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man, whom he hath pronounced innocent : all violent motives are urged, to condemn that man, whom malice pretends guilty.

In the height of this strife, when conscience and moral justice were ready to sway Pilate's distracted heart to a just dismission, I hear the Jews cry out, If thou let this man go, thou art mot Cæsar's friend. There is the word, that strikes it dead : it is now no time to demur any more. In vain shall we hope, that a carnal heart can prefer the care of his soul, to the care of his safety and honour ; God, to Cæsar. Now Jesus must die. Pilate hastes into the Judgment Hall: the sentence sticks no longer in his teeth ; Let him be crucified.

Yet, how foul soever his soul shall be with this fact, his hands shall be clean ; He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person : see ye to it. Now all is safe, I wis. This is expiation enough.

Water can wash off blood; the hands can cleanse the heart. Protest thou art innocent, and thou canst not be guilty. Vain hypocrite ! canst thou think to escape so? Is murder of no deeper dye? Canst thou dream waking, thus to avoid the charge of thy wife's dream? Is the guilt of the blood of the Son of God to be wiped off with such ease? What poor shifts do foolish sinners make to beguile themselves! Any thing will serve to charm the conscience, when it lisps to sleep.

But, O Saviour, while Pilate thinks to wash off the guilt of thy blood with water, I know there is nothing, that can wash off the guilt of this his sin, but thy blood. Oh do thou wash my soul in that precious bath, and I shall be clean. O Pilate, if that very blood which thou sheddest do not wash off the guilt of thy bloodshed, thy water doth but more defile thy soul, and intend that fire wherewith thou burnest.

Little did the desperate Jews know the weight of that blood, which they were so forward to wish upon themselves and their children. Had they deprecated their interest in that horrible murder, they could not so easily have avoided the vengeance ; but now that they fetch it upon themselves by a willing execration, what should I say, but that they long for a curse? It is pity they should not be miserable.

And have ye not now felt, О nation worthy of plagues, have ye not now felt what blood it was, whose guilt affected ? Sixteen hundred years are now passed, since you wished yourselves thus wretched : have ye not been ever since the hate and scorn of the world? Did ye not live, many of you, to see your city buried in ashes, and drowned in blood ? to see yourselves no nation? Was there ever people under heaven, that was made so famous a spectacle of misery and desolation ? Have ye yet enough of that blood, which ye called for upon yourselves and your children? Your former cruelties, uncleannesses, idolatries, cost you but

ye

some short captivities; God cannot but be just : this sin, under which you now lie groaning and forlorn, must needs be so much greater than these, as your vastation is more; and what can that be, other than the murder of the Lord of Life? Ye have what

ye

wished : be miserable, till ye be penitent.

CONTEMPLATION XXXII.—THE CRUCIFIXION.

MATTHEW XXVII. ; MARK XV.; LUKE XXIII. ; JOHN XIX. The sentence of death is passed ; and now, who can, with dry eyes, behold the sad pomp of my Saviour's bloody execution ? Ail the streets are full of gazing spectators, waiting for this rueful sight. At last, O Saviour, there thou comest out of Pilate's gate, bearing that, which shall soon bear thee. To expect thy Cross was not torment enough ; thou must carry it. All this while, thou shalt not only see, but feel thy death, before it come; and must help to be an agent in thine own Passion.

It was not out of favour, that, these scornful robes being stripped off, thou art led to death in thine own clothes. So was thy face besmeared with blood, so swoln and discoloured with buffetings, that thou couldst not have been known, but by thy wonted habit.

Now, thine insulting enemies are so much more imperiously cruel, as they are more sure of their success. Their merciless tormentings have made thee half dead already: yet now, as if they had done nothing, they begin afresh; and will force thy weakened and fainting nature to new tasks of pain. The transverse of thy Cross, at least, is upon thy shoulder : when thou canst scarce go, thou must carry. One kicks thee with his foot, another strikes thee with his staff, another drags thee hastily by thy cord, and more than one spur on thine unpitied weariness with angry commands of haste.

