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Had they given thee wine, thou hadst not taken it ; the night before thou hadst taken leave of that comfortable liquor, resolving to drink no more of that sweet juice, till thou shouldst drink it new with them in thy Father's kingdom. Had they given thee water, they had not fulfilled that prediction, whereby they were self-condemned. I know not now, O dear Jesu, whether this last draught of thine were more pleasing to thee, or more distasteful: distasteful in itself, for what liquor could be equally harsh ? pleasing, in that it made up those sufferings thou wert to endure, and those prophecies thou wert to fulfil.
Now there is no more to do ; thy full consummation of all predictions, of all types and ceremonies, of all sufferings, of all satisfactions, is happily both effected and proclaimed; nothing now remains but a voluntary, sweet, and heavenly resignation of thy blessed soul into the hands of thine eternal Father, and a bowing of thine head for the change of a better crown, and a peaceable repose in thy bed of ease and honour, and an instant entrance into rest, triumph, glory.
And now, O blessed Jesu, how easily have carnal eyes all this while mistaken the passages and intentions of this thy last and most glorious work ! Our weakness could hitherto see nothing here but pain and ignominy ; now, my better enlightened eyes see, in this elevation of thine, both honour and happiness. Lo, thou that art the mediator betwixt God and man, the reconciler of heaven and earth, art lift up betwixt earth and heaven, that thou mightest accord both. Thou, that art the great captain of our salvation, the conqueror of all the adverse powers of death and hell, art exalted upon this triumphal chariot of the cross, that thou mightest trample upon death, and drag all those infernal principalities manacled after thee. Those arms, which thine enemies meant violently to extend, are stretched forth for the embracing of all mankind that shall come in, for the benefit of thine all-sufficient redemption. Even while thou sufferest, thou reignest. O the impotent madness of silly men! They think to disgrace thee with wry faces, with tongues put out, with bitter scoffs, with poor wretched indignities, when, in the mean time, the heavens declare thy righteousness, O Lord, and the earth shows forth thy power. The sun pulls in his light, as not abiding to see the sufferings of his Creator : the earth trembles under the sense of the wrong done to her Maker; the rocks rend; the veil
of the temple tears from the top to the bottom; all the frame of the world acknowledges the dominion of that Son of God, whom man despiseth.
Earth and hell have done their worst. O Saviour, thou art in thy paradise, and triumphest over the malice of men and devils; the remainders of thy sacred person are not yet free. The soldiers have parted thy garments, and cast lots upon thy seamless coat; those poor spoils cannot so much enrich them, as glorify thee, whose scriptures are fulfilled by their barbarous sortitions. The Jews sue to have thy bones divided, but they sue in vain. No more could thy garments be whole, than thy body could be broken. One inviolable decree overrules both. Foolish executioners ! ye look up to that crucified body, as if it were altogether in your power and mercy; nothing appears to you but impotence and death ; little do ye know what an irresistible guard there is upon that sacred corpse, such as, if all the powers of darkness shall band against, they shall find themselves confounded. In spite of all the gates of hell, that word shall stand, “Not a bone of him shall be broken.'.
Still the infallible decree of the Almighty leads you on to his own ends, through your own ways. Ye saw him already dead, when ye came to despatch; those bones, therefore, shall be whole, which ye had no power to break. But yet, that no piece, either of your cruelty or of divine prediction, may remain unsatisfied, he, whose bones may not be impaired, shall be wounded in his flesh; he, whose ghost was yielded up, must yield his last blood; One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forth with there came out blood and water.' Malice is wont to end with life; here it outlives it. Cruel man, what means this so late wound! What commission hadst thou for this bloody act! Pilate had given leave to break the bones of the living; he gave no leave to gore the sides of the dead : what wicked supererogation is this ! What superfluity of maliciousness! To what purpose did thy spear pierce so many hearts in that one? Why wouldst thou kill a dead man? Methinks the blessed virgin, and those other passionate associates of hers, and the disciple whom Jesus loved, together with the other of his fellows, the friends and followers of Christ, and especially he that was so ready to draw his sword upon the troop of his Master's apprehenders, should have work enough to contain themselves within the bounds of patience, at so
savage a stroke: their sorrow could not choose but turn to indignation, and their hearts could not but rise, as even mine doth now, at so impertinent a villany. How easily could I rave at that rude hand! But, O God, when I look up to thee, and consider how thy holy and wise providence so overrules the most barbarous actions of men, that, besides their will, they turn beneficial, I can at once bate them, and bless thee. This very wound hath a mouth to speak the Messiahship of my Saviour, and the truth of thy scripture, · They shall look at him, whom they have pierced.' Behold now the Second Adam sleeping, and out of his side formed the mother of the living, the evangelical Church. Behold the rock which was smitten, and the waters of life gushed forth. Behold the fountain that is set open to the house of David, for sin, and for uncleanness; a fountain not of water only, but of blood too. O Saviour, by thy water we are washed, by thy blood we are redeemed. Those two sacraments, which thou didst institute alive, flow also from thee dead, as the last memorials of thy love to thy church : the water of baptism, which is the laver of regeneration; the blood of the New Testament shed for remission of sins:' and these, together with the Spirit that gives life to them both, are the three witnesses on earth, whose attestation cannot fail us. O precious and sovereign wound, by which our souls are healed! Into this cleft of the rock let my dove fly and enter, and there safely hide herself from the talons of all the birds of prey.
