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out of compassion, but purely with a view to keep him alive, either that they might torment him the longer, or see him descend from the cross. Or, if they did it from compassion, they accompanied their kindness with a gibe. The thieves, also, which were crucified with him cast the same in his teeth. Luke says, that only one of them did so, and that the other exercised a ́ most extraordinary faith when our Lord, was deserted by God, mocked by men, and hanged upon the cross as one of the vilest malefactors. There is no contradiction between the evangelists, as in scripture a single thing is often expressed in the plural, especially when it is not the writer's intention to be more particular. See, for examples, Judges xii. 7, Mat. xxi. 7, Luke xxiv. 6, 33, and 1 Samuel xviii. 21. [Luke xxiii. 39..43.] And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, if thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus answered, verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
When we call to mind the perfect innocence of our Lord Jesus, the uncommon love he bare to mankind, and the many substantial good offices which he did to multitudes groaning under the burden of their affiictions; when we think of the esteem in which the common people held him all along, how cheerfully they followed him to the remotest corners of the country, and with what pleasure they heard his discourses; it cannot but be matter of the greatest surprize, to find them, at the conclusion, rushing all of a sudden into the opposite extremes, and every body, as it were, combined to treat him with the most barbarous cruelty. When Pilate asked the people if they inclined to have Jesus released, his disciples, though they were very numerous, and might have made a great appearance in his behalf, remained quite silent the Roman soldiers, notwithstanding their general had declared him an innocent person, most inhumanly insulted him; the scribes and Pharisees ridiculed him: the common people, who had received him with hosannas a few days before, wagged their heads at him as they passed by, and railed on him as a deceiver : nay, the very thief on the cross reviled him. This sudden revolution in the humours of the nation may seem unaccountable. Yet, if we could assign a proper reason for the silence of the disciples, the principles which influenced the rest might be discovered in their several speeches. Christ's followers had attached themselves to him in expectation of being raised to great wealth and power in his kingdom: but, seeing no appearance of what they looked for, they permitted him to be condemned, perhaps, because they thought it would have obliged him to save his life by a miracle, which would have broken the Roman yoke. With respect to the soldiers, they were angry that any one should have pretended to royalty in Judea, where Cæsar had established his authority. Hence they insulted him with the title of king, and paid him mock honours. The common people seemed to have lost their opinion of him, because he had neither convinced the council, nor rescued himself when they condemned him. They began, therefore, to look upon the story that was industriously reported of him, viz. his having boasted that he could destroy and build the temple in three days, as a kind of blasphemy, because it required divine power to execute such an undertaking. Accordingly, in derision, they saluted him by the title of the destroyer and builder of the temple in three days; and, with a malicious sneer, bade him save himself and come down from the cross, insinuating that the one was a much easier matter than the other. The priests and scribes were filled with the most implacable hatred of him, because he bad torn off their masks, and shewed them to the poople
in their true colours. Wherefore, they ridiculed his miracles from whence he drew his reputation, by pretending to acknowledge them; but, at the same time, adding a reflection, which they thought entirely confuted them. He saved others; himself he cannot save. To conclude: the thief also fancied that he must have delivered both himself and them if he had been the Messiah: but as no sign of such a deliverance appeared, he upbraided him for making pretensions to that high character, saying, if thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.
During the last three hours that our Lord hanged on the cross, a darkness covered the face of the earth, to the great terror and amazement of the people present at his execution. This extraordinary alteration in the face of nature was peculiarly proper whilst the Son of righteousness was withdrawing his beams from the land of Israel, and from the world; not only because it was a miraculous testimony borne by God himself to his innocence, but also because it was a fit emblem of his departure, and its effects, at least, till his light shone out anew, with additional splendour, in the ministry of his apostles. The darkness which now covered Judea, together with the neighbouring countries, beginning about noon, and continuing till Jesus expired, was not the effect of an ordinary eclipse of the sun, for that can never happen, except when the moon is about the change; whereas, now it was full moon; not to mention that total darknesses occasioned by eclipses of the sun never continue above twelve or fifteen minutes. Wherefore, it must have been produced by the divine power, in a manner we are not able to explain. Accordingly, Luke, after relating that there was darkness over all the earth, adds, and the sun was darkened, which, perhaps, may imply that the darkness of the sun did not occasion, but proceeded from the darkness that was over all the land. [Luke xxiii. 44.]
