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immediately there came out of it blood and water! Happy emblem of the blessed effeet of his death! He came both by water and blood (as he who saw and testified this important fact leads us to improve it, i John v. 6 ;) and by this means at once atones the injured justice of God, and purifies the souls of them that believe in him.
Our indignation rises against the man that could, by such an outrage as this, abuse the dead body of our Reedeemer: but oh, let us seriously remember the hand which our sins had in all that was now done. He was wounded for our transgressions ; he was bruised for our iniquities. And therefore it is said concerning those on whom the ends of the world are to come, that they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn. May we mourn over him with a genuine, evangelical sorrow, when we consider whom we have pierced; and how deep and how often we have pierced him; and upon what slight temptations; and under how many engagements rather to have bathed his wounds with our tears, and even to have exposed our own hearts to the sharpest weapon by which the madness of sinners might have attempted to injure him.
The boldness of Joseph, and even of Nicodemus himself, deserves our notice on such an occasion. They are not ashamed of the infamy of his cross, but come with all holy reverence and affection to take down those sacred remains of Jesus; nor did they think the finest linen, or the choicest spices, too valuable on such an occasion. But who 'can describe their consternation and distress when they saw him, who they trusted should have delivered Israel, a cold and bloody corpse in their arms; and left him in the sepulchre of Joseph, whom they expected to have seen on the throne of David ?--We leave for the present his enemies in triumph, and his friends in tears, till his resurrection; which soon confounded the rage of the former, and revived the hopes of the latter; hopes which nust otherwise have been for ever intombed under that stone with which they now covered him. But happy and comfortable is the thought that this his transient visit to the grave has (as it were) left a perfunie in the bed of dust, and reconciled the believer to dwelling a while in the place where the Lord lay!
Judas confessing his guilt, returns the money he had received, and hangs
himself.* The Jews procure a guard to be set on Christ's sepulchre. MATT. XXV.i. 3-10, 62, &c.
3 WHEN Judas, that perfidious disciple of Jesus, who had betray.
ed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repenting of his bargain, carried back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief to priests and the elders, and said to them, I have sinned, in that I
have betrayed innocent blood. And they answered, What is that * This story is transposed to prevent interrupting that of Christ's passion. Matthew seems a little to have anticipated it, for the like reason. N. B. The death of this traitor appears to have happened before that of his master ; 60 speedily did divine vengeance pursue his aggravated crime.
$ to us? See thou to that. And throwing down the pieces of mon
ey in the temple, he withdrew, and went r and hanged himselft. 6 And the chief priests, taking up the pieces of silver, said, It is
not lawful to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of 7 blood. But having consulted together, they bought with them 8 the Potter's field for a burying-place of foreigners. Therefore
that field was called Aceldama, that is, the field of blood, and is 80 9 to this day. Then was that fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophet (Zech. xi. 13.) saying, “ And I took the thirty pieces of
silver" (the usual price of one who was sold, whom the children 10 of Israel did sell for a slave). “ And they were given for the Pot
ter's field, as the Lord commanded me,” in visionf. -But, to return to the main story :
62 Now on the morrow which followed the day of preparation, the
chief priests and Pharisees assembled together to wait upon Pi. 63 late; saying, Sir, we remember that this deceiver, while he was 64 yet living, said, After three days I will rise again. Therefore
we desire thou wouldst order that the sepulchre be secured till the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away,
and tell the people he is risen from the dead; and so the last de65 ceit will be worse than the first. And Pilate said to them, You
have a guard; go your way, and make it as secure as you can. 66 Accordingly they went and secured the sepulchre, scaling the
stone, and setting a guard.
