« AnteriorContinua »
cross, may not improperly be called the crucifixion of his soul. For, if the nails that were driven through
. his hands and feet put him to the most sensible pain ; the mockeries, insults, and invectives, which penetrated into his heart, and were levelled at him like poisonous and fiery darts, must have occasioned the greater torture to his unspotted soul. Divid complains, that as with a sword in his bones, his enemies reproach him, while they daily say unto him, Where is now thy God?' It is beyond the compre. hension of all human understanding what the Son of David felt in his soul, when he was, as it were, set up as a hutt for reproaches, and then so many tongues, set on fire of hell, discharged their mockeries against him; which David compares to sharp arrows of the mighty, (Psalm cxx. 4.) if St. Paul says of apos. tates, that they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame, (Heb: vi. 6.) he may very justly be said to have been as it were crucified by those horrid blasphemies, revilings, and mockeries, which he heard on the cross.
In the preceding sufferings of Christ, all sorts of men had exercised their tonguts in the most virulent manner, and yielded them up as tools to satar, in order to give the most sensible wounds to the Son of God. The tongue of Judas had betrayed him, and pointed him out to his enemies by that lypocritical salutation, Hail Master! Peter's tongue hud deniui him with curses and imprecations. The iongues of the false witnesses had slandered him. The longues of the High Priest Caiaphas, and of the other mem. bers of the Sanhedrim, had condemned him as a blas. phemer; had falsely accused him before Pilate and Herod, and charged him with many enormous crimes. The tongues of the oificers of the Council had ridi- . culed his prophetical office, and the tongues cf the Roman soldiers his regal dignity. The tongue ci Herod had insulted him by several impertincit and insolent questions. The tongue of Pilatelic pronounced sentence on him, and ordered him to be scourged and put to death. The tongues of the whole Jewish people had cried, Crucify him! Crucify him ! And now, when he was actually fastened on the cross, and the hands of his enemies were in a manner tired, their envenomed tongues were the more virulent in venting all manner of reproach and contumely against him. These, the spirit of darkness and lies filled with the venom of the infernal dragon; and by these he endeavoured to make his last attempt on the soul of our blessed Lord, who at present was to feel the wrath of God in the highest degree. We shall therefore make some remarks on these mockeries, by which the soul of our holy Redeemer was assaulted ; and draw some inferences from them for our edification. For this end, we shall,
First, Take notice of the authors of these taunting reflections against the blessed Jesus.
Secondly, The instruments with which they reviled and insulted him.
I. As to the persons who reviled our blessed Saviour on the cross, four sorts of men were particularly concerned in the guilt; and these were,
1. The people. 2. The rulers of the Jews. 3. The Roman soldiers. 4. The malefactors who were crucified with him.
1. The Jewish people, or the multitude who stood about the cross of Christ, were guilty of this enormous sin. We have observed before, that our blessedi Saviour was followed to the place of crucifixion by a grcat multitude of people ; that they might entertain their eyes with this bloody spectack. Hence it is probabic, that not only Mount Golgotha, but all the adjacent eminences were covered with spectators ; especially as Jerusalem was then filled with an innumerable concourse of idle and curious people, on account of the Passover. [Josephus, in his history of the Jewish war, says that at one passover three
millions of souls were assembled at Jerusalem. Book II. Chap. III.] Then was seen in the great Antitype, the accomplishment of what was typically done on the annual feast of atonement; for the whole congregation of the children of Israel stood round the High Priest, when he offered the sacrifice for the sins of the people. Thus the High Priest over the house of God, at the time when he offered himself on the cross to his heavenly Father, was surrounded by a vast multitude of people; who, according to the Divine decree, were to be witnesses of this general sacrifice. Some of the people stood at a distance, and looked on; the curiosity of others led them to approach nearer to the cross, that they might have a more distinct view of Jesus; and these were the
persons who reviled him. For as it was customary, in stoning an Israelite, for every one present to throw a stone at the malefactor; so here, likewise, none of the spectators of Christ's crucifixion, who stood near, omitted to throw a stone of invective against him.
