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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

Nerves,

Pfal. xxii. 17

Nerves, than Others have Occasion for. And, since all
Sensation is performed by the Spirits in these Nerves,
wheresoever They abound, the Sense must needs, in Pro-
portion, be more quick and tender. And in this Case
we are to consider, not only the Hands and Feet, as pier-
ced through with Iron Pins; and these so large, that
Thomas, required for his Conviction, to thrust bis Fin-
ger into the Print of them: But the Weight of the whole
Body hanging upon those Fastenings, and those tor-
menting Distortions of the Limbs, which the Pfalmist
signified, when (speaking in the Person of our Saviour)
he complains, They pierced my Hands and
my Feet, I may tell all my Bones. If the Bit-
terness of this Pain had been in any Degree recompen-
sed by the Shortness, it had yet been more tolerable.
But alas ! it was a very now and lingering, as well as an
exceeding sharp, Death. For, tho' the Misery was so
great, yet none of the Vitals were immediately affect-
ed. But the Body continued thus stretched out, till ex-
cess of Anguish had by degrees quite exhausted the Spi-
rits, and driven out the Soul. Our Blessed Saviour, we
are told expressly, continued thus Three long Hours,
in Languishings and Thirsts, and leisurely Pangs of
approaching Death. And at last, with strong Cries and
Groans, gave up the Ghost. What a tedious Torment
is this, in Comparison of those Executions, that Male-
factors commonly undergo ; where the Seat of Life is
immediately assaulted, and the Sense of Pain can be but
very short? The Romans themselves, who used this Pu-
nishment, were frequently so compassionate, as to stran-
gle the Party first, and content themselves with expo-
sing the dead Body upon the Cross. But, in our Savi-
our's Case there was no relenting, no Remains of Hu-
manity, for his Ease and Relief. Death attack'd him in
its most frightful Shape, and wrecked his utmost Spight
upon him. The Length of his Misery was so far from
being unusual, that, we are told, the Governor wondred

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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,

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Heb. ii. 14, 15.

he could not have suffered the Shame and Torment,
which the Divine Justice required, as a Satisfaction for
the Sins of Men. Had not the Proceedings against him
been injurious and unreasonable, that Death had not had
the Merit of a Sacrifice, and Expiation for the Guilty,
whose Persons he bore. Had not the Innocent Jefus thus
died, the Prince of this world had not been judged; but
That was the Devil's Condemnation, in the present Case,
that he had nothing in the Person, against whom he ex-
ercised such Cruelty. In a Word, Had he not died, he
had not conquered Death, nor led Captivity captive,
For St. Paul tells us expressly, that the Son of God was
made like unto Us, and took a Mortal Nature upon him,
that by Death he might destroy him, that had
the Power of Death, even the Devil, and
release them, who through Fear of Death, were all their
Life long subječt to Bondage. Thus did the Wicked One
fall into his own Snare, and in the same Net
that he bid privily, was his own Foot taken ;
His Devices relurned upon his own Head,
and his Mischiefs fell upon his own Pate. So vain and
blind are all the Counsels of Men, so impotent all the
Cunning and Subtlety of Hell it felf, when they under-
take to fight against God. And, (which was eminently
visible in the Death of our Blessed Saviour) The Prophe-
cies they fulfilled to a Tittle, while they did all in their
Power to evacuate them; The Divine Counsels, which
they unawares accoinplished ; and the quite contrary
Ends they served, to what they hoped and laboured to
have done ; tho' it be the most glorious, the most con-
spicuous, yet is it far from being the only, Instance, of
a Wonderful, Wise, and Almighty Providence; bring-
ing Good out of Evil, and excellent and most beneficial
Events, out of most unlikely, most ungodly, most ma-
licious Intentions. This every diligent Observer will
find Instances of, frequent enough to convince any
thinking Man, that, how casual loever things at first

I i

fight

Psal. ix. 15.

vii. 17.

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may

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

preserved

Psal. ii. 4.

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