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crown. We are not to yield him less faith, but more obedience. We should not less often kiss his wounds, but more frequently his feet. We can never too highly esteem his love, but we may, and often do, think too lightly of his law. His Spirit helping us, let his claims on our obedience be as cheerfully conceded as his claim to our faith ; so that to our love of his glorious person, and his saving work, we may be able to add with David, "O how love I thy law!"
II. Consider from whom Christ received the kingdom.
“ He came
1. He did not receive it from the Jews. unto his own, and his own received him not.”
Once, indeed-like stony-ground hearers, like some who make a flaming profession of religion to abandon it almost as soon as they embrace it-the Jews seemed eager to receive Jesus. They even attempted to thrust royal honours on him; “Jesus perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king." Afterwards, and by one of those popular movements, which, in the form of a panic or an enthusiasm, rises rapidly, like a flooded river, to sweep in its headlong course stones as well as straws before it, they bore him in royal state on to the capital. Not with sacred oil, or golden crown, or imperial purple, but such royal insignia as the circumstances admitted of, they invested their new-made king. They denuded themselves of their garments to carpet the dusty road. Mothers held up their babes to see him; women and children filled the
joyous air with loud hosannas; grey old men, as the procession swept by, shed tears of joy that the longlooked for hour had come; and, marching with the tramp of freemen-as if every foot beneath its tread crushed a Roman eagle—strong men, with ten thousand stout arms ready to fight for his crown, waved green palms in anticipation of triumph and victory. Thus the living wave, swelling higher as it advanced, rolled on to Jerusalem, bearing Jesus forward to the throne of David. For his mother, for the Marys, for his disciples, for all ardent patriots, it was a glorious hour. Alas! how soon all was changed! It passed like a beautiful pageant-passed like the watery gleam of a stormy day-passed like a brilliant meteor that shoots athwart the dusky sky. A few days afterwards, and Jerusalem, with a crowd as great, presents another spectacle. The stage, the actors, the voices, are the same; but the drama, if I may so speak, how different! This brief act of honour and duty, homage and triumph, is closely followed by an awful tragedy. We have seen tales of horror and shocking butchery shake the heart of a whole nation; but this event struck the insensate earth with trembling, spread a pall of mourning over the whole firmament, filling creation with such signs of bereavement as fill a house when its head is smote down by the hand of death. The tide, which bore Jesus to the crown, turns; and when next we see him, he hangs basely murdered upon a cross. An inconstant people have taken the object of their brief idolatry, and, like an angry child with its toy, dashed it on the ground.
It was a
The only crown our Lord gets from man is woven of thorns. His Father had said, “He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high ;" and man found no way of fulfilling that old prophecy, but to raise him, amid shouts and laughter, naked and bleeding, on the accursed tree. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
I know that a nation is not always to be held accountable for the acts of its rulers. A righteous public may have the conscience to disapprove what they have not the power to prevent. But our Lord's death was no act of the government, or simply the act of Pilate, or of the priests and statesmen of the time. great national deed.
In that vast assembly which pronounced the verdict, there was certainly not a city, nor village, nor hamlet, nor perhaps even a shepherd's solitary hut among the uplands of Judea, but had its representative. So, when Pilate put the question, it was the voice of the entire country that made itself heard in the unanimous and fatal verdict, “ We will not have this man to reign over us”—yesterday we would; to-day we won't; let him die; away with him to the
Horrible crime! yet one, alas ! in a sense still repeated, often repeated ; and for no other reasons than at the first. If Christ would have consented to rule on their terms, the Jews would have made him king. Had he agreed to establish an earthly monarchy, to gratify the nation's thirst for vengeance on their Roman masters, to make Jerusalem the proud capital, and the Jews sole sovereign rulers of a conquered world, they
would have revolted to a man. Religion lent its intensity to the burning hatred which they bore against the empire of the Cæsars; and, on such conditions, those who crucified him would have fought for him with the resolution which held Jerusalem, till delicate women devoured their children, and men, famished into ghastly skeletons, met the Romans in battle under a canopy of flames, and in the throat of the deadly breach.
Now, to this day, how many would accept of Jesus as king, would he but consent to their terms—allow them to indulge their lusts, and retain their sins! If, like some eastern princes, who leave the reins of government in other hands, he would rest contented with the shadow of royalty, with the mere name and empty title of a king, many would consent to be his subjects. But be assured that he accepts not the crown, if sin is to retain the sceptre. He requires of all who name his name, that they “depart from iniquity;" and, with "holiness unto the Lord" written on their foreheads, that they take up their cross, and deny themselves daily, and follow him. On this account he is still practically rejected by thousands—whose profession of religion is a name and shadow. How is that old cruel tragedy repeated day by day within the theatre of many a heart! God says,
God says, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;" the preacher brings Jesus forth for acceptance, clothed in purple, and crowned with thorns, and all the tokens of his love upon him, saying, “Behold the man;" conscience is aroused to a sense of
mob to cry,
his claims; but these all are clamoured down. Stirred up by the devil—the love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, and all the corrupt passions of our evil nature, rise like that Jewish
“We will not have this inan to reign over us.” Let the fate of these Jews warn you against their sin; for if God did such things in the green tree, what shall he do in the dry ? Be assured that, unless you are obeying Christ as a sovereign, you have never yet known him as a Saviour. Your faith is vain. His cross and his crown are inseparable.
2. He does not receive the kingdom from his own people.
Some have fought their way onward to a palace, leaving the print of a bloody foot on every step that led them to the throne. And what violence or villany, or both, have won, despotism holds. I could point to lands where the ambitious adventurer who has seized the throne is a tyrant, and his subjects are crouching slaves--as, indeed, men ever will be, who want the backbone of religion to keep them erect. It is Godfearing piety which makes a man the best subject of a good government, and the most formidable enemy to a bad one. Animated by its lofty hopes, sustained by its enduring spirit, a true Christian is not the man to sell his liberties for a dishonourable peace, nor his birthright for “a mess of pottage."
Our happy land, in contrast with most other countries, presents an illustrious example of a family