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crowned with glory and majesty ? was not that hand fit for a reed, whose iron sceptre crushes you to death? was not that face fit to be spit upon, from the dreadful aspect whereof ye are ready to desire the mountains to cover you?
In the mean time, whether, O whether dost thou stoop, O thou co-eternal Son of thine eternal Father! whether dost thou abase thyself for me! I have sinned, and thou art punished; I have exalted myself, and thou art dejected; I have clad myself with shame, and thou art stripped; I have made myself naked, and thou art clothed with robes of dishonour; my head hath devised evil, and thine is pierced with thorns ; I have smitten thee, and thou art smitten for me; I have dishonoured thee, and thou, for my sake, art scorned; thou art made the sport of men, for me that have deserved to be insulted on by devils.
Thus disguised, thus bleeding, thus mangled, thus disformed, art thou brought forth, whether for compassion, or for a more universal derision to the furious multitude, with an Ecce homo ! “ Behold the man.” Look upon him, O ye merciless Jews, see him in his shame, in his wounds and blood, and now see whether ye think him miserable enough. Ye see his face black and blue with buffetting, his eyes swoln, his cheeks beslavered with spittle, his skin torn with scourges, his whole body bathed in blood, and would ye yet have more? “Behold the man;" the man whoın ye envied for his greatness, whom ye feared for his usurpation : doth he not look like a king ? is he not royally dressed ? see whether his magnificence do not command reverence from you. Would ye wish a finer king ? are ye not afraid he will wrest the sceptre out of Cæsar's hand ? “ Behold the man.
Yea, and behold him well, O thou proud Pilate! cruel soldiers, O ye insatiable Jews! Ye see him base whom ye shall see glorious; the time shall surely come wherein ye shall see him in another dress. He shall shine whom ye now see to bleed; his crown cannot be now so ignominious and painful, as it shall be once majestical and precious. Ye, who now bend your knees to him in scorn, shall see all knees, both in heaven and earth, and under the earth, to bow before him in an awful adoration; ye, that now see him with contempt, shall behold him with horror.
What an inward war do I yet find in the breast of Pilate! His conscience bids him spare, bis popularity bids him kill.
His wife, warned by a dream, warns him to have no hand in the blood of that just man; the importunate multitude presses him for a sentence of death. All shifts have been tried to free the man whom he hath pronounced innocent. All violent motives are urged to condemn that man whom malice pretends guilty.
In the height of this strife, when conscience and moral justice were ready to sway Pilate's distracted heart to a just disinission, I hear the Jews cry out, “ If thou let this man go thou art not Cæsar's friend." There is the word that strikes it dead; it is now no time to demur any more. In vain shall we hope, that a carnal heart can prefer the care of his soul to the care of his safety and honour, God to Cæsar. Now Jesus must die: Pilate hastes into the judgment-hall, the sentence sticks no longer in his teeth, “Let him be crucified.”
Yet how foul soever his soul shall be with this fact, his hands shall be clean; “He took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it.” Now all is safe: I doubt not but this is expiation enough; water can wash off blood; the hands can cleanse the heart : protest thou art innocent, and thou canst not be guilty. Vain hypocrite ! canst thou think to escape so? is murder of no deeper dye ? canst thou dream waking, thus to avoid the charge of thy wife's dream? is the guilt of the blood of the Son of God to be wiped off with such ease? What poor shifts do foolish sinners make to beguile themselves! any thing will serve to charm the conscience, when it lists to sleep.
But O Saviour, while Pilate thinks to wash off the guilt of thy blood with water, I know there is nothing that can wash off the guilt of this his sin but thy blood. O do thou wash my soul in that precious bath, and I shall be clean. O Pilate, if that very blood which thou sheddest do not wash off the guilt of thy bloodshed, thy water doth but more defile thy soul, and intend that fire wherewith thou burnest.
Little did the desperate Jews know the weight of that blood, which they were so forward to wish upon themselves and their children. Had they deprecated their interest in that horrible murder, they could not so easily have avoided the vengeance; but now, that they fetch it upon themselves by a willing execration, what should I say, but that they long for a curse? it is pity they should not be miserable. And have
ye not now felt, О nation worthy of plagues, have ye not now felt what blood it was whose guilt ye affected? ? Sixteen hundred years are now passed since you wished yourselves thus wretched : have ye not been ever since the hate and scorn of the world? did ye not live, many of you, to see your city buried in ashes, and drowned in blood ? to see yourselves no nation? was there ever people under heaven that was made so famous a spectacle of misery and desolation? have ye yet enough of that blood which ye called for upon yourselves and your
children? Your former cruelties, uncleannesses, idolatries, cost you but some short captivities; God cannot but be just: this sin, under which ye now lie groaning and forlorn, must needs be so much greater than these, as your vastation is more ; and what can that be other than the murder of the Lord of life! Ye have what ye wished, be miserable till ye be penitent.