Farther; the Christian writers, in their most antient apologies to the heathens, affirm, that as it was full moon at the passover when Christ was crucified, no such eclipse could happen by the course of nature. They observe, also, that it was taken notice of as a prodigy by the heathens themselves. To this purpose, we have still remaining the words of Phlegon, the astronomer and freed-man of Adrian, cited by Origen from his book, at a time when it was in the hands of the public. The heathen author, in treating of the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, which is the nineteenth of Tiberias, and supposed to be the year in which our Lord was crucified, tells us, "that the greatest eclipse of the sun that ever was, happened then → for the day was so turned into night, that the stars in the heaven were seen." Phlegon, as Christians generally suppose, is speaking of the darkness which accompanied our Lord's crucifixion, it was not circumscribed within the land of Judea, but must have been universal. This, many learned men have believed, particularly Huet, Grotius, Gusset, Reland, and Alphen. Josephus, it is true, takes no notice of this wonderful phenomenon ; but the reason may be, that he was unwilling to mention any circumstance favorable to Christianity, of which he was no friend. Luke mentions the eclipse immediately after the repentance of the thief, and connects the two in the following manner;" To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness, &c." Perhaps, this may imply that the note of timne mentioned, must be referred both to the thief and to the eclipse. It was about the sixth hour when the thief expressed his repentance, and at the same time the eclipse came on, about three hours before Jesus expired:
When the darkness began, the disciples would naturally look on it as a prelude to their Master's deliverance: for, though the chief priests, elders, and people, in mockery, desired him to come down, his friends could not help thinking that he who had delivered so many from incurable diseases, who had created limbs for the maimed
and eyes for the blind, and had raised the dead to life, might easily save himself, even from the cross. When, therefore, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved disciple, observed the heavens beginning to grow black, they drew near, probably, in expectation that he was going to shake the frame of nature, [Hag. ii. 6, 7.] and unloose himself from the cross, and take due vengeance on his enemies. [John xix. 25.] Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus was now in the depth of his own sufferings; yet, when he saw his mother and her companions, their grief affected him to a great degree, particularly the distress of his mother. Wherefore, though he was almost at the point of death, he spake a few words, in which he expressed the most affectionate regard both to her and to them. For, that she might have some consolation under the greatness of her sorrows, he told her the disciple whom he loved would, for the sake of that love, perform to her, after he was gone, the office of a son. He, therefore, enjoined upon them both henceforth to consider each other in the endearing relation of parent and child. The favourite disciple gladly undertook the office assigned him; for he carried Mary home with him, her husband Joseph, it seems, being dead. Thus, in the midst of the heaviest sufferings that ever human nature sustained, Jesus demonstrated a strength of benevolence perfectly unexampled and divine.
A little before he expired, Jesus exclaimed, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? thus repeating the first verse of the twentysecond Psalm, pronouncing it in the Syriac dialect, which was either the common language of the country, or nearly resembled it; and speaking with a loud voice, that all who stood round might hear him distinctly, and know that he was the person whose complaint was expressed by David. It was, certainly, not the agony resulting from his wounds which impelled the Son of God to pour forth this bitter lamentation, but a sense of his Father's displeasure with the sins of his people; for he was now drinking the dregs of that cup of which he had begun to taste in the garden of Gethsemane. And some of them that stood by, either misunderstanding what he said, or intending to turn it into ridicule, when they heard it, said, behold, he calleth Elias. Jesus knowing that he had now accomplished every thing required by God of the Messiah, and foretold by the prophets, excepting that circumstance of his sufferings which was predicted Psalm lxix. 21, "In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink," in order to give occasion to the accomplishment of this likewise, he said aloud, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar. The Roman soldiers always drank their water mixed with vinegar; for which purpose, they usually carried vinegar with them in vessels when on duty. And straightway one of them ran and took a spunge, and put it on a reed, a stalk of the hyssop, and gave him to drink. This office they did to Jesus, not so much from pity as to preserve him alive, that they might enjoy his sufferings, or in hopes of seeing the miracle of Elijah's descent from heaven, When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, it is finished ; the predictions of the prophets are fulfilled, and the great end of my mission, the redemption of lost sinners is accomplished. He then, directing his speech to his Father, said, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
While Jesus breathed his last, the veil of the temple was miraculously rent from top to bottom, probably, in presence of the priest who burnt the incense in the holy place at the evening sacrifice, and who, no doubt, gave an account of it when he came out for the ninth hour, at which Jesus expired, was the hour for the evening sacrifice. And the graves in the rocks were opened, and many bodies of saints which slept arose,
and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city Jerusalem, and appeared unto many. It would seem that these saints were disciples who had died but lately; for when they went into the city, they were known to be saints by the persons who saw them, which could not well have happened had they not been their contemporaries. And as the rending of the veil of the temple intimated that the entrance into the holy place, the type of heaven, was now laid open to all nations; so the resurrection of a numicer of saints from the dead demonstrated the power of death and the grave was broken; the sting was taken from death, and the victory wrested from the grave. In short, our Lord's conquests over the enemies of mankind were shewed to be complete, and an earnest was given of a general resurrection from the dead.
