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without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high-priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. 18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals: for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
All the four evangelists give us an account of Peter's fall in denying his Master. And therein we have observable, 1. The sin itself which he fell into, the denial of Christ, and this backed with an oath; he sware that he knew not the man. Lord! how may the slavish fear of suffering drive the holiest and best of men to commit the foulest and worst of sins? Observe, 2. The occasion of his fall. 1. His presumptuous confidence of his own strength and standing: Though nil men forsake thee, yet will not I. Lord! to presume upon ourselves, is the ready way to provoke thee to leave us to ourselves. If ever we stand in the day of trial, 'tis the fear of falling must enable us to stand; we soon fall, if we believe it impossible to fall. 2. His being in bad company, amongst Christ's enemies: Peter had better have been acold by himself alone, than warming himself at a fire which was compassed in with the blasphemies of the soldiers, where his conscience, tho' not seared, was yet made hard. Observe, 3. The reiteration or repetition of this sin: he denied Christ again and again; he denied him first with a lie, then with an oath and curse. O, how dangerous is it not to resist the beginnings of sin! If we yield to one temptation, Satan will assault us with more and stronger. Observe, 4. The heinous and aggravating circumstances of Peter's sin. 1. From the character of his person; a disciple, an apostle, a chief apostle, yet he denies Christ. 2. From the person whom he denies: his Master, his Saviour. 3. The time when he denied him: soon after Christ had washed his feet; yea, soon after he had received the sacrament from Christ's own hand. How unreasonable then is their objection against coming to the Lord's table, that some who go to it, dishonour
Christ as soon as they come from it! Such examples ought not to discourage us from coming to the ordinance, but should excite and increase our watchfulness after we have been there, that our after-deportment may be suitable to the solemnity of a sacramental table.
10 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world : I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I had said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
Our Saviour being brought before Caiaphas the high-priest, he examines him concerning his doctrine, and his disciples, pretending him to be guilty of heresy in doctrine, and sedition in gathering disciples and lollowers. Our Saviour answers, that as to his doctrine, he had not delivered it in holes and corners, but had taught publicly in the temple and synagogues; and that in secret he had said nothing, that is, nothing contrary to what he had delivered in public. Christ never willingly affected corners; he taught openly, and propounded his doctrine publicly and plainly in the world. A convincing evidence, that both he and his doctrine were of God. Learn hence, 1. That it is not unusual for the best of doctrines to pass under the odious name and imputation of error and heresy. Christ's own doctrine is here charged: The high-priest asked Jesus of his doctrine. 2. That the ministers of Christ who have truth on their side, may and ought to speak boldly and openly: I spake openly unto the world. "Veritas nihil erubescit, praeterquam abscondi." Truth blushes at nothing, except at its being concealed; In secret, says Christ, hare I said nothing.
