Изображения страниц

sation with money.* To these punishments we the judgment of God, without hope of reconmust add three others, which are generally and ciliation with the church. It included an utter not improperly classed among ecclesiastical punish- exclusion from the congregation, confiscation of ments; but the Hebrew form of government property, and exposure to death by the visible being theocratic, they necessarily partook of a interposition of God. Hence it is called in the civil as well as of an ecclesiastical nature. Targum, “the curse and execration of God;"

(1) The Nedui, or separation, was inflicted on and by the Talmudists, “the anathema of the him who had despised the admonition given in God of Israel.” This punishment is referred to private by the minister or leading man in the in 1 Cor. v. 11, xvi. 22; Ezra x. 7, 8. And it synagogue, or had been guilty of refusing to pay is thought by some that there is a reference to it any debt to which he had been found liable, or in 1 Cor. xi. 30, where the apostle tells the had been guilty of certain offences, which have Corinthians, that in consequence of their imbeen collected out of the Talmud by Dr. Light-proper observance of the Lord's supper, “many foot + and Dr. Owen. I The time of its continu- were weak and sickly among them, and many ance was commonly thirty days; but if the person slept,” or died by the visitation of heaven. And neglected to apply for å remission at the end of perhaps it is to this visible judgment of God, in that time, he became virtually liable to the next the apostolic age, against egregious offenders, higher degree of censure, although it was not rather than to the unpardonable sin against the always inflicted. During the continuance of this Holy Ghost, that the apostle John also refers in sentence, he was not prevented from hearing the his first epistle (v. 16), when he says, “If any man law, or even from teaching it, if a master in Israel, see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, provided he kept four paces distant from other he shall ask, and God shall give him life for them persons. Nay, he might even go into the temple that sin not unto death. But there is a sin unto to attend divine service, under the same restric- | death : I do not say that he should pray for it." tions. If he died while under this sentence, He might pray for offenders in general, and even they threw a stone upon his bier, to signify that for the souls of those who were under this visible he deserved stoning. This degree of excommu- judgment; but he might not pray for their renication is what is meant in the New Testament storation to health, since God was more glorified, by casting out of the synagogue.||

and men more awed, by its continuance. (2) The second degree of excommunication (4) To the inferior punishments already enuwas called Cherem, or “cutting off,” to which merated, Michaëlis adds the sin and trespassPaul alludes, when he speaks of giving one over offerings, in consideration of which punishments to Satan, 1 Cor. v. 5. It was an authoritative were either entirely remitted, or capital punishand public censure, pronounced by the synagogue, ments commuted for others less severe. Such and lasted for thirty days. With persons under offerings were, therefore, in themselves a kind of this malediction it was not lawful so much as punishment. First, as fines ; and, secondly, as an to eat.

exposure to shame, in a public acknowledgment (3) But the highest degree of separation was of guilt, which probably bore some resemblance to the Shemetha ; so called from a word which sig- our ecclesiastical penance. They were to be offered nifies to exclude, expel, or cast out; meaning in the following cases : (1) For every uninthat the persons on whom it was pronounced tentional transgression of the Levitical law. Even were cast out from the covenant of promise, and if it was a sin of commission, a sin-offering being the commonwealth of Israel; and that they made, the legal punishment was thereupon reshould be accounted by the Jews as heathen men mitted; which in the case of wilful transgression and publicans. Some, however, interpret it as was nothing less than extirpation, Lev. iv. 2, equivalent to Maranathathe Lord cometh, i. e., v. 1, 4—7. (2) For every rash oath which was to execute vengeance; or, There is death, i. e., not kept. This was not for the inconsideration, an excommunication to death. It was inflicted however, but for the neglect, Lev. v. 4. (3) For on those who despised the cherem, and was by concealing any thing against a guilty person, on the greater part of the Jews esteemed total and his trial, and where the witness was sworn to final; the person who fell under it being left to depose to all he knew, Lev. v. 1. (4) For incurring a debt to the sanctuary; that is, not con- , him. I The Jews generally stoned criminals scientiously paying the tithes. In addition to the outside of the city; but in some cases, as blastrespass-offering in this case, the delinquent must phemers, idolaters, or adulterers, they stoned them make up his deficiencies, with twenty per cent. wherever they were found. Thus, when they over and above, Lev. v. 14, 15. (5) The same brought to Jesus a woman taken in adultery (John was the rule, where a person denied any thing viii. 7), he said to her accusers, “Let him who is given him in trust, or any thing lost, which he without sin cast the first stone at her.” And the had found, or any promise he had made ; or where Jews, pretending he blasphemed, took up stones he had acquired any property dishonestly, and to stone him, even in the temple, verse 59, n. 31. had his conscience awakened on account of it-On such occasions they dispensed with the usual even where it was a theft, of which he had once formalities, and followed the transports of their cleared himself by oath, but was now moved by passion. This they called “the judgment of the impulse of his conscience to make voluntary zeal."|| There were nineteen offences which subrestitution, and wished to get rid of the guilt, jected to this punishment, according to the rabLev. vi. 147. By the offering made on such an bins; only six or seven of which are specified in occasion, the preceding crime was wholly cancelled; the law. See Lev. xx. 2, 27, xxiv. 14; Deut. and because the delinquent would otherwise have xiii. 10, xvii. 5, xxi. 21, xxii. 21, 24. had to make restitution, from two to five fold, he (2) Strangling, which was effected by two now gave twenty per cent. over and above the persons with a handkerchief, for the following amount of his theft. (6) In the case of adultery offences: adultery, striking of parents, mancommitted with a slave, an offering was appointed stealing, elders notoriously rebellious against the (Lev. xix. 20—22); which did not, however, law, false prophets, and those who prognosticated wholly cancel the punishment, but mitigated it future events in the name of false gods. from death, which was the established punish- (3) Slaying with the sword, which was the ment of adultery, to that of stripes. That such punishment affixed to the two following offences : measures as these must have had a very great the voluntary manslayer, and the inhabitants of a effect in prompting to the restitution of property city who had fallen into idolatry, Deut. xi. 13– unjustly acquired, and to the retraction of false 16; 1 Sam. xv. 33 ; 2 Sam. iv. 7; 2 Kings x. 7. oaths, is quite obvious. But in cases of crimes, (4) Dronning, with a weight suspended from of which the good of the community expressly the neck, Matt. xviii. 6. required that the legal punishment should be put (5) Saning asunder. It is said that Isaiah in execution, no offering could be accepted.* was subjected to this horrible death ; and Paul 2. The capital punishments were

* Lightfoot, Horæ Heb., Matt. v. 38.

+ Ibid., 1 Cor. v. 5. Exposition of the Heb , Exerc. 21. | Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, b. V., chap. 2.

Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, h. v., chap. 2; Lamy's Apparat. Bib., b. i., chap. 12 ; Brown's Antiq. of the Jews, vol. i., p. 2.5; Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon, Mapavala; and Macknight on 1 Cor. v. ll.

alludes to it in Heb. xi. 37. (1) Stoning, which was the most general (6) Braying in a mortar, Prov. xxvi. 22 punishment denounced in the law against criminals This punishment is still resorted to by the Turks. who incurred capital punishment. It seems that (7) Crucifixion. This punishment was introlapidation was performed in two ways. The first duced among the Jews by the Romans, who had was when stones were thrown on the guilty person borrowed it from the Greeks. It obtained among till he was killed, in which the witnesses always the Egyptians, Persians, and Carthaginians. As threw the first stones, Deut. xvii. 17.The second this is the punishment to which our blessed Lord mode was, when the criminal was carried to a was subjected, we may be allowed to notice it steep place twelve or fourteen feet in height, more at length than we have any of the former whence one of the two witnesses threw him punishments mentioned. Dr. Harwood has writheadlong, and the other rolled a large stone upon ten very largely upon it, and from his work we his body. To the latter method there is supposed have borrowed the following particulars :—Crucito be an allusion in Matt. xxi. 44: “Whosoever fixion is one of the most cruel and excruciating shall fall on this stone shall be broken ; but on deaths which the art of ingeniously tormenting whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to pow

and extinguishing life ever devised. The person der;" for he that was thus stoned was first flung doomed to this dire end was distended on a cross ; upon a stone, and then a stone was dashed upon

Selden de Synedriis, lib. i., c. v., ž. 13; Lightfoot, Temple

Service, chap. xxji. * Michaelis on the Laws of Moses, vol. iji., pp. 482—488.

|| Calmet's Bib. Ency., art. “ Stoning." + The wisdom of this law is apparent. It would seem that See the authorities referred to in Fragments to Calmet, few men could become so hardened as to bear false witness No. 2xxi.; and for further particulars relative to the various against their neighbour, when they knew that they would be kinds of punishment adopted by the Hebrews, see his Bib. obliged to inflict the punishment of death themselves.

Ency., art. “Punishment.”

had great nails driven through his hands and Christ voluntarily endured, adds, “ It is written feet, the most exquisitely tender and sensible parts in the law, Cursed is every one that is hanged on of the human frame; and he was left slowly to a tree !" chap. iii. 13. And from this express consume and die in this lingering and most declaration of the law of Moses, concerning permiserable manner. There are instances of crucified sons thus executed, we account for that aversion persons living in this exquisite torture several the Jews discover against Christianity, and perdays. The rites of sepulture were denied them. ceive the reason of what Paul asserts, that their Their dead bodies were generally left on the “preaching of Christ crucified was to the Jews a crosses on which they were first suspended, and stumbling-block," 1 Cor. i. 23.* The punishment became a prey to every ravenous beast and carni- of the cross caused them to stumble at the very verous bird. It was generally a servile punish- gate of Christianity. The several circumstances ment, and chiefly inflicted on vile, worthless, and related by the four evangelists, as accompanying incorrigible slaves. In reference to this, the the crucifixion of Christ, were conformable to the apostle, in describing the condescension of our Roman custom in such executions, and not only Saviour, and his submission to this most oppro- reflect beauty and lustre upon


passages, bious death, represents him as taking upon him but happily corroborate and confirm the narrative the form of a SERVANT, and becoming obedient to of the sacred penmen. Thus, when Pilate had death, even the death of the cross, Phil. iii. 7, 8. pronounced the sentence of condemnation, and It was universally reputed the most shameful and publicly adjudged him to be crucified, he gave ignominious death to which a wretch could be orders that he should be scourged, Matt. xxvii. 20; exposed. In such an exit were comprised every Mark xv. 15. Among the Romans, this was idea and circumstance of odium, disgrace, and always inflicted previously to crucifixion. After public scandal. Hence the apostle magnifies and they had inflicted this customary whipping, the extols the benevolence and magnanimity which evangelists inform us that they obliged our Lord our blessed Lord displayed, who for the joy set to carry to the place of execution the cross, or at before him endured the cross, despising the shame least the transverse beam of it, on which he was (Heb. xii. 2); regarding, with a generous disdain to be suspended. Lacerated, therefore, with the and contempt, every circumstance of public indig- stripes and bruises he had received—faint with nity and infamy with which such a death was the loss of blood—his spirits exhausted by the loaded. It was from the idea they connected cruel insults and blows that were given him, when with such a death, that the Greeks treated the they invested him with robes of mock royaltyapostles with the last contempt and pity, for pub- and oppressed with the incumbent weight of his licly embarking in the cause of a person who had cross ; in this condition our Saviour was urged been brought to this reproachful and dishonour- along the road. Fatigued and spent with the able death by his own countrymen. The preach- treatment he had received, our Lord could not ing of the cross was to them foolishness (1 Cor. support his cross. The soldiers, therefore, who i. 23); the promulgation of a 'system of religion attended him, compelled one Simon, a Cyrenian, that had been taught by a person who, by a na- who was coming from the country to Jerusalem, tional act, had publicly suffered the punishment and happened then to be passing, to bear it after and death of the most useless and abandoned him. The circumstance here mentioned, of our slave, was, in their ideas, the last infatuation; and Lord bearing his cross, was agreeable to the the preaching Christ crucified-publishing in the Roman custom. Slaves and malefactors were world a religion whose founder suffered on a compelled to carry the whole or part of the fatal cross, appeared the last absurdity and madness. gibbet on which they were destined to die; and The same inherent scandal and ignominy had this constituted a principal part of the shame and crucifixion in the estimation of the Jews. They, ignominy of such a death.

Cross-bearer” was a indeed, annexed more complicated wretchedness term of the greatest reproach among the Romans. to it; for they esteemed the miscreant who was All along the road to the place of execution, the adjudged to such an end, not only to be aban- unhappy criminal was loaded with every wanton doned of men, but forsaken of God. “He that cruelty. He was pushed, thrown down, stimuis hanged is accursed of God,” Deut. xxi. 23. lated with goads, and impelled forward by every Hence Paul, representing to the Galatians the act of insolence and inhumanity that wretchedness grace and benevolence of Jesus, who released us from that curse to which the law of Moses devoted

us, by being made a curse for us, by sub- * Trypho the Jew every where affects to treat the Christian mitting to be treated for our sakes as an execrable religion with contempt, on account of the crucifixion of its

anthor. He ridicules its professors for centering all their hopes malefactor, to show the horror of such a death as in a man who was crucified.

