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another; yet this is meant for justice and for mercy too, that is, he will not curse the son for the father's fault, or, in any relation whatsoever, substitute one person for another to make him involuntarily guilty: but when this shall be desired by a person that cannot finally perish, and does a mercy to the exempt persons, and is a voluntary act of the suscipient, and shall in the event also redound to an infinite good, it is no deflection from the Divine justice to excuse many by the affliction of one, who also for that very suffering shall have infinite compensation. We see that, for the sin of Cham, all his posterity were accursed: the subjects of David died with the plague, because their prince numbered the people idolatry is punished in the children of the fourth generation: Saul's seven sons were hanged for breaking the league of Gibeon; and Ahab's sin was punished in his posterity, he escaping, and "the evil was brought upon his house in his son's days." In all these cases the evil descended upon persons in near relation to the sinner, and was a punishment to him and a misery to these, and were either chastisements also of their own sins, or, if they were not, they served other ends of Providence, and led the afflicted innocent to a condition of recompense accidentally procured by that infliction. But if for such relation's sake and economical and political conjunction, as between prince and people, the evil may be transmitted from one to another, much rather is it just, when, by contract, a competent and conjunct person undertakes to quit his relative. Thus when the hand steals, the back is whipped; and an evil eye is punished with a hungry belly. Treason causes the whole family to be miserable; and a sacrilegious grandfather hath sent a locust to devour the increase of the nephews.
8. But, in our case, it is a voluntary contract, and therefore no injustice; all parties are voluntary. God is the supreme Lord, and his actions are the measure of justice: we, who had deserved the punishment, had great reason to desire a Redeemer: and yet Christ, who was to pay the ransom, was more desirous of it than we were, for we asked it not before it was promised and undertaken. But thus we see that sureties pay the obligation of the principal debtor, and the pledges of contracts have been, by the best and wisest nations, slain, when the articles have been broken:
the Thessalians slew 250 pledges; the Romans" 300 of the Volsci, and threw the Tarentines from the Tarpeian rock. And that it may appear Christ was a person in all senses competent to do this for us, himself testifies, that he had
power over his own life, to take it up, or lay it down." And, therefore, as there can be nothing against the most exact justice and reason of laws and punishments; so it magnifies the Divine mercy, who removes the punishment from us, who, of necessity, must have sunk under it, and yet makes us to adore his severity, who would not forgive us without punishing his Son for us; to consign unto us his perfect hatred against sin, to conserve the sacredness of his laws, and to imprint upon us great characters of fear and love. The famous Locrian, Zaleucus, made a law, that all adulterers should lose both their eyes: his son was first unhappily surprised in the crime; and his father, to keep a temper between the piety and soft spirit of a parent, and the justice and severity of a judge, put out one of his own eyes, and one of his son's. So God did with us; he made some abatement, that is, as to the person with whom he was angry, but inflicted his anger upon our Redeemer, whom he essentially loved, to secure the dignity of his sanctions, and the sacredness of obedience; so marrying justice and mercy by the intervening of a commutation. Thus David escaped by the death of his son, God choosing that penalty for the expiation and Cimon offered himself to prison, to purchase the liberty of his father Miltiades. It was a filial duty in Cimon, and yet the law was satisfied. And both these concurred in our great Redeemer. For God, who was the sole arbitrator, so disposed it, and the eternal Son of God submitted to this way of expiating our crimes, and became an argument of faith and belief of the great article of "remission of sins," and other its appendent causes and effects and adjuncts; it being wrought by a visible and notorious passion. It was made an encouragement of hope; for "he that spared not his own Son" to reconcile us, will with him
Livius. Vide lib. Si quis rerum, D. De Custod. et Exhib. Reorum. Lib. Si à reo, D. De Fidejussoribus.
John, x. 10.
P Apud Diodorum Sicul. et Alian. Ἵνα μὴ ὁ νεανίσκος τυφλωθῇ τελέως, καὶ ἵνα μὴ διαφθαρῇ τὸ ἅπαξ κεκυρωμένων.
give all things else" to us so reconciled: and a great endearment of our duty and love, as it was a demonstration of his. And, in all the changes and traverses of our life, he is made to us a great example of all excellent actions, and all patient sufferings.
9. In the midst of two thieves, three long hours the holy Jesus hung, clothed with pain, agony, and dishonour, all of them so eminent and vast, that he who could not but hope, whose soul was enchased with divinity, and dwelt in the bosom of God, and in the cabinet of the mysterious Trinity, yet had a cloud of misery so thick and black drawn before him, that he complained as if God had forsaken him: but this was "the pillar of cloud" which conducted Israel into Canaan. And as God behind the cloud supp the holy Jesus, and stood ready to receive him into the union of his glories; so his soul, in that great desertion, had internal comforts proceeding from consideration of all those excellent persons, which should be adopted into the fellowship of his sufferings, which should imitate his graces, which should communicate his glories. And we follow this cloud to our country, having Christ for our guide: and though he trod the way, leaning upon the cross, which, like the staff of Egypt, pierced his hands; yet it is to us a comfort and support, pleasant to our spirits as the sweetest canes, strong as the pillars of the earth, and made apt for our use, by having been borne and made smooth by the hands of our elder brother.
