Life Of Jesus - The Crucifixion
( Originally Published 1913 )
WE read in St. Matthew's gospel these three simple, but solemn words : "They crucified him." Chap. xxvii : 35. Here we have set before us the greatest event in the history of our Saviour while he was on earth. They tell us of the most important event that ever took place in our own world, or in any other world. We have no reason to suppose that Jesus ever took upon himself the nature of any other race of creatures, as he did take our nature. We have no reason to suppose that he ever died, in any other world, as he died in ours. How wonderful this makes the thought of his crucifixion ! And how diligently we should study it, and try to understand what it was intended to teach ! This is what we come now to do. And in doing this, the two great things for us chiefly to consider, are—The history of the Crucifixion; and its Lessons.
And in looking at this history the first thing for us to notice is—the place of the crucifixion.
In speaking of this place, St. Matt. xxvii : 33, says it was-" a place called Golgotha, that is to say a place of a skull." St. Luke xxiii : 33, says it was a place "called Calvary." Golgotha is a Hebrew word, and Calvary is a Latin word; but they both mean the same thing, namely a skull, or the place of a skull. Some have thought that this name was given to it because it was the spot where public execution took place and criminals were buried. But there is no proof of this. It is often spoken of as "the Bill of Calvary ": but it is never so called in the New Testament. It is supposed to have received its name from the fact of its being a smooth and rounded piece of ground, resembling somewhat the shape of a skull, and looking like what we call the brow of a hill. Exactly where this place was we cannot tell. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem they show a hole in a rock, which they pretend to say was the very hole in which the cross of Jesus was placed. But it is impossible to prove this. And the thought which shows how unlikely this is to be the Calvary where Jesus died is this, that Jesus died outside the walls of Jerusalem, but this is inside the walls, and we know that the city at that time was much larger than the present city. The apostle Paul tells us that " Jesus suffered without the gate." Heb. xiii : 13. We are sure then that Calvary, or Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion, was outside the walls of Jerusalem, but nigh unto the city. This is all that we can find about it with any certainty.
The time of the crucifixion is the next thing to consider. It was on Friday of the last week of his earthly life. What is called "Good Friday," in the week before Easter, known as Passion Week, is kept by a large part of the Christian Church in memory of this event.
As to the hour of the day when the crucifixion took place, there is some difference in the statements made by the different evangelists. St. Matthew says nothing about the hour when Jesus was crucified. He only says that during the time of the crucifixion, "from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour." St. Matt. xxvii : 45. This means from twelve o'clock at noon, till three o'clock in the afternoon. St. Luke and St. John both say that it was—"about the sixth hour," when this great event took place. But it is clear from their way of speaking of it, that they did not wish to be understood as stating the time very exactly. St. Mark says-ch. xv : 25, "And it was the third hour, and they crucified him." There seems to be a disagreement between these statements. But it is easy enough to reconcile the difference. There are two ways of doing this. One is by supposing that when St. Mark says : "It was the third hour, and they crucified him," he was speaking of the time when they began to make preparations for the crucifixion, while St. Luke and St. John refer to the time when the preparations were all finished, and the crucifixion had actually taken place.
But there is another way of reconciling this apparent difference. The Jews were accustomed to divide their day into four parts, corresponding with the four watches into which the night was divided. Beginning at six o'clock in the morning, which was the time when their day commenced, they sometimes called the first three hours, from six to nine o'clock, the first hour. The next three hours, from nine to twelve o'clock, they called the second hour; and then, according to this way of reckoning, the three hours following, from twelve to three o'clock, would be the third hour. And if this was the way in which St. Mark was speaking, then his third hour would agree exactly with the sixth hour mentioned by St. Luke and St. John. And so, when we think of the time of the crucifixion, we may remember that Jesus hung upon the cross, in dreadful agonies, from "about" twelve o'clock at noonday until three in the afternoon. O, how long and painful those hours must have seemed to him !
