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UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF THE NARRATORS.

have been specified, have been stated at least with some distinctness and discrimination, not altogether from hearsay, but with some personal feeling of their truth. If this hope be not justifiable, it would be in vain to say more. But if I have been at all successful in what I have attempted, then enough has been said to show how abundant are the materials which the Christian Records have furnished us, whereby we may construct in our minds an idea of moral greatness, to which history affords no equal. (Not a trace appears in these writings of any design to work out the uniform consistency, apparent in this respect. The writers appear to be occupied with nothing but a statement of facts; of facts which, however, they do not enlarge upon, nor make the least effort to combine into a whole. They pass abruptly from one incident to another, entirely different in its details, unconscious of the beautiful and godlike spirit which they portray. Not that they were insensible to the power of the character of him, whose words and works they relate. They could not possibly have given stronger proof of their being thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Jesus, which was the spirit of truth, than they have given in their simple, unvarnished narrations. /

CHAPTER XII.

THE CRUCIFIXION.

"Auctor nominis ejus Christus, qui, Tiberio imperitante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat." TACITUS ANN. lib. xv.

The leader of this denomination was Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, suffered punishment under the Procurator Pontius Pilate.

Trans.

THE marks of truth and nature upon the accounts of the death of Jesus and his rising from the dead are very numerous and impressive. They are precisely such relations of these most interesting events as we might naturally expect, supposing them to be true. The whole style of narration, the discrepancies between the different accounts, the very errors and mistakes apparent in some subordinate particulars, all indicate precisely such a state of feeling as must have been produced in the eye and ear-witnesses, if the things related actually took place. It is in this perfect truth of feeling, so abundantly disclosed, that I find an impregnable ground for my faith. The testimony of one man, giving indubitable tokens of a true spirit, is absolutely decisive in itself, admitting of no comparison with the testimony of men in whom no such spirit is discernible, even though they were numberless. It is not

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therefore upon the number of the witnesses in the present case that I rely, but upon the overwhelming evidence given that these histories are the productions of truth and honesty. It is true, we are extremely liable to be deceived as to the indications of the presence of a true mind in any given instance. But what does this prove? Not surely that there is no such thing as a true mind, but that truth of feeling is so powerful to impress and convince, that the slightest appearance of it carries with it the greatest weight.

Shortly after Judas quitted the presence of Jesus at the Last Supper, Jesus himself, accompanied by the eleven, left that 'large upper room' and went to the garden of Gethsemane. It was probably in his way thither that he uttered what is recorded in the 15th chapter of John, and that the vineyards through which he passed suggested the language, "I am the true vine, &c." When he reached the spot, bidding his disciples remain where they were and taking with him only Peter, James, and John, he retired into the shades of the garden. Then came that hour of mental agony of which I have already spoken. Leaving his three friends, he went to a short distance and threw himself on the ground, in the greatest distress of mind. But his anguish could not extinguish his generosity. For, although, upon returning to Peter and his two companions, he found them asleep and awoke them with the reproachful words, "Could ye not watch with me one hour?" yet he appears immediately to suggest an excuse for their unseasonable slumbers, "The spirit truly is willing but the flesh is weak." "Watch and pray," said he, "lest ye enter into temptation." What volumes were contained in this brief injunction, uttered at that moment, when he was himself so sorely tempted, so

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peculiarly impressed with the need of watchfulness and prayer, and when he saw how ignorant his friends were of the fearful trials to which they were shortly to be summoned! As the struggle of his spirit was passing away, he perceived the approach of the persons who, with Judas for their guide, were coming to seize him, and immediately he roused his three disciples and went to meet the armed band. The traitor hurried forward and, in order to point out to the officers the individual whom they were to apprehend, saluted Jesus with a kiss. "Friend," said Jesus, "wherefore art thou come? Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss!" The mildness and perfect self-possession of this address, conjoined with the knowledge which it showed of the design of Judas, pierced the traitor to the soul, and we see him plunging, in all the horror of remorse, into the shadow of the night. With the self-possession which was habitual in him and with characteristic dignity of mien, Jesus approached the persons who came to seize him and inquired whom they sought. "Jesus of Nazareth," is the reply. "I am he," said Jesus, in a tone which knew no fear, and with a majesty of manner that struck awe into the men, and they started back overpowered by his presence, so that some if not all were thrown to the ground by the violence of the motion and the confusion that was produced. But they shortly recovered themselves and again he asked, "Whom do "Jesus of Nazareth." "I have told you," said he, "that I am he. If ye seek me only, let these friends of mine go their way."

ye seek?"

The officers then took him and having bound him led him to the house of the High Priest, where a council of the Priests was assembled. The chief of the body began to question Jesus concerning his disciples and his teaching, as if he (the High Priest) knew

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nothing of the case and had not fully made up his mind! 6 Why,' asked the Arraigned in reply, why askest thou me what I have said? Ask those who have

heard me. I have used no concealment. In synagogues and in the temple, in the most public places I have spoken. Call those who have heard me and let them testify.' The questioning of the High Priest was so glaringly out of place, and so plainly shown to be so by the answer of Jesus, and that dignitary was made to appear in so unworthy a light, that one of the bystanders felt as if the High Priest were insulted, and immediately struck Jesus, with the exclamation, “Answerest thou the High Priest so ?" "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou me ?" is the mild reply.

Upon the most prominent incidents of the trial of Jesus I have had occasion already to remark. When prudence no longer required him to avoid the avowal of his Messiahship, and at the moment when such an avowal was fatal to himself, he hesitated not a moment to make it. For this the Jewish Council judged him worthy of death, and carried him before the Roman Governor. That imbecile magistrate made a few struggles to save the prisoner, but was overborne by the clamours and menaces of those whom nothing but the blood of Jesus would satisfy, and orders were given for his crucifixion. As none but the lowest criminals suffered this punishment, the Roman soldiers considered Jesus a fit subject for mockery, and when they grew tired of the savage sport, they led him forth, fainting under the cross which he was compelled, according to custom, to carry. In the crowd that surrounded and followed him to the place of execution, many hearts no doubt bled, but dared not to plead for him, looking on "in weak disapproval, acknowledging only that it was

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