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derfully fulfilled : but perhaps none more extraordinary, than the circumstances connected with the crucifixion of our blessed Lord. His implacable enemies not only resolved to put Him to death, with circumstances of the utmost cruelty, but in every method, which their malice could suggest, associated that cruelty with mockery and insult. Among other dreadful refinements of malignity towards the Lord of glory, they crucified Him between two thieves, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst; as though He had been the most eminently guilty malefactor of the three. “But He that sitteth in the heavens, laughed them to scorn; the Lord had them in derision. And while they thought themselves enjoying the utmost gratification of their malice, they were in fact, just accomplishing that work, which He had before determined should be done, and advancing the Saviour's honour by the very means which, in the bitterness of their hostility, they took to ensure his infamy. They thus unwittingly fulfilled that prophecy of the gospel Seer, which declared, that Messiah was to be “ numbered with the transgressors: and they also established his claim to be the Saviour who should come into the world. This act of their hatred exhibited the riches of his unsearchable love, in condescending, not only to die for sinners, the just for the unjust, that He might bring them to God;" but to die a shameful and accursed death. It was overruled in the eternal and unerring counsels of God, that one of the very malefactors, whose share in a common suffering was meant to pour contempt and shame upon the Son of Man, was directed, by the abundance of redeeming mercy, to bear a testimony more unequivocal perhaps, than ever was borne, to the divinity of his nature, and the prevalence of his atonement, and the royalty wherewith He was invested. Othat when the hearts of men are lifted up in rebellion
against God and his Christ, they would learn that solemn lesson, which divine dealing has been inculcating upon a lost world, through its whole history, that Jehovah “ hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Pharoah may magnify himself against the God of Israel ; and think that he asserts the dignity of his throne, the majesty of his empire, and the interest of his people, while he rebelliously refuses to let the heritage of the Most High go out of Egypt. But what is the real case in which he stands ? How dreadful is the condition in which his obduracy shews him to be placed, with relation to that God whom he so daringly insulted and defied.”
“In very deed," saith God Himself, “for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power ; and that my name may be declared throughout the earth.” If any man be thus sinning against God, as it were with a high and clenched hand ; by
opposing the Saviour and the salvation provided in his love, and is pleasing himself in delusive dreams of an intellectual religion, and of superiority to the despised mystery of Christ crucified-then, however great, however inveterate, however unquenchable, may be his enmity, it will and it can have only two results, if continued,—his eternal misery, and God's eternal glory in the condemnation of one who put away salvation from him, and judged himself unworthy of eternal life.”
Important however, as this consideration may be, and rarely, as I fear it is realized, in the experience of those who magnify themselves against the Lord and against his Anointed, I shall not now pursue it; but in the prosecution of my design for this week's service, shall dwell upon the history of which the text forms a part; with reference to the third blessed and memorable sayin
of the Lord Jesus, when, in the fulness of time He paid upon Calvary, that debt of stupendous ransom, for
which He had become the bond-man and the surety in the counsels of heaven. The verses now read, exhibit a beautiful picture of that mutual interest which exists between the Saviour and every member of his body, the Church. The malefactor turns to Christ, as sovereign mercy
inclined his heart; and Christ turns to him, in boundless love. He asks; Jesus promises. He begs for heaven ; and the dying Redeemer grants it. The mighty power and work of Divine grace appear in his conversion ; and the nature, the wonderful nature of Divine grace is manifest in the blessing which our Emmanuel gave him there. His request, as happy a prayer, as ever man made; and our Saviour's return, as happy an answer, as man could desire.'
The subject then, as God the Holy Ghost may enable me to place it before you, will include,
I. THE PETITION OF THE MALEFACTOR.