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his Spirit, with a lively faith and holy joy committing it to the hands of the FATHER, in full assurance that He would not leave his soul in death, nor suffer his Holy One to see corruption *. Our LORD was nailed to the cross between 9 and 12 o'clock, in the forenoon, and expired between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, which was the time of offering the evening sacrifice, and also for killing the Paschal Lamb. It was at this hour that the angel Gabriel delivered to the prophet Daniel that glorious prediction of the MESSIAH; and some learned authors conjecture, that from that time to the hour of CHRIST's death was exactly seventy weeks of years+.
Our LORD in his last moments called upon GoD as his FATHER, and to shew the unbelieving Jews, that GOD acknowledged him as his SoN, the veil of the Temple, which separated the Holy Place from the most Holy, though made of the richest and strongest tapestry, was miraculously rent in two, from the top to the bottom; so that while the priest was ministering at the golden altar, the sacred Oracle was laid open to full view; which was a token of the abolition of the Mosaic ritual, and a type that a passage was opened to the PRESENCE of GOD in heaven by the sacrifice of CHRIST, the true PASCHAL LAMB.
As a farther emblem of the approaching destruction of the temple, its very foundation was shaken by an earthquake; and many rocks in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem torn asunder in so wonderful a manner, as to retain, according to the report of authentic travellers, even to the present times, visible marks of miraculous power. Thus, when the Jews refused to acknowledge † See Sect. xxxi. Vol. V. Maundrell's Travels. See Doddridge, Vol. II. p. 229, in the
the MESSIAH, did the very stones help to proclaim him; and the centurion who guarded our LORD during his execution, though a Gentile, struck with his amazing fortitude, and the prodigies that followed his death, expressed a thorough conviction that JESUS was not only a righteous man, but the Son of God.
The poor women, who with affectionate courage had followed our LORD to the cross, even after his disciples forsook him and fled, being no longer able to give him any charitable assistance, retired to some distance: perhaps they turned their care to the consolation of his afflicted mother, or sought a situation where they might mingle their tears with her's, without exposing themselves to the insults of a furious rabble.
Those who were disinterested spectators of the wonderful scene, whom curiosity alone had assembled, were so affected with it, that they smote their breasts, which heaved with pity and commiseration, fear and dread, yet they returned to their own houses, without professing their belief in CHRIST; though it is very probable, that the impressions which the sight of the crucifixion made, prepared their minds for the preaching of the Apostles afterwards, and that many were then con
This portion of Sacred History demands our particu lar attention; let us therefore see what practical instruction we may derive from it.
From our LORD's address to the women who followed, him, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, &c." we are taught, that we should not entertain the same kind of sorrow for the sufferings and death of CHRIST, which we feel for the distresses of mankind. If it was
useless to weep for him at the very time he endured them, it certainly must be so now that he sits at the
right hand of GoD, far beyond the reach of pain or sorrow. The sentiments, therefore, proper for us to indulge when we meditate on this important subject, are, an ardent love and affection for CHRIST, on account of his having submitted to such severe afflictions for the sake of mankind, and a grateful joy that he has overcome death, and sitteth at the right hand of God. All our sorrows should be for those sins which expose us, our children, and our country, to the anger of GOD. For these our tears may justly flow, since it was the accumulated sins of the world, of which ours make a part, that required our LORD's submission to such tortures. These will be profitable tears, if they proceed from real penitence, and are followed by amendment of life; for they will recommend us to the compassion of our GoD and SAVIOUR, and avert those judgments which will fall on us, as well as they did on Jerusalem, if we provoke the Divine vengeance by presumption and infidelity.
From the manner in which our blessed LORD submitted to his sufferings, we are instructed to bear all the sorrow, pain, and indignity, which may fall to our lot in this world, with patience and resignation to the Divine will; and not to indulge a spirit of hatred against our enemies, but to pray for them: especially as it is possible that those who injure us may do it through ignorance.
The men who nailed CHRIST to the cross, in all probability knew not what they did, having been kept in ignorance by their rulers, who had filled their minds with prejudices against him and his doctrine, and his intercession for them prevailed; for many of those who had a hand in the crucifixion were converted afterwards by the preaching of St. Peter.
Our LORD's tenderness to his mother in h's dying
moments, teaches us to honour our parents, and to use our utmost endeavours to provide for their ease and comfort.
From our LORD's address to the FATHER in the hour of darkness and distress, we are encouraged to call upon GOD, even when he hides himself from us; and from his last words we learn, what should be the sentiments of our hearts in the awful hour of death; namely, a care for our souls, a resignation of them into the hands of GoD, and a joyful hope of a resurrection from the dead.
Since, from the rending of the veil, we are taught that a passage is opened for us into the most Holy Place by our LORD's sacrifice of his body on the cross, let us endeavour to enter it through faith in his blood.
The behaviour of the penitent thief encourages sinners to seek the mercy of Go through the intercession of CHRIST, even in their last moments, if their penitence be sincere; whilst the example of the obdurate sinner shews the danger of deferring repentance to the end of life *. No one who lives in an habitual course of sin can possibly tell what his disposition may be when the hour of death approaches. Repentance is seldom a sudden thing; for it consists in a change of mind, which cannot, but through the miraculous power of Gon, take place in an instant; and sinners have no reason to expect miracles for their conversion. It is likely that the judgment of GoD had had its proper effect on the mind of the penitent thief, and produced a sorrow for sin, which rendered him an object of Divine compassion; and that the other was a hardened impious wretch, who
* There is amongst the Sermons of Bishop Sherlock an excellent one on this subject, which every person ought to read who has the least idea that a death-bed repentance will atone for a sinful life.
had, by his presumption and blasphemy, excluded himself from divine grace.
Before we conclude this Section, it will be proper to consider how it was possible for our LORD, in whom the GODHEAD dwelt, to feel pain and sorrow as a MAN.
We must not suppose, from CHRIST'S using the exclamation, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" that his Divine nature was withdrawn ; but only that his Divine and human natures, though united, were distinct; so that each retained its separate faculties the soUL subordinate to the DIVINE NATURE, as the body to the soul—the inferior nature, actuated by the intelligence of the superior nature, which the latter had the power to communicate or to withhold from the former. Of this we may form some idea by what passes in ourselves. Our bodies act in consequence of the intelligence of our minds; for having no rational faculties, our bodies cannot of themselves perform rational actions. The powers of our souls are also limited, so that they cannot attain Divine knowledge by any natural exertions. Our SAVIOUR alone, of all the human race, demonstrated that he had Divine knowledge, which he repeatedly attributed to the GODHEAD dwelling in him : from whence we may conclude, that his soul was in its nature the same as other men's, but informed and actuated by the GODHEAD, agreeably to the Divine will, as circumstances required. If therefore we suppose the DiVINE WORD to have proportioned his communications to the soul, according to the Divine will, without being subject to be controuled by the inferior nature, we may account for his operations being on some occasions suspended; at which times (as we may conceive) the fear of being forsaken naturally arose in our LORD'S mind. But we will now read the Psalm which contains his dying exclamation, as that will serve to illustrate