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itself into an infinite diversity. The heavenly Bridegroom has received His mystic Bride, but who may describe “ the marriage supper of the Lamb" ?

“ Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness."

E. J. J.

SUBJECT :- The Moral Significance of the Three Crosses.

And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation ? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”—Luke xxiii. 32, 33; and 39–43.

Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and fourteenth.

What a scene is this ! Did the sun ever look down on such an astounding tragedy of crime before ? Here are three individuals, side by side, transfixed to a cross, and dying as condemned criminals the most inglorious and excruciating death, the most malignant spirits could devise. Their whole weight is suspended by rugged iron driven through the most exquisitely tender nerves of the system ; there, above the heads of a fiendly maddened crowd, they hang in agony to die.

We shall now proceed to notice some of the great truths which come boldly and impressively out in connexion with these three crosses.

I. THAT THERE IS A WIDE SCOPE OF FREE ACTION ALLOWED TO WICKED MEN IN THIS WORLD. The men of Judea were allowed from age to age to advance in depravity and crime,

until now you see them advanced to a point of enormity, beyond which it was impossible for them to advance farther. “By wicked hands” they crucified the Son of God himself. Many prophets and righteous men they had persecuted and martyred before ; but now, they laid violent hands upon the “Only begotten Son of God.” It does at first seem wonderful, that the Great God of holiness should allow sin to reach such an appalling height. We might have supposed, that the hand stretched forth to wound the Anointed, would have been paralyzed in the effort. But not so. These sinners were allowed to fill up the measure of their iniquity. This wonderful

scope for free action, which Heaven allows a sinner here, serves two important purposes.

First : To show the enormity of the depravity which Christ has come to remove ; and, Secondly: To show the high probability of a day of retribution.

Another truth which we discover in connexion with these three crosses is :

II. THAT THE GREATEST CRIMES ARE OFTEN PERPETRATED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION AND LAW. The men who crucified Christ pretended to be influenced by piety towards God and loyalty towards Cæsar. This crime received the sanction of the law and of religion. Never let us suppose that, because a thing is done legally, it is morally right. All the blood of the holy Martyrs was shed by the authority of law, and in the holy name of religion. God's nature is the foundation of right; God's will is the standard of right; God's Word and Works are the revelations of that will, and every man's moral reason is the interpreter. What is human law but the organized opinion of the community? And what is that community but the assemblage of corrupt individuals Let us not conclude that we are right because we are loyal to our Sovereign and obedient to the laws of our country. Heaven's commandment is exceedingly broad--- it goes beyond all.

Another truth which we discover in connexion with these three crosses is :

Vol. IX.

M

III. THAT HOWEVER ENORMOUS MAY BE THE CONDUCT OF

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DIVINE PLAN. These wicked men were now carrying out the plan of God in two respects. (1) In putting Christ to death. It was the divine plan that Christ should die by the hand of violence ;-it was ordained that “he should be taken from prison and from judgment,” and that he should be bruised and smitten. (2) It was also ordained that He should die in company with the transgressors. “ He was to be numbered with the transgressors." In this position we now find Him. It might have seemed to these wicked men an accident that, He should have to die, just at the time, and in the place, when two other malefactors were to be executed; but nevertheless, it was the fulfilment of the Divine plan. What is accident on earth is law in heaven. Thus God makes the wrath of man to praise Him. It is not a question with man as to whether he shall serve God or not-every man must serve Him; the question is, Shall he serve Him against his will, which is rebellion and Hell, or with his will, which is holiness and Heaven?

Another truth which we discover in connexion with these three crosses is :

EXISTS

RESPONDENCE OF EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

IV. THAT GREAT DIVERSITY OF INNER CHARACTER, OFTEN AMONGST MEN, WHERE THERE IS A WONDERFUL COR

Here are three men condemned as criminals by their country,—side by side ; each nailed to the cross, and enduring, apparently, the same kind of physical torture. There is a great outward similarity; they all appear to be dying the same kind of death. But how different are they in their souls ! Each mind has a world of its own.

He, who is in the midst, in being and character, stands at an infinite distance from the other two. He is the God-Man, Invisible worlds pause and wonder at His sufferings, the material universe vibrates with His groans. One of those on His side, is a stricken penitent, struggling his way up to a virtuous and a happy life in the future, and will soon be in the Paradise of the blest; the other, is a hardened

wretch, ripe for destruction, and will soon fall into the nethermost hell. Characters so diverse, where circumstances are so alike, should (1) Guard us from the error of making external circumstances the test by which to determine our spiritual position. And (2) Show us the native power of each soul over the external circumstances in which it is placed.

Another truth which we discover in connexion with these three crosses is :

V. THAT FAITH IN THE LIVING PERSONAL CHRIST, BECOMES THE MOST OPERATIVE POWER IN THE SOUL. What a strong faith this penitent now had in Christ ! “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He believed in Christ's sovereignty, though He was a malefactor ; he believed in His happy future existence, and he believed in His power to conduct him into that state. Now, look how this faith worked as a power in his heart. It worked (1) In reproving wickedness. Addressing the taunting thief, he says, “Dost thou not fear God ?” It worked (2) In penitential confession. "We suffer justly." (3) In vindication of Christ. “ But this man hath done nothing amiss." And, (4) In earnest supplication. “Remember me,” &c. Real faith ever works thus. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Another truth which we discover in connexion with these three crosses is :

VI. THAT THERE IS FOR THE GOOD, A GLORIOUS SCENE OF LIFE AFTER THEIR DEPARTURE FROM THE WORLD.

“ This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” The words teach several things about this Paradise. (1) It is a scene of exquisite delight. It is to the great universe of God, what primeval Eden was to this globe -- its lovely garden.

A garden, however, into which no tempter will ever enter; whose flowers will never fade, whose fruits will

never decay, whose air shall never be

ruffled by the tempest, whose sun shall never be darkened by a cloud. “An inheritance incorruptible, undefiled,” &c. (2) It is a scene of fellowship with Christ. “Thou shalt be with me.” How delightful will it be to be with Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Paul, and the great and holy men of all ages; but how much more delightful to be with Christ! (3) It is a scene entered upon immediately after death. This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Good men neither go out of existence, nor into a long sleep, but go into “Paradise” on

the day of their death. My pious brother, thou art as near heaven as death. (4) It is a scene at the disposal of Christ. Christ grants it-it is His Paradise. He has the keys, He shuts and none can open, &c. (5) It is a scene obtained by man's agency. Why was the penitent thus promised it and the other not? Because one sought it and the other did not.

Another truth which we discover in connexion with these three crosses is :

VII. THAT SUFFERING HAS NO NECESSARY TENDENCY, TO

PROMOTE

AN IMPROVEMENT IN

OUR SPIRITUAL CHARACTER.

Here is one of the malefactors railing against Christ even in the agonies of death. Some persons are disposed to imagine that, because the prayer of the penitent thief was now heard, it is time enough to seek for mercy when we come to die. Thus they presume, and thus the day of grace is allowed to run to waste. I am disposed to believe that, the penitent thief was penitent before he went to the cross ; for it is scarcely reasonable to suppose that, the human soul could have passed into the state of evangelical faith, penitence, and devotion displayed here, in the course of one short hour or so. The fact of his being a legal criminal is no conclusive argument against this supposition, since legal criminals have often been great saints. Be this, however, as it may, the conduct of the impenitent thief in the agonies of death warns us against the delusion that it is time enough to seek salvation in our last

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