Page images

from heaven been immediaetly sent to strengthen and support him. With this recruit from Matth. he returned the third time to his apostles; but finding them still in the same sleepy con- :*::::: dition, he told them, that now they might sleep on as long as they pleased, because he is to the end, had no farther occasion for their assistance; that, however, it would not be improper for...". them to arise, because the traitor who was to deliver him up to his enemies was just at John ii is to hand. Nor were the words well out of his mouth before Judas, accompanied with to end. a band of soldiers and officers, together with some of the chief priests, Pharisees, and elders of the people, all armed with swords and staves f*, came to apprehend him. To prevent all mistakes, the traitor had given them a sign, that the person whom he should kiss was the man they were to apprehend; and therefore approaching our Lord with an address of seeming civility, he saluted him, and in return received a reproof of his perfidy fo, but in such gentle and easy terms, as spake a mind perfectly calm and undisturbed; and then stepping forward with an air of majesty, our Lord demanded of the soldiers, whom they wanted 2: They told him, Jesus of Nazareth. He replied that he was the person: but when they were going to lay rude hands upon him, the impetuous rays of glory which darted from his Divine face, struck so fiercely upon their eyes, that they fell to the ground. However, instead of taking the advantage of their consternation to make his escape, (as he had done at other times) he again demanded of them, who it was they wanted 2 And when they again made him the same answer, he told them, that if he was the person, he expected that his disciples should depart unmolested. re When the multitude began to lay hands on Jesus, some of his apostles, having swords #4 with them, asked their master if they might draw in his defence: But before they

haps well meaning Christians, who being offended at
the supposed weakness that appears, in our Saviour
upon this occasion, left it out of their copies; never
considering that the Divinity which dwelt in him, had
at this time substracted its influence, so that being
left to his human nature only, he needed the com-
fort of an angel: otherwise, as with a word he made
the whole band of soldiers fall to the ground, and
with a touch healed the ear of Malchus, he even now
gave sufficient indications of the Divinity residing in
him. Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commen-
tary. e
+ At the time of the passover, it was customary
for the Roman president to send a whole band of a
thousand men for a guard to the temple; and it
seems to be some of these that came to apprehend
our Saviour, because, by Judas's giving them a sign
whereby they might know him. it looks as if they
were strangers to his person. Whitby's Annotations,
and Calmet's Commentary.
+* It is probable, that Judas thought they could not
do this, but that as Jesus had at other times convey-
ed himself from the multitude when they attempted
to stone him, John viii. 59, and to cast him down a
precipice, Luke iv. 29, so he would have done now;
and that when he found he did not rescue himself, he
“repented, and went and hanged himself,” Matth.
xxvii. 5. Whitby's Annotations. **
+* The reproof is expressed in these words,-"Ju-
das, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?
Luke xxii. 48. 1st, Tobetray in this case was equi-
valent to murder. It was to deliver him into their
hands, who he knew, both from common rumour and
his master's own words, Matth. xvi. 21, had a design

upon his life; and therefore this could not be done
without express malice; but, 2dly, This betrayer was
a servant; one who had given up his name and faith
to our Lord, and done himself the honour at least, if
no other benefit, to preach his Gospel, and to work
miracles in the power of his commission, and there-
fore, for such an one to betray him, could not be
done without great perfidiousness. 8dly, The person
betrayed is called the Son of Man, which is both the
humblest and most obliging of our Saviour's titles,
and implies, that even to Judas himself he had always
been a kind and gracious Master, had treated him
with the same respect, and given him the same ad-
vice and overtures that he had done to the rest of
the twelve, and therefore to betray him was high in-
gratitude. 4thly, and lastly, To betray him with a
kiss, which all the world had been used to interpret
as a constant symbol either of love or hemage, (both
which his master had so well merited at his hands)
and now to make this a signal of his treason, was to
play a piece of the most gross hypocrisy. So severe
is the accusation which our Lord brings against his
abandoned apostle, though expressed in the mildest
terms! Young's Sermons, vol. ii.
t" Before our Saviour left the house where he sup-
ped, he had said to his apostles, “He that has no
sword, let him sell his garment and buy one,” Luke
xxii. 36.; but that this is no command to them to buy
swords, or to use them in the defence of their mas-
ter, when he should be apprehended, is apparent from
his saying, that “two swords were enough,” ver, 88.;
which certainly could never be sufficient to repel that
band of armed men which he foreknew would come
against him; and from his reprehending Peter for

