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that cross which gracious Heaven designed to bear away the guilt of the world, required all the guilt of the world to erect.
Now, our point is that this crowning crime, corrupt humanity everywhere is capable of perpetrating. In illustration of this I make two remarks :
First : That the feelings which effected the crucifixion we may find everywhere in the hearts of depraved men. They pulsate in the bosons of the men and women around us. Let
Who were the instigators of the crucifixion ? “The Chief Priests and the Pharisees,” moved the nation to the deed. What was the feeling that stimulated them ? It is said that Pilate, who condemned Him, knew that they delivered Jesus to him from “ envy.” They were envious of His growing popularity, and grew malignant as they saw the people turning away their attention from them to Him. The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead seemed first to call out this feeling into practical determination. Then from that day forth “they took counsel together for to put Him to death." Is not envy prevalent now ? Merchant envies merchant, statesman envies statesman, sect envies sect, even preacher envies preacher, and author envies author. This passion burns everywhere. The infernal fire which flamed in the breasts of these Chief Priests and Pharisees, smoulders with more or less intensity in the breasts of all. Who betrayed Him?
It was Judas! But what prompted him to do so ? Was it any unkind feeling towards Christ ? Was it malice ? The overwhelming distress he experienced when he heard that Christ was delivered to be crucified unmistakably shows that it was no malign impulse which inspired his treacherous deed. No, it was simply love of money. “What will ye give me ?” was the question. It was a pure matter of cash. If he could have had a larger sum for protecting his Master would he not have done so more readily? He would have stood by the cross to the last moment and fronted with a defiant bearing the wild fury of the mob, had sufficient silver been offered. Is this passion extinct ? Extinct! Never did it reign and rage more than now. “What will ye give me?” is the great
question. “My time and influence, my mind and muscles,” says the Englishman, are yours for money.” who neglects duty for gain, who suppresses a truth, or sacrifices a principle, for interest is a modern Judas. Who condemned Him ? Pilate. Why? Did he believe Him guilty! No! Before the Chief priests, the Rulers, and the people, he repeatedly declared that he “found no fault in him ;” and after he had, contrary to his conviction, pronounced the sentence, he called for a “basin of water” in the open court, and thus symbolically corroborated his verbal declaration : .“ I am innocent of the blood of this just person.” No, his conscience declared His innocence. It was the fear of becoming unpopular. He attended to the voice of the populace rather than to the voice of his own conscience. He thought more of popularity than of principle. Does not this sentiment prevail now? Are not the great bulk of mankind governed more by conventionalities than by convictions ?-disposed ever to relinquish what is true for what is popular ? The spirit of Pilate is common. What induced the people to cry out for the deliverance of Barabbas rather than Christ? Did they feel in their consciences that Barabbas was a better mau ? No. They preferred brute force to moral. Barabbas may be considered the type of the one, Christ of the other. Barabbas was a seditious person, a thief," a murderer,” a man of physical daring, violence, and blustering pretence. They yielded to him. Is not this common. “Who,” to use the language of Archer Butler, “are the chosen of our race, whom poetry crowns with its halo of glory, and every young imagination bows to worship? Who but the laurelled Barabbasses of history, the chartered robbers and homicides that stain its pages with blood ?” Remove the conventional discredit from the weaker thief, exalt him to the majesty of the military despot, and who now will not vote for Barabbas ? Let the man who is imprisoned for a petty theft, or condemned to be hanged for one murder, rifle whole cities and lay ten thousand dead upon the battle field, and this Barabbas shall receive the loud plaudits of a whole nation. This brutal feeling in a people is indicative of the lowest moral degeneracy, and is the sure pledge of ruin.
Honour," says Carlyle, “ Barabbas the Robber, thou shalt sell old-clothes through the cities of the world; shalt accumulate sordid moneys, with a curse on every coin of them, and be spit upon for eighteen hundred years. Raise statues to the swollen Gambler as if he were great, sacrifice oblations to the King of Scrip;—unfortunate mortals, you will dearly pay for it yet. Quiet as Nature's counting-house and scrip-ledgers are, no faintest item is ever blotted out from them, for or against; and to the last doit that account will have to be settled. Rigorous as Destiny ;-she is Destiny. Chancery or Fetter Lane is soft to her, when the day of settlement comes. With her, in the way of abatement, of oblivion, neither gods nor men prevail. Abatement ? That is not our way of doing business ; the time has run out, the debt it appears is due.' Will the laws of gravitation abate' for you
} Gravitation acts at the rate of sixteen feet per second, in spite of all prayers. Were it the crash of a Solar System, or the fall of a Yarmouth herring, all one to gravitation.”
