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gels, who, at his command, would have immediately delivered him. But as a lamb is led to the flaughter, and as a sheep before her fhearers is dumb, fo opened he not his mouth'. Patiently did he bear every contumely, indignity, and torment, till the whole will of God, and all the defigns of his miraculous difpenfation were accomplished. Then, by a like voluntary act which had occafioned his affumption of the human frame, he greatly refigned it. It has been justly obferved, that the words which we tranflate be gave up the ghost, would be more properly and literally tranflated, he refigned, or he dif miffed his fpirit. And it is remarkable, that when the centurion heard him cry out with a loud voice before this happened, and obferved that the force of his natural vigour was not abafed, he immediately concluded that there was fomething miraculous in the manner of his death. For, (faith the evangelift Mark) when the centurion which flood over against him, faw that he fo cried out, and gave up the ghost, he faid, Truly this man was the Son of God.
1 Ifaiah liii. 7.
Mark XV. 39.
It is impoffible to difcover the conduct and character of Christ in a more interesting point of view, than that in which this exhibits him to us. In how faint a light does the virtue of patriots and heroes, of all the just, and good, and great appear, when contrasted with the virtue and magnanimity of Jefus ! By an election properly his own, he submitted to mifery. Though fenfible of all its feverity, and able to avoid its stroke, yet he never fhrunk from the combat, or rejected the bittereft draught that was prefented to him. The Jews went out against him with swords and staves, as against a murderer: the apparatus of his death, and the circumstances which attended his execution, were difpiriting and fhocking; fuch as would have difarmed mere humanity of its fortitude. The extension of his body, the piercing of his hands and feet, the cruel and unrelenting malice of his enemies, doubtlefs produced a degree of pain that was excruciating. But with what meeknefs, compofure and refignation does he bear it, though we cannot doubt but he might have avoided it! Could not he have quitted that manfion in which his fpotlefs foul was lodged, and would not
Heaven have immediately opened to received its preftine, immaculate inhabitant? If he required it, would not the earth have heard the voice of its former Master, and swallowed up his mercilefs tormentors? The fage of ancient Greece would not violate the law of his country, nor defert the prifon where he was confined: a ftriking, but unequal reprefentation of the magnanimity of our Saviour, He knew that the operation of poifon would foon terminate a life that had been devoted to the fervice of his fellow-citizens; and, rather than tranfgrefs the laws, under whofe influence he had acted fuch a distinguished part, he fubmitted to death, and with true intrepidity met his fate. But our Saviour, unrestrained by any law, unfubjected to any neceffity, fuffered a thousand pangs, and though despised and infulted by a whole nation, deferted by his own difciples, deprived of every thing, to all human appearance, that can difarm death of its terrors, yet ftill refused to quit the prison in which his celeftial spirit was lodged, 'till the whole purposes of Heaven were fulfilled. "Yes," fays a writer, whofe faith is not stable, but whose heart is open to the fentiments of greatnefs,
of worth, and of humanity, when he confiders merely the external circumstances which attended the death of the Athenian, and of our Saviour, "if the life and death of "Socrates are thofe of a fage, the life and "death of Jefus are thofe of a God."
"No perfon," fays the ancient maxim, "can be called great or happy before his "death." It is this which crowns the most illuftrious life, and fets the feal upon the faireft character. Eftimate our Saviour's character by this rule. To depart out of life with proteftations of injured innocence, gives no unfavourable impreffion; but to fuffer the life and actions to fpeak for themselves, and to remain unfhaken under a load of infamy and injuftice, as confcious of fuperior dignity, affords fenfations far more pleafing and powerful. To forgive one's accufers, to pardon the most undeserved ill-treatment, is truly great but to return condefcenfion for malice, to fhew the most generous piety, and to pour forth the moft fervent prayers for one's bitterest foes, is a pitch of glory that is tranfcendent. To be folicitous about one's future ftate, and to fupport one's mind under unjuft fufferings with the profpect of afterfelicity,
felicity, is becoming and manly: but to be folely intent at the hour of death, upon the execution of a plan undertaken to promote the welfare and happiness of others, is truly divine. That the foul, upon the immediate profpect of its feparation from the body, fhould hesitate and flutter, and leave its ancient receptical with fome reluctance, is natural to humanity: but to difcover the precife moment, when the purposes of Heaven are accomplished, to make a voluntary refignation of the foul to quit the body by a proper exertion of inherent power, are actions becoming a Deity.