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suffer ourselves to be guided by dreams? Because Jehovah has given us a rule of conduct in his written word. Is there no benefit to be derived from a remarkable and impressive dream? It may be useful, if it is in harmony with the written word of God. In such case, how should we regard the dream? As a profitable occurrence, but not as a guide, or rule of action. Have persons sometimes greatly erred, by regarding their dreams as indicative of the Divine will concerning them? Yes; the notion has altogether misled them. What use

ought Pilate to have made of his wife's communication? It should have led him to act as a righteous judge, that he might have nothing to fear from a dream, or from any thing else.* 20. While this communication was being made to Pilate, how were "the chief priests and elders" engaged? They were persuading "the multitude, that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus." What is meant by asking Barabbas? Asking for the release of Barabbas. Why were the chief

priests and elders so eager, that Barabbas might be pardoned, and the innocent Jesus put to death? Because their malice against the Lord Jesus increased, in proportion as they found it difficult to get him condemned.

21. Whom was Pilate willing to release? Jesus.† What did he do, to bring matters to that issue? He spake again to them.† To whom did he speak

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again? To the people.

What did he say to

them? "Whether of the twain will ye that I re

lease unto you?

"twain"?

See xix. 5.

What is the meaning of

Which of the twain did

the people choose? "They said Barabbas." What does that choice indicate? That the people were blind and priest-ridden.

22. How did Pilate argue with the people? "Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ?" Why did the governor mention, so particularly, that he was called Christ? To remind the people, that many of them had acknowledged him as the Messiah.* Why did he remind them of the regard they had shown to his claims? That they might be moved to ask his release. Had Pilate's question any effect upon the people? No; "they all said unto him, Let him be crucified." What is crucifixion? Nailing the body to a cross, till life expires.

23. Did Pilate comply immediately with the desire of the people that Jesus should be crucified? No; he reasoned with them once more. What argument did he use? "Why, what evil hath he done?" What does that question intimate? That Jesus was entirely innocent. Ought not the judge to have released him, at all hazards, when he was found innocent? Assuredly. Why did he not act accordingly? Because he hoped to bring about his release, without any risk to himself. What risk

* See xxi. 8, 9.

could he incur? The risk of displeasing the Jewish people, and causing complaints of him to be made to the Roman Emperor. Did the people alter their mind, when Pilate said, "Why, what evil hath he done?" No; "they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified." How did they cry out? With loud voices.* Who mingled their voices in the cry y? The chief priests.* Was it seemly in them to join in the furious outcries of the multitude? No. How can you account for their conduct? Their passions were so excited, that they forgot what was becoming.

24. What did Pilate now see?

vail nothing."

"That he could preWhat is meant by his prevailing

nothing? That he could not induce the people to change their mind. What more did Pilate observe?"That, rather, a tumult was made."

is a tumult?

What

An uproar, made by a disorderly multitude. In what sense is the word "rather" used? It means instead. Instead of what? Instead of the people being persuaded to choose Jesus, they were the more outrageous against him. When Pilate saw that, what did he do? "He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it." Of what is water a symbol? Of purity, or innocence. Why did Pilate take water, and wash his hands before the multitude? To signify, that the guilt of shedding Jesus' blood did not attach

* Luke xxiii. 23.

to him.

Why did Pi'ate adopt that method of clearing himself? It was a custom of the ancient Greeks and Romans to signify, by washing their hands, that they were free from the guilt of bloodshed. Had the Jews any such custom among them? Yes; in the case of unknown murder.* Was not this action of Pilate's a virtual acquittal of the Lord Jesus? Yes; it was as solemn a declaration of his innocence as could possibly be made. Did it clear Pilate of all guilt in the matter? Noall the water in the universe could not wash away the guilt of an unrighteous sentence.

Did he, at

When

last, pronounce sentence against Jesus? Yes; he gave sentence that it should be as they required.† As who required? As the priests and people required. What did they require? That Barabbas should be released, and Jesus crucified. Pilate had endeavoured to free himself from the guilt of shedding innocent blood, what did he say, by way of warning to the people? "See ye to it." What is the meaning of "See ye to it"? The blame is yours, and you must take the consequences. 25. Did this warning alarm the people? No; "then answered all the people and said, His blood be on us, and on our children." What did they mean

by "His blood be on us, and on our children"? Let the guilt and punishment of his blood-shedding fall on us, and on our descendants. Was not this awful language? Yes; it was bespeaking a curse to them

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selves and their posterity.

Has the curse they

thus imprecated fallen upon them? Yes; as a nation, they have been lying under the weight of it ever since. Are the children of the Jews punished

for the guilt of their forefathers, in killing the Prince of life? No; they are punished for their own sin, in approving the deeds of their fathers. How do they show their approval of what their fathers did? By still denying the Holy One and the Just.* 26. When Pilate found the Jews so determined, what did he do? "Then released he Barabbas unto them." And what did he do to Jesus? "When he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified." Why did he cause Jesus to be scourged? Because it was a custom of the Romans to scourge those who were sentenced to capital punishment. What do you mean by capital punishment? The loss of life. What is scourging? Lashing with thongs, or beating with rods. What was the nature of this punishment? It was both cruel and ignominious. By what law was the punishment limited among the Jews to forty stripes? By a Divine law.t Was the Roman law characterized by the same moderation? No. By whom was our Lord scourged? By Roman soldiers. What prophetic description have we of this cruel scene? The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furWhat idea do these words convey? That

rows.

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*Acts iii. 14, 15.

+ Deut. xxv. 3.

Ps. cxxix. 3.

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