Who were those soldiers that nailed Him to. the cross, that plunged the spear into His side, that wagged their heads and mocked Him ? What was the spirit that stimulated them ? A miserable servility towards their superiors. They did it to please their masters. This flunkeyism runs through all classes—one class bowing and cringing to those above them; the class next to the throne the most servile of all. Courtiers with emphasis are they.
Without proceeding further into details, I say that I can find nothing in the breasts of any of those men who were employed in the crucifixion, that I cannot find now in the hearts of the men about me.
Secondly : That similar circumstances would probably lead to a similar development. Let a being appear amongst us similar to Christ, and these existing germs of evil would probably develop themselves in as aggravated a form as they did at the crucifixion. Suppose the son of an humble
mechanic, from one of the most obscure parts of the country, to appear amongst us.
Let him be the very picture of penury and want,-his countenance marred more than any man's. Let him go through the length and breadth of the land, denouncing in no measured terms the religious leaders of the age, and sapping the foundation of their influence. Let him go into our Temples, and call them his own, and by violence cast out all the money changers that are found within their precincts, and turn the heart of the people against their priests. Let him deal as severely with our magistrates, mayors, senators, and ecclesiastics, as Christ did with the various members of the old Sanhedrim. Let him denounce wealth, pleasure, and military glory, and in fact, all the idols of the people. Let him take a firm stand against the flowing tide of popular sentiment, and strike every hour without mercy at the tenderest prejudices, and the dearest objects of the people's devotion. Let him talk about destroying his enemies and setting up a kingdom himself, that shall extend over the world and grind into powder all other dynasties. How long think ye would such a man be tolerated in England ? Three years? I trow not. Many months would not elapse before all London, all England, would echo with the cry, “away with him.” Do you say the case is not parallel, inasmuch as Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God ? True. But the Jewish people did not know it;
“ for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” The parallel therefore is complete so far as the feelings of the people are concerned. I confess that I do not discover a single passion or impulse, in any of the actions in the tremendous tragedy of our Lord's crucifixion, that I see not pulsating in the bosoms of men around me. In this respect as well as in others, " that which hath been is now.” That which raged in hellish riot on Calvary's brow eighteen centuries ago,
is here in England now, speaking essentially the same thing, though in a different language, and working out the same master aims, though by different instruments and methods. The germs of that harvest of appalling crime, which shocked creation's nerves, and made the sun put on his mourning veil, are lying thickly in the heart of our age, under the gilded roof of a conventional Christianity.
The subject teaches us :
First : The propriety of a trembling modesty in denouncing the great criminals of history. Do you denounce the Chief Priests, Judas, Pilate, the populace, the soldiers ? I know you do, nor can I blame you, On the world's black roll of crime their iniquities appear in aspects that thrill my nature with a quivering horror. But in condemning them let us take care that we do not foredoom ourselves. The portrait of that criminal which Nathan the prophet held up to the eye of David, woke in the heart of the king the most indignant denunciations. Looking at the demon-figure, he exclaimed, “ As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die.” But David, “thou art the man that hast perpetrated that moral enormity, and in thy severe sentence thou hast foredoomed thyself. In like manner, the picture of the “Husbandmen”—who first killed the servants of the “Householder" and last of all killed his son—which the Heavenly artist drew, and held up to the Chief Priests and Pharisees, roused their indignation. They declared that such “ wicked men" should be “miserably" destroyed. But they themselves were those wicked men, and they did not know it. Let us therefore be modest in our denunciations of others.
The subject teaches us :
Secondly: The necessity of a heart-renovation for the real improvement of humanity. Nothing will effectually serve us but a change of heart. “ Marvel not,” says the world's Reformer, “ye must be born again.” Embedded in the depraved heart are the seeds of all wickedness, and so thickly cluster those seeds amidst the central fibres of the heart, that the heart itself must be taken away before they can be removed. There is no hope for the world but in a new “heart of flesh,” a heart of tender moral sensibilities, and