But perhaps he afterwards ceased and rested, and when his temptations were vanp. 611 quished laid aside his suspicion because he found no result? Nay, it rather remained always in him, and even up to the very cross of the Lord the suspicion lasted in him and was increased by peculiar terrors. What need is there of anything further? Not even then did he cease to think of Him as the Son of God, after that he knew that such licence was granted to His persecutors against Him. But the crafty foe saw even in the midst of His bodily sufferings the signs of Divinity, and though he would have much preferred Him to be a (mere) man, was yet forced to suspect that He was God: for though he would have preferred to believe what he wanted, yet he was driven by surest proofs to that which he feared. And no wonder: for although he beheld Him spitted on, and scourged, and disgraced, and led to the Cross, yet he saw Divine powers abounding even in the midst of the indignities and wrongs; when the veil of the temple is rent, when the sun hides itself, the day is darkened, and all things feel the effects of the Passion: all things even, which know not God, acknowledge the work of Deity. And therefore the devil seeing this, and trembling, tried in every way to arrive at the knowledge of His Godhead, even at the very death of the manhood, saying in the person of those who crucified Him: “If He be the Son of God, let Him come down now from the Cross, and we will believe Him.” 2624 He certainty perceived that by His bodily Passion our Lord God was working out the redemption of mans salvation, and also that by it he was being destroyed and subdued, while we were being redeemed and saved. And so the enemy of mankind wanted by every means and every wile to defeat that which he knew was being done for the redemption of all men. “If,” he says, “He be the Son of God, let Him come down now from the Cross and we will believe Him:” on purpose that the Lord might be moved by the reproach of the words, and destroy the mystery, while He avenged the wrong. You see then that the Lord even when hanging on the Cross was termed the Son of God. You see that they suspect the fact to which they refer. And so do you learn, as I said above, even from His persecutors, even from the devil, to believe on the Son of God. Who ever came up to the unbelief of the devil? Who went beyond it? He suspected that He was the Son of God even when He endured death. You deny it even when He has risen. He suspected that He was God, from whom He hid Himself. You, to whom He has proved it, deny it.
S. Matt. xxvii. 42.
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