There was a day, as I took my walks abroad, when I came hard by a spot forever engraven upon my memory, for there I saw this friend, my best, my only Friend….MURDERED.
I stooped down in sad affright, and looked at Him. I saw that His hands had been pierced with rough iron nails, and His feet had been rent in the same way. There was misery in His dead countenance so terrible that I scarcely dared to look upon it. His body was emaciated with hunger, His back was red with bloody scourges, and His brow had a circle of wounds about it: clearly could one see that these had been pierced by thorns.
I shuddered, for I had known this Friend full well. He never had a fault; He was the purest of the pure, the holiest of the holy.
Who could have injured Him? For He never injured any man: all His life long He “went about doing good.” He had healed the sick, He had fed the hungry, He had raised the dead: for which of these works did they kill Him? He had never breathed out anything else but love — and as I looked into the poor sorrowful face, so full of agony, and yet so full of love, I wondered who could have been a wretch so vile as to pierce hands like His.
I said within myself, “Where can these traitors live? Who are these that could have smitten such an One as this?”
Had they murdered an oppressor, we might have forgiven them; had they slain one who had indulged in vice or villainy, it might have been his desert; had it been a murderer and a rebel, or one who had committed sedition, we would have said, “Bury his corpse: justice has at last given him his due.”
But when Thou wast slain, my best, my only–beloved, where lodged the traitors? Let me seize them, and they shall be put to death! If there be torments that I can devise, surely they shall endure them all. Oh! what jealousy; what revenge I felt! If I might but find these murderers, what would I do with them!
The Criminal Discovered
And as I looked upon that corpse, I heard a footstep, and wondered where it was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand! It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that, somehow or other, wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was NEARER to me than my hand would go.
At last I put my hand upon MY BREAST. “I have thee now” said I — for lo! he was IN MY OWN HEART — the murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling in the recesses of my INMOST SOUL.
Ah! then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master, should be harboring the murderer — and I felt myself most guilty while I bowed over His Corpse, and sang that plaintive hymn…”Twas you, MY SINS, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were; Each of my crimes became a nail, and unbelief the spear.”
Amid the rabble rout which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations, fit music to accompany that march of woe. When my soul can, in imagination, see the Saviour bearing His cross to Calvary, she joins the godly women, and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for grief, cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought. They bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die — but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn.
MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows; my sins cried —
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
— and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders.
His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity; but my having been His murderer, is more, infinitely more grief than one poor fountain of tears can express.