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to be thus barbarously treated? Here you may see, as in a faithful mirror, how it will go with you, unless you sincerely forsake your sins, and believe in Christ. If you die in your sins; in such reproach and disgrace, crowned with thorns of the curse, and stigmatised with the marks of everlasting death, will ye one day be exposed before God and his elect angels. Behold, from this eternal ignominy will your Saviour deliver you, but on no other conditions than those of faith in him, sincere repentance and amendment of life. You must truly turn to God, acknowledging yourselves deserving of the greatest disgrace and reproach, and present yourselves before the throne of grace as wretched criminals, who are guilty of death. O neglect not this opportunity until Jesus, who now, as it were, stands before your eyes as a despised worm, shall seat himself on his judgmentseat, and pronounce sentence of eternal condemnation on those who have despised the merits of his blood! Therefore with eyes full of tears, and with looks of compassionate longing after mercy, Behold the man, whom your sins have thus barbarously treated! Pray to him, whom for your sake became as it were, a worm, and less than man, and implore his protection to deliver you from that ruin and depravity into which you are sunk, and to make you the sons of God and heirs of Glory.
Behold, ye covetous and merciless rich men, Behold the man, who is thus debased and poor, in order to make many rich; who is so emaciated that you may tell all his bones; who out of his generous love and boundless liberality, poured out his precious blood for your salvation.
Ye sons of pride and ambition, Behold the man, who is humbled so low; whose head is crowned with thorns, and whose body is exposed in a tattered purple robe, for your sins.
Ye wanton and lascivious, Behold the man, whose whole body was covered with blood, stripes, and
bruises. Behold, with what torture he was to satisfy the Divine Justice for your sensuality, voluptuousness, and the lusts of your pampered flesh.
Ye passionate and revengeful, Behold the man, who suffers whatever Heaven is pleased to lay upon him with astonishing patience, mildness, and serenity; who permits himself to be assaulted by the combined rage of a tumultuous populace, that he might atone for your violent emotions of anger and revenge, and obtain pardon and grace for you from his heavenly Father. Therefore, throw yourselves at the feet of this incarnate God; pour out your tears and complaints before him; and pray to him that his suf ferings may be for the salvation of your souls.
Lastly, Ye penitent and faithful souls, Behold the man! See how low his unspeakable love to you brought him! Turn your eyes from your sins and iniquities, with which your conscience is oppressed, and direct them to this Lamb of God the sacred victim that has borne your sins, and presented himself to the Divine Justice as a great sacrifice of atonement. Contemplate his whole deplorable appearance, by which he has removed the ghastly appearance of your guilt, when you were an abhorrence in the sight of God and in your own eyes, and has made you acceptable to the Father. Reflect on his ignominous crown of thorns, by which he has acquired for you a right to a never-fading crown of glory. Consider his mean purple robe, by which he has obtained for you the garment of innocence and righte ousness. Contemplate his wounds and stripes as the remedy for the wounds of your conscience. conscience. Behold his face covered with blood, but at the same time beaming forth looks of the most tender love to your souls. Lastly, consider his composed and placid. heart, which, amidst all his pains and the malicious outrages of his enemies, was lifted up in prayer to God. Therefore with a cordial love, and with all the powers of the soul, give yourselves up to this faithful
Saviour; and as he voluntarily suffered himself to be exposed to cruelty and rage, so likewise do you willingly present and devote yourselves to his service. Do not hesitate to become an insulting laughing-stock in following Christ. If the world points at you, if it insults and ridicules you, rejoice that you are made thus conformable to the suffering Jesus; and be assured, that he will one day present you to the Father in a glorious state, when he himself shall point you out and say, 'behold, here am I, and the children whom thou gavest me,' (Isaiah viii. 18. Heb. ii. 13.)
II. Let us now, in the next place, consider the effect produced by the means which Pilate made use of. to release our blessed Saviour, and enquire what fol lowed his being thus exhibited to the people.
