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put upon our dear Redeemer; yel what they did in jest, God permitted to be done in earnest. For all these things were signs and marks of sovereignty ; and Almighty God caused the regal dignity of his Son to shine forth, even in the midst of his greatest abasement. Whence was all this jeering and sport, but to flout majesty And why did Christ undergo all this ignominy, disgrace, and shame, but to show what was due unto us for our sins . As also to give us an example to bear all the scorn, reproach, and shame imaginable, for his sake, who, for the joy that was set before him, despised the shame as weil as endured the cross.
21 And they compel one Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. 22 And they bring; him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a scull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. 24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour; and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith. And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests, mocking, said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. 33 And when the sixth
hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone: let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
The sentence of death being passed by Pilate, who can, with dry eyes, behold the sad pomp of our Saviour's bloody execution! Forth comes the blessed Jesus out of Pilate's gate, bearing that cross which soon after was to bear him ; with his cross on his shoulder he marches towards Golgotha; and when they see he can go no faster, they force Simon the Cyrenian, not out of compassion, but indignation, to be the porter of his cross. The Cyrenian being a Gentile, not a Jew, that bare our Saviour's cross, thereby might be signified that the Gentiles should have a part in Christ as well as the Jews, and be sharers with them in the benefits of the cross. At length our holy Lord comes to Golgotha, the place of his hitter and bloody execution; here in a public place, with infamous company, betwixt two thieves, is he crucified ; that is, fastened to a great cross of wood, his hands stretched forth abroad, and his feet closed together, and both hands and feet fastened with nails; his naked body was lifted up in the open air, hanging betwixt heaven and earth; signifying thereby, that the crucified person deserved to live in neither. This shameful, painful, and accursed death did the holy and innocent Jesus suffer and undergo for shameless sinners. Some observe all the dimensions of length, breadth, depth, and height, in our Saviour's sufferings; for length, his passion was several hours long, from twelve to three, exposed all that time both to hunger and cold. The thieves that were crucified with him endured only personal pains, but he underwent the miseries of all mankind. As to its breadth, his passion extended over all the powers and parts of hU soul and body; no part free but his tongue, which was at liberty to pray for his enemies. His sight was tormented with the scornful gestures of those who passed by wagging their heads; his hearing grieved with the taunts and jeers of the priests and people; his smelling offended with noisome savours in the Place of Sculls; his taste with the gall and vinegar given him to drink; his feeling was wonderfully affected by the nails which pk-rced I'is tender nerves with a multiplicity of wounds. And for the depth of his passion, it was as deep as hell itself; enduring tortures in his soul, as well as torments in his body; groaning under the burden of desertion, and crying out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Lastly, For the height of his passion, his sufferings were as high as heaven, his Person being infinite as well as innocent, no less than the Son of God, which adds infinite worth and value to his sufferings. Lord, let us be able to comprehend with alt saints what is the breadth and length, depth and height, of our Saviour's love in suffering for us, and let us know that love of his which passeth knowledge. Observe, next, The inscription wrote by Pilate over our suffering Saviour: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. It was the manner of the Romans, when they crucified a malefactor, to publish the cause of his death in capital letters placed over the head of the person. Now it is observable, how wonderfully the wisdom of God overruled the heart and pen of Pilate to draw this title, which was truly honourable, and fix it to his cross. Pilate is Christ's herald, and proclaims him King of the Jews. Learn hence, That the regal dignity of Christ was proclaimed by an enemy, and that in a time of his greatest sufferings and reproaches: Pilate, without his own knowledge, did our Saviour an eminent piece of service; he did that for Christ which none of his own disciples durst do; not that he did it designedly, but from the special overruling providence of God; no thanks to Pilate for all this, because the highest services performed to Christ undesignedly shall neither be accepted nor rewarded by God. Observe farther, The several aggravations of our Lord's sufferings upon the cross. 1. From the company he suffered with ; two thieves: it had been a sufficient disparagement to our blessed Saviour to have been sorted with the best of men; but to be numbered with the scum of mankind, is such an