2. The next who were involved in this guilt were the rulers of the people ; or, as they are specified by St. Matthew, the chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Elders, (Chap. xxvii. 41) In some Greek copies, the Pharisees are likewise mentioned, who, we may be sure, were not far off. Thus the civil and ecclesi. astical chiefs of the Jewish nation were here present. These persons, on account of the approaching passover, had, according to the Mosaic law, affairs of a very different nature to attend. Besides, this polluted place of execution ill suited those pretended scrupulous consciences, which, but six hours before, would not permit these hypocrites to set a foot within a Pagan court of justic, lest they should be defiled. But an inhuman rancour against Jesus had brought.. them hither, along with the rabble. Nay, they were not only the nearest spectators at the time of the cru• cifixion, but remained at the cross for some time afiter ; which they did partly, that, by their presence they
might prevent any of the people from coming to sue. cour Jesus, and take him from the cross; and partly, that they might feast their savage eyes with this bloody sacrifice, and increase his sufferings with all kind of insults and blasphemies, after the soldiers had nailed his body to the cross. But God, without having any share in these wicked and detestable views, by his secret providence detained them there; that they might be witnesses of the sufferings of Christ on Mount Golgotha, and of the uncommon patience, mildness, and piety which he displayed, to the disgrace of his enemies, who had condemned him as a blasphemer. Moreover, the Elders of the people, by standing about the cross, inay put us in mind of the type of Christ, exhibited by the rock which was struck in the presence of all the Elders of Israel, (Exod. xvii. 6.) and of the builders, who would reject the head-stone of the corner, (Psalm cxviii. 32.)
3. The Roman soldiers likewise shared in his guilt; for St. Luke (Luke xxiii. 36.) observes, that the soldiers also mocked him. In the judgment-hall of Pilate, they had already committed several outrages against him, and vexed our Saviour's righteous soul by all manner of prophane and contumelious reflections. However, they were so far from having exhausted their stock of cruel mockeries, that they still make the crucified Jesus the object of their farther ridicule. We do not indeed find, that they were the first in the revilings at the place of crucifixion. It was the Jews and their rulers who led the way, and thus by their wicked example, the Gentiles were incited to repeat their opprcbrious language and insults.
4. Lastly, The malei:c!ors who were crucified with him were also guilty of this sin. For St. Matthew says, "The thieves also, who were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth;' from which words one would be apt to conclude, that both male. factors, who were on his right hand and on his left, concurred in reviling our blessed Saviour, But St.
Luke expressly says, that one of the malefactors railed on him, but that he was rebuked by the other. Hence it is not improbable, that the other also reviled him at first ; but soon after entertained better thoughts of Jesus, reproved his companion, and immediately became a convert to our blessed Lord. This seeming inconsistence may also be solved in the following
The Evangelist, intending to relate the horrid mockeries, which the Lord of Glory suffered from all ranks of people while he hung on the cross, first mentions the revilings of the people. They observe, in the next place, how the Rulers and Elders reviled him, and how the spirit of mockery was by their means also stirred up in the Roman soldiers. Lastly, they add, that he was also reviled and insulted even by the robbers and murderers, who were crucified with him. Thus, it is usual to speak sometimes, as if a thing was done by many, when perhaps the fact was done only by one person of a certain rank or age. For instance ; if a harmless old man happens to be abused in the public streets by a petulant boy, it is not improper to say, this poor man in his old age is the sport of children ; though only one single boy had insulted him. Thus also St. Matthew and St. Mark might very well say, that Jesus was reviled even by murderers and robhers ; though, according to St. Luke's account, only one of the malefactors behaved in such a wicked manner. From this circumstance of our Saviour's passion, we shall deduce the folloiring truths.
First, Jesus Christ has suffered himself to be mocked and abused by all ranks of men, that he might deliver all from the spirit of mockery and abuse.
It is a terrible consideration to think, that all sorts of spectators sharpened their tongues, and pointed then with bitter invectives against the ever glorious Son of God. He was mocked by Jew's and Gentiles, by young and old, by the learned and ignorant, by teachers and hearers, by the clergy and magistrates.