The next thing to notice is—the manner of the crucifixion. Suppose that you and I had . been standing on Calvary at the time of our Saviour's death : what should we have seen? Why, lying there on the ground, we should have seen the great wooden cross, on which Jesus was to suffer. It is made of two pieces. There is one long, upright piece of timber, and a shorter one fastened across this upright beam, at the upper end. There is Jesus standing by—bound, and bleeding, and crowned with thorns. The soldiers take him and lay his body on the cross, with his back towards it. They stretch out his arms to their full length, along the upper beam of the cross. They take heavy hammers and drive great rough nails through the palms of his hands, and through the tender part of his feet. How terrible the suffering caused by every blow of those hammers! And see, when this is done, the soldiers raise up the cross, and place the lower end of it in a hole they had prepared for it. It comes down with a jar. What terrible tortures that jar sends through every part of the suffering Saviour's frame ! About the middle of the cross is a projecting piece of wood, to form a sort of seat, so as to prevent the whole weight of the body from hanging from the nails, and tearing the flesh of the hands and feet. And there the Son of God is left to suffer tortures that cannot be expressed, till death shall come and bring relief.
The witnesses of the crucifixion is the next thing of which to speak.
Near the cross was his mother and the good women who were her companions. John is the only one of the apostles found near the cross at the time when their Lord was crucified. The soldiers and the priests were there. The walls of Jerusalem were, no doubt, lined with people looking anxiously on; and crowds of strangers were standing by, beholding this sad event; for Jerusalem was always full of persons from a distance at that season who came to keep the feast of the Passover. And then, if our eyes had been opened, as the eyes of Elisha's servant were, (IT. Kings vi : 17), so that we could have seen as spirits do, we should have beheld multitudes of angels among the spectators of the crucifixion. We should have seen them hovering over the cross and gazing with wonder on the sight that met their view there-the Son of God -hanging on the cross in agonies and blood!
The wonders attending the crucifixion is another thing to notice. There was the darkness over all the land from the sixth to the ninth hour, or from twelve to three o'clock. This was not a natural darkness caused by an eclipse of the sun, for the Jewish Passover was held at the time of the full moon, and it is impossible to have an eclipse then. No; it was a miraculous darkness. The sun hid his face, as if he was ashamed to look on and see
"When God, the Mighty Maker died,
And then there was an earthquake. The great globe itself seemed to tremble at the thought of the dreadful deed that was taking place on its surface. The solid rocks were rent in pieces. The graves were opened, and many of the dead buried in them rose, and came back to life. And then, at the same time, the vail of the temple—that thick, strong vail-which hung between the holy place and the most holy place, without any one touching it, was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. This was done by miracle. If you and I had been there, with our eyes opened, as I said a little while ago, we should probably have seen two mighty angels, taking hold of that vail and rending it. These were the wonders that attended the crucifixion.
And then there are the words spoken by Jesus on the cross, to notice. Seven times the blessed Lord opened his mouth and spoke as he hung amidst the torturing agonies of the cross. The first time he spoke there, was to pray for his murderers. St. Luke xxiii : 34. Then he spoke to his disciple John, who was standing near the cross, and asked him to take care of his mother. St. John xix : 25-27. Then he answered the prayer of the dying thief, and told him he should be with him in paradise that day. St. Luke xxiii : 39-43. Then he said—"I thirst." St. John xix : 28. Then came the awful cry which he uttered when his Father in heaven forsook him and left him alone. St. Matt. xxvii : 46. Then he said—" It is finished ! " St. John xix: 30. Then he "cried with a loud voice," and said-" Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." St. Luke xxiii : 46. And then he meekly bowed his head and died.
Such is the history of the crucifixion—the most solemn, the most awful, the most important event that ever took place since the world was made.
A great many very valuable lessons are taught us by the history of the crucifixion. We can speak of only five.
The first lesson taught us by the crucifixion is-the lesson of forgiveness.