The Crucifixion. The sentence of death is past, and now who can with dry eyes behold the sad pomp of my Saviour's bloody execution! All the streets are full of gazing spectators, waiting for this rueful sight. At last, O Saviour, there thou comest out of Pilate's gate, bearing that which shall soon bear thee. To expect thy cross was not - torment enough; thou must carry it. All this while thou shalt not only see, but feel thy death before it come, and must help to be an agent in thine own passion. It was not out of favour that those scornful robes being stripped off, thou art led to death in thine own clothes. So was thy face besmeared with blood, so swoln and discoloured with buffettings, that thou couldst not have been known but by thy wonted habit. Now thine insulting enemies are so much more imperiously cruel, as they are more sure of their success. Their merciless tormentings have made thee half dead already; yet now, as if they had done nothing, they begin afresh, and will force thy weakened and fainting nature to new tasks of pain. The transverse of thy cross, at least, is upon thy shoulder; when thou canst scarce go, thou musť carry. One kicks thee with his foot, another strikes thee with his staff, another drags thee hastily by thy cord, and more than one spur on thine unpitied weariness with angry commands of haste. O true form and state of a servant! All thy former actions, O Saviour, were, though painful, yet free; this, as it is in itself servile, so it is tyrannously enforced, enforced yet more upon thee, by thine own love to mankind, than by their power and despite. It was thy Father that "laid upon thee the iniquity of us all ;” it was thine own mercy that caused thee to bear our sins upon the cross, and to bear the cross, with the curse annexed to it, for our sins. How much more voluntary must that needs be in thee, which thou requirest to be voluntarily undertaken by us! It was thy charge, “ If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Thou didst not say, Let him bear his cross as forcibly imposed by another : but, “Let him take up his cross as his frec burden; free in respect of his heart, not in respect of his hand; so free, that he shall willingly undergo it, when it is laid upon him, not so free as that he shall lay it upon himself unrequired. O Saviour, thou didst not snatch the cross out of the soldiers' hands and cast it upon thy shoulder, but, when they laid it upon thy neck, thou underwentst it. The constraint was theirs, the will was thine. It was not so heavy to them, or to Simon, as it was to thee; they felt nothing but the wood, thou feltst it clogged with the load of the sins of the whole world. No marvel if thou faintedst under that sad burden; thou, that bearest up the whole earth by thy word, didst sweat, and pant, and groan under this unsupportable carriage. O blessed Jesu, how could I be confounded in myself to see thee, after so much loss of blood and over-toiledness of pain, languisbiog under that fatal tree ! and yet, why should it more trouble me to see thee sinking under thy cross now, than to see thee anon hanging upon thy cross? In both thou wouldst render thyself weak and miserable, that thou mightst so much the more glorify thy infinite · mercy in suffering.
It is not out of any compassion of thy misery, or care of thine ease, that Simon of Cyrene is forced to be the porter of thy cross; it was out of their own eagerness of thy dispatch; thy feeble paces were too slow for their purpose; their thirst after thy blood made them impatient of delay. If thou have wearily struggled with the burden of thy shame all along the streets of Jerusalem, when thou comest once past
the gates, an helper shall be deputed to thee : the expedition of thy death was more sweet to them than the pain of a lingering passage. What thou saidst to Judas, they say to the executioner, What thou dost, do quickly.” While thou yet livest they cannot be quiet, they cannot be safe: to hasten thine end they lighten thy carriage.
Hadst thou done this out of choice, which thou didst out of constraint, how I should have envied thee, O Simon of Cyrene, as too happy in the honour to be the first man that bore that cross of thy Saviour, wherein millions of blessed martyrs have, since that time, been ambitious to succeed thee? Thus to bear thy cross for thee, O Saviour, was more than to bear a crown from thee. Could I be worthy to be thus graced by thee, I should pity, all other glories.
While thou thus passest, О dear Jesu, the streets and ways resound not all with one note. If the malicious Jews and cruel soldiers insulted upon thee, and either haled or railed thee on with a bitter violence, thy faithful followers were no less loud in their moans and ejulations; neither would they endure, that the noise of their cries and lamentations should be drowned with the clamour of those reproaches : but especially thy blessed mother, and those other zealous associates of her own sex, were most passionate in their wailings. And why should I think that all that devout multitude, which so lately cried Hosanna in the streets, did not also bear their part in these public condolings? Though it had not concerned thyself, C. Saviour, thine ears had been still more open to the voice of grief than of malice; and so thy lips also are open to the one, shut to the other : “ Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. Who would not have thought, O Saviour, that thou shouldst have been wholly taken up with thine own sorrows? The expectation of so bitter a death had been enough to have overwhelmed any soul but thine: yet even now can thy gracious eye find time to look beyond thine own niseries, at theirs; and to pity them, who, insensible of their own ensuing condition, mourned for thine now present. They see thine extreinity, thou foreseest theirs: they pour out their sorrow upon thee, thou divertest it upon themselves. We, silly creatures, walk blindfolded in this vale of tears, and little know what evil is towards us: only what we feel we know; and wbile we feel nothing, can find leisure to bestow our commiseration