22 And, when he had thusspoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high-priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil : hut if well, why smitest thou rac? 24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high-priest. 25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said, therefore, unto him, Art n<>t thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
26 One of the servants of the highpriest, being hit kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
Observe here, I. How insolently and injuriously an officer strikes our Saviour in this court of judicature: One of the officers struck Jesus with the palm of his hand. What had the holy and innocent Jesus done, lo deserve these buffetings? He only made use of the liberty which their law did allow him, which was not lo accuse himself, but to put them upon the
Eroof of those accusations which were rought against him. But, from this instance of our Saviour's sufferings, we learn, That Christ did endure painful buffetings, ignominious and contemptuous usage, even from inferior servants: giving his cheek to the smiters, to testify that shame and reproachful usage which was deserved by us, and to sanctify that condition to us, whenever it is allotted for us. Observe, 2. The meek and gentle reproof which the Lord Jesus gives to this rude officer: he doth not strike him dead upon the place, nor cause that arm lo wither which was stretched forth against the Lord's Anointed; but only lets him know, that there was no reason for his striking of him. Where note, That though our Saviour doth not revenge himself, yet he vindicates himself, and defends himself both with law and reason: If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me . * Hence we learn, 1. That we are not literally to understand the command, Matt. v. of turning the cheek to him that smites us. For Christ himself did not this, but defends the innocency of his words. 2. That to stand up in defence of our own innocency, is not contrary either to the duties of patience and forgiveness, or to the practice and example of our Lord Jesus. Note, 3. That when the soldier had struck Christ upon one cheek, he did not turn to him the oilier also, according to Matt. v. 39. Which evidently shows, tliat that precept,
If they smite ihec on one cheek, turn the other also, commands only this, that rather than take revenge, we should bear a second injury. Christians ought rather 10 suffer a double wrong, than to seek a private revenge: christianity obliges us lo bear many injuries patiently, rather than to avenge one privately. But though it hinds up our hands from private revenge, yet it doth not shut our mouths from complaining to public authority. Christ's own practice herecxpoundslhe precept elsewhere, Malt. v. 39. For he complains here of the officer's injustice in smiting him before the judicatory, and challenges the man to bear witness of the evil. Observe lastly, How our Lord was not only buffeted, but bound, and sent bound from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod to Pilate again: and all this on foot through the streets of Jerusalem, from one end of the city to the other; partly to render his passion more public, being made a gazing-stock to the world, and a spectacle both to angels and men. And his condescending to go bound from one high-priest to another, and from one tribunal to another, teaches his people what delinquents they were before the tribunal of God, and what they deserved by reason of sin; even a sentence of eternal condemnation at the tribunal of the just and holy God.
28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early: and they themselves went not into the judgmenthall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover.
There were two courts of judicature which our blessed Saviour was brought before, and condemned by. 1. The ecclesiastical court or sanhedrim, in which the high-priest sat as judge; here he was condemned to death for blasphemy. 2. The civil court or judgment-hall, where Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, sat judge, who, because he was a Gentile, they would not go into his house, lest they should be defiled ; for they accounted it a legal pollution to come into the house of a Gennlf. Where observe, The notorious hypocrisy of these Jews: they scruple thedefilingof themselves by coming near the judgment-hall, where Pilate sat, but make no scruple at all to defile themselves with the guilt of that innocent blood which Pilate shod. Whrtf persons are over zealous for ceremonial observations, they are oftentimes too remiss with reference to moral duties: They Irought him to the judgment-hall; hut they themselves went not in, test they should he defiled.
29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring yc against this man? 30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
Observe here, 1. How Pilate humours these Jews in their superstition. They scruple to go into the judgment-hall to him; he therefore goes out to them, and demands what accusation they had against Christ. They charge him here only for being a malefactor, or an evil-doer in the general; but elsewhere (Luke xxiii.) they particularly accuse him, 1. " For perverting the nation." 2. "For forhidding to pay tribute to Ceesar." 3. "For saying that he himself was Christ a king." All which was filthy calumny, yet Christ underwent the reproach of it without opening his mouth; teaching us, when we lie under calumny and unjust imputation, to imitate him, who opened not his mouth, but committed his cause to him that judgeth uprightly.