First, It was followed by a tumultuous outcry. For when the chief Priests and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, crucify him! crucify him!' The people seemed, at first, to have felt some compassion at the deplorable appearance of the blessed Jesus; insomuch that they stood in a silent astonishment at the dismal spectacle. But the chief Priests and their officers, who, for their own interest, were obliged to join in the cry, and to gnash upon this innocent person with their teeth, (Ps. xxxv. 16.) were too malignant and cruel to be susceptible of any pity or compassion. They were not sensible that mercy is better than sacrifice, (Matt. ix. 13. xii. 7.) Here were verified these words to the Psalmist (Ps. xxii. 12, 13.) Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roar ing lion.' Here was accomplished what the Lord Jesus had, in a parable, before declared to this perverse generation, saying, 'When the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the heir ; Come, let us kill him.' (Matt. xxi. 38.) The ac
complishment of it was this: When the chief Priests saw him, they cried out, saying, crucify him!' Thus the sight of this moving spectacle had quite a different effect on them from what Pilate had imagined. He hoped by so deplorable an object, to have moved them to compassion; but on the contrary, at the sight of the blood issuing from all parts of our Saviour's body, their thirst after his blood was the more inflamed. Here Solomon's assertion was abundantly verified, namely, The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.' (Prov. xii. 10.) No less savage are the men of this world in their rage against the faithful servants of Christ, who bear witness to the truth. The sympathetic feelings of humanity are turned into the most savage barbarity, by their hatred to Christ and his members. How must these outrageous clamours of the mad populace have affected the soul of the blessed Jesus! The wounds and stripes inflicted on him by the soldiers, did not cause him near so much pain as this inhuman rancour of his people.
But the same barbarous treatment which our blessed Lord here experienced, has been continued to his members. When the Asiatic Jews saw St. Paul in the Temple, They stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, men of Israel help.And all the city was moved, and the people came together. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came to the chief captain of the Band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.' (Acts xxi. 27-31.) And when St. Paul had thereupon made his defence, the whole multitude 'lift up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth! for it is not fit he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, the chief Captain commanded him to be brought into the castle,' (Acts xxii. 23, 24.) The histories of the martyrs particularly prove that the Romish clergy never shewed themselves more outrageous than when they had Christ
sufferings before their eyes, in the persons of his men. bers and faithful witnesses. Even thieves and robbers meet with some compassion, when they are punished for their offences; but when Christ in his members is tortured by fire or sword, they steel their breasts against all sentiments of pity and tenderness.
But alas! it little becomes sinners to rail against the enemies of Christ. The malignant spirit of Cain, which naturally dwells in us, cried through the Jewish people, Crucify him! Nay, what the deluded Jews did is daily repeated. All those who are not moved by the pains of a suffering Saviour, to renounce their ungodly ways, and fly from those sins which brought such sufferings upon him, do, in effect, cry out, Crucify him! Crucify him!
O blessed Jesus! grant that the consideration of thy manifold sufferings may have a nobler effect on our souls! Grant that we may cry out against our old man, Crucify him! Crucify him! and that we may do homage to thee as our lawful King. May every insult, and every pain which thou didst endure for our sake, inspire us with fresh motives to obedience, and gratitude for thy stupendous love.
Secondly, The next thing which happened after our Saviour was thus exhibited as a deplorable spectacle to the people, was Pilate's expostulation with the Jews; in which occurs,
1. Pilate's speech to them. Pilate, it seems grew so impatient at this last outcry of the Jews, that he broke out into these passionate expressions, Take ye him, and crucify him; for I find no fault in him." In this he was so far to be commended, that he again publicly repeats his testimony of our blessed Lord's innocence. But, on the other hand, he is to be blamed for not opposing the Jews, who were for assuming the power of crucifying an innocent person, and for taking the guilt of it on themselves; at least, he might have declined giving them a permission am ounting to an express command. Pilate had be