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was resolved on, Jesus acted very properly in keeping them in error. But if this was the intention of Pro. vidence, why preach to them? Why perform miracles before a whole people, whilst a small number were only to profit by it? Did Jesus wish to save them? In that case why not convince the whole Sanhedrim of his power? Why did he not burst his bonds ? Why did he not by a single word change their obstinate hearts? Did he wish to destroy them? Why not then strike them dead? Why not instantly precipitate them into hell ?

The judges could not comprehend why an accused person, who could not extricate himself from their hands, could be the Son of God. They accordingly declared him worthy of death; but not definitively, as it was requisite that the sentence should be approved of, and executed by the Romans, sovereigns of the nation. During these transactions, Jesus was treated in the cruellest manner by the Jews, whom, as well as

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than those which it pretended to restrain, and broken the most sacred bonds of mortals? Has it not, under the pretext of duty, of faith, of piety, and of zeal, favoured cruelty, stupidity, ambition, and tyranny? Has not the cause of God made murder, perfidy, rebellion, and regicide, legi. timate objects? Have not those princes who have frequently made themselves the avengers of heaven, the lictors of relia gion, hundreds of times been its victims? In fine, has not the name of God, been the signal for the most dismal follies, and the most frightful and wicked outrages ? - Have not the altars of the gods every where swam in blood; and under whatever form they may have exhibited the divinity, was he not always the cause or the pretext of the most insolent vio. lation of the rights of humanity?

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Christians, zeal permitted, or rather enjoined, to be savage.

It is during this night, and the morning of the following day so fatal to the Saviour of the world, that we must place the three denials of St. Peter, the chief of the apostles; yet for him his master had prayed. His comrades, seized with dismay, had dispersed themselves in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood. Several among them would have acted like Peter, if they had found themselves in a similar situation. He had at least the merit of keeping near his master ; he abjured him, it is true, but would it have been of more avail, if, by acknowledging him openly, Peter should have entangled himself in a very scurvy affair, without being in a condition to relieve the Saviour.

The Sanhedrim repaired to the palace of Pilate the Roman governor, in order to get the sentence confirmed. Jesus was conducted thither. Pilate instantly perceived, that it was an affair in which fanaticism and folly had the greatest share. Filled with contempt for so ridiculous a motive, he at first testified unwillingness to meddle in it. Judge him yourselves, said he to the magistrates. On this the latter became false wita nesses. Zeal, no doubt, made them imagine, that every thing was allowable against an enemy of religion. They interested the sovereign power in their quarrel They accused Jesus of wishing « to make himself king of the Jews," and of having maintained, that “ they ought not to pay tribute to Cæsar." We recognise here the genius of the clergy, who, to ruin their enemies, are never very fastidious in the choice of means.

They especially strive to render the latter suspected by the temporal power, in order to engage, it, through motives of self-interest, to revenge their injuries, or satiate their passions,

Pilate could not avoid paying attention to accusations of so serious a nature. Unable to persuade himself, that the man he beheld could have conceived projects so ridiculous, he interrogated him:-"Are you the king of the Jews?" On which Jesus in his turn interrogated Pilate, and demanded “ Say you this of yourself, or have others told it you?"_"Of what consequence is it to me,” returned Pilate,“ that you pretend to be the king of the Jews? You do not appear to be a man much to be dreaded by the Emperor my master - I am not of your nation; I concern myself very little with your silly quarrels. Your priests are your accusers - I have my own opinion of them - but they accuse you; they deliver you into my hands Tell me then, What have you done?” Jesus might very easily have brought himself off in this affair; but in the distress he was, his judgment began to wander; and, far from penetrating the favourable disposition of Pilate, who wished to save him, he replied, “ that his kingdom was not of this world that he was the truth," &c. On this the Governor asked him, What is the truth? But the Saviour made no reply, though the question well deserved a categorical answer.

Pilate, a little alarmed on account of Jesus, de clared, that he “found nothing in him worthy of death :” But this redoubled the cries of his enemies. Having learned that the accused was a Galilean, he, to get quit of the ridiculous business, seized the opportunity to send him to Herod, to whose tetrarchate Jesus originally belonged. We have said elsewhere, that this Prince had desired to see our hero, and his desire was now gratified. But, on seeing his obstinacy and constant refusal to answer the questions put to him, he conccived a sovereign contempt for him. To Pilate therefore he sent him back clothed in a white robe by way of derision. The governor however saw no capital crinie in Jesus, and wished to save him; besides his superstitious wife had a dream, that interested her in favour of our missionary * _ Pilate then said to the Jews, that he could find nothing in the man which rendered him worthy of death. But the people mis-led, and wishing him to be crucified, cried out, Tolle, Tolle, away, away with him. The Governor now devised another plan to save him. “I release,” said he, “every year a criminal ; supposing that Jesus may be culpable, I am going to set him free.” The cries were redoubled, and the Jews demanded, that a robber called Barabbas should profit of this mercy in preference to Jesus, whose punishment they persisted to urge.

The Romans, desirous to calm the rage of a fanatical people, caused Jesus to be whipped. Thereafter they dressed him in a ridiculous manner, crowned bim with thorns, and made him hold a reed instead of a sceptre ; after which Pilaté shewed him to the people, saying, “Behold your king! are you not yet satisfied ?

* John Malida, and other fabricators of legends, inform us, that the wife of Pilate was called Procla, or Procula. They have made a saint of her. Some authors have made Pilate himself a Christian, and even a martyr. Others af. firm, that Nero put him to death for having been concerned in the crucifixion of Christ. Others assert that Pilate was exiled to Vienge in Dauphipe, where be killed himself.

how to please you I have bedecked him. Be then less cruel: do not carry your indignation further; he ought no longer to give you umbrage.”

The priests, whose maxim it is never to forgive, were not moved by this spectacle; it was only the death of their enemy that could satisfy them. They shifted their attacks, and, to intimidate the governor, gave hiin to understand, that by suffering the accused to live he betrayed the interests of his master. It was then that Pilate, fearing the effects of the malice of the clergy, consigned Jesus to the Jews, that they might satisfy their rage on him, and execute their projects; declaring, however, that he washed his hands of it," and that it was against his opinion if they put him to death. We cannot well conceive how a Roman governor, who exercised sovereign power in Judea, could yield so easily to the wishes of the Jews : but we cannot more easily conceive how God permitted this honest governor to become through weakness an accomplice in the death of his dear Son.

Jesus, abandoned to the rage of devotees, again suffered the cruellest treatment *. Pilate, to humble those

* St. Justin, Tatian, Athenagoras, Lactantius, &c. have reproached the pagans with their gods, several of whom, according to the poets, had experienced persecution and bad usage. Were not these reproaches preposterous in the mouths of the adorers of a crucified God? The partizans of one religion perceived very well the ridiculousness of their adversaries, but never saw that of their own religion. Lactantius asks the pagans, 66 If it is possible to take for a God an exile, obliged to fly or forced to conceal himself? No. body,” says he, “is fool enough to do so; for he who flics or conceals himself, shews that he fears violence or death. Lanct. Instit. Divin. I. i. c. 13.

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