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serviceable to the saints. When Christ was nailed to the tree, then he said, as it were, to death, which same to grapple with him there, O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction:" and so he was ; for he swallowed up death in victory, spoiled it of its power. So that, though it may now affright some weak believers, yet it cannot hurt them at all.
3. If Christ died the cursed death of the cross for us, how cheerfully should we submit to, and bear any cross for Jesus Christ! He had his cross, and we have ours; but what are ours compared with his ? His cross was a heavy cross indeed, yet how patiently and meekly did he support it! "He endured his cross :" we cannot endure or bear ours, though they be not to be named with his. Three things should marvellously strengthen us to bear the cross of Christ.
We shall bear it but a little way. It should be enough to me, says one, that Christ will haye joy and sorrow sharers in the life of the saints; and that each of them should have a share of our days, as the night and day are kindly partners of time, and take it up between them. But if sorrow be the largest sharer of our days here, I know joy's day shall dawn, and will more than recompense all our sad hours. Let my Lord Jesus (since he will do so) weave my bit-and-span length of time with white and black; weal and wo. Let the rose be neighbor with the thorn. Sorrow and the saints are not married together; or suppose it was so, heaven shall make a divorce. Life is but short, and therefore crosses cannot be long. Our sufferings are but for a while. 1 Pet. 5:10. They are but the sufferings of the present time.” Rom. 8: 18. As shall
way, so also Christ himself bears the most of it. He takes the largest share himself. " The reproaches of them that reproached thee, are fallen upon me.” Psa. 64:9. Nay.
to speak as the thing is, Christ doth not only bear half, or the greater part, but the whole of our cross and burden. Yea, he bears all, and more than all; for he bears us and our burden too, or else we should quickly sink and faint under it.
It is reviving to think what an innumerable multitude of blessings and mercies are the fruit and offspring of a sanctified cross. Since that tree was so richly watered with the blood of Christ, what store of choice and rich fruits doth it bear to believers !
"I know (says one) no man hath a velvet cross, but the cross is made of what God will have it; yet I dare not say, Oh that I had liberty to sell Christ's cross, lest therewith also I should sell joy, comfort, sense of love, patience, and the kind visits of a Bridegroom. I have but small experience of sufferings for Christ, but I find a young heaven, and a little paradise of glorious comforts and soul-delighting visits of Christ in suffering for him and his truth. My prison is my palace, my sorrow is full of joy; my losses are rich losses, my pain easy pain, my heavy days are holy days and happy days. I may tell a new tale of Christ to my friends. Oh what owe I to the file, and to the hammer, and to the furnace of my Lord Jesus! who hath now let me see how good the wheat of Christ is, that goes through his mill and his oven, to be made bread for his own table. Grace tried is better than grace, and more than grace. It is glory in its infancy. Who knows the truth of grace without a trial ? And how soon would faith freeze without a cross! Bear your cross, therefore, with joy."
4. Did Christ die the death, yea, the worst of deaths for us? Then it follows that our mercies are procured with great dificulty; and that which is sweet to us in the fruition, was costly and hard to Christ in the acquisition. "In whom we have redemption through his blood.” Col. 1: 14. Upon which a late writer says,
"The way of grace is here to be considered ; life comes through death ; God comes in Christ ; and Christ comes in blood : the choicest mercies come through the greatest miseries. Oh! how should this raise the value of our mercies! What, the price of blood, the price of precious blood, the blood of the cross! Oh what an esteem should this raise !
Things (as the same ingenious author adds) are prized rather as they come, than as they are. Far fetched and dear bought make the price, and give the worth with us weak creatures. Upon this ground the Scripture, when it speaks of our spiritual riches, tells the great price it cost ; as knowing if any thing will take with us, this will, 'To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.'” Rev. 1:5.
Beware then that you abuse not any of the mercies that Christ procured with so many bitter pangs and throes. And let all this endear him more than ever to you, and make you say, in a deep sense of his grace and love, Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
CHAPTER X XVII.
THE TITLE AFFIXED TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
“And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek,
and Latin, and Hebrew, This is the King of the Jews.” Luke, 23 : 38.
Before I pass on to the manner of Christ's death I shall consider the title affixed to the cross, in which the wisdom of Providence was strikingly displayed. It was the manner of the Romans, that the equity of their pro
ceedings might the more clearly appear to the people, when they crucified any man, to publish the cause of his death on a tablet written in capital letters, and placed over the head of the victim. And that there might be at least a show of justice in Christ's death, he also has his title or superscription.
This writing one evangelist calls the accusation, antik, Matt. 27 : 37. Another calls it the title, totxos, John, 19:19. Another the inscription or superscription, 6717gupn, so the text.
And another the superscription of his accusation, e7iy papan ons doties, Mark, 15 : 26. In short, it was a fair legible writing, intended to express the fact or crime for which the person died.
This was their usual manner, though sometimes we find it was published by the voice of the common crier; as in the case of Attalus the martyr, who was led about the amphitheatre, one proclaiming before him, This is Attalus the christian. But it was customary to express the crime on a written tablet as the text expresses it. Wherein consider,
1. The character or description of Christ contained in that writing. He is described by his kingly dignity, " This is the King of the Jews :” the very office which but a little before they had reproached and derided, bowing the knee to him in mockery, saying, Hail, King of the Jews. The providence of God so orders it, that by the same he shall on the cross be vindicated and ho. nored: This is the King of the Jews: or, as the other evangelists give it more fully, This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
2. The person that drew his character or title was Pilate. He that but now condemned him becomes his herald, to proclaim his glory. For the title is honorable. Surely this was not from himself, for he was Christ's enemy; but rather than Christ should want a tongue to clear him, Divine Providence employs an enemy to do it.
3. The time when this honor was done him was when he was at the lowest ebb of his glory; when shame and reproach were heaped on him. When all the disciples had forsaken him, and fled. Not one left to proclaim his innocency, or speak a word in his vindication. Then doth the providence of God as strangely, as powerfully, overrule the heart and pen of Pilate to draw this title and affix it to his cross. Surely we must look higher than Pilate in this thing, and see how Providence serves itself by the hands of Christ's adversaries. Hence The dignity of Christ was openly proclaimed and defended by an enemy; and that in the time of his greatest reproaches and sufferings.
To unfold this mystery of Providence, that you may not stand idly gazing upon Christ's title, as many then did ; we will consider the nature of this title, and how the providence of God was displayed in it.
I. The nature of Christ's title or inscription.
1. It was an extraordinary title, varying from all examples of that kind, and directly crossing the main design and end of their own custom. For, as I hinted before, the end of it was to clear the equity of their proceedings, and show the people how justly they suffered the punishments inflicted on them for such crimes. But lo, here is a title expressing no crime at all, and so vindicating Christ's innocency. This some of them perceived, and desired Pilate to change it. Write not, This is, but, This is he that said, I am the King of the Jews. In that, as they conceived, lay his crime. Oh how strange and wonderful was this! But what shall we say? It was a day of wonders and extraordinary things. As there was never such a person crucified before, so there was never before such a title affixed to the cross.
2. It was a public title, both written and published with the greatest advantage of being known far and near among all people, "for it was written in three lan