indignity as confounds our thoughts. This was designed by the Jews to dishonour and disgrace our Saviour the more, and to persuade the world that he was the greatest of offenders; but God overruled this also for fulfilling an ancient prophecy concerning the Messiah, Isa. liii. last verse; And he was numbered with the transgressors. 2. Another appravation of our Lord's sufferings upon the cross, was the scorn and mocking derision which he met with in his dying moments, both from the common people, from the chief priests, and from the thieves that suffered with him. The common people reviled him, wagging their heads; the chief priests, though men of age and gravity, yet barbarously mocked him in his misery; and not only so, but they atheistically scoff and jeer at his faith and affiance in God ; saying, He trusted in God that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, if he will have him. Where note, That persecutors are generally atheistical scoffers; the chief priests and elders, though knowing men, yet they blaspheme God; they mock at his power, and deride his providence, which is as bad as to deny his being; so that from hence we may gather, That those who administer to God in holy things by way of office, if they be not the best, they are the worst of men. No such hitter enemies to tlie power of godliness as the ministers of religion, who were never acquainted with the efficacy and power of it upon their own hearts and lives. Nothing on this side hell is worse than a wicked priest, a minister of God devoted to the service of the devil. A third aggravation of our Lord's sufferings upon the cross, was this, that the thieves that suffered with him reviled him with the rest, that is, one of them, as St. Luke has it; or perhaps both of them might do it at first; which if so, increases the wonder of the penitent thief's conversion. From the impenitent thiefs reviling Christ, vre learn, That neither shame nor pain will change the mind of a resolute sinner, but even then when he is in the suburbs of hell will he blaspheme. They that were crucified with him reviled him; but the most aggravating circumstance of all the rest in our Lord's sufferings was this, that he was forsaken of his Father; My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken we? Thence learn, That the Lord Jesus Christ, when suffering for our sins, was really deserted and forsaken by his Father, and left destitute of all sensible consolation! Why hast thou forsaken me? Learn farther, That under this desertion Christ despaired not, but still retained a firm persuasion of God's love unto him, and experienced necessary supports from him: My God, my God: these are words of affiance and faith. Christ was thus forsaken for us, that we might never be forsaken by God; yet by God's forsaking of Christ, we are not to understand any abatement of divine love, but only a withdrawing from the human nature the sense of his love, and a letting out upon his soul a deep afflicting sense of his displeasure against sin. There is a twofold desertion; the one total, final, and eternal, by which God utterly forsakes a person, both as to grace and glory, being for sin wholly cast out of God's presence, and adjudged to eternal torments. This Christ was not capable of, nor could the dignity of his person admit it. The other is a partial, temporary desertion; when God for a little moment hides his face from his children. Now this was most agreeable to Christ's nature, and also suitable to his office, who was to satisfy the justice of God for our forsaking of him, and to bring us back again to God, that we might be received for ever. Observe, lastly, What a miraculous evidence Christ gave of his Godhead: instantly before he gave jp the ghost, he cried with a loud voice. This shows he did not die according to the ordinary course of nature, gradually drawing on, as we express it; but his life was whole in him to the last, and nature as strong as it was at first. Other men die by degrees, and towards their end their sense of pain is much blunted; but Christ stood under the pains of death in his full strength, and his life was whole and entire in him to the very last moment. This was evident by the mighty outcry he made when he gave up the ghost, contrary to the sense and experience of all persons. Now he that could cry with such a loud voice as he did (in articulo mortis) could have kept himself from dying, if he would. Hence we learn, That when Christ died, he rather conquered death, than was conquered by it; he must voluntarily and lay down his life, before death come at him. Thus died Christ the Captain of our salvation: and, like Samson, became more victorious by his death, than he was in his life.
38 And the vail of the temple was
rent in twain from the lop to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less, and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with htm unto Jerusalem.