31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: 32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
The Jews being now under the power of the Romans, though they had a power of judging and censuring criminals in smaller matters, yet not in capital cases; they could, not pronounce a sentence of death upon any person, say some; they might, and did,say others, punish blasphemers by. stoning them to death; but then their sentence is to be ratified by the Roman power. Accordingly, here they had in their ecclesiastical court condemned Christ for blasphemy, now they bring him to Pilate the Roman governor to confirm the sentence of death. From hence it appears, That
Christ was the true Messias, being sent into the world when the sceptre was departed from Judah, according to thai ancient prophecy of Jacob, Gen. xlix. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come. The Jews had no power absolutely to condemn any man, or put him to death; but this power the Roman emperor reserved to his own deputy. This contributed towards the fulfilling of our Saviour's words, Matt. xx. 19. That he should be delivered to the Gentiles, and should be crucified; which was not a Jewish, but a Roman punishment. Had the Jews put him to death, they had stoned him. But Christ was to be made a curse for us by hanging upon a tree; and accordingly the Jews execute the counsel of God, though they knew it not, by refusing to put him to death themselves. Learn hence, How willing Christ was to undergo a shameful, painful, and accursed death, that he might testify his love unto, and procure a blessing for, his people. Thus the saying of Jesus was fulfilled; which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and called Jesus, and said untn him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: What hast thou done? 3G Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Observe here, 1. Pilate's ensnaring question, Art thou the King of the Jews? How jealous are great men of Jesus Christ, and how afraid are they of his kingdom, power, and authority, as if it would be prejudicial to their authority and power in the world; which was far enough from Christ's thoughts! Observe, 2. The wisdom and caution of our Saviour's answer; he neither affirms nor denies. Though whenever we speak we are bound to speak the truth, yet we are not bound at all limes to speak the whole truth. Christ
tells him therefore, that, upon the supposition that he was a king, yet his kingdom was no earthly, but a spiritual kingdom; he was no temporal king, to rule over his subjects with temporal power and worldly pomp; but a spiritual king, in and over his church only, to order the affairs and look after the government thereof. Learn hence, That Christ as God hath an universal kingdom of power and providence even over the highest of men, and as a Mediator hath a spiritual kingdom in and over his church. 2. That it is a clear evidence that Christ's kingdom is spiritual, inasmuch as it is not carried on by violence and force of arms, as worldly kingdoms are, but by spiritual means and methods: If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight for me: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end "was 1 born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate asks him again directly and cxpresslv, Art thou a king or not? Our Saviour answers, " Thou sayest that I am a king, and so it is indeed as thou sayest, I am a king, and the king of the Jews too; but not a temporal king, to rule over them after the manner of earthly kings with temporal power, and worldly pomp and splendour; but I am a spiritual king, to rule and govern, not only the Jews, but my whole church, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles, after a spiritual manner." Observe here, 1. The dominion and sovereignty of Jesus Christ; he has a kingdom: Mi/ kingdom. Observe, 2. The condition and qualification of this kingdom, negatively expressed: My kingdom is not of this world. Observe, 3. The use and end of this kingdom: that the truth may have place among the children of men for their salvation: To this end was I horn, and came into the world, to bear witness unto the truth. Observe, 4. The subjects of Christ's kingdom declared: Evert/ one that is of the truth heareth my voice; that is, every one who is by divine grace disposed to believe and love the truth, will hear and oliey Christ's doctrine.
38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39 But ye have a custom that 1 should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that 1 release unto you the King of the Jews 1 40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but"Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Observe here, 1. The question Pilate put to Christ, What is truth? A most noble and important question, had it been put forth with an honest heart, with a mind fairly disposed for information and satisfaction; but it is evident, Pilate's enquiry was not serious; nay, it is generally thought that Pilate asked this question m scorn, contempt, and derision: for he stays not for our Lord's answer, but as soon as be started this query, went off the bench in haste. Learn hence, That his question, What is truth ? or, how may we come le the knowledge of the truth? is of unspeakable use and importance, and a question whereon the whole frame and constitution of religion depends; because truth is claimed by all parties of men, by all professors of religion. Ask the