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every thing but Christ as soon as he entered her dwelling.
Would that we could honor him by a room full of guests. We have invited several hundreds of our friends to join with us in communion with Christ at his table, but hitherto they have said, I pray thee have me excused.
But, after all, our chief thought at the table of Christ must be with regard to ourselves, if we would profit by the sacramental season. 'The Master is come, and calleth for thee.' Let him search your heart, reprove you, not sparing your faults, but setting them in order before you. If he would treat us all as he did Martha, it would be well for us. He knows our faults; we may also say to him, with David, "Thou knowest my foolishness." Let us never go away without feeling reproved for some particular fault or sin. Nor may he depart without bearing with him some new proofs of our love, some purposes of amendment, a consecration to him of all that we have and are, and with new bonds between him and us, whose influence shall be felt by us not only in life and in death, but when we shall ‘EAT AND DRINK AT HIS TABLE, IN HIS KINGDOM.'
SIMON THE CYRENIAN.
LUKE XXIII. 26.
AND AS THEY LED HIM AWAY, THEY LAID HOLD UPON ONE SIMON, A CYRENIAN, COMING OUT OF THE COUNTRY, AND ON HIM THEY LAID THE CROSS, THAT HE MIGHT BEAR IT AFTER JESUS.
THE Cross was so ignominious and hateful, that no menial servant was willing to carry it to the place of execution, and the people were unwilling that any man who was not in disgrace should be compelled to bear it through the public ways.
It would seem that when they led Jesus away to be crucified, they laid the transverse beam of the cross upon him, according to the custom of making the criminal bear the instrument of his own torture and death. But either out of compassion to Christ, which is hardly probable, or because his strength, reduced by previous sufferings, was insufficient for the load, or because they feared that their victim, who was already much exhausted by the loss of blood,
might faint and die before they had executed their purposes, they found it expedient to relieve him of the burden. John says, " And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he, bearing his cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull." But the other evangelists say that another bore the cross. Both statements are consistent. Christ carried his cross through the city, and was then relieved of it, as one of the evangelists says, "when they came out." It is generally supposed, that this Simon was suspected, or known to be a friend, or a disciple, of Christ. Commentators agree in this impression. The reason seems to be, that only one who was odious ever had such ignominy put upon him as to bear a cross in public. Mark says, that'this man was the father of Alexander and Rufus,' who are thus named familiarly, as though they were two disciples of Christ, well known. Two of the three evangelists who mention him, however, use the word 'compel,' in speaking of the act of the people in laying the cross upon him. Still, this may be intended merely to describe the act as it would appear generally to spectators, without intending to intimate the feelings of Simon at the force which the people would naturally use, whether he were, or were not, a friend.
He was on his way from the country into the city, when the crowd met him as they went to the exe
cution. For some reason, he was a marked man; perhaps of such ill repute that the people felt at liberty to lay hold on him, and compel him to perform this most degrading and revolting service of carrying a cross to the place of punishment. It may have been that he was a fugitive from justice; or that he had made himself notorious by former crimes and punishment; or that, in appearance, he was a vagrant, whom the excited populace felt it safe to insult with this compulsion.
On the other hand, it may have been the case that he had made himself offensive by some prominent act of friendship to Christ, in opposition to the popular feeling. We only know that they met him accidentally, and forced upon him a service which they thought too great a disgrace for any of their number, or for one not already ignominious; and which, perhaps, no one of the disciples of Christ would have undertaken to perform, without, at first, a feeling of abhorrence.
While we adopt the general impression, that Simon was a friend of Christ, the possibility of doubt respecting his character and disposition affords an opportunity to speak of the different feelings which the professed followers of Christ, and men in general, have, with regard to the cross of Christ; by which I mean the different ways in which our feelings lead us to regard our religious duties. Some
are like Simon, if he were an unconverted man, when compelled to bear the cross.
Suppose, then, that he was not a good man; or, at least, suppose that he was indifferent to Christ, and had taken no part, for him or against him, and was too much engrossed in his own affairs to be interested in the controversy respecting Jesus.
He was coming out of the country, and was going into the city, and, accidentally, passed along the way to Calvary at the time that the crowd were moving to the place of execution. They laid hold on him, and thrust the cross upon his shoulder. We see the angry, furious fellow, with the heavy cross laid on his unwilling neck. With oaths and curses he staggers along, restrained only by fear of the mob from resistance and flight. He deplores his bad luck that led him that way just at that moment. Had he been a few minutes earlier or later, he might have escaped this great disgrace. Now he feels that he has had a reproach put upon him which he can never wipe off. His family, his friends, or his acquaintances, will hear of this. What would they say if they could see him marching, at the head of a mob that follows the executioners, with a cross on his shoulders, helping a miserable victim on his way to Golgotha? Such a load he never bore; a heavier weight of sorrow he never expects to bear in this world. What right had the people to stop him in his lawful business?