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called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
Reader, would it not seem to be a desirable thing to have a standing in this garden, especially to be called " a tree of the Lord”-to be full of sap,” to bring forth much good fruit, that we might have clear evidences of the genuineness of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, before we come into the last trying circumstances of nature's extremity, “when heart and flesh shall fail ?”' for it is written, “ every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire." Think, how great that burning, where the smoke ascendeth for ever and ever!
THE DYING THIEF'S PRAYER AND ITS
THERE is something appalling in the idea of a public execution; there is a combination of circumstances that deeply impress the mind; the preparation of the gallows, the knocking off the chains of the malefactor, the appearance of the officers of justice with their ensigns of authority, the thousands of spectators waiting in breathless silence, the executioner taking his stand, and the tolling bell numbering the few remaining minutes the criminal has to live, who stands on the very brink of eternity ; and can it be supposed that a man thus situated should be capable of diverting his attention from his own awfully impending doom for the purpose of burlesquing a fellow sufferer ? Turn to Calvary, and there a sight presents itself which language cannot portray. The immaculate Son of God suspended on a cross between two thieves, who were enduring all the horrors of a slow and agonizing death, their hands and feet pierced with nails, the weight of their bodies being suspended thereby, darkness prevailing over all the land, “and the earth did quake and the rocks rent.” Yet in the midst of these fearful and terrifying appearances, in the midst of the agonies of crucifixion, one of the malefactors railed
on Jesus, saying, “ If thou be Christ, save thyself and
One would have thought that the suffering Saviour was an object to have excited pity; nature felt, the earth groaned, the sun withdrew its light, the Roman soldiers feared, the centurion said, “ Truly this is the Son of God;” but the thieves could neither feel for him nor for themselves until sovereign grace influenced and changed the heart of one of them; and that display of almighty power far surpassed the miracle which was wrought upon the sun to obscure its light, for this was not a natural eclipse.
66 And one of the malefactors which were crucified railed on him, saying, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us ; but the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation ? and we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom; and Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
The first word in this remarkable prayer addressed to Jesus was expressive of adoration ;-he called Jesus - Lord.” Who had directed him to use this mode of address ? Had he ever heard of the Saviour before he was brought out to be executed ? Think you the name of Jesus had ever reached the inner prison, the dungeon in which he had been confined ?
Most likely not ; but many times, between the prison house and Mount Calvary, he had heard the name of Christ reiterated in ridicule by the scoffing multitude, and had even joined, according to St. Matthew, with them in insulting the Saviour. It was by the teachings of the holy Spirit that he called Jesus “ Lord;” it was a
result of the same powerful operation that energized the blind men who sat by the wayside begging; they cried out, saying, “ Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David,” and their cry was heard. Our Saviour accepted the adoration in both instances; he was not displeased, nor did he rebuke them for calling him “ Lord,” which is an argument in favour of his divinity, notwithstanding Socinians deny it. Angels never would receive adoration, for when it was offered unto them their uniform answer was, “ See thou do it not."
The cry, “ Lord, have mercy on me; Lord, remember me !” to be effectual, must be by the teaching of the Spirit, for “not every one who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, for many will say unto me in that day, (the day of trouble, sickness, death, and judgment,) Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name done many wonderful works ? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Might not this reply have been made to the thief on the cross ? Might not Jesus have said, “ Depart, thou worker of iniquity." But it was by Divine teaching that the petition was offered ; it was the language of importunity, and there are many promises of success to those who are diligent and in earnest. “ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find,” which implies solicitude ; “Knock, and it shall be opened,” an allusion to one who comes for the purpose of obtaining admittance ; who knocks and waits, and if the door is not opened, knocks again. In answer to importunate prayer, Daniel received a communication from God by the mouth of Gabriel : “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding ; at the beginning of thy supplications the
commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee, for thou art a man greatly beloved.”
The dying thief, as soon as he felt his need of help, and his last undone condition, looked unto Jesus, as the dying Israelites did unto the brazen serpent. He made supplication with earnestness as soon arrows of conviction were felt in his conscience, and he found himself in the same condemnation." What a mercy for him that a Saviour was so near, to whom he could flee in his extremity, with “Lord, remember me.” The same Almighty power that made him feel the smart directed him to the physician, and the oil and the balm were immediately administered. Without the direction and teaching of the Holy Spirit, he would as soon have thought of praying to the cross on which he was suspended for help, as to a dying man; or why did not both the thieves put up the same petition? It was the sovereign grace of God that distinguished and made choice of the one from all eternity to be a vessel of mercy, while the other was left to receive the just reward of his deeds.
What was the substance of the prayer offered ? "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He did not desire to be delivered from his present lost situation in this world, and to be restored again to society ; he did not desire to be delivered from excruciating pain, and the torment which his body endured from suspension on the cross; he did not desire to have the wounds in his hands and feet miraculously healed, and then to be set at liberty to enter again into his lawless pursuits and practices, or to have those laws annulled which he had broken, and the men crucified who had condemned him. No, he felt the justice of his sentence “in the same condemnation,