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to add misery to misery. Vinegar would have quenched his thirst, but gall mixed with vinegar was a nauseous draught indeed !
And now he was stripped naked, and his garments were parted by lots among the soldiers who were engaged in his execution; and, being crucified, the soldiers sat down to watch him, lest any of his disciples should take him down and bury him.
It was usual to write the offender's accusation, and to have it carried before him to the place of execution ; but Christ's was written on his cross, “This is JESUS, THE KING OF THE Jews.”
Two thieves were at the same time crucified with him, “one on the right hand, and another on the left.”
As the cross was placed by the roadside, the mob from Jerusalem that passed by it, wagged their head in derision at Jesus, and reviled or blasphemed him, and told him that if he was the Son of God, he ought to show it, by coming down from the cross! He was, indeed, soon to show that he was the Son of God, but it would be in another way, after their malice was satisfied, by rising from his tomb. The chief priests and scribes also united in mocking him, and said, if he would come down from the cross they would believe him. Why, they knew that he had done the most wonderful things, and yet they would not believe him; and now they had filled the measure of their iniquity, and must bear their guilt. The crucified thieves also mocked him.
At noon-day, called by the Jews “the sixth hour,” there came on a darkness, which lasted for three hours, and spread over all the land. And at the ninth hour, or, “ three o'clock in the afternoon,” Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" and so his human nature sunk upon
Some thought he cried out from being so thirsty, and handed him some vinegar in a sponge put upon a reed ; and now Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost, or yielded up his spirit.
Oh, what were his sufferings ! His bodily sufferings were indeed great, but these were nothing compared with those of his soul. For God to forsake him at that moment, how awful! But why did God forsake him? God hates sin. The innocent Jesus then bore our sins. This was the reason why he yielded to death. The Jews were wicked in killing him, and did it all of their own accord and out of the malice of their own hearts; but they could not have killed Christ if he had not willingly given himself to their malice and cruelty. And this, that in his death, he might bear the sins of
all his people, for he himself was innocent and it was these sins that caused God to withhold his comforts from him. Well may we adore the blessed Jesus for such a display of love. But, if he cried out beneath the weight of man's guilt, what must those sinners endure, who will not believe in him and be saved, and so doom themselves to bear the weight of their own guilt for ever?
But besides the great darkness, the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and even the rocks were split asunder. The thick tapestry veil was rent, as a sign that all that was sacred in the ceremonies of the law was now over, and those ceremonies of no use ; for the great Saviour and sacrifice whom all signified, was now come, and had finished his work for guilty men. The earth quaked, perhaps as a sign of the dreadful shaking which was soon to befal the whole Jewish nation; and the rocks were split asunder to shame the hearts of the people, more hardened than those rocks.
These things convinced the soldiers who watched Jesus, and the centurion who commanded them, that he was no common person ; and they were struck with fear, and said, “ Truly this was the Son of God."
Many women also, who followed him from Galilee, were witnesses of his crucifixion ; among whom “was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.”
On the second evening, when the Jewish Sabbath was about to begin, the body of Jesus was obliged to be removed ; and Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, and secretly attached to Christ, went to Pilate, and begged his body, which could not be taken down and buried, without permission being given by the Roman governor. Leave being granted, “he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock" for—the sepulchres of the Jews were made in rocks ;—" and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed."
The day following, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate, and, fearing lest the disciples should steal the body of Christ and say it was risen, they begged that they might have the tomb guarded. So they made all as sure as they could, and sealed the stone that nobody might remove it, and set a watch or guard of soldiers to prevent any one approaching. This was one of the happiest events that could have taken place, because it furnished in the end the surest proofs that Jesus was not stolen away, but that he arose from the grave.
The Resurrection of Christ.
It is reckoned that Christ lay in the tomb thirty-six or thirty-eight hours. At the dawn of day, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, went to the sepulchre, still lingering over the dear remains of their beloved Lord. “ And, behold, there was a great earthquake : for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” These keepers were Roman soldiers, the most courageous men in the world ; but they were frightened at the scene. If the resurrection of Christ was so awful, what must his coming to Judgment be! How will the guilty quake then !
