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ked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, when thou art in the same condemnation ? And we both indeed are justly condemned, for we receive but what is due for the crimes we have committed ; but this man has done nothing amiss. And he then said to Jesús, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Verily I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.*
REFLECTIONS. How great and glorious does the Lord Jesus Christ appear in the midst of all those dishonours which his enemies were now heaping up: on him! While these rapacious soldiers were dividing the spoils, hariing his raiment among them, and casting lots for his vesiure, God was working in all to crown him with a glory which none could take from him, and to make the lustre of it so much the more conspicuous by that dark cloud which now surrounded him. His enemies upbraidech him as an abandoned miscreant, deserted both by God and man; but he (though able to have come down from the cross in a moment, or by one word from thence, to have struck these insolent wretches dead on the place, and to have sent their guilty spirits to accompany the fiends under whose influence they were) yet patiently endured all, and was as a deaf man, who heard not their reproaches, and as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. But as soon as the penitent thief addressed him with that humble supplication, the language of repentance, faith, and hope, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom, he immediately hears and answers him: and in how gracious and remark: able a phrase ! This day shalt thou be with me in paradise! What a triumph was here, not only of mercy to the dying penitent, but of the strongest faith in God, that when to an eye of sense, he seemed to be the most deserted and forgotten by him, and was on every side beset with the scorn of them that were at ease, and with the contempt of the proud, he should speak from the Cross as from a Throne, and undertake from thence, not only to dispense pardons, but to dispose of seats in paradise !
Most ungrateful and most foolish is the conduct of those who take encouragement from hence to put off their repentance perhaps to a dying moment: most ungrateful, in perverting the grace of the Redeemer into an occasion of renewing their provocations against him, and hardening their hearts in their impieties; and most foolish, to imagine, that what our Lord did in so singular a circumstance, is to be drawn into an ordinary precedent. This criminal had, perhaps, never heard of the gospel before ; and now low cordially does he embrace it ? Probably there are few saints in glory who ever honoured Christ more illustriously than this dying sinner, acknowledging him to be the Lord of life, whom he saw in the agonies of death ; and pleading his cause when his friends and brethren forsook him, and stood afar off. But such is the corruption of men's hearts, and such the artifice of Satan, that all other views of him are overlooked, and nothing remem
* I cannot but look on this man as a glorious instance of the power and sovereignty of divine grace, which produced in his last moments, all the virtues which could be crowded into so small a space.
bered, but that he was a notorious offender, who obtained mercy in his departing moments. The Lord grant that none who read this story here, may be added to the list of those who, despising the forbearance and long-suffering of God, and not knowing that his goodness leads to repentance, have been emboldened to abuse this scripture, so as to perish, either without crying for mercy at all, or crying for it in vain, after having treasured up an inexhaustible store of wrath, misery, and clespair
Jesus recommends his mother to the care of John, and after suffering many
indignities on the cross, expires. Prodigies attend his death, and alarm the consciences of the spectators. MATT. xxvii. 45–54. MARK XV. 33-39. LUKE xxiii. 4448. JOHN xix. 25-30.
A ND there stood near the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mo
A ther's sister, Mary the wif of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus therefore seeing his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, said to his mother, Woman, behold thy son. Then he said to that disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour that disciple took her to his own house,
Now it was about the sixth hour (i. e, about noon and from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole land of Judea,* till the ninth hour, or three in the afternoon. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying in the Syriac language, Elon, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ? that is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by o hearing that, scernfully said, Behold this man calls for Elijah. After this doleful cry, Jesus knowing that all things were now nearly accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled (Psal. xxii. 15.) said, I thirst. Now there was set, as usual, a vessel full of vinegar; and immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and puta ting it round a stalk of hyssop, on the top of a reed, gare it him to drink. But the rest said, Let him alone; let us see whether Elijah will comet and save him. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished. And crying out again with a strong voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commit ny spirit. And when he had said thus, declining his head, he dismissed his spirit, and expired.
