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ing-would be taken from prison and judgment—would be scourged and spitted on-pierced in his hands and feet-and mocked and insulted in his anguish. He himself had declared, that he must go up to Jerusalem ; suffer many things of the priests and elders; be put to death on the cross and made a sacrifice for the sins of men. Had he now rescued himself from the hands of his enemies, and effected an escape from the death of the cross, he would have shown that he was not the Saviour whom the prophets foretold, and whom he professed to be. The salvation which men needed was deliverance from the guilt of sin and from the curse of the law. That he might redeem them from the curse of the law, he must be made a curse for them—that they might be made the righteousness of God in him, he must be made a sin-offering for them. To have saved himself, therefore, from the cross, would have been to contradict all that the prophets had spoken concerning him, and his own professed design in coming into the world.

It appears, then, that the evidence which the rulers demanded of Christ's power to save, was of such a nature, that had it been granted, it must have proved the contrary.

2. This evidence, had it been given, would have been no more likely to convince them, than was that which had been given already.

They said, “Let him now come down from the cross and save himself, and we will believe" that he can save others. Why, then, did they not believe, when they had seen him perform acts of power as great and wonderful as this would have been ? He had by his word healed the most inveterate diseases-restored sight to the blind, and to one born blind—cast out devils from their ancient possessions-recovered to reason the lunatic and distracted-raised to life them who were dead, and one who had been fur days dead-turned water into wine-multiplied a few loaves of bread to a quantity sufficient to feed many thousands-escaped the hands of his enemies when they attempted to take himstruck the soldiers to the ground when they came to seize him. What room was there now to doubt, whether he was able to save himself and others ? Had he broken the nails which fastened him

to the cross, come down and fled from his persecutors, this would not have been so wonderful a demonstration of his power, as the works which he had done already. And since they did not believe him for the works he had done, it is by no means probable, they would have believed, if he had done what they demanded.

3. He afterward actually gave them the evidence which they required, and still they were faithless.

He did not, indeed, come down from the cross; but he did more ; he came up

from the dead. Was not this proof sufficient that he was able to save? Why did they not believe now? He expressly foretold, that he should be put to death, and that on the third day he would rise again. This prediction was well known. Hence the priests and rulers procured a guard to be stationed at his grave, lest his disciples should steal him away by night, and give out that he was risen. But notwithstanding this precaution, he rose according to his prediction, and shewed himself alive by many infallible proofs. This was a clearer demonstration of his power, than a descent from the cross would have been. Yet they would not believe. And lest such a wonderful and decisive proof should work conviction in others, they bribed the guard to report the foolish story, that while they were asleep, his disciples came and stole him away.

If Christ had come down from the cross, they would have contrived some evasion or other, and still remained unbelieving

4. Their perverseness was itself an evidence, that Jesus was the Messiah foretold.

The Psalmist, speaking in the person of the Messiah, says, “ The assembly of the wicked have inclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. All that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying, he trusted in the Lord, that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” This very prediction, Christ's enemies exactly fulfilled. They wounded him in the same manner, mocked him in the same language, and insulted him with the same airs and motions, which this prophecy describes; and thus by their infidelity and perverseness proved the very thing which they denied, that this was the Redeemer who should come into the world.

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I would observe once more,

5. Some circumstances attending Christ's crucifixion, gave more evident displays of his divine power and dignity, than a descent from the cross would have done.

While he hung on the tree, the sun withdrew its light, and for several hours concealed itself in preternatural darkness. When he yielded up the ghost, the vail of the temple was rent from top to bottom, the earth trembled, the rocks started from their seats, and the monuments of the dead were laid open. Such convulsions in nature, at this solemn hour, were sufficient not only to raise astonishment, but to work conviction in many. turion, and they who were with him watching Jesus, when they saw these things, feared greatly, and said, truly this was a righteous man—this was the Son of God. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding what was done, smote their breasts and returned.”

On the whole, the evidence which was given of Christ's divine power, was much superior to that which the rulers demanded; and as they did not believe for all this, it cannot be supposed, they would have believed, if their demand had been complied with.

