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“And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”—John xii. 33. This passage clearly shows that Jesus Christ was to die by being lifted up from the earth. This is a simple, but graphic description of a scene which shall never cease to excite human emotions, so long as there are hearts to feel and souls to be saved. It carries us at once,
interested spectators, to Jerusalem, where Jesus was condemned, and especially to Calvary, where he was by wicked hands crucified and slain. Dear reader, what means that immense crowd rushing out through the gates of the holy city? Ah! you perceive the waving helmets of the Roman soldiers, and the white ephods of the Jewish priests. Amid the motley groups of old and young, rich and poor, I hear the cry of children and the shriek of females. On the face of this Levite, I see the smile of pleasure; but on the face of that fisherman of Galilee, I see the big rolling tear. Surely there is some person coming in the midst of this dense throng who is the object of deep and universal interest. As the multitude rolls hither and thither, like the ebb and flow of the ocean, I can catch an occasional glance of his person. He wears a cloak without a seam. A large piece of wood is laid upon his shoulder. He is the most composed of all the company that come up behind, and when the females weep and lament, he chides their sorrow and stills their tears, and says, “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.” Who is this? It is my Saviour. I know him by the thorny wounds which he bears upon his brow, and the marks of spitting and of buffeting which he has upon his face. “His visage is marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”
Will you go with him to Calvary? Then you perceive how the guard of Roman soldiers are pressing back the crowd, and leaving an empty space for the executioners to do their duty. They are nailing together the two pieces of wood. They are digging a hole for the upright post. They are stripping Jesus of his garments : his shoulders you perceive are raw, and all trickling with blood. On his back are the furrows long and deep, which the scourgers
have left. He is stretched out upon the cross as if it were a couch ; spikes, long and thick, are driven through his hands and feet; and now it is not, “and if I be lifted up,” because you can discern four strong Roman soldiers applying their brawny arms to the transverse beam, and he is lifted up, and hangs suspended by his flesh. When the crowd catch the first glimpse of his naked, wounded, and bleeding body, nailed to the cross, there is a thrill of horror felt by his friends, and a very indecent expression of joy displayed by his inveterate foes. The priests and Levites walk past on this side and that, casting upon him a look of scorn, insulting his sufferings, and wagging their heads in mock imitation of his convulsive agony. Even the thieves crucified the one on the right and the other on the left hand of Jesus, regard him as an object of ridicule, and throw their scandals upon his name, and pour contempt upon his cause. Taking up the cruel reproaches of others, they also cast them in his teeth, saying, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him : for he said, I am the Son of God.”
The Jews were influenced by two considerations in inflicting upon Christ this uplifted death.
I. THAT HIS DEATH MIGHT BE SHAMEFUL. Jerusalem, at the time, was full of visitors, who had come from all quarters to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and the Jewish rulers wished that all should have an opportunity of seeing this far-famed imposter expiring on a tree. To have had him cut off in secret, would not have served their purpose. To have stoned him publicly, according to the Mosaic law, would have been a death too honourable. He must die the death of a foreigner, as altogether unworthy of being recognised, by the manner of his dissolution, as of Jewish extraction. Nay, he must be ignominiously crucified as a Roman slave, and thus be lifted up between heaven and earth, as an outcast from both. Ah! what would Mary and the other female disciples not have given, to have been allowed to cast a mantle over the naked shoulders of Jesus as he hung expiring on the cross !
II. THEY WERE DESIROUS THAT HIS DEATH SHOULD BE
PAINFUL. This fact we can easily gather from the different parts of the narrative. They were eager for his dissolution. And it was when their anger was excited almost to madness, and when they were gnashing their teeth against him, as the wild beast does at its prey, that they raised the murderous cry, “Crucify him ! crucify him!”
” Like the wild war-whoop of the Indian, when he lifts his tomahawk and displays his scalping-knife, this murderous cry, “Crucify him!” conveys to us an indescribable impression of the eagerness, with which they thirsted for his blood. They wished, so to speak, to drink it drop by drop; they wished that he should die by inches; they wished that every pang from the cold iron should go home to his heart; they wished that as much agony should be extracted from his frame as it could possibly yield, and therefore they pierced where the nerves were plentiful. They also wished that the pain connected with his dying, should be as long protracted as cruel artifice could devise, and therefore they pierced him, not in the heart, but in the hands and feet, which are the seat of feeling, and far from those organs which are the seat of life.
