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my, What think ye. They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in' his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smotethee?
Now Peter sat without in the palace. And a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them, that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath; I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them, for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the words of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Let us do justice to the the great apostle, whose melancholy fall is here recorded. The temptation to which he yielded, assumed a form different from his anticipations, and for which consequently he was unprepared. When he exclaimed, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee," he thought not of any trials save those of personal fear; and those he knew that he could resist. Had danger alone been before him, he would have followed willingly, as he followed in his after years, to prison and to death. But when he saw his master tried as a 'criminal before the
rulers of his nation, to whom he had ever been used to look up with awe, when the miraculous power of Jesus seemed withdrawn, and Jesus himself abandoned alike by heaven and earth to the wrath of his enemies, then the faith of the disciple was shaken; with his faith, his courage fled; and that very ardour which prompted his bold assertions of fidelity, now hurried him to falshood and perjury.
But "the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter." The voice of Jesus had stilled the waves of the sea. Now, at his look, the wilder waves of passion were hushed in the bosom of his disciple; all but deep and bitter remorse, and love which would now make him indeed ready to die with his master, rather than deny him. "He went out, and wept bitterly." To him much was forgiven, for he loved much; and a life spent in steadfast endurance in his master's cause, was at length crowned by a martyr's glorious death.
Weep not for those, in Christ who sleep,
Watch o'er each heaven-beloved head.
But weep for those, who here below,
Through trial's stormy ocean steer;
By hope misled, or driven by fear.
Whose heart hath sunk, whose faith is dim,
Weep, child of frailty, weep for him.
Yet, in the hour of guilt and shame,
And ope the source of hallowed grief.
Lord, may the love, the thought of thee,
JESUS BEFORE PILATE.
JOHN XVIII. 27. and XIX.
THEN led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; and it was early. And they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. That the saying of Jesus might
be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. 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? Thine 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 have been delivered 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 truth; for I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find no fault in him at all. But ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the passover; will ye, therefore, that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands. Pilate went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. (Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe.) And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priest therefore and officers saw him, they cried out saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him; for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the judgment
hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou. But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, unless it were given thee from above; therefore, he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
What a contrast is presented in this scene, between the judge, and the holy prisoner before him. In Pilate we see an inclination to do right, struggling ineffectually with the maxims of a cold-hearted policy; and from the high station which he holds, he sinks to be an object of pity and indignation; pity for his vacillating weakness, when the path of duty lay plain before him,-indignation at the crime into which he suffers himself to be led. Before this timorous yet unjust judge, stands the Saviour of mankind, acknowledging calmly the power which the Governor possesses over him, as a power derived from God, and submitting therefore to the decree of Providence. With the unaffected dignity of innocence, he describes the spiritual nature of his kingdom, and declares the object for which he came into the world. Did not a feeling of the beauty of holiness enter the mind of Pilate, as he listened to his prisoner? The proud and politic Roman felt the nobler feelings of his nature awakened from their long slumber, and sought to release the man whom he could not but revere and love. But he dared not to meet the clamours of the populace, and the indignation of his jealous superiors. The fear of man brought a snare upon him. The remonstrances of conscience were hushed, and he decreed the death of Jesus.