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plainly, “that if he did not punish a man, who set himself up for a king, he was an From Matth. enemy to the emperor;” a menace which he, * who knew the jealous temper of his :*:::::: master Tiberius full well, and how easily a wrong representation of these proceedings is to the end, might prove his ruin, had not the courage to withstand; and therefore, returning to...". the hall, he ordered Jesus to be brought, in the same habit, to his public tribunal, John xii. 19. which stood in a paved place, called Gabbatha +, and before he gave sentence, calling” for water, and washing his hands "* before all the people, he solemnly declared, that he was “innocent of the blood of that just man, and that they must answer for it;”
whereupon the whole body of the people cried out, “ May his blood fall upon us
and our posterity." An imprecation as black as hell, and what has been too long (may
* This threat seems to be the reason why Pilate (as he is quoted by several of the ancient fathers) sent an account of our Saviour and his crucifixion to the emperor Tiberius, in order to clear himself from so unjust a deed, and to throw the odium of it upon the Jewish Sanhedrim. For as it was customary for all governors to send an account of the most memorable transactions that happened in the time of their administration, the crucifixion of a person of our Saviour's character was of too signal a nature not to be transmitted to Rome: And accordingly the substance of what is contained in the acts of Pilate (as they are called) relating to this matter, may be comprised in such words as these :
Pilate to Tiberius, &c. .
“I have been forced to consent at length to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, to prevent a tumultamong the Jews, though it was very much against my will : For the world never saw, and probably never will see, a man of such extraordinary piety and uprightness. But the high priests and Sanhedrim fulfilled in it the oracles of their prophets and of their sybils. Whilst he hung on the cross, an horrid darkness, which covered the earth, seemed to threaten its final end. His followers, who pretend to have seen him rise from the dead and ascend into heaven, and acknowledge him for their God, do still subsist, and, by their excellent lives, shew themselves the worthy disciples of so extraordinary a Master. I did what I could to save him from the malice of the Jews, but the fear of a total insurrection made me sacrifice him to the peace and interest of your empire, &c.” Universal History.
+ The word Gabbatha, in the Syriac, (for that is
the language which was then commonly spoken, and which the writers of the New Testament do therefore call the Hebrew) signifies an elevation; and therefore the place where Pilate had his tribunal erected, was robably a terras, a gallery, or balcony belonging to #. palace, and paved with stone or marble, as the word Audiorgore; imports. * Washing of hands, with a design to denote innocency, was not peculiar only to the Jews, but customary among other nations, because by the element
of water it is natural to signify purity and cleanness; but then the question is, whether, in conformity to the Jews or Gentiles, it was, that Pilate made use of this ceremony 2 To expiate an unknown murder, the elders of the next adjacent city were wont “to wash their hands and say, Our hands have not shed this blood,” Deut. xxi. 6, 7, And the Psalmist having renounced all confederacy with wicked and mischievous men, makes this resolution, “I will wash my hands in testimony of my innocency,” Psal. xxvi. 6. From which passages Origen is of opinion, that Pilate did this in compliance with the manners of the Jews, that by actions as well as words he might declare to them the opinion he had of our Lord's innocence. But as Pilate was a Roman, others are rather inclined to think, that in this action he conformed himself to the manners of the Gentiles. The scholiast upon Sophocles (in Ajace) informs us, that it was the custom among the ancients, when they had killed a man or shed blood, to wash their hands in water, thereby to purify them from their defilement; and to the same purpose Virgil introduces AEneas speaking : Me, bello è tanto digressum, et caede recenti, Attrectare nefas; donec me flumine vivo Abluero. Æneid. ii. ver. 718. Nay, Clemens Romanus informs us, (lib. ii. c. 52.) that when judges were going to pronounce sentence of death, they usually lifted up their hands to heaven, thereby to denote their own innocency; and it is not improbable that they washed their hands before they did so, that they might lift them up with the more purity. Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary. +* It was a custom, that he who was to be cruci. fied should bear his own cross to the place of execution: But whereas it is generally supposed, that our Lord bore the whole cross, i.e. the long and transverse part both, this seems to be a thing impossible; and therefore Lipsius, in his treatise (de Supplicio Crucis) has set the matter in a true light, when he tells us, that Jesus only carried the transverse beam, because the long piece of timber or body of the cross was either fixed in the ground before, or made ready to be set up as soon as the prisoner came ; and from
