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the comprehension of our narrