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a holy confidence, to triumph over all thy fears and sorrows; and him whom thou now seest dead and despised, represents unto thee living, immortal, glorious.

CONTEMPLATION XXXIII.

THE RESURRECTION.

GRACE doth not ever make show where it is. There is much secret riches both in the earth and sea, which never eye saw. I never heard any news till now, of Joseph of Arimathea ; yet was he eminently both rich, and wise, and good; a worthy, though close disciple of our Saviour. True faith may be wisely reserved, but will not be cowardly. Now he puts forth himself, and dares beg the body of Jesus. Death is wont to end all quarrels. Pilate's heart tells him he hath done too much already, in sentencing an innocent to death: no doubt that centurion had related unto him the miraculous symptoms of that passion. He, that so unwillingly condemned innocence, could rather have wished that just man alive, than have denied him dead. The body is yielded, and taken down ; and now that which hung naked upon the cross is wrapped in fine linen, that which was soiled with sweat and blood is curiously washed and embalmed. Now even Nicodemus comes in for a part, and fears not the envy of a good profession. Death hath let that man loose whom the law formerly overawed with restraint. He hates to be a night-bird any longer, but boldly flies forth, and looks upon the face of the sun, and will be now as liberal in his odours as he was before niggardly in his confession. O Saviour, the earth was thine, and the .fulness of it; yet as thou hadst not a house of thine own while thou livedst, so thou hadst not a grave when thou wert dead. Joseph, that rich counsellor, lent thee his ; lent it so, as it should never be restored : thou tookest it but for a while; but that little touch of that sacred corpse of thine made it too good for the owner.

Oh happy Joseph, that hadst the honour to be landlord of the Lord of life! How well is thy houseroom repaid with a mansion not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! Thy garden and thy tomb were hard by Calvary, where thou couldst not fail of many monitions of thy frailty. How oft hadst thou seasoned that new tomb with sad and savoury meditations! And hadst oft said within thyself

, Here I shall once lie down to my last rest, and wait for my resurrection. Little didst thou then think to have been disappointed by so blessed a guest ; or that thy grave should be again so soon empty, and in that emptiness incapable of any mortal in-dweller. How gladly dost thou now resign thy grave to him in whom thou livest, and who liveth for ever, whose soul is in Paradise, whose Godhead everywhere! Hadst thou not been rich before, this gift had enriched thee alone, and more ennobled thee than all thine earthly honour. Now great princes envy thy bounty, and have thought themselves happy to kiss the stones of that rock which thou thus hewedst, thus bestowedst.

Thus purely wrapped, and sweetly embalmed, lies the precious body of our Saviour in Joseph's new vault. Are ye now also at rest, Oye Jewish rulers? Is your malice dead and buried with him? Hath Pilate enough served your envy and revenge? Surely it is but a common hostility that can die; yours surviveth death, and puts you upon a further project. “The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that this deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again; command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure till the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen."

How full of terrors and inevitable perplexities is guiltiness! These men were not more troubled with envy at Christ alive, than now with fear of his resurrection. And what can now secure them? Pilate had helped to kill him ; but who shall keep him from rising ? Wicked and foolish Jews! How fain would ye fight against God, and your own hearts! How gladly would ye deceive yourselves, in believing him to be a deceiver, whom your consciences knew to be no less true than powerful! Lazarus was still in your eye: that man was no phantasm ; his death, his reviving was undeniable; the so fresh resuscitation of that dead body, after four days' dissolution, was a manifest conviction of omnipotence. How do ye vainly wish, that he could deceive you in the fore-reporting of his own resurrection ! Without a divine power he could have raised neither Lazarus nor himself: with and by it he could as well raise himself as Lazarus. What need we other witnesses than your own mouths ? That which he would do, ye confess he foretold ; that the truth of his word might answer the power of this deed, and both of them might argue him the God of truth and power, and yourselves enemies to both. And now what must be done? The sepulchre must be secured, and you with it: a huge stone, a strong guard must do the deed ; and that stone must be sealed, that guard of your own designing. Methinks, I hear the soldiers and busy officers, when they were rolling that other weighty stone, for such we probably conceive, to the mouth of the vault, with much toil and sweat and breathlessness, how they bragged of the sureness of the place, and unremoveableness of that load ; and when that so choice a watch was set, how they boasted of their valour and vigilance, and said, they would make him safe from either rising or stealing. Oh the madness of impotent men, that think, by either wile or force, to frustrate the will and designs of the Almighty! How justly doth thạt wise and powerful arbiter of the world laugh them to scorn in heaven, and befool them in their own vain devices ! O Saviour, how much evidence had thy resurrection wanted, if these enemies had not been thus maliciously provident! How irrefragable is thy rising made by these bootless endeavours of their prevention !

All this while the devout Marys keep close, and silently spend their sabbath in a mixture of grief and hope. How did they wear out those sad hours in bemoaning themselves each to other, in mutual relations of the patient sufferings, of the happy expiration of their Saviour, of the wonderful events, both in the heavens and earth, that accompanied his crucifixion, of his frequent and clear predictions of his resurrection ! and now they have gladly agreed, so soon as the time will give them leave, in the dawning of the Sunday morning, to visit that dear sepulchre. Neither will they go empty-handed; she, that had bestowed that costly alabaster box of ointment upon their Saviour alive, hath prepared no less precious odours for him dead.

Love is restless and fearless. In the dark of night these good women go to buy their spices, and ere the day break are gone out of their houses, towards the tomb of Christ to bestow them. This sex is commonly fearful; it was much for them to walk alone in that unsafe season: yet, as despising all fears and dangers, they thus spend the night after their sabbath. Might they have been allowed to buy their perfumes on the sabbath, or to have visited that holy tomb sooner, can we think they would have stayed so long? Can we suppose they would have cared more for the sabbath, than for the “Lord of the sabbath,” who now keeps his sabbath in the grave? Sooner they might not come, later they would not, to present their last homage to their dead Saviour. Had these holy women known their Jesus to be alive, how had they hasted, who

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made such speed to do their last offices to his sacred corpse! For us, we “know that our Redeemer liveth,” we know where he is. O Saviour, how cold and heartless is our love to thee, if we do not haste to find thee in thy word and sacraments, if our souls do not fly up to thee in all holy affections, into thy heaven!

Of all the women, Mary Magdalen is the first named, and in some evangelists alone; she is noted above her fellows. None of them were so much obliged, none so zealously thankful. Seven devils were cast out of her by the command of Christ. That heart which was freed from Satan, by that powerful dispossession, was now possessed with a free and gracious bounty to her deliverer. Twice, at the least, hath she poured out her fragrant and costly odours

upon

him. Where there is a true sense of favour and beneficence, there cannot but be a fervent desire of retribution. O blessed Saviour, could we feel the danger of every sin, and the malignity of those spiritual possessions from which thou hast freed us, how should we pour out ourselves into thankfulness unto thee !

Every thing here had horror. The place both solitary and a sepulchre ; nature abhors, as the visage, so the region of death and corruption. The time, night; only the moon gave them some faint glimmering, for this being the seventeenth day of her age, afforded some light to the latter part of the night. The business, the visitation of a dead corpse. Their zealous love hath easily overcome all these. They had followed him in his sufferings, when the disciples left him : they attended him to his cross weeping; they followed him to his grave, and saw how Joseph laid him ; even there they leave him not, but ere it be day-light, return to pay him the last tribute of their duty. How much stronger is love than death! O blessed Jesu, why should we not imitate thy love to us? Those whom thou lovest, thou lovest to the

VOL. III.

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