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and eyes for the blind, and had raised the dead to life, might easily save himself, even from the cross. When, therefore, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved disciple, observed the heavens beginning to grow black, they drew near, probably, in expectation that he was going to shake the frame of nature, [Hag. ii. 6, 7.] and unloose himself from the cross, and take due vengeance on his enemies. [Jolin xix. 25.) Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his another's sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus was now in the depth of his own sufferings ; yet, when he saw his mother and her companions, their grief affected him to a great degree, particularly the distress of his mother. Wherefore, though he was almost at the point of death, he spake a few words, in which he expressed the most affectionate regard both to her and to them. For, that she might have some consolation under the greatness of her sorrows, he told her the disciple whom he loved would, for the sake of that love, perform to her, after he was gone, the office of a son. He, therefore, enjoined upon them both henceforth to consider each other in the endearing relation of parent and child. The favourite disciple gladly undertook the office assigned him; for he carried Mary home with him, her husband Joseph, it seems, being dead. Thus, in the midst of the heaviest sufferings that ever human nature sustained, Jesus demonstrated a strength of benevolence perfectly unexampled and divine.
A little before he expired, Jesus exclaimed, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, My God, any God, why hast thou forsaken me ? thus repeating the first verse of the twentysecond Psalin, pronouncing it in the Syriac dialect, which was either the common language of the country, or nearly rescmbled it; and speaking with a loud voice, that all who stood round might hear hiin distinctly, and know that he was the person whose complaint was expressed by David. It was, certainly, not the agony resulting from his wounds which impelled the Son of God to pour fort this bitt er lamentation, but a sense of his Father's displeasure with the sins of his people ; for he was now drinking the dregs of that cup of which he had begun to taste in the garden of Gethsemane. And some of them that stood by, either misunderstanding what he said, or intending to turn it into ridicule, when they heard it, said, behold, he calleth Elias. Jesus knowing that he had now accomplished every thing required by God of the Messialı, and foretold by the prophets, excepting that circumstance of his sufferings which was predicted Psalm lxix. 21, “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” in order to give occasion to the accomplishment of this likewise, he said aloud, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar. The Roman soldiers always drank their water mixed with vinegar; for which purpose, they usually carried vinegar with them in vessels when on duty. And straightway one of thein ran and took a spunge, and put it on a reed, a stalk of the hyssop, and gave him to drink.
This office they did to Jesus, not so much from pity as to preserve him alive, that they might enjoy his sufferings, or in hopes of seeing the miracle of Elijah's descent from heaven. When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, it is finished ; the predictions of the prophets are fulfilled, and the great end of my mission, the redemption of lost sinners is accomplished. He then, directing his speech to his Father, said, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
While Jesus breathed his last, the veil of the temple was miraculously rent from top to bottom, probably, in presence of the priest wbo burnt the incense in the holy place at the evening sacrifice, and who, no doubt, gave an account of it when he came out ; for the ninth hour, at which Jesus expired, was the hour for the evening sacrifice. And the graves in the rocks were opened, and many bodies of saints which slept arose,
o bathe evening sacrince.hich Jesus expired, mis bodies of sair
broken : the sting was taken from ucou,
and came out of the graves after his resurrec!ion, and went into the holy city Jerusalein, and appeared unto many. It would seem that these saints were disciples who had died but lately ; for when they went into the city, tbey were known to be saints by the persons who saw them, which could not well have happened had they not been their contemporaries. And as the rending of the veil of the temple intimated that the entrance into the holy place, the type of heaven, was now laid open to all nations : so the resurrection of a number of saints from the dead demonstrated the power of death and the grave was broken ; the sting was taken from death, and the victory wrested from the grave. In short, our Lord's conquests over the enemies of mankind were shewed to be complete, and an earnest was given of a general resurrection from the dead,
And when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw that he s0 cried out, and gave up the ghost, and also saw the earth quake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God, the Messiah ; or, as others interpret it, a Son of God, a divine personage. The spectatoss in general were also now deeply affected. They had been instant, with loud voices, to have him crucified ; but now that they süw the face of the creation darkened with a sudden gloom during his crucifixion, and found his death accompanied with an earthquake, as if nature had been in an agony when he died, they rightly interpreted these prodigies to be so many testimonies from God of his innocence, and their passions, which had been inflamed and exasperated against him, became quite calm, or moved them in his behalf. Some, however, could not forgive theinselves for neglecting to accept his life when the governor offered to release him ; others were stung with remorse for having had an active haud, both in his death, and in the insults that were offered to him ; others felt the deepest grief at the thought of his lot, which was undeservedly severe ; and these various passions appeared in their countenances; for they came away from the cruel execution, pensive and silent, with downcast eyes, and hearts ready to burst : or, groaning deeply within themselves, they shed tears, smote their breasts, and wailed greatly, The grief which they now felt for Jesus was distinguished from their former rage against him, by this remarkable character, that their rage was produced entirely by the craft of the priests, who had wickedly incensed them ; whereas their grief was the genuine feeling of their own hearts, greatly affected with the truth and innocence of him that was the object of their commiseration. Wherefore, as in this mourning, flattery had no share, the expression of their sorrow was such as became a real and unfeigned passion. Nor was this the temper only of a few who may be thought to have been Christ's particular friends. It was the general condition of the people who had come in such numbers to look on, that when they parted after the execution, they covered the roads, and, as it were, darkened the whole fields around. The three first evangelists inform us that Mary the mother of our Lord, Mary Magdalene, and Salome the mother of Zebedee's children, stood afar off looking on. Yet this is not inconsistent with John xix. 25, where our Lord's mother, and her sister Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene, are said to have stood beside the cross They were kept at a distance awhilc, perhaps, by the guards, or they were afraid to approach. But when the greatest part of the soldiers were drawn off, and the eclipse was begun, they gathered courage, and came so near, that Jesus had an opportunity to speak to them a little before he expired. .
