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MATTHEW xxvi. 56.



THERE are two kinds of evidence on which men are wont to dwell in the trial of facts, that which is direct and positive, and that which is indirect and circumstantial. The former of these rests on such plain unequivocal matters as connect at one view the evidence with the event, prove, beyond a doubt, the truth of what is sought to be ascertained, and leave a perfect conviction on the mind that it is impossible that it could be otherwise. The other, less obvious, depends on a chain of particulars all hanging together, and resting on each other for strength and support, and so closely and inseparably united, that the want of any one would destroy the integrity of the whole. The conclusion in both cases is equally strong, for though in the latter it is built upon implication and inference, and argument takes the place of positive demonstration, yet, when the fact is once wrought out by a system of

proofs, each rising gradually out of the preceding, and all terminating in the same result, the moral certainty of the truth is equally satisfactory.

Now, of these two kinds of evidence, I propose to consider the latter, and to apply it to the fact of Jesus Christ being the Messiah.

Of positive proof that he was that distinguished personage, we can be said to have none, because no one, but God, could show his eternal generation, his unity with the Godhead, his universal sovereignty, and his essential perfection, glory, and happiness. We have, indeed, his own words, and the words of his Apostles and followers to substantiate all this, but we have not that kind of ocular demonstration, which might be called self-evident, and impossible to be disputed. But of the indirect and circumstantial evidence that he was the great PROPHET foretold in the Jewish Scriptures, and long and ardently expected by the Jews, we have abundance in his whole life and conversation, in the prophecies he fulfilled, the types he realised, the revelations he made, and the events he accomplished. And this evidence is so strung together,—is so gradual, connected, and uniform, as to leave the strongest conviction upon the mind, that he was the Son of God. “ The works that He did in his Father's name, bore witness of him." But besides this, there was in the works which were done by others touching him and towards him, such a wonderful mass of evidence, as rendered the conclusion inevitable.

In order, therefore, to confine the argument of my discourse to as narrow bounds as possible, and at the same time to exhibit the strongest proofs for the truth of his character and pretensions, I will consider those particulars, in the trial and death of Jesus, which did not depend upon himself,—which could not have been brought about by his own instrumentality or connivance,—but depended entirely upon the actions of others, and were spontaneous and voluntary in them.

I. First, then, the day on which our blessed Lord suffered deserves to be particularly noticed. It was the preparation for the Passover. The Passover, as is well known to all those who are conversant with their Bibles, was kept in celebration of the deliverance of the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh. It was a day much to be remembered, for the institution of it took place under circumstances of a very extraordinary nature. On that night all the first-born of Egypt were slain, “from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of the cattle." But no death occurred among any of the Children of Israel, because they had sprinkled their houses with the blood of a lamb. This, therefore, was accounted by the Jews their most solemn ordinance, and the anniversary of it was kept with the utmost sanctity. The Passover was to be eaten on a certain day of the month, and the lamb, provided for the celebration of it, was slaughtered the day before. Whatever was the day of the week on which it fell, that was always observed as a Sabbath. But it so happened that in the year of our Lord's death, it fell on the ordinary Jewish Sabbath, and hence, “that Sabbath-day was an high day,”—a day of extraordinary sanctity and devotion.*

Now, our blessed Lord had nothing to do with appointing the day of his death. That rested entirely with the Roman Governor and the Jewish people. In reading the history of his trial, we find, that the Jews clamoured for his immediate execution, and were impatient till it was decreed. They paid no respect to the peculiar nature of the day, in which their thoughts, occupied in preparing for the approaching festival, might be supposed to have been too deeply interested to admit of their leading men out to public execution. They never once remembered the mercy granted to their forefathers on that important anniversary. Their tempers were too much inflamed, and their hearts too full of malice and revenge, to allow them to think of showing mercy to others. Hence they slew the Saviour of the world at the very time when the Paschal lamb was appointed to be slain. They put to death the only, begotten Son of God, the first-born of every creature, who was to accomplish the deliverance of man from the yoke of Satan's bondage, on the very day when the first-born of the Egyptians was slain for the deliverance of their forefathers from Pharaoh's yoke. They unwittingly watched his cross when they themselves had been commanded to stand upon the watch, with their loins girded, their feet sandaled, and their staves ready. They kept the Passover at the very time when the true Paschal Lamb was laid out, an offering and a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. They accomplished by their violence and impatience and revenge, a singular train of circumstances, which no human contrivance ever meditated, and no depth of skill or penetration would have ever imagined or achieved.

* See Note at the end of the Sermon.

II. The next particular to which I shall draw your attention, is, the price which was paid for his life, and the application of that money to a very singular object.

Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, moved entirely by a love of covetousness, went to the Chief Priests and Captains, and agreed to betray him to them for thirty pieces of silver. The bargain was struck, and the act of treachery soon afterwards carried into effect. But when this wicked servant beheld his Master condemned to death, and about to be carried before the Roman Governor to have the sentence ratified and accomplished, his heart relented at his baseness, and casting down in the Temple, before the Chief Priests, the reward he had received as the wages of his infamy, he declared his own guilt and his Master's innocence, and in an agony of despair went and put an end to his wretched existence. The Chief Priests refused to receive back

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