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accusation, he gave up Christ to his enemies, yet he never insulted him. He feared him even while he condemned him to death. And now he is providentially led to compose a title for the cross of Christ, that proclaims him in his true character. The Jews felt the thing as an acknowledgment of the pretensions of Jesus, and requested him to change it. But he sternly and steadily refused. It must stand written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Even on the cross Jesus is exhibited by his very crucifiers in his true character. The cross of Christ calls to men of all nations in their own language, that Jesus is the true King of Israel, who sits on the throne of his father David. The very devils were obliged to confess the Son of God; and his opposers in every age are obliged to serve the interests of his kingdom, even in the persecution of his people. “ And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross.
And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. This title then read many of the Jews : for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, the King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.” Here the wrath of man praises God with a loud voice.
LOTS CAST FOR THE COAT OF JESUS.John xix. 23.
« Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam woven from the top throughout. They said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be ; that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things, therefore, the soldiers did.” Here we are expressly assured, that the thing done was done, that prophecy might be fulfilled. But we see that the fulfilment was altogether providential. The casting of the lot for this part of the raiment of the Messiah was the work of the soldiers themselves, the thought of which occurred to their own minds. Never did men act more sponta. neously : Stoical or Mahometan fate could not more exactly have accomplished the thing predicted. In an inconceivable manner God performs his purposes by the voluntary thoughts and actions of all men, even by his enemies. Philosophy may attempt to explain and to reconcile by forced modification on one side or the other. Some, in order to have action voluntary, will deny that God ordains voluntary action, because they cannot comprehend the consist. ency. Some, in order to maintain the universal ordination of God, deny that action is voluntary, because, in their little wisdom, they cannot philosophize on the subject. Some force a harmony by
obliging both parties to soften their expressions, and submit to modification ; because they are not hardy enough to take either alternative, yet still wish to be esteemed wise. The attempt to fathom this subject is as vain as to attempt to ascertain the boundary of space or time. That God doth all things by the counsel of his own will, yet that man is voluntary and responsible, are truths exhibited in Scripture, written as with a sun-beam. Our business is to believe both, without any attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible ways of Jehovah.
THE LEGS OF JESUS NOT BROKEN.-John xix. 31-37.
How watchful is Providence in the fulfilment of the Scriptures ! A bone of the Messiah is not to be broken; yet a general order was given to the sol. diers on the occasion to break the legs of those who were hanging on the cross. How is Jesus to escape ? Providentially he was already dead; and as the breaking of the legs was for the purpose of bastening death, by an equal Providence the sol. diers took the liberty not to observe the letter of their instructions. Soldiers generally are machines, and it is seldom they fail in literally executing their orders. Surely none but God could so execute his purposes. Had not Jesus been dead, his legs must have been broken. How critical was the juncture! How seasonable was the order !
The same thing was overruled to occasion the
piercing of the side of Jesus, for the fulfilment of the Scripture, and the exhibition of a miraculous symbol of salvation. A soldier wantonly, without orders, pierced the side of Jesus with a spear. That the bones of Jesus might not be broken, the sol. diers did not fully execute their orders: That the side of Jesus might be pierced, a soldier pierced him without orders, moved by some capricious but divinely appointed suggestion. What a complication of the wonders of Providence! Philosophy endeavours to lessen our astonishment, by telling us of the structure of the body. The pericardium, they tell us, was pierced, and this accounts for the issuing of the blood and water, without the help of any miracle. Down, driveller! Did not the blood and water come in two distinct streams ? Is this to be accounted for by the structure of the heart ?
THE DISCIPLES PLUCK THE EARS OF CORN ON THE
The occasions of many of the miracles of our Lord were providential. While their great object was to prove Jesus to be the Christ, they were often performed in such circumstances as to instruct his disciples in other truths. The occasion of several of them seems evidently to have been to show the true nature of the Sabbath. In the fact here recorded, we have an occasion afforded to our Lord to condemn the Pharisaical notions of the Sabbath ; and show those works that are not inconsistent with its most sacred observance. Jesus and his company happened on the Sabbath to go through the corn-fields : it happened, also, that his disciples were hungry, and that, in consequence, they plucked the ears of corn, and ate. This gave occasion to the Pharisees to complain, and to Jesus to expound to them the true nature of the Sabbath. Whoever reads the account of the works of our Lord will see much of these providential leadings in his life. A similar Providence presented before and afforded with the withered hand on a Sabbath ; him the man an opportunity for that answer so confounding to his adversaries.
In like manner, in every age, the Providence of Jesus often brings his people into situations that afford them an opportunity of manifesting the difference between religion and superstition, between enlightened obedience to the authority of God, and a bigoted attachment to human additions to the Divine law. The Lord's day is a most precious appointment for the disciples of Christ, but they do not honour it aright who speak of it in a way that would condemn the conduct of the Lord of the Sabbath.
CERTAIN DISCIPLES MINISTER TO THE LORD JESUS
OF THEIR SUBSTANCE.-Luke viii. 3.
Jesus, who could supply others by miracle, lived himself by Providence. The Lord of the universe, who at first created the world, and who still by his