And behold, while the sun was still darkened, the veil of the temple was rent in two in the midst, from the top to the bottom. And the carth trembled, and the rocks were torn asunder, and the tombs were
* This darkness was supernatural; for being at the full of the moon, there could be no eclipse, and we have no account of its being observed any whera else.
+ MARK, “ to take him down."
# T'ne evident signs of such an event are yet visible. See Sandy's Travel p. 164. and Maundrel's Journey, p. 73. Mr. Flemming tells us of a Weist who was converted by the sight, ton. I.
opened, and many bodies of holy men who were sleeping were raised, and came out of the tombs after the resurrection of Jesus, and entered into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
And when the Roman centurion, who stood over against him, saw that he so cried out and expired, expressing his confidence in God to the last ; and also saw what was then done in so miraculous a manner, he glorified Gov, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man; truly this man was the Son of God. And they that were with him, guarding Jesus on the cross, seeing the earthquake, and those other things which were done, feared greatly, and said, in like manner, Truly this was the Son of God. And all the multitude that were come together to see this spectacle, when they saw the things which were done, returned, beating their breasts, for sorrow and remorse.
REFLECTIONS. Ard surely we, when we return from such a view of it as this, have reason to smite apon our breasts too, and to be most deeply affected with what we have heard and seen in this lively description. Let us set ourselves as with the mother of Jesus, and the beloved disciple, at the foot of the cross; and see whether there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow, wherewith the Lord afflicted him in the day of his fierce anger. Well might the sun grow pale at the sight; well might the earth tremble to support it! How obdurate must the hearts of those sinners be, who could make a mock of all his anguish, and sport themselves with his dying groans ! But surely the blessed angels who were now, though in an invisible crowd, surrounding the accursed tree, beheld him with other sentiments ; admiring and adoring the various virtues which he expressed in every circumstance of his behaviour; and which, while this sun of righteousness was setting, gilded and adorned all the horizon. Let us likewise pay our homage to them, and observe with admiration his tenderness to his surviving parent; his meekness under all these injuries and provocations ; his steady, faith in God in an hour of the utmost distress; and his concern to accomplish all the purposes of his life, before he yielded to the stroke of death,
Yet with what amazement must the holy angels hear that cry from. the Son of God, from the darling of heaven, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! Let not any of the children of God wonder if their heavenly Father sometimes withdraw froin them the sensible and supporting manifestations of his presence, when Christ himself was thus exercised ; and let them remember that faith never appears with greater glory than when, in language like this, it bursts through a thick cloud, and owns the God of Israel, and the Saviour, even while he is a God that hideth himself from us. May we, in our approaching combat with the king of terrors, find him enervated by the death of our dear Lord, who thus conquered even when he fell! May we thus breathe out our willing and composed spirits into our Father's hands, with a language and faith like his, as knowing whom we believed, and being persuaded that he is able to keep what we commit 10 him until thar day.
With pleasure may we survey the awful tokens by which God owned his dying Son, and wiped away the infamy of his cross. The veil is now rent by the death of Jesus; let us be encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, and to draw near to the holiest of all, into which he has entered with his own blood. May God render the knowledge of the cross of Christ the blessed means of shaking the consciences of men with powerful convictions, and of raising them from the death of rin to a life of holiness! And may we be so planted together in the likeBest of his death, that we may at length also be planted in the likeness of his resurrection !
While Christ hangs on the cross, his side is pierced, but his legs are not bro
ken : Joseph begrs the corpse, and lays it in his sepulchre. Matt. xxvii. 55–61. MARK XV. 40, &c. LUKE xxiii. 49, &c. JOHN xix. 31, &c.
