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46 CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS BEFORE Herod; being persuaded, that it would be no diffi. cult matter to obtain his order for putting Jesus to death. From this account of the occasion of our blessed Saviour's sufferings before Herod, we shall deduce the following truths.
First, The enemies of true piety at present deal with the members of Christ, as they formerly did with the Head. This we shall endeavour to prove as follows, from the words here explained.
1. As the enemies of our blessed Lord construed his silence to be a sign of bad cause, and on that account urged their groundless accusations with the more boldness; so it is just the same in our days. When the faithful servants of God forbear answering the calumnies, and libels dispersed abroad against them, accounting it an unprofitable waste of time, the world cries out, “ We may see what kind of consciences these people have, who have not a word to say in their own defence. If they were innocent, doubtless they would not let such things go unanswered." Thus they slander the more boldly, and publish new accusations without the least sense of discretion or modesty.
2. As our blessed Saviour's enemies were con. tinually repeating their former accusations, only dressing them in a new garb; so is it still the way of persecutors and detractors who renew old caluninies which had long since been refuted by the most convincing apologies, and put them forth into the world under a new appearance.
3. As the accusers of Christ charged him with moving seditions and tumults, in order to instigate the civil power against him ; so at present, ill designing men infuse an ill opinion of the good and virtuous into the men of power. They represent them as conceited, self-willed, obstinate persons, who are wanting in due respect to their Sovereigns ; who speak evil of dignities and magistrates'; who occasion all kinds of trouble and disturbances in
pious designs as never entered into their thoughts. By this conformity between the ancient and modern opposers of truth, we see that the scene continues much the same to this day, though the persons who act this base part are changed from time to time. But happy is it for us, that satan began at the head ind captain of our Salvation, since by that means the way is paved for the members, that they may get over the offence of the cross. Praised be the Lord Jesus for submitting to all these accusations for our sake.
Secondly, Political prudence, unless it be go. verned by the superior light of God's word, has always shewn itself an enemy to Christ and his cross.
Of this we here see a remarkable instance in Pilate. The political prudence, which he shewed on this occasion, was a carnal prudence, tending to increase the sufferings of the innocent Jesus, and expose him to farther insults; though God at the same iime conducted these several incidents, so as to accomplish his decrees. For,
1. By this was fulfilled that prophecy concerning the Messiah, “The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord. and against the Messiah, or his Anointed,' (Psalm ii. 2. Acts iv. 27.)
2. By this circumstance Christ's innocence became still more conspicuous, and more publicly known.
3. By this delay of the proceedings against our blessed Saviour, his enemies and accusers had some time to reflect on what they were about, before they plunged themselves deeper in blood-guiltiness. However, these were not the effects of Pilate's sagacity or prudence; but of the divine wisdom, which directs every thing to good and wise ends.
This is too often the behaviour of magistrates and judges in our days. Political men will not put themselves to the least inconyeniency for the sake of the innocent
and good; and when they might, and ought to protect them, they are given up to the popular rage. This is usually covered with some outward pretence, while the mind has another object in view. This is accounted prudence and sagacity by the world ; but in the sight of God, it is folly and sin. Without the light of divine grace, no man can discharge a civil post or worldly employment, so as to preserve his integrity, and a conscience void of offence. The power of darkness will prove too strong for a man before he is aware of it, unless he is supported by power from on high. What great reason therefore, have civilians and politicians to apply to the living God for the guidance of his spirit.
Thirdly, Christ, by these circumstances of his passion, was to expiate many kinds of sin. He has atoned,
For our suppressions of good motions when they arise in the mind, and our hypocrisy in this particular. Therefore he suffered himself to be charged with raising rebellions and commotions among the people.
2. He has atoned for the turbulent and rebellious motions, which frequently rise in our hearts against the divine law, to which the carnal mind will not be subject ; and likewise against the ordinance of the
3. He has atoned for our voluntary subjection to the power of the prince of darkness. Therefore he submitted to be brought before the civil powers, and even before Herod, a foreign prince to whose government he did not properly belong; being a native of Judea and not of Galilee, and was mocked and reviled before them.
4. He atoned for our fear of man, in omitting to protect truth and innocence.
5. He atoned for the abuse of the Sovereign power by which we endeavour to accomplish our wicked design by rendering our enemy obnoxious to the
government, when it is not in our power to crusli him. All these, and the like sins, concurred to oC. casion this part of our blessed Saviour's sufferings, and will for his sake be forgiven, if we duly repent of them, and believe in him.
II. We now come to consider the sufferings and indignities which Jesus endured before king Herod. Our blessed Lord had, indeed, already suffered a great deal. He had been led about the city in bonds, as a gazing-stock to be reviled and insulted, and had been brought in that manner from Pilate to Herod. It is hardly to be supposed that the procession was slow, and that they led him along gently. On the contrary, it is more probable that the rude multitude dragged him, and pushed him, in a brutish manner; since they were impatient to have the trial over. Thus the sacred body of our blessed Saviour, which, the night before, had sweated blood during his mental agony, was now the more enfeebled by this rude treatment, and was after all this, on the same day, 0bliged to drag the cross after him to mount Golgotha. But the sufferings which Christ endured before Herod properly consisted of these four particulars.
1. In the disadvantageous opinion which Herod conceived of him. This profligate and voluptuous Prince looked on our Saviour as a sorcerer, who performed surprising wonders by his skill in magic. On this account he was exceeding glad when he was informed, that this famous magician, as he thought, of whom he had already heard such strange things, was to be brought before him. He made no doubt that he should be entertained with the sight of many wonderful performances, which he had only heard of before from other persons. To hear the pure doctrine of the blessed Jesus, and to be instructed by him how to live in chastity, righteousness, and holiness, was no part of Herod's desire ; but his impatience was to see Jesus, being persuaded that he would be very glad to exhibit the most surprising