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text compels us. Ye know already what a tempest of shame and woe broke over the head of our Lord JeSUS; and never had
ye beheld the Holy One in such fearful circumstances, and never had he undergone such unutterable agony and shame, had love not impelled him to suffer in our stead the decree of Eternal Justice. He reaped the harvest of our sins; he suffered from the flame which our misdeeds had kindled ; and the sword struck him which our transgressions had drawn out of its sheath. In a word, the wickedness which ye have committed, and which is implanted in your very nature, is the true and only cause of our sufferings which our great Pledge underwent. Reflect
upon and then tell me how you feel towards that which made your Saviour bleed! Do you brace sin, that murderer of the Lord Jesus, instead of detesting it with all the fervour of your natures ? Do you still cherish it, instead of flying its presence, and swearing eternal hatred against it? If you do so, cease henceforward to assert that you love the Lord Jesus. You could as little persuade us of the fact, as a young prince could of his love to his father, who, on his ascent to the throne, should choose his parent's murderers to be his friends and ministers, instead of bringing them to judgment. Yes, he that truly loves the Lord Jesus, will find in a scene like that which we contemplate to-day, an additional reason to hate, and struggle with sin. No longer will he love it ; his friendship for it is for ever snapped asunder; and from the bottom of his heart will he join with us in saying, “ Either thou
hate sin, or thou canst not love the Lord Jesus."
V. I am aware there are many souls grievously tempted in the midst of us; and for their sakes I repeat, “ Either no regenerated one can enter heaven, or the condemning power of evil, suggested by Satan, has been taken away. Why was our Saviour condemned to death ? He had blasphemed God, said his judges; as such, too much could not be done to him, and the ignominious treatment to which he was subjected, was only suited to his transgressions. And lo! in the scene which we contemplate to-day, he stands as a blasphemer of God, not merely before a human tribunal, but before the judgment-seat of Jehovah. He now atones by this depth of infamy for the thousand impieties which we have uttered against his Father. Our blasphemies weigh down his soul, and for our sakes, in pursuance of the divine sentence, he is chastised by a fearful rod. Yes, it is a mysterious fate which thus tramples him in the dust of the streets, and treats him like the off-scourings of humanity : eternal and inexorable justice demands it to be so. You thus see how severely the Holy of holies punishes the desecration of his name, and what a measure of anger and vengeance repays it. Nothing rouses his indignation more than this transgression; and, indeed, all who contemplate the subject, must be apt to fall into the terrible idea, that even regenerated people are not exempt from the danger of being lost for ever, on account of this sin. You ask Wherefore ? Does nothing come into the hearts of the servants of God which may be termed " blasphemous thoughts ?” Are their souls never assailed with unworthy representations and images of God and divine things ?
We must admit indeed that regenerated persons are those whom Satan chiefly assails with these his fiery arrows; and it is amongst them that we so frequently hear the lamentation, that things are suggested to their minds, which, if they were uttered, would cause us to shudder with horror. Every Christian has experienced this, some in a greater, others in a less degree; and when he reads the history in our text, which exemplifies in such a fearful manner the anger of God at this species of sin, well may he pause and cry out, “ Either no regenerated one can enter heaven, or the condemning power of evil thoughts suggested by Satan has been taken away!” And certainly the latter has been the case.
The tragic scene before us at present, affords us this consolation ; for here the Redeemer makes atonement for the blasphemous thoughts of his people, and takes upon himself all the sin we have committed in dishonouring Jehovah. Therefore, ye sorely tempted souls, engrave this history on the walls of your chambers ; hang it as an amulet round your necks; and as. often as the fiery arrows whistle past, and a hateful train of thoughts in wild confusion assails your heart, direct your gaze through the midst of this tumult, to the tranquil picture of your Redeemer's passion; and take refuge in the blessed conviction, that those evil suggestions, the weight of which is now overpowering you," have lost their power to condemn—no longer can estrange you from the presence of God, nor yet lessen the love of the Eternal towards you; but on the contrary, must contribute like all else to your salvation,
for Jesus has taken their evil consequences upon himself.
There is a sixth alternative suggested by this subject, which I must mention before concluding. Either in the contemplation of this subject, our softened hearts must ejaculate with the apostle, “ Let us go forth, therefore, unto him, without the camp, bearing his reproach!" of else we cannot be Jesus' friends. Truly the man who, after viewing the scene of his martyrdom, can desire to be honoured and regarded by that world which trampled his Lord under foot, need not attempt to persuade us that this Lord is dear unto him. True love for Jesus would rather desire his crown of thorns than a garland of victory; and would rather suffer shame on his account, than receive the empty fame and praise of worldlings; for to it the world is crucified along with Christ. Yet it by no means throws itself in the way of the hatred and scorn of enemies to the cross; although it would rather seek than depart from the right course in order to avoid them. Reflect upon this, ye Nicodemuses, and be not astonished if we think but little of your love towards our Saviour, as long as you do not, like Moses, esteem “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” Ye must first, in loud and decisive terms, cast aside for ever the gold and purple chains of Belshazzar, and with holy boldness place yourselves in the ranks of the despised and persecuted Jew. Then shall we begin to esteem you, find pleasure in contemplating your characters, and believe henceforward in your love towards our crucified Master !
Pilate, therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him! And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done ? I have found no cause of death in him ; I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified; and the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence, that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
This is a most remarkable and important history, in which each single trait may be regarded as a deep and most significant hieroglyphic. And, certainly, neither the Roman governor nor the Jews had any idea of the mysterious and allegorical part they were here performing. They acted according to what they supposed their own interest, each one pursuing his peculiar object : but the Almighty grasped the threads of their apparently free actions, and so twisted and interwove them, that, before they were aware, an historical web was formed, whose signs and characters depict to our eyes the greatest and most blessed mystery of the gospel—the high-priestly intercession of Jesus Christ