« FöregåendeFortsätt »
no answer, Pilate urged him to a reply, by declaring to him that he had power to crucify, and power to release him : this therefore he hinted, was a reason, why he should not treat his question with such contemptuous silence. You could have no power at all over me, mildly returned JESUS, unless God for his own wise purposes had allowed it: but the sin of those who delivered ine into your hands is for that reason greater. • Here we see Pilate again seeking to release JESUS : but the Jews cried out, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend; whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar. Pilate could not resist this insinuation, because it threatened him with the displeasure of the Roman emperor; and as it wus the preparation of the passover, and the time was fast advancing, he said unto the Jews, Behold your King : to which they cried out with great indignation, Away with him, away with him, crucify him ; Pilate, at intervals, asking them, whether he should crucify their King, and they as eagerly demanding the sentence to be put in execution, for they had no king but Cæsar. The infatuated judge, falsely thinking that by these means he should quiet his own
conscience, and preserve himself clear of the guilt of shedding innocent blood; because the tumult among the multitude increased more and more, and they became more outrageous by the delay of the execution; he called for water, and washed his hands before the multitude, and said, I am innocent of the blood of this just person ; see ye to it: the act is yours, and so must be the guilt, and consequently the punishment. Hereupon all the people instantly and vehemently cried out, His blood be on us and on our children. Dreadful imprecation! Dreadful, however, as it was, it was afterwards fulfilled in the ruin of the Jewish nation, and particularly in the calamities which the Jews suffered, during the siege of Jerusalem, not many years after, even before that very generation had passed away.
But to return to the sufferings of our blessed LORD, and to the completion of this awful scene. Pilate, overawed by the remonstrances of the chief priests, and the clamours of the multitude, released him who for sedition and murder had been cast into prison, but delivered Jesus to their will.
And now behold the Saviour of the world, thus received from the hands of his judge' by the insulting soldiers, and led away between two malefactors, who with hiin had been tried and condemned to death-behold him bearing his own cross, and going forth towards Golgotha, the place of skulls—behold him sinking under the weight of it, and relieved from the burden by one, whom, as he was passing along, they laid hold of, and compelled to bear it after Jesus. Behold him followed by a company of women, bewailing and lamenting him, and hear him in a strain full of tenderness and pity for them, in the midst of his own multiplied distresses, address them under a most affectionate compellation, Daugh. ters 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 which never bare, and the paps which never gave suck : for you must inevitably share in the calamities, which shall befall your nation, when they who have now contrived and are triumphing in my death, shall call unto the mountains to fall on them, and to the hills to cover them from the vengeance of God. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry ? If a green and fruite ful tree be thus rooted up and destroyed, how much more shall the barren and decayed? If God in his holy providence, thinks fit to suffer the righteous and meritorious to be thus cut off, what have the ungodly and the sinner to expect, but the severest of the divine judgments, which are ready to fall upon this impenitent nation* ?
Being then arrived at Golgotha, the usual place for the execution of criminals, the soldiers, in the spirit of mockery, gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall, and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. But others, friends probably who followed him with a holy zeal, give him to drink wine mingled with myrrh, to comfort his afflicted and drooping spirits, but he received it not. Nailed at length to the cross between the two malefactors, and thus fulfilling, the scriptures, which said, And he was numbered with the transgressors, in the midst of inexpressible tortures, which racked his body, he uttered no bitter invectives against his murderers, but in his uşual spirit of meekness and forbearance, breathed forth that compassionate prayer, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
· Presently after this we are led to the completion of another prophecy, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. For the soldiers, when they had crucified JESUS, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; casting lots upon them, what every man should take ; and also his coat : now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rent it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be. These things then the soldiers did, and after that sat down and watched him. Pilate had ordered an inscription to be written in letters of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as was usual, to signify the crime for which the malefactor suffered, and put it on the cross over the head of JESUS; which many of the Jews read, for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city. The inscription was, This IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title so much offended the chief priests, that they desired him to alter it, and to say, This is he who said, I am the King of the Jews : But Pilate, displeased at their request, answered, What I have written, I have written ; nor would he be prevailed