We may here reflect, with admiration, on the unexampled love of Christ. The Jews say, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” That any man would submit to such misery, if he could save himself—that he would die voluntarily to save others, seemed incredible. Men will commonly do more to save themselves, than to save their neighbors. And hence they concluded, that he continued on the cross, only because it was not in his power to

escape from it.

But his thoughts were not as theirs, and are not as ours. His love passeth knowledge. He was ready, on all occasions, to relieve the distressed. But that power, which had often been employed in relieving others—in healing the sick, halt and blindin feeding the hungry and raising the dead, he suspended in his own case, even though his anguish was extreme, and he was upbraided with his impotence. He felt for unhappy mortals, more than for himself. When the daughters of Jerusalem bewailed

his hard lot, he said, “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for


children.” When one of his enemies was wounded in the attempt to seize him, though he wrought no miracle to effect his own escape, yet he performed one to heal this wounded enemy. “Suffer ye thus far," says he, i. e. give me the liberty of my hand for a moment; for they now held him; “and he touched the man and healed him.”

As he came to save sinners, so he declined no sufferings which were necessary to this end. That he had power to come down from the cross, was manifest from his former, and from his present works, and more manifest afterward by his resurrection from the grave. His death was therefore voluntary. “He laid down his life of himself. No man could take it from him” without his consent. “He had power to lay it down, and power to take it again.” The greatest expression of love among men is, that one lay down his life for his friend. But he commended his love toward us, in that, while we were enemies, he died for us.

Again. We see the unreasonableness of wicked men in demanding other means, when they reject those which they have. The Jews were a perverse generation. They would not believe Christ's saving power on such proofs as were given; but required new ones; and they excused their unbelief, because their humour was not gratified.

God is not bound to give men the best possible means. If he gives them such as, by a proper improvement, may lead to the knowledge of the truth, there is no ground of complaint, but abundant cause of thankfulness. God is sovereign in the distribution of his favours. All the means of knowledge, faith and salvation which he puts into our hands, are his free gifts. It belongs not to us, but to his wisdom and goodness, to determine what advantages we shall be placed under. He divides to men severally as he will. To some he gives five talents; to some two; to others but one. It concerns every man to improve the talents he has; and not to throw by his one, or two talents, because he has not five, or because he imagines, that with more he could do better.

If Christ had given the Jews sufficient evidence of his divinity, their unbelief was inexcusable, even though higher evidence might have been given. If they would not be convinced by the miracles which he had wrought, he was not bound to come down from the cross for their conviction. And if he had, the same perverseness would still have held them in unbelief.

Besides : We are not always competent judges, what would be the best means. The Jews imagined, that Christ's descent from the cross would have been a more convincing proof of his saving power, than any thing they had seen. But really it would have been quite the contrary. He took our flesh, that by death he might destroy him that had the power of death, and open a way

for the salvation of sinful men. Had he saved himself from death, he could not have saved us. The method they proposed would have defeated its own end. The like folly there may be in other human schemes. We may imagine, that if God would place men under certain circumstances, or take certain measures with them, they would embrace religion and obtain salvation. But who are we, that we should prescribe to infinite wisdom ? When we attempt to mend what God has done, we mar his work and frustrate our own purpose. Let us improve the means we have; and then, if more be necessary, more will be given. If we neglect those already given, it is very improbable that we should make a better use of


other. “ He that is faithful in the least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.”

Absurd are all our complaints for want of better means, until we make a good improvement of those which we have. The same disposition of heart, which objects against these, would cavil at any other. This we see in the Jews. When Christ wrought wonders on earth, they said, “We would see a sign from heaven." There came a voice from heaven; and the people who heard it, said, “ It thundered.” They would not believe him for all his mighty works : but they said, if he would come down from the cross, then they would believe. He came up from the dead, and still they were as far from believing as before ; for they said, his disciples stole him away.

We see and condemn their perverseness. There may be the same perverseness in many, still,

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