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ing, Thou who destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself."
The menacing aspect of his enemies never failed to bring to his mind the event that awaited him at their hands. "But no sign shall be given, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so the Son of Man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." Matt. xii. 39. In chap. ix. 14, we further read, "Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, while thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bridegroom mourn, while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom shall be conveyed from them, then shall they fast." Here is a clear intimation of the violence with which he should be torn from his disciples, and of the grief that in consequence would overtake them. The following little incident shows how apt the painful scenes before him were to recur to his thoughts, and how habitual it was in him to dwell upon them: "Jesus, answering, said to her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things to eat one thing only is needful, Mary hath chosen the good part that will not be taken from her." Luke xi. 41. The part which Martha chose, namely, attendance on his person, and providing for his wants, was, it seems, soon to be taken from her. He was now going to Jerusalem to suffer, and the hand of violence would not again permit him to return under their hospitable roof. He not only foresaw that he was to be crucified, but had even a distinct foresight of the distressing incident, that he was to carry his own cross to the place of execution; and on this foresight is grounded the admonition which he repeatedly delivered to his followers; "Whosoever does not take up his own cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me." Matt. x. 38.
In his interview with Nicodemus, our Lord hints at
the cruel death that he was to undergo; "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so it is necessary that the Son of Man should be lifted up." John iii. 14. This hint is again repeated at a more advanced period of his ministry; "Now is the crisis of this world; soon will the prince of this world be cast out, and I, though I shall be lifted up from the ground, shall draw all men to me." John xii. 32. Here he also anticipates the conversion of multitudes to him after the decisive proof of his death and resurrection. However, when he had finished his ministry in Galilee, and was now going for the last time to Jerusalem, he thought fit in direct terms to place before his astonished and afflicted disciples the leading circumstances of the fate that awaited him. "From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things. from the elders and chief priests, and to be slain, and on the third day to be raised." Matt. xvi. 21.
But our Saviour not only foresaw and predicted his death, but embodied that prediction with facts which would remain monuments of his having foreseen and predicted it. The ordinance called the Lord's Supper, which his followers celebrate in commemoration of his death, he instituted before his death, and in the immediate prospect of it. Moreover, by his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus evinced that he had a distinct anticipation of the fatal catastrophe, with the will and resolution to brave it, however revolting to human nature. From the dark cloud which was then ready to envelop our blessed Lord, the divine illumination that guided him flashes forth with the most convincing lustre. Notwithstanding his own repeated declarations, the disciples cherished the hope that his deliverance from death would be effected either by his own discretionary power, or by the interposition of his almighty Father. At this mistaken notion he appears to glance in the following
clause, by which he insinuates that his sufferings would terminate in nothing short of death; "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Matt. xxvi. 38.
›2. The credibility of our Lord's death and resurrection, required that those events should, as being contrary to the prepossessions, be very remote from the expectations of the disciples. But how was it possible for them not to expect, if they were forewarned of these things? Labouring under the common prejudices of the Jews, they never could be induced to think that the Almighty should suffer his beloved Son to undergo a cruel and disgraceful death. When, therefore, their Master forewarned them that he was to suffer and to rise again, they construed his words in a figurative sense. Jesus, doubtless, perceived their error, but he wisely refrained from dissipating it, till the events foretold took place. By his prudence in this respect he precluded many serious objections that might have otherwise been made to the fact of his resurrection, and placed its evidence on the firmest foundation. As the disciples were ignorant of that event till it was actually realised, they could not reasonably be suspected of collusion with their Master, or of having stolen his body from the grave. Moreover, in as much as the resurrection of Jesus was a fact, which they by no means expected, but which was directly opposite to their previous conceptions, it cannot be said that they believed it on cursory and superficial evidence. On the contrary, as they had now given up the hope that he was the person that should redeem Israel, nothing less than the repeated assurance of all their senses was sufficient to force upon their minds the full conviction of its truth. Finally, as the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, which had been wrought by his previous miracles, was now done away by his crucifixion; the miracle of his resurrection, which is the grand basis of the Chris tian faith, had, by the wisdom of our Lord in not recti
fying the misconstruction of his disciples, its due weight and influence in re-animating their hopes, and consolidating their attachments to Christ and his cause.
3. Our Lord, well knowing that the event of his resurrection would be questioned by the Heathen philoso phers and the Gnostics, precluded every possible ground for objecting that his disciples were mistaken, by appear. ing to them in the manner in which he did, namely, at distinct intervals, and for a length of time; by appear ing also to them at first separately, and then collectively; by eating in their company; by inviting them to see his wounds, and to handle his body; by immediately directing their attention to the things which he foretold he would do, after his restoration to life; and finally, by bringing to their recollection his former manner of acting, by then acting in a similar manner.
4. If a candid and enlightened sceptic were asked, what circumstance, connected with the death and subsequent resurrection of Christ, would, if proved to be true, be most likely to remove his doubts of the divine origin of Christianity, and secure his own practical faith in its fundamental points, he perhaps would reply, that nothing could so effectually answer this end, as that the very soldiers employed by the Jewish rulers in his execution, and especially that soldier who drove the spear into his side, should themselves soon after become converts to the faith, and attest the truth of the wonders which they had beholden, though urged by tortures to their denial. And this is a circumstance which the wisdom of providence caused to have taken place, and even to be recorded by apostolic authority, in order to remove the objections of infidelity in all succeeding generations. The passage to which I allude is as follows: "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other, which were crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. But one of the soldiers with a
spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout › blood and water. And he who saw it bore testimony, and his testimony is true; that man, too, knoweth that what the writer saith is true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled,-A bone of him shall not be broken. And again, another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced." John xix. 82.
It is supposed that by the person here said to have seen this event, and borne testimony to it, is meant the Evangelist himself. But a little attention to the original will be sufficient to convince us that the historian means the soldier who had pierced him. The two actions, "bore testimony" and "saith,” though expressed by two distinct verbs, one in the past tense, the other in the present, must, on the supposition that John meant himself, be the same : which is absurd. The original μeμagrʊgηxs means, when employed by early Christian writers, to bear testimony to the faith in circumstances of torture or of death; and this acceptation is so generally given to it, that the corresponding noun μaptup, which before simply signified a witness, came to denote a martyr to the truth. It is to be observed too, that the writer has employed the perfect tense; and he could not therefore so properly intend himself, now writing, as some other person who had previously borne a signal testimony to the fact in question.
If the Evangelist meant himself, there would have been little propriety in the appeal which he makes, as it would be only an appeal to his own authority. On the contrary, nothing was more decisive and forcible, than appealing, in corroboration of the death of Jesus, to the evidence of a man, who, like himself, was an eye-witness of the event, and who suffered torments in attestation of its truth.
That the soldiers alluded to became converts to the Gospel, and that the sacred writer had, on this occasion,