It was probably while the Roman soldiers were driving the rough nails through his tender hands and feet, or just after the cross was set up in its place, that Jesus taught us this lesson. He looked on his murderers with a pitying eye. If he had asked God to punish them, as they deserved for their cruelty, or if he had spoken to them ever so severely, it would not have been surprising. But though they were causing him so much suffering, when he had done them no harm, still there was not one angry feeling in his heart towards them, and not one unkind word fell from his lips. Instead of this, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and offered the prayer—"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Here we have the most perfect pattern of forgiveness the world has ever known. If we wish to be true followers of Jesus, we must try to be like him in this respect. We must learn well this lesson of forgiveness.
"Examples of Forgiveness." Dr. Duff, the late excellent missionary to India, once read our Saviour's sermon on the mount to some Hindoo young men whom he was teaching. As he read on he came to the passage in which Jesus says, "I say unto you love your enemies, bless them that persecute you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." One of the young men was so impressed by our Saviour's words that he exclaimed, with great earnestness, "0 how beautiful ! how divine ! this is the truth ! " And for days and weeks afterwards he would exclaim, from time to time, "Love your enemies! who ever heard such teaching ? How beautiful this is ! This is heavenly teaching!"
"A Forgiving Boy." "Mamma," said little Charley, "now I've got a new sled, what shall I do with my old one ? " Presently he added, "Mamma, there's a chance to do something real good."
"What is it, Charley ? "
"Why, you see, mamma, if there's any boy I hate, it's Tim Tyson. He's always plaguing and teasing me and all the other little boys. It never does any good to get cross, for that is just what he likes: but then Tim likes sledding very much and he has no sled. I've a notion to give the old sled to him. It will show him that I forgive him. It might make him think, and do him good. Mightn't it ? " " Yes, it might," said the mother.
So Tim got Charley's sled. The kind, for-giving spirit of the little boy he had teased so much touched him greatly. It made him think. It did him good. After that Tim never teased Charley again, or any of the other little boys.
"How a Bishop Taught Forgiveness." There was once a good bishop who lived at Alexandria in Egypt. One day a nobleman came to see him. He told the bishop about a person who had done him a great wrong. He got very angry about it. "I never will forgive him," said he, "as long as I live."
Just then the bell tinkled for prayers in the bishop's private chapel. He rose to go into the chapel and asked the nobleman to follow him. The bishop kneeled at the railing of the little chancel. He asked his friend to repeat the Lord's prayer after him, sentence by sentence. This was done till they came to the sentence "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." When the bishop had offered this prayer he waited for the nobleman to say it after him, but he was silent. He said it again but there was no answer. Then the bishop was silent and gave his friend time to think. Presently the nobleman rose to his feet and said :
"I dare not offer that prayer, while I feel as I now do. It would be asking God never to forgive me I must forgive if I expect to be forgiven."
Then he left the chapel, sought out the person who had injured him, and told him that he freely forgave him. After this he went back and finished his prayer with the good bishop.
The lesson of forgiveness, is one lesson taught us by the crucifixion of our Saviour.
'The second lesson we are here taught is—the lesson of duty to our parents.
When we think of Jesus hanging on the cross and bearing all the dreadful pains of crucifixion, it seems to us that he must have been so fully occupied with his own terrible sufferings as to have had no thought or feeling for any one but himself. But it was not so. He did not forget his duty to his mother even then. He saw her standing by his cross weeping. Joseph, her husband, was no doubt dead. She would have no one now to take care of her. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was standing near his mother. Jesus looked at his mother, and told her to consider John as her own son. Then he looked at John, and turning his eye to the weeping Mary, he told John to treat her as his own mother. And from that time John took the mother of Jesus to his own home and took care of her, as if she had been his own mother. How thoughtful and tender this was in Jesus ! How much it was like the loving Saviour ! And how touchingly we may learn from this crucifixion scene the lesson of our duty to our parents, and especially to our mothers ! No child can ever fully repay a faithful, loving mother for all that she has done. Let us try to follow the example which Jesus set us from the cross about our duty to our parents.
Let us look at some examples of those who have learned and practised this lesson.
