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ner; but without knowing what they do, they form a deeply significant symbol, which wakes a multitude of contrasted thoughts. They crown the King of Heaven and Earth, in token of, how bitter to him, was the dominion, which he exercised over the souls of millions. When they had thus arrayed the Savior, Pilate came forth from the palace, led him in his garment of sorrow from the court yard, and showed the people their king with a crown of thorns upon his head, saying, Behold the man. The only just interpretation of this expression, is that which supposes it to flow from the Roman's sympathy in the fate of him who had so deeply moved his heart. Tholuck's idea of Pilate, as an entirely weak man of the world, hurts the deep interest of the scene between him and Christ. He seems to have felt much of the Lord's greatness, and thereby to be more guilty, than if the case had been otherwise. This view of his character is supported by his scepticism, which very weak spirits are not prone to feel, and also by his subsequent conversations with our Lord, which disclose in a remarkable manner the inward struggle of the unhappy Roman, and manifest that germ of faith, that would develop itself in his heart.
While the rough Roman, who had been bred amid the battle tumult, and had dwelt amid cruelty and hardship, was moved with sorrowful compassion, when he saw the Lord with the crown of thorns, in whom heavenly majesty was so wondrously mingled with the deepest humility – those ministers of the sanctuary, who had been their life long, conversant with the holy law and the prophecies, raised their pitiless shout: crucify him, crucify him! Once more Pilate was willing to deliver him up to them for punishment, which should not be capital, but they thirsted for his blood. Hereupon they brought a new accusation, which demanded the penalty of death according to their law. They accused him of being a blasphemer, since he pretended to be the Son of God. This proves clearly that they did not use the expression “Son of God” as synonymous with “Christ,” or “King of the Jews;” since they had already accused Jesus of calling himself the Christ, but this other name was new to Pilate. In the assumption of this name they saw a blasphemy, which deserved death according to the law. This new charge terrified Pilate still more; he again left his judgment seat, led Jesus again into the palace, and began to question him more closely about his origin. Since the earthly origin of Jesus had been ascertained by the mission to Herod, we must consider Pilate's question, “ whence art thou,” as referring to the name “Son of God.” Pilate wished to know
whether he was of a higher origin, and actually a Son of God. His idea of a Son of God may have been somewhat indistinct, like that of the centurion at the crucifixion; but he must have thought, even if he took the phrase in its most vague generality, that it designated a Heavenly Nature. The fact that the mind of the sceptic was so deeply penetrated by this circumstance, goes strongly against the supposition of his extreme weakness. By the exhibition of this heavenly character, his hollow sceptical system was prostrated; the reality of the Divinity, in its indwelling power, took hold of his soul, while in his professions he denied its reality. The deep inward wants of his nature, which by mistaken speculation had driven him to scepticism, here acted with all their power. His spirit's eye saw the light, and he could not persuade himself that it did not exist. What loftiness and majesty the air of Jesus must have expressed, that although in the deepest humiliation, under the Jewish form so odious to the heathen, and in a garb of mockery, he should have struck with wonder and admiration the mind of Pilate! The Savior replied no more to Pilate's questions; he felt that the Roman would not fight the battle through, and he did not wish to lead him into further temptation. The Roman was moved to astonishment and anguish by this silence; he sought to compel Christ by force to reply. Our Lord made use of this intimation to warn Pilate of a higher power, which was above him; by this he raises the sense of dependence in the mind of Pilate, and also expresses his own consciousness, that he himself is ruled by the high power of God, and not by his own might. With heartfelt compassion for the situation of the unhappy Roman, the Savior, foreseeing the result of the struggle, declares, that those hardhearted priests, who not only thirsted after his own blood, but led Pilate into such severe temptation, sinned far more than he. Deeply abased, as he was, the accused appears here again, as before the Sanhedrim, like the Judge and Sovereign, while he estimates the sin of the Roman Ruler, and gives him a gleam of hope for forgiveness. With sublime dignity the Savior had addressed Pilate; and he instead of feeling offended, began now for the first time to think of freeing him, as if he had done nothing from the beginning. But his efforts were powerless. The secret bonds of the world held his weak nature in too strong embrace; he spoke the words: You are not a friend to Cesar; and he fell!
