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The excellency of our liturgy needs not here to be insisted on : it cannot well be surpassed. It is, however our stated worship; and, if either minister or congregation neglect cordially to unite in it; if the officiating minister do not use the liturgy in the most impressive and devotional manner that he can; if the preacher, on any pretence, be not generally one of the devout worshippers ; if any thing imply that he considers this as an inferior concern : the people will too commonly do the same; and the whole worship will degenerate into a form. And, besides the offence thus given to those who are attached to the service of the church, can we expect the blessing on the word preached, after such an introduction?
ON THE PUNISHMENT OF CRUCIFIXION.
Misera est ignominia judiciorum publicorum, misera multatio bonorum, miserum exilium ; sed tamen in omni calamitate retinetur aliquod vestigium libertatis : mors denique si proponatur, in libertate moriamur: carnifex vero, et obductio capitis, et nomen ipsum crucis, absit non modo a corpore Romanorum civium, sed etiam a cogitatione, oculis, auribus. Harum enim omnium rerum, non solum eventus et perpessio, sed etiam conditio, expectatio, mentio ipsa denique, indigna cive Romano, atque homine libero est. An vero servos nostros horum suppliciorum omnium metu,
doninorum benignitas unâ vindictá liberabit; nos a verberibus, ab unco, a crucis denique terrore, neque res gestæ, neque acta ætas, neque nostri honores vindicabunt.”—Cicero pro C. Rabirio.
“ The ignominy of public trials is miserable ; the confiscation of goods is miserable, banishment is miserable: yet still, in every calamity, some vestige of liberty is retained. Finally, if death be proposed, let us die at liberty (or as freemen): but let the executioner, the covering of the head, and the very name of the cross, be far removed, not only from the bodies, but even from the thoughts, the eyes, the ears of Roman citizens. For of all these things, not only the event and suffering, but even the liability to it, (conditio,) the expectation, nay the very mention, is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man. Shall the benignity of masters, by one imposition of the prætor's rod, (vindicta,) free our slaves from all fear of these punishments; but shall neither our achievements, nor our old age, nor our honours, free us from stripes, from the hook, and finally from the terror of the cross ?”
It is obvious, on this quotation, to remark, within what narrow limits heathen compassion was confined, and how unlike it was to the diffusive nature of Christian mercy and benevolence. Roman citizens and free men (I suppose the allies of Rome, must not feel, must not be tor
Cicero distinguishes between carnifex, the executioner of slaves or captives, and lictor, who at the consul's or dictator's word beheaded even Roman citizens.
tured or terrified by the very mention of crucifixion : but slaves, captives, enemies to the Romans, an immense majority of the human race, might be left exposed to it, without pity or redress, or one word from the most humane, and moral, and rational of Roman orators, in opposition to it! How different from Christianity, which especially respects the poor, the slave, the captive! How different from the noble and liberal efforts of some Christian lawgivers and orators in the British Senate, in behalf of the poor African slaves! Blessed be God that these efforts have been, to a great degree, crowned with success ! let all Christians unite in prayer that the benevolent and pious principle, from which they emanated, may be gratified to the utmost extent, in the amelioration of the condition of that abject race, and of all the oppressed and desolate to the ends of the earth!
It is evident from this quotation, that some circumstances attending crucifixion were different among the Romans at this time, from what were practised when our blessed Saviour was crucified: but this little affects the general subject. In the judgment of Cicero, crucifixion comprised every thing which imagination could conceive, or words express, of what was degrading, ignominious, and torturing; somewhat far beyond all other kinds of misery; to which the vilest criminals were exposed; and what no one entitled to regard or compassion ought so much as to be exposed to, however great his crimes might be.
This general statement will doubtless lead the attentive reader to recollect the language of the sacred writers, on the sufferings of the Redeemer. “ He was obedient unto death, even the death of “ the cross,” the most degrading, ignominious, torturing, and miserable death, that human or diabolical cruelty had then devised, for the most abject, contemptible, and execrable of the species :-“ He endured the cross, despising the “ shame." “ Christ hath redeemed us from the
curse of the law, being made a curse for us : “ for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth
on a tree.” “ He bare our sins in his own body “ on the tree."
The inexpressible and inconceivable love of the divine and holy Redeemer, to us poor, guilty, depraved, iniserable sinners; his condescension, self-abasement, self-denial, humility, patience, meekness, holy courage, zeal, superiority to all regard to what man could inflict, or the disgrace or honour which man could impart, provided the great object of his incarnation, in the salvation of sinners to the glory of God the Father, was accomplished, need no further illustration. His personal and mediatorial dignity; his holiness, wisdom, love ; everything eminent and distinguished, all created and uncreated excellency centring in his person ; that he should willingly, for our salvation, thus “humble himself to death,
even the death of the cross :” this baffles all efforts to illustrate or celebrate it in a suitable manner : but it most powerfully calls on all his followers, “ to arm themselves with the same « mind." “ Let this mind be in you, which was “ also in Christ Jesus." If any one will come “after me, let him deny himself, and take up “ his cross, and follow me.” “ Let us go forth, “ therefore, unto him, without the camp, bearing “ his reproach ;” and not be “ashamed of him or “ his words," or fear “ the reproach of men, and “ their revilings;" or any ignominy or suffering which man can inflict: for, “if we suffer, we “ shall also reign with him ; if we deny him, he “ will also deny us.”
But it is further remarkable, that in this case the opinion of men, especially concerning the wretchedness and infamy of crucifixion, accorded to the judgment of God in his holy law, which the apostle quoted, in shewing that Christ was made a curse for us. “For he that is hanged is “ accursed of God." ] Crucifixion, by being fastened, either with thongs or nails, alive on a cross, was not known among the Jews; nor even strangulation, as far as we know: but, after malefactors had been put to death, in some instances, their dead bodies were suspended for a while; and this was a special token of their being accursed of God, or devoted to utter destruction. Thus Joshua hanged the five kings of the accursed Canaanites, on five trees; and also the other kings of Canaan. Ahithophel, the type (in some sense,) of Judas, and Judas also himself, died by suspension. God himself permitted and approved that the descendents of Saul, who were devoted to destruction, as an atonement for his sin in murdering the Gibeonites, should be
· Deut. xxi. 22, 23.