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not fail to be very grievous in a body lately torn with thongs, and now transfixed with nails in those parts where the feeling is peculiarly acute; the wounds being opened and distended by the weight of the body, and the expansion of the members. Pain, too, which the longer it continued, became the more excruciating.
All this ignominy and pain took place according to the Roman custom, and the nature of the punishment.13 But a third thing was added according to the Hebrew law, namely, a curse; of which we must now give an accurate account.
XXXII. In the book of Deuteronomy, God appoints that if a criminal be adjudged to death, and after death hanged on a tree, he should be taken away and buried before the setting of the sun; and the following reason is assigned, “ for he that is hanged is accursed, a curse, of God.”i Paul, somewhat varying the words, quotes the same sentence, and transfers it to Christ.j Here two questions are commonly proposed. It is inquired, in the first place, why God was pleased to brand this sort of punishment above all others with special infamy, that it might not only appear to men, what it really is, dreadful and horrible, but that also the person suspended might be considered an execration of God himself. It is not my intention to disparage, in any respect, the prolix discussions of men of learning on this point; but I shall state what seems to me the simplest and most obvious interpretation. The ruinous sin committed by our first parents had a relation to a tree. Hence the first beginning of evil. Hence the wrath and curse of God resting on the whole human race, nay, on the earth
כי קללת אלהים תלוי i
i Gal. iii. 13. .
13 Sce Note XIII.
itself. God therefore wisely ordained that suspension upon the fatal tree, which might remind every spectatator of the first origin of the divine anger, should be a symbol of the curse; whilst he was pleased also to appoint, that the first sin, and other sins proceeding from it, should be expiated, only by a Surety for mankind, who would condescend to be hanged on a tree. It was not the purpose of the Lawgiver to intimate that all without distinction that were hanged should be excluded from the participation of his favour. But it was his design that in the very hanging of the person on the tree, whether guilty or innocent, whether penitent or impenitent, there should be a memorial of the curse, which having originated from a crime that had a respect to a tree, was to rest on the world, until it should be abolished by the sufferings of the Messiah on the accursed tree.
XXX111. But it is also very properly asked, On what ground does the Apostle transfer these expressions to the punishment of the cross? Whatever Baronius and Lipsius urge to the contrary, the cross was unused and unknown amongst the ancient Hebrews; it was, as it is termed by Sozomenus, “ a punishment enacted by " the Romans.” Casaubon has proved this by incontestable arguments.* We find, indeed, the following sentence in the Chaldee paraphrase on Ruth :k “ There “ are four modes of inflicting capital punishment on “ malefactors; namely, stoning, burning, slaying with “the sword, and hanging on the cross.”+ But the modern Paraphrast was either unacquainted with the an- · cient customs of his nation, and ignorantly confounded
• Exercil. xvi.
+ xD*p 721389, et Suspensio patibuli.
k Ch. i. 17.
strangling, though done in a very different manner, with suspension upon the cross ; or he chose to speak of a punishment antiquated in his own age, in terms that properly denoted another which was analogous to it, and then in use; or, in fine, he inaccurately numbered amongst the kinds of death, that which was done to criminals after death. There is a wide difference betwixt these two questions, whether any one, after having already suffered capital punishment, was suspended by ropes ---which was indeed done by the Hebrews; and whether a man, yet living, was nailed to a tree, there to undergo a lingering and dreadful death,—which was the practice amongst the Romans. * Every genus, nevertheless, comprizes all its species; and it is with great justice and propriety, that Paul particularly applies to crucifixion, what is affirmed in general with regard to hanging on a tree.
XXXIV. While suspended on the tree as the execration of God, exposed to the greatest ignominy, and suffering the most extreme agonies in soul and body, our blessed Lord poured out his soul unto death. His death was, Ist, Seasonable, the work which the Father had committed to him being completed ;1 all things which the sacred oracles had foretold being accomplished;m and every thing, from the greatest to the least, which it behoved him to perform in this life, being finished. He was, for good reasons, persuaded, that previously to this he ought by no means to desert his post. 2dly, Voluntary,' which was evinced by the
* Vide Schichardum de jure Regio, cap. iv. Theorem. siv. cum animadversionibus Carpzovii. 1 John xvii. 4. .
m John xix. 28. n Verse 30.
• John X. 18.
strong cry which he uttered a little before his death,P manifesting that he still possessed a great degree of rigour. It appeared also from his spontaneous and deliberate bowing of the head.. “ The contrary,” says Theophylact, “ takes place with us; for we first expire, " and then bow down the head. But he first bowed, " and then expired; from which it was evident he was " the Lord of death, and did all according to his plea“ sure.”14 3dly, Pious ; for he died offering up prayers and supplications. 4thly, Tranquil; his conscience
bore him witness that he had faithfully accomplished | the whole work incumbent upon him in this life; and
he was certain that God, as a most affectionate Father, would receive his spirit, defend it from the devil, and restore it to himself at his resurrection. This is implied in the words, “ Father, into thy hands I com“mend my spirit.” It appears also from the following specimen of Christ's prayers, which is exhibited in the twenty-second Psalm, verses 20, 21. “ Deliver my soul “ from the sword;" cause me to expire in peace, and thus to frustrate the force of the spear which is shortly to pierce my side. “ Deliver my darling,” that is, my dearly beloved, “ from the power of the dog," the licentious soldier, the Roman executioner. Let me escape by a speedy death that breaking of my bones, of which I am in danger. “ Save me from the mouth of the “ lion,” the Devil, who has hitherto had the power of death; and make it evident by my blessed resurrection, that I am his conqueror. « For thou hast heard me “ from the horns of the unicorns;" thou hast heard the cries which I lifted up unto thee, whilst I was yet
P Mat. xxvii. 50.
4 John xix. 30. 14 See Note XIV.
exposed to the rage of the princes of this world ; and now thou assurest me that no man shall henceforth be permitted to treat me with cruelty and violence. These are the words of Christ when preparing himself for death, which may be compared with the event, and which discover his alacrity and fortitude.
xxxv. Christ's alacrity and confidence, however, ought not to hinder us from believing that unto death, and even in death, he bore the curse of God. Hanging on a tree was a symbol of the curse, and no vain symbol truly to Christ. The necessity of his submitting to death, arose from the curse of God due to the sin of the first Adam, for which it was requisite that satisfaction should be made by the second Adam. Christ too, when he died, “ made his soul an offering “ for sin ;": nay, was “ made sin ;"s and « bare our “sins in his own body on the tree,”+ till he suffered “ death for the redemption of transgression,”u and “ reconciled us in the body of his flesh through death." Now, it is inconceivable how Christ can be said to bear our sins, or to bear the guilt of them even unto death or to take them away by nothing less than death, reconciliation having been then only completely effected, -unless he sustained the curse of God both unto death, and in death. Nor is it unworthy of notice, that St Peter speaks of “ the pains of Christ's death ;"w and that Isaiah foretels that he should be “cut off out of the “ land of the living,” and, through means of death, at last “ taken from prison and from judgment.” In fine, how can we at all rest assured that we ourselves
rowx Is. liii. 10. ti Pet. ii. 24.
Col. i. 22. * Is. liii. 8.
''Anaptio, 2 Cor. v. 21. U 'Eus útonurewory. Heb. ix. 15. w Acts ii. 24.