is heir to.* There is great reason to think that hearing his request, hasted and took a sponge, and our blessed Redeemer, in his way to Calvary, filled it from a vessel that stood by, that was full experienced every abuse of this nature. Might of vinegar. The usual drink of the Roman solnot the scourging that was inflicted—the blows diers was vinegar and water. After receiving he had received from the soldiers, when in de- this, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “ IT IS FINrision they paid him homage—and the abuse he ISHED!”—the divine plan and scheme of human suffered in his way to Calvary, greatly contribute redemption is completed: after which his head to accelerate his death, and occasion that speedy sunk upon his bosom, and he gave up the ghost, exit, at which one of the evangelists tells us, Matt. xxvii. 50. The last circumstance relative “Pilate marvelled ?" When the malefactor had to the crucifixion of our Lord which demands carried his cross to the place of execution, a hole notice, was the petition of the Jews to Pilate, that was dug in the earth, in which it was to be fixed the death of the sufferers might be accelerated. -the criminal was stripped—a stupifying potion There is an express prohibition in the law, that was given himt—the cross was laid on the ground the bodies of those who were hanged should re

- he was distended upon it—and four soldiers, main all night upon the tree, Deut. xxi. 23. The two on each side, were at the same time employed next day, therefore, after the crucifixion, being, as in driving four large nails through his hands and one of the evangelists says, a high day (John xix. feet. After they had deeply fixed and riveted 31), a number of leading men among the Jews these nails in the wood, they elevated the cross waited on Pilate in a body, to desire that he would with the sufferer upon it; and in order to infix it hasten the death of the malefactors hanging on the more firmly and securely in the earth, they their crosses. Pilate, therefore, dispatched his let it violently fall into the cavity they had pre-orders to the soldiers on duty, who broke the legs pared to receive it. This vehement precipitation of the two criminals who were crucified along with of the cross must have occasioned a most dreadful Christ. But, when they came to Jesus, finding convulsive shock, and agitated the whole frame of he had already breathed his last, they thought this the malefactor in a dire and most excruciating violence unnecessary; but one of them pierced his manner. These several particulars were observed side with a spear, whose point appears to have in the crucifixion of our Lord. Upon his arrival penetrated into the pericardium of the heart: for at Calvary, he was stripped—the medicated cup John, who says that he was an eye-witness of was offered to him—he was fastened to the cross; this, declares that there issued from the wound a and while they were employed in piercing his mixture of blood and water. This wound, had hands and his feet, it is probable that he offered he not been dead, must necessarily have proved to heaven that most benevolent and affecting fatal. This circumstance John saw ; "and he prayer for his murderers, “Father, forgive them, that saw it bare record, and his record is true: for they know not what they do!" In conformity and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye with the Roman custom, a title or inscription, by might believe,” John xix. 35. He thus attested Pilate's order, was fixed above the head of Jesus, it from a conviction of the great importance written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, specifying of the event, and conscious that on this single what it was that had brought him to this end. fact rested the whole fabric of the Christian After the cross was erected, a party of soldiers were religion.|| The rites of sepulture were commonly appointed to keep guard, and to attend at the place denied to such as were crucified. The bodies of of execution, till the criminal breathed his last. the malefactors were generally devoured by wolves, So it was in the case of our Lord, Matt. xxvii. 54. dogs, and other animals; or, if the crosses were While they were thus attending him, it is said higher than usual, they either became a prey to our Saviour complained of thirst. This is a natural the birds, or putrefied and fell to pieces. Among circumstance. The exquisitely tender and sen- the Hebrews, as before remarked, the body was sible extremities of the body being thus perforated, not suffered to remain on the cross all night; the person languishing and faint with loss of blood, but they did not permit them to be placed in the and lingering under such acute and excruciating tombs of their families, till their flesh had been first torture, must necessarily kindle and inflame a vehe-consumed in the public sepulchres. It was for ment and excessive thirst. One of the guards, this reason, perhaps, that Joseph desired leave from

This is qnestioned by Godwyn. See Rom. Antiq., book iji., sect. 3, chap. 4.

# Dr. Hosham's Method for preserving the health of Seanea, in his Essay on Fevers.

+ This was for the purpose of rendering him in some measure insensible to the pain. But our blessed Lord refused this potion,

|| Harwood's Introd. to the New Testament, sol ü, pp 395 - 353.

