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maketh himself a king speaketh against Cesar.-When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat, in a place that is called the Pavement, but in Hebrew Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: And he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him! away with him! crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief Priests answered, We have no king but Cesar. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: See ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children! Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.' (Matt. xxvii. 24, 25. John xix. 12-16.) In these words we have an account of the last fruitless attempt of Pilate to release our blessed Saviour; in which we shall observe,

First, Pilate's intention.

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Secondly, The violent effort of the Jews which rendered his purpose ineffectual.

Thirdly, The consequence of his timidity and irresolution.

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I. Pilate's design is expressed in the following words: From thenceforth Pilate sought to release him,' (John xix. 12.) Pilate had already laboured with this view, and had endeavoured to compass his ends partly by fear, and partly by unwarrantable means. Now he again resolves to set about it once more, and, by an authoritative order, at once to release Jesus. This fresh attempt of Pilate, we must suppose to have been occasioned by our blessed Lord's words, when he said, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. Therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.'. In these remarkable words

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Jesus makes mention of a power given to Pilate over his person from above; but, at the same time, signifies to him, that if he abused that power, he would commit a heinous sin, and draw upon himself a grievous punishment from above. Now these were such truths as immediately touched Pilate's natural conscience to the quick; and this being added to the fear he was already seized with, on account of the information he had received that Jesus was the Son of God, excited this pagan judge to make a fresh effort to release Jesus. Hence we shall deduce the following truths:

1. A free confession of the truth has a great influence over the human mind, and is attended with a blessing.

We here see in Pilate an instance, that sometimes even the most haughty and unjust persons are moved by an ingenuous confession. A similar instance occurs in the life of St. Paul, (Acts xxvi. 31, 32.) who by a noble freedom and bold declaration of the truth, convinced his judge, that he had done nothing amiss. The same effect the declarations of the primitive Christians, in the succeeding persecutions, had on the hearts of the heathens; for by the power of truth, they made such an impression on the consciences of their judges, that they were sometimes observed to turn pale and tremble amidst all the state and pomp of their office. Let us therefore implore of God to give us the boldness of faith; and let us use it with humility and discretion according to our Saviour's example, and then it will prove a blessing to ourselves and others.

2. God sometimes causes the purposes of the wicked to turn out quite contrary to their expectations, in the event.

The chief Priests imagined, that by accusing the blessed Jesus of having made himself the Son of God, they should quite overcome Pilate's reluctancy, and make him act according to their desires. But this

accusation, on the contrary, only made Pilate the more cautious and fearful of condemning Christ, and consequently more solicitous for having him released. This is frequently the case in our days, satan and the world often combine to do all the hurt they can to a soul, that is earnestly bent on turning from them to Jesus Christ. The former assails it from within, the latter attacks it from without. Both of them endeavour to terrify the afflicted soul, so that it may cast away all hopes of deliverance. By God's superintending providence, these wicked machinations have quite another effect; for a soul thus agitated by the buffetings of satan, and the injuries of the world, is driven to prayer and repentance, and by that means to the bosom of everlasting love. Thus the goodness and wisdom of God are able to turn the most pernicious views of satan to the good of our souls. What an invaluable privilege is this of the children of God, that among all the devices of their spiritual and temporal enemies, they may be easy, confident, and undaunted? that they may joyfully say with the generous patriarch Joseph, Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,' (Gen. 1. 20.)

II. In the next place, we are to consider the violent effort, which rendered the purpose of Pilate ineffectual. As Pilate did not set out right at first, nor walk in the plain and strait path of justice, his subsequent endeavours to release Jesus proved abortive; and his resolution was so shaken by a violent tempest, that at length is was obliged to give way. For the Jews, perceiving what Pilate had in view, cried out, 'If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar's friend whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cesar.' Here the Jews have recourse again to their former accusation, and charge our blessed Lord with crimes against the Roman government. As Pilate had betrayed some visible signs of fear upon hearing the other charge, namely,

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that Jesus made himself the Son of God; they drop the theological article, and revive the old complaint, affirming that he set himself up for a king.

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But here they also give fresh force to their first accusation, by deducing from it such an alarming inference, as might well stagger Pilate's resolution.. Their inference was this: Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cesar, i. e. opposes the Roman emperor's right over the province of Judea, and thereby lays a foundation for tumults and rebellion. This position in itself is not ill grounded, When a person gives himself out to be a king, and attempts to get the government into his hands, in a country over which there is a settled sovereign, he must undoubtedly be looked on as an enemy of the reigning sovereign. But from this true position they draw a very wrong conclusion. "This Jesus, say they, gives it out in Judea that he is a king; therefore he speaks against Cesar." From this they farther conclude, that if Pilate should let this man go, he was not Cesar's friend. For how should he be a friend to the emperor, who protected a person that was his open enemy; and when the prisoner is brought before him in bonds and fetters, in order to be punished, is for letting him go, that he may again carry on his seditious practices against Cesar. This false reasoning struck this mighty statesman with a terrible panic; and he was so entangled in this web which these sophisters had spun, that he was not able to extricate himself out of it. The fear of the emperor's displeasure, with which he was indirectly threatened, shook the foundations of his good intention, so that he fluctuated between doubts and fears.

Hence we shall deduce the following truths:

1. Satan is very dexterous in attacking every man on that side, where he can make the least defence.

This was the way he went to work with Pilate. The menace of the Emperor's displeasure was a thunder-clap, which struck him with such dread and

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consternation that he could not again collect himself. Thus satan found out his weak side, where he was the least prepared for an attack. For there is nothing which ministers of state are more afraid of than their sovereign's displeasure; being very sensible, that it may be attended with disgrace and the loss of all their temporal possessions.

This advantage the subtil fiend continually makes use of, to tempt men to sin. He knows the natural constitution and predominant inclinations of every one,' and directs his temptations accordingly. He knows how to lay the bait to allure, and at other times how to terrify the sinner. The proud and ambitious man he entices to sin by the hopes of temporal honours, and terrifies him with the fear of disgrace, and of being deprived of his posts and dignities. He allures a voluptuous sensualist by the bait of carnal delights and elegant entertainments; and, on the other hand, he terrifies him with the fear of affliction, imprisonment, distress, and pain. He draws in the miser by the hopes of profit, and other temporal advantages, and terrifies him with the fear of losing his estate and money. When, for instance, a man is immoderately fond of this world, and falls into such circumstances, that, on one side, he has hopes of making great additions to his fortune by renouncing the truths of the gospel, and going over to the kingdom of darkness; but, on the other hand, by steadfastly adhering to the pure truth of the gospel, he is in danger of being strip.. ped of every thing he has; satan points his batteries against that side of the heart where it is weakest. He lays hold of him by his fondness for earthly things, and suggests to him, that he may for once set aside his conscience, otherwise he must be reduced to want and poverty. At the same time, he represents the danger to be very great, and the loss irretrievable; so that at length, the unwary sinner, unless some higher strength enable him to withstand the temptation, and his soul be fortified by grace, surrenders himself on

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