Now Pilate led Jesus quickly forward, placed himself upon the judgment seat, and after he had called out, Behold your King, less probably in order to raise compassion, than to deride the people, who so cruelly compelled him to act against his conscience, he pronounced the sentence, and gave the Savior up to them for crucifixion.
There is a chronological difficulty in regard to the hour in which the condemnation took place. John speaks of the sixth hour, as that of the condemnation, while Mark says the crucifixion took place at the third hour. According to Matthew and Luke also, the Savior had been sometime upon the cross at the sixth hour. But some manuscripts have third instead of sixth hour, inserted in John; and moreover, it should be remembered, that John wrote for the people of Asia Minor especially, and might count time from midnight according to Roman custom, and thus his statement, that Jesus was condemned on the sixth hour, would not be inconsistent with the statement of the others, that he was crucified before the third hour. According to this the condemnation took place at six o'clock, (according to our method of computing time, and the crucifixion before nine.
Matthew alone states, that Pilate by a symbolical act freed himself in the eyes of the people of the guilt of the death of a just man. But his previous sentence, together with the declaration, that he was a just man, whom he had delivered up to crucifixion, shows this act to have been an empty ceremony. But the deluded people cried out, his blood be upon us and our children ; unconsciously invoking a blessing upon theinselves, since while the blood of Abel calls for vengeance, the blood of Christ calls for forgiveness. After the withdrawal of Pilate, who had now released Barabbas to the people, the rough soldiers may have made more mockery of Jesus, as has been before mentioned, since he still wore the purple robe and the crown of thorns. When they would lead him to the place of punishment, they put his own clothes upon him, and then burdened him with the cross.
Now that we have reached the conclusion of the trial of Christ before Pilate, the end of the unhappy Roman deserves some mention. It is nowhere told how the news of the Lord's resurrection affected him. According to Josephus, he indulged in so many abuses and oppressions, subsequently, that the Proconsul of Syria deposed him from his office in the last year of Tiberius, and banished him into Gau). As to what the Fathers of the Church say of the “ Acts” of Pilate, which he sent to Rome in regard to the death of Christ, and which induced Tiberius to adopt Jesus among the number of Gods, the whole account is so garnished, as undoubtedly to deserve no more credit, than a mere legend. But according to the Gospel His
tory, it is highly probable that Pilate actually wrote to Tiberius on the subject, for since political affairs were concerned in the trial, he would be unwilling that any tidings of a King of the Jews should reach Rome before his own. But since he had already condemned Jesus to death, there was no ground for concealing his favorable opinion of the Savior. From the favorable statements of Pilate, a legend may have been formed, that Tiberius had allowed Christ to be adopted by the Senate into the company of the Gods.
Cincinnati, March, 1836.
Art 2.- THE BACKWOODSMAN.
BY E. PEABODY.
The silent wilderness for me,
Where never sound is heard,
And the flitting wing of bird, -
And the deer's quick, crackling tread,
As the wind moves overhead.
My good dog at my side,
the forests wide.
Across the plains I chase ;
The beaver's lurking place.
And (solitude profound!)
Within the horizon's bound.
Below, az o’er its ocean breadth
The air's light currents run,
Is glancing in the sun.
Meets the far forest line,
This kingdom-all is mine.
Waters that ever roll-
Their offerings to my soul.
The world's fresh prime hath seen;
Pillared and roofed with green.
Pours loud its swelling bars,
My festal lamps are stars.
My star-watched couch I press,
I am companionless.
The hill, the tree, the stream,
Come gently to my dream.
While slumbers every tree
Seems nearer unto me.
Like the embracing air ;
My heart is hushed in prayer.