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CHAPTER XIV.

THE LAST SUFFERINGS OF OUR LORD.

T):c apprehension of Christ---he restores the ear of Malchus, the chief priest's servant-

Peter thrice denies his Master---Jesus is examined before the council, and condemned as guilty of blasphemy--- Judas hangs himself---Christ is brought before Pilate--Pilate refuses to condemn him, but declares him innocent --he is sent to Herod, who treats him reproachfully---Barabbas released instead of Christ---Pilate at length condemns him to appease the multitude --he is scourged, crowned with thorns, and buffettedl---he is led forth and crucified between two thieves---a superscription is put upon the cross---Christ is reviled by the mob, the rulers, the priests, and one of the thieves--a miraculous darkness overspreads the earth---Christ expires---an earthquake---the observation of the centurion---the conduct of Mary Magdalene and other women--Christ's side is pierced---his body is begged by Joseph of Arimathea, and wrapped in spices by Nicodemus---be is laid in the sepulchre, and secured by a stone---the sea! of the priests, and a guard of soldiers.

WHILE Jesus was pouring forth his soul in the most bitter agonies in the garden, his enemies were indulging a malicious joy to think their plots for his destruction were now likely to be very soon accomplished. Having obtained a cohort of Roman soldiers comman led by their proper officer, they joined with these a number of their own servants and dependants, and placed the whole under the direction of Judas, while they themselves followed in the train. This motley multitude was armed with swords and staves, and furnished with lanterns ; because, though the moon was full, the sky might be clouded, or which is more probable, it was a dark and shady place to which Jesus had retired. The sole object of Christ's persecutors appears to have been his destruction, without intending to involve' that of his followers. It was, therefore, necessary, that the soldiers should be able to distinguish him with accuracy, and therefore Judas had appointed to salute him with a kiss, as a sign that he was the proper person for the soldiers to take into custody. The better to accomplish his detested design, the traitor appeared at a little distance before ; and, having approached his Master in the garden, called him by that appellation, and instantly proceeded to kiss him, as the strongest token of reverence and affection. It was, perhaps, his wish to appear as one that apprized him of his danger ; but if so, Christ immediately detected the imposture ; but, retaining his usual mildness, said to him, friend, werefore art thou come ? betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss ?

The appointed time of our Lord's sufferings being now come, he made no attempt to escape from his enemies, but went forth to meet them, and asked them whom it was that they were irus eagerly pursuing. They replied, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he; and immediately the whole band of men walked involuntarily backward, and fell to the ground. This display of omnipotence glorified the Lord Jesus Christ, by shewing that he could easily have resisted his enemies, and even punislied their temerity ; but he freely gave up his life to fulfil his wise and benevolevt designs. Thev, probably, supposing that the shock which they liad experienced proceeded from the operation of some infernal power, by whom the priests bad asserted the miracles of our Saviour to have been perforined, rose from the ground, and advanced a second time to apprenend him. He then surrendered himself into their hands, only desiring that they would peaceably dismiss his disciples, who had not yet dove their appointed work, nor received sufficient strength to prepare them for martyrdom. Some of the soldiers now rushed forward and seized bin, while his disciples, standing by, were filled with the deepest amazement and concern. One of them, Simon Peter, determined now to perform his promise of abiding sted fastly by his Master, even unto death ; and therefore, hastily snatching his sword from the scabbard, smote of the right ear of one Malchus, a servant of the high-priest, who was probably uncommonly ofiicious upon this occasion. Ile would, co doubt, have attacked the whole band, had not Jesus checked him by observing, that all they that take the sword shull perish with the suord. This pasage is understood not less than three different ways.

Sonne take it as an absolute prohibition for any of the followers of Christ to engage in acts of hostility : others regard it only as an intimation to Peter that his defence was uniseasonable, and only likely to procure the destruction of himself and the other apostles : and a third option is, that it is a prediction that God wuld punish the Jews, the murderers of his Son, by giving them up to perishi hy the swords of the Romans. And whereas, continued Jesus, you seem now to be greatly alarmed at beholding me surrounded by a single cobort or regiment of Roman soldiers, my heavenly Father, if it were consistent with the end of my mission to make such a request, would immediately afford me the assistance of more than twelie legions of angels, beings, one of which was able singly to destroy the whole arıny of Sennacherib. But this is not the interit of my commig into the world, which is to drink the cup of suffering that is ready prepared by my Father. Then, asking permission of the soldiers that held hiai. lie toriched the ear of the wounded man, and either restored that member to its place, or, at least, instantly healed the wound. Then, turning to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and members of the samhedrim, he asked them why they collected such a mighty force to arrest one who had always taught openly in the temple, and never attempted to resist their power. But he himself assigned the reason : this is your hour, and the power of darkness ; and it is necessary ihat these things should be done for the a. complishment of the scriptural predictions, which have been delivered by the prophets. His disciples then fled, while he was bound and led awa; as a prisoner.