"The Polish Prince." Here is a story of a Polish prince who had a very good father. This young man was in the habit of carrying the picture of his father in his bosom. And when he was tempted to do anything that was wrong, he would take out this picture and look at it, saying, "Let me do nothing that would grieve my good father."
"Ashamed to Tell Mother." Some boys were playing one day after school. Among them was a little fellow whom his companions were trying to tempt to do something wrong. "I can't do it," said he, "because I should be ashamed to tell mother of it."
"Well, but you needn't tell her; and she won't know anything about it."
"But I should know all about it myself, and I'd feel mighty mean if I wouldn't tell mother!"
The boys laughed at him and said: "The idea of a boy running and telling his mother every little thing ! What a pity you weren't a girl ! "
"You may laugh about it as much as you please," said the noble little fellow, "but I've made up my mind never, as long as I live, to do anything I would be ashamed to tell my mother." That boy was a hero. He was doing just what Jesus would have done in his place. Many a boy would have been saved from ruin if he had only acted in this way.
"Honoring His Mother." "Is there a vacant place in this bank, which I could fill? " asked a boy with a glowing face, as he stood, with cap in hand, before the president of the bank.
"There is none," was the reply. "Were you told that we wanted a boy ? Who recommended you?"
"No one recommended me, sir," calmly said the boy. "I only thought I would see."
There was an honesty and manliness about the lad which pleased the president and led him to continue the conversation.
"You must have friends who could help you in getting a situation ; have you told them ? "
With a saddened feeling, the boy said: "My mother told me it would be useless to try without friends," then apologizing for the interruption, he turned to go away; but the gentleman detained him, saying: "Why don't you stay at school a year or two longer, my young friend, and then try to get a situation?"
"I have no time, for school," was. his reply. "I study at home, and keep up with the other boys as well as I can."
"Then you have had a place already," said the officer, "why did you leave it?"
"I have not left it, sir," quietly answered the boy.
"But you wish to leave it. What is the matter? "
The boy was confounded for a moment—but presently said—" I want to do more for mother, sir."
These brave words of the boy touched the gentleman's heart. And grasping the hand of the little fellow he said:—"My boy, what is your name ? and where do you live? You shall have the first vacancy, for a boy, that occurs in the bank. And in the meantime if you need a friend, come to me. But now tell me frankly, why do you wish to do more for your mother? Have you no father? "
The boy's eyes filled with tears. He had to make an effort before he could speak. But recovering himself directly he said :
"My father is dead: my brothers and sisters are dead. My mother and I are left alone to help each other. But she is not strong, and I wish to do all I can for her. It will please her, sir, that you have been so kind to me, and I am very much obliged to you." And then leaving his name and residence with the gentleman, he made a bow and retired.
It was not long before the president of that bank called to see this boy and his mother. He cheered their hearts by telling them that he had a situation for the boy, who found a warm friend in him as long as he lived. God's blessing followed that boy, and he rose to occupy an important position in the bank. And God's blessing will always follow those who learn and practise the lesson Jesus taught us on the cross—of honoring our parents.
The third lesson we may learn from the crucifixion is about-the power and willingness of Jesus to save.
This lesson is taught us by what took place between Jesus and the dying thief, as they each hung upon the cross. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One of them cast reproaches upon Jesus, as he hung by his side. The other rebuked his fellow thief ; and then, turning his eyes towards Jesus, said-" Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Jesus at once heard and accepted his prayer, and told the thief that he should be with him in paradise that day. This was one of the most wonderful things that took place in connection with the crucifixion of our Saviour. There were many wonders in it. It was wonderful that this dying thief should have understood so clearly as he did the true character of Jesus. It was wonderful that he should have had faith to trust the salvation of his soul to one who was dying what seemed to be a criminal's death. It was wonderful that he should have repented truly of his sins, and have prayed earnestly, as he did, while hanging on the cross. It was wonderful that Jesus was able and willing to pardon him, to change his heart, and make him fit for heaven at the last hour of his life. And it was wonderful that Jesus was so ready to help and save another at the very time when he was suffering so much himself. The apostle Paul tells us that "he is able to save unto the uttermost, those who come unto God through him." Heb. vii : 25. There could not be a more striking illustration of the power and willingness of Jesus to save sinners than we have here in the case of the dying thief.
