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Immediately an unbridled populace dragged him amid the grossest insults and abuse, to Golgotha, the place of execution, compelling him to bear his cross. Here they offered him vinegar and myrrh mingled with gall; stripped off his raiment, and nailed him through the hands and feet, to the accursed instrument of death. Two thieves were crucified with him, one on the right hand, the other on the left. On the top of the cross was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, « THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE
By both rulers and people, he was ridiculed, as he hung suspended in the air; but with his dying breath, he prayed for his murderers, saying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” At first, both the thieves joined in upbraiding him, but one became convinced of his guilt, and was the object of saving mercy. His weeping mother, who now realized the declaration of Simeon, “ Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also,” he commended to the care of John, the son of Zebedee. About noon, when he had hung perhaps three hours on the cross, the sun was supernaturally darkened three hours; and under the hidings of God's face, Jesus cried out, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?” Some derided him and said that he called for Elias. Shortly after, he said, “ I thirst," and they gave him vinegar to drink. He tasted it; said “ It is finished," commended his soul to God; bowed his head and gave up the ghost. Thus did Christ expiate the sins of men. Thus did he bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows. “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.”
When he expired, the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom, to signify that the ceremonial distinction between Jews and Gentiles was abolished; the earth shook; the rocks burst; graves were opened; and many saints which slept, arose and appeared in Jerusalem. The spectators were filled with terror. The centurion exclaimed, “ this was a righteous man, was the son of God.” “And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. “It was the greatest and most solemn event that ever did, or will occur to the end of time.” into a hole for its support, and the wretched victim was there left to hang, until, through loss of blood, or hunger, he, in intense agony, expired; yea, until the dead body was borne off by carniverous birds.
The crucified body of our Lord was committed to Joseph of Arimathea, and decently laid in a new grave which he had hewn out of a rock in a garden. Christ had foretold his resurrection, and the rulers, apprehensive that his followers might steal the body, and say he had risen, sealed the sepulchre, and placed a guard to watch it, until the third day had passed. But all the prudence and power of men, could not frustrate the designs of heaven. God had determined that his holy One should not see corruption. It was necessary that Christ should rise from the dead, that he might gain a signal victory over him that had the power of death, and become the resurrection and life to all his followers. On the morning of the third day from his crucifixion, was a terrible earthquake. An angel appeared in a glorious form, causing the soldiers to flee in amazement, and rolled the stone from the door of the sepulchre. The prince of life resumed his breath and active being, and went forth to the world a triumphant conqueror. If his death was the most solemn and awful event, his resurrection was the most joyful which ever occurred. Christ came forth to eternal life. "Death hath no more dominion over him.” “I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen.” He came forth the first fruits of them that slept, to give new evidence of his divinity, and of the resurrection of the saints, and to enter in presence of the world, into his glory. He mingled not much again with the people. He was seen repeatedly by his disciples, and once by more than 500 followers. He remained on earth forty days, instructing in the things of his kingdom. At the end of this period, he met his disciples at Jerusalem; directed them to remain there until they should be endued with miraculous powers by the Holy Ghost, and then go and preach the gospel to every creature. He told them of his Almighty power, and assured them of his presence with them and their successors to the end of time. He then led them to the mount of Olives, and there blessed them, and was parted from them and carried up into heaven; there to intercede for his Church; to prepare mansions for his followers, and to sit on his throne as KING in Zion, who, through all ages, takes care of his Church, controls and punishes his enemies, and will be glorified in them that believe.
Thus terminated the amazing incarnation of the Son of God. Infidelity has seldom had the effrontery to deny the existence of this illustrious founder of the Christian religion.
The difficulty of accounting for the existence of Christianity in the world on any other supposition than that of his real being, has probably restrained from this. But Jesus Christ has ever been a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. “He came unto his own, but his own received him not.” The Jews looked for a great temporal prince, and they would not endure any man who should pretend to be the Messiah in a poor and low condition. The Greek, the refined, the philosophical, the voluptuous, in every age, have been disgusted with the humble and spiritual nature of his kingdom and the self-denying precepts he has placed before them. But whoever looks carefully at the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth; at all the ancient types and prophecies* which were fulfilled in him; at the sublimity of his doctrine; the purity of his precepts; the holiness and beneficence of his life; the number and character of the miracles he wrought; (for he healed the sick, cleansed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, cast out devils, fed thousands from food sufficient only for a few, stilled the tempestuous sea, raised the dead to life, all glorious acts of benevolence, and acts of infinite power only,) whoever considers what the state of this world would be, did all mankind receive the doctrines and truths, and obey the precepts and imitate the example of Christ;- must exclaim, as did the centurion at the crucifixion, TRULY THIS WAS THE SON OF God.
