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2. “They did spit in his face. This both by Jews and Gentiles has ever been accounted a mark of the utmost contempt. It sensibly grieved the patient Job, that the children of base men did not spare to spit in his face ;' (Job xxx. 8, 10.) and in the Old Testament, when any one refused to raise up a family for his brother who died without issue, by marrying his widow, she was in the presence of the elders to pull off his shoe, and spit in his face. Here a mean rabble impiously presume to spit on him, who is infinitely superior to Job. What an affecting sight must this have been, to see that amiable, benign countenance, which even angels delighted to behold, all covered over with loathsome spittle ?
How is a true believer humbled at the consideration of this inconceivable abasement of the Son of God? And when he reflects, that this sacred face, the express image of the invisible God was here insulted with mocking and spitting, he cries out, “Oh, the incomprehensible prodigy, both of divine love and human wickedness! How is it, O Lord, that thy sacred face was covered with spittle and bruises ? that face, resplendent with divine glory; that face, which on Mount Tabor shone like the meridian sun; that face, before which adoring angels veil their faces, as dazzled with its insupportable effulgence. It is I that deserve to be spit on; it is I that deserve to be driven from God's presence; for I have not forbore to sin before his face, who is present every where. I thank thee, my Lord and Saviour, for such an astonishing abasement. But thou thyself hast been pleased to reveal to me the sacred motives and generous views, that induced thee to submit to it, by saying, • For thy sake, O God, I have borne reproaches; shame hath covered my face : The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.' (l'salm Ixix 7, 9.) Hence I learn, that the honour of thy Almighty Father to which thou wast to make satisfaction, together with the greatness and heinousness VOL. I.
of my sins, which thou as our surety didst take on thee, required that thou shouldest be outraged as the disgrace of mankind. Praise and honour be to thee, ( Lamb of God, for these proofs of thine obedienee to thy Heavenly Father, and thy tender love to my soul."
3. “They smote him with the palms of their hands, or with rods.'
4. “They buffeted,' or smote him with their fists. St. Luke, indeed, expresses these insults in one single phrase; but St. Matthew and St. Mark make use of two different words, denoting, that some struck our blessed Saviour on the cheeks with the palms of their hands, and likewise on that sacred mouth, which had always most religiously observed the law of truth. Thus they insulted him as a liar and false prophet; as Zedekiah struck the prophet Micah on the cheek; and Pashur offered the same indignity to Jeremiah. (1 Kings xxii. 24. Jer. xx. 2.)
5. * They blindfolded him,' i. e. they either covered his face, or held their hands before his eyes. It was a custom among the Orientals, to cover the heads of persons under sentence of death, of which There is an instance in the story of Haman; (Esther vii. 8.) and this custom was not unknown among the Romans. Possibly the majesty of our blessed Lord's eyes was more than these servants could bear; and therefore they covered them, that his piercing looks might not disturb these wretches in their insolent wantonness. Besides, their execrable view in, this insult was, to make a pastime of the sufferings of our Saviour, by blindfolding and striking him, and then asking who gave him the blow. Therefore it is immediately added,
6. “They struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is it that smote thee ?? Thus they make a mock of the eternal wisdom, and ridicule our Lord's prophetic office for which the Father had sanctified him, and sent
him into the world. Jesus had before acknowledged himself to be the Messiah ; and at the same time, when he made that acknowledgment, disclosed an effulgent ray of his omniscience, saying, “Henceforth shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.' (Matt. xxvi. 64.) Moreover, our blessed Lord was acknowledged throughout all Israel as a prophet; and, but a few days before, at his entrance into Jerusalem, the people with loud acclamations had publicly proclaimed, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee.' (Matt. xxi. 11.) Now, as prophets not only foretold things to come, but likewise used to discover secret things, as appears from the example of Elisha ; (2 Kings vi. 26.) so they require the Lord Jesus to give them a proof of his prophetic knowledge, by telling them, who were the particular persons that struck him while he was blindfolded. This indeed was the most malignant abuse of our Saviour's prophetic office.
