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To please Him I will mortify my sinful flesh.
“The good man placed the body of Jesus in a tomb in the rock where yet never man was laid. Let there be hewn out of your rocky hearts, not a sepulchre for the dead, but a residence for the living Christ.”-From extempore speech of Dr. John Hall.
"Looking into the perfect law of liberty" is, literally, “slooping down and looking in." When we have done so we find that the Christ, whom no mere words can hold in their rocky embrace, has risen and comes to call us by our very name. Happy are we if we are able to say “ Rabboni!”
VII. DEPRIVATION OF BURIAL A CALAMITY.
Ecc. vi. 3, 4. “If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial ; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.”
(Cf. Deut. xxviii. 26; 1 Kings xvi. 4 ; xxi. 23, 24; 2 Kings ix. 10, 37; Ps. lxxix. 2 ; Is. xiv. 19; Jer. vii. 33 ; xvi. 4 ; xxv. 33 ; xxxiv. 20; Mark vi. 29 ; Acts ii. 29, etc.)
Ezek. xxxix. 11-16.
burial, is that of the sacredness of the human body. He who bids us render our bodies to his service, teaches us to honor them even after death.
VIII. BURIAL AMONG PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS.
In the early ages of the Church, when, to use a striking figure of Jerome, “the blood of Christ was yet warm in the veins of His disciples," they were distinguished by their care for the dead, and their sympathies with the afflicted. Their funeral solemnities they celebrated with gravity and propriety, with the intent of showing due respect to the deceased, and of administering consolation to the survivors. Their funeral services were performed as a public religious duty; and this is one of the three points in which they were commended by the apostate Julian.
The early Christians were accustomed to entertain cheerful views of death, as a soft and gentle slumber, from which they awoke to a joyful immortality. The common emblems of death on their sepulchral monuments were an anchor, a lyre, a harp, a ship under full sail ; or a phoenix, a crown, a palm, or other symbols of hope, and of victory, and of joy.”—Coleman : “Ancient Christianity.”
This was purely a heathen practice. Dr. Becker, in his
Charicles,' gives an exhaustive sketch of Greek funereal customs. It is interesting to observe how many of these we have made our own—.8., the right of a corpse to burial ; the anointing and washing of the body and the use of the white shroud ; the employment of garlands of flowers ; the laying out of the dead and the attendance of the relatives and friends; the burial on the third day; the
procession following the bier, which is borne by relatives or friends; the final burying in a wooden or stone coffin. But we have his high authority for saying that burning was no more frequent than burying. We have Christianized the ordinary Greek ceremonies-omitting the obolus between the teeth and the honey-cake by the hand. But we will find it hard to adopt the idea of cremation, in the face of the evident dislike to it in scripture. The "burnings of the kings” were not the burning of their bodies, but of fragrant woods and incense (2 Chron. xvi. 14; Jer. xxxiv. 4, 5).
(Cf. 1 Sam. xxxi. 12 ; Amos ii. 1 ; vi. 9, 10.)
X. OBITUARIES, INSCRIPTIONS, AND EPITAPHS.
1. The Obituary is a notice of a person's death, accompanied by a brief sketch of his life and character. Brevity, truth, fitness, and force are essential qualities. In obituaries it seems proper to mention salient features and incidents of the life-fine characteristics—distinguished public and private services—and, under certain circumstances, the peculiar nature of the death. Fulsome flattery or eulogy is wrong. A just, discriminating, and manly tribute to the memory of the deceased, executed in good taste, is always best.
2. Monumental Inscriptions.
“It is natural that filial piety, parental tenderness, and conjugal love, should mark with some fond memorial the spot where the once loved form now moulders into dust. A marble monument, with an inscription palpably false, or ridiculously pompous, is as really offensive to true taste as
the skull and cross-bones. The style of such in-
Legh Richmond says, “I have often lamented .... that some of the inscriptions were coarse and ridiculous ; others absurdly flattering ; many expressive of sentiments at variance with the true principles of the word of God; not a few barren and unaccompanied with a single word of useful instruction to the reader. I wish that every gravestone might not only record the names of our deceased friends, but also proclaim the name of Jesus, as the only name given under heaven whereby men can be saved.''
“The first requisite in an epitaph is that it should speak, in a tone which shall sink into the heart, the general language of humanity as connected with the subject of death-the source from which an epitaph proceeds; of death and life. To be born, and to die, are the two points in which all men feel themselves to be in absolute coin. cidence.”- Wordsworth.