And when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, and also saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God, the Messiah; or, as others interpret it, a Son of God, a divine personage. The spectators in general were also now deeply affected. They had been instant, with loud voices, to have him crucified; but now that they saw the face of the creation darkened with a sudden gloom during his crucifixion, and found his death accompanied with an earthquake, as if nature had been in an agony when he died, they rightly interpreted these prodigies to be so many testimonies from God of his innocence, and their passions, which had been inflamed and exasperated against him, became quite calm, or moved them in his behalf. Some, however, could not forgive themselves for neglecting to accept his life when the governor offered to release him; others were stung with remorse for having had an active hand, both in his death, and in the insults that were offered to him; others felt the deepest grief at the thought of his lot, which was undeservedly severe; and these various passions appeared in their countenances; for they came away from the cruel execution, pensive and silent, with downcast eyes, and hearts ready to burst; or, groaning deeply within themselves, they shed tears, smote their breasts, and wailed greatly. The grief which they now felt for Jesus was distinguished from their former rage against him, by this remarkable character, that their rage was produced entirely by the craft of the priests, who had wickedly incensed them; whereas their grief was the genuine feeling of their own hearts, greatly affected with the truth and innocence of him that was the object of their commiseration. Wherefore, as in this mourning, flattery had no share, the expression of their sorrow was such as became a real and unfeigned passion. Nor was this the temper only of a few who may be thought to have been Christ's particular friends. It was the general condition of the people who had come in such numbers to look on, that when they parted after the execution, they covered the roads, and, as it were, darkened the whole fields around. The three first evangelists inform us that Mary the mother of our Lord, Mary Magdalene, and Salome the mother of Zebedee's children, stood afar off booking on. Yet this is not inconsistent with John xix. 25, where our Lord's mother, and her sister Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene, are said to have stood beside the cross They were kept at a distance awhile, perhaps, by the guards, or they were afraid to approach. But when the greatest part of the soldiers werc drawn off, and the eclipse was begun, they gathered courage, and came so near, that Jesus had an opportunity to speak to them a little before he expired.
The law expressly prohibited the bodies of those who were hanged to remain all night on the tree [Deut. xxi. 22.]; for that reason, as well as because the sabbath was at hand, the Jews begged the favour of Pilate that the legs of the three
crucified persons might be broken to hasten their death.
Pilate consented, and gave the order they desired: but the soldiers appointed to execute it, perceiving that Jesus was dead already, did not take the trouble of breaking his legs, one of them only thrust a spear into his side. The spear thrust into our Lord's side is thought to have reached his heart; for the water issuing from the wound seems to shew that the pericardium was pierced, and that Jesus had been some time. dead. If, however, there had remained any life, this wound must have instantly killed him. It is, therefore, in every respect, proper, that this fact should be recorded; and it is accordingly attested by John with the utmost solemnity. These things were done, that the scripture, concerning the paschal lamb, should be fulfilled, a bone of him should not be broken. And again other scripture [Zech. xii. 10.] saith, they shall look on him whom they pierced.
Among the disciples of Jesus was one named Joseph of Arimathea, a man remarkable for his fortune and office, as he was a rich man, and member of the Jewish sanhedrim. He had nothing to fear from the governor, who had all along laboured to release Jesus; but had reason to apprehend the ill-will of the Jews, for the pious action he was going to perform. Nevertheless, the regard he had for his Master overcame all other considerations, and he asked leave to take his body down; because, if no friend had obtained it, it would have been ignominiously cast out among the executed malefactors. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: for, though he had given orders to break the legs of the crucified persons, he knew they might live some hours in that condition. And calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead and when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. In discharging what he supposed to be the last duty to his Master, he was assisted by Nicodemus, who, though he once came to Jesus by night, for fear of the Jews, now showed superior courage to any of the apostles, bringing with him spices for the funeral of our Lord. These two, therefore taking down the naked body, wrapped it in linen with the spices, and laid it in a new sepulchre, which Joseph had caused to be erected for himself in his garden. This sepulchre, in which they laid our Lord, was, probably, unfinished, and had not yet got a lock on its door; therefore they fastened the door by rolling a great stone to it.
The Galilean women, who had waited on Jesus in his last moments, and accompanied him to the sepulchre, observing that his funeral rites were performed in a hurry, agreed among themselves to come, when the sabbath was past, and embalm their dead Lord, by anointing and swathing him in a proper manner. cordingly, when he was laid in the sepulchre, they returned to the city, and bought what other spices were necessary for that purpose; Nicodemus having furnished a mixture only of myrrh and aloes.
Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, that is, in the evening of the crucifixion, after the sun was set, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, best his disciples come by night, und steal him away, and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate, thinking their request reasonable, allowed them to take a sufficient number of soldiers out of the cchort, which, at the feast, came from the castle Antonia, and kept guard in the porticos of the temple; the priests going along with this party, placed them in their post, and sealed the atone that was rolled to the door of the sepulchre, to hinder the guards from cor