Pilate to lay the body of Jesus in his own tomb; Josh. vii. 25, 26, viii. 29; 2 Sam. xviii. 17.+ This that it might not be thrown, undistinguished, custom was prevalent among the ancient Arabs, among the criminals in the public burial-place, and obtains even in the present day. I which adjoined the place of crucifixion. From this II. Of the treatment of prisoners we have necescircumstance we also learn, that the Roman go- sarily said something, in noticing the punishments vernors had the power of dispensing with this part to which they were subjected. But there are two of the ignominious sentence, by delivering the or three additional circumstances which require to body to the friends of the deceased. The punish- be adverted to, as they illustrate some parts of the ment of crucifixion was so common among the New Testament writings. The Roman method of Romans, that, by a very usual figure, pains, afflic- fettering and confining criminals was singular. tions, troubles, &c., were called crosses. Hence | One end of a chain, that was of a commodious our Saviour says, that his disciple must take up length, was fixed about the right arm of the prihis cross and follow him, Matt. xvi. 24. The cross soner, and the other end was fastened to the left is the sign of ignoming and suffering: yet it is of a soldier. Thus a soldier was coupled to the the badge and glory of the Christian. Christ is the prisoner, and every where attended and guarded way we are to follow; and there is no way of him. Thus was Paul confined ; and fettered in attaining that glory and happiness which is pro- this manner, he delivered his apology before Fesmised in the gospel, but by the cross of Christ.* tus, Agrippa, and Bernice, Acts xxvi. And it Such were the chief capital punishments among was this circumstance which occasioned one of the the Jews, in various periods of their history. But most pathetic and affecting strokes of true oratory we must not dismiss this subject, without noticing that was ever displayed either in the Grecian or that species of punishment which consisted in- Roman senate—“Would to God that not only

(8) Posthumous insults, and was designed to thou, but also ALL that hear me this day, were not brand with infamy those who were its subjects. Almost, but ALTOGETHER such as I am-except Michaëlis notices three punishments of this descrip- these bonds !" What a prodigious effect must this tion:-1. Burning, Lev.xx. 14, xxi. 9. The Jewish striking conclusion, and the sight of the irons held rabbis have supposed, and in this they have been up to enforce it, have made upon the minds of the followed by some Christian commentators, that the audience! During the two years that Paul was a punishment here spoken of was inflicted on the prisoner at large, and lived at Rome in his own criminal while alive; by pouring molten lead down hired house, he was subjected to this confinement; his throat. No such sanguinary law, however, he was suffered to dwell with a soldier that kept appears among the enactments of Moses. That him, Acts xxviii. 16. The circumstance of his burning was a posthumous punishment, inflicted publicly wearing this chain, and being thus coupled on the lifeless corpse of the criminal, is evident to a soldier, was very disgraceful and dishonourfrom Josh. vii. 15, 25. In the former verse it is able, and the ignominy of it would naturally occaordained that the person who had committed the sion the desertion of former friends and acquaintcrime of sacrilege, and who was yet undiscovered, ance. Hence the apostle immortalizes the name should be burnt reith fire; and in the latter, we of Onesiphorus, and fervently intercedes with God find that the execution of the sentence upon him to bless his family, and to remember him in the consisted, in his being first stoned and then burnt. day of future recompence, for a rare instance of 2. Hanging, Deut. xxi. 22; Josh. x. 16. This distinguished fidelity and affection to him when was considered as a mark of the greatest infamy; all had turned away and forsaken him :-“ The because, by the explanation of Moses himself, a Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for person hanged was held as accursed of God," he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my and for this reason, that his death did not suf- chain ; but immediately upon his arrival in Rome ficiently atone for his crime; and, therefore, the he sought me out very diligently till he found me. law considered him as a person who carried the The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy curse of God with him into the other world, and of the Lord in that day," 2 Tim. i. 16–18. Somewas punishable even there. 3. Heaping stones times the prisoner was fastened to two soldiers, upon the bodies of criminals, who had been already one on each side-wearing a chain both on his put to death, or 'upon their remains when consumed by fire; in order to serve as a perpetual monument of their infamy, in having there suffered any such ignominious punishment. See

+ Michaelis on the Laws of Moses, vol. jii., pp. 423—431.

It is said that the pillar of Absalom, which stands in the valley of Jehoshaphat, is heaped round with stones, which are

thrown at it by the Turks, as an expression of their indignation * Calmet's Biblical Encyclopædia, art.“ Cross." at his crime.

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »