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the chosen of God, let him come down from the cross ;-for he said, I am the Son of God.' Thus as our blessed Saviour had twice confessed before the Sanhedrim, that he was the Son of God; so was he twice mocked and ridiculed for it on the cross; namely, by the people, and by their teachers. Satan had formerly begun his temptation with this article, saying, 'If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down,' (Matt. iv. 6.) Here the instruments of satan say,
If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.' From the resemblance betwixt these words, it is manifest, that satan himself vented them here by his engines, and thus challenged the Son of God, to come down from the cross, and attest the truth of his eternal Sonship by a miracle. That very action would, on the contrary, have proved him not to be the obedient Son of the heavenly Father. For by coming down alive from the cross, on which he was to die, he would have disobeyed his Father; who required from him obedience unto death, even the death of the cross.
Thirdly, 'These miscreants ridiculed the Divine miracles wrought by our blessed Lord, by which he had sealed his doctrines, and relieved such multitudes of unhappy persons.
For the rulers of the people, by saying, "He has saved others, himself he cannot save,' intended to render the truth of all his former miracles suspected, and to represent them as mere juggle or magical performances. This was the inference they drew, that if his miracles proceeded from God, he would be able to help himself as well as others; but it was plain he could not help himseif, and therefore his miracles did not proceed from God. As if they had said to the people who doubtless crowded about these eminent persons, 'see what a pretended worker of miracles Jesus is, who was followed by thousands : He has helped others; but now he cannot help liimself in this extremity. Does not this plainly shew that he is a cheat, who absolutely impos
ed on your senses by sham miracles?' But it is very remarkable, that our blessed Lord in the very first year of his ministry had foretold, that he should one day be thus insulted: “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself,' (Luke iv. 23.) This prophecy of the Lord Jesus was here fulfilled by his enemies ; so that the sting of this offence is taken away. Thus our blessed Saviour did not want power to help himself, and yet did not exert that power, that he might help us; and consequently he preferred our deliverance to his own.
Fourthly, Our blessed Lord's confidence in his heavenly Father was here ridiculed. He trusted in God say the rulers of the people, let him deliver him now, if he will have himn', 2. e. if God has pleasure in him, and acknowledges him for his Son; For he said, I
· am the Son of God. They recollected that Christ,
' in bis Divine discourses, had often expressed a sin. gular confidence in his heavenly Father, and declared that he loved him, (John iii. 35. viii. 16, 29, 50, 54. xvi. 32, &c.) that he sought and promoted his honour: that he did not leave him alone; that he was with him, and assisted him, &c. From such expressions theso malignant spiders suck the poison of calumny; and thus endeavour to overset our Saviour's confidence in his Father, and as it were to cut away the anchor, by which the bark of his hope was still secured, though quite covered with outrageous waves, tossed in the most dreadful tempest. It is further remarkable, that almost the very words used by these scoffers are found in the Psalms, where the Messiah is represented 'complaining, that his enemies say of him,
He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him ; let him deliver him, if he delight in him.' (Psalm xxii. 8.) Thus they unknowingly fulfilled the Scripture by this impious speech.
Fifthly, They here ridiculed the kingly dignity of Jesus Christ. For the chief Priests and Elders said, Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.' The Roman soldiers followed their impious example, and said, • If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.'. If thou intendest by thy military prowess to deliver the Jews from the dominion of the Romans, deliver thyself first, and thus give a proof of thy great power. Our blessed Saviour had acknowledged himself to be the King of Israel before Pilate ; and upon this account Pilate, in the title on the cross, stiled him, JESUS OF NAZARETII, KING OF THE JEWS. Now as it was out of the power of the chief Priests to erase the superscription, which was a great offence to them, and as they could not prevail on Pilate to alter it; this put them on ridiculing it, by saying, If he be the King of Israel, as he is stiled in the superscription over his head, written in three languages, let him prove it by coming down from the cross. To this they added, by way of derision, a promise that then they would believe on him; though at the same time nothing was farther from their thoughts. And, indeed, if Christ, in order to induce them to believe on him, had actually descended from the cross, they would in all probability have imputed this miracle likewise to sorcery.
