« PreviousContinue »
"With respect to the persons on whom this punishment was inflicted, we have seen that the Carthaginian leader was not exempt from it. Elsewhere, especially among - - - the Romans, only the lowest malefactors were condemned to the cross. It was peculiarly appropriated for slaves. - - - Crucifixion is always called servile supplicium by the Latin writers."
From these quotations, as well as from the statements of Witsius, it is evident that crucifixion did not always take place in an exactly uniform manner. When speaking of the cross of Christ, therefore, it becomes us to guard against peremptory assertions, with regard to circumstances not clearly determined by the narrative of the Evangelists.-That this form of capital punishment was extremely painful, and among the Romans at least considered ignominious to the last degree, is quite indisputable. The remarks of our Author on its being an accursed death seem scriptural and just.-" The offence of the cross," as it related both to Jews and Gentiles, is ably illustrated by Dr Campbell in his excellent Sermon on 1 Cor. i. 25. Part 1.*
NOTE XIV. Page 87.
That the death of Christ was entirely voluntary, or that he most willingly submitted to death in the room of his people, is abundantly clear from the whole tenor of the Old and New Testament. His cheerful resignation, too, was no doubt signified in his expiring moments by his deliberately bowing the head, and by the memorable expression which he uttered with a loud voice," Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit."
The voluntary nature of Christ's death, however, it may be observed, does not necessarily imply, that he caused his human soul, in a peculiar and miraculous manner, to depart from the body somewhat prior to the time when his sufferings naturally tended to effect a dissolution. It is certain that, though he continued alive on the cross during the space of about three hours, he expired sooner than was usual. Yet as Secker particularly states, the agonies of his soul in the garden, added to his various bodily sufferings, served to exhaust his vigour. "He had suffered the whole night before, and all that day a course of barbarous treatment, sufficient to wear down the strength of a much rougher and robuster make than probably his was."+
Scotch Preacher, Vol. iii. Ser. 8.
+ Works, Vol. iv. Lectures on the Creed, p. 288.
The expression in Mat. xxvii. 50, à¤¶nes to vμ, is translated by Dr Campbell-resigned his spirit. In a note on that verse, the Doctor observes, that these words are correctly rendered in the authorized version-yielded up the ghost, though the phrase is somewhat antiquated. With regard to Doddridge's expression-dismissed his spirit, Campbell has the following remarks. "He thinks, after Jerome, that there was something miraculous in our Lord's death, and supposes it to have been the immediate effect of his own volition. Whether this was the case or not, the words here used give no support to the hypothesis. The phrase pievas ar Juxur, which is very similar, is used by the Seventy, Gen. xxxv. 18. speaking of Rachel's death. The like expression often occurs in Josephus and other Greek writers. Nay, an example has been produced from Euripides of this very phrase, a vμx, for expired."
NOTE XV. Page 98.
Our Author appears to consider the Saviour's expulsion from Jerusalem as particularly intended by Moses and Elias, when, on the mount of transfiguration, as we are informed Luke ix. 31. " they spake of his decease, odos, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." The term iodos, exodus, literally signifies a departure, an exit, or going forth. It has been used in different acceptations. It is the expression employed by the Seventy to denote the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. In the Greek writers it often means death, and in this sense too it is used not only in Wisd. iii. 2. but also in 2 Pet. i. 15. where the Apostle says; "Moreover, I will endeavour that ye may be able, after my decease, odor, to have these things always in remembrance." The Greek classics sometimes employ it to signify a military expedition; and hence Dr Hammond, with some others, has adopted the opinion, that in Luke ix. 31. it refers to "Christ's victory over the impenitent Jews in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans." This interpretation, however, seems quite unnatural. Lightfoot's idea that the expression is inclusive both of the death and the ascension of Christ, is more rational and natural. Our translators, nevertheless, have justly and unexceptionably rendered it his decease.
Our Lord's exit from Jerusalem, when he was led forth as a condemned malefactor without the gates of the city, to which Witsius applies the expression, was no doubt an affecting circumstance attending his decease. But his decease itself, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem, is the point which the Evangelist specifies as the
sink us to the lowest hell. Christian activity and Christian selfdenial are highly useful, and indispensably necessary in their own place; but neither of them must be regarded as a make-weight to complete the efficacy of the Mediator's righteousness, or permitted to share with him the honour of effecting expiation, and meriting redemption.-Candour requires it to be added, that, notwithstanding this unguarded passage, the work from which it is extracted deserves a place on the same shelf with Baxter's Reformed Pastor and Burnet's Pastoral Care, and is worthy of an attentive perusal from every candidate for the sacred office.
NOTE XVIII. Page 109.
Proper names that were common among the Jews, were sometimes given with a peculiar emphasis. The name ELIAKIM, accordingly, which signifies, My God will strengthen, establish, or advance me, though borne by many others, was emphatically given to the son of Hilkiah, who was raised by Providence to a very eminent station, and signally supported in the discharge of its duties. Our Saviour's express application to himself in Rev. iii. 7. of the remarkable description of Eliakim's power in Is. xxii. 22. seems greatly to confirm the idea that the prophecy respecting the elevation of Hilkiah's son to the office of treasurer has an ultimate reference to the exaltation and establishment of Christ as the head and ruler of the Church.-Witsius considers the Messiah as the true Eliakim, not only because the Father has advanced and established him as our Mediator, but also because the church is indebted to this Divine Saviour for spiritual establishment.-Although it may admit of dispute whether he be strictly correct in point of taste, when he represents the cross which Jesus bore as the key of the house of David, our Author without doubt ascribes no virtue to the cross which it doth not in reality possess. See Vitringa on the whole passage, Is. xxii. 20—25; and for an explanation of the manner in which a key could be borne on the shoulder, see Lowth's note on verse 22.