A. M. 4037, shoulders, led him away to his crucifixion f: But when they came to the gate of the city, his strength was so entirely exhausted, that he was not able to stand under it any longer; and therefore they compelled one Simon, to a Cyrenian, the father of Alexan&c. or 31. der and Rufus, to bear it the rest of the way. To" Among the vast throngs that followed to this execution, there were many people (especially some pious women) who could not behold this sad spectacle without the highest grief and lamentation; which when our Saviour observed, lifting up his face, all bloody and disfigured, “Weep not for me, said he, but weep for yourselves and your children;
for it will not be long before those shall be
accounted happy, who shall have no poste
rity “to inherit the miseries that shall then come upon this nation: For how dismal
must their condition be, who shall call on the to hills to cover them, and the mountains. to fall on them, that by a sudden destruction they may escape the lingering calamities from Matth. of famine and fear, and the horror of a thousand deaths" ão. When he came to the place of execution, which was called Golgotha, + or Mount is to the end, Calvary, the soldiers, before they nailed him to the cross, offered him a potion f of wine ††. mixed with gall, which, when he had tasted it, he refused to drink. They then strip-john ii. 19. ped off his clothes; and having, with four great nails, fastened his hands and feet, with ** his body stretched out, to the cross; they so raised it up, and fixed it in the ground. To stain his innocence, and to put him to the greater shame, they crucified him between two common malefactors; fo but what might make an amends for that, was the inscription which Pilate ordered to be fixed on the top of his cross, Jesus of NAzAReth,
hence he observes, that painters are very much mis
taken in their description of our Saviour carrying the whole cross. + A death, the most dreadful of all others, both for the shame and the pain of it. So scandalous, that it was inflicted, as the last mark of destestation, upon the vilest of people. It was the punishment of robbers and murderers, provided that they were slaves too; but otherwise, if they were free, and had the privileges of the city of Rome, this was then thought a prostitution of that honour, and too infamous a punishment for such an one, let his crimes have been what they would. The form of a cross was that of two posts, cutting one another at right angles. On that which stood upright the body was fastended, by nailing the feet to it, and on the other transverse piece, by mailing the hands on each side. Now, because these parts of the body, being the instruments of action and motion, are provided by nature with a much greater quantity of nerves than others have occasion for; and because all sensation is performed by the spirits contained in the nerves, it will follow, that wherever they abound, the sense of pain must needs, in proportion, be more quick and tender. But though the pain of this kind of death was exceedingly sharp, yet as none of the vitals were immediately affected, the body continued thus stretched out and hanging upon the nails that fastened it to the cross, until excess of anguish had, by degrees, quite exhausted the spirits and driven out the soul, which must needs make the death which our Saviour submitted to for our sakes slow and lingering, as well as painful and ignominious: So lingering, that St Andrew was two whole days upon the cross, and some other martyrs have been rather starved and devoured by birds, than killed with the torments of the tree. Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. ii. and Howell's History in the Notes. +* Libya, in its proper acceptation, denotes those parts of the African continent which lie about the Mediterranean Sea, from Egypt eastward to the greater Syrtis, or gulf of Sidra, westward. In the western part of this Libya stood Cyrene, a city of great note, and once of such power, as to contend with Carthage for some pre-eminences: But whether this Simon, whom the soldiers compelled to carry our Saviour's cross, was a Jew or Pagan, is a question that has been disputed among the ancients. Several
fathers have thought that he was a Gentile, and that herein he was a type of that idolatrous people, who were afterwards to be called to the profession of the Gospel, and to carry the cross after Christ. But others, from his name, rather imagine that he was a Jew, and that, as there were great numbers of that nation in Egypt and the neighbouring countries, this Simon might be one whose habitation was at Cyrene in Libya, but was now coming up to Jerusalem at the time of the passover. He is called by St Mark, chap. xv. 21. the father of Alexander and Rufus, because these two persons were become famous in the Christian church at the time when this evangelist wrote his Gospel; but whether he himself was, at this time, a disciple of Christ, and afterwards Bishop of Bostres in Arabia, where he suffered martyrdom, by being burnt alive by the Pagans, is much to be questioned, though some have asserted it, but not, I fear, from sufficient authority. Wells’s Geography of the New Testament, part i. and Calmet's Commentary and Dictionary under the word Simon. * This they undoubtedly had occasion to think at the siege of Jerusalem, and during the war against the Romans, not only on account of the loss of their children, and the sale of them, who were under seventeen, for bond slaves; but chiefly on the account of that famine in Jerusalem, which forced Mary, the daughter of Eleazar, a woman of some figure and quality, to eat her own sucking child : Upon which (says Josephus) “the dread of famine made men weary of their lives, and the living envied the dead that were taken away before the extremity came to this height.” De Bello Jud. lib. vii. c. 8. +* That this is a proverbial expression, which the prophet Hosea, chap. x.-8. makes use of, to denote the utter despair of a people, when they see unavoid- able calamities coming upon them, cannot be doubted; for so the Targum upon Hosea explains it, “He will bring such judgments upon them as will render their condition as miserable as if the mountains should cover them, and the hills fall upon them.” Isaiah speaks of the wicked, that “they should go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord,” Isa. ii. 19. And accordingly Josephus relates of the Jews, that after the taking of Jerusalem, many of them hid themselves in vaults and sepulchres, and there perished, rather than surrender to the Romans. De Bello, ibid.
The King of the Jews, in the three most general languages, to Hebrew, Greek, and
+ Golgotha in the Syriac (vulgarly called the Hebrew tongue) signifies the same that Calvary does in Latin, and was so called, either because the form of the Mount did somewhat resemble a man's skull, or rather because it being the common place of execution, a great number of dead mens skulls was usually to be seen there. It is a small eminency or hill, upon the greater Mount of Moriah; and as it was anciently appropriated to the execution of malefactors, it was therefore shut out of the walls of the city, as an execrable and polluted place; but since it was made the altar, on which was offered up the precious and all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, it has recovered itself from that infamy, and has always been reverenced and resorted to by Christians, with such devotion, as has drawn the city round about it; so that it stands now in the midst of Jerusalem, and a great part of the hill of Sion is shut out of the walls, to make room for the admission of Mount Calvary: And this the rather, because it was a tradition, generally received by the primitive Christians, that the first as well as the second Adam was buried here, and that this was the place where Abraham was about to have offered his son Isaac, the type of our Blessed Lord. Wells's Geography of the New Testament, part i.
f Interpreters and others vary very much about this passage, taking it two different ways, as St Matthew, chap. xxvii. 34. and St Mark, chap. xv. 23. seem to express it. Some will have it, that in St Matthew's sense, “ vinegar mingled with gall” was a bitter poisonous draught, to stupify the person who drank it, that by benumbing his senses he might feel less pain. Those that differ from this, say, that by the piety of some of the disciples, and not improbably of some of those good women who used to minister to Jesus, there was prepared “wine mingled with myrrh,” which, according to Pliny, was an excellent and pleasant mixture, and such as the piety and indulgence of these nations used to administer to condemned persons, to fortify their drooping spirits against the terrors of approaching death. As the design of this mixture however was, in some measure, to intoxicate the sufferer, and to make him less sensible of his pain, our Blessed Lord might therefore refuse to drink it, because it became him, who was then going to offer himself a free and voluntary sacrifice to God for the sins of men, and was to shew them a pattern how to bear afflictions with due resignation
to the Divine will, to avoid a thing which might too far discompose his thoughts, and shew too ill a precedent to his followers. To reconcile the difference then between the two evangelists, since the former affirms, that the potion offered to our Saviour was vinegar mingled with gall, the latter, wine mingled with myrrh; the easiest way is to say (with our learned Dr Lightfoot), that there were two cups offered to our Lord at the time of his passion; one of wine mixed with myrrh, by some of his friends, before he was nailed to the cross, and the other of vinegar by the soldiers, in a scoffing and insulting manner, after he was nailed to the cross; which is better than to assert, with some great names, that the ancient translator of St Matthew from the Hebrew or Syriac, mis. taking the word marra, which properly signifies bitterness, might put gall (which in Syriac is marar, and derived from the same root) instead of myrrh. Howell's History in the Notes, Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary. to The malefactors here mentioned were probably some of those factious and seditious gangs which Jūdea, at this time, was full of Under pretence of public liberty, they committed all manner of violence and outrage; and, stirring up the people against the Roman government, drew upon the nation all the calamity which afterwards befel it. As it was customary to crucify several malefactors at the same time, especially if convicted of the same crimes, our Saviour, who was accused by the Jews of seditious practices, had two, who were really guilty of that crime, executed with him, and him they placed in the midst, as in the most honourable place, purely in derision, and with the same malevolent spirit that made them array him in a purple robe, a sceptre, and a crown. Beausobre's Annotations. **** +3 In Hebrew, or the Syriac, which was then the common language of the country; in Greek, which was the language of commerce almost all the east over; and Latin, because of the majesty of the Roman empire, which, at that time, had extended its dominion over the then known world. The whole inscription, however, is said to have been written af. ter the Jewish manner, i. e. from the right hand to the left, that it might be more legible to the Jews, who, by conversing with the Romans, began now to understand a little Latin. 'almet's Commentary, and Howell’s History in the Notes,
A. M. 4031. Latin, then in vogue. This the high priest would gladly have had him alter; but, ei. *...* ther out of spite to them who had forced him upon an unjust act, or out of honour to vios, our Lord, whom he knew to be a righteous person, he positively refused to do it. _*** As soon as our Lord was fixed on the cross, (which was much about noon) the four soldiers, who were his executioners, went to dividing the poor spoil of his garments. His mantle they cut into four parts, and took each of them one; but as for his coat, because it was one entire piece, f wove without seam, and would therefore be spoiled if it were divided, for it they cast lots, and therein fulfilled a famous prophecy (a). . While he thus hung upon the cross in the most exquisite torments, several people of different denominations, the chief priests, rulers, and soldiers, most of the multitude, and almost every common passenger, insulted his misery; presuming, that a person reduced to that low estate, could never be the promised Messiah : But all the reply that he made to their bitter and reviling speeches, was only by way of petition to his heavenly Father, that in respect of their ignorance and confirmed prejudice against him, he would be pleased to overlook their barbarous treatment of him, and to pardon their provoking blasphemies, - Nay, of the two malefactors who were crucified with him ||, one of them reviled and mocked him in the same gross manner, requiring him to give the company (as they desired) a demonstration of his being the true Messiah, by rescuing both himself and them from the crosses whereon they were fixed : But the other malefactor f* reproved his companion for insulting the innocent, and while himself was receiving the just reward of his crimes, for upbraiding a person who suffered undeservedly; and then looking upon Jesus with a noble reliance, and most wonderful faith, he humbly intreated him. to retain some remembrance of him when he came into his kingdom; to which our Lord
+ Some of the fathers are of opinion, that this coat
Luke xxiii. 39. (where it is said, “one of the male. factors, that was hanged, railed on him,”) we may be apt to fancy some contradiction in the evangelists: But this the commentators reconcile, by shewing, that it is a very common thing in the Hebrew style,
- to use the plural number instead of the singular: As
when it is said, that the ark rested on the mountains
returned him this most gracious promise of speedy felicity +, “To day shalt thou be from Maui. with me in paradise.” - o ão: In the mean time, there stood by our Saviour's cross, sad spectators of this dismal is to on. tragedy, the Holy Virgin-Mother, Mary the wife of Alphaeus to, Mary Magdalene, and ...". John his beloved apostle; to whose care and protection he recommended his sorrowfuljohn on to
mother #5, and from that time forward he took her to his house, and all along paid” ".
her the respect due to a parent. e - -
+ The word paradise comes from the Hebrew, or rather from the Chaldee, pardes; and according to the force of the original it should properly signify an orchard, or plantation of fruit trees, as in some passa. ges of the Old Testament, particularly in Neh. ii. 8. it denotes a forest. The Septuagint make use of the word sized?izes, when they speak of the garden of
Eden, which the Lord planted in the beginning of.