Sixthly and lastly, Our blessed Lord's office, of Messiah was ridiculed by these miscreants; the chief Priests cried out, Let him save himself, if he he the Christ, or Messiah.' One of the crucified malefactors took this from their abusive mouths, and railed on him, saying “If thou be Christ save thyself and
As if he had said, as thou didst pretend to be the Messiah, help thy self and us; for if thou wilt come down from the cross, surely thou wilt not leave us thy fellow-sufferers behind. Thus whatever was venerable, great, and glorious in the person of the Lord Jesus was here the subject of the most scurrilous reflections of profane scoffers. His Omnipotence, his eternal Sonship, his Divinity, his Divine miracles, his confidence in his heavenly Father, his
regal dignity, and his office of Messiah, were all exposed to ridicule and mockery. We shall conclude this consideration by deducing the following truths from what has been said on this subject.
1. The opprobrious words, by which the blessed Jesus was insulted, are to be accounted among satan's severe temptations.
When satan, at the beginning of our Saviour's ministry, had been repulsed by our Lord, it is said, “he departed from him for a season,'(Luke iv. 13.) Now, at the close of his life, he returns to the charge, and enters into these his engines, as he anciently did into Goliath, to prompt them to blaspheme the God of Israel. His design was, by these abusive and deriding words, to try whether he could throw our blessed Lord's temper into some disorder, and move him to a passionate impatience ; or whether he could excite in him a desire of giving a proof of his omnipotence, by coming down from the cross; by which means the whole counsel of God, concerning our salvation, would have been frustrated, and the work of redemption would have miscarried. But as the Son of God remained faithful in the first trial, which he underwent immediately after his baptism ; so he shewed the same firmness in this last encounter on the cross. But the great Captain of our salvation submitted to this trial, that he might triumph over satan, notwithstanding his utmost efforts and severest outrages; that he might bruise his head, extract the venomous sting of his temptations; and obtain for us strength to remain firm in all trials, and to come off more than conquerors.
2. When the faithful servants of God are under outward sufferings, satan and his engincs are most busy to vex their minds with opprobrious words, and insolent challenges.
Thus, no sooner was the Son of God nailed to the cross, than his soul was assaulted by the revilings of his enemics. This is the way satan and his engines frequently proceed with Christ's members. When
they are, as it were, externally hanging on the cross;. when all the waves of affliction and persecutions are running over them; then the tongues of their perse- . cutors discharge their poisonous arrows of calumny at them. But great will be the reward of those, who in this particular are made like unto Christ, the firstborn among many brethren. They must, after his great example, keep silence, and amidst all the rage and calumny of the world, possess their souls in patience; and at last all will end in conquest and triumph.
3. The abuses which the world pours forth against Christ and his members, will give less offence when the foul springs of them are laid open. .
These scoffs and mockeries in some men proceed from mere levity, as it is here said of some, that they reviled Jesus as they passed by. Thus many hastily pass by the cross of Christ and the sufferings of his members, like a rapid stream, and immediately turn their thoughts from them. But such transient looks produce only a hasty judgment, evil imaginations, and blasphemous motions; from all which he is secure, who endeavours to possess his mind in peace and tran- . quility. In others such invectives are dictated by envy and hatred, as Jacob's sons envied Joseph for his father's particular love to him, and mocked him as a dreamer, (Gen. xxxvii. 4, 19. Acts vii. 9) Thus the chief Priests and Scribes were offended at Jesus; because he said he was the Son of God, and frequently mentioned the singular love that his heavenly Father bore towards himn. This envious disposition had before prompted them to take up stones to cast at him ; (John viii. 59.) and the same malignant passion now moved their tongues to eject these deriding sar
Others again have so accustomed themselves to opprobrious language, that it is become a second nature to them : and this might well be said of the Scribes and Pharisees, whose tongues were so possessed by the spirit of calumny, that they were quite incapable of passing any judgment upon Jesus' that