The evangelist Mark has recorded a circumstance which strongly marks the confusion and uproar of that dreadful nighi. A young man, probably awakened by the noise, came out with no other covering than that of a liven garment, such as the peasants of Egypt and Syria make use of both to sleep upon and to wear. Some of the soldiers laid hold on him, perhaps iu jest ; and he was so apprehensive of being made a prisoner, that he lied a'vay vaked, notwithstanding the aversion which the inhabitants of the East have to be seen in tha conditio.

Christ was first couducted to Aunas, who was a person much reverenced by the Jews, being tather-in-law to Caiaphus, and having himself performed the office of high-priest.

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Rut he refusing to act singiy in the affair, Christ was conducted to the palace of the high-priest Caiaphas, where he found the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes, assembled together.

The apostles, no doubt, were in great consternation when their Master was apprehended, as appears from their having forsaken him and fied. Some of them, however, recovering out of the panic that had seized them, followed the band at a distance, to see what the end would be. Of this number was Peter, and another disciple, whom. John has mentioned without giving his name, and who is therefore supposed to have been John himself. This disciple, whoever he was, being acquainted at the high-priest's, got admittance, first for himself, then for Peter, who had come along with him. But the maid who kept the door, concluding that Peter was a disciple also, followed him, after a little while, to the fire, which was kindled in the midst of the hall; and, looking earnestly at him, charged him with being a disciple of Jesus. Her blunt attack threw Peter into such confusion, thai he flatly denied having had any acquaintance with Jesus of Galilee. Thus the apostle, who had formerly acknowledged his Master to be Messiah, who was honoured with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and who had most confidently boasted that he would not forsake him in the greatest dangers, became guilty, in the hour of trial, of the most despicable cowardice. After having stood a little while longer at the fire, he went out into the porch, hoping, probably, to conceal his confusion, and there heard the cock crow for the first time. He had not loog, however, remained in the porch, before he met with another servant, or servants, who again charging hiin with being a disciple, he replied, man, I am not. As Matthew and Mark both mention a maid as being the person who, on this second occasion, nonplussed Peter, it is probable, though the greek word translated man will apply to either sex, that both a male and a female servant attacked him on this present occasion. Torn by a variety of different passions, and finding that not even The porch would afford him concealment, he again returned to the fire, resolving, if possible, to wait the result. Here, however, he met with a kinsman of Malchus, who vehemently charged him with being a member of the Galilean faction. Being now filled with a greater panic than ever, he not only resolutely denied the fact, but, to give the better colour to the lie, he invoked the eternal God as a witness, and imprecated the most deadly curses on his head, if he had the slightest acquaintance with Jesus of Nazareth. This was, however, the utmost limit at which the wickedness of Peter was suffered to arrive ; for he had no sooner denied his Master the third time, than the cock again crew; and, probably, either awakened in him the first convictions of his sin, or, at least, made him look to his Master, in order to see if he was taking notice of what had happened : but at the same instant, Jesus, turning about, fixed his eyes on his cowardly disciple. The look pierced him ; and, with the crowing of the cock, brought his Master's prediction afresh into his mind.

He was stung with deep remorse ; and being unable to contain himself, he covered his face with his garment, went out, and wept bitterly. The whole of this transaction brings into our view the weakness of human resolutions, the darger of self-confidence, the forgiving mercy of Jeses, and the powerful influence of his love in subduing the most rebellious passions of the heart.

Luke here introduces the account of the cruel mockings which our Lord Jesus endured in the palace of the higt-priest, though it was not quite certain wliether this took place before or after his examination. And the men that held Jesus mocked him and sinote him. And when they had blindfolılcd him, theij struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, prophecy, i. e. inform us by thy pretended supernatural knowledge,

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