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in the hour of distress trust in that Divine mercy, by which we have been sustained and preserved from the very beginning of our existence, which has ever been extended to the faithful from the foundation of the world, and which will, at a proper season, deliver us, if our faith fail not.
Let us now pursue the history, and see how the Jews proceeded after our Lord had yielded up the ghost.
THE BURIAL OF OUR LORD, THE SEALING OF THE
From John, Chap. xix.-Mark, xv.-Luke, xxiii.
Now it was the preparation, therefore, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath-day (for that sabbath-day was an high day, the Jews be. sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.
And he that saw it, bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that he might believe.
For these things were done that the Scriptures should be fulfilled. A bone of him shall not be brokep.
And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. And after this, Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him, whether he had been any while dead.
And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
And there came also Nicodemus (which at the first came to Jesus by night) and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden: and in the garden a new sepulchre, hewn out of a rock, wherein was never man yet laid,
There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jews preparation day, for the sepulchre was nigh at hand; and they rolled a great stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
And the women also which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children,
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath-day, according to the commandment.
Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch, go your way, make it as sure as you can.
So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It was the custom of the Romans to expose on the cross the bodies of those who were crucified, till the fowls of the air consumed them, or till they were destroyed by the injury of the weather : and it was usual to set a guard to prevent the friends of those who had been executed from stealing the bodies to bury them. On the contrary, the Jewish law ordained, that whoever was sentenced to die, should be interred on the very day of their execution. The Jews were particularly solicitous to ob. serve this injunction in respect to our LORD, and the malefactors who were executed with him, that the sab. bath day might not be profaned; especially as this sabbath was a solemn festival, being the day following the Passover, and also the second day of the Feast of unleavened Bread. They therefore besought Pilate, that the legs of those who had been crucified might be broken, in order to effectually dispatch them, and that their dead bodies might be taken away. The governor, knowing their customs, complied with their request, which the soldiers proceeded to execute; but impressed, as it seems, with awe by the prodigies which had lately lappened, they passed by the cross of Jesus, and broke the legs of both the thieves before they presumed to
approach it; and finding that he was actually dead, they forbore to lay their hands on him : but as it was requisite for them to ascertain his death, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear so deeply, that, according to the nature of the human frame, he could not have survived the wound had it been given him in perfect health. The incision was followed by a remarkable effuşion of water and blood; which are understood by many to be significant of the happy effects of his death, which at once purifies from sin the souls of those who believe and trust in him, and satisfies the injured justice of God. This will be understood better from the writings of the Apostles. • As it is absolutely necessary for every Christian to believe that Christ actually died, the Evangelist John, who gave the account we have been reading of the means used to prove that he was dead, before he was taken from the cross, added his solemn attestation, that he was himself an eye-witness of what he related, and therefore could not be deceived. He also added, that these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled; which they were in so remarkable a manner, as must surely carry conviction to the mind of every person who compares the l'rophecies with the History of our Lord.
As Jesus expired sooner than was usual for people suffering crucifixion, Pilate made strict enquiry, to satisfy himself that he was really dead ; and when he found that there was no reason to suppose there was the least life remaining in him, he granted his sacred body to Joseph of Arimathea, one of the members of the Sanhe. drim, a wise and honourable man, who, with a noble courage which testified his sincere affection, requested it might be delivered to him. Nicodemus also ventured, in defiance of the hatred and resentment of his brethren,
to give an open proof of his attachment to our LORD.
Time would not admit of their embalming the body immediately, as the sabbath, which began at six on Friday evening, was just at hand : they therefore wrapped it in a great many folds of linen, and either intermixed the spices, or placed them near the corpse to preserve it from corruption, and then deposited it in a new tomb, in which no man had ever been laid. The pious women who attended our LORD's crucifixion followed them, wishing to perform the last friendly offices for him themselves; and observing that he was not embalmed, they resolved to pay this honour to his precious remains as soon as the sabbath-day was past : for which purpose they provided a quantity of the necessary ingredients.
Though the enemies of the blessed Jesus beheld him a lifeless corpse covered with wounds and bruises, their malice was not satisfied. They remembered his prediction that he should rise again, and were determined, if possible, to prove to the world that he was an impostor: therefore, instead of fixing their thoughts on devotional exercises upon the sabbath-day, they studied how to effect their wishes : and as soon as evening came, repaired to Pilate, and obtained his permission to make the sepulchre secure, and place a guard over it, under a pretence that his disciples would steal away the body, and report that he was risen from the dead, with the view of persuading the people to embrace his doctrine.
There is no doubt but that the Jews took care to satisfy themselves, before they sealed the stone which closed the sepulchre, that the body of our LORD was actually in it; and as the tomb was hewn out of the solid rock, it was not possible to carry it off any other way, .
Thus was our LORD's sacred body deposited in the