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men smites Him; and the Countenance, which had shone as the sun, endured to be smitten with lawless hands. Others coming, spat on the Face of Him Who, by His spittle, had healed one who was blind from his birth. Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people, and unwise ?"* And the Prophet wondering, says, “ LORD, Who hath believed our report ?” For the thing is incredible that God, the Son of God, and the Arm of the LORD, should suffer such things. But that they who are saved may not disbelieve, the Holy Ghost writes before, in the Person of CHRIST, Who says, (for He Who then spake these things was afterwards an actor in them,) “ I gave My back to the scourges ;' for Pilate, having scourged Him, delivered Him to be crucified ; “and My cheeks to smitings, and My face I turned not away from the shame of spittings :” saying, as it were, Though knowing before that they would smite Me, I did not even turn My cheek aside ; for how should I have warned My disciples against death for truth's sake, had I Myself sunk under this? I said, He who loveth his life shall lose it; if I had loved My life, how could I have taught, not doing what I taught?” First, then, being Himself God, He endured to suffer these things at the hands of men ; that after this we nien, when we suffer such things at the hands of men for His sake, might not be ashamed. Look with awe at the LORD while He was judged. He endured to be led and carried by the soldiers. Pilate sat in judgment; and He Who sitteth on the Right Hand of the FATHER, stood and was judged. The people whom He had redeemed from the land of Egypt, and ofttimes from other places, shouted against Him, Away with Him! away with Him! crucify Him!” Wherefore, O ye Jews ?-because He has healed the blind? or because He has made the lame to walk, and bestowed His other benefits ? So that the Prophet, in amazement, speaks of this too,—" Against whom have ye opened your mouth, and against whom have ye let loose your tongue?” And the LORD Himself says in the Prophets, * Mine heritage is unto Me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against Me; therefore have I bated it.” I have not refused them, but they have refused Me; wherefore it follows that I say, “ I have forsaken My house."
When He was judged, He held His peace; so that Pilate was moved for Him, and said, “Hearest Thou not what these witness against Thee ?" Not that he knew Him Who was judged, but he feared his own wife's dream. And Jesus held His peace. The Psalmist says, “I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs ;” and again,
“ But I as a deaf man heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth."
* Deut. xxxii. 6.
But the soldiers who surrounded Him mock Him, and their LORD becomes a sport to them, and their Master is turned into jest by them. “When they looked on Me, they sbaked their heads."* Yet there is the figure of kingly state, for though they mock, yet do they bend the knee. And the soldiers crucify Him, having first put on Him a purple robe, and they set a crown on His Head; for what though it be of thorns ? Every king is proclaimed by soldiers ; it became Jesus too in a figure to have been crowned by soldiers : so that for this cause the Scripture says, “Go forth, Oye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon in the crown wherewith his mother crowned him. "t And the crown itself was a mystery; for it was a remissal of sins, and dismissal of the curse. The LORD was crucified; thou hast received the testimonies. Thou seest this spot of Golgotha! Rejoice not in the Cross in time of peace only, but hold fast the same faith in time of persecution also; not being a friend of Jesus in time of peace, and His foe in time of
Thou receivest now the forgiveness of thy sins, and the gifts of the King's spiritual bounty; when war shall come, strive thou with high heart for thy King. Jesus, the Sinless, for thee was crucified; and wilt thou not be crucified for Him Who was crucified for thee? Thou art not bestowing a favour; repaying thy debt to Him Who in Golgotha was crucified for thee. Now Golgotha is interpreted," the place of a skull.” Who were they, then, who prophetically named this Golgotha, in which CHRIST, the true Head, endured the Cross ? As the Apostle says; who is the image of the invisible God; and after " and He is the Head of the body, the Church.” And again, “The Head of every man is CHRIST." And again, “Who is the Head of all principality and power.” The Head suffered in the place of the skull. O wondrous prophetic adaptation! The very name almost reminds thee, saying, “ Think not of the Crucified as of a mere man; He is the Head of all principality and power. That Head which was Crucified is the Head of all power, and has for His Head the FATHER; for the Head of the man is CHRIST, and the Head of Christ is God.”I
Christ then was crucified for us, having been judged in the night, when it was cold, and a fire of coals was laid. He was crucified at the third hour, and from the sixth hour there was darkness until the ninth hour; but from the ninth hour there was light again. He stretched out His hands on the Cross, that He might encompass the ends of the world; He stretched forth human hands, who by His spiritual Hands had established the heaven; and they were fastened with nails, that His manhood, which bore the sins of men, having been nailed * Ps. cix. 25.
+ Cant. iii. 11.
$ 1 Cor. xi. 3.
to the tree, and having died, sin might die with it, and we rise again in righteousness. “For since by one man came death, by one Man also came life,- by one Man, the Saviour, dying of His own accord; for remember what He said, “I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again.”
So He endured all these things, having come for the salvation of all; but the people returned Him an evil recompense. JESUS says, “I thirst!" He Who had brought forth the waters for them out of the flinty rock; and He asks fruit of the vine which He had planted. But what does the vine? this vine, by nature indeed of the holy fathers, but of Sodom by purpose of heart; for “their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah,"*—this vine, when the LORD was athirst, having filled a sponge, and put it on a reed, offers Him vinegar.
They gave Me also gall for My meat, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.”+ Thou seest the plainness of the Prophet's description. Are these things what ye recompense unto the LORD? Offerest thou these things, O vine, unto thy Master ? Rightly did the Prophet Esaias aforetime bewail you, saying, “ My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful bill,” and (not to recite the whole) he goes on, “I waited, that it should bring forth grapes ;" I thirsted that it should give wine, “ but it brought forth thorns;" for thou seest the crown wherewith I am adorned. What, then, shall I now decree? “I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” And concerning the robbers who were crucified with Him, it was written, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.
Both of them had been transgressors, but one was so no longer; for the one was a transgressor to the end, stubborn against salvation, whose hands indeed were fastened, but who through his blasphemies smote with his tongue. When the Jews passing by wagged their heads, mocking the Crucified, and fulfilling what was written, " When they looked on Me they shaked their heads,"I be also reviled with them. But the other rebuked the reviler, and to him the end of life was the beginning of restoration; the surrender of his soul was a preventing others in salvation. And after rebuking him, he says,
LORD, remember me!” for to Thee is my speech. Leave this man, for the eyes of his understanding are blinded; but remember me. I say not Remember my works, for of these I am afraid. Every man has a feeling for his fellow-traveller; I am travelling with Thee deathwards; remember me, Thy fellow wayfarer. I say not, remember me now, but “when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” What
power, O robber, enlightened thee? Who taught thee to worship that despised Man, thy companion on the Cross ?
* Deut. xxvii. 32.
† Ps. lxix. 21.
# Ps. cxx. 25.
O Eternal Light, which givest light to them that are in darkness! Therefore also he rightly heard the words, “ Be of good cheer;" not that thy deeds are such as should make thee be of good cheer ; but that the King is here, dispensing favours. The request reached unto a distant time, but the grace is very speedy. “Verily I say unto thee, This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise;" because “to-day” thou hast “heard My voice" and hast not hardened thine heart.” Very speedily I passed sentence upon Adam, very speedily I pardon thee. To him it was said, “In the day wherein thou eatest, thou shalt surely die;" but thou to-day hast obeyed the faith, to-day is thy salvation. Adam by the Tree fell; thou by the Tree art brought to Paradise. Fear not the serpent; he shall not cast thee out; for he has fallen from Heaven. And I say not unto thee, This day shalt thou depart; but this day shalt thou be with Me. Be of good courage, thou shalt not be cast out. Fear not the fiery sword, it shrinks from the Lord. O mighty and ineffable grace! the faithful Abraham had not yet entered, and the lawless robber enters ! Moses and the Prophets had not yet entered, and the lawless robber enters. Paul also wondered at this before thee, saying, "where sin abounded, there grace did much more abound.” They who had borne the burden and heat of the day had not yet entered ; and he of the eleventh hour entered. Let none murmur against the good man of the house, for he says, I do thee no wrong ; is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? The robber has a wish to work righteousness, but death prevents bim; I wait not exclu. sively for work, I have accepted faith. “I am come to feed My sheep among the lilies, I am come to feed My sheep in the gardens.' I have found a sheep, a lost one, but I lay it on My shoulders, for he believes, since he himself has said, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep : LORD, remember me when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom."
Of this garden I sang of old to My spouse in the Canticles, and spoke thus to her. “I am come into My garden, My sister, My spouse;" (now the place where He was crucified was a garden) and what takest thou thence? “I have gathered My myrrh," having drunk wine mingled with myrrh, and vinegar. And having received these, He said, “ It is finished.” For the mystery has been fulfilled; the things that are written have been fulfilled; sins are forgiven. For “Christ being come an High-Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say not of this building, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own Blood, He entered in once into the Holy Place, baving obtained eternal redemption for us; for if the blood of bulls and of goats and the
* Cant. vi. 3,
ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more the Blood of Christ?" "And again, Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the Blood of Jesus by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.” And because His flesh, this veil, was dishonoured, the emblematical veil of the temple was rent through, as it is written,—"And behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;" for not a morsel of it was left; for since the Master said, “ Behold your house is left unto you desolate," the house has been rent into pieces.
These things the Saviour endured, “ making peace through the Blood of His Cross, for things in Heaven, and things in earth.” For we were enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die. There must needs therefore have happened one of two things ; either that God, keeping His words, should destroy all men, or that in His loving-kindness He should cancel the sentence. But behold the wisdom of God; He preserved both to His sentence its truth, and to His lovingkindness its exercise. CHRIST took our sins“ in His Body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live to righteousness. Of no small account was He Who died for us; He was not a literal sheep; He was not a mere man; He was more than an Angel; He was God made Man. The transgression of sinners was not so great as the righteousness of Him Who died for them ; we have not committed as much sin as He wrought righteousness, Who laid down His life not by violence, nor against His will yielded up the Ghost. He cried to His Father, saying, “FATHER, into Thy hand I commend My Spirit ;" I commend it, that I may take it again. And having said these things, He gave up the Ghost; but not for any long time, for He rose again from the dead speedily.
The sun was darkened, because of the Sun of Righteousness. The rocks were rent, because of the Spiritual Rock. The tombs were opened, and the dead arose, because of Him Who was « free
among the dead; He sent forth His prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water."*
Be not then ashamed of the Crucified, but be thyself bold to say, “ He beareth our sins, and carrieth our sorrows, and with His stripes we are healed.” Let us pot be unthankful to our Benefactor. And again, “ for the transgression of My people was He stricken, and He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.” Therefore Paul says plainly, “ That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” and that “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. But we seek to be told plainly where He has been buried. Is
* Ps. lxxx. 5; Zech. ix. 4.