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shocked and confounded. Were the whole series of their thoughts and internal exercises printed in a book, or engraven on a rock, as Job desired some of his thoughts and exercises might be, how inconsistent, absurd and criminal would they appear! Or were their meditations and devotions in their most retired and solemn intervals, registered in their own minds as they are registered in the book of God's remembrance, how painful would their reflections be on such occasions ! Would they not read in some such language as this? “O Lord, thy ways are equal, but my ways are unequal. O Lord, my ways are equal, but thy ways are unequal. O Lord, thou art good;
O O Lord, thou art an hard master. O Lord, I am unworthy of the least of thy mercies; O Lord, I do well to complain of thee, in taking away my mercies. O Lord, thy will be done; O Lord, let my will be done. O Lord, let me by thy servant; O Lord, be thou my servant. O Lord, forgive my enemies; O Lord, forgive them not. O Lord, make me to serve my generation according to thy will; O Lord, make my generation serve me contrary to thy will." Now, whether any good man be able or not to recollect the whole train of his past exercises, in both his secular and religious concerns, yet God always sees and observes every thought and imagination of his heart, and views its mixture of holy and unholy affections. How great, then, and how displeasing to God, is the moral imperfection of the best of saints! And how much reason have they to humble themselves before him, and walk softly in his sight! And with what watchfulness and constancy should every christian offer unto God the prayer of the devout Psalmist, “ Unite my heart to fear thy name."
SERMON X X XII.
THE CRUCIFIED MALEFACTORS.
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 in: deed 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. 39-43.
Though all the four evangelists agree in relating some circumstances attending Christ's crucifixion, yet they all differ one from another, in omitting some circumstances attending it. They all mention that Christ was crucified with two persons. John says, “ They crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” Matihew says, “ Then were two thieves crucified with him; one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” Mark
says, “ And with him they crucified two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.” Luke barely calls them malefactors. Matthew and Mark say that both the malefactors joined with others in reviling him on the cross. Luke mentions only one of them as railing on him; and John mentions nothing that they said. These different accounts of the circumstances of Christ's crucifixion do not contradict one another; and therefore, instead of weakening, serve to confirm the testimony of each evangelist.
One only relates what another omitted, which proves that they did not combine together to frame a cunningly devised fable, but that they all wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. There is, therefore, no just ground to discredit what Luke says in the text concerning the discourse and con
duct of the two malefactors, though no other evangelist gives the same account. Though Matthew and Mark say that both the malefactors reviled Christ, yet what Luke says may be equally true, that one of them reproved the other for railing on him; for both of them might have felt and acted alike for a while, and yet afterwards have widely differed in their views and feelings. Accordingly, I propose to consider,
I. Wherein these two malefactors were alike;
I. Let us consider wherein these two malefactors were alike. 0 And,
1. They were alike in respect to depravity of heart. They were the descendants of Adam, and, like the rest of his posterity, came into the world in a state of moral depravity. They were totally destitute of true love to God, and under the entire dominion of a depraved heart. Every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was evil, only evil continually. They possessed a carnal mind, which was enmity to God, not subject to his law, neither could be. Their hearts were full of selfish and sinfúl affections, which totally excluded every spark of holy love or true benevolence. They were dead in trespasses and sins, and altogether destitute of spiritual life. They were both born, grew up, and lived in this sinful and guilty state, till after they became malefactors. This we may justly conclude, from their becoming such abandoned characters. We have no intimation that one was any better than the other, in respect to the total depravity of their hearts.
2. They were alike in respect to their knowledge of Christ. As there is nothing said concerning their being strangers, foreigners, or pagans, we must suppose they were the children of Jewish parents, born and brought up in Jerusalem ; where they were circumcised the eighth day, and taught to attend all the private and public duties of religion, according to all the laws of Moses. And as Christ often went up to Jerusalem to attend divine ordinances, it is very possible, if not probable, that these two malefactors, as well as thousands of other stupid and profligate sinners, might have had opportunities of hearing Christ preach, or of seeing him work miracles. But there is no probability that one of them knew any more about Christ than the other, before they were led with him to Calvary, and extended on the cross. I know that some have supposed the penitent malefactor had known more about Christ, and conducted better in general, than the other malefactor ; which was the reason he repented, while the other remained obstinate. This however, is a mere conjecture, which has no foundation
in scripture. Both of them might have been, for aught we know to the contrary, totally ignorant of Christ, until the day of their crucifixion. Or both of them might have been equally acquainted with the person, preaching and miracles of Christ, before they were either guilty, or condemned for their crimes. But since all the evangelists are silent respecting their knowledge of Christ, we have no right to suppose that one knew any more about Christ than the other, but ought to presume that they were alike in this respect. We know, however,
3. That they were alike in practice. Though they were born and brought up in Jerusalem, and had been early dedicated to God and instructed in the true religion, yet they were certainly sinners in Zion, and extremely vicious. They violated the laws of God and man. They were guilty of the detestable crime of stealing. Matthew says, speaking of the crucifixion of Christ, “ Then were two thieves crucified with him ; one on the right hand, and another on the left.” Mark speaking of the same solemn scene, says,
“ And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left." And Luke calls them both malefactors. It is very probable that they began their vicious course early in life, and followed one evil practice after another, till they were prepared to perpetrate the enormous crimes for which they were condemned to die. We know, therefore,
4. That they were alike in condemnation. They were both apprehended, and brought before a human tribunal, where they were tried, convicted, and doomed to die the painful and reproachful death of the cross. When the day appointed for their execution arrived, they were taken out of prison, and led with Christ, in dreadful forrnality amidst thousands of spectators, to Mount Calvary, where they were extended on the cross, and where, for some time, they continued to feel and express the astonishing obduracy and malignity of their hearts. Hear what Matthew says respecting their treatment of Christ, while they were suffering with him on the cross. “ Then were there two thieves crucified with him; one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also, the chief priests, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him : for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also which were crucified with him, cast the same in
his teeth." Mark agrees with Matthew in mentioning the same insulting language and conduct of the spectators of the crucifixion, and subjoins, “ they that were crucified with him reviled him.” This testimony of the two inspired evangelists leaves us no room to doubt, but that both of the malefactors were alike hardened and impenitent till after they were actually suspended on the cross; for they both joined with the surrounding multitudes in reviling the suffering Saviour. Let us next consider,
II. When they began to differ. Luke tells us, in the text, that they did differ before they died. “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 ?" This was not reviling Christ, but reproving his fellow criminal for reviling him. He now felt differently from what he had felt, and from what the other reviler continued to feel. The question now is, when they began to differ. It was not when they received the sentence of death. It was not when they were walking to the place of execution. It was not when they were first nailed to the cross. For after they had gone through those trying and affecting scenes, they both remained hardened and impenitent. Though neither of the evangelists expressly informs us when they began to differ, yet two of them, Matthew and Mark, implicitly inform us. Immediately after they have told us that both the thieves reviled Christ, they mention the precise time when the supernatural darkness overspread the land. · Matthew says, “ Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” Mark says, “ And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” This account of the supernatural darkness, immediately after the account of both the malefactors' reviling Christ, very plainly intimates that they began to differ at the time the darkness began. And we can easily believe that such an unexpected and solemn miracle, on such an awful occasion, did make a deep impression upon the minds of all the spectators of the crucifixion of the Lord of glory, and more upon some than others. It is highly probable, therefore, that some time between the sixth and ninth hour, the difference between the two malefactors began. It now remains to consider,
III. Wherein they eventually and finally differed. Here it may be observed,
1. That one realized the wrath of God abiding upon him, while the other did not. This appears from the pertinent and