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vided that they were Slaves too. But otherwife, if they
were free, and had the Privileges of the City of Rome';
this was then thought a Proftitution of that Honour;
and too infamous a Penalty for fuch a one, let his Mif-
demeanor have been what it would. Accordingly we
fee what Companions our Saviour had in his Death,
how he was numbred among the worst of Tranfgreffors, and
(according to the Prophet) made his
Ifaiah liii. 9. Grave with the wicked. Nay, fo very odi-
ous and abominable was this Punishment, that, when
they had a mind to brand the Memory of any very fla-
gitious People, Traitors to the State, and common
Enemies to Mankind; We are told, that they thought
it a moft effectual way to fix an indelible Infamy upon
them, to hang their Pictures thus ; and to crucify those
in Effigy, whom they could not serve so, in their own
Perfons. Herein then we perceive the unfpeakable
Condefcenfion of our Bleffed Saviour, who did not on-
ly vouchfafe to die, but did not disdain the most igno-
minious Death, that the Malice and Scorn of his Ene-
mies could inflict; To take upon him the Form of the mean-
eft Servant, nay of the bafeft and blackeft Criminal.
That he became obedient unto Death, was a most afto-
nishing Inftance of Humility; but to ftoop fo very
low, as the Death of the Cross, this was to make himself
of no Reputation indeed.

Secondly, This Death was terrible above Others, not only for the Scandal and Difgrace, but for the extreme Pain and Torture of it. And of this the very Manner is enough to convince us. For, the Form of a Cross being that of Two Pofts cutting one another to right Angles; On That which stood upright, the Body was faftned, by nailing the Feet to it; and to the other tranfverfe Piece, by nailing the Hands on each side. The Pain whereof muft needs be most acute, because these Parts of the Body, being the Inftrurnents of Action and Motion, are provided by Nature with a much greater Quantity of Nerves,

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Pfal. xxii. 17.

Nerves, than Others have Occafion for. And, fince all
Senfation is performed by the Spirits in these Nerves,
wherefoever They abound, the Sense must needs, in Pro-
portion, be more quick and tender. And in this Cafe
we are to confider, not only the Hands and Feet, as pier-
ced through with Iron Pins; and these fo large, that
Thomas, required for his Conviction, to thrust his Fin-
ger into the Print of them: But the Weight of the whole
Body hanging upon thofe Fastenings, and thofe tor-
menting Distortions of the Limbs, which the Pfalmift
fignified, when (fpeaking in the Perfon of our Saviour)
he complains, They pierced my Hands and
my
Feet, Imay tell all my Bones. If the Bit-
ternefs of this Pain had been in any Degree recompen-
fed by the Shortnefs, it had yet been more tolerable.
But alas! it was a very flow and lingering, as well as an
exceeding fharp, Death. For, tho' the Mifery was fo
great, yet none of the Vitals were immediately affect-
ed. But the Body continued thus ftretched out, till ex-
cefs of Anguish had by degrees quite exhaufted the Spi-
rits, and driven out the Soul. Our Bleffed Saviour, we
are told exprefsly, continued thus Three long Hours,
in Languifhings and Thirfts, and leifurely Pangs of
approaching Death. And at laft, with ftrong Cries and
Groans, gave up the Ghost. What a tedious Torment
is this, in Comparison of thofe Executions, that Male-
factors commonly undergo; where the Seat of Life is
immediately affaulted, and the Senfe of Pain can be but
very fhort? The Romans themfelves, who used this Pu-
nishment, were frequently fo compaffionate, as to ftran-
gle the Party firft, and content themfelves with expo-
fing the dead Body upon the Crofs. But, in our Savi-
our's Cafe there was no relenting, no Remains of Hu-
manity, for his Eafe and Relief. Death attack'd him in
its moft frightful Shape, and wrecked his utmoft Spight
upon him. The Length of his Mifery was fo far from
being unufual, that, we are told, the Governor wondred