The Jews did obtain their wish, that his life should be wrung out of his frame by severe and protracted sufferings. Nay, in a certain acceptation, though they knew it not, their eagerness for his anguish was more than satiated. His crucifixion by the hand of man was light as a feather, when compared with his inward sorrow. All their puny attempts to cover him with shame, and inflict agony upon him, were nothing, when contrasted with the deep wound from the sword of Divine justice which pierced his heart. The universal observation has obtained currency on account of its truth, that the sufferings of our Saviour's soul were the soul of his suffering. Like fiends, however, his Jewish adversaries centred all their aims in his torment; while that God, who casts the clouds beneath his feet, that he may cover this world of ours with verdure, and who causes present suffering to terminate in future good, ordained that Jesus should be lifted up, like the unseemly serpent upon the pole, that his shameful and painful death might be rendered highly influential for the healing of the nations. But, in being lifted upon the Cross, the Saviour died.
A SCOTTISH PREACHER.
PROGRESS OF TRUTH IN TURKEY. PERHAPS the next scene of interest, after China, is Turkey, where gigantic efforts have been, and are still being made, to pour floods of Gospel light upon the dense darkness of Mohammedan delusion, and the wretched superstitions of the Greek and Roman Churches. These, have, hitherto, been not so much the efforts of the Missionary as of the Colporteur. The printing press, rather than the living voice of the teacher, has been the instrument employed ; but we have reason to be thankful that, under God, it has been eminently successful. The following paragraph, from the Christian Spectator, relating to this point, will be read with great interest. It will show that the Eastern world is not wholly enveloped in shades of night! Let us pray that this may be to it as the dawn of approaching day, and that God may so overrule national strife, as to make the wrath of man to praise Him.
“ The results of the press are most interestingly stated in Mr. Dwight's recent work on Christianity in Turkey. During the last eighteen years Christian publications have found their way to almost every nook and corner of the land, and they are at this moment more widely circulated and better received than before. The missionaries state, that the constant presentation of Scripture truth, both in conversation, in the pulpit, and from the press, has not been powerless in the Armenian commonalty. One error after another has given place to the truth. Thousands who still remain in the Greek Church are
intellectually convinced that evangelical Protestantism is true, and some of them no doubt have heartily embraced the doctrine their intellects approve. Some belonging to this class are active reformers, who are constantly employed in circulating the Scriptures and other publications from the press, and making known the truth as it is in Jesus.'"
This intelligence must needs be deeply interesting to that numerous class of readers who regard the Musselman conquest of the East as the darkest passage in history, and the stereotyped character of the conquering race, as an exception to all its lessons. The great truth developed in nearly all the annals of Conquest is, that the more eminently enlightened people, although subjugated, hardly ever fail to exert a refining influence on their Conquerors. Thus, when in the valley of the Nile, the minds of the Egyptian and the Greek were brought into contact, the superiority of the more civilized race was manifested, in the transformation of Alexandria into a second Athens. It was so, in the intercourse between the Roman and the Greek. The Satirist of those times was wont to speak of Rome as a Greek city.” Rome, haughty and imperious as she was, proved unequal in the conflict with this kind of influence. The people of Corinth might be vanquished in hostile encounter by Mummius; Athens might be taken by Sylla ; but even that arrogant individual was struck with reverence at the porticos where the philosophic followers of Socrates and Plato had so often disputed, and the conqueror's reverence for Grecian greatness moved him to spare the Grecian city.
Besides an illustrious Roman, not less ardently attached to his country than the most patriotic of his times, regarded the devotement of his last days to the study of the Greek Classics as no blot on his fame. When the iron power of Rome failed, and the barbarians of the North rushed upon Southern Europe with the shock of an avalanche, sweeping away the most prized monuments of ancient Civilization, there was found in the conquered race, an element of moral power which Gothic barbarism was not able to resist. Accordingly, we see, that while the physical force of the barbarian was more than a match for the military skill of the Roman, the Roman exerted a moral influence, by which the barbarian conqueror was brought to espouse the religion of the subject-race.
But in the Turkish conquest, all the precedents of History were set at nought. The Turks, of all the barbarians who have made incursions on the civilized world, have reaped least advantage from Civilization. Not, indeed, that we accuse them of inaction from the time their conquest was completed. On the contrary, they have often displayed a prodigious measure of activity, but it was activity wholly at variance with the rights and interests of the subject-race, and which has inscribed on the page of Turkish history the most atrocious deeds to be found in the annals of mankind. Shall we cite a fact or two ? Then the exclusive and domineering faith of the false prophet has been known to deluge the streets of Adrianople and Smyrna with the blood of the Greeks. In the massacre of Scio, 80,000 human beings were slaughtered in cold blood. During the entire period of the