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miraculous power; when even the giddy multitude could express their admiration, and declare that He had done all things well. Far different were the circumstances which accompanied the acknowledgment in the text! This acknowledgment was not made at a period when Christ was manifesting visibly to the world the proofs of His character and His mission; it did not arise from the immediate contemplation of those mighty works which proved His dominion over the world of spirits, nor even over the winds and the waves; it had no connection with that popular excitement which led the crowd to exclaim, as they carried Him with triumph into Jerusalem, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord ! * No; it was in the hour of His deep depression; it was at a time when His very friends deserted Him when one disciple had betrayed, and another had with execrations denied Him, and all the rest had forsaken Him and fled. It was at a time when, to the common observer, He presented the most deplorable image of weakness and of suffering; when the countenance of the Father was withdrawn, and the power of darkness was suffered to prevail; it was in the

* Matt. xxi. 9.

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hour when not the ignorant multitude of Jerusalem alone, but the passing traveller, and the guides and elders of the people, taunted Him with the fact of His crucifixion, as an evidence that He possessed not the power to save: then it was that this awakened penitent beheld in Him an evidence of power from on high, and, in the spirit of holy confidence, and reverence, and faith, addressed Him as the Lord, and entreated His favour. Had this prayer been delivered after the darkening of the sun, and the rending of the vail, and the commotion of the earth, which followed the crucifixion, and which constrained even the Roman soldiers to fear greatly, and confess Truly, this was the Son of God,* the event would have been divested of much of its peculiarity. These were circumstances of terror, well suited to produce a mighty effect upon the minds and consciences of men : but they were subsequent to the prayer of this humble penitent: no visible interposition of divine power then attested the character of Him who was the object of general insult; no disorder of nature then sympathized with the sufferings of the Son of God. It was at the period when our blessed Redeemer was placed under circumstances of sorrow and degradation without parallel, even in His eventful history, that the penitent thief looked to Him as the Messiah and the Saviour of the world.

* Matt. xxvii, 54.

(2.) And this faith which he reposed in Christ was evidently accompanied by a sense of his own demerits. To the miserable man who, although in the same condemnation, joined in the revilings of the crowd, he answered, that Jesus had done nothing amiss; while they suffered justly; for we receive, said he, the due reward of our deeds.*

He was just on the point of becoming a suppliant to Christ; but he was so far from palliating his guilt, and endeavouring by a fair report of his own character, to represent himself as not unworthy of regard, that his request is immediately preceded, and necessarily in the hearing of our Lord who was crucified between the two thieves, by an unreserved confession of his offences, and an acknowledgment of the justice of his punishment. The trust which he reposed in the Son of God was associated with a just view of his own character: and if the evangelist be silent as to the extent of his contrition, yet we cannot doubt, from all the circumstances of the nar

* Luke xxiii. 41.

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from the rebuke with which he checked the violence of his guilty fellow-sufferer ? Was it not because he wished to vindicate the honour of the Son of God ? Because he was distressed at the reproaches thus cast upon his Redeemer? Because he felt compassion for the scoffer, who had no pity for himself? We see in the whole behaviour of this penitent, a disposition such as the gospel manifestly recommends, and such as by the teaching of God's holy Spirit it is suited to produce. Here were fruits meet for repentance; here was the evidence of a change in his previous character, such as divine grace was alone able to accomplish.

(4.) We proceed to consider more particularly the nature and terms of his prayer. It seems a reasonable supposition, that the first wish of the awakened thief, believing as he did in the power of Christ, would be for release from the pain which he felt, and the death which awaited him: If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us, was the address of his reviling companion : and although that hardened malefactor believed not in the Messiah, yet a wish to a similar purport, expressed in reverential prayer by the penitent sufferer, would seem neither to be unsuitable to the occasion, nor deserving of re

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