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per occasions, is to be learned only in the school of our crucified Saviour. For the inordinate desires of the heart are crucified on the cross of Christ, and are thus brought into due order; whereas they would otherwise extend their dominion over the tongue, and make it speak or be silent, just as the interest of selflove required. On the other hand by the grace imparted to us by Jesus Christ, we acquire an undaunted freedom to open our mouths and speak boldly, when the honour of God, and the good of our neighbour require it; though we foresee at the same time, that it will draw hatred and contempt upon us.
Teach us, O blessed Jesus, that great wisdom which no human skill can acquire. Keep the door of our lips, that we may learn to be silent when thy honour will not be promoted by our speaking. On the other hand, open thou our mouths by thy secret Ephatha, when we are called upon to defend thy honour and bear witness to the truth.
4. He that knows the danger of being entrusted with worldly power and authority, will not boast of such power when he is possessed of it; nor will he too eagerly desire it, if he has it not.
Probably, Pilate would have less to answer for in the great day of account, if his power in the days of his life had been less extensive. This will also be the unhappy case of many others. As carnal men abuse all the precious gifts of Heaven; as they employ their riches in riot and excess, and dedicate their beauty to voluptuousness, their learning and parts to wicked. devices; so do they generally abuse the power which God has committed to their care, in their respective offices. How few, alas, know how to make a right use of it! how many convert it into an instrument of destruction to themselves and others! That officer, who has but fifty or a hundred men under his command, immediately fancies that he may do with them as he pleases; that he may treat them with the utmost haughtiness and cruelty; and that none of them
inust dare to open his mouth against his arbitrary proceedings. But, alas, how wretchedly do these men deceive themselves! Men in power should consider, that they are partakers of the same common humanity with those whom they command; that they have naturally no superiority over them; that God is the only potentate; (1 Tim. vi. 15.) and that they owe their power to his free Grace, who has imparted to them the image of his supreme dominion, and has placed them over others in the kingdom of his power. But at the same time, they should reflect, that God will, one day, require of them a strict account, how they have used the power they had been entrusted with; and that he will then shew mercy to the poor and oppressed, but as the book of Wisdom expresses it, (Matt. vi. 2-7.) will mightily torment the mighty men, i. e. those who have used their power to the oppression of others, and contrary to the end for which it was ordained. If these things were duly considered, those who are in authority would use their power with fear and trembling. We should not envy others their power, nor, when we see how the high and mighty are obeyed at a word, wish for their exalted stations. Let us rather sit down contented in a low and humble station, as it exposes us to less danger here, and we shall have the less to answer for hereafter.
Give us herein to be of thy mind, Oblessed Jesus, who in the humble state of thine abasement, wast subject to every ordinance of man, and, in the glorious state of thine exaltation, didst ese thy unlimited power for the benefit of mankind, and the good of thy church. Grant that all subjects may imitate thee in the former, and that all sovereigns and persons in power may follow thy illustrious example in the lat
5. It was for our pride and haughtiness, which would not be controlled by the Divine law, that the Son of God subjected himself to the power of a foreign judge.
Alas! the only Son of the Father, the judge of all flesh, would never have suffered himself to be brought before the tribunal of a Roman governor, and hear from him these insulting words, Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?' if it had not been for our fall. Our minds were filled with aspiring thoughts; nothing but absolute freedom and independency would satisfy us; and we were for being our own masters, without any superior to control us. This haughty temper is innate in the meanest peasant, who, naturally, will neither submit to God or man. Therefore, He from whom men hold their power himself submitted to human power, and, in order to atone for our arrogance and refractoriness, humbled himself under the authority of a Pagan judge. But if we would receive any benefit from Christ's abasement, we must not continue under the dominion of this natural depravity; but, with shame, sorrow, and contrition, bring our rebellious, refractory minds, which would tear asunder the bands of all order and society, to the obedience of the cross, and pray that our ungovernable pride may be changed into submission and lowliness.
O my Saviour! do thou subdue our hearts, and break our stubborn tempers, and make them conformable to thy gentle, passive, and obedient mind. Give us such a ready willingness to submit to all lawful authority, that we may rather choose to obey than to command.
He, who suffers himself to be seduced to sin by others, is by no means innocent in the sight of God; though the person that seduced him has more to answer for.
The guilt of the seducer most certainly exceeds that of the seduced, and consequently the former may expect a heavier judgment than the latter. This is evident from the words of our blessed Saviour: He who delivered me unto thee,' and thus seduced thee to all these acts of injustice, hath the greater sin."
In these words, our blessed Lord allows that there are degrees of sin. Judas, Annas, and Caiphas, together with the great council of the Jews, sinned more in their proceedings against Christ, than Pilate did: For they had more knowledge; their sin was preceded by longer consultations; they had likewise received more admonitions; they were under a greater obligation, by shewing a good example, to set Pilate in the right way; and lastly, they added hypocrisy to their wickedness, and abused the word of God, by making it a cloak for their villainy. Hence are derived the following rules, by which we may measure the degrees of those sins, which are committed under different circumstances.
1. The more knowledge any person is endowed with, the greater is his sin, (Luke xii. 47.)
2. The more premeditation precedes any sin, the greater is the sin; since such previous consideration shews the force of the sinful purpose, and a pertena. cious perseverance in wickedness.
3. The more admonitions have preceded any sinful act, the greater is the sin.
4. The greater the obligation a person has to set a good example to others, the greater the sin which he commits.
5. The more hypocrisy is intermixed with a wicked action, the greater is the sin. But at present I shall wave any farther enlargement upon this subject.
We shall at this time only take notice of the following rule, namely, That the sin of the seducer is greater than the sin of the seduced; and this observation is so clearly proved by the words of the Lord Jesus, as to be above all contradiction. O that this truth may be particularly attended to by all those, who have made such progress in satan's school, that he can use them as engines to seduce others. Is it not sufficient, ye sons of wickedness, that you treasure up against the day of wrath and the just judgment of God, a treasure of wrath, by your own sins? Will ye
increase your damnation by seducing others to com mit sins, which will be placed to your enormous account? Acknowledge your heinous guilt; lament the malignity of your hearts; humble yourselves before your Lord and Saviour, who humbled himself under this kind of suffering, to obtain for you the forgiveness of your deep guilt, and the grace of repentance and amendment. But if satan has made you seducers of others, be earnest in your prayers, that you may be changed by the Divine grace; so that others may be edified by your example, and brought into the way of life.
WE thank thee, O heavenly Father, for giving up thy dear Son to a foreign power, that he might expiate and atone for our fall and disobedience, by which we had, as far as in us lay, withdrawn ourselves from our obedience to thee. We beseech thee, that thou wilt, by thy holy spirit, soften and humble our stubborn hearts and our refractory will, and move us to a sincere repentance, and faith in thy Son. We also thank thee, O faithful Saviour, that thou didst submit to be thus humbled and debased, that we might be exalted. Make us partakers of thy merit for the remission of our sins, and grant that we may follow thy example, and tread in thy footsteps; so that by submitting ourselves with thee here, we may also reign with thee hereafter. Amen.
PILATE'S LAST, BUT FEEBLE ENDEAVOUR TO RELEASE THE LORD JESUS.
' AND from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: But the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend: Whosoever