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1. To the cross the Old Testament pointed. From the cross the New Testament histories radiate, and thence comes all the inspiration of the Christian life.
2. At the crucifixion scene, Rome, with her paganism, was represented in the executioners; Judaism with its formalities, in the rulers and the people whom they swayed; and Christianity with its tender fidelity, in the women, who with John, stood by.
3. The parted garments are an emblem of the Church in its universality, to be sent out into the four quarters of the globe; the unparted garment is emblematic of the Church in its unity, to be kept whole and unparted; the gambling soldiers are an emblem of those who treat the unity of the Church of Christ as a matter of indifference.—Wordsworth.
4. Christ crucified shows (1) the evil of sin; (1) the greatness of our danger; (3) the value of salvation; (4) the wonderful love of God; (5) it strengthens every motive for being good; (6) it is the culmination of our perfect example.
5. THE ATONEMENT.—We read in the introduction of the Holy Word that “he suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust;” “he was crucified for us;” “he was made sin for us;” “he made his soul an offering for sin;” 292“he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified;” “he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” “he hath reconciled us to God by his blood;” “he gave his life a ransom for many;” “he redeemed us to God by his own blood;” “his blood was shed for many for the remission of sins;” “he hath washed us from our sins in his own blood;” “his blood cleanseth from all sins;” “we are justified freely by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses;” “Christ purchased us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” It is futile to say that all these passages are more or less figurative. So is nearly all language. Sir William Hamilton showed that most of the apparently literal terms used in logical discussions are faded metaphors. There are certain unmistakable thoughts conveyed in these sacred texts, and they are that the atonement made by Christ for the sins of men is a ransom, a propitiation, a sacrifice.—Joseph Cook.
6. THE RETRIBUTION OF HISTORY.—And now mark, for one moment, the revenges of history. Has not His blood been on them, and on their children? Has it not fallen most of all on those most nearly concerned in that deep tragedy? Before the dread sacrifice was consummated, Judas died in the horrors of a loathsome suicide. Caiaphas was deposed the year following. Herod died in infamy and exile. Stripped of his Procuratorship very shortly afterwards, on the very charges he had tried by a wicked concession to avoid, Pilate, wearied out with misfortunes, died in suicide and banishment, leaving behind him an execrated name. The house of Annas was destroyed a generation later by an infuriated mob, and his son was dragged through the streets, and scourged and beaten to his place of murder. Some of those who shared in and witnessed the scenes of that day—and thousands of their children—also shared in and witnessed the long horrors of that siege of Jerusalem which stands unparalleled in history for its unutterable fearfulness. “It seems,” says Renan, “as though the whole race had appointed a rendezvous for extermination.” They had shouted, “We have no king but Cæsar!” and they had no king but Cæsar; and leaving only for a time the fantastic shadow of a local and contemptible loyalty, Cæsar after Cæsar outraged, and tyrannized, and pillaged, and oppressed them, till at last they rose in wild revolt against the Cæsar whom they had claimed, and a Cæsar slaked in the blood of its best defenders the red ashes of their burnt and desecrated Temple. They had forced the Romans to crucify their Christ, and though they regarded this punishment with especial horror, they and their children were themselves crucified in myriads by the Romans outside their own walls, till room was wanting and wood failed, and the soldiers had to ransack a fertile inventiveness of cruelty for fresh methods of inflicting this insulting form of death. They had given thirty pieces of silver for their Savior's blood, and they were themselves sold in thousands for yet smaller sums. They had chosen Bar-Abbas in preference to their Messiah, and for them there has been no Messiah more, while a murderer's dagger swayed the last counsels of their 293dying nationality. They had accepted the guilt of blood, and the last pages of their history were glued together with the rivers of their blood, and that blood continued to be shed in wanton cruelties from age to age. They who will, may see in incidents like these the mere unmeaning chances of History; but there is in History nothing unmeaning to one who regards it as the Voice of God speaking among the destinies of men; and whether a man sees any significance or not in events like these, he must be blind indeed who does not see that when the murder of Christ was consummated, the axe was laid at the root of the barren tree of Jewish nationality. Since that day Jerusalem and its environs, with their “ever-extending miles of grave-stones and ever-lengthening pavement of tombs and sepulchres,” have become little more than one vast cemetery—an Aceldama, a field of blood, a potter's field to bury strangers in. Like the mark of Cain upon the forehead of their race, the guilt of that blood has seemed to cling to them—as it ever must until that same blood effaceth it. For, by God's mercy, that blood was shed for them also who made it flow; the voice which they strove to quench in death was uplifted in its last prayer for pity on his murderers. May that blood be efficacious I may that prayer be heard!—Farrar.293
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