A.M.4037, had his answer, Peter had drawn his sword, and in great fury struck at Malchus, one *::::::: of the high priest's servants, with a design to cleave his head, though he happened only vulg. Fr. 33, to cut off his right ear. Our Saviour, however, rebuking his intemperate zeal, com. *** manded him to put up his sword, f because he had no occasion for any human aid, who T had legions f* of angels at his command; and then, having cured the man's ear with a touch, he turned about, and expostulated with the soldiery the indignity of apprehending him in so scandalous a manner, as if he were a thief, or some vile malefactor, when they had daily an opportunity of taking him in the temple. But, say what he would, it availed nothing. They immediately bound him, and led him away. The apostles now, seeing their master thus treated, lost all their courage, and (as he had foretold them) left him, and betook themselves to flight. For such was the violence of the soldiers, that, seeing a young man #5 following the company with nothing but a night-gown on, and supposing him to be one of our Lord's disciples, they laid hold on him; but he, by quitting his garment, slipped out of their hands, and fled away naked. The company thus carrying away Jesus, brought him first before Annas f, who was from Matth. father-in-law to Caiaphas the high priest, and had formerly borne the same office: but...”. Annas sent them to Caiaphas, in whose palace the Sanhedrim was still sitting, even is. to the end, though it was thus late at night., Caiaphas examined him a great deal concerning both.* his doctrine and disciples; but when our Saviour answered, “That, since he had always and join il. taught in the most public manner, in the synagogues and in the temple, he should”, “ the end. rather enquire of those who had been his constant hearers,” an officer f standing by," gave him a blow on the face, pretending that he had not used the high priest with respect enough; to which our Lord only replied, that (a) “if he had said anything amiss, the law was open, and he might implead him, but if not, f* he had no cause or authority to strike him.” The council perceiving that, from his own confession, they could raise no accusation against him, called over the false witnesses that they had procured; but these either disagreed in their stories, or came not sufficiently up to the point. Two persons indeed were consistent in what they deposed, viz. that they had heard him say, “that he would pull down the temple of God, and in three days rebuild it.” But as this accusation (b) was false in fact, and founded only upon a figurative expression of our Saviour's, it was not thought to amount to any thing capital. All this while our Saviour made no manner of reply to the evidences that were produced against him; whereof when the high priest asked him the reason, and still he continued silent, having one more question in reserve, which, if he answered in the negative, would (according to his notion) make him an impostor, if in the affirmative, a blasphemer, he stood up, and in the “name of the living God, f* adjured him to declare whether he was the Messiah, the Son of God, or not ?” The reverence which our Lord paid to that sacred name, made him immediately answer, and that in direct terms, * That he was; and that of this they would be convinced, when they should see him sitting on the right-hand of the Almighty, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Whereupon the high priest, in testimony of his abhorrence, rent his clothes f*, as if he had

using one in this manner, Matth. xxvi. 52. which, if he intended his words to be understood literally, was no discommendable thing. They therefore are only a monition to his apostles, that times were now become so perilous, that, if things were to be acted by human power, there would be more need for swords than ever: For such symbolical ways of expression were very common among the eastern people. Some annotators however have observed, that the reason why any swords (as we read but of twb) were found in our Saviour's family, was, that thereby they might secure themselves from beasts of prey, which, in those parts, were very frequent, and dangerous in the nighttime. Whitby's Annotations, and Taylor's Life of Christ, part ii. sect. 15. + Our Saviour's words to Peter are these, “Put up thy sword into its place, for all that take the sword shall perish by the sword,” Matth. xxvi. 52. But this rebuke we must not so understand as absolutely forbidding all manner of using the sword among Christians, but only as teaching us the great duty of submission to the powers that are set over us. One private person is, no doubt, in defence of himself against the assault of another private person, permitted to unsheath his sword; but if it be once granted, that private persons, when they think themselves injured by the magistrate, may take up the sword against him, tumults would be endless, and the authority of the laws, and the decision of judges, precarious. “If therefore neither the malice of the Jews, nor the innocence of our Lord; if neither the truth of our religion, persecuted in its founder, nor the apparent marks of malice and envy, of violence and oppression, which appeared in the whole course of their persecution of him, were sufficient to warrant St Peter to draw the sword in his defence, against that legal authority by which they acted; we must conclude, that neither will any of these pretences suffice to justify any other Christians in the like circumstances now: But if it please God at any time to permit the lawful powers to be against us, we must submit patiently to their authority, and not, with this warm apostle, draw the sword against those to whom God has committed the power of the sword.” Archbishop Wake's Sermons. It may be questioned, however, whether this

is the true import of the words; which Grotius and some others have thus interpreted,—“Put up thy sword; there is no need for thy using it in my defence against the injuries of the Jews; for, by God's sentence and decree, they who take the sword, to shed the blood of the innocent, shall perish by the sword; and this the Jews shall find by the tremendous vengeance which the sword of the Romans shall execute upon them for this fact.” Which interpretation is confirmed by what we readin Revel. xiii. 10. “He that killeth with the sword, must be killed with the sword.” Here is the ground “ of the faith and patience of the saints,” viz. that that God to whom vengeance belongs, will plead their cause, and recompence vengeance to their enemies, Romans xii. 19. Whitby's Annotations. +* A legion in the Roman militia, was a body of men consisting of six thousand, composed each of ten cohorts, as a cohort was of fifty maniples, and a maniple of fifteen men; so that twelve legions would amount to seventy thousand angels; but in this our Saviour means no more than a great number. Calmet's Commentary, and Beausobre's Annotations. to Who this young man was, has been a matter of some dispute among the ancients. Epiphanius and St Jerom are of opinion, that it was James the brother of our Lord; but, upon our Lord's being apprehended, he among the rest “forsook him, and fled," and we hear nothing of his return. St Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Gregory, have a strong imagination that it was John the beloved apostle ; but John, we read, was with Christ in the garden clothed, and cannot therefore easily conceive how he came to fly away naked. It seems most probable, therefore, that this young man might be nowise related to our Saviour, but, hearing a noise in the garden, which might not be far distant from the house where he lodged in the village of Gethsemane, he arose and followed the company in his night-gown (as we have rendered it), in pure curiosity to see what was the matter, and that when the guards were for seizing him, he fled away naked, i.e. with nothing but his shirt on; for so the expression may be understood. Calmet's Commentary, Whitby's and Beausolre's Annotations.

t Annas (who by Josephus is called Ananus) had been high priest, enjoying that dignity for eleven years; and, even after he was deposed, retained still the title, and had a great share of the management of all public affairs. When John the Baptist entered upon the exercise of his ministry, he is called the high priest in conjunction with Caiaphas, Luke iii. 2. though at that time he did not act in this character; and when our Saviour was apprehended, he was first brought to his house, according to St John, ch. xviii. 13, 14. though the other evangelists pass that over in silence, because there was nothing done to him there, and it looks as if he were only there detained until the council met at the house of Caiaphas was ready for him. Calmet's Dictionary, and Whitby's Annotations. * ==

+ Some of the ancients are of opinion, that this of. ficer was Malchus, the same person whose ear our Lord had healed in the garden. The more ungrateful he And Selden pretends, that in this act he did nothing contrary to the law of his country, which allowed every Israelite, by what they call “ the judgement of zeal,” to avenge upon the spot all public injury done to God or his temple to the nation in general, or the high priest in particular. De Jure Nat. et Gent. lib. iv. c. 5.

(a) John xviii. 23.

+* From this defence, which our Saviour makes for

himself, we may learn, that we are not literally to un-
derstand his precept “ of turning the other cheek to
him that smites us,” since, instead of doing this, we
find him endeavouring to vindicate the innocence of
his words; and from hence we may observe likewise,
that to stand upon the defence of our own innocency,
cannot be contrary to the Christian duties of patience
and forgiveness. Whitby's Annotations.
(b) John ii. 19.
t? The Jews in general, but especially their judges
and magistrates, had a custom of conjuring by the
name of God, or of exacting an oath of those whose
crimes did not sufficiently appear by the evidence of
witnesses, or any other means. The person thus in-
terrogated was obliged to speak truth, and in all
doubtful cases his confession or denial was decisive,
either to acquit or condemn him. Calmet's Com-
+* The rending the clothes was a token of indigna-
tion, holy zeal, and piety, among the Jews, expressed
on several occasions, especially of grief, in humilia-
tion; and of anger, in hearing any blasphemous
speech. This however was forbidden the high priest,
not only as to his sacerdotal vestments, but also as to
his other garments, Lev. xxi. 10. because he was not
to appear before God in the habit of a mourner; but
they, by their traditions, had so qualified that precept,
as to allow him to rend his clothes at the bottom,

A. M.4037, heard the grossest blasphemy f, and then, addressing himself to the council, told them, ‘. o: that there was no occasion for any farther witnesses, because what the prisoner had vos, said was palpable blasphemy, and so demanded their opinion; who unanimously agreed, * * * that according to their law he was guilty of death. With this resolution they repaired to their respective homes, (for now it was late) and left our Lord to the mercy of the soldiers, and the high priest's servants, who of. fered all the acts of insolence and effrontery that they could invent to his sacred person, whilst some spit on him, others buffeted him, others blind-folded him, and others again, smiting him with their fists, calling on him to prophecy to “who it was that struck him;” with many more indignities and abominable blasphemies, which must have been greater than all his patience, had his meekness and patience been less than infinite. During this melancholy scene, Peter, whose fears had made him flee from his Master in the garden, having a little recovered his spirits, and hoping to pass undiscovered in the throng, ventured in, among others, to see the issue of this fatal night, and by the interest of his fellow disciple John, (who went with him) was let in by a maid-servant to the high priest's palace. f*It was now cold weather; and the servants and officers having kindled a fire in the common hall, Peter went in and sat down among them to warm himself; when the maid who let him in, fixing her eyes upon him, was confident she knew him, and accordingly told the company that he was a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, which he positively denied to them all, and as he withdrew into the porch heard the cock crow”, but his troubled thoughts took no notice of it. While he was in the porch another maid charged him with the same thing; but he denied it again, not only with the same confidence, but with the solemnity of an oath; and, about an hour after, when another inferred from his dialect f* that he must necessarily be a Galilean, and a relation of the man whose ear he had cut off, strongly af. firmed that he saw him in the garden, this so intimidated him, that, with horrid oaths +4 and imprecations upon himself, he denied the matter, till the cock crew the second

though he was permitted to do it from the top to the
breast. Beausobre's and Whitby's Annotations.
+ From hence we may observe, that the Jews of
that age did not think that the Messiah was to be
God, but only a man, who could not challenge to
himself divinity; seeing they never concluded our
Lord to be a blasphemer, because he said he was the
Christ, but only because he said he was the Son of
God, and thereby made himself equal with God,
John v. 18. Whitby's Annotations.
+” By this kind of insult they tacitly reproached
him with being a false prophet. Calmet's Comment.
3 The Jews themselves allow, as Dr Lightfoot in-
forms us, that there might be frost and snow at the
time of the passover; and a common thing it was for
great dews to fall then, which would make the air
cold until the sun had exhaled them. Whitby's An-
notations. .
* It is reported of St Peter, that ever after, when
he heard the cock crow, he wept, remembering the
old instrument of his repentance and conversion, and
his own unworthiness, for which he never ceased to
do acts of sorrow and penance. Howell’s History, in
the Notes.
+* The Galileans spake the same language that
the rest of the Jews did ; but then they had a certain
uncouth accent and manner of expression, which
distinguished them from others, and made them

be contemned and ridiculed by the natives of Judea. Calmet's Commentary, and Beausobre's Annotations.

+* Some of the ancients have taken great pains to extenuate this fault of Peter's. St Ambrose on Luke, and Hillary on Matthew, both assert that the apostle did not lie in saying “I know not the man,” but only disguised the truth, renouncing Christ in the quality of a man, but not as the Son of God. But this (according to St Jerom) “is to defend the servant, by accusing the Master of a lie,” for if St Peter did not actually deny him, our Lord must have falsely affirmed, “thou shall deny me thrice.” The opinion of those therefore is rather to be embraced, who acknowledge that St Peter, by denying Christ with his mouth, committed a mortal sin, and fell from grace; and as it is certain that by confirming this denial with an oath, and adding horrid execrations to it, his sin was highly aggravated; instead of accounting (as some do) his denial a sin of infirmity, wherein his heart was true though his mouth false, we can hardly think that he could do all this without great checks of his conscience, and that consequently for the present he was in a state of defection, though his bitter weeping and quick repentance, after that Christ had looked upon him, might make an atonement for his transgression. Calmet's Commentary, and Whit. by's Annotations,

time, and our Saviour (who was then in the hall) turning to Peter, gave him such a From Matth. glance, as reminded him of his prediction, and the foulness of his own crime; where-..."... upon, being stung with compunction, and sadly oppressed with shame and grief, he 15 to the end, went out and wept ; he wept abundantly, he wept bitterly. •. ot. Early next morning the Sanhedrim f met again in a full body at their room in the John xii. 19 to temple, whither they ordered Jesus to be brought; and having again enquired of him,” whether he was the true Messiah, and the Son of God, and again received the same answer from him, they adjudged him guilty of blasphemy; and accordingly, having condemned him, carried him to the palace f* of the Roman governor, whose name at that time was Pontius Pilate fo, desiring of him to ratify their sentence, and demanding a warrant #4 for his execution. Judas, in the mean time, watching the issue of these proceedings, and finding that his master was delivered to the secular power, repented of his perfidy, and taking the money which was the reward of his treason, went to the council fo and threw it among them, declaring openly, that he had acted very wickedly in betraying the innocent blood: But (as people that employ such instruments have no regard to what becomes of them) all the comfort that he had from them was, that since it was his own act and deed,

+ The assembly which was held the night before, and wherein our Saviour was declared worthy of death, was neither general nor judicial, according to the sense of the law, which did not allow of justice to be administered in private, or in the night-time: And therefore the high priests and rulers met again in the morning, in the council-chamber, in the temple, (which they could not do the night before, because the temple was then always shut), there to reexamine our Saviour, and condemn him in form., Calmet's Commentary. +* At Jerusalem the people shew you, at this time, the palace of Pilate, or rather the place where they say it stood; for now an ordinary Turkish house possesses its room. In this pretended house (which stands not far from St Stephen's gate, and borders on the area of the temple, on the north side) they shew you a room in which Christ was mocked with the ensigns of royalty, and buffeted by the soldiers; and on the other side of the street (which was anciently another part of the palace) is the room where they say our Lord was scourged. Wells's Geography of the New Testament, part i. +3. It is not certainly known of what family or country this governor was, though it is generally believed that he was of Rome, at least of Italy. He succeeded Gratus in the government of Judea, in which he continued ten years, i. e. from the twelfth to the twenty-second of Tiberius, and is represented by Philo (de Legatione ad Caium) as a man of an impetuous and obstinate temper; and a judge who used to sell justice, and for money pronounce any sentence that was desired. The same author makes mention of his rapines, his injuries, his murders, the -torments he inflicted upon the innocent, and the persons he put to death without any form of process. In short, he describes him as a man that exercised an excessive cruelty during the whole time of his government, from which he was deposed by Witellius, the pro-consul of Syria, and sent to Rome to give an account of his conduct to the emperor. But

though Tiberius died before Pilate arrived at Rome,
yet his successor Caligula banished him to Vienne
in Gaul, where he was reduced to such extremity,
that he killed himself with his own hands. The
evangelists call him the governor (though properly
speaking he was no more than the procurator of Ju-
dea), not only because governor was a name of gene-
ral use, but because Pilate, in effect, acted as one,
by taking upon him to judge in criminal matters, as
his predecessors had done, and other procurators, in
the small provinces of the empire, where there was
no proconsul, constantly did. Calmet's Dictionary
under the word Pilate, Echard’s Ecclesiastical His-
tory, lib. ii. c. 2. and Beausobre's Annotations.
f* Not that the Romans had, at this time, taken
from the Sanhedrim the power of life and death; for,
about a year after this, we find the proto-martyr Ste-
phen regularly tried, condemned, and stoned by their
sole authority: But therefore the Jewish rulers desi-
red the concurrence of the Roman governor, that they
might make our Saviour undergo a more severe and
ignominious punishment, than they could have in-
flicted upon him by their own power, because cruci-
fixion was a death that their law had not prescribed.
To this purpose we may observe, that, to induce the
governor to comply with their demand, the accusa-
tion which they brought against him was of a civil
nature, and such as would consign him to the punish-
ment they desired; “we found this fellow perverting
the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar,”
Luke.xxiii. 2. Universal History, lib. ii. c. 11. [This
was probably their reason for wishing Pilate to judge
and condemn him; but it is much more probable that
they put St Stephen to death in a tumultuous and il-
legal manner, than that they should have said to the
governor that it was not lawful for them to put any
man to death, if both he and they were aware that
their right had not been taken from them.]
+ Such is the purchase of treason and the reward
of covetousness. It is cheap in its offers, momentary
in the possession, unsatisfying in its fruition, uncer-

« PreviousContinue »