different parties, from the old gentlemen at Rome to the poorest Quaker and Mungletonian, Where is truth .v and they will all tell you, they are in possession of it. Every sect hath thus mucK of popery with it, that the professors of it think themselves infallible, and every one cries out, Here is truth. But God has given us a two-fold light to search for truth; namely, the light of reason, and the light of scripture, or divine revelation. The former Solomon calls the candle of the Lord, set up in our breast by God, on purpose to discover truth unto us. God allows us, yea, enjoins us, the free and unpartial use of our understandings and judgments, in order to the finding out of divmc truth; but because nature's right, or 1 helight of natural reason, is not clear and bright enough to give us a prospect of supernatural truths; (for nature and reason can never dictate those things which depend only upon God's free grace and good pleasure, such as the doctrines of a Saviour and Redeemer, and the method of man s salvation by the sufferings of the Son of God: (it had been blasphemy once to haw supposed such things, had not God revealed than ia scripture; therefore the second standard of divine truth, is the infallible word of God. The gospel of Christ is the way and the truth: Truth came by Jesus Christ. And would men be ruled and conducted by the unalterable standards of truth, namely, right reason and divine revelation, they would easily agree in their judgments what is to be believed, and all debates and controversies would vanish. Right reason and inspired scriptures are the best judges of controversies; they being the fixed standards and measures of divine truth, can best resolve Pilate's question here, and tell us -what is truth. Observe here, How unwillmg, how very unwilling. Pilate was to be the instrument of our Saviour's death: he came forth three several times, and tells the Jews that he finds no fault in him; he bids them take him, and judge hira according to their law. Pilate, a pagan, absolves Christ, whilst the hypocritical Jews, that heard his doctrine, and saw his miracles, do condemn him. Observe, 3. Pilate having absolved Christ, J find no fault iu him, endeavours next to release him, and takes occasion from their custom of having a prisoner released to them at their feast, to insinuate his desire that they should choose Christ: Ye have a custom that I should release unto t/ou one at the passovcr. Observe lastly, How the Jews prefer Barabbas, a robber, before the holy and innocent Jesus: They all cried out, saying. Not this man, but Barabbas. Learn hence, That no persons, how wicked and vile soever, are so odious in the eyes of the enemies of God as Christ himself was, and his friends and followers now are: Christ did find it thus in his own person when on earth: Barabbas a robber was preferred before him; and now he is in heaven, he suffers in his members, the filth of the world being preferred before them.
rrUIEN Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
Observe here, 1. That as the death of the cross was a Roman punishment, so it was the manner of the Romans, to whip their malefactors before they crucified them. Accordingly Pilate took Jesus, and scourged bim. O! amazing sight, the great God of heaven and earth is lashed and scourged like
a base slave. Behold, hard-hearted sinner! the lashes wherewith thy Redeemer is cruelly tormented, were to preserve thee from the severer lashes of thine own accusing and condemning conscience, and to save thee from being lashed by the rage and fury of devils to all eternity. Observe, 2. How unwilling, how very unwilling, Pilate was to be the instrument of our Saviour's death: it is very evident that he had a mind to release him; and it is concluded, that Pilate was thus forward to scourge Christ, hoping that the Jews would have been satisfied with this lighter punishment, and so have dismissed him. From this instance we may gather, that hypocrites within the pale of the visible church, may be guilty of such tremendous acts of wickedness, as the conscience of an infidel and pagan may boggle at and protest against. Pilate, a pagan, absolves Christ, and seeks to release him, whilst the hypocritical Jews, who had heard his doctrine and saw his miracles, condemn him. Observe, 3. How wretchedly Pilate suffers himself to be overcome with the Jews' importunity, and, contrary to the light of his own reason and conscience, delivers the holy and innocent Jesus, first to be scourged, and then crucified. Learn thence, That it is a vain apology for sin, when persons pretend that it was not committed with their own consent, but at the instigation and importunity of others: for such is the frame .and constitution of man's soul, that none can make him either wicked or miserable, without his own consent : Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him.
2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
Behold here, 1. The crown which they have prepared for him, a crown of thorns; and with great cruelty they press it closely to his sacred temples, whilst those sharppointed briars, piercing those tender parts, iet out that blood, which in a short time was to be more freely poured forth for the redemption of captive souls. The next part of our Saviour's sufferings consisted of cruel mockings: Christ had owned himself to be the King of the Jews; that is, a spiritual king, in and over his church. But the Jews expecting that the Messiah should