10. In the midst of all his torments, Jesus only made one prayer of sorrow, to represent his sad condition to his Father; but no accent of murmur, no syllable of anger against his enemies instead of that, he sent up a holy, charitable, and effective prayer for their forgiveness, and by that prayer obtained of God, that within fifty-five days eight thousand of his enemies were converted. So potent is the prayer of charity, that it prevails above the malice of men, turning the arts of Satan into the designs of God; and when malice occasions the prayer, the prayer becomes an antidote to malice. And, by this instance, our blessed Lord consigned that duty to us, which, in his sermons, he had preached, That we should forgive our enemies, and pray for them: and, by so doing, ourselves are freed from the stings of
anger, and the storms of a revengeful spirit; and we oftentimes procure servants to God, friends to ourselves, and heirs to the kingdom of heaven.
11. Of the two thieves that were crucified together with our Lord, the one blasphemed; the other had, at that time, the greatest piety in the world, except that of the blessed virgin, and particularly had such a faith, that all the ages of the church could never shew the like. For when he saw Christ" in the same condemnation" with himself, crucified by the Romans, accused and scorned by the Jews, forsaken by his own apostles; a dying distressed man, doing at that time no miracles to attest his divinity or innocence; yet then he confesses him to be a Lord, and a King, and his Saviour: he confessed his own shame and unworthiness; he submitted to the death of the cross: and, by his voluntary acceptation and tacit volition of it, made it equivalent to as great a punishment of his own susception; he showed an incomparable modesty, begging but for a remembrance only; he knew himself so sinful, he durst ask no more; he reproved the other thief for blasphemy; he confessed the world to come, and owned Christ publicly; he prayed to him, he hoped in him, and pitied him; showing an excellent patience, in this sad condition. And in this I consider, that besides the excellency of some of these acts, and the goodness of all, the like occasion for so exemplary faith never can occur; and until all these things shall, in these circumstances, meet in any one man, he must not hope for so safe an exit, after an evil life, upon the confidence of this example. But now Christ had the key of Paradise in his hand; and God blessed the good thief with this opportunity of letting him in, who, at another time, might have waited longer, and been tied to harder conditions. And, indeed, it is very probable, that he was much advantaged by the intervening accident of dying at the same time with Christ; there being a natural compassion produced in us towards the partners of our miseries. For Christ was
a Latro non semper prædonem ant grassatorem denotat, sed militem, qui fortassis ob zelum Judæorum aliquid contra leges Romanas fecerat: alioqui vir fuit non omnino malus.
Titubaverunt qui viderunt Christum mortuos suscitantem; credidit ille qui videbat secum in ligno pendentem. Recolamus fidem latronis, quam non invenit Christus post resurrectionem in discipulis suis.-S. Aug. Serm. 144. de Tempore.
not void of human passions, though he had in them no imperfection or irregularity; and, therefore, might be invited by the society of misery, the rather to admit him to participate his joys; and St. Paul proves him to be a " merciful highpriest," because "he was touched with a feeling of our infirmities:" the first expression of which was to this blessed thief; Christ and he together sat at the supper of bitter herbs, and Christ paid his symbol, promising that he should "that day be together with him in Paradise."
12. By the cross of Christ stood the holy Virgin-mother, upon whom old Simeon's prophecy was now verified: for now she felt "a sword passing through her very soul:" she stood without clamour and womanish noises'; sad, silent, and with a modest grief, deep as the waters of the abyss, but smooth as the face of a pool; full of love, and patience, and sorrow, and hope. Now she was put to it to make use of all those excellent discourses her holy Son had used to build up her spirit, and fortify it against this day. Now she felt the blessings and strengths of faith; and she passed from the griefs of the passion, to the expectation of the resurrection; and she rested in this death, as in a sad remedy; for she knew it reconciled God with all the world. But her hope drew a veil before her sorrow; and though her grief was great enough to swallow her up, yet her love was greater, and did swallow up her grief. But the sun also had a veil upon his face, and taught us to draw a curtain before the passion, which would be the most artificial expression of its greatness; whilst by silence and wonder we confess it great beyond our expression, or, which is all one, great as the burden and baseness of our sins. And with this veil drawn before the face of Jesus, let us suppose him at the gates of Paradise, calling with his last words, in a loud voice, to have them opened, that "the King of glory might come in."
O holy Jesus, who for our sakes didst suffer incomparable anguish and pains, commensurate to thy love, and our miseries, which were infinite; that thou mightest purchase
r S. Ambros. in Luc. lib. x.