It could not be but that the death of Christ, contrived and acted in Jerusalem at so solemn a festival, must needs draw a world of beholders : the Romans, the centurion and his band, were there as actors, as supervisors of the execution. Those strangers were no otherwise engaged, than as they that would hold fair correspondence with the citizens, where they were engarrisoned : their freedom from prejudice rendered them more capable of an ingenuous construction of all events. Now, when the centurion, and they that were with him that watched Jesus, saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, they feared greatly, and glorified God, and said, Truly this was the Son of God.'
What a marvellous concurrence is here of strong and irrefragable conviction ! Meekness in suffering, prayer for his murderers, a faithful resignation of his soul into the hands of his heavenly Father, the sun eclipsed, the heavens darkened, the earth trembling, the graves open, the rocks rent, the veil of the temple torn-who could say less than this, ' Truly this was the Son of God'? He suffers patiently: this is through the power of grace--many good men have done so through his enabling. The frame of nature suffers with him ; this is proper to the God of nature, the Son of God.
I wonder not that these men confessed thus; I wonder that any spectator confessed it not: these proofs were enough to fetch all the world upon their knees, and to have made all mankind converts.
But all hearts are not alike; no means can work upon the wilfully obdured. Even after this the soldier pierced that blessed side, and while Pagans relented, Jews continued impenitent. Yet even of that nation, those beholders whom envy and partiality had not interested in this slaughter, were stricken with just astonishment, and smote their breasts, and shook their heads, and, by passionate gesture, spake what their tongues durst not. How many must there needs be, in this universal concourse, of them whom he had healed of diseases, or freed from devils, or miraculously fed, or some way obliged in their persons or friends! These, as they were deeply affected with the mortal indignities which were offered to their acknowledged Messiah, so they could not but be ravished with wonder at those powerful demonstrations of the Deity of him in whom they believed, and strangely distracted in their thoughts, while they compared those sufferings with that omnipotence. As yet their faith and knowledge was but in the bud, or in the blade. How could they choose but think, were he not the Son of God, how could these things be? And if he were the Son of God, how
ald he die? His resurrection, his ascension, should scon after perfect their belief; but, in the mean time, their hearts could not but be conflicted with thoughts hard to be reconciled. Howsoever they glorify God, and stand amazed at the expectation of the issue.
But, above all other, O thou blessed virgin, the holy mother of our Lord, how many swords pierced thy soul, while, standing close by his cross, thou sawest thy dear Son and Saviour thus indignly used, thus stripped, thus stretched, thus nailed, thus bleeding, thus dying, thus pierced ! How did thy troubled heart now recount what the angel Gabriel had reported to thee from God, in the message of thy blessed conception of that Son of God! How didst thou think of the miraculous formation of that thy divine burden by the power of the Holy Ghost! How didst thou recall the prophecies of Anna and Simeon concerning him, and all those supernatural works of his, the irrefragable proofs of his Godhead! And, laying all these together, with the miserable infirmities of his passion, how wert thou crucified with him! The care that he took for thee in the extremity of his torments, could not choose but melt thy heart into sorrow: but 0, when in the height of his pain and misery, thou heardst him cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,' what a cold horror possessed thy soul! I cannot now wonder at thy qualms and swoonings, I could rather wonder that thou survivedst so sad an hour. But when, recollecting thyself, thou sawest the heavens to bear a part with thee in thy mourning; and feltest the earth to tremble no less than thyself; and foundest that the dreadful concussion of the whole frame of nature proclaimed the deity of him that would thus suffer and die; and rememberedst his frequent predictions of drinking this bitter cup, and of being baptized thus in blood ; thou beganst to take heart, and to comfort thyself with the assured expectation of the glorious issue. More than once had he foretold thee his victorious resurrection. He, who had openly professed Jonas for his type, and had fore-promised in three days to raise up the ruined temple of his body, had doubtless given more full intimation unto thee, who hadst so great a share in that sacred body of his. "The just shall live by faith. Lo, that faith of thine in his ensuing resurrection, and in his triumph over death, gives thee life, and cheers up thy drooping soul, and bids it, in a holy confidence, to triumph over all thy fears and sorrows; and him whom thou seest dead and despised, represents unto thee living, immortal, glorious.