Punishments of a future state.


Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we per-

suade men.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

WHETHER this question was put with any serious impression of its importance, or with careless and even contemptuous indifference as to its result, does not distinctly appear.

That the Roman governor was much perplexed by the demeanour of Jesus before his tribunal, is evident. But it is also evident that he regarded the whole investigation as of political rather than of religious concern. When, therefore, our Lord, in answer to the question, “ Art thou a king ?” replied in the affirmative, but declared that his kingdom was “not of this world,” and added emphatically, “ for this purpose came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the

truth,” Pilate appears to have been struck with a conviction of his innocence, and to

[blocks in formation]

have been moved to some degree of admiration at the extraordinary pretensions he assumed. For immediately “ he went out again 6 unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find “ in him no fault at all.” And the sequel of the narrative shews his solicitude to release him.

This, however, is no direct proof that Pilate took any real concern in our Lord's spiritual character and office. Satisfied, from the answers of Jesus, that his doctrines were wholly unconnected with secular views, and relieved from all apprehensions that he was a turbulent member of the community, the heathen governor probably felt himself exonerated from any further responsibility. His question, “ What is truth ?” might import no more, than “ What is it to me, whether this “ doctrine of

yours be the truth, or not? I sit 6 not here to decide such matters, but to

judge of your conduct as a member of the 66 state.” In like manner, Gallio, the deputy of Achaia, when Paul was brought before him, accused by the Jews of worshipping contrary to their Law, would take no cognizance of the matter, because he “cared for none of " those thingsa” which were alleged against the Apostle.

a Acts xviii. 17.


But should we incline to suppose Pilate not altogether unwilling to inquire into “ the

truth,” of which Jesus spake, yet must we regard him as proposing the question with the views aud sentiments of a person conversant only with heathen philosophy. Respecting truth, moral, political, and metaphysical, various were the disputations in the schools of philosophers, and various the tenets maintained by their respective teachers. Among these, no more authority, properly so called, belonged to one, than to another; nor was it deemed of much importance what particular sect bore sway over the public mind. Pilate, therefore, might be inclined to gratify a momentary curiosity respecting any new system which this extraordinary Teacher had to propose ; imagining, that, like many

other systems, it would prove to be matter of merely speculative inquiry, such as might with impunity be rejected or received.

But whatever we may conceive to have been Pilate's views and motives, (an inquiry comparatively of little moment,) there can be no doubt of the importance of the question itself, when considered, as we are bound to consider it, with reference to revealed religion. The dissimilarity, in this respect, between the impression it must make on the

« VorigeDoorgaan »