Three circumstances are here observable;
1. A stupendous prodigy happening upon the death of our Saviour, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom ; the vail was a hanging which parted the most holy place from the holy sanctuary. By the rending of which, God testified that he was now about to forsake hii temple; that the ceremonial law was now abolished by the death of Christ, and that by the blood of Jesus we have access unto God, and may enter into the holy of holies. See the note on. Matt. xvii. 51. Observe,
2. What influence the manner and circumstances of our Saviour's death had upon the centurion, and the soldiers with him: they cry out, Verily this was the Son of God. Where observe, That the heathen soldiers are sooner convinced of the divinity of our Saviour than the unbelieving Jewish doctors. Obstinacy and unbelief filled their minds with an invincible prejudice against Christ; so that neither the miracles wrought by him in his life, or at his death, could convince them that Christ was any thing better than an impostor and deceiver. None are so blind as those who through malicious obstinacy and inveterate prejudice will not see. Observe, 3. Who of Christ's friends were witnesses of his death: they are the women that followed him, and ministered unto him; not one of his dear disciples came near him, except St. John, who stood by the cross with the Virgin Mary. O what a shame was this, for apostles to be absent from a spectacle upon which the salvation of the whole world did depend! And what an honour was this to the female sex in general, and to these holy women in particular, that they had the courage to follow Christ to his cross, when all his disciples forsook him and fled! God can make timorous and fearful women bold and courageous confessors of his truth, and fortify them against the fears of suffering, contrary to the natural timorousness of their temper; these women wait upon Christ's cross, when his apostles fly, and durst not come nigh it.
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Ariniathea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead; and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.
The circumstances of our Lord's funeral, and honourable interment in the grave, are here recorded by the evangelist; such a funeral as never was, since graves were first digged. Where observe, 1. Our Lord's body must be begged before it could bu buried; the dead bodies of malefactors being in the power and at the disposal of the judge. Pilate grants it, and accordingly the dead body is taken down, wrapped in fine linen, and prepared for the sepulchre. Observe, 2. The person that bestows this honourable burial upon our Saviour: Joseph of Arimathea; a disciple, no doubt, though he did not make a public and open profession; a worthy, though a close disciple. Grace doth not always make a public and open show where it is; as there is much secret riches in the bowels of the earth, which no eye ever saw, so there is much grace in the hearts of some christians that the eye of the world takes little notice of. Some gracious persons cannot put forward, and discover them
selves in discourse as others; and yet such weak christians, as the world counts them, perhaps shall stand their ground when stronger run away. We read of none of the apostles at Christ's funeral Fear had chased them away; but Joseph of Arimathea appears boldly. If God strengthens the weak, and leaves the strong to the prevalency of their own fears, the -weak shall be as David, and the strong as tow. Observe, 3. The mourners that followed our Saviour's hearse.; namely, the women which came out of Galilee, and particularly the two Maries; a very poor tram of mourners: the apostles were all scattered, and afraid to own their Lord and Master, eithur dying or dead. And as our Lord affected no pomp or gallantry in his lite, so funeral pomp bad been no way suitable, neither to the end or manner of his death. Humiliation was designed in his death, and his burial was the lowest degree of humiliation, and therefore might not be pompous. Observe, 4. The grave or sepulchre in which our Lord was buried: it was in a sepulchre hewn out of a rock; in a new sepulchre in a garden. 1. Our Lord was buried in a garden. As by the sin of the first Adam we were driven out of the garden of pleasure, the earthly paradise, so by the sufferings of the second Adam, who lay buried in a garden, we may hope for entrance into the heavenly paradise. 2. It was in a sepulchre hewn out of a rock, that so his enemies might have no occasion to cavil, and say that his disciples stole him away by secret holes, or unseen passages under ground. 3. It was in a new sepulchre, in which never man was laid: lest his adversaries should say it was some other that was risen, who was buried there before him; or that he rose from the dead by touching some other corpse. Observe, 5. The manner of our Lord's funeral; it was hasty, open, and decent; it was performed in haste by reason of the straits of time; the sabbath was approaching, and they lay all business aside to prepare for that. Learn hence, How much it is our duty to despatch our worldly business as early as we can towards the end of the week, that we may be the better prepared to sanctify the Lord's day, if we live to enjoy it. Hence it is that we are called upon to remember that day before it comes, and to sanctify it when it is come. Again, our Lord was buried openly, as well as hastily; all persons had liberty to be spectators, lest any should