the world, and therein placed our first parents. The Jews commonly call paradise the garden of Eden, and they imagine that at the coming of the Messiah they shall there enjoy an earthly felicity, in the midst of all sorts of delights, and till the resurrection and the coming of the Messiah, they think their souls shall abide here in a state of rest. In the books of the New Testament the word paradise is put for a place of delight, where the souls of the blessed enjoy everlasting happiness; but where our Lord promises the penitent thief, that he “should be with him in paradise,” it is thought by the generality of the fathers that he means heaven itself; though modern commentators make no more of it, than that state of felicity which God has appointed for the reception of the pious, until the time of the general resurrection. Whether the place of departed souls is above, within, or beneath the highest heavens; whether there is one common receptacle for the souls of the righteous and unrighteous till the resurrection; or whether, from their departure out of their bodies, they dwell in separate mansions (as is more probable), are specula-tions we are no ways concerned to be inquisitive about, whilst we are satisfied of this main truth, that the righteous are, in the intermediate-time between their death and resurrection, in a state of happiness, and the wicked in a state of misery. For, as far as our apprehensions of these matters go, a material place can no ways contribute, either to encrease or to diminish the happiness or misery of an immaterial spirit. Spirits that are divested of flesh and blood, - wherever they are, carry heaven or hell along with them. The good angels are as happy here upon earth, whilst they are employed in the execution of God's will, as whilst they are conversant in the regions above, because “they do always behold the face of God, in whose presence is fulness of joy;” and Satan was no more happy, when “he came among the sons of God to present himself before the Lord,” Job. i. 6. than he was, when he was “going to and fro in the earth.” The happiness and misery of pure spirits hath no relation, that we know of, to the place where they are; but the happiness and misery of embodied spirits, or of men who are made up of souls and bodies, have a dependance upon the place of their abode:
and therefore we are sure, that wherever separate souls are lodged till the resurrection, after the resurrection righteous and wicked men shall have places allotted to them suitable to their different states; the former shall be carried up to the highest heavens, and the latter shall be thrown down to the nethermost hell. Calmet's Commentary, and Bishop Smalridge's Sermons. +* That Alphaeus and Cleophas were one and the same person, is plain from hence,—That James, who is called the son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, is the same with James the son of Alphaeus; as indeed, in the Hebrew tongue, Alphaeus and Cleophas differ only in the manner in which the Greeks have written or pronounced these two names. It is thought that she was the sister of the Holy Virgin, and the mother of James the Less, of Joses, of Simeon, and of Judas, who in the Gospel are called the brethren of our Lord, i.e. his cousins-german. When or where she died, is a matter of much uncertainty: But the Greeks keep the eighth of April in memory of the holy wo. men who brought perfumes to embalm the body of Christ, and pretend, at this time, to have their bodies at Constantinople, in the church of the Holy Virgin, built by Justin II, though others talk of the translation of her body in particular into the city of Veroli near Rome; while others again pretend, that it is in a little city of Provence, called the Three Marys, on the banks of the Rhone, and of the sea. . All fictions equally credible! Calmet's Dictionary under the word Mary' of Cleophas. to The generality of commentators do infer from hence, that her husband Joseph was at this time dead, and therefore our Lord took care that she should not be destitute, by charging his beloved disciple to treat her as his mother; and he accordingly not only received her into his own house, as long as he continued in Palestine, but, when he removed to Ephesus, took her along with him, where (according to the account of the fathers of the council held there) she is said to have died, and been buried in a very old age. Others however maintain, that she died, and was buried at Jerusalem, and they farther add, that the apostles being dispersed in different parts of the world to labour in the preaching of the Gospel, were all on a sudden miraculously transported to Jerusalem, that they might be present at the decease of the Blessed Virgin; that after her death they buried her in the valley of Gethsemane, where, for three whole days, were heard concerts of heavenly singers; and that at the end of the three days, when the concert ceased, and St Thomas, who had not been present at the burial, was desirous to see