REFLECTIONS. In how fatal a manner does the way of transgressors deceive them! Judas, no doubt, but a few hours before, was thinking with eager impatience of receiving this sum of money, which was the wages of unrighteousness: but though he might for a little while roll it as a sweet morsel under his tongue, yet how soon was it turned into the gall of aspis within him ?-We see the force of conscience, even in the worst of men. He that had slighted all the warnings that his Master gave him, and neither was affected by the remembrance of his goodness to him, nor by the fear of his displeasure, while he was set upon accomplishing his covetous design, no sooner comes to feel the sting of an awakened conscience, but he is filled with horror, and is unable to endure the cutting anguish of his own reflections. And thus could God, in a moment, drive the niost hardened sinner into all the agonies of remorse and despair, by letting loose his own thoughts upon him, to prey upon his heart like so many hungry vultures, and make him a terror to others, and an executioner to himself.
We must surely admire the wisdom of Providence, in extorting even from the mouth of this traitor, so honourable a testimony of the
# To reconcile this account of Judas's death with that in Acts i. 18, 19. the author introduces, in his paraphrase, the supposition that the rope breaking he fell down a precipice, and his bowels gushed out through the violence of the fail.
# The author has a long note to explain and justify this quotation.
innocence of Jesus, though to his own condemnation. And who could have imagined that the supreme court of Israel itself should have been so little impressed with it, as coldly to answer, What is that to us? See thou to that. Is this the language of rulers, yea, of priests? But they had cast off the fear of that God whose ministers they were, and had devoted themselves to gain and ambition. They therefore feit no remorse, even when Judas trembled before them, and appeared almost distracted under the sense of a crime in which they had been confederates with him. But their consciences were seared as with a red hot iron, and all their familiar converse with divine things served only, in such a circumstance, to harden their hearts; as tempered steel gathers strength from the furnace and the hammer.
Judas repents; he confesses his crime ; he throws away the reward of his guilt ; yet was there nothing of godly sorrow in all this. Despairing, he becomes his own executioner; and flies to death, and to hell, as a refuge from the rage and fury of an awakened conscience. Fatal expedient! thus to seal his own damnation. But the righteous judgment of God erected him as a monument of wrath, and verified our Saviour's declaration, It had been good for that man if he had never been born. Tremble, 0 our souls, at this thought, that Judas, even one of the twelve, should fall into such depths of sin and ruin. May we each of us be jealous over ourselves! and may we never presume to censure whole bodies of men for the fault of particular members, when we find there was a traitor and reprobate among the holy band of the apostles.
We see the restless and implacable malice of Christ's enemies, which pursued him even to his tomb, and there endeavoured to blast his memory, by fixing upon him the character of an impostor. They demanded, and procured a guard for his sepulchre. And here also we have a repeated instance of God's taking the wise in their own craftiness. The seal and the guard served only more fully to attest the doctrine of Christ's resurrection, which they were set to overthrow, and to grace the triumph they were intended to oppose. Thus shall all the rage, and all the artifice of his enemies, at length promote the purposes of his glory : thus shall ineal at length come out of the eater, and sweetness out of ihe strong. The wrath of man, O Lord, shall piraise thee ; and the remainder of it shalt thou restrain, and shalt triumph ever it, either by thy grace, or by thy vengeance.
Christ rising from the dead, the guards fiee away in astonishment ; and he
makes his first appearance to Mary Magdalene. MATT. xxviü. 1-A. Mark xvi. 1.4. LUKE xxiv. 1, 2, 12. JOHN XX. 1--17.
A , ,
ND in the evening when the sabbath was over, Mary Magda
aguin consulted about embalming the body of Jesus, and bought more spices and aromatic drugs, that they might go and anoint him with them. And very early in the morning, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, they went to take a view of the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And some others went with them. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll away the stone for us from the door of the sepulchre ? For it was very large. And behold, there was, before they arrived, a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven, had ap. proached and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat down up. on it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his garment white as snow. And the guards trembled for fear of him, and became like dead men.