* To lead the reader to reflect on the wonderful minuteness of the predictions relating to Christ in the Old Testament, the following are subjoined as referred to in the single Evangelist of Matthew. Matthew
Matthew Isaiah vii. 14.) 23. || Jer.
vii. 11. xxi. 13. Micah v. 2.
Psalm viii. 2. xxi. 16. Hosea xi. 1.
cxviii. 22. xxi. 42. Jeremiah xxxi. 15.
сх. xxii. 44. Judges
viii. 14. Is.
xli. 9. Is.
iv. 15. Zech. xiii. 7. Is. viii. 17. Is.
1. 6. Is.
xii. 17. Zech. xi. 13. Jonah
xii. 40. Psalm xxii. 18. Is. vi. 9. xiii. 14.
xxii. 2. Psalm lxxvii. 2. xiii. 35.
lxix. 21. Isaiah xxxv. 5, 6. xv. Isaiah liii. 9. Zech. ix. 9. xxi.
Chapter 2.) NUMBER AND CHARACTER OF CHRIST'S DISCIPLES.
Number and character of Christ's disciples. Death of John the Baptist. The twelve
Apostles chosen. The seventy sent. History and character of the twelve. Descent upon them of the Holy Ghost. Outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Three thousand added to the Church. Boldness and success of Peter and John. Holiness and harmony of the Church. Detection of Hypocrisy. Institution of the office of Deacon. Martyrdom of Stephen. Persecution and dispersion of the Church. The gospel carried to the Samaritans and dispersed Jews. Conversion of Saul.
The astonishment excited by the appearance, preaching and miracles of Christ, was such, as we might naturally look for from their novel and divine character. But the ill success of his ministry can never be satisfactorily accounted for by those who deny that man is alienated from his Maker, and that salvation is o not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” Immense multitudes constantly pressed upon him wherever he went, either to hear his doctrines or witness his miracles; but very few became sincerely attached to his person; very few were even convinced that he was the Messiah and entered his spiritual kingdom. Those who were assembled at Jerusalem after his ascension, are said to have been but about an hundred and twenty; and at that great meeting in Galilee, where all who were attached to his cause that could conveniently assemble, were probably gathered together, there were but about five hundred. Well might the prophet Isaiah commence his fifty-third chapter, containing a remarkable exhibition of the humiliation and sufferings of Christ, with the exclamation, “Who hath heard our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed!” But Christ knew it to be for the best, and he rejoiced in spirit at the dispensations of grace.
But few of his followers were among the rich or the noble. We indeed read of Zaccheus, a man of wealth; Nicodemus, a ruler; Joseph an honorable counsellor; and a certain nobleman, who believed with all his house-evincing that divine grace can triumph over the most exalted condition of life; but the mass of his friends were from the lower ranks, and his special favorites were Galileans, a despised people, and chiefly fishermen or publicans. His own life was one of great poverty and reproach; and his doctrines marred the pride of the noble, and condemned the. luxurious habits of the wealthy.
John the Baptist, who united in himself the two dispensations, the old and the new, was perhaps the first who received Jesus. He pointed him out to others as the Lamb of God. He had become the head of a religious sect and had many followers, whom he had baptized. But when informed that Jesus had begun to preach and to baptize by his disciples, and that the whole country was going after him, he showed the greatest humility and submission to him as his exalted Redeemer. He declared that he had no honor but that which came from God; and that he could have no greater joy than in seeing Christ increase, while he should decrease. He recommended Jesus as endowed with an unmeasurable fulness of the Holy Ghost; and assured all who heard him, that the wrath of God would abide on unbelievers in his gospel.
John was for a time revered by Herod; but he had the faithfulness to reprove that vile man for marrying his brother's wife, and was imprisoned. Laid aside from his work, his faith seems in some degree to have failed; he therefore sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Perhaps he designed also to turn their attention from him. self to the great Redeemer. Jesus told them to declare to John what miracles he performed, and the great fact which distinguished him as a teacher from all the philosophers which had ever undertaken to instruct mankind, " That to the poor the gospel was preached.” Soon after, he was beheaded to gratify the malice of Herodias,-excited by his bold reproof of Herod. His disciples took his body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. The Pharisees said he had a devil, but Christ bore witness of him as one of the greatest and best of men.
From among his followers, Jesus selected twelve to be his daily companions and intimate associates, whom he commissioned as Apostles or preachers of his gospel. This number was probably chosen, in correspondence to the twelve patriarchs, or twelve tribes of Israel. It signified that he was head or High Priest of the Jewish nation. The persons chosen, were Simon Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew; James, the son of Alpheus; and Simon, called Zelotes; Judas, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot. Their mission was confined at first, to the land of Israel. They were directed to deçlare to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, that the