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prophets foretold (more particularly Isaiah and Daniel) that he should do so. And beside this, nothing could be more abhorrent, from the spirit of his religion, than force, violence, and bloodshed. These instruments of destruction he left to fanatics and impostors. The only weapons he made use of were of a different nature; the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and the armour of righteousness.
“ In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves, for to take me; I sat daily with you teaching in the Temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled; which, as I have already observed, predicted his sufferings and his death. Then all his disciples forsook him, and fled.” Here we have the exact completion of that prophecy which he had just before delivered, that all his disciples should be offended because of him; that is, should desert him that very night. And that this prediction was so accomplished, is clear beyond all controversy ; because it was an event which the disciples
would for their own credit gladly have supa pressed, if they durst. By recording this event, they recorded their own weakness, their own pusillanimity. And we may be perfectly sure that they 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.
Jesus being now in the possession of his enemies, they that had laid hold on him led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter, though he had fled with the rest, yet ashamed of his cowardice, and still really attached to his Master, summoned up for the moment resolution enough to turn back and follow the crowd (but with cautious and trembling steps) to the palace of the high priest, “and went in, and sat with the servants in the hall of the palace, to see the end. Now the chief priests and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death, but found none; yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none." Their object was to put Jesus to death ; and for this purpose they sought out for false witnesses, to charge him with a capital crime. To condemn any one to death their own law required two witnesses ; and it was also necessary for them to produce evidence sufficient to induce the Roman governor to ratify their sentence, without which it was of no avail. There was no difficulty in finding out and suborning false witnesses in abundance, who were perfectly well disposed to conform to their wishes; bụt for a long time they found none whose evidence came up to the point they aimed at; none who could prove against Jesus a capital offence. But at length, “ came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” Now to speak disrespectfully, or to prophecy against the temple, was considered by the Jews as blasphemy, and of course a capital offence. But the truth was that Jesus said no such thing. The expressions alluded to by the witnesses were those he spoke, - Vol. II.
when, after casting the buyers and sellers out of the temple, the Jews asked him what *sign he could give them of his authority to do these things ? His answer was, not as the wit- nesses stated it, “ I am able to destroy this temple;” but it was, “ destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” So St. John expressly tells us*; and also, that by this temple he meant his own body, 'to which he probably pointed at the time. The high priest, sensible, perhaps, that even this evidence would not completely answer his purpose, proceeds to interrogate our Saviour, hoping that he might be drawn by artful questions to condemn himself. He arose, therefore, and said unto Jesus, “ Answerest thou nothing? What is it that these witness against thee?” Is it true, or is it false ? and what have you to say in your own defence ? But Jesus held his peace. He disdained to make any answer to such unfounded and contemptible accusations. He saw that his judges were predetermined; that every thing he could say would be of no avail; and that the only proper part for him to take, was
* Chap. ii. 19.
to observe a dignified' silence. The high priest perceiving this, had recourse to a measure which he knew must compel our Lord to speak: “ I adjure thee, says he, by the living God, that thou tell us, whether thou be the Christ the Son of God." This calling upon a man to swear by the living God was called the oath of adjuration, and was the Jewish mode of administering an oath either to a witness or a criminal; and when so adjured, they were obliged to answer. Jesus now therefore conceived himself bound in conscience to break his silence, and said to the high priest, “Thou hast said;" that is, thou hast said what is true, I am the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God; for all these were synonymous terms among the Jews. But as our Lord's actual appearance and situation did but ill accord with a character of such high dignity, he proceeds to assure his judges, that what he affirmed was nevertheless unquestionably true ; and that they themselves should in due time have the fullest proof of it. For, says he, 14 hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Sitting at the right hand