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Before this, they had been very industrious in procuring witnesses ; yet after all their several depositions, they found it was to no purpose. But when the blessed Jesus afterwards acknowledged himself to be the Messiah and the Son of God, they dropped all the evidences of their witnesses, and endeavoured to convict him on his own confession ; which, in their blindness, they thought contained the most horrid blasphemy: When our blessed Saviour made this confession for the first time, the High Priest said, “Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think
What think ye?' At this second confession they all unanimously say, 'We ourselves have heard of his own mouth.' As if they had said, “ Since he abides by his former declaration, viz. that he is the Messiah, the Son of God; so we abide by our sentence, that he is guilty of death. We supposed the prisoner would have thought better of the matter, but now we see that he is an obstinate blasphemer, and that God has given him up to the judgment of obduracy. His blood be on his own head! But we are in conscience obliged to cut off the evil one from Israel, that the righteousness of God, which has been so highly injured by his blasphemy, may receive some atonement by his blood.”
But how could these miscreants, who had ears, but did not hear,' (Isaiah vi. 10.) say, we have heard his blasphemy; for though they heard the sound of our Saviour's words, yet the
their gross minds were utterly incapable of rightly comprehending their true meaning. Hence they called one of their most important articles of the Jewish religion blasphemy, and passed sentence of death on Him, whom God had appointed to be judge of the quick and the dead. However, we may on this occasion say, "Even our enemies themselves are judges,' (Deut. xxxii. 31.) and witnesses, that Jesus,, our Mediator, has openly professed himself the Son of God; which authentic tes
timony we may use to our advantage against all the opposers of our blessed Saviour's divinity. We shall deduce the following inferences from what has been here said:
1. The time of repentance, which God graciously allows to sinners, before they have filled up the measure of their iniquities, if not rightly improved, is an aggravation of their guilt.
In the second condemnation of Christ, the members of the Sanhedrim acted a much more sinful part
than in the former. If, in the first sentence they pronounced on our blessed Lord, they were carried away by the violence of their passions, God was graciously pleased to allow them some hours, cooly to reflect on what they had done. They ought then to have listened to the Psalmist's exhortation, Stand in awe and sin not : Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and he still,' (Psalm iv. 5.) They should have calmly considered the unjust sentence
passed, and what remarkable words had been spoken by the blessed Jesus before the council. But since, notwithstanding this time of recollection allowed them, they proceeded to a second condemnation of the Son of God, and again confirmed the unjust sentence they had before pronounced on him, they incurred an additional guilt by their perseverance.
Let us seriously attend to this truth, viz. The greater the convictions are which precede a sin, and the more time for recollection God is graciously pleased to grant to a sinner before he leaves him to fill up the measure of his iniquity, the greater and more heinous are his transgressions after such indulgence. And though we may take no notice of such intervals allowed us for reflection, yet God keeps an exact account of them ; so that not only our actual sins, but also the aggravating circumstances attending them, will be all displayed to the whole world at the last tremendous day. Happy are they in the court of whose consciences this circumstance is already duly
examined during this life; who are thoroughly sensible of their sins, and all the aggravations connected with them, and are filled with concern and remorse for the number and heinousness of their transgressions! They may yet escape condemnation in the day of judgment, and find the remission of their sins in the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ, their Saviour and Redeemer.
2. That the enemies of our blessed Lord derived the grounds of our Saviour's conviction and condemna. tion from our Saviour's own words, is a circumstance of great moment.
They said, we ourselves have heard of his own mouth;' so that they did not pronounce the sentence of death on hear-say evidence, but on what they themselves heard from Jesus himself. : By this, Christ has, in the first place, sanctified the sufferings of his faithful servants; since their judges frequently endeavour to extort some confession from their own mouths, that may afford a handle for a charge of heresy, and a false condemnation. Thus when that godly martyr John Huss was sentenced to be burnt alive, a certain Doctor falsely declared that, from his own mouth, he had heard him attribute four persons to the Godhead. The like circumstance has been observed in numberless instances in the trials of Christians, when for the sake of their Saviour's doctrine and honour, they were to be condemned to death. This species of suffering, therefore, the Son of God has sanctified to us by permitting himself to be sentenced for words which came out of his own mouth.
Our blessed Saviour has, in the second place, averted the heavy judgments which otherwise would have fallen on those who, by their innumerable, profane, and impious words, have deserved condemnation. When a sinner is awakened by his conscience; when he considers that the sins of his tongue will be laid open in God's presence, and at the same time, recollects these words of Jesus Christ, “By thy words
thou shalt be condemned, (Matt. xii. 27.) Out of thine own mouth will I judge the, thou wicked ser. vant,' (Luke xix. 22.) his mind must be certainly 'thrown into violent convulsions and inward agonies. But the eternal Son of God permitted himself to be judged and condemned from his own words, that the sentence of condemnation might be annulled, and strict judgment averted from all those who sincerely repent of the sins of their mouth, and believe on his
He has permitted himself to be sentenced to die from his own words, as one who condemned him. self, that we might not by our own words be condemned to everlasting death. But to this unspeakable consolation those only are entitled, who penitently acknowledge the numberless sins of their tongues ; who are filled with remorse and anguish on the account of them, and dread the judgments of God; who make the immaculate Lamb of God, in whose mouth was no deceit, their refuge, give up their hearts to him, and persevere to the end in an uniform imi. tation of Jesus Christ.
3. Our blessed Saviour in suffering himself to be sentenced to death for his declaration, that he was the Son of God, obliges all of us to adhere to this important truth unto death.
To this great truth, namely, that Jesus is the Son of God, a noble army of martyrs have already subscribed with their blood. Therefore it behoves us to be thoroughly convinced of, and strenuously to defend, this important article of our faith. If ever there was a time when it was necessary to defend this truth, it is the present age, when the poison of Socinianism clandestinely spreads itself, and most easily infects those who set up for men of the greatest parts and genius. Let us then implore God, that he will give us a steadfast faith in his Son, and strengthen us against all the power of the gates of hell. It is an unspeakable comfort to us, that Christ, by his being thus condemned to die, has acquired both
strength and boldness for so many of his faithful servants to sign this his good confession with their blood; who now are received by him into the mansions of bliss, and, in the Divine presence, are filled with joy by the adorable Son of God, who sitteth at the right hand of his Father.
Thus by God's assistance we have gone through that part of the history of our Saviour's passion, which contains the sufferings he endured before the Sanhedrim or spiritual court of the Jews at Jerusasalem. May God, by his blessing, impress on our hearts all that has been said on this interesting sub. ject! May every truth that has been deduced and inculcated from it be sealed by his Holy Spirit to our salvation; so that they may be to none of us a savour of death unto death, or an aggravation of our guilt ; but rather the savour of life unto life everlasting.
O FAITHFUL and ever-living Saviour! We praise thee for all the sufferings and indignities thou didst undergo, for our sake, before the spiritual court of the Jews. We bless thee, O Lord, who didst suffer thyself to be brought before the judgment-seat of men, that we might appear with boldness before the awful tribunal of God. We praise the for permitting sentence of death to be passed on thee, that the sentence of everlasting death might to us be changed to a sentence of life. We bless thee for twice making thy constant and invariable confession of the truth, when thou didst declare thyself to be the Christ the Son of God, who came into the world to make us, miserable sinners, happy, and by thy mediation, to reconcile heaven and earth. O blessed Lord and Saviour ! make us also true Christians, and adopted sons of God, that we may likewise confess the truth with boldness. Deliver from the snares of satan all those who are yet entangled in them ; discover their na