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him condemned. Upon which Pilate, after clearing him, very unjustly brings him upon a second trial; and then not finding any thing against him, acquits him again. Pilate treats him as a poor worthless fellow ; but is ashamed, on so little pretence, to condemn him as a traitor.
And then he was sent to Herod, to be tried by him, and was brought before his judgment-seat; his enemies followed, and virulently accused him before Herod. Herod does not condemn him as a traitor, or one that would set up for a king, but looks upon him as Pilate did, as a poor worthless creature, not worthy to be noticed, and makes a mere laugh of the Jews accusing him as dangerous to Cæsar, as one setting up to be a king against him; and therefore, in derision, dresses him up in a mock robe, makes sport of him, and sends him back through the streets of Jerusalem to Pilate, with the mock robe on.
Then the Jews prefer Barabbas before him, and are instant and violent with loud vociferations to Pilate, to crucify him. So Pilate, after he had cleared him twice, and Herod once, very unrighteously brings him on trial the third time, to try if he could not find something sufficient to crucify him. Christ was stripped and scourged ; thus he gave his back to the smiters. After that, though Pilate still declared that he found no fault in him, yet, so unjust was he, that, for fear of the Jews, he delivered Christ to be crucified. But before they execute the sentence, his spiteful and cruel enemies take the pleasure of mocking him again ; they get round him, and make a set business of it. They stripped him, put on him a scarlet robe, a reed in his hand, and a crown of thorns on his head. Both Jews and Roman soldiers were united in the transaction ; they bow the knee before him, and in derision cry, “ Hail, king of the Jews." They spit upon him also, take the reed out of his hand, and smite him on the head. After this they led him away to crucify him, made him carry his own cross, till he sunk under it, his strength being spent; and then they laid it on one Simon, a Cyrenian.
At length, being come to Mount Calvary, they execute the sentence which Pilate had so unrighteously pronounced. They nail him to his cross by his hands and feet, then raise it erect, and fix one end in the ground, he being still suspended on it by the nails which pierced his hands and feet. Now Christ's sufferings are come to the extremity : now the cup, which he so earnestly prayed might pass from him, is come ; he must, he does drink it. In those days crucifixion was the most tormenting kind of death by which any were wont to be executed. There was no death wherein the person experienced so much of mere torment; and hence the Roman word, which signifies torment, is taken from this kind of death. Besides vhat our Lord endured in this excruciating corporeal death, he endured vastly more in his soul. Now was that travail of his soul, of which we read in the prophet; now it pleased God to bruise him, and to put him to grief; now he poured out his soul unto death, as in Isa. liii. And if the mere forethought of this cup made him sweat blood, how much more dreadful and excruciating must the drinking of it have been! Many martyrs have endured much in their bodies, while their souls have been joyful, and have sung for joy, whereby they have been supported under the sufferings of their outward man, and have triumphed over them. But this was not the case with Christ; he had no such support; but his sufferings were chiefly those of the mind, though the other were extremely great. In his crucifixion Christ did not sweat blood, as he had done before ; not because his agony was now not so great, but his blood had vent another way. But though he did not sweat blood, yet such was the sufferings of his soul, that probably it rent his vitals ; when his side was pierced, there came forth blood and water. And so here was a kind of literal fulfilment of that in Psal. xxi. 14. "I am poured out like water:-my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels."
Now, under all these sufferings, the Jews still mock him ; and, wagging their heads, say, 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. And even the chief priests scribes, and elders, joined in the cry, saying, He saved others, himself he cannot save. And probably the devil at the same time tormented him to the utmost of his power; and hence it is said, Luke xxii, 53. “ This is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Under these sufferings, Christ, having cried out once and again with a loud voice, at last said, IT IS FINISHED, (John xis. 30.) and bowed the head, and gave up the ghost. And thus was finished the greatest and most wonderful thing that ever was done. Now the angels beheld the most wonderful sight that ever they saw. Now was accomplished the main thing that had been pointed at by the various institutions of the ceremonial law, by all the typical dispensations, and by all the sacrifices from the beginning of the world.
Christ being thus brought under the power of death, continued under it till the morning of next day but one. Then was finished that great work, the purchase of our redemption, for which such great preparation had been made from the beginning of the world. Then was finished all that was required in order to satisfy the threatenings of the law, and all that was necessary in order to satisfy divine justice; then the utmost that vindictive justice demanded, even the whole debt, was paid. Then was finished the whole of the purchase of eternal life. And now there is no need of any thing more
to be done towards a purchase of salvation for sinners; nor has ever any thing been done since, nor will any thing more be done for ever and ever.
Improvement of the Second Period.
In surveying the history of redemption, we have now shown how this work was carried on through the two former of the three main periods into which this whole space of time was divided, viz. from the fall to the incarnation of Christ, and from thence to the end of the time of Christ's humiliation. In the first of these periods we have particularly explained how God prepared the way for Christ's appearing and purchasing redemption ; and in the second period, how that purchase was made and finished. I would now make some improvement of what has been said on both these subjects considered conjunctly.
An Use of Reproof.