But illustrations of the same kind, though not so striking as this, do often occur.
"The Cleansing Fountain." There was once a man who had been a very great sinner. He had long been in the habit of committing all sorts of wickedness. But at last he grew weary of his evil ways, and wanted to become a Christian.
But he thought his sins were too great to be forgiven. A Christian man talked and prayed with him. To encourage him he repeated the first verse of the hymn, which says :
"There is a fountain filled with blood
But the poor man shook his head, and said, "There's nothing in that for me. My sins are too great to be washed away." Then his friend repeated the second verse :
"The dying thief rejoiced to see
That means me," said the penitent sinner.
He was encouraged to pray to Jesus, and he found that he was able and willing to save him.
"Muckle Bess—A Hopeless Case." This was the name of a woman who lived in Scotland many years ago. Her history illustrates very well the point now before us, and shows the power and willingness of Christ to save. She was the daughter of a good, pious farmer. But she was led into evil company. She left her father's house, and became a most wicked and abandoned woman. She was a terror to every one, even to the wicked people among whom she had gone to live. At last she left them and spent her time in wandering among the highlands, living like a wild beast, stealing what she could get to eat, or to wear, and sleeping in barns or stables, in sheepfolds, or in the dens and caves of the mountains. She used to roam over the country begging, or stealing, cursing and swearing, and doing all sorts of wicked things. Everybody was afraid of her. No one thought of speaking to her, or even of praying for her; and every one looked upon her case as hopeless.
At one time, when Muckle Bess had passed middle life, there was a great religious interest among the churches in that part of the country.
On one Sabbath day they were holding services in the open air. A great crowd of people had gathered round the minister. To the surprise of every one, who should appear, at the outside of the crowd, but poor Bess. Ragged, and wild-looking, she seemed just like the witch of Endor. The women trembled at the sight of her, and the men thought she had only come for mischief. But she sat quietly down on the grass and listened to the preaching. It led her to think of her wicked life, and filled her heart with anguish. Presently she rose to her feet, stretched out her brawny arms, and cried in tones of agony that melted the hearts of all who heard her, "Oh, thou God o' my fathers; oh, thou God o' bonnie Scotland, that has been steeped in blood for thy name's sake; look on me a wretched sinner, who has scorned thee, and robbed thee, and defied thee ! Hast thou na' promised cleansin' to them whose sins are scarlet and crimson? And whose sins are o' deeper dye than mine ? God, be merciful to me a sinner!" And then she sank sobbing to the earth.
The stillness of death was over that congregation. The minister paused till poor Bess's sobs were no longer heard. Then he went on with the sermon. He spoke of the love of Christ in being willing to suffer and die for us. He told of his power and readiness to pardon and save all who truly turn to him, and referred to the case of the dying thief to prove the truth of what he said. This touched the heart of poor Bess, and led her to feel that there might be hope, even for her. Then she rose to her feet again, and cried, "Hear me, ye people o' God! Hear me, ye angels above ! Hear me, ye powers o' evil, while I vow afore ye all, that I will e'en tak' him at his word, and leave it there!"
From that time Muckle Bess became a changed woman. She went back to her father's house to live. But she occupied her time in going from house to house, to tell the story of Jesus and his love. And the rest of her life she spent in speaking kind words and doing kind acts to all about her. She was never tired of telling, with tears of heartfelt gratitude, what Jesus had done for her soul.
How beautifully this story illustrates the power and willingness of Jesus to save !
The fourth lesson we learn from the crucifixion of Christ is about—the depth of his sufferings.
The sufferings of his body were very great. When the Roman soldiers beat him on the back with their rods, his flesh was torn, and made to quiver with pain. Then his brow was torn by the sharp points of the crown of thorns that were pressed upon his head. His hands and feet were torn by the rough, cruel nails that were driven through them. And when the cross was set upright in the earth, and his body was hanging by those nails, who can tell the agony that must have been wringing every nerve in it? Think of him as hanging thus for three or four dreadful hours! how long the moments must have seemed that made up those hours ! And if he tried to change his position in the slightest degree, every movement must have increased the torture he was feeling a hundred fold.
