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thou didst still remam our Jesus, our Saviour, and our King. Make us partakers of those blessings which thou hast procured for us by thy sufferings. May we be truly sensible of the shame of our spiritual nakedness. Grant that we may know the insufficiency, of our own righteousness, and desire to be clothed by thy righteousness here; so that, after laying aside the garment of our flesh, we may be arrayed in the effulgent robe of heavenly glory hereafter. Amen.
THE MENTAL SUFFERINGS OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS.
' AND the people stood beholding; and they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and say. ing, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself; if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief Priests, mocking him with the Scribes and Elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the Christ, the King of Israel, the chosen of God, let him save himself, and now come down from the cross, that we may see it, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar; and saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself. The thieves also, who were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. And one of the malefactors, who were hanged, railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us,' (Matt. xxvii. 39-44. Mark xv. 29-32. Luke xxxiii. 35, 36. 57, 39.)
This part of the history of the passion exhibits to. us the mental sufferings of our blessed Lord. Such cutrageous indignities, as were offered Christ on the
cross, may not improperly be called the crucifixion of his soul. For, if the nails that were driven through his hands and feet put him to the most sensible pain ; the mockeries, insults, and invectives, which penetrated into his heart, and were levelled at him like poisonous and fiery darts, must have occasioned the greater torture to his unspotted soul. David complains, that as with a sword in his bones, his cnemies reproach him, while they daily say unto him, Where is now thy God?' It is beyond the comprehension of all human understanding what the Son of David felt in his soul, when he was, as it were, set up as a butt for reproaches, and when so many tongues, set on fire of hell, discharged their mockeries against him; which David compares to sharp arrows of the mighty, (Psalm cxx. 4.) If St. Paul says of apostates, that they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame, (Heb. vi. 6.) he may very justly be said to have been as it were crucified by those horrid blasphemies, revilings, and mockeries, which he heard on the cross.
In the preceding sufferings of Christ, all sorts of men had exercised their tongues in the most virulent manner, and yielded them up as tools to satan, in order to give the most sensible wounds to the Son of God. The tongue of Judas had betrayed him, and pointed him out to his enemies by that hypocritical salutation, Hail Master! Peter's tongue had denied him with curses and imprecations. The tongues of the false witnesses had slandered him. The tongues of the High Priest Caiaphas, and of the other members of the Sanhedrim, had condemned him as a blas. phemer; had falsely accused him before Pilate and Herod, and charged him with many enormous crimes. The tongues of the officers of the Council had ridiculed his prophetical office, and the tongues of the Roman soldiers his regal dignity. The tongue of Herod had insulted him by several impertinent and insolent questions. The tongue of Pilate had pro
nounced sentence on him, and ordered him to be scourged and put to death. The tongues of the whole Jewish people had cried, Crucify him! Crucify him! And now, when he was actually fastened on the cross, and the hands of his enemies were in a manner tired, their envenomed tongues were the more virulent in venting all manner of reproach and contumely against him. These, the spirit of darkness and lies filled with the venom of the infernal dragon; and by these he endeavoured to make his last attempt on the soul of our blessed Lord, who at present was to feel the wrath of God in the highest degree. We shall therefore make some remarks on these mockeries, by which the soul of our holy Redeemer was assaulted; and draw some inferences from them for our edification. For this end, we shall,
First, Take notice of the authors of these taunting reflections against the blessed Jesus.
Secondly, The instruments with which they reviled and insulted him.
I. As to the persons who reviled our blessed Saviour on the cross, four sorts of men were particularly; concerned in the guilt; and these were,
1. The people.
2. The rulers of the Jews.
3. The Roman soldiers.
4. The malefactors who were crucified with him.
1. The Jewish people, or the multitude who stood about the cross of Christ, were guilty of this enor mous sin. We have observed before, that our blessed Saviour was followed to the place of crucifixion by a great multitude of people; that they might entertain their eyes with this bloody spectacle. Hence it is probable, that not only Mount Golgotha, but all the adjacent eminences were covered with spectators; especially as Jerusalem was then filled with an innume, rable concourse of idle and curious people, on account of the Passover. [Josephus, in his history of the Jewish war, says that at one passover three
millions of souls were assembled at Jerusalem. Book II. Chap. III.] Then was seen in the great Antitype, the accomplishment of what was typically done on the annual feast of atonement; for the whole congregation of the children of Israel stood round the High Priest, when he offered the sacrifice for the sins of the people. Thus the High Priest over the house of God, at the time when he offered himself on the cross to his heavenly Father, was surrounded by a vast multitude of people; who, according to the Divine decree, were to be witnesses of this general sacrifice. Some of the people stood at a distance, and looked on; the curiosity of others led them to approach nearer to the cross, that they might have a more distinct view of Jesus; and these were the persons who reviled him. For as it was customary, in stoning an Israelite, for every one present to throw a stone at the malefactor; so here, likewise, none of the spectators of Christ's crucifixion, who stood near, omitted to throw a stone of invective against him.
2. The next who were involved in this guilt were the rulers of the people; or, as they are specified by St. Matthew, the chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Elders, (Chap. xxvii. 41) In some Greek copies, the Pharisees are likewise mentioned, who, we may be sure, were not far off. Thus the civil and ecclesiastical chiefs of the Jewish nation were here present, These persons, on account of the approaching passover, had, according to the Mosaic law, affairs of a very different nature to attend. Besides, this pollut ed place of execution ill suited those pretended scrupulous consciences, which,, but six hours before, would not permit these hypocrites to set a foot within a Pagan court of justic, lest they should be defiled. But an inhuman rancour against Jesus had brought them hither, along with the rabble. Nay, they were not only the nearest spectators at the time of the crucifixion, but remained at the cross for some time after; which they did partly, that, by their presence they
might prevent any of the people from coming to succour Jesus, and take him from the cross; and partly, that they might feast their savage eyes with this bloody sacrifice, and increase his sufferings with all kind of insults and blasphemies, after the soldiers had nailed his body to the cross. But God, without having any share in these wicked and detestable views, by his secret providence detained them there; that they might be witnesses of the sufferings of Christ on Mount Golgotha, and of the uncommon patience, mildness, and piety which he displayed, to the disgrace of his enemies, who had condemned him as a blasphemer. Moreover, the Elders of the people, by standing about the cross, may put us in mind of the type of Christ, exhibited by the rock which was struck in the presence ofall the Elders of Israel, (Exod. xvii. 6.) and of the builders, who would reject the head-stone of the corner, (Psalm cxviii. 32.)
3. The Roman soldiers likewise shared in his guilt; for St. Luke (Luke xxiii. 36.) observes, that the soldiers also mocked him. In the judgment-hall of Pilate, they had already committed several outrages against him, and vexed our Saviour's righteous soul by all manner of prophane and contumelious reflections. However, they were so far from having exhausted their stock of cruel mockeries, that they still make the crucified Jesus the object of their farther ridicule. We do not indeed find, that they were the first in the revilings at the place of crucifixion. It was the Jews and their rulers who led the way, and thus by their wicked example, the Gentiles were incited to repeat their opprobrious language and insults.
4. Lastly, The malefactors who were crucihed with him were also guilty of this sin. For St. Matthew says,The thieves also, who were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth;' from which words one would be apt to conclude, that both malefactors, who were on his right hand and on his left, concurred in reviling our blessed Saviour. But St.