But quickly after", seeing the sepulchre open, they fled. And Mary Magdalene, advancing before the rest, saw that the stone was taken away from the sepulchret. And when they came to the place they also looked, and found the stone rolled away o [and the body removed. She therefore runs back to the city, and comes to Simon Peter, and to that other disciple whom Jesus loved ; and says to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. And Peter arose, and that other disciple, (John) and went out and came to the sepulchre. And they both ran together; and that other disciple, being the younger man, out-ran Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And stooping down to look into it, he saw the linen clothes lying, but he did not at first enter in. Then came Simon Peter, following him, and having stooped down to look, he went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen clothes, laid by themselves, and the napkin which was about his head, not laid with (them,] but folded up in a place by itself. Then that other disciple who came first to the sepulchre went in also ; and he saw and believed. For hitherto they did not know the scripture to which Jesus had often re. ferred them, that he must rise from the dead. Then both the disciples went away again to their companions in the city ; Peter especially, wondering in himself at what had happened. But Mary, who was now returned, stood near the sepulchre, after Peter and John were gone, weeping without ; and as she wept she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre : And there she saw two angels in the form of men, in white, sitting, one at the head, and the other. at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. And they said to her, Woman, why dost thou weep? She said to them, because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And as she had said this, she turned back, and saw Jesus himself standing near her : and she knew not at first that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to her, Woman, why dost thou weep? and whom dost thou seek ? She supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast put him, and I will remove him. Jesus said to her, in his usual way, Mary! And turning directly to
* This is inferred from their not being seeen by the women.
† Every attentive reader may have observed how difficult it is to form the Evangelists into one coherent story here, and to reconcile some seeming, contrarieties in their accounts: nevertheless I hope, on a careful examination of this and the following sections, it will be found not impracticable. I shall not mention the very different schemes other critics have taken, nor the particular objections against them: Unat of Dr. Guyse, is both new and ingenious, yet not to me satisfactory.
wards him, she said to him, with transport, Rabboni! that is to say, Master! and prostrated herself at his feet to embrace them. Jesus said to her, Do not stay to embrace me now; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but, as you will have further opportunities of seeing me, go to my brethren, and say unto them, I shall shortly ascend to my Father, and your father, and to my God, and your God. Upon this, he disappeared.
REFLECTIONS. How fit is it that we should sing unto the Lord a new song ! and with what thankful hearts should we join, on his own day, and on every day, to congratulate the triumph of his rising from the dead, and to rejoice in this birth-day of our hopes ! Now is the justice of God amply satisfied, or the prisoner had never been released. Now is the reproach of the cross ceased, and turned into proportionable glory. That reproach was rolled away at once by the descending angel, who appeared, not to awaken Christ from his sleep, or to bring him a new life, for he had himself a power, whenever he pleased, to resume that which he had voluntarily resigned; but he came to add a solemn pomp to his revival, and to strike the guards with such a terror as would effectually prevent any mad attempt on this glorious Conqueror, when he was bursting the bonds in which he had for a while been held.
O Lord, we acknowledge the truth of thy promise: thou didst noe leave his soul in hell, neither didst thou suffer the flesh of thine Holy One to see corruption. Now is Christ indeed risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. May we, in conformity to his holy example, be dead to sin and to the world ; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Faiher, even so we also may wa in newness of life! Then will he that raised up Christ from the dead, eie long quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in us. Let the faith of what has been done with regard to our glorified Head, and shall at length be accomplished with respect to all his members, daily gladden our hearts. When our eyes are weeping, and our souls sinking within us, let us raise our thoughts to Jesus, our risen, and now ascended Redeemer; who says to all his brethren these gracious words (which may justly be received with transports of astonishment, and fill our hearts at the same time with joy unspeakable, and full of glory) “ I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.”
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is now, through the death and resurrection of his dear Son (whom, by raising him from the dead, he has so solemnly owned under that relation) become our Father and our God. As such let us honour him, love him, and rejoice in him: and when we must leave this world, which Christ has long since left, let it delight our souls to think that we shall likewise ascend after him, and dwell with him in this propitious and divine presence. In the mean time, if we are risen with Christ, let us seek those things which are above, where Christ now sitteth at the right-hand of God; and let us be willing, in whatever sense God shall appoint, to be made conformable to his death, that we may also be partakers of his resurrection and glory.