Note XIX. Page 119.
In the first edition of the original work it is said; "It behoved him not to remain in the grave, lest the curse should seem to continue after death."* But in the subsequent editions the expression
epulchro manendum non erat, ne post mortem superesse videretur ma
to the Colossians" Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church." By "the afflictions of Christ," it is clear, we are to understand, not the afflictions which Christ himself suffered, but those which he appointed Paul to suffer. A certain measure of suffering, wonderfully diversified in different individuals, with regard to degree, duration and other circumstances, is allotted to every member of Christ's spiritual body; and Paul, after all the conflicts he had previously sustained, found great pleasure in filling up that which remained of the portion assigned him. To imagine that the sufferings of Apostles, martyrs, or of any class of Christians, are added to the vicarious sufferings of Christ, in order to co-operate with them in making satisfaction to Divine justice and procuring forgiveness, would be to tarnish the Saviour's glory, and to overthrow the sufficiency of that one atoning sacrifice by which "he perfected for ever, them that are sanctified." When Paul informs us that he suffered " for Christ's body's sake, which is the church," he is far from intimating, as Popish interpreters contend, that his labours and sufferings were meritorious of pardon for the church. His obvious meaning is, that the magnanimity he discovered under persecution for the sake of the Gospel, while it gave a striking evidence of his own sincerity, served to confirm the faith of his fellow Christians. See Philip. i. 12. et seq. ii. 17.2 Cor. i. 4-7. This interpretation of the passage is supported, amongst others, by Doddridge and Guyse, and by Daillée in his excellent Discourses on the Epistle to the Colossians.
It were to be wished that Protestant writers would uniformly avoid expressions calculated to lead men to place that reliance either on their own performances, or their own distresses, which they ought to build on the finished work of Christ. The following sentence, which occurs in a very pious and useful publication, may be quoted as a specimen of such incautious expressions. When recommending to ministers of the Gospel self-denial and mortification to the present world, the author says; " By the appointment of God, the expiation of sin seems to be made by suffering, and therefore we ought to show our readiness to have a fellowship, and to co-operate with the great Sufferer, by cheerfully bearing what we can of the burden." Alas! did the slightest portion of guilt remain to be expiated by our own sufferings, its deadly weight would inevitably
Heb. x. 14.
+ Lectures on the Nature and End of the Sacred Office, &c. by the late Dr. John Smith, one of the Ministers of Campbelton, Lect. vi.
to the latter than the former idea. But in either case, the deep veneration which these worthy counsellors entertained for the crucified Jesus, as a person of extraordinary dignity, was testified by the magnificent abundance of the spices.
NOTE XXI. Page 127.
Our Author justly numbers Psalm xvi. 9, 10. among the predictions of the Messiah's burial; for whilst these important verses refer directly to his resurrection, they clearly presuppose his death and sepulture. Though in a subordinate sense they are in part applicable to David the son of Jesse and to every genuine saint, yet, as the Apostle Peter shows, in the passage quoted by Witsius, it is in the Messiah alone that they receive their proper and complete fulfilment. Nor does our Author propose a rash or ill-supported version, when he remarks that the first clause of the 10th verse, which our translators have rendered, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," should be translated, "Thou wilt not leave my corpse in the grave.”
Notwithstanding the elaborate reasonings of Campbell, Bennet,† and others, to the contrary, it is certain that Sheol sometimes signifies the grave. In proof of this, Witsius himself in another passage‡ produces Ps. cxli. 7. xlix. 14. Gen. xxxvii. 35. See also "Strictures on Dr Campbell's Dissertation on 'Ads,"§ where the respectable writer considers particularly Ps. cxli. 7. Jer. viii, 1, 2. Ezek. xxxii. 27. and Is. xiv. 15. as well as Ps. xvi. 10. and appears irrefragably to establish his assertion, that Sheol doth sometimes mean the grave. The same opinion, too, is maintained by Pearson. || With regard to Nephesh, the word which the common version renders soul, Campbell admits that "it is sometimes used for a dead body." But the truth is, that it is often used in this sense, and that it is difficult, if at all possible, to specify any passage where it decidedly means a departed spirit. See the remarks of Witsius in his 16th Dissertation, sect. 13th; Parkhurst on we vi. and the "Strictures" just referred to." Thou wilt not leave my dead body in the grave," appears, therefore, to be a just interpretation of the clause in question.-To this rendering it is vain to object, that
inary Dissertations, Diss. vi. Part 2.
Maneshamoth, or a View of the Intermediate State, by the Rev.
t, chap. xvi. pp. 275-313.
Sect. 10, 11.
Christian Repository, Vol. iv. pp, 389-399, 648-658.