But this was not all: this was not half the suffering that Jesus endured. If he had been feeling peaceful and comfortable in his mind while all this was going on, he would not have cared much for these bodily pains. But he had no such feeling. His mind or soul was enduring sufferings much worse than those which the scourges, and the crown of thorns, and the crucifixion, caused to his body. He said to his disciples as he entered Gethsemane—" My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." This was the sorrow he felt from thinking that his Father in heaven was angry with him, and was looking at him as if he were a sinner. He had taken our sins upon himself, and God was treating him as if he had really been a sinner. He was bearing the wrath of God that we had de-served for our sins. The apostle Paul tells us that—"He was made a curse for us." Gal. iii : 13. We cannot understand what Jesus had to feel when this curse came down upon him. But it was this which wrung from him that bitter cry when the darkness came around him, as he hung upon the cross,—"My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me? "
This made the sufferings that Jesus bore for us greater than we can tell, and greater than we can understand.
This part of our subject we must leave with-out attempting any illustration. There never was any sorrow or suffering like that which he bore for us. I know of nothing that could be used as an illustration here. This thought of the sufferings of Christ is like one of those places in the ocean which is so deep that we cannot get a line long enough to reach the bottom.
And then the last lesson for us to learn from the crucifixion of Christ is about-THE WONDERS OF HIS LOVE.
The apostle Paul tells us that the love of Christ —" passeth knowledge.'' Ephes. iii : 19. He says the riches of this love are "unsearchable. " The love of Christ is like a mountain, so high that we cannot climb to the top of it. It is like a valley, so deep that we cannot get down to the bottom of it. It is like a plain, so broad that we cannot get to the beginning of it, on the one hand, or to the end of it on the other. And when we are looking at Jesus as he hangs upon the cross, we are in the best position we ever can occupy for trying to understand the wonders of his love. It was the love of Jesus which made him willing to come down from heaven and "humble himself unto death, even the death of the cross." It was the love of Jesus which made him willing to be nailed to the cross, and to hang there in agony and blood, till as the Te Deum says, he had "over-come the sharpness of death, and had opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers." And as we stand before the cross of Christ, and think of the depth of his sufferings, and the wonders of his love, we may well ask in the language of the hymn:
"0 Lamb of God! was ever pain,
And it is this wonderful love of Jesus, in dying for us, which gives to the story of the cross the strange power it has over the hearts of men.
"The Influence of the Love of Christ." We are so accustomed to hear of the blessed Saviour, and his amazing love, that it often gets to be a familiar story to us, and so it does not have its proper influence on our hearts. But it is different with the missionaries of the gospel. When they tell the heathen about Jesus, and his love, it is new to them, and sometimes it has a strange effect upon them. Here is an instance of this :
The Rev. Mr. Nott, an English missionary in the South Sea Islands, was reading the third chapter of the gospel of St. John to a number of the natives. Presently he came to that wonderful statement in the 16th verse, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life." When he heard this, one of the natives said, "What words were those you read? Let me hear those words again." The missionary read the verse again, slowly and deliberately. On hearing them again, the native rose and said, "Is that so? Can it be true that God loved the world, when the world did not love him ? " "It is true," said the missionary. "And this is the message we bring you. If you believe in Jesus, and his love, it will save your soul, and make you happy forever." This wonderful love of Jesus won that heathen's heart, and he became a Christian.
This illustrates what the apostle Paul means when he says, "the love of Christ constraineth us." To constrain, means to draw. The power which the gospel has to draw men's hearts to God is in the love of Christ.
"The Power of Love." A teacher was giving a lesson to a class of children, on metals and minerals. They were told that gold could be melted, and that all metals could be melted. Then the teacher asked: "Can stones be melted? "
"Yes," said a little boy; "stones are melted in volcanoes."
