« PreviousContinue »
with, shewed more fortitude and patience than any thing said by the Greeks under their sufferings.
And again, when one of the malefactors reproached him, he answered him not : but when the other I said, “ Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” he thus acknowledged himself to be a king, and one who had the ' keys of heaven and hell, “Verily, I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise;" in the state of those who are separated, as in a garden of delight, for God's acceptance.
It is a remarkable instance of our Lord's composure, that, in the midst of his exquisite pains, he recommended his mother to that most benevolent apostle St. John.
The next circumstance in the order of events is, that about the ninth hour our Lord cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?” As the words in the original' psalm do not import a dereliction of the Deity, they cannot be thus understood when used by our Lord. In this strong language the Psalmist described imminent u distress and danger from the "sword of * scornful and 'mighty enemies. He did not mean that he was totally forsaken by Jehovah, whom he afterwards entreated not to be ? far from him, whom he called his a strength, whom he characterized as not hiding his face froni the afflicted, and to whom he promised • praise and thanksgiving in return for the mercies
which he implored. In the same terms our Lord expressed the greatness of his anguish; when, in the prophetic words of the psalm, which is sometimes applicable to David and sometimes to the Messiah, “ he was poured out like water, his bones were separated from each other, his heart was like wax, it was melted within him.” Our Lord's language, I say, was dictated by extreme suffering, and not by distrust. In the style of the Hebrew scriptures, when God permitted individuals or nations to be oppressed and afflicted, he was said to hide his face from them, to forget, reject, or forsake them. Our Lord eould not suppose that God had cast him off, because immediately before and after these words he reposed an entire confidence in him. During his crucifixion he twice called God his e Father, he declared his assurance that he should enter into a state of happiness, and accordingly he resigned his departingh spirit into his Father's hands. He likewise saw, during the space of three hours before he expired, that God miraculously interposed in his behalf, by diminishing the light of the sun and shedding a comparative darkness over the whole land, or, at least, that part of it which was adjacent to Jerusalem. When Jesus had thus poured forth his sorrows, in the words of a sacred hymn which foretold many circumstances of his death, God, who had, as it were, hidden his face from him for a moment, had mercy on him with everlasting kindness, and speedily closed the scene of his sufferings. For, immediately after this, “k Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” This thirst was the natural consequence of his pains, and of that effusion of blood which was occasioned by piercing his hands and his feet. But, unless it had remained that the prophecy of the Psalmist should receive its " full completion, it was a circumstance on which he would have observed a majestic silence : such was his command over himself, and so attentive was he that not one jot or tittle of the prophets should pass away.
d Psal. xxii. 14. e See Job xx. 19. Psal. xxxvji. 25. xxxviii. 10, 21, 22. xlii. 9. xliii. 2. lxxi. 11, 12, 18. Isai. xlix. 14. liv. 7, 8. Luke xxiii. 34, 46. rib.o 43.
i Isai. liv. 7, 8.
"n Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar ;” the mean drink of the Roman soldiers ; and one of the bystanders filled a sponge with vinegar, and placed it upon a bunch of hyssop, and by means of a reed advanced it to his mouth. “ • When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished :" The prophecies concerning me, antecedently to my death, have had their accomplishment: I have finished my laborious and painful course : I have thus far performed thy will, O God. Immediately after this, he expired with words expressive of a perfect reliance on God, and a firm persuasion of his acceptance : “p Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
Thus did our Lord appear as great in his sufferings as in his actions, in his death as in his life; and thus did he exhibit a wonderful example of forgive
k John. xix. 28. See Lardner's Test, ii. 303, $ 24. where Origen objects that Jesus was unable patiently to endure thirst. m See Psal. lxix. 21. Matt. xxvii. 34. * John xix. 29. and pop ib. 5. 30. ? Luke xxiii. 46.
ness and composure, of magnanimity and conscious dignity, of filial love and pious resignation, in the midst of the most horrid tortures that human nature is capable of sustaining.
OF OUR LORD'S VERACITY.
WHEN Jesus is said to have “* dwelt among us full of grace and truth,” the evangelist may either mean to characterize him as sincere, faithful and true, or to oppose the solid and substantial truths of his doctrine to the types and shadows of the law.
Most justly did our Lord say of himself that “ he told the Jews the truth which he had heard from God;" and that, “because he told them the truth,” however contradictory to their prejudices, “they did not believe him.” He paid a constant regard to the virtue of veracity ; it was a prevailing principle with him, and a constituent part of his character : and therefore, when he had fearlessly acknowledged his regal dignity to Pilate, he added, “ For this cause was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the d truth :" that in fit circumstances I should acknowledge my high office, and should preach and confirm the religion which I am sent to found, whatever danger I may incur by such a conduct.
Suitably to this character, Jesus plainly reproved the faults of his friends and enemies ; warned the e rich of their extreme danger ; foretold the persecutions of his church in all ages; taught that taking up the 8 cross was the consequence of becoming his dis. ciple in the earliest age of the church ; and proclaimed, not to a few but to multitudes which followed him, that, before they became his disciples in those days of fierce opposition to the gospel, they must count the cost, and forsake all that they had.
In like manner, when James and John, full of worldly ideas, preferred their ambitious request, that in our Lord's kingdom one might sit on his right hand, and the other on his left, the reply was an open and upright one ; “ To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give ; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” And when our Lord was asked by four of the apostles at what time the destruction of the temple should happen, he premised a particular and descriptive prophecy, explained the preceding signs of the events foretold, and assured them that many who were then living should see the accomplishment of his predictions. This might have sufficed; and, no doubt, would have appeared satisfactory : but the admirable rectitude and simplicity of his mind led him to add, that the spirit of prophecy afforded not an useless gratification to over curious men by exactly specify. ing this awful period : “ Of i that day and a season
e Matt. xvi. 23. c. xxiii.
Mark x. 24, 5. & Luke xiv. 25–33. h Matt. 28. 23. i Compounded of Matt. xxiv. 36. Mark xiü. 52 Compare Matt. xxiv. 42. Mark. xiii. 33.