object thai there was deceit and fraud used in or about our Saviour's burial; yet was he also interred decently; his holy body being wrapped in fine linen, and perfumed with spices, according to the Jewish custom. Observe, 6. The reasons why our Lord was buried, seeing he was to rise again in as short a time as other men lie by the walls: and had his dead body remained a thousand years unburied, it would have seen no corruption, having never been tainted with sin. Sin is the cause of the body's corruption; it is sin that makes our bodies stink worse than carrion when they are dead. A funeral then was not necessary for Christ's body upoD the same accounts that it was necessary for ours. But, 1. Our Lord was buned, to declare the certainty of his death, and the reality of his resurrection; and for this reason did God's providence order it, that he should be embalmed, to cut of all pretensions; for in this kind of embalming, his mouth, his ears, and his nostrils, were all filled with odours and spices, so that there could be no latent principle of life in him: his being thus buried, then, did demonstrate him to -be certainly dead. 2. Christ was buried, to fulfil the types and prophecies that went before concerning him: Joiias's being three days and three nights in the belly of the -whale, was a type of Christ's Siing three days and three nights in the heart of the earth; yea, the prophet Isaiah, chap. liii. 9. declared our Lord's funeral, and the manner of it, long before be was born: He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; pointing by that expression at this tomb of Joseph's, who was a rich man, and laid him in a tomb designed for himself. 3. He was buried to complete his humiliation: They have brought me to the dust of death, says David, a type of Christ. This was the lowest step he could possibly descend in his abased state; lower he could not be laid, and so low his blessed head must be laid, else he had not been humbled to the lowest degree of humiliation. 4. Christ went into the grave, that he might conquer death in its own territories and dominions. His victory over the grave causes his saints to triumph and sing, O grave, where is thy destruction! Our dear Redeemer has perfumed the bed of the grave by his own lying in it, so that a pillow of down a. not so soft to a believer's head as a pil
low of dust. Observe lastly, Of what use the doctrine of our Lord's burial may be unto his disciples and followers: 1 For instruction, Here we see the amazing depth of our Lord's humiliation ; from what, and to what, his love brought him; even from the bosom of his Father to the bosom of the grave. O how doth the depth of his humiliation show us the sufficiency of his satisfaction, and therewith the heinousness of our transgression! 2. For consolation against the fears of death and the grave: the grave received Christ, but could not retain him; death swallowed him up, as the fish did Jonas, but quickly vomited him up again: and so shall it fare with Christ mystical, as it did with Christ personal. As it was done to the Head, so shall it be done to the members; the grave could not long keep him, it shall not always keep us; as his body rested in hope, so shall ours also; and although we see corruption, yet shall we not always lie under the power of corruption. In short, Christ's lying in the grave, has changed and altered the nature of the grave; it was a prison before, a bed of rest now; a loathsome grave before, a perfumed bed now: he whose Head is in heaven, need not fear to put his feet into the grave. Awake, and sing, thou that dwellest in the dust, for the enmity of the grave is slain by Christ. 3. For our imitation: let us study and endeavour to be buried with Christ; in respect of our sins, I mean, Horn. vi. 4. buried with him into death. Our sins should be as a dead body in several respects. Are dead bodies removed out of the society of men? so should our sins be removed far from us. Do dead bodies in the grave spend and consume by degrees? so should our sins daily. Will dead bodies grow every day more and more loathsome to others? so should our sins be to ourselves. Do dead bodies wax out of memory, and are quite forgotten? so should our sins also, in respect of any delight that we take in remembering of them: we should always remember our sins to our humiliation, but never think or speak of them with the least delight or satisfaction: for this in God's account is a new commission of them, and lays us under an aggravated guilt and condemnation.
This last chapter of St. Mark's Gospel contains th« history of our Saviour's resurrection, and gives