Слике страница

that Theodosius bore with him as he did. It must have been this very“ boldness” which carried success with it.

Passing on to two hundred and fifty years after S. Ambrose's time, we come to Gregory the Great, A.D. 590, “the most eminent representative of the transition from the early to the middle period,” (of Church History.) Beyond this “ middle period” I do not intend here to proceed, my object being, in these pages, to remind those who may have forgotten, and to draw the attention of those of my readers who are not aware of the fact, to the difficulties with which the Church of CHRIST has been surrounded from the days of the Apostles to the present time : difficulties not from without only, as in the times of heathen persecution, but from within ; from those calling themselves members of her Communion. The war of words was as strong in the days of the first councils as now; and when one reads of the differences of opinion, the hot discussions, and the rise of passions amongst those who came together to settle the greatest and gravest matters of the Faith, it is only a marvel that any settled conclusion was ever arrived at in the end. What should we say now if Convocation presented such a spectacle as this in our own day? It is, perhaps, the spread of infidelity which we have most to fear in this nineteenth century of ours. “The little horn,” with “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things,” i.e. man's intellect, seems indeed to be rising in power, and more and more given to speaking a great words against the most High.” (Dan. vii. 8, 25.) Still we must not be fainthearted; and if we watch now, and look back on the storms our Ark has weathered, with the same Guide at the helm as heretofore, we shall gain confidence, remembering also that when the powers of good are at work, those of evil are ever the strongest.

“ Thus bad and good their several warnings give

Of His approach, wbom none may see and live ::
Faith's ear with awful still delight,

Counts them like minute-bells at night.” In a later number I hope to continue this subject, beyond the date at which this paper closes, A.D. 600.

C. L.


"Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat" is an old saying, and though it is not strictly true, inasmuch as God never wills the destruction of any man, yet it is notorious that His long-suffering has its bounds, and a time comes when the unrepentant sinner is left helpless in the hands of his eternal enemy, and indeed the withdrawal of Divine assistance ever seems to precipitate the sinner on his reekless course, and render him blind to all danger.

Never did sinner stoop to such depths of degradation in the sight of man as the miserable fanatic who was alike judge and accuser of the SAVIOUB; never was human policy more short-sighted than that which demanded, first the arrest of JESUS, then the judicial sentence of the Sanhedrim, (conscious that this once terrible tribunal was impotent towards the accused,) against Him, and, lastly, dragged its victim to the judgment-seat of Pilate, in the blind hope that Roman authority would, without inquiry, endorse the condemnation of the Sanhedrim. At every step of these proceedings, as the innoeence and majesty of the SAVIOUR shone more bright, so the malice of His enemies became more paltry and despicable. Caiaphas and his associates began by a fatal blunder, and forfeited at onee all chance of being able to invest their future proceedings with anything approaching dignity. They had apparently an easy task, namely, the arrest of a Galilean teacher, whose resort they knew by the treachery of Judas, and from the same source doubtless they were made aware that but eleven of His, followers, of whom only two had swords, were with Him.

There was no fear of the mob of Jerusalem attempting a rescue, for it was night, and yet the chief priests sent out a great multitude with swords and staves, thus tacitly admitting that they were afraid of Jesus; in fact, that they did know, in part, Who He was. “'Tis conscience that makes cowards of us all," and Caiaphas's first act was marked by a mixture of malignity and stupidity hard to conceive.

The agents or apparitors of Caiaphas, than whom a more despicable set it would not be easy to imagine, acted in a manner worthy of their master. Advancing into the moonlit garden with torches and weapons, with a "pomp and circumstance of war” which drew from the Redeemer the rebuke, “Are ye come out as against a thief ?” they were too eager for the blood of the innocent to consider the significance of the shock that hurled them backwards when first they attempted violence on His adorable form. (The intelligent student of Holy Writ should notice that our LORD's body, like the ark of old days or the holy mount in the wilderness, was not to be touched irreverently with impunity, any more than in after days could the Eucharist be unworthily approached without incurring sickness, or even death.) The birelings of Caiaphas surrounded the LORD, and bound Him with a stupid ferocity; for what cords could secure Him Whose miraculous power their own eyes had witnessed, or what force, armed even with the weapons of Roman soldiers which these men were probably not, could have held their victim had He chosen to pray to His Father, and over the garden had burst the legions of angels,

“ The helmed Cherubin,

And sworded Seraphim,
Seen there in glittering ranks

With wings displayed ?".
Indeed, the very sense of insecurity probably rendered the guards of
JESUS brutal. S. John, who alone mentions the binding of our LORD
in the garden, tells us also that later on He was sent bound to Caiaphas.

The change in our Redeemer's situation is fearfully abrupt. One moment we see Him standing serene, in God-like majesty, untouched by His foes, who, stunned and stupified, gaze motionless upon Him, as He heals their comrade's well-merited wound, the next the surrender is made, and the Saviour is led away, bound. Not the subsequent scourging and mocking so powerfully affect the imagination as the binding of the Victim's hands; this once permitted, the rest seems but a natural sequence, for infuriated malice, once sure of its prey, ever rises to the occasion, and former dismay and apprehension but served to enhance the triumphant brutality of the apparitors of the Sanhedrim. Christ had allowed His hands to be bound, now cruelty and envy could give the rein to their passion.

