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Crucifixion was a cruel, lingering, and disgraceful punishment. Cruel, for the criminal had to bear his cross to the place of execution, and then, faint and weary, and heartbroken, he was stretched upon the wood, which was something like the letter T. On the top part, his arms were extended and his hands nailed to the wood; and on the upright part his body was to hang, supported by his nailed hands, and, being at full length, his feet were nailed to the lower part. The cross was then lifted up, and with a jerk, it was thrust into a hole in the ground, thus adding to the poor victim's sufferings. The criminal sometimes lingered a long time before he expired, and was killed at last. This mode of putting to death was only practised on wicked servants, thieves, robbers, and murderers, and the vilest of men; and it showed, indeed, the bitter and horrid malice of the wicked Jews against the innocent Saviour, that they wished him to suffer no less a punishment; and they thought that this would frighten all his followers, as well as make them ashamed of him.
Pilate was shocked at the Jews, yet he had not courage nor uprightness enough to refuse them their wicked request; so, to quiet his own conscience in giving up the innocent Saviour to be put to death, he took some water and washed his hands before all the people, which was a custom to show that a man took no part in the murder of any person; and he said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person, see ye to it.” Then answered all the people and said, “ His blood be on us and on our children ; " that is, “we will bear the blame, whatever may happen from t, so let him die ; we care nothing for the consequences, we are not afraid of them.”
Oh miserable people! His blood was afterwards upon them indeed! Nearly their whole nation were butchered, enslaved, driven into perpetual banishment, and scattered among all nations, as they are to this day : and the Romans, whom they used as the tools to do their wicked deed, were the men that afterwards executed the Divine vengeance. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Jesus was scourged; stripped ; dressed in mockery in a scarlet robe, like a pretended king; a crown of thorns was made and put upon his head, that his tender temples might be pierced and made to bleed : and a reed, or cane, was put in his hand as a sham sceptre. All of this the Saviour submitted to with the greatest meekness. Then, to finish their mockery, the Jews bowed their knee to him, and cried, “ Hail, king of the Jews !” Now they spit upon him out of contempt, and smote him on the head with the
reed, and when they were almost glutted with cruelty so far, they took cfi his mock robes, and led him away to be crucified.
On their way to the place of execution, they met with a man of Cyrene, named Simon, thought by some to have been attached to Christ; and as they feared that our blessed Lord could hardly be able to live any longer if he bore his cross, having already suffered so much, they made Simon carry the cross.
At length they came to a spot called Golgotha, and there " they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof he would not drink.” Nothing is more cruel than to mock one that is thirsty; what then must his sufferings have been when so mocked after enduring 50 many tortures and insults ! Compassionate people usually mixed a drink to cheer the spirits of the victims going to execution, and to stupify them in their griefs ; but none offered to compassionate the blessed Jesus, but only