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us in the meantime turn our attention to a person of a kindred character, Joseph of Arimathea. He also had been a disciple of Jesus; and,likeNicodemus,jÆrntf/j'forfearof the sews. He, like Nicodemus, was a man of eminence, a rich man and a counsellor; and, like Nicodemus, had not dared to encounter for conscience-fake the contempt and indignation of the people. But being a jus and good man; holding flagrant crimes in detestation, and sincere in his desires hot actively to violate his duty as a religious man, much as he had hitherto failed as to the courageous performance of it; he would have no (hare in the perpetration of a legal murder. He had not consented to the counsel and deed of the Jewish rulers; contenting himself, as appears probable, like Nicodemus, with testifying his disapprobation of their proceedings by absenting himself from their assembly. Now behold thesanctifyingand strengtheningpower of divine grace! This man on the evening of the day on which our Saviour died, went unto Pilate; went boldly, faith one of the evangelists (d), to mark the difference between his former cowardice and the religious fortitude with which he was now inspired; this man went in boldly to Pilate, and requested the body of Jesus. He who had himself waited

(d) Mark, xv. 43.

H 4 for for the kingdom of God; in full expectation that it was about to be established, and in decided assurance that Jesus was the long-predicted King and Redeemer of Israel; he who, with this expectation, with this assurance, had never dared, while that King and Redeemer. was alive, to confess his authority and confide in his protection: Now, when all his apostles had forsaken him and fled; when the multitudes who had so lately rent the air with hosannas to the son of DaVid, had successfully clamoured for his crucifixion; when, to human eyes his claims were disproved, his, promises falsified, and all the hopes of his kingdom extinguished by his death ; when he had died as a malefactor, as a criminal accused and convicted of treason against Cæsar; when to shew reverence to his memory, or even to mention his name with respect, would be a circumstance sufficient to subject any man to the suspicion of being an accomplice in the guilt imputed to the King of the Jews: this man, in the face of Jerusalem, went in boldly unto the Roman governor, and requested the body of Jesus, that he might bury it in the most honourable manner, and in the sepulchre which he had prepared for himself. In the discharge of these last offices,.on his part perhaps the first offices, of pious and undis

guised veneration to his Lord; he had a companion. And whom? Nicodemus! Nicodemus had resembled Joseph in timidity; and now partook of his boldness- Disregarding all surmises, armed against all consequences; he came and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound "weight. Then took they the body of fefus, and wound it in sinew clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury -ve). "Whence was this fortitude? Did it belong to Joseph and Nicodemus by nature? Their antecedent conduct has. answered the question. It was the work of the Spirit of God; the fruit of strengthening grace. The Spirit of grace, which strengthened Joseph and Nicodemus, is ready to strengthen you.

Do you desire another example? Look to the apostle Peter. You' know his shameful fall, you know his denial of his Lord: a denial deliberate, thrice repeated, confirmed by oaths and execrations. When restored by his forgiving master to the rank of an apostle; he was forewarned of the death by which he Jhould glorify God {f ) Did he now display a dread of danger? Did he now shrink from suffering? Did the full prospect of death now move him? The prayer which his Lord had

(e) John, xix. 39, 40. (/) John, xxi. 18, 19.

offered

offered for him had prevailed. His faith failed not. Converted himself he Jlrengthehed his brethren [g). He became the rock on which Christ laid the foundation of his church, both among the Jews and among the Gentiles. He was entrusted with the keys of the sheepfold of Christ; and opened the door of admission to both divisions of the flock (h). And though, on one subsequent occasion, he was ensnared by some flight remains of natural timidity into an undue compliance with the prejudices of the Jews; and received on that account the merited rebuke from St. Paul (*'), whom he afterwards names with a warmth of affection probably encreased by the recollection of this very event (k): he persevered with holy fortitude in his Christian course, until it conducted him to that cross, on which his master had foretold that he should seal his testimony with his blood. Thus effectual was the intercession of Christ. Thus all-sufficient was his grace. Christ now intercedes before the throne of God for you. To you he offers the all-sufficient influence of his Spirit. Having therefore an high priest which can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

{g) Luke, xxii. 32. (A) Compare Matt. xvi. 18, 19.

with Acts, ii. 14—41. andx. 1 — 48. (i) Gal. ii. n—J4. (i) 2 Pet. iii. 15.

an an high Priefl who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without Jin: let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and Jind grace to help in time of need (/). But these, you remark, are primeval examples, exhibited in the days of the apostles. You would derive greater comfort from instances drawn from modern times and ordinary men. Take an instance then from the annals of your own country. Look to the character and conduct of Granmer. In the general current of his proceedings, during the reign of Henry the Eighth, you behold a struggle between a mind intent on a conscientious adherence to duty, and a disposition naturally characterised by timidity. You behold him at one time strengthening himself with succour sought from above; and steadily pursuing his Christian purposes, regardless of the resentment of a furious, and ungovernable monarch: at another, the victim of inherent weakness, tamely subservient to his master's will, overawed into culpable compliances. When danger, after the accession of Mary, mustered its terrors; Cranmer funk in the conflict. Less fervent in seeking succour from above, in the hour of tempta

(/) Heb.iv.15,16.

tion

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