O true form and state of a servant ! All thy former actions, O Saviour, were (though painful, yet) free; this, as it is in itself servile, so it is tyrannously enforced : enforced yet more upon thee by thy own love to mankind, than by their power and despite. It was thy Father, that laid upon thee the iniquity of us all : it was thy own Mercy, that caused thee to bear our sins upon the Cross; and to bear the Cross, with the curse annexed to it, for our sins.

How much more voluntary must that needs be in thee, which thou requirest to be voluntarily undertaken by us ! It was thy charge, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take

up his cross and follow me. Thou didst not say, “ Let him bear his cross,

as forcibly imposed by another ; but, Let him take up his cross, as his free burden : free, in respect of his heart,

לי

not in respect of his hands : so free, that he shall willingly undergo it, when it is laid upon him ; not so free as that he shall lay it upon himself unrequired. O Saviour, thou didst not snatch the Cross out of the soldiers' hands, and cast it upon thy shoulder ; but when they laid it on thy neck, thou underwentest it. The constraint was theirs; the will was thine.

It was not so heavy to them, or to Simon, as it was to thee : they felt nothing but the wood; thou feltest it clogged with the load of the sins of the whole world. No marvel, if thou faintedst under that sad burden: thou, that bearest up the whole earth by thy word, didst sweat and pant, and groan under this insupportable carriage. O Blessed Jesu, how could I be confounded in myself, te see thee, after so much loss of blood and over-toiledness of pain, languishing under that fatal tree! And yet, why should it more trouble me, to see thee sinking under thy Cross now, than to see thee anon hanging upon thy Cross? In both, thou wouldst render thyself weak and miserable, that thou mightest so much the more glorify thy infinite mercy in suffering

It is not out of any compassion of thy misery, or care of thine ease, that Simon of Cyrene is forced to be the porter of thy Cross; it was out of their own eagerness of thy dispatch : thy feeble paces were too slow for their purpose ; their thirst after thy blood made them impatient of delay. If thou have wearily struggled with the burden of thy shame all along the streets of Jerusalem, when thou comest once past the gates, a helper shall be deputed to thee: the expedition of thy death was more sweet to them, than the pain of a lingering passage. What thou saidst to Judas, they say to the executioner, What thou doest, do quickly. While thou yet livest, they cannot be quiet, they cannot be safe: to hasten thine end, they lighten thy carriage.

Hadst thou done this out of choice, which thou didst out of constraint, how I should have envied thee, O Simon of Cyrene ; as too happy in the honour to be the first man, that bore that Cross of thy Saviour, wherein millions of blessed Martyrs have, since that time, been ambitious to succeed thee ! Thus to bear thy Cross for thee, O Saviour, was more than to bear a crown from thee. Could I be worthy to be thus graced by thee, I should pity all other glories.

While thou thus passest, O Dear Jesu, the streets and ways resound not all with one note. If the malicious Jews and cruel soldiers insulted upon thee, and either haled or railed thee on with a bitter violence, thy faithful followers were no less loud in their moans and ejulations ; neither would they endure, that the noise of their cries and lamentations should be drowned, with the clamour of those reproaches : but especially thy Blessed Mother, and those other zealous associates of her own sex, were most passionate in their wailings. And why should I think, that

all that devout multitude, which so lately cried Hosanna in the streets, did not also bear their part in these public condolings?

Though it had not concerned thyself, O Saviour, thine eare had been still more open to the voice of grief, than of malice : and so thy lips also are open to the one, shut to the other ; Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. Who would not have thought, O Saviour, that thou shouldst have been wholly taken up with thine own sorrows? The expectation of so bitter a death had been enough to have overwhelmed any soul, but thine : yet even now, can thy gracious eye find time, to look beyond thine own miseries, at theirs; and to pity them, who, insensible of their own ensuing condition, mourned for thine now present. They see thine extremity; thou foreseest theirs : they pour out their sorrow upon thee; thou divertest it upon themselves. We, silly creatures, walk blindfolded in this vale of tears; and little know, what evil is towards us : only what we feel we know; and while we feel nothing, can find leisure to bestow our commiseration on those, who need it perhaps less than ourselves. Even now, O Saviour, when thou wert within the view of thy Calvary, thou canst foresee and pity the vastation of thy Jerusalem ; and givest a sad prophecy of the imminent destruction of that city, which lately had cost thee tears, and now shall cost thee blood. It is not all the indign cruelty of men, that can rob thee of thy Mercy.

Jerusalem could not want malefactors, though Barabbas were dismissed. That all this execution might seem to be done out of the zeal of justice, two capital offenders, adjudged to their gibbet, shall accompany thee, O Saviour, both to thy death and in it. They are led manacled after thee, as less criminal: no stripes had disabled them from bearing their own crosses. Long ago, was this unmeet society foretold by thine Evangelical Seer; He was taken from prison and from judgment : He was cut out of the land of the living : He made his grave with the wicked. 0 Blessed Jesu, it had been disparagement enough to thee, to be sorted with the best of men, since there is much sin in the perfectest, and there could be no sin in thee; but to be matched with the scum of mankind, whom vengeance would not let to live, is such an indignity as confounds my thoughts. Surely, there is no angel in heaven, but would have been proud to attend thee; and what could the earth afford, worthy of thy train ? yet malice hath suited thee with company next to hell; that their viciousness might reflect upon thee, and their sin might stain thine innocence.

Ye are deceived, 0 ye fond Judges : this is the way, to grace your dying malefactors; this is not the way to disgrace Him, whose guiltlessness and perfection triumphed over your injustice.

His presence was able to make your thieves happy; their presence could no more blemish him, than your own.

Thus guarded, thus attended, thus accompanied art thou. Blessed Jesu, led to that loathsome and infamous hill, which now thy last blood shall make Sacred. Now thou settest thy foot upon that rising ground, which shall prevent thine Olivet. whence thy soul shall first ascend into thy glory.

There, while thou art addressing thyself for thy last act, thou art presented with that bitter and farewell potion, wherewith dying malefactors were wont to have their senses stupified, that they might not feel the torments of their execution. It was but the common mercy of men, to alleviate the death of offenders ; since the intent of their last doom is not so much pain, as dissolution.

That draught, O Saviour, was not more welcome to the guilty, than hateful unto thee. In the vigour of all thine inward and outward senses, thou wouldst encounter the most violent assaults of death; and scornedst to abate the least touch of thy quickest apprehension. Thou well knewest, that the work thou wentest about would require the use of all thy powers. It was not thine ease, that thou soughtest, but our Redemption ; neither meantest thou to yield to thy last enemy, but to resist and to overcome him : which, that thou mightest do the more gloriously, thou challengedst him to do his worst; and, in the mean time, wouldst not disfurnish thyself of any of thy powerful faculties. This greatest combat, that ever was, shall be fought on even hand; neither wouldst thou steal that Victory, which thou now achievedst over Death and Hell.

Thou didst but touch at this cup; it is a far bitterer than this, that thou art now drinking up to the dregs: thou refusedst that, which was offered thee by men; but that, which was mixed by thine eternal Father, though mere gall and wormwood, thou didst drink up to the last drop. And therein, O Blessed Jesu, lies all our health and salvation. I know not, whether I do more suffer in thy pain, or joy in the issue of thy suffering.

Now, even now, o Saviour, art thou entering into those dreadful lists, and now art thou grappling with thy last enemy. As if thou hadst not suffered till now, now thy bloody Passion begins.

A cruel expoliation begins that violence. Again do these grim and merciless soldiers lay their rude hands upon thee, and strip thee naked ; again are those bleeding wales laid open to all eyes; again must thy Sacred Body undergo the shame of an abhorred nakedness. Lo, thou, that clothest man with raiment, beasts with hides, fishes with scales and shells, earth with flowers, heaven with stars, art despoiled of clothes, and standest exposed to the scorn of all beholders. As the first Adam entered into his Paradise, so dost thou, the Second Adam, into thine, naked; and, as the First Adam was clothed with innocence when he had no

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