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4. He was mocked and insulted in his death. Out of derision he was clothed with purple, and crowned with thorns; he was smitten on the head with a reed, and was spit upon, Even when he hung upon the cross they reviled him, and the chief priests and elders mocked him. Civilized humanity pities the worst of criminals in the hour of death ; but those barbarians had no pity for the innocent Jesus.
5. God, whose honour was insulted, in the person of his Son, gave awful proofs of his displeasure. The sun withdrew his light; the earth trembled; the rocks were rent asunder; and the vail of the temple was rent in twain. “ When the Centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw
saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God.”
6. Amidst all the abuse of his enemies, Jesus was honoured in his death, by the inscription which was put upon his cross. The inscription expressed his real character : “ Jesus OF NAZARETH THE KING OF The Jews.” The chief priests perceiving this, and mortified at the circumstance, requested Pilate to alter it, saying, "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.'
7. Several remarkable prophecies were fulfilled at the death of Christ. He was pierced with the nails and the
spear, according to the prediction of Zechariah; he was numbered with transgressors, as Isaiah had foretold; and David's prophecy was fulfilled, “ They parted my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture.” The legs of the other criminals were broken; but they broke not the legs of Jesus, " that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
8. At his death a poor criminal obtained mercy. We have only this one instance recorded in the scriptures, of mercy being granted in the last moments of life, lest we should presume upon a late repentance; but this one instance is recorded that we may not despair of mercy even in the eleventh hour. This fessed Christ at the time when his disciples had försaken him; and he prayed to Christ, at a time when there was no appearance of his being able to answer his prayer; whence we may infer that he believed. on him as the Saviour of the world.
9. Before his death he forbid the sympathizing tears of the pious women, who
bewailed and lamented him, saying,
Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. You have many sad sufferings before you, in the calamities which shall . befall this nation; but my sufferings are nearly at an end.
10. On the cross he prayed for his enemies. “ Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” What a fine spirit, and how worthy of our imitation ! O what love to sinners, yea the worst of sinners! He now prays for his enemies at the right hand of God. May they be humbled; and, by true repentance and faith, obtain salvation through his name! : III. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENTS.
1. Let us carefully guard against those malignant passions which influenced the Jews in their cruel clamours for our Saviour's death. They envied his growing popularity; they hated his doctrines, laws, and worship; they bore him malice for his faithful reproofs; and they sought for vengeance, because he had told them the truth. But let us love him for his gracious undertakings, honour his glorious perfections, and obey his high and important commands.
2. Study, with close attention, the wonderful designs of his death. His enemies
would fain persuade us that he suffered as a criminal, for his own transgressions ; but we know he never transgressed the laws of God, being holy, harmless, and undefiled. Some professing christians maintain that he only died as a martyr, to' seal with blood the doctrines which he taught ; . but they either do not 'understand, or will not admit the evidence of revelation. He died as a propitiation for sin, that he might reconcile sinners to God. He died on the cross, that dying mortals might live for ever.
3. The evil of sin appears evident in the death of Jesus; for that alone rendered it necessary for him to die.
Sin is so hateful to God that he determined not to pardon it without a sacrifice, lest the honour of his government should be brought into contempt. Our sins, therefore, were the cause of all those painful agonies which he endured. Had man remained innocent, Jesus would neither have been scourged, crowned with thorns, nor nailed to the accursed tree. O let us hate sin with an eternal håtred; and let' us carefully shun even the appearance of evil.
4. Let us make that use of Jesus's death which will be most for our own happiness, and the glory of God. Examine his sufferings with a mixture of
grief and joy. Feel grief for thy sins which were laid upon him in that tremendous hour; but rejoice in the atonement which he then made for thy soul. Depend upon a crucified Redeemer both for present and eternal salvation. Fixed upon this firm foundation thou wilt live in peace, die with comfort, and reign with him in glory. In that bright world, a recollection of his sufferings upon the cross will be an everlasting source of happiness to all the saints of God. Here they praise redeeming love in songs of joy and gladness; and there these songs of praise shall be continued and perfected.
“ Hallelujah they cry, to the King of the sky,
To the great everlasting 1 AM;
Hallelujah to God and the Lamb !"