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at cards except at Christmas. Large companies meet at this festival to provoke one another to sin. What a wonder it is that God does not overwhelm us with his judgments, while we thus profane this sacred festival! Seriously reflect upon the importance of spending this day in a thankful remembrance of Jesus's love. Look at him in his low estate, and learn a lesson of humility. Exercise all those dispositions which the astonishing circumstance of his birth demands. Let christians meet in joyful assemblies, and celebrate the high praises of their Lord and Saviour.
3. It is of little consequence on what day Jesus was born, or on what day we keep the feast. Some think he could not be born in December, because the flocks and shepherds were out in the fields; but they do not recollect the difference of climate between Judea and Great Britain; nor even that in our climate it is not always alike cold in this season of the year. We contend not, however, for the day; but we do contend for the thing. It is proper to have a day set apart for this purpose, and to keep it sacred to the Lord.
The Crucifixion of Christ.
LUKE Xxiii. 33. And when they were come to the place which is
called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors; one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
PILATE delivered Jesus to be crucified, because he feared the people;. but his cowardly compliance with their wishes, contrary to his own judgment, has stamped his character with everlasting disgrace. No doubt it behoved Christ to suffer ; but that forms no excuse for the persons who were concerned in that vile transaction. The salvation of the world was God's design in suffering his Son to die : the destruction of his Son was the design of the Jews in seeking his death. “ This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheri. tance."
We should frequently contemplate the death of our Lord upon the cross, and make those practical improvements which may be of serious importance in
future life. That we may do so, in a pro. fitable way, let us make a few remarks upon crucifixion-point out some peculiar circumstances which attended our Lord's crucifixion—and then endeavour to improve the whole.
I. REMARKS UPON CRUCIFIXION.
1. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment. The Jews were so completely subdued by the Romans, at the time of our Saviour's death, that they were obliged to submit to their mode of punishing criminals. Thus a remarkable prophecy was fulfilled : “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” There also appeared a remarkable providence of God in ordering it so, that Christ should suffer under a Roman governor, otherwise he had not been crucified according to the prophecies. Zechariah plainly prophecied of his crucifixion : "They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.” David also foretold the death that he should die: “They pierced my hands and my feet.”
2. The death of the cross was a painful punishment. The pain of crucifixion was so great, that the Romans called the most violent tortures cruciatus, or suffering the
The person condemned to suffer this death was first severely scourged, and then required to bear his cross to the place of execution. There his hands and feet, the most nervous parts of the body, were nailed to the cross, where he hung till he died. The violent distortion of his limbs, which were stretched forth as on a rack, must have caused the most exquisite anguish; and when we consider the length of time the poor criminal had to endure this pain, the death of the cross must appear terrible. O blessed Immanuel, how great was thy love to sinners, to submit to such dreadful pain on their account!
3. This punishment was ignominious. Nonę suffered crucifixion but those who were accounted the meanest and vilest of men, such as slaves, robbers, movers of sedition, and murderers. Hence we may judge in what light the wicked Jews viewed our adorable Saviour, whom they treated as one of the meanest and worst of men; and we see his amazing condescension, in submitting to the punishment of a slave and a transgressor. Let us no longer complain of our reproaches. What is the shame of our profession to that of his sufferings ! Let us despise the shame of his cross, and boldly profess his name amongst men.
II. CIRCUMSTANCES CONNECTED WITH OUR LORD'S CRUCIFIXION. 1. Jesus was condemned unjustly. We
refer to Pilate's testimony to prove this as sertion. He declared publicly, after a close examination, “I find in him no fault at all." One of the criminals who suffered with our Lord bore a noble testimony to his innocency, saying, “This man hath done nothing amiss."
2. Barabbas, an infamous wretch, was preferred before him. It was customary at the Passover, for the Roman governor to release to the people a prisoner, whatever his crimes might have been. Upon this occasion they requested Pilate to do as he had ever done unto them; and, desiring to deliver Jesus, whose innocency appeared evident, he said, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?—But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they shouldask Barabbas and destroy Jesus.”
3. His death was occasioned by the infernal mulice of the jewish rulers, who hated him without a cause; and who were fully bent upon his death long before his apprehension. Guilty, or not guilty, was not the question; but, influenced by their ?
When Pilate, his judge, pleaded his cause, “they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified."