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out a killing answer. Caiaphas, thy mouth was impure, but thy charge is dreadful. Now, if Jesus holds his peace, he is cried down for a profane disregarder of that Awful Name; if he answer, he is ensnared: an affirmation is death ; a denial, worse than death. No, Caiaphas, thou shalt well know, it was not fear, that all this while stopped that Gracious Mouth. Thou speakest to him, that cannot fear those faces he hath made. He, that hath charged us to confess him, cannot but confess himself ; Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said.
There is a time to speak, and a time to keep silence. He, that is the Wisdom of his Father, hath here given us a pattern of both. We may not so speak, as to give advantage to cavils ; we may not be so silent, as to betray the Truth.
Thou shalt have no more cause, proud and insulting Caiaphas, to complain of a speechless prisoner: now, thou shalt hear more, than thou demandedst : Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of HeaThere spake my
Saviour; the voice of God, and not of man. Hear now, insolent high priest, and be confounded. That Son of Man, whom thou seest, is the Son of God, whom thou canst not see: that Son of Man, that Son of God, that God and Man, whom thou now seest standing despicably before thy consistorial seat in a base dejectedness, Him shalt thou once with horror and trembling see majestically sitting on the Throne of Heaven, attended with thousand thousands of angels, and coming in the clouds to that dreadful Judgment, wherein thyself, amongst other damned malefactors, shalt be presented before that Glorious Tribunal of his, and adjudged to thy just torments.
Go now, wretched hypocrite, and rend thy garments ; while, in the mean time, thou art worthy to have thy soul rent from thy body, for thy spiteful blasphemy against the Son of God.
Onwards, thy pretence is fair, and such as cannot but receive applause from thy compacted crew; What need have we of uitnesses ? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? And they answered and said, He is guilty of death.
What heed is to be taken of men's judgment ? So light are they upon the balance, that one dram of prejudice or forestalment turns the scales. Who were these, but the grave Benchers of Jerusalem, the synod of the choice Rabbies of Israel? Yet these pass sentence against the Lord of Life ; sentence of that death of his, whereby, if ever, they shall be redeemed from the murder of their sentence.
O Saviour, this is not the last time, wherein thou hast received cruel dooms from them, that profess learning and holi
What wonder is it, if thy weak members suffer that, which was endured by so perfect a Head? What care we to be judged by man's day, when thou, who art the Righteous Judge of the World, wert thus misjudged by men !
Now is the fury of thy malignant enemies let loose upon thee: what measure can be too hard for him, that is denounced worthy of death? Now, those foul mouths defile thy Blessed Face with their impure spittle, the venomous froth of their malice : now, those cruel hands are lifted up to buffet thy Sacred Cheeks: now, scorn, and insultation, triumphs over thine humble Patience; Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who it is that smote thee. O Dear Jesu, what a beginning is here of a Passion! There thou standest bound, condemned, spat upon, buffeted, derided by malicious sinners. Thou art bound, who camest to loose the bands of death; thou art condemned, whose sentence must acquit the world; thou art spat upon, that art fairer than the sons of men ; thou art buffeted, in whose mouth was no guile ; thou art derided, who art clothed with glory and majesty.
In the mean while, how can I enough wonder at thy infinite Mercy, who, in the midst of all these woeful indignities, couldst find a time to cast thine eyes back upon thy frail and ungrateful disciple; and in whose Gracious Ear Peter's cock sounded louder, than all these reproaches ? O Saviour, thou, who, in thine apprehension, couldst forget all thy danger, to correct and heal his over-lashing ; now, in the heat of thy arraignment and condemnation, canst forget thy own misery, to reclaim his error; and, by that seasonable glance of thine eye, to strike his heart with a needful remorse.
He, that was lately so valiant to fight for thee, now, the next morning, is so cowardly as to deny thee: he shrinks at the voice of a Maid, who was not daunted with the sight of a band. O Peter, had thy slip been sudden, thy fall had been more easy. Premonition aggravates thy offence; that stone was foreshewed thee, whereat thou stumbledst: neither did thy warning more add to thy guilt, than thine own fore-resolution. How didst thou vow, though thou shouldst die with thy Master, not to deny him ! Hadst thou said nothing, but answered with a trembling silence, thy shame had been the less. Good purposes, when they are not held, do so far turn enemies to the entertainer of them, as that they help to double both his sin and punishment.
Yet a single denial had been but easy : thine, I fear to speak it, was lined with swearing and execration.
Whence then, Oh whence was this so vehement and peremptory disclamation of so gracious a Master? What such danger had attended thy profession of his attendance? One of thy fellows was known to the high priest for a follower of Jesus ; yet he not only came himself into that open Hall, in view of the Bench, but treated with the Maid that kept the door to let thee in also. She knew him what he was ; and could therefore speak to thee, as brought in by his mediation, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? Thou also supposes the first acknow
ledged such ; yet what crime, what danger was urged upon that noted disciple? What could have been more to thee? Was it, that thy heart misgave thee thou mightest be called to account for Malchus! It was no thank to thee, that that ear was healed ; neither did there want those, that would think how near that ear was to the head. Doubtless, that busy fellow himself was not far off; and his fellows and kinsmen would have been apt enough to follow thee, besides thy disciple-ship, upon a bloodshed, a riot, a rescue. Thy conscience hath made thee thus unduly timorous ; and now, to be sure to avoid the imputation of that affray, thou renouncest all knowledge of him, in whose cause thou foughtest.
Howsoever, the sin was heinous. I tremble at such a fall of so great an Apostle. It was thou, O Peter, that buffetedst thy Master, more than those Jews : it was to thee, that he turned the cheek from them, as to view him by whom he most smarted: he felt thee afar off, and answered thee with a look; such a look as was able to kill and revive at once. “ Thou hast wounded me,” mayest thou now say, “O my Saviour, Thou hast wounded my heart with one of thine eyes : that one Eye of thy Mercy hath wounded my heart, with a deep remorse for my grievous sin, with an indignation at my unthankfulness : that one glance of thine hath resolved me into the tears of sorrow and contrition. Oh that mine eyes were fountains, and my cheeks channels that shall never be dried !” And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
CONTEMPLATION XXXI.-CHRIST BEFORE
MATTHEW XXVII. Well worthy were these Jews to be tributary. They had cast off the yoke of their God, and had justly earned this Roman servitude. Tiberius had befriended them too well, with so favourable a governor as Pilate. Had they had the power of life and death in their hands, they had not been beholden to a heathen for a legal murder. I know not, whether they more repine at this slavery; or please themselves to think, how cleanly they can shift off this blood into another's hand. masters of Israel flock from their own consistory to Pilate's judgment-hall. The sentence had been theirs, the execution must be his; and now they hope to bear down Jesus, with the stream of that frequent confluence.
But what ails you, O ye Rulers of Israel, that ye stand thus thronging at the door? Why do ye not go in to that public room of judicature, to call for that justice ye came for? Was
it, for that ye would not defile yourselves with the contagion of a heathen roof? Holy men ! your consciences would not suffer you to yield to so impure an act ; your Passover must be kept, your persons must be clean : while ye expect justice from the man, ye abhor the pollution of the place. "Woe to you, Priests, Scribes, Elders, Hypocrites : can there be any roof so unclean, as that of your own breasts? Not Pilate's walls, but your hearts are impure. Is murder your errand ; and do you stick at a local infection? God shall smite you, ye whited walls. Do ye long to be stained with blood, with the blood of God? and do ye fear to be defiled with the touch of Pilate's pavement ? Doth so small a gnat stick in your throats, while ye swallow such a camel of flagitious wickedness! Go out of yourselves, ye false dissemblers, if ye would not be unclean. Pilate, onwards, hath more cause to fear, lest his walls should be defiled with the presence of so prodigious monsters of impiety.
That plausible governor condescends to humour their superstition. They dare not come in to him : he yields to go forth to them. Even Pilate begins justly, What accusation bring you against this man? It is no judging of religion by the outward demeanour of men: there is more justice amongst Romans, than amongst Jews. These malicious Rabbies thought it enough, that they had sentenced Jesus: no more was now expected, but a speedy execution. If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Civil justice must be their hangman. It is enough conviction, that he is delivered up to the secular powers. Themselves have judged; these other must kill.
Pilate and Caiaphas have changed places: this pagan speaks that law and justice, which that high priest should have done; and that high priest speaks those murdering incongruities, which would better have beseemed the mouth of a pagan.
66 What needs any new trial ? Dost thou know, Pilate, who we are? Is this the honour that thou givest to our sacred priesthood? Is this thy valuation of our sanctity ? Had the basest of the vulgar complained to thee, thou couldst but have put them to a review. Our place and holiness looked not to be distrusted. If our scrupulous consciences suspect thy very walls, thou mayest well think there is small reason to suspect our consciences. Upon a full hearing, ripe deliberation, and exquisitely-judicial proceeding, we have sentenced this malefactor to death : there needs no more from thee, but thy command of execution.” O monster, whether of malice or unjustice ! Must he then be a malefactor, whom ye will condemn? Is your bare word ground enough to shed blood? Whom did ye ever kill, but the righteous ? By whose hands perished the prophets? The word was but mistaken ; ye should have said, " If we had not been malefactors, we had never delivered
up this innocent man unto thee."
It must needs be notoriously unjust, which very nature hath taught pagans to abhor. Pilate sees and hates this bloody suggestion and practice : “ Do ye pretend holiness, and urge so injurious a violence? If he be such as ye accuse him, where is his conviction ? If he cannot be legally convicted, why should be die? Do you think I may take your complaint for a crime? If I must judge for you, why have you judged for yourselves ? Could ye suppose that I would condemn any man unheard? Jewish laws yield you this liberty, the Roman laws yield it not to me. It is not for me, to judge after your laws, but after our own. Your prejudgment may not sway me. Since ye have gone so far, be ye your own carvers of justice ; Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.” O Pilate, how happy had it been for thee, if thou hadst held thee there! Thus, thou hadst washed thy hands more clean than in all thy basons. Might law have been the rule of this judgment, and not malice, this blood had not been shed.
How palpably doth their tongue bewray their heart ! not lawful for us to put any man to death. Pilate talks of judgment; they talk of death. This was their only aim.
Law was but a colour ; judgment was but a ceremony ; death was their drift ; and without this, nothing. Blood-thirsty Priests and Elders ! it is well, that this power of yours is restrained : no innocence could have been safe, if your lawless will had had no limits. It were pity, this sword should be in any, but just and sober hands. Your fury did not always consult with law: what law allowed your violence to Stephen, to Paul and Barnabas, and your deadly attempts against this Blessed Jesus whom ve now persecute ? How lawful was it for you, to procure that death which ye could not inflict? It is all the care of hypocrites, to seek umbrages and pretences for their hateful purposes ; and to make no other use of laws, whether divine or human, but to serve turns.
Where death is fore-resolved, there cannot want accusations. Malice is not so barren, as not to yield crimes enough. And they began to accuse him, saying, “ We found this
fellow perverting the nation ; and forbidding to give tribute unto Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ and king.
What accusations saidst thou, O Pilate? Heinous and capital. Thou mightest have believed our confident intimation ; but since thou wilt needs urge us to particulars, know that we come furnished with such an indictment, as shall make thine ears glow to hear it. Besides that blasphemy, whereof he hath been condemned by us, this man is a seducer of the people, a raiser of sedition, a usurper of sovereignty". O impudent suggestion! What marvel is it, O Saviour, if thine honest servants be loaded with slanders, when thy most innocent person escaped not so shameful criminations ? Thou, a perverter of the nation, who taughtest the way of God truly!