"That is true; and now, can you tell me what can melt a heart as hard as stone? "
After thinking for a few minutes, the little boy said : "I think it is God only who can melt a hard heart."
"You are right, my child; and now can you tell me how does God melt hard hearts? " "It is by his love."
"You are right again, my child; it is the love of God that melts stony hearts. And it is by giving his Son to die for us that God shows his love."
Here is a very striking story to show the power of the love of Christ in melting a hard heart. We may call it:
"Hope for the Lost." Charles Anderson was the son of a sailor. His father was drowned at sea. Charles was left an orphan, in a seaport town in England. Having no one to take care of him, he got in with bad boys, and grew up an idle, careless, swearing, drunken young man. In a drunken spree one night, he and his companions broke into a house and robbed it. He was taken to prison, tried, and sentenced to seven years' transportation to New South Wales. After his arrival there, thinking that he was unjustly punished, he became sulky, obstinate, and rebellious. He cared for no rules. He minded no orders, but did just as he pleased. For his bad conduct he was flogged again and again. But punishment did him no good. He grew worse and worse. He became so thoroughly bad and unmanageable that at last he was sentenced to receive three hundred lashes on his back, and to be chained for two years to a barren rock that stood by itself in the middle of the harbor of Sydney. The wretched man was fastened by his waist to this rock, with a chain twenty-six feet long.
He had irons on his legs and had hardly a rag to cover him. His only bed was a hollow place scooped out in the rock. He had no other shelter than a wooden lid, with holes bored in it. This was locked over him at night and removed in the morning. If he had been a wild beast, instead of a man, he could hardly have been treated worse. His food was pushed to him once a day, in a box, with a long pole. Sometimes people going by in boats, would throw him pieces of bread or biscuit. But no one was allowed to go near him or speak to him. Thus he spent two long years, a prisoner on that lonely rock. Of course, he grew no better, but worse, under such treatment. When his time was out, and he was released from the rock, he behaved so badly that very soon he was taken up again, and sent a prisoner to Norfolk Island, to work in chains for the rest of his life.
Now, what good could possibly be expected from such a man? None at all, if the same hard treatment had been continued towards him. But it was not continued. No, at Nor-folk Island, he came under the care of a good Christian gentleman. This was Capt. Maconochie, an officer of the English army. He had great faith in the power of kindness and love. He found this man Anderson one of the very worst men he had ever met with ; but he resolved to try the power of the gospel upon him. He treated him kindly, as one man ought to treat another. He got him to attend a night school which he had opened, and there had him taught to read. Then he persuaded him to join a Bible class which he taught. He showed an interest in him and sympathy for him. He often took him apart by himself and talked kindly to him. He told him of the wonderful love of Jesus, as shown in the story of the cross. This touched and melted the hard and stony heart of that desperate man. He wept like a child, at the thought of his life of sin. He prayed earnestly for pardon, and found it. Charles Anderson-the fierce, unmanageable man—the man who had been chained, like a wild beast to that lonely rock, became a Christian. And he was a thoroughly changed man in every respect. The change from midnight to mid-day, from mid-winter to mid-summer, is not greater than the change that appeared in him. From being an ill-tempered, gloomy, disobedient, idle man who was a plague to all about him, he became gentle, and kind, cheerful, obedient, and trustworthy; a man who gained the respect and the love of all who knew him. Capt. Moconochie got him released from being a prisoner, on account of his good behaviour. Then he took him into his own service, and a more useful and excellent servant he never had in all his life. Here we see the power of the love of Christ. And so when we think of the history of the crucifixion, let us remember these six things,-the place—the time—the manner—the witnesses—the wonders —and the words—which make up that history. And when we think of the lessons it teaches-let us remember the lesson of forgiveness—the lesson of duty to our parents—the lesson about the power and willingness of Christ to save—about the depths of his sufferings-and the wonders of his love.
We cannot better close this subject than with the words of the hymn we often sing:
"When I survey the wondrous cross,
"Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
"See from his head, his hands, his feet,
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,