When the women approached the sepulchre, the Angel spoke kindly to them, and told them that the Lord was risen, and desired them to tell the glad news to the disciples, who were greatly discouraged at his crucifixion and death, and they were to assure them he would soon meet them in Galilee. The women ran with all speed to tell the disciples, but on their way
Jesus himself met and saluted them; and they fell at his feet, and them, held and worshipped him: and he repeated the orders to go into Galilee.
But what did the Roman soldiers do? They were set to guard the body of Jesus, and yet he had escaped. How could they escape punishment for this? They went into the city and told the simple story how it happened, and how terrified they were. “They showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done ;" how that there had been a very great earthquake, and a very surprising appearance; for one like a young man descended from the clouds, whose countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow, which filled them with astonishment and dread ; that he rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and then sat upon it; and that some women, coming to the sepulchre, were shown by him where the body had been laid, but was now gone ; and how, that after they had recovered themselves from the fright, they had themselves examined the selpuchre, and the body was certainly gone ; and sure they were that the women did not carry it
away, nor any othors; all which they thought proper to relate to the chief priests; partly on their own account, to clear themselves from the charge of bribery and corruption, and sloth and negligence; and partly that the chief priests might consider what further was proper to be done.
Now it would not do to bring the guards to trial for letting Jesus escape, for they would have defended themselves by telling the truth, and only have spread the account of the resurrection more abroad. So it was settled that a story should be made up, that the disciples came by night and stole the body away while the guards slept; and the elders gave the soldiers a large reward to keep the resurrection secret. But this story, after all, was a very poor one ; for it was not very likely that the timid disciples, who all forsook Christ and fled, would have stolen his body from the Roman soldiers ; nor that all the guards would have been asleep; and even if they had, it was more than probable that some would have roused up, and the disciples would then have endured their vengeance. And then it was very strange that the Roman soldiers should have been saved from punishment, after they had slept upon their watch, which by their laws, was deemed a heavy crime : but it was settled that the Jewish elders should explain the matter to the Roman governor if the affair came under his notice, and that so the soldiers should not be injured. The bungling nature of the story shows that the soldiers told a lie, and that they could not prevent the resurrection of our blessed Saviour, though they were even set to watch his tomb. Their story, reported by the Jews even to this day, is a delightful encouragement to our belief that Jesus Christ arose from the dead on the third day, but not the only proof we possess ; for the eleven disciples went into Galilee, and there he met them after his resurrection, and he commanded them to go and preach the gospel to every creature ; to tell men the glad tidings, or good news, that he had died to save sinners, and that whosoever believed in him should never perish ; and that he had risen again, and was therefore an ever-living Saviour, to whom all sinners might look for salvation, to the end of time. When any professed sincerely to believe their message, they were to baptize them with water, “ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” one God; and this was to show, that in like manner, the Holy Spirit would purify their hearts who truly believed in him, and was to be a bold avowal before the world, that they were the followers of him who was crucified. As a further proof that those baptized were his followers, they were to do all his holy commands, and then all of them might expect his blessing and favour, “even unto the end of the world. Amen."
ARK is shorter than Matthew. It is a repetition of the same history by another hand, with here and there some few facts not mentioned by Matthew. Some of these are all that need, there
fore, be added in this place. In the fourth chapter we have the Parable of the Seed, which appears to have been delivered at the same time that the Parable of the Sower was, as we have read in Matthew, but was not mentioned by him with that parable. Thus, that nothing important might be lost, one evangelist has supplied what another has omitted, as well as confirmed the truth of all that the other has said.
The parable given by Mark is contained in the verses between the twentyfifth and the thirtieth, of the fourth chapter.
In the seventh chapter, Mark gives us the particulars of Christ's curing a deaf man.
" And he put his fingers in his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Be opened,” and his deafness was cured, and “he spake plain.” Most likely he might have once had his hearing, and had learned to speak a little, but having lost his hearing early in life, he could learn no more ; but now with his hearing he learns also to speak. This kind action of Christ made the people look upon him with admiration, and they said, “He hath done all things well; he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”
In the eighth chapter is related the cure of a blind man at Bethsaida, on whose eyes he spit, and he put his hand upon
them. And the man directly saw men as trees walking : he could not exactly make out their shape from a tree. He put his hands on his eyes a second time, and then he saw clearly: teaching us, perhaps, to persevere in the use of proper means. But both in this case and in that of the deaf man, the means were only