Tuesday, December 4, 2007

He endured the shame

The cross! the cross! When you hear that word it wakens in your hearts no thoughts of shame. There are other forms of capital punishment in the present day far more disgraceful than the cross. Connected with the guillotine there is much with the block as much, with the gallows, most of all. But, remember, that although to speak of the gallows is to utter a word of ignominy, yet there is nothing of shame in the term “gallows,” compared with the shame of the cross, as it was understood in the days of Christ. We are told that crucifixion was a punishment to which none could be put but a slave, and, even then, the crime must have been of the most frightful character — such as the betrayal of a master, the plotting his death, or murdering him — only such offenses would have brought crucifixion, even, upon a slave. It was looked upon as the most terrible and frightful of all punishments. All the deaths in the world are preferable to this; they have all some slight alleviating circumstance, either their rapidity or their glory. But this is the death of a villain, of a murderer, of an assassin, — a death painfully protracted, one which cannot be equalled in all inventions of human cruelty, for suffering and ignominy. Christ himself endured this.

The cross, I say, is in this day no theme of shame. It has been the crest of many a monarch, the banner of many a conqueror. To some it is an object of adoration. The finest engravings, the most wonderful paintings, have been dedicated to this subject. And now, the cross engraven on many a gem has become a right, royal, and noble thing. And we are unable at this day, I believe, fully to understand the shame of the cross; but the Jew knew it, the Roman knew it, and Christ knew what a frightful thing, what a shameful thing its was to be put to the death of crucifixion.

From a sermon entitled "The Shameful Sufferer," delivered January 30, 1859. Flickr photo by "*Susie*;" some rights reserved.

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