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calmly bearing the greatest wrongs, his patience in SERM. contentedly enduring the saddest adversities; his XXV. entire resignation to the will and providence of God; his peaceable submission to the law and power of man; his admirable charity in pitying, in excusing, in obliging those, by his good wishes and earnest prayers for their pardon, who in a manner so injurious, so despiteful, so cruel, did persecute him; yea in willingly suffering all this for their salvation : all these excellent virtues and graces, by the matter being thus ordered, were in a degree most eminent, and in a manner very conspicuous, demonstrated to the praise of God's name, and the advancement of his truth; for the settlement of our faith and hope; for an instruction and encouragement of good practice to us. Upon such considerations it might be expedient, that he should suffer in this kind as a criminal.
SE R M O N XXVI.
1 Cor. i. 23.
But we preach Christ crucified.
is added in the Creed, under Pontius Pilate ; · ΧΧVΙ. επι Ποντίου Πιλάτου; in which words the preposition
ni may either denote the circumstance of time, when our Saviour's passion did happen; in the time of Pontius Pilate's government, or presidency over Judæa; so the word êni is very frequently used : or it may also further imply a respect to that person, as an instrument of our Saviour's passion; so that it might also be rendered, by, or under, Pontius Pilate, as president and judge: thus is the word sometimes used, (as for instance, where in the gospel it is said, εαν ακουσθή τούτο επί του ηγεμόνος, if this be heard by the governor, or, if it come to the governor's ear, as it is rendered in our translation.) Neither of these senses were, I suppose, distinctly, but both rather conjunctly intended here; in relation to the evangelical history; the which (as to the main obvious passages) we are here supposed to know, and do profess to believe; neither do I think any thing more of mystery designed here beyond the full and clear determination of our Saviour's person; or the declaration of whom we do believe in by circumstances most apt and suitable to that purpose; the
Matt. xxviii. 14.
time when, the person under whom, and conse- SERM. quently the place where, and manner how he suf. XXVI. fered. However all these circumstances are in themselves considerable, and afford some matter of edification to our faith and practice : let us therefore touch them.
1. The time, in itself most fit, and most agreeable to divine predictions, doth illustrate the wisdom of God in his providence, doth confirm his veracity, his constancy, and his fidelity : for when the fulness of time was come; when the sceptre of legislation and sovereign authority was just departed from Judah; while the Jewish temple did stand, but was shortly to be destroyed; before the Jews were utterly unsettled and dispersed; when the seventy hebdomades (of years) were near expiring, the time when the Messias should be cut off'; when Judaism Dau. ix. 26. was by numerous accession of proselytes diffused over the world, the sacred writings being translated, and legible everywhere; when the world was in the most general peace and deepest calm, consequently men's attention being then more ready, and their minds more capable of instruction and persuasion concerning divine truths; when the most considerable part of the world was united under one empire, (or under two, that of the Romans, and that of the Parthians,) and thence more fit to be incorporated into a spiritual commonwealth, (to communicate in offices of piety, to impart and receive instruction ;) when mankind by learning and policy was generally better civilized than ever, more inquisitive after knowledge, and more receptive of truth; when, in short, all things were duly prepared and suited for the great effects designed by God to proceed from
SERM. our Saviour's passion, and other performances, then XXVI. did he suffer and do what God had in his wisdom
and goodness predetermined, presignified, and predicted. I might add, that the time was fit to be set down, as a character apt to confirm the truth of the history; for direction to a fair inquiry and trial concerning it; to exclude all confusion and uncertainty about it.
2. As for the person under whom our Lord suffered ; if we consider him as a Roman stranger, (or Gentile,) or as a governor and judge; or with regard to his personal qualities; or according to his deportment in this affair; something in all these respects may present itself observable by us..
He was an alien from the commonwealth of Israel ; so Jews and Gentiles conspired in violence and injury against their common Saviour; that so in
type and mystery it might be signified how the sins Rom.iii. 19. of all men did jointly bring him to his death ; that
every mouth might be stopped, and all the world might become guilty before God. Neither was it
for nothing decreed by God, that the Jews should Matt. xx. (as our Saviour foretold) deliver him up (Tois čoveo IV)
to the Gentiles, to mock, and scourge, and crucify him. The Jews out of envy and malice delivered him up, accused and prosecuted him, instigated and importuned against him; the Gentiles, out of ignorance, profaneness, and unjust partiality, condemned and executed him ; whereby the ingratitude, iniqui
ty, and impiety of all mankind did in some sort apRom. v. 6, pear, and was aptly represented ; and consequently i Pet . ii. 18. his immense goodness is demonstrated, who for so
impious, unjust, and flagitious a generation, for so malicious enemies, for so cruel persecutors of him
19. xxvii. 18.
Col. i. 20.
self, did willingly suffer : them, who so combined in SERM. mischief against him, he then designed to conjoin in XXVI. reconciliation to God, and in mutual peace and charity toward one another; reconciling both unto God Eph. ii. 16. in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
A stranger also was proper for the management of this affair, as apt to be a more fair and indifferent judge ; doing what was designed and fit to be done in our Saviour's trial for vindication of his personal innocence, and declaration of the iniquity practised against him.
Again, if we consider Pilate as a governor and judge, (for so he was, Cæsar's procurator, and president of Judæa, én ÍTportos, and rear he is called ;) Matt.xxvii. we therein may discern the wisdom and special providence of God; punishing our Saviour for us by his own officer in a course of justice; the loyal obedi. ence of our Saviour submitting both to God and to man, although in a case of plain outrage and highest injustice against himself; the heinousness of that wicked proceeding, wherein that sacred power committed by God to men, and the venerable name of justice were so abused; for if ever, then one might have said with the Preacher, I saw the place of Eccles. iii. judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
As for Pilate's personal qualities ; he is by the historians writing near those times reported to have been a man of a harsh and rough temper; wilful and haughty in spirit ; violent, rapacious, and cruel in his proceedings; and was therefore a proper instrument of Providence for execution of such a business ; so holy and gracious in God's purpose, so