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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 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
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
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 crosses, and room to place them int.
The history then proceeds as follows: “ Then released he Barabbas unto them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” It was the custom of the inhuman Romans to scourge their criminals before they crucified them; as if the exquisite tortures of crucifixion were not sufficient without adding to them those of the scourge. But in this instance the Roman soldiers went further still; they improved upon the cruelty of their masters, and to torments they added the most brutal mockery and insult.“ Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band
* Newton on Prophecy, vol. ii. p. 354.
of of soldiers ; and they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand:and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, king of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put bis own raiment on him, and led him away to be crucified.” One hastens over this scene of insolence and outrage with averted eyes, and can hardly bring one's mind to believe that any thing in the shape of man could have risen to this height of wanton barbarity. What a difference between this treatment of an innocent and injured man, to that of the vilest criminal in this country previous to his execution; and how strongly does it mark the difference between the spirit of Paganism and the spirit of Christianity ! “ And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: hiin they compelled to bear his cross. usual for criminals to bear their own cross; but when they were feeble (as the blessed Jesus might well be after all his bitter suffer
ings) they compelled some one to bear it for him; and this Cyrenian was probably known to be a favourer of Christ.
“ And when they were come to a place called Golgotha, they gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall;" a kind of stupefying potion, intended to abate the sense of pain, and to hasten death. “ And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, “ They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." This is a prediction of king David's in the 22d Psalm. “ And sitting down, they watched him there; and set up over him his accusation, written, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews: for in extraordinary cases it was usual to place such inscriptions over the criminal; but with regard to this, a remarkable circumstance occurred. We learn from St. John, that many of the Jews read this inscription, which gave them infinite offence; as being a declaration to all the world that Jesus really was their king. The chief priests therefore came to Pilate, and begged of him to alter the inscription; and instead of writing, “ This is the King of the Jews," to
write, “ He said, I am the King of the Jews.” Pilate, who put up this inscription out of mockery, now retained it, like a true Roman, out of obstinacy. 66 What I have written, (says he, peevishly) I have written;" and it shall stand; unconscious of what he was saying, and of his being over-ruled all the while by an unseen hand, which thus compele led him to bear an undesigned testimony to a most important truth ; that the very man whom he had crucified as a malefactor, did not merely say that he was the king of the Jews, the true Messiah, but that he really
“ Then were two thieves crucified with him, the one on the right hand, the other on the left.”. This was done with a view of adding to the ignominy of our Saviour's sufferings. But this act of malignity, like many other instances of the same nature, answered a purpose which the authors of it little thought of or intended. It was the completion of a prophecy of Isaiah, in which, alluding to this
very transaction, he
of the Messiah, “ he was numbered with the transgressors *.” They then
* Isaiah liii. 12.