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Among these were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses, who sat over against the sepulchre, and beheld how, and where, his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments, and rested the sabbath day, according to the commandment. Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, the chief Priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: So the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as you can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.'
THE PREPARATORY PRAYER.
O FAITHFUL Saviour, who was crucified in weakness, but now livest in power, and canst forever save all those who come to God through thee; It is our purpose now to consider the concluding scene of thy sufferings on mount Golgotha. O thou crucified Love! be pleased to favour this our weak attempt, and make it conducive to the glory of thy name. Give us a lively sense of our incapacity so to conduct these Considerations, that they may be a real benefit and blessing to us. Grant that this sense of our weakness may awaken in us an earnest desire of the Divine assistance, and the influence of thy Spirit ; and satisfy this desire, by giving us all those talents and graces, which thou thyself knowest to be necessary towards an edifying consideration of thy suf ferings. Amen.
THE LORD JESUS LED TO HIS CRUCIFIXION.
IN the preceding Considerations, we have discoursed of the several sufferings which our dear Mediator, for our sins, endured on the Mount of Olives; before the spiritual court of the Jews; and the civil tribunal of Pilate and Herod.
It now remains, that we consider his sufferings on Mount Golgotha, the place appointed by the infinite wisdom of God for the conclusion of our blessed Lord's meritorious afflictions. The beginning of this remarkable transaction runs thus.
'Then the soldiers took the purple robe off from Jesus, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And Jesus went forth, bearing And there were also two other malefactors led with him, to be put to death. And as they led Jesus away, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who passed by, coming out of the country: And they laid hold on him, and compelled him to bear his cross; and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed him a great company of people, and of women who also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children,' &c. (Matt. xxvii. 31, 32. Mark xv. 20, 21. Luke xxiii. 26-32. John xix. 16, 17.)
These words exhibit to us the mournful procession of the blessed Jesus to his crucifixion. Our blessed Lord had, in his former sufferings, been forced to take several painful and ignominious walks. From the mount of Olives he had been hurried, bound as a prisoner, to Annas; from Annas to Caiaphas, from
Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate; and consequently, he may be supposed to have passed through most of the streets in Jerusalem. Now our blessed Saviour was to take his last mournful walk, when he was led as a malefactor from Pilate's house to the place of execution.
Jesus was led away immediately after sentence had been pronounced on him by Pilate. • Then,' (John xix. 16.) i. e. immediately after this, Pilate delivered him up to the Roman soldiers, in order to be crucified; for among the Romans, the soldiers were usually the executioners in such cases. The Ro man emperor Tiberius, who then sat on the throne, had, about seven years before, issued an order, That no criminal should be executed until ten days after sentence had been pronounced upon him. But the benefit of this edict did not extend to murderers and rebels, it being judged necessary for the public tranquility that such delinquents should be immediately put to death. Our blessed Saviour therefore was not intitled to this privilege; for he had been indicted as a mover of sedition and a rebel, and one whom the Jews were for sending out of the world with all possible dispatch, as a pest to the commonwealth, and a scandal to the Jewish church. Nay, they urged the Roman governor with such vehemence, that he was obliged to give orders for the immediate execution of the sentence. No one offered to prepare Jesus for death; no one interposed in his favour, or spoke a word of exhortation or comfort to him; but he was dragged away to death with the utmost precipitancy, as one that was past all hopes of amendment, and unworthy of the notice of the humane and charitable. He, indeed, stood in no need of comfort or preparation for death; for he was long since prepared for it, by his patient submission and willingness to suffer; but he denied himself all human comforts, that he might acquire for us a right to expect divine conso
lations in our last hours. By the precipitancy with which he was led to death, he moved his heavenly Father to grant to every one, in his preparation for death, as much time as would be necessary; and has likewise sanctified the sufferings of his faithful servants, when they are suddenly surprised by the impatient barbarity of their persecutors, who allow them no time for recollection, or preparation for death. Thus every circumstance of our blessed Saviour's sufferings is a source of comfort and blessing to his followers.
But now let us take a nearer view of the last mournful walk of the blessed Jesus, to his execution. By the above account we may see,
First, How, and in what manner, he was led to Golgotha.
Secondly, The company which attended him thither.
Thirdly, What happened to him by the way.
Fourthly, What our blessed Lord said, as he was led to his crucifixion.
I. As to the manner in which our blessed Saviour was led away to execution, the evangelical history informs us, that he was clothed in his own raiment, and bore his cross. That he was led away clothed in his own raiment, we are told by St. Matthew and St. Mark, in these words: Then the soldiers took the purple robe off from Jesus, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.' The Lord Jesus had, a little before, among other mockeries and insults he endured in Pilate's judgment-hall, been dressed up in an old purple man... tle; and in this garb he was afterwards led away, and made a show of to the whole Jewish people, as a mock king. But now as he was to be carried to the place of execution, the soldiers took off from him this purple mantle, and put on him his own upper garment, that he might be the more easily known by the spectators; since it is probable, that his sacred face was
so swelled, and disfigured by blood, &c. that very few, who had even seen him before, would have known that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was led to execution. The wreath of thorns very probably remained on his head, as a public mark that the crime for which he was crucified was, That he had, in a seditious manner, according to the superscription over his head, given himself out to be the king of the Jews. The purple robe was left behind in the judgment-hall. But as this robe must probably in some parts have stuck to his body, now all bloody, and cruelly torn by scourging; the taking it off from our blessed Lord, in a rude manner, afforded new matter of sport to the insolent soldiers, as it must have caused very sensible pain to the Lord Jesus, by tearing open his stripes and wounds. So dearly did it cost the Son of God to recover for us the original garment of spotless innocence! Oh, that we may never put on our apparel, without thinking of this painful unclothing of our blessed Saviour! Certainly, such a consideration must be a powerful check to suppress in us all proud, wanton, and aspiring thoughts.
The Lord Jesus being again clothed in his own raiment, the cross was laid on his shoulders; and thus was he obliged himself to carry that heavy piece of timber on which he was to be crucified, to Golgotha. It was a custom among the Romans, that the criminal who was to be crucified, usually carried his own cross to the place of execution. But as the cross consisted of a long beam of timber, and a short transverse piece, the criminal, in carrying the cross, had his arms extended, and the transverse piece fastened to them; while the long beam was laid on his back parallel to his body, so that he dragged the lower end of it after him on the ground. To this the blessed Jesus alludes, when he forewarns Peter, that he should one day be crucified; When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shalt gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest