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vided 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 Penalty for such a one, let his Mifdemeanor have been what it would. Accordingly we see what Companions our Saviour had in his Death, how he was numbred among the worst of Transgressors, and
(according to the Prophet) made his Isaiah liii. 9.
Grave with the wicked. Nay, so very odious and abominable was this Punishment, that, when they had a mind to brand the Memory of any very fagitious People, Traitors to the State, and common Enemies to Mankind; We are told, that they thought it a most effectual way to fix an indelible Infamy upon them, to hang their Pictures thus ; and to crucify those in Effigy, whom they could not serve so, in their own Persons. Herein then we perceive the unspeakable Condescension of our Blessed Saviour, who did not only vouchsafe to die, but did not disdain the most ignominious Death, that the Malice and Scorn of his Enemies could inflict; To take upon him the Form of the meanest Servant, nay of the basest and blackest Criminal. That be became obedient unto Deatb, was a most astonishing Instance of Humility; but to stoop so very low, as the Death of the Cross, this was to make himself of no Reputation indeed.
Secondly, This Death was terrible above Others, not only for the Scandal and Disgrace, but for the extreme Pain and Torture of it. And of this the very Manner is enough to convince us. For, the Form of a Cross being that of Two Pofts cutting one another to right Angles; On That which stood upright, the Body was fastned, by nailing the Feet to it; and to the other transverse Piece, by nailing the Hands on each side. The Pain whereof must needs be most acute, because these parts of the Body, being the Instrurnents of Action and Motion, are provided by Nature with a much greater Quantity of
Pfal. xxii. 17
Nerves, than Others have Occasion for. And, since all
and in Proportion, of all, who depend upon Human Force and Subtlety, for compassing of wicked Designs. And here, Who can sufficiently admire the Wifdom of Almighty God, who thus ordered the Great Work of Man's Redemption, in despight of all the Malice and Subtlety of the Devil, and his wicked Instruments, to the contrary? The Envy and Spight of the Chief Priests and Pharisees, the Easiness and Fury of the Common People, the Rage and Insolence of the Soldiers, the profligate Consciences of false Witnesses, the Treachery and Avarice of one of Christ's own Disciples, the Timorousness of a corrupt and time-serving Judge; the Barbarity of Those, who derided, and scourged, and crucified him, and insulted over his dying Agonies and Pains; All these were made use of by the Enemy of Mankind, to destroy Jesus, and to overthrow his Kingdom, and to root out his Name, and all Honour for it, from anong Men. And yet see, how vain all these Attempts were in the Event. They were over-ruled by Providence, so as to bring about those very Purposes, which the Actors, and the Evil Spirit who set those Engines at work, laboured to defeat. They, every one, conspired to render the Matter more glorious, more uniform, more exactly conformable to the original Scheme and Design marked out for it; and Each contributed to finish that Work, which Some of them knew not of, which Others opposed, which None of them in the least intended. This was the only way they could think of, for ruining the Reputation of Jesus, and blotting out the remembrance of his Miracles and his Doctrine; And yet, in reality, it was the only way, by which his Gospel could be Established, beyond all Contradiction, and to all future Ages. For, Had not these Men been so exceedingly, so perversely barbarous and wicked, This Holy Teacher, this Innocent Liver, this General Benefactor to Wretches in Distress, could never have been taken off by so Ignominious a Death, Had he not been put to such a Death,
Heb. ii. 14, 15.
he could not have suffered the Shame and Torment,
Psal. ix. 15.
fight may appear, yet there is one that Eph. i. 11.
ruleth over all, and worketh after the Counsel of his own Will. Therefore, how successful or formidable soever the Enemies of Truth and Goodness seem in our Eyes; yet they cannot bind the Hands, nor cross the Purposes of the great Governor of the World. He will affert his own Honour, and do Right to his Suffering and injured Servants ; and even then, when the Wicked think themselves most secure, will shew then their Folly, and blast them with the Breath of his Displeasure. Blessed therefore be his wife and watchful Providence, which thus consults his own Honour, and the Good of his Beloved Ones, by dark and mysterious Ways! Blessed be that admirable Management and Skill, which turns even the Obstinacy of Wicked Men, and their Attempts against Religion, into Means of promoting and securing It! Blessed for ever be that amazing Goodness, which turned an unexampled Murther into a most precious Sacrifice; transformed the Ignominy of the Cross into a Banner of
Honour and Triumph; And, when the Aēts iv. 26, 27
Princes and Rulers, with Herod and Pon
tius Pilate, were gathered against Him and his Christ, looked down from Heaven with Scorn, and had them in Derision ; put a Hook in his Nose, and a Bridle in their Lips; and, while they gratified their own implacable Malice, suffered that Malice to suggest no other things to them, than what himself had long ago determined, and his Prophets foretold, should be so done. Blessed be that Wisdom, which thus made Sin inftrumental to destroy Sin: which, of the Blood shed by wicked Hands, opened a Fountain to wath away Uncleanness; and appointed the Holy Jesus, treated as a vile Malefactor, for a Prince and Saviour, nay for the only, the efficacious Author of Eternal Salvation, to all that sincerely believe and obey him! Blessed, Lastly, be that Truth, which thus
Psal. ii. 4.