« FöregåendeFortsätt »
friend,” all his firmness, all his resolution at once forsook him. He shrunk from the dangers that threatened him, and sacrificed his conscience and his duty to the menaces of a mob, and the dread of sove
reign power. Could any thing like this have happened in this country? We all know that it is impossible. We all know that no dangers, no threats, no fears, either of Caesar or of the people, could ever induce a British judge to condemn to death a man, whom he in his conscience believed to be innocent. And what is it that produces this difference between a Roman and a British judge It is this: that the former had no other principle to govern his conduct but natural reason, or what would now be called philosophy; which, though it would sometimes point out to him the path of duty, yet could never inspire him with fortitude enough to persevere in it in critical and dangerous circumstances; in opposition to the frowns of a tyrant, or the clamours of a multitude. Whereas the
the British judge, in addition to his natural sentiments of right and wrong, and the dictates of the moral sense, has the principle of religion also to influence his heart: he has the unerring and inflexible rules of evangelical rectitude to guide him; he has that which will vanquish every other fear, the fear of God, before his eyes. He knows that he himself must one day stand before the Judge of all; and that consideration keeps him firm to his duty, be the dangers that surround him ever so formidable and tremendous. This is one, among a thousand other proofs, of the benefits we derive, even in the present life, from the Christian revelation. It has, in fact, had a most salutary and beneficial influence on our most important temporal interests. Its beneficent spirit has spread itself through all the different relations and modifications of human society, and communicated its kindly influence to almost every public and private concern of mankind. It has not only purified, as we have seen, the administration administration of justice; but it has insensibly worked itself into the inmost frame and constitution of civil societies. It has given a tinge to the complexion of their governments, and to the temper of their laws. It has softened the rigour of despotism, and lessened, in some degree, the horrors of war. It has descended into -families, has diminished the pressure of private tyranny, improved every domestic endearment, given tenderness to the parent, humanity to the master, respect to superiors, to inferiors security and ease; and left, in short, the most evident traces of its benevolent spirit in all the various subordinations, dependencies, and connexions of social life. But to return to the Roman governor. Having thus basely shrunk from his duty, and, contrary to his own conviction, condemned an innocent man, he endeavoured to clear himself from this guilt, and to satisfy his conscience, by the vain ceremony of washing his hands before the multitude, and declaring, “that he was Vol. II. Y innocent
innocent of the blood of that just person.” Alas! not all the water of the ocean could wash away the foul and indelible stain of murder from his soul. Yet he hoped to transfer it to the accomplices of his crime. “See ye to it,” says he to the people. And what answer did that people make to him f “His blood, said they, be on us, and on our children.” A most fatal imprecation, and most dreadfully fulfilled upon them at the siege of Jerusalem, when the vengeance of heaven overtook them with a fury unexampled in the history of the world; when they were exposed at once to the horrors of famine, of sedition, of assassination, and the sword of the Romans. And it is very remarkable, that there was a striking correspondence between their crime and their punishment. They put Jesus to death, when the nation was assembled to celebrate the passover; and, when the nation was assembled for the same purpose, Titus shut them up within the walls of Jerusalem. The rejection of the true Messiah was their
6. * crime,
crime, and the following of false Messiahs to their destruction was their punishment. They bought Jesus as a slave, and they themselves were afterwards sold and bought as slaves, at the lowest prices. They preferred a robber and murderer to Jesus, whom they crucified between two thieves; and they themselves were afterwards infested with bands of thieves and robbers. They put Jesus to death lest the Romans should come and take away their place and nation; and the Romans did come and take away their place and nation *. And what is still more striking, and still more strongly marks the judgment of God upon them, they were punished with that very kind of death which they were so eager to inflict on the Saviour of mankind, the death of the cross ; and that in such prodigious numbers, that Josephus assures us there wanted wood for Acrosses, and room to place them in ‘i’. The history then proceeds as follows: - . . “ Then
- * Newton on Prophecy, vol. ii, p. 354. . . . . . + De Bell. Jud. l. v. c. xi. p. 1247. ed. Huds.