to

and in Proportion, of all, who depend upon Human Force and Subtlety, for compaffing of wicked Defigns. And here, Who can fufficiently admire the Wifdom of Almighty God, who thus ordered the Great Work of Man's Redemption, in defpight of all the Malice and Subtlety of the Devil, and his wicked Instruments, to the contrary? The Envy and Spight of the Chief Priests and Pharifees, the Eafinefs and Fury of the Common People, the Rage and Infolence of the Soldiers, the profligate Confciences of falfe Witneffes, the Treachery and Avarice of one of Chrift's own Difciples, the Timorousness of a corrupt and time-ferving Judge; the Barbarity of Thofe, who derided, and fcourged, and crucified him, and infulted over his dying Agonies and Pains; All these were made ufe of by the Enemy of Mankind, to destroy Jefus, and to overthrow his Kingdom, and to root out his Name, and all Honour for it, from among Men. And yet fee, how vain all these Attempts were in the Event. They were over-ruled by Providence, fo as to bring about thofe very Purposes, which the Actors, and the Evil Spirit who fet thofe Engines at work, laboured to defeat. They, every one, confpired to render the Matter more glorious, more uniform, more exactly conformable to the original Scheme and Defign marked out for it; and Each contributed to finish that Work, which Some of them knew not of, which Others oppofed, which None of them in the leaft intended. This was the only way they could think of, for ruining the Reputation of Jefus, and blotting out the remembrance of his Miracles and his Doctrine; And yet, in reality, it was the only way, by which his Gofpel could be Established, beyond all Contradiction, and to all future Ages. For, Had not thefe Men been fo exceedingly, so perversely barbarous and wicked, This Holy Teacher, this Innocent Liver, this General Benefactor to Wretches in Distress, could never have been taken off by fo Ignominious a Death, Had he not been put to fuch a Death,

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Heb. ii. 14, 15.

he could not have fuffered the Shame and Torment,
which the Divine Juftice required, as a Satisfaction for
the Sins of Men. Had not the Proceedings against him
been injurious and unreasonable, that Death had not had
the Merit of a Sacrifice, and Expiation for the Guilty,
whofe Perfons he bore. Had not the Innocent Jefus thus
died, the Prince of this world had not been judged; but
That was the Devil's Condemnation, in the prefent Cafe,
that he had nothing in the Perfon, against whom he ex-
ercifed fuch Cruelty. In a Word, Had he not died, he
had not conquered Death, nor led Captivity captive.
For St. Paul tells us exprefsly, that the Son of God was
made like unto Us, and took a Mortal Nature upon him,
that by Death he might destroy him, that had
the Power of Death, even the Devil, and
release them, who through Fear of Death, were all their
Life long fubject to Bondage. Thus did the Wicked One
fall into his own Snare, and in the fame Net
that he hid privily, was his own Foot taken;
His Devices returned upon his own Head,
and his Mischiefs fell upon his own Pate. So vain and
blind are all the Counfels of Men, fo impotent all the
Cunning and Subtlety of Hell it felf, when they under-
take to fight against God. And, (which was eminently
vifible in the Death of our Bleffed Saviour) The Prophe-
cies they fulfilled to a Tittle, while they did all in their
Power to evacuate them; The Divine Counfels, which
they unawares accomplished; and the quite contrary
Ends they ferved, to what they hoped and laboured to
have done; tho' it be the most glorious, the most con-
fpicuous, yet is it far from being the only, Inftance, of
a Wonderful, Wife, and Almighty Providence; bring-
ing Good out of Evil, and excellent and moft beneficial
Events, out of most unlikely, most ungodly, moft ma-
licious Intentions. This every diligent Obferver will
find Inftances of, frequent enough to convince any
thinking Man, that, how cafual foever things at first
I i

fight

Pfal. ix. 15.

vii. 17.

Eph. i. 11.

fight may appear, yet there is One that ruleth over all, and worketh after the Counfel of his own Will. Therefore, how fuccessful or formidable foever the Enemies of Truth and Goodness may feem in our Eyes; yet they cannot bind the Hands, nor cross the Purposes of the great Governor of the World. He will affert his own Honour, and do Right to his Suffering and injured Servants; and even then, when the Wicked think themselves moft fecure, will fhew them their Folly, and blaft them with the Breath of his Displeasure. Bleffed therefore be his wife and watchful Providence, which thus confults his own Honour, and the Good of his Beloved Ones, by dark and mysterious Ways! Bleffed be that admirable Management and Skill, which turns even the Obftinacy of Wicked Men, and their Attempts against Religion, into Means of promoting and fecuring It! Bletfed for ever be that amazing Goodnefs, which turned an unexampled Murther into a moft precious Sacrifice; transformed the Ignominy of the Cross into a Banner of Honour and Triumph; And, when the Princes and Rulers, with Herod and Pontius Pilate, were gathered against Him and his Chrift, looked down from Heaven with Scorn, and had them in Derifion; put a Hook in his Nose, and a Bridle in their Lips; and, while they gratified their own implacable Malice, fuffered that Malice to fuggeft no other things to them, than what himself had long ago determined, and his Prophets foretold, fhould be fo done. Bleffed be that Wisdom, which thus made Sin inftrumental to deftroy Sin: which, of the Blood fhed by wicked Hands, opened a Fountain to wash away Uncleannefs; and appointed the Holy Jefus, treated as a vile Malefactor, for a Prince and Saviour, nay for the only, the efficacious Author of Eternal Salvation, to all that fincerely believe and obey him! Bleffed, Laftly, be that Truth, which thus

preferved

Acts iv. 26, 27. Pfal. ii. 4.

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