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said before the Jewish council; whatever bad use might be made of it, to his detriment.
St. Matthew's account is just, but it is very concise and summary. Therefore, though we ought to study brevity, I think we should take in also a part of St. John's account, which is more full. “ Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him: Art thou the king of the Jews ? Jesus answered him: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me. What hast thou done Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him: Art thou a king then ? Jesus answered: Thou sayest, that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this end came I into this world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice."
By which we perceive, that our Lord was not unwilling to speak when there was occasion ; and that, being fully composed in his mind, when he speaks, his words are wise and proper. He not only undauntedly acknowledges his character of the Messiah, but Pilate being a stranger, he condescends also to give him some information concerning the nature of his kingdom, and of the title which he assumed, of “ the King of the Jews :” letting him know, that it was not a worldly kingdom, supported by sanctions of worldly rewards and punishments, human force and authority, but is a kingdom of truth; and that his design was to bear testimony to truth, especially religious truth; the interest of which is supported and carried on by reason and argument only, and by appeals to the understanding, judgment, and conscience of men. Such a king I am; and every one who is a lover of truth, will receive me for his Lord and Master, and become my disciple and follower. Thus, as St. Paul says, “ Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession," 1 Tim. vi. 13.
It is added in St. Matthew, in the place before quoted : “ And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then saith Pilate unto him; Hearest thou not, how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly," Matt. xxvii. 12–14. Our Lord having said what was sufficient to give Pilate satisfaction concern
ing the nature of his claim, and the innocence of his behaviour, if Pilate was impartial and equitable, as related in St. John, he refused to plead any longer. That would have looked like disputing and arguing; which was below his dignity, and unsuitable to his present circumstances.
10. There is another thing, in the tenth place, mentioned by St. Luke, which we cannot overlook, the appearance of Jesus before Herod the Tetrarch. 6 Then said Pilate unto the chief priests, and to the people: I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, he stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee unto this place. As soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him, and he hoped to have seen a miracle done by him. Then he questioned him in many words; but he answered bim nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him; and Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate,” Luke xxiii. 4-11.
Here we see our Lord's continued meekness and patience, in submitting to be thus sent from one to another, and enduring all manner of scoffs and insults without complaint. We likewise see his true greatness. He works not any miracle before Herod, either of salvation or destruction; though this last might have been justly done. He says not a word by way of apology for himself, his innocence being conspicuous, and all the accusations brought against him false and groundless. Our Lord's behaviour is admirable. If he had not been a person of consummate wisdom, and had not now had the full command of himself, he might have been induced to exert his power in performing some work of an extraordinary kind, or to say something strongly in his own behalf; but his silence and inaction are more becoming. He behaves as one ought to do, who had wrought such miracles as he had done, many of them in the territories of Herod, who might have informed himself concerning them if he had pleased ; and as became him in the presence of that man who had unrighteously put John the Baptist to death, and still lived in the sins for which he had been reproved by him, and now added the prodigious sin and folly of insulting, and contemptuously ridiculing and mocking a man, concerning whom many great things had been re
ported to him, and in whom no fault had been found, after a very public life, into which the strictest inquiries had been made.
11. Now we are led to take notice of the demand made by the people, at the instigation of the rulers, that Barabbas might be delivered to them.
For Pilate was convinced, that in this cause the chief men of the Jews had been actuated by envy; therefore he put the people in mind of a custom they had for him to release to them a prisoner at that feast. And the more to incline them in favour of Jesus, he proposed him to them, together with another, who was infamous, or as St. Matthew styles him, a “ notable prisoner,” Matt. xxvii. 16, or notorious transgressor, whose crimes are more particularly put down in the other Evangelists, Mark xv. 7; Luke xxiii. 25; John xviii. 40. The governor answered, and said unto them, Whether of the two will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate said unto them, What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? They all said unto him ; Let him be crucified, ver. 21, 22.
How provoking is this ! Yet not one word proceeds from Jesus. He might indeed justly have spoken out, and addressed himself to the people, and all present, saying, ' 0 • shameful indignity! O unexampled preference! Do you • not know the demerits of the prisoner, whom you
desire to • have released unto you? And do you demand that I should • be put to death? Have you never been present at my
dis• courses in the temple or the synagogues
you never seen or heard of any of the mighty works done by me, • equalling or exceeding those done by any of your pro• phets, Moses himself not excepted ? Have you forgot your • own loud and cheerful acclamations, and the solemn and ' willing pomp with which you lately conducted me into
this city, saying, “ Hosannah to the Son of David! blessed • is he that cometh in the name of the Lord !”! These and other things might have been justly and properly said. But our Lord's silence is greater than all words; more significant and moving than the most pathetic speech that could be made.
