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when the enemies of Jesus laid hold of him, he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked. -Thus it fell out in the case of Jesus himself: he was laid hold of, and every measure was taken to prevent his escape, even from death itself: but when the linen cloth was cast about his naked body, he left it behind him in the sepulchre, and fled naked from those who had seized him.
Much learning may be derived from other circumstances, which I can but briefly mention. The coat of Christ was without a seam: it was, therefore, not rent into parts; to shew, that the Christian church should be of one piece throughout; with the same mind, the same doctrines, and the same worship. A division of the garment denotes a separation of the people; as Samuel interpreted when Saul rent the mantle of the prophet; the Lord, said he, hath rent the kingdom from thee this day. All who pretend to have put on Christ should wear this seamless garment; they should be possessed by a spirit of uniformity, and be studious to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and of Christian charity.
The preference given to Barabbas, a thief and a murderer, should warn us of what often hath happened, and often will happen; that
treason, sedition, and murder shall, on certain occasions, when it pleases God to introduce confusion and misery, find better acceptance with the people, and with those who mislead them, than the excellent doctrine and exemplary patience of Jesus Christ, which do not accord with the mistaken views of worldly and ambitious men; who are more nearly allied to Belial, the dæmon of discord, than to the God of peace
and order. From the apparently helpless condition of Christ at his death, it was argued, that God had forsaken him, and that he might be taken and persecuted with impunity: so do the wicked promise themselves, that the cause of his church and his religion is impotent in itself, because God gives the power for a time to those who mock at, and trample upon it. But the triumph of the wicked is short. The time soon came, when the king sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, the Jews, and burnt up their city, Jerusalem. So shall they all perish, and their habitation shall be laid waste, and the earth they live upon shall be burnt up, who now indulge themselves in the contempt of Christianity.
The departure of Christ from this world was in such a form as gave us a sign of his future appearance in judgment, and how it shall be. A cloud took him from us into heaven ; and a cloud shall bring him to us again: he shall so come as he was seen to go: whence we have that warning in the Revelation, behold he cometh with clouds! In that aweful day, they will be best pleased to meet him, who now in this life, while, through those clouds, we behold him with the eye of Faith, adore his character, and love his church, and study his wisdom, and delight in his truth, and keep his commandments.