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scourged, hoping that sight would mitigate the fury, and move the compassion, of his accusers ; and then proposes him as the man he was by custom to release at the passover; and that he might be sure to deterinine their choice to him, names Barabbas, a notorious robber and murderer, in competition with him. Even this infamous person is thought a fitter object of mercy than Jesus: and now, impatient of delay, and unsoftened by all these applications, they cry, out, more vehemently than ever, Crucify him, crucify him. When he saw therefore that he could prevail nothing (says the evangelist) he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person ; see ye to it.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children !
All the people! Not only those of mean and base condition who are usually the most forward in such popuJar clamours; but the chief priests, the scribes, and elders themselves, who then stood before the tribunal of Pilate; not only the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the whole nation of the Jews, who were then assembled to celebrate the paschal solemnity; all the people, in the utmost force and fulness of that expression, answered and said, His blood be on us and on our children!
Never sure was any sinful wish expressed with so much solemnity; unanimity aud warmth, or attended every way with such high and horrid circumstances of aggravation; and no wonder, therefore, if it received its accomplishment after so remarkable a manner, as can in no other account of men, or times, he paralleled. Which is what I, in the
II. Second place, proposed to consider and explain.
Blood (i. e., innocent blood) defileth the land (saith their law) and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it, Num. xxxv. 33. This rule held even of common blood, spilt by a private hand; and how then was the land to be cleansed of the blood of the Messiah, the Son of
God, which that whole nation spilt, and made themselves answerable for the guilt of it? How, but by the blood of that whole nation, by their utter ruin and excision ? Which accordingly happened soon afterwards, when the armies of Vespasian encompassed Jerusalem. The cala, mities they underwent in that siege, were such as never befel any other city or nation. The account we have of them is astonishing, and would have surpassed all belief, had it not been given us by one, who was himself an eye-witness of them, and a sharer in them; and who tells us, that no less than eleven hundred thousand Jews fell at that time, either by sword or famine.
It may be worth our while to observe from that historian some circumstances which shew, how strict a correspondence there was between their crime and their punishment;, an historian that had nothing less in view, than to prove, that the one was adapted to the other, and a just consequence of it.
The nation, collected in a body to celebrate the passover, had committed this crying sin; and the vengeance of God overtook thein at another paschal season, when they were again thus embodied, when all the Jews were shut up in Jerusalem, as beasts in a slaughter-house, and none eould escape the sword of the Romans.
The rejection of the true Messiah was their crime, and their hearkening to many false Messiahs afterwards was the source of their calamities; their frequent revolts on that account being the true cause of the resolution that -was taken to extirpate and destroy them.
They pursued our Saviour to the cross, that they might not be suspected of setting up a rival title to that of Cæsar; lest (said they] the Romans come, and take away our place and nation, John xi. 48.
What they endeavoured to avoid by this wickedness, befel them on the account of it: the Romans came, and took away their place and nation 30 entirely, that, after the second attempt made upon them by Titus, they never had the least shadow of magistracy and government amongst them; and after their final destruction by Adrian, they were not allowed, so much as to live in Jewry, no not upon terms of the lowest, and most abject slavery.
Nor did the vengeance of God stop here, but hath pursued and doth still pursue them into all the corners of the earth, whither they have been driven; in all which, their circumstances are so singular, so unlike those of other exiles and captives, and so different from what befel them in their former dispersions, that no account can be given of their thus suffering beyond example, but from their sinning beyond example in the crucifixion of our Saviour.
To what else can we ascribe that universal contempt and abhorrence they have undergone from Christians of all sorts, nay, even from Turks and Heathens ; so as to become, in the prophetic expressions of Moses, an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word among all nations, whither the Lord hath led them?
To what else can be imputed their exclusion from offices and honours every where, and even from the common benefits of strangers ? the frequent oppressions and exactions, under: which they have groaned, the various expulsions and massacres that have befallen them? Wherever they came they have (as the pen
of the same prophet describes their case, Deut. xxviii. 65.) found no ease, neither hath the sole of their foot had rest;
but the Lord hath given them a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind.
In their other deportations, they had often the favour of their conquerors; were permitted by them freely and publicly to exercise their religion, and even to make proseJytes, to live under their own laws and customs, and to retain some shadow of their domestic polity and government. But in this last, they have had none of these privileges, or encouragements; none secured to them by law, but indulged only by a secret and precarious connivance; which has been limited and withdrawn, according to the will and pleasure of their masters.
Finally, whereas the longest of their captivities, after they settled in Canaan, lasted but seventy years ; this has endured for above sixteen hundred ; that is, for a greater tract of time than intervened, from the first building of their temple by Solomon, to its final destruction by Titus. Thus long have they been no nation, but so many scattered herds of vagabonds, without any temple-worship or sacrifices (the chief part of their religion) and without any reasonable hope or prospect of enjoying them. All the attempts, that have been made towards rebuilding their holy place, or even towards recovering their country out of the hands of infidels, have been defeated and blasted by God in so remarkable a manner, as if he were jealous of every event, which might seem to open a way home to this wretched people, and give them the least glimpse of a deliverance from their bondage.
And all this while (which is the most strange and singular circumstance of their punishment) they have continued unmixed, unincorporated with any of the nations of the earth, amidst whom they dwelt ; their preservation in which separate state is more wonderful, than their total dispersion ; and could not have happened for so long a time, so uniformly every where, without the immediate interposition of God's providence, to prevent a coalition; in order to render them, by that means, standing and illustrious monuments of his vengeance, to all nations and ages. The justice and wisdom of which severe proceeding, I shall now in the
III. Third place, briefly open to you : the justice of God, in respect to the sufferers themselves; and bis wisdom, with regard to the great ends and designs he proposed to himself in their sufferings.
The justice of God is manifest, in thus punishing that race of men, which actually spilt the blood of Christ, and made themselves, by a dire imprecation, responsible for it. And as to the consequences of this punishment on their children and descendants, it must be considered, that they reach only to those of their posterity, who abet their forefathers' crime, and continue in their infidelity ; for to those of them, who abhor it, who acknowledge Christ to be the Messiah, entertain his doctrine, and throw themselves into the arms of his mercy, an exclusion from the earthly Canaan and its privileges can be thought no grievous punishment, when that loss is so amply recompensed by their gaining admission to a better, an heavenly country, Heb. xi. 16., even a citizenship of that nero Jerusalem, which is from above, and whose builder is God, ver. 10.
And if the justice of God be free from all imputation in this great event, his wisdom, I am sure, is highly illustrated by it. For the destruction of the Jewish polity and nation was so ordered by him, in all the steps and methods of its accomplishment, as to confirm the truth, and spread the interests of Christianity.
Could there be a plainer and more irrefragable proof of the divine mission of our Lord, than the fulfilling of this curse on his inurderers ? Who, that saw their wide dispersions and sad sufferings, could forbear arguing after this manner? No nation, from the beginning of the world, was ever punished as this nation; and therefore, if the punishment of nations be for their sins, some heinous act must have been done by them, which never was done by any other nation : and what could that be, but the effusion of the blood of Jesus? That blood therefore, the guilt of which pursues them, was the blood of an innocent person, and not of an impostor, the seal of the doctrine which he published, and the evidence of his being what he affirmed himself to be, the Son of God.
Indeed this way of reasoning was so obvious and cogent, that many, even among the Jews themselves, acknowledged the force of it. And as for those who obstinately persisted in the sin of their forefathers, after Jerusalem was destroyed, even they themselves unwillingly contributed to the advancement of Christianity.
The dispersed Jews carried along with them, into all quarters of the earth, the oracles of God, those ancient prophecies of their nation, which described the person