I BEGIN with an use of reproof; a reproof of unbelief, of self-righteousness, and of a careless neglect of the salvation of Christ.
I. How greatly do these things reprove those who do not believe in, but reject the Lord Jesus Christ ! i. e. all those who do not heartily receive him. Persons may receive him in pro. fession outwardly, and may wish that they had some of those benefits that Christ has purchased, and yet their hearts not receive him. They may be hearty in nothing that they do towards Christ; they may have no high esteem of, nor any sincere respect to Christ; they may never have opened the door of their heart to him, but have kept him shut out all their days, ever since his salvation has been offered to them. Though their hearts have been opened to others, their doors Aung wide open to them, with free admittance at all times ; though they have been embraced, and the thrones of their hearts have been allowed them; yet Christ has always been shut out and they have been deaf to all his calls. They never could find an inclination of heart to receive him, nor would they ever trust in him.
: Let me now call upon such to consider, how great is their sin, in thus rejecting Jesus Christ. You slight the glorious person, for whose coming God made such great preparation in such a series of wonderful providences from the beginning of the world, and whom, after all things were made ready, God sent into the world, bringing to pass a thing before un. known, viz. the union of the divine nature with the human in one person, You have been guilty of slighting that great Sa- . viour, who, after such preparation, actually accomplished the purchase of redemption; and who, after he had spent threeor four and thirty years in poverty, labour, and contempt, in, purchasing redemption, at last finished the purchase by closing his life under such extreme sufferings as you have heard ; · and so by his death, and continuing for a time under the pow. er of death, completed the whole. This is the person you rer ject and despise. You make light of all the glory of his person, and of all the glorious love of God the Father, in sending him into the world, and all his wonderful love appearing in the whole of this affair. That precious stone which God hath laid in Zion for a foundation in such a manner, and by such wonderful works as you have heard, is a stone set at nought by you.
Sinners sometimes are ready to wonder why unbelief should be looked upon as a great sin; but if you consider what you have heard, how can you wonder ? If this Saviour is so great, and this work so great, and such great things have been done in order to it, truly there is no cause of wonder that the rejection of this Saviour is so provoking to God. It brings greater guilt than the sins of the worst of heathens, who never heard of those things, nor have had this Saviour offered to them.
II. What has been said, affords matter of reproof to those who, instead of believing in Christ, trust in themselves for salvation. Is it not a common thing with men to take it upon themselves to do that great work which Christ came into the world to do? to trust in their prayers, their good conversations, the pains they take in religion, the reformation of their lives, and their self-denial, in order to recommend them to God, to make some atonement for their past sins. Let such consider three things:
1. How great a thing that is which you take upon you. It is to do the work of the great Saviour of the world.Though you are poor, worthless, vile, and polluted, yet you arrogantly take upon you that very work for which the only. begotten Son of God became man; and in order to which God employed four thousand years in all the great dispensations of his providences, aiming chiefly to make way for Christ's coming to do this work. This is the work that you
foolishly think yourself sufficient for; as though your prayers and other performances were excellent enough for this purpose. Consider how vain is the thought which you entertain of yourself. How must such arrogance appear in the sight of Christ, whom it cost so much. It was not to be obtained even by him, so great and glorious a person, at a cheaper rate than his going through a sea of blood, and passing through the midst of the furnace of God's wrath. And how vain must your arrogance appear in the sight of God, when he sees you imagining yourself sufficient, and your worthless, polluted performances excellent enough for the accomplishing of that work of his own Son, to prepare the way for which he was employed in ordering all the great affairs of the world for so iany ages!
2. If there be ground for you to trust, as you do, in your own righteousness, then all that Christ did to purchase salyation, and all that God did from the fall of man to prepare the way for it, is in vain. Your self-righteousness charges God with the greatest folly, as though he has done all things in vain, to bring about an accomplishment of what you alone, with your poor polluted prayers, and the little pains you take in religion, are sufficient to accomplish for yourself. For if you can appease God's anger, and commend yourself to him by these means, then you have no need of Christ; Gal. ii. 21. “ If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
. If you can do this by your prayers and good works, Christ might have spared his pains; he might have spared his blood; he might have kept within the bosom of his father, without coming down into this evil world, to be despised, reproached, and persecuted to death. God needed not have busied himself, as he did for four thousand years, causing so many changes in the state of the world all that while, in order to bring about that which you can accomplish in a few days, only with the trouble of a few religious performances. Consider, what greater folly could you have devised to charge upon God than this, that all those things were done so needlessly; when, instead of all this, he might only have called you forth, and committed the business to you, which you think you can do so easily. Alas! how blind are natural men! and especially how vain are the thoughts which they have of themselves! How ignorant of their own littleness and pollu. tion! What great things do they assume to themselves !
3. You that trust to your own righteousness, arrogate to yourselves the honour of the greatest thing that ever God himself did. You seem not only sufficient to perform divine works, but such is your pride and vanity, that you are not content without taking upon you to do the very greatest work that ever God himself wrought. You see by what has been
to brinchanges in the did for four death. God so be despi
Alas! how less to you, only have call
themselves now, vain