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would not invent a falsehood on purpose to perpetuate their own disgrace. We have, therefore, in this incident, a demonstrative proof, both that our Lord's prophecy was actually fulfilled, and that the evangelists were men of the strictest veracity and integrity, who were determined to sacrifice every thing, even their own reputation, to the sacred cause of truth*.”
As we proceed in the mournful history, every step we take, leads us nearer and nearer to the sad and bitter consummation of our Saviour's sufferings. We have just seen him basely betrayed by one of his twelve disciples, and timorously forsaken by all the rest, apprehended and carried away by a band of armed men, to undergo, with the mockery of a trial, every indignity, and at last to be brought to the ignominious death of the cross. Let us now follow him, and watch with observant eye the progress of that malice, which is to lead to the last sad scene of lawless persecution.. Behold him then first of all, when seized by the band and the captain and officers of the Jews, bound like a common malefactor-Behold him in that degrading state led away
* See Bishop of London's Lecture xxi.
to Annas, and by him sent in the same bonds to the house of Caiaphas,--that Caiaphas, who not long before had given counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people*; where all the chief priests and the scribes and the elders were, in anxious expectation, assembled with him. Basely as all the disciples, at the instant of his being apprehended, had forsaken hin and fled, yet two of them soon recollected themselves; these were Peter and John, who followed JESUS afar (off, and were at length admitted into the hall of the palace, where Peter sat down among them to see the end of the examination of his deserted Master.
We have seen Jesus bound, we next behold him placed before the tribunal, as a malefactor; we behold also a judge, who had nothing criminal to lay to his charge; but who in his irregular proceedings sought to make the prisoner a witness against himself, and thus to becoine his own accuser. The high priest'. therefore begins his examination by a scrutiny into his doctrine and the conduct of his disciples, in hopes of an opportunity of charging him with heresy or
sedition. Jesus told him, that he had always spoken openly to the world ; that he had preached no private doctrine, that he constantly taught in the synagogue and the temple, whither the Jews always resorted from every quarter; to them he referred him for an account of his doctrine; which, as they had heard, they could not but be able to report to him, for in secret he had said nothing.
Was this an answer to provoke that haughty and imperious question, Answerest thou the high priest so? What then shall we think of such an officer, who, in open court, not only put to him this disdainful question, but accompanied it also with the indignity of a blow, for he struck JESUS with the palm of his hand ?
Mark the contrast between the haughty question of the officer, and the meek and patient answer of the prisoner: If said JESUS, I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; report it to the judges, and let then punish it: but if well, why smitest thou me? And if, as some have supposed*, the officer who struck JESUS, was the very Maichus whose ear he had so lately healed, how is the ingratitude of
* See Henry on the New Testament.
the one blackened, and in how much brighter colours does the forbearance of the other appear!
In the course of this history, our attention has frequently been directed to the conduct of Peter; to a melancholy instance of which it is once more called. We lately left him sitting among the servants in the hall of the palace of the high priest; hoping, probably, not to be known or discovered in the croud that surrounded him. But the damsel who kept the door, looking earnestly on Peter, as he sat by the fire warming himself, went up to him, and challenged him with being a disciple of JESUS. To her abrupt question he instantly answered, that he was not, and turning away, as if he was offended at the charge, he went out into the porch, and at that instant the cock crew. This circumstance perhaps did not engage his attention, otherwise he might have been more upon his guard against a second attack : for not long after he was gone into the porch, another maid said in the same manner to them that stood by, This is one of them : upon which they put the question to him plainly, Art not thou also one of his disciples? Here he not only denied any knowledge of JESUS; but also, to avoid suspicion, denied it with an oath. He now perhaps thought himself secure from any further molestation on the subject; but he was mistaken : for, about an hour after, a third person, being his kinsman whose car Peter (ni oll, who with others suspected him to be a disciple of Jesus by liis speech, which discovered him to be a Galilean, said unto hiin, l'id'I not see thee in the garden with him? Upon which Peter denied it more vehemently than before. The first was a simple deuial; the second was accompanied with an oath; but the third time he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. The second crowing of the cock immediately after brought to his recollection all that had past, for now he remembered the word that JESUS had said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. The tender compassionate look too of his Master, who at that very instant turned and looked on Peter, had such an effect, that he whose heart seemed before to be hardened, now melted into tears, and he went out and wept bitterly. Happy, happy tears! which thus fell, the effect of true contrition of heart, for a deed ungenerous, base, and ungrateful. May such tears flow from every sinner, touch