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the man; of which Philo has given a lively description.* He says, that "he was a man of an inflexible "and severe disposition;" and a little after he charges him with "accepting bribes, with acts of injustice, ra"pacity, and violence, with oppressions, with frequent "murders of persons uncondemned, and in fine, with "the most insatiable and savage cruelty." And truly it required a man of such a temper to resolve, in spite of the remonstrances of his own mind and conscience, to allow himself to act so barbarous a part towards the most innocent person, and the most perfect pattern of every virtue. But he also suffered the punishment due to his crimes; for he was first reprimanded, then deposed by Vitellius the Governor of Syria, and at last sent by him to Rome to plead his cause before Cæsar, and refute the charges preferred against him; and proving unable to do this," he was condemned to
perpetual exile at Vienne" in Gaul," and there, by appointment of Caius, he was subjected to so se"vere restraints and distresses, that he laid violent "hands on himself, thus seeking in death a speedy re"lease from a train of protracted calamities." These are the words of Ado, Bishop of the same city, in his Chronicle.10
xxv. 2dly, We must advert to the supreme power which he then possessed in Judea in the name of the Roman Emperor and people, and which Christ himself did not disdain to acknowledge as "given him from above." It was proper that Christ should suffer under such a judge as had authority and power to take cognizance of the cause, and, after judicially examining its
In Legatione ad Caium.
merits, to pronounce sentence. 1st, That the prophecy might be fulfilled: "He was taken from prison and "from judgment." 2dly, That we might be fully certified of the innocence of Christ, which, although attacked by the basest arts, was, after a strict investigation of the cause and a regular discussion of the question, firmly recognised, and five times declared by the judge. Now the whole concern of our salvation turns upon this hinge; for what hopes could we entertain from Christ, unless it were manifest that he was condemned, not for his own, but for our crimes? 3dly, That being himself unjustly condemned by the chief judge in that land, he might deliver us from the righteous judgment of God, to which we were obnoxious. Pilate indeed acted unjustly in condemning, in compliance with the clamours of the people, a person whom himself had acquitted. But God, to whom the judgment belongeth,k by the mouth of Pilate, rightly and lawfully condemned Christ, as loaded with our crimes, and bound to suffer in our stead, and thus by condemning our Surety, absolved us. "The chastise"ment of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed."
XXVI. 3dly, It must not be omitted that the power to which the Jews were then subject, was foreign and heathen. In his own name and that of the Roman people, Tiberius the Emperor of the Romans had intrusted Pilate with the government of Judea, and in the same name Vitellius the Governor of Syria dismissed him from his office; from which it appears that Judea was now a Roman province, and annexed to
Syria. This circumstance is of no small moment to the whole cause of Christianity, as well as to the present subject. For, 1st, Hence it For, 1st, Hence it appears, that the appointed time of the Messiah's advent had now expired; the sceptre having entirely departed from Judah, and the Prefect of Syria exercising authority over the Governor of Judea; which, as appears from sacred predictions, m could not have happened previously to the coming of the Messiah. "The head of Syria is Da"mascus ;" not the head of Judea, which will not depend upon Damascus or Syria, until a Virgin shall have conceived and brought forth a Son." The Jews themselves bore witness to their own degradation, when they said to Pilate, "It is not lawful for us to put any man "to death ;" and when they exclaimed, “We have "no king but Cæsar." Whether they had been deprived of the power of life and death by the Romans, as is generally thought, or had lost it through the negligence of the Sanhedrim itself, as Lightfoot contends at great length, it is not material to determine. 2dly, It was proper that the Redeemer of all, both Jews and Gentiles, whilst he suffered for all, should also suffer from all." For of a truth, against thy ho
ly child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod "and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people "of Israel, were gathered together." 3dly, It behoved him to suffer under a Gentile, that, according to the Roman custom, he might be nailed to the cross, which was a form of punishment unusual amongst the Jews. John himself makes the following observation: "The
On John xviii. 31. and Mat. xxvi. 3.
m Gen. xlix. 10. Is. vii. 8.
n Is. vii. 8. comp. ver. 14.
• John xviii. 31.
4 Acts iv. 27.
"Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us "to put any man to death, that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die." For had he been put to death according to the laws of the Jews, it is more probable that he would have been stoned than crucified.
XXVII. Let us now attend to the IMPROVEMENT of this article. Whatever is necessary to our instruction, our humiliation, our consolation, and, in a word, our salvation,—is to be seen in a SUFFERING CHRIST, provided we contemplate him in the exercise of faith. The sum of saving wisdom, as appears from our catechetical summaries, is comprised in these three heads, the knowledge of our MISERY, of our DELIVERANCE, and of the GRATITUDE we owe;-which Paul also joins together in Romans vii. 24, 25. But we can attain from no other source a more clear or a more affecting knowledge of any of these points, than from the sufferings of Christ.
XXVIII. Our misery appears both from the evil nature of sin, and from its dreadful demerit. Take a view of each, O sinner, in the sufferings of Christ. Consider the hatred, the envy, the reproaches, the deliberate artifice and insidious designs, the cruelty, and, in fine, the diabolical fury, prompting them even to dreadful imprecations upon themselves and their posterity, with which both Jews and Gentiles pertinaciously pursued the most innocent and venerable person, and virtue herself invested with a human form; which had for a considerable period confirmed her celestial origin, by her admirable doctrine and her stupendous works and wonders, performed in the presence and proclaim
John xviii. 31, 32.
ed by the tongues of the people themselves, and which had laid the whole Jewish nation under singular obligations to herself by curing so great a multitude of the lame, the blind, the lunatic, and persons possessed with demons, and by raising up such a number of the dead; -consider these things, I say, and it will be strange if, in this glass, you do not clearly perceive the extreme depravity of a world altogether lying in wickedness. The same perverseness is natural to our own minds. Left to ourselves, we should have acted a similar part. Were Christ to make another visit to our world, it is likely that he would not meet with a more favourable reception. As bulls are said to be enraged at the sight of purple, so the natural man is exasperated at the sight of the most beautiful and splendid virtue. The more brightly it reflects the rays of the divine image, the more doth our corruption exert its rage against it, perceiving in such virtue its own condemnation, and regarding all the favours which it confers as nothing but an upbraiding of its own ingratitude.
Learn also how abominable the stain of sin is, and how deeply it is fixed in our souls, since it could be washed away, only by the dreadful sufferings, and the blood, of the Son of God.
XXIX. But besides, contemplate here, O sinner, the punishment due to thy crimes, namely, the wrath of God; who makes use of all creatures, and employs at once friends and enemies, in the execution of his vengeThe severity of God may indeed be learned, in some degree, from the dreadful threatenings, with which he has fenced the law. It may be known, also, by the judgments which he has executed on some abandoned individuals, or on whole cities and nations, or even upon a whole world of ungodly men. Doubtless,