But this indignity offered the Lord of glory may put a true believer in mind of his sinful depravity. For what is more customary, than for the omniscient Creator to be treated by sinful men as if he were blind, and ignorant of their evil doings? They vainly imagine that they can conceal their sins so dexterously, and conduct them with such secrecy, that God will never know who strikes at his honour, by offering him such an insult. Thus Judas, but a very little before, was an instance of the blindness of the human heart; who, when our blessed Lord spoke of his betrayer, had the effrontery to ask him, "Lord, is it I ?' (Matt. xv. 25.) On this presumption the Spirit of God pronounces a woe: 'Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord ; and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us, and who knoweth us?' (Isaiah xxix. 15.)
Here the true believer may say, Thanks be to thee, my Saviour and Redeemer, for suffering thy sacred face to be so reproachfully covered, that my face might not be eternally covered with shame ; and that I may not be carried away to endless torments, but that with open face I may behold the glory of the Lord.
O preserve me from all those sins which brought on thee these indignities, and grant that I may one day, with the glorified saints, behold thy glorious face in righteousness ! (Psalm xvii. 15.)
7. Lastly, it is said, 'And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. St. Luke seems to have been so affected with the subject, that he could not particularly enumerate all the sarcasms, invectives, and reproaches with which, in this hour of darkness, our blessed Saviour's ears were assaulted, He therefore breaks off abruptly, and says, “Many other things blasphemously spake they against him ; which the Evangelist, probably, thought not worthy to be had in remembrance. Here were tongues set on fire of hell, and possessed by the spirit of calumny, which from them, as from bent bows, discharged numberless arrows of defamatory words against Jesus the Son of God.
Here a pious soul may justly wonder on two accounts, which are not to be fathomed by its comprehension. The first is the long-suffering of the Heavenly Father, who for some hours successively saw, without displaying his power, his only beloved Son,
, the delight of his heart, and the express image of his person, thus mocked, outraged, and beaten. The second cause of wonder is the Son's patience, who, though he could by one word strike these miscreants dead, yet stands like a silent lamb; magnanimously despises reproach and contempt; and, amidst all the uproar of scoffers and revilers, remains composed and undisturbed. He neither reviled nor struck again; and amidst all the wrongs that were done him, both by words and actions, never shewed the least inclination to revenge. On the contrary, he serenely lifted пр ịp his eyes to his Heavenly Father, and recommenda ed every thing to him, who judgeth righteously: Alas! may a true believer say, How unlike are modern Christians to the pattern set them by their Lord and master? How does a poor worm kindle into rage only at a disagreeable look ? Nay, it is made a point of honour to put up no affront; and meekness, though sanctified by the illustrious example of the Son of God, is accounted mean and scandalous; so many of the received maxims of honour are directly contrary to our Saviour's commands. I am very sensible, O my Saviour, that I have still such a haughty and impatient heart, and that I am viry far from imitating the pattern of thy gentleness. I strongly feel in myself the emotions of anger, at the least mockery, insult, or abuse, offered me. But I beseech thee, O Lamb of God, that, by thy patience and longanimity, thou wilt quell the turbulent and rebellious motions of my heart; and grant me grace that, as in all other virtues, so likewise in gentleness and meekness, I may be conformed more and more unto thine image.
O ETERNAL wisdom, blessed be thy glorious name for giving up thyself to the hands of sinners, that we might be freed from the cords of satan, in which he would eternally have led us, and which are now happily broken asunder. · Thanks be to thee O Lord Jesus, for all the mockeries, insults, and indignities, which thou didst endure. Spread over our sins of pride and impatience the sacred merit of thy meekness, under these thy sufferings. Forgive us all the sins of our lives, which we have committed by petulency, insulting laughter, abuse, ridicule, contempt, and reproach ; or by a carnal impatience and revenge of affronts. Plant in our hearts a desire of following thy example of mildness and long-suffering, that we may rather choose to be reproached by the world for thy sake, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a sea.