Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

the woman's seed was bruised. We tremble, when we think of the everlasting dangers to which we were exposed: but we glory, with exceeding great joy, in the strength of that salvation, by which we have been rescued.

This is, indeed, both a time to weep, and a time to rejoice: a time to break down, and a time to build up. It is a day of lamentation, and mourning, and woe; and yet a day of deliverance: it is a day, stained by darkness and the shadow of death; yet a day, when the darkness becomes as the noon-tide, and death is deprived of its sting.* It is a day of vengeance, and a day of redemption of vengeance, against sin; of redemption, to the humble and contrite sinner.

We are now, my fellow Christians, to behold our Saviour, taken from prison, and from judgement; and stricken for the transgression of his people.+ Behold him, like Isaac, when he bare the wood for his sacrifice, bending beneath the weight of his cross: behold him, forced along the dolorous way, amidst the insults of the popu lace, the sarcastic invectives of the Pharisees, and the ribaldry of the soldiers: behold him, toiling up the height of Calvary (1); behold him, weak, exhausted, and sinking beneath the burden,

* Isaiah, lviii. 10.

† Isaiah, liii. 8.

till Simon of Cyrene is compelled to ease him of a portion of the load. (2)

But, though fasting, wearied, and fainting, his spirit was unsubdued, his intrepidity unshaken. There followed him, says St. Luke, a great company of people: his disciples, among whom, doubtless, were the Apostles; and women, which, also, bewailed and lamented him.* His disciples, especially his female disciples, could no longer restrain the overflowing of their feelings; regardless of all insults and dangers, they openly sympathized with Him, whose sympathy had never been withheld from the afflicted. Hitherto, they may have been restrained by the hope, that some supernatural rescue was intended; that hope, perhaps, was not quite extinguished to the very last; but, as it grew fainter and fainter, their grief would become less controllable: for, of one thing they were certain, that, whether Jesus were, or were not, the very Messiah whom their countrymen were expecting, he was, at least, a Prophet, mighty in word and in deed, whom they valued as the best of masters, and loved as the kindest of friends. (3) Jesus still addressed them, as one having authority; and did so, with an energy the more impressive, from the forlornness and de

* Luke, xxiii. 26. 31.

pression of his present condition. Daughters of Jerusalem, he said, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and 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 that never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us; for if they (the Romans) do these things in a green tree, (to one whom they acknowledge to be innocent) what will they do in the dry? (to those, who, like a dead tree, are fit only to be cast into the fire?)

These words, implying his authority as a Prophet, while they reprehended the blindness of their understandings, appear to have made a due impression upon their minds; since some of them, we know, and many of them, we may suppose, remained near him to the last, and stood at the foot of the very cross itself, to see the end. For us, these words are recorded, that, amidst the sorrows of the Son of man, we may never forget the prophetic powers of the Son of God: for they refer to an event, which the Jews, at that time, thought to be impossible; but, which took place, ere that generation had passed away,-the destruction of their city and the dispersion of their race.

When they were come to the place of execution, the blinded persecutors, whose tender

mercies were cruel, and who had been heaping their insults on his precious head*, - instead of the medicated cup, which was usually given to the condemned, to support them in their agony, and to mitigate their sufferings, offered him vinegar mingled with gall; and when he tasted thereof, he would not drink. Nor, when others, less cruel, presented him with the accustomed potion of wine mingled with myrrh, did he receive it. (4) He sought not to alleviate his pangs, by its stupifying effects; for, he was prepared to endure the penalty, which he thought fit to pay for a guilty world, in its full, awful, and unmitigated rigour.

We might almost describe what remains to be told, by adopting the language of the twentysecond Psalm (5), and of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah (6): passages, which the Jews themselves interpreted, as referring to the Messiah; but which, by a fatal and judicial blindness, they could not, or would not, apply to the case of the suffering Jesus. We have seen how, like the strong bulls of Bashan, they beset him; and how they gaped upon him with their mouths, as it had been a ravening and a roaring lion.† And now

* Matt. xxvii. 33, 34. Mark, xv. 23.

+ Psalm xxii. 12, 13.

dogs compassed him, the assembly of the wicked enclosed him, they pierced his hands and feet. The cross was stretched upon the ground; the precious Victim was distended thereon. The Roman soldiers, two on each side, (dogs, as the Gentiles were styled by the Jews,) drove four large nails through his hands and feet, and riveted them in the wood. Then was the cross elevated. It is scarcely possible to repress our indignant feelings, as we see the tormentors, reckless of the sufferer's pangs, regardless of the convulsive shock it would occasion to his whole frame, carelessly drop the now-erected cross, into the cavity dug for its reception. And whose is the heart that does not burn within him, when he hears his Saviour meekly, mercifully exclaim, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do? (7) No indignation fired his breast, no angry passion disturbed his serenity, no bodily tortures, no mental anguish, could induce him to forget his Father's work, or the welfare of others. While he was pouring out his soul unto death, and making it an offering for sin, he overlooked not another part of his priestly office, and, even now, interceded for the transgressors.* Instead of aggravating their crime, he sought to palliate

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »