from performing the last othee century, does indeed tell us she died with of duty and tenderness to her Divine Son John at Ephesus, many years after this, on the cross. Grotius justly observes that in an extreme old age ; and it appears, it was a noble instance of fortitude and from a letter of the council of Ephesus, in zeal. Now a sieord (according to Sime- the fifth century, that it was then believed on's prophecy, Luke ii. 35) struck through she was buried there. But they pretend her tender heart, and pierced her very soul; to sbew her sepulchre at Jerusalem, and and perhaps the extremity of her sorrows many ridiculous tales arc forged concernmight so overwhelm ber spirits, as to ren ing her denth, and assumption, or being der her incapable of attending the sepulchre, taken up into heaven, of which the best which we do not find that she did; nor do Popish authors themselves appear heartily we indeed meet with any thing after this ashamed. See Calmet's Dictionary, Vol. IÍ. concerning her in the sacred story, or in p. 141. early untiypily; except that she continued

b His

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