Caiaphas, like most men of his class, wished to appear a temperate and law-observing judge; he did not begin by invective, but formally proceeded to interrogate the accused. The chief priest, we are told, asked Him of His disciples and of His doctrine—a needless piece of hypocrisy, for he was well acquainted with both—and our LORD with righteous indignation at once laid bare the high priest's hypocrisy, whereupon Caiaphas first fell back on the most approved method

of persecutors in all ages; he allowed his servants to silence the prisoner, whom he could not refute, then, finding that his witnesses could not be depended upon, and gave contradictory evidence, Caiaphas assumed the role of prosecutor, and put to our LORD in a peculiarly solemn form a direct question, knowing at the time that but one answer could or would be given. That answer lashed the furious Sanhedrim to madness, not so much, it may be assumed, from the warning contained in the latter part, as too many have thought, of a coming tribunal where the accused would be the judge, but rather from the awful beginning, “I AN," an expression directly claiming Godhead, and one which before, uttered in answer to the Jews, when they mocked the Saviour in the Temple for claiming to have known Abraham, had armed the hands of Jesus' enemies against His life.

Impotent fury that cannot kill, ever finds vent in moral torture ; light comparatively must have been the subsequent mockery of Pilate's brutal soldiers, compared to the degrading indignities heaped on the SAVIOUR, in which, though mainly inflicted by the servants, with true Oriental spite, it is more than hinted by the Evangelists the members of the Sanhedrim were not ashamed to join, but which reverence forbids me to enlarge upon in these pages, since the Gospel narrative is sufficiently explicit, and such a scene is fitter for devotional meditation than to be treated of in an essay like the present.

The whole council, we are told, condemned our LORD, but rather, it would appear, strictly speaking, a majority; for certainly one, Joseph of Arimathea, and probably Nicodemus, had no voice in the sentence. It would be deeply interesting to know how far the Pharisees concurred in this furious and cowardly judgment, for it should never be forgotten that the chief priests were Sadducees, and that infidelity, not formal and bigoted superstition, was foremost to crucify the LORD of glory. The Pharisees subsequently defended the Apostle Paul ; possibly had they had the upper hand in the council, they might not have condemned his Master, for on many points of His teaching they agreed with Him; and though His unsparing denunciations had rather been directed at them than at the Sadducees, this does not prove that they were worse men, but indeed perhaps the reverse, for there are those, especially among the unbelieving, on whom rebuke is wasted.

Caiaphas and his associates sank low enough in degradation in the council-chamber where they were judges, but how much lower at the bar of Pilate, where they were accusers.

Before the Roman governor

they seem to have lost all trace of manly feeling and self-respect. First, they tried to procure a sentence at once, ignoring the rules of Roman justice; next, they broke into furious and undignified insult and abuse of their bound Victim; and, lastly, they grovelled in the dust before the name of their tyrant, and uttered words that a Jewish patriot would have suffered death rather than speak, “We have no king but Cæsar.”

How frightful the depths to which malice descends ! the chief priests of a nation, once governed directly by GOD, bringing their lips to repeat such words of frantic adulation of the oppressor of their nation! But then Cæsar could crucify the innocent and holy, Cæsar and Pilate could silence those pure lips, could blot from existence the Man Who taught new things, Whose life shamed theirs, it was worth while to crouch at the feet of the civil power to gain such an end : Caiaphas could not destroy Jesus, the setter forth of strange doctrines, but the licentious judge could; what mattered it that Pilate presided over a Roman court, the ways of which were opposed to the ecelesiastical tribunals of the Jews. He was able by virtue of the law to condemn the Just and True to scourging and death!

Caiaphas could not refute, but Pilate could crueify, so Caiapbas, was willing to call on the law to arrest and destroy the law-breaker. True, Caiaphas could have eared little personally that our LORD called Himself King, and at heart hated Cæsar's enforced rule, but if the law could be made useful, Caiaphas was ready to bow the knee before the law.

To the Cross, even to the grave, the maliee of the ehief priests pursued the SAVIOUR. They insulted Him on the Tree, they lied at His tomb, and unrepentant bounded on the mob against His blessed martyr Stephen. We take leave of Caiaphas still persecuting. It was at first expedient that one man should die, but that one soon swelled into numbers.

Sacred history does not present a more awful portrait than that of Caiaphas. Judas is more repulsive, but he scarcely was so representative a man as the high priest, who, in his person, represented the chosen nation, the builders who rejected the stone. The tongue of Caiaphas urged the Jews to their suicidal rejection of Christ, and terrified the governor into ordering His crucifixion; in truth, Caiaphas stands before us as the mover and prime agent in the most awful tragedy which the world ever witnessed, or shall witness. Before the

« ПретходнаНастави »