12. The last thing to be mentioned here is the sentence pronounced by Pilate.
Says St. John: “ When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgmentseat- - Then delivered he him therefore to them to be crucified,” John xix. 13, 16. To the like purpose in St. Matthew, ch. xxii. 26; and St. Mark, chap. xv. 15. Or,
as in St. Luke, chap. xxiii. 24, 25, “ And Pilate gave sentence, that it should be as they required—and he delivered Jesus to their will."
That is the sentence. But it may be perceived, that for the sake of brevity, I pass over divers things, which bappened at this time; the scourging ordered by Pilate, the derisions and insults of the soldiers, “ who platted a crown of thorns, and put it upon his head, and put on him a purple robe, and said : Hail, king of the Jews. And they smote him on the head with a reed, and spat upon him, and bowing their knees, worshipped him:" that is, derided him with many tokens of mock-honour and respect, .
It was amazing meekness in our Lord, to bear all this treatment without punishing it; true greatness to make no remonstrances against such crying abuse. This was not a time for him to use earnest expostulations or loud complaints. His b former life testified his innocence, and condemned all accusations brought against him, and covered with shame the indignities offered to him, and those by whom they were offered. He therefore was silent, and referred himself to the judgment of God; as St. Peter says admirably : “ Who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not ; but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously," 1 Pet. ï. 23.
Sect. II. Having already observed the account of our Lord's being apprehended, with the circumstances of it, and many marks of meekness and greatness therein, and the history of our Lord's being carried to Annas and Caiaphas, and then to Pontius Pilate the Roman governor in Judea, with the indignities there cast upon him, and his admirable behaviour upon every occasion, till Pilate unwillingly pronounced sentence that he might be crucified.
I now proceed to the remaining part of this affecting history, written indeed, as every other part of the gospels is, without ornaments and embellishments, and without any designed artifice to raise the passions, being throughout only plain relations of matters of fact, with their several circumstances. Which, however, being for that very reason the more apparently credible, are moving in a great degree, and afford ground for many just reflections and observations, and secure the truest respect and esteem for him whose hisa tory is here related.
μεν σωτηρ και Κυριος ημων Ιησες Χρισος, ψευδομαρτυρεμενος μεν, εσιωπα' κατηγορεμενος δε, εδεν απεκρινατο πειθομενος, παντα τον βιον εαυτ8, και τας εν Ιεδαιοις, πραξεις, κρειττες γεγονεναι φωνης ελεγχισης την φευδομαρτυριαν, και λεξεων απολογομενων προς τας κατηγοριας. Orig. Contr. Cels. 1. i. in.
1. Our Lord is now carried away to the common place of execution, without the city of Jerusalem, bearing his own cross according to the custom of the Romans, till he having been much fatigued by the sufferings already endured, they compelled another to carry it, or help in bearing it, holding up the hinder part of it.
Here offers itself to our consideration the answer which our Lord made to those who lamented and bewailed him. Says St. Luke: “ And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon a Cyrenian coming out of the country. And on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed him, and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days are coming, in which they shall say; Blessed are the barren, and (or even] the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains ; Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do such things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?” Luke xxiii. 26. That is, bewail not me, but rather think of the dreadful calamities which are coming upon this city and people, for rejecting my mission, and putting me to death, and for the other sins which they will be guilty of; even as I myself, beholding this city some while ago, wept over it in the prospects of the heavy judgments impending over it.
This is a demonstration of a most excellent temper. At the very
time that our Lord is ill-treated in the most unrighteous manner, and has a near prospect of the pain and shame of the cross, he breaks out into compassionate expressions for his enemies, and appears to be touched with a concern for those calamities which were coming upon the most hardened sinners. His concern for them seems to make him forget and overlook his own afflictions. That is the first thing.
2. We are led in the next place to observe our Lord's refusing a stupifying potion of liquor offered to him, mentioned, Mark xv. 22, 23. “And they bring him to the place called Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, the place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh. But he received it not.” It is probable, that this was a draught of generous wine, improved likewise with spices, and made intoxicating and stupifying in a great degree. It was either a potion ordinarily allowed to malefactors condemned to the cross; or else was prepared by some