A ND while our Lord was thus expiring on the cross, all his acquain
A tance stood with the crowd at a distance, viewing these things; and many pious women who had attended him when he was in Galilee, and ministered to him, had followed him (hither] from Galilee. Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less, and of Joses; also the mother of James and Jolin, the sons of Zebedee, and Salome, and many other women, who came up with him to this passover at Jerusalem. Then the Jews, because it was the preparation for the sabbath, that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath-day, (for that sabbath was a great day*) entreated Pilate that their legs might be broken, to dispatch their the sooner, that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came and brake the legs of the first malefactor, and then of the other who was crucified with him. But coming to Jesus, they did not break his legs, as they saw he was already dead. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water; the wound having reached his heart. And one who saw it has borne this testimony, and therefore his witness is true, and he knows that wliat he saith is true, which he declares, that you may believe.† For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled, in what it says of the paschal lamb, (Exod. xii. 46.) “ Not a bone of it shall be broker..”And again, another scripture says, “ They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” (Zech. xii. 10.)
And quickly after these things, as the evening was now come, because it was the preparation, (or the day before the sabbath) behold
* A day of peculiar solemnity, being the first that followed the possover.The Romans used to let the boclies of malefactors hang on the cross till they were eaten by birds of prey. The Jewish law forbade any body hanged on a tree to remain all night. Deut. xxi. 22, 23.
† As the grand evidence of Christ's mission is his resurrection, it was of the highest importance that his death should have been ascertained and publicly known:] this circumstance therefore was wisely orderer, as it was a certain proof of Christ's death, for he could not have survived such a wound in periect health. It would therefore exclude all pretences of his having been taken down alive by his friends.
there came to the governor's palace a rich man of Arimathea, a city of the Jews, named Joseph, being an honourable counsellor, a benevolent and upright man. The same had not given his vote to the counsel and action of them that condemned Jesus, but was one who also himself waited for the kingdom of God, being a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, for fear of the Jews. This man went in boldly to Pilate, and begged that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate thought it strange if he were already dead; and having called the centurion to him, he asked him whether he had been dead any time. And when he knew it of the centurion, Pilate gave him leave, and commanded the body to be delivered to Joseph. And Joseph therefore, having bought fine linen, came and took down the body of Jesus, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. And there came also Nicodemus (who at the first came to Jesus by night) and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes that weighed about an hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and swathed it up in linen, with the spices, according to the Jewish custom of burying, intending afier the sabbath was over, to embalm it.
Now, in the neighbourhood of the place where he was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre belonging to Joseph, There laid they Jesus therefore in Joseph's own new tomb, which he had hewn o out of a rock, in which no map was ever yet laid. And this they did [thus hastily] because it was the Jews preparation-day, and the sabbath drew on; and the place was convenient, for the sepulchre was near at hand. And Joseph having rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, he went away. And Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the mother of Joses, and the rest of the women also who came with him from Galilee, followed after them that took down Jesus from the cro88 ; and sitting over against the sepulchre, beheld where, and how his body was laid. And they returned to the city and prepared spices and balms, that they mighi be able early on the first day of the week to embalm it. And they rested on the sabbath according to the command.
..REFLECTIONS. We have seen the sorrows of our expiring Lord : fet us now, like these pious women, raise our eyes to him with an holy and unfeigned affection, and behold him pale and breathless on the accursed tree. Let us view him by faith, till the eye affects the heart, and till we learn to glory in nothing but his cro88, whereby the world may be crucified to us, and we may be crucified to the world.—How wonderfully does the providence of God appear to have regarded the body of Jesus, which had so long been the Temple of the indwelling Deity ; even when it was deserted of that Spirit which had lately animated it; and while it hung (amazing thought, that it ever should have hung!) between the bodies of two theives on a cross, without the gates of Jerusalem! He, who has all hearts in his hand, interposed by a secret but powerful influence on the soldiers, who brake the legs of the malefactors, to spare those of Christ; that so nothing which looked like a prophecy of him should want its proper accomplishment. But his side was pierced ; and how deep was the wound, when