The law expressly prohibited the bodies of those who were hanged to remain all night on the tree T Deut. xxi. 22.]; for that reason, as well as because the sabbath, was at hand, the Jews begged the favour of Pilate that the legs of the three crucified persons might be broken to hasten their death. Pilate consented, and gave the order they desired : but the soldiers appointed to execute it, perceiving that Jesus was dead already, did not take the trouble of breaking his legs, one of the only thrust a spear into his side. The spçar thrust into our Lord's side is thought to have reached his heart; for the water issuing from the 'wound seems to shew that the pericardium was pierced, and that Jesus had been some time dead. If, however, there had remained any life, this wound must have instantly killed him. It is, therefore, in every respect, proper, that this fact should he recorded ; and it is accordingly aitested by John with the utmost solemnity. These things were done, that the scripture, concerning the paschal lamb, should be fulfilled, a bone of him should not be broken. And again another scripture [Zech. xii. 10.] saith, they shall look on him whom they pierced. ..
Among the disciples of Jesus was one named Joseph of Arimathea, a man remarkable for his fortune and office, as he was a rich man, and member of the Jewish sanhedrim. He had nothing to fear from the governor, who had all along laboured to release Jesus; but had reason to apprehend the ill-will of the Jews, for the pious action he was going to perform. Nevertheless, the regard he had for his Master overcame all other cousiderations, and he asked leave to take his body down ; because, if no friend had obtained it, it' would have been ignominiously cast out among the executed malefactors. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead : for, though he had given orders to break the legs of the crucified persons, he knew they might live some hours in that condition. 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. In discharging what he supposed to be the last duty to his Master, he was assisted by Nicodemus, who, though he once came to Jesus by night, for fear of the Jews, now showed superior courage to any of the apostles, bringing with him spices for the funeral of our Lord. These two, therefore, taking down the naked body, wrapped it in linen with the spices, and laid it in a new sepulchre, which Joseph had caused to be erected for himself in his garden. This sepulchre, in which they laid our Lord, was, probably, unfinished, and had not yet got a lock on its door; therefore they fastened the door by rolling a great stone to it.
The Galilean women, who had waited on Jesus in his last moments, and accompanied him to the sepulchre, observing that his funeral rites were performed in a hurry, agreed among themselves to come, when the sabbath was rast, and embalm their dead Lord, hy anointing and swathing him in a proper mariner. Accordingly, when he was laid in the sepulchre, they returned to the city, and bought what other 'spices were necessary for that purpose ; Nicodemus having furnished a mixture only of myrrh and aloes.
Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, that is, in the eve,ping of the crucifixion, after the sun was set, 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 froin the dead ; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate, thinking their request reasonable, allowad them to take a sufficient number of soldiers out of the cсhort, which, at the - feast, came from the castle Antonia, and kept guard in the porticos of the temple ; the priests going along with this party, placed them in their post, and sealed the stone that was rolled to the door of the sepulchre, to hinder the guards from com
bining with the disciples in carrying on any fraud. Thus, while the priests cautiously proposed to prevent our Lord's resurrection from being palmed upon the world, resolving, no doubt, to shew his body publicly after the third day as that of an impostor, they put the truth of Christ's resurrection beyond all question, by furnishing a number of unexceptionable witnesses to attest the fact
CHRIST'S SEVERAL INTERVIEWS WITH HIS DISCIPLES, FROM HIS HESURREOTION TO
• HIS ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN.
The hypothesis which is followed in this chapter--Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James go out to see the sepulchre, but are terrified by an earthquake--an angel descends, and Jesus arises---on the morning of the first day of the week all
the women go to the sepulchre--they enter, but cannot find the body---Mary Magi dalene returns to inform the disciples of this.--the women who stay behind see a vision
of angels in the sepulchre, upon which they likewise run into the city---Peter and John visit the sepulchre---Mary Magdalene follows them thither, where, after they are gone, she sees first a vision of angels, and nert Jesus himself ; then runs a second time into the city to inform the rest---the company of women set out for the sepulchre a second time in quest of Peter and John---Jesus meets them, and bids them tell his disciples to go into Galilee, promising to shew himself unto them there---the guards inform the priests of Christ's resurrection---Mary Magdalene and the company of women return from their several interviews with Jesus-Peter returns to the sepulchre a second time, and as he returns sees the Lord---Jesus appears to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus---he appears to his apostles, on the evening of the day whereon he arose, Thomas being absent.--he appears to the apostles, and removes the unbelief of Thomas---miraculous draught of fishes--- Jesus appears to five hundred of the brethren in Galilee, and after that to the apostle James alone... the ascension.
T HE concluding part of the evangelical history, as it is the most interesting, so it is usually reckoned the most difficult of the whole. We do not, therefore, deem it safe to advance any hypothesis of our own, but conceive it will be more for the satisfaction, as well as benefit of the reader, to give that of Mr. West, the celebrated translator of Pindar, alleging the principal arguments by which it is supported, and the most important objections that are made against it.
He sets out by endeavouring to ascertain the time when the first visit was attempted to be made to the sepulchre. * Mat. xxviii. 1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene; and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre ; to see if the stone was still at the door ; because, by that they would know whether tlie body was within ; for, from Joho xix. 4%,