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clothes, so wert thou, the Second, too: and more than so; thy nakedness, O Saviour, clothes our souls, not with innocence. only, but with beauty. Hadst not thou been naked, we had been clothed with confusion. O happy nakedness, whereby we are covered from shame! O happy shame, whereby we are invested with glory! All the beholders stand wrapped with warm garments; thou only art stripped, to tread the wine-press alone. How did thy Blessed Mother now wish her veil upon thy shoulders! and that disciple, who lately ran from thee naked, wished in vain that his loving pity might do that for thee, which fear forced him to for himself.
Shame is succeeded with pain. Oh the torment of the Cross! Methinks, I see and feel, how, having fastened the transverse to the body of that fatal Tree, and laid it upon the ground, they racked and strained thy tender and Sacred Limbs, to fit the extent of their fore-appointed measure; and having tentered out thine Arms beyond their natural reach, how they fastened them with cords, till those strong iron nails, which were driven up to the head through the palms of thy Blessed Hands, had not more firmly than painfully fixed thee to the gibbet. The tree is raised up; and now, not without a vehement concussion, settled in the mortise. Woe is me, how are thy Joints and Sinews torn, and stretched till they crack again, by this torturing distention! How doth thy own Weight torment thee, while thy whole Body rests upon this forced and dolorous hold, till thy nailed Feet bear their part in a no less afflictive supportation! How did the rough iron pierce thy Soul, while passing through those tender and sensible parts it carried thy flesh before it, and as it were riveted it to that shameful Tree !
There now, O Dear Jesu, there thou hangest between heaven and earth; naked, bleeding, forlorn, despicable, the spectacle of miseries, the scorn of men. Be abashed, O ye heavens and earth, and all ye creatures wrap up yourselves in horror and confusion, to see the shame and pain and curse of your most Pure and Omnipotent Creator. How could ye subsist, while he thus suffers in whom ye are? O Saviour, didst thou take flesh for our redemption, to be thus indignly used, thus mangled, thus tortured? Was this measure fit to be offered to that Sacred Body, that was conceived by the Holy Ghost of the pure substance of an immaculate Virgin? Woe is me; that, which was unspotted with sin, is all blemished with human cruelty; and so woefully disfigured, that the Blessed Mother that bore thee could not now have known thee; so bloody were thy Temples, so swoln and discoloured was thy Face, so was the Skin of thy whole Body streaked with red and blue stripes, so did thy thorny diadem shade thy Heavenly Countenance, so did the streams of thy Blood cover and deform all thy parts. The eye of sense could not distinguish thee, O Dear Saviour, in the near
est proximity to thy Cross: the eye of faith sees thee in all this distance; and, by how much more ignominy, deformity, pain it finds in thee, so much more it admires the glory of thy mercy. Alas! is this the Head, that is decked by thine Eternal Father with a crown of pure gold, of immortal and incomprehensible majesty, which is now bushed with thorns? Is this the Eve, that saw the heavens opened, and the Holy Ghost descending upon that head, that saw such resplendence of heavenly brightness on Mount Tabor, which now begins to be overclouded with death? Are these the Ears, that heard the voice of thy Father owning thee out of heaven, which now tingle with buffetings, and glow with reproaches, and bleed with thorns? Are these the Lips, that spake as never man's spake, full of grace and power; that called out dead Lazarus, that ejected the stubbornest devils, that commanded the cure of all diseases, which now are swoln with blows, and discoloured with blueness and blood? the Face, that should be fairer than the sons of men, which the angels of heaven so desired to see, and can never be satisfied with seeing, that is thus foul with the nasty mixtures of sweat, and blood, and spittings on? Are these the Hands, that stretched out the heavens as a curtain, that by their touch healed the lame, the deaf, the blind, which are now bleeding with the nails? Are these the Feet, which walked lately upon the liquid pavement of the sea, before whose footstool all the nations of the earth are bidden to worship, that are now so painfully fixed to the Cross? O cruel and unthankful mankind, that offered such measure to the Lord of Life! O infinitely merciful Saviour, that wouldst suffer all this for unthankful mankind! That fiends should do these things to guilty souls, it is (though terrible, yet) just; but that men should do thus to the Blessed Son of God, it is beyond the capacity of our horror.
Even the most hostile dispositions have been only content to kill; death hath sated the most eager malice: thine enemies, O Saviour, held not themselves satisfied, unless they might enjoy thy torment. Two thieves are appointed to be thy companions in death; thou art designed to the midst, as the chief malefactor: on whether hand soever thou lookest, thine eye meets with a hateful partner.
But, O Blessed Jesu, how shall I enough admire and celebrate thy infinite mercy, who madest so happy a use of this Jewish despite, as to improve it to the occasion of the salvation of one, and the comfort of millions! Is not this, as the last, so the greatest specialty of thy wonderful compassion, to convert that dying Thief? with those nailed hands to snatch a soul out of the mouth of hell? Lord, how I bless thee for this work! How do I stand amazed at this, above all other the demonstrations of thy goodness and power! The offender came to die: nothing was in his thoughts, but his guilt and torment: while he was yet in his blood,
thou saidst, This soul shall live. Ere yet the intoxicating potion could have time to work upon his brain, thy Spirit infuses faith into his heart. He, that before had nothing in his eye but present death and torture, is now lifted up above his cross in a blessed ambition; Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Is this the voice of a thief, or of a disciple? Give me leave, O Saviour, to borrow thine own words; Verily, I have not found so great faith, no not in all Israel. He saw thee hanging miserably by him, and yet styles thee Lord; he saw thee dying, yet talks of thy Kingdom; he felt himself dying, yet talks of a future Remembrance. O faith stronger than death, that can look beyond the cross, at a crown; beyond dissolution, at a remembrance of life and glory! Which of thine eleven were heard to speak so gracious a word to thee, in these thy last pangs? After thy resurrection and knowledge of thine impassible condition, it was not strange for them to talk of thy kingdom; but, in the midst of thy shameful death, for a dying malefactor to speak of thy reigning, and to implore thy remembrance of himself in thy kingdom, it is such an improvement of faith, as ravisheth my soul with admiration. O Blessed Thief, that hast thus happily stolen heaven! How worthy hath thy Saviour made thee, to be a partner of his sufferings, a pattern of undauntable belief, a spectacle of unspeakable mercy! This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Before, I wondered at thy faith; now, I envy at thy felicity. Thou cravedst a remembrance; thy Saviour speaks of a present possession, This day; thou suedst for remembrance as a favour to the absent; thy Saviour speaks of thy presence with him: thou spakest of a kingdom; thy Saviour, of Paradise. As no disciple could be more faithful, so no saint could be happier. O Saviour, what a precedent is this of thy free and powerful grace? Where thou wilt give, what unworthiness can bar us from mercy? When thou wilt give, what time can prejudice our vocation? Who can despair of thy goodness, when he, that in the morning was posting towards Hell, is in the evening with thee in Paradise? Lord, he could not have spoken this to thee, but by thee, and from thee. What possibility was there for a thief, to think of thy kingdom, without thy Spirit? That good Spirit of thine breathed upon this man, breathed not upon his fellow. Their trade was alike, their sin was alike, their state alike, their cross alike; only thy mercy makes them unlike: one is taken; the other is refused. Blessed be thy mercy, in taking one; blessed be thy justice, in leaving the other. Who can despair of that mercy? Who cannot but tremble at that justice?
Now, O ye cruel Priests and Elders of the Jews, ye have full leisure to feed your eyes with the sight ye so much longed for. There is the blood ye purchased and is not your malice yet glutted? Is not all this enough, without your taunts and scoffs
and sports at so exquisite a misery? The people, the passengers are taught to insult, where they should pity. Every man hath a scorn ready to cast at a Dying Innocent. A generous nature is more wounded, with the tongue, than with the hand. O Saviour, thine ear was more painfully pierced, than thy brows, or hands, or feet. It could not but go deep into thy soul, to hear these bitter and girding reproaches, from them thou camest
But, alas! what flea-bitings were these, in comparison of those inward torments, which thy Soul felt in the sense and apprehension of thy Father's wrath for the sins of the whole world, which now lay heavy upon thee for satisfaction! This, oh this was it, that pressed thy soul, as it were, to the nethermost hell. While thine Eternal Father looked lovingly upon thee, what didst thou, what needest thou to care for the frowns of men or devils? but when he once turned his face from thee, or bent his brows upon thee, this, this was worse than death.
It is no marvel now, if darkness were upon the face of the whole earth, when thy Father's face was eclipsed from thee, by the interposition of our sins. How should there be light in the world without, when the God of the World, the Father of Lights, complains of the want of light within? That word of thine, O Saviour, was enough to fetch the sun down out of heaven, and to dissolve the whole frame of nature, when thou criedst, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Oh what pangs were these, Dear Jesu, that drew from thee this complaint! Thou well knewest nothing could be more cordial to thine enemies, than to hear this sad language from thee: they could see but the outside of thy sufferings; never could they have conceived so deep an anguish of thy soul, if thy own lips had not expressed it. Yet, as not regarding their triumph, thou thus pourest out thy sorrow: and when so much is uttered, who can conceive what is felt?
How is it then with thee, O Saviour, that thou thus astonishest men and angels with so woeful a quiritation? Had thy God left thee? Thou not long since saidst, I and my Father are One. Are ye now severed? Let this thought be as far from my soul, as my soul from hell. No more can thy Blessed Father be separated from thee, than from his own essence. His union with thee is eternal; his vision was intercepted: he could not withdraw his presence; he would withdraw the influence of his comfort. Thou, the Second Adam, stoodst for mankind upon this Tree of the Cross, as the First Adam stood and fell for mankind under the Tree of Offence. Thou barest our sins: thy Father saw us in thee, and would punish us in thee; thee, for us. How could he but withhold comfort, where he intended chastisement? Herein, therefore, he seems to forsake thee for the present, in that he would not deliver thee from that bitter Passion, which thou
wouldst undergo for us. O Saviour, hadst thou not been thus forsaken, we had perished; thy dereliction is our safety and however our narrow souls are not capable of the conceit of thy pain and horror, yet we know there can be no danger in the forsaking, while thou canst say, My God. He is so thy God, as he cannot be ours: all our right is by adoption; thine, by nature thou art one with him in eternal essence; we come in by grace and merciful election: yet, while thou shalt enable me to say My God, I shall hope never to sink under thy desertions.
But while I am transported with the sense of thy sufferings, O Saviour, let me not forget to admire those sweet mercies of thine, which thou pouredst out upon thy persecutors. They rejoice in thy death, and triumph in thy misery, and scoff at thee in both instead of calling down fire from heaven upon them, thou heapest coals of fire upon their heads; Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. They blaspheme thee; thou prayest for them: they scorn; thou pitiest: they sin against thee; thou prayest for their forgiveness: they profess their malice; thou pleadest their ignorance. O compassion without example, without measure, fit for the Son of God, the Saviour of Men! Wicked and foolish Jews! ye would be miserable; he will not let you: ye would fain pull upon yourselves the guilt of his blood; he deprecates it: ye kill; he sues for your remission and life. His tongue cries louder than his blood, Father, forgive them. O Saviour, thou couldst not but be heard. Those, who out of ignorance and simplicity thus persecuted thee, find the happy issue of thine intercession. Now I see whence it was, that three thousand souls were converted soon after at one sermon. It was not Peter's speech, it was thy prayer, that was thus effectual. Now they have grace to know and confess, whence they have both forgiveness and salvation; and can recompense their blasphemies with thanksgiving. What sin is there, Lord, whereof I can despair of the remission, or what offence can I be unwilling to remit, when thou prayest for the forgiveness of thy murderers and blasphemers?
There is no day so long but hath his evening. At last, O Blessed Saviour, thou art drawing to an end of these painful sufferings, when, spent with toil and torment, thou criest out, I thirst. How shouldst thou do other? O Dear Jesu, how shouldst thou do other, than thirst? The night thou hadst spent in watching, in prayer, in agony, in thy conveyance from the Garden to Jerusalem, from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, in thy restless answers, in buffetings and stripes; the day, in arraignments, in haling from place to place, in scourgings, in stripping, in robing and disrobing, in bleeding, in tugging under thy Cross, in woundings and distension, in pain and passion no marvel, if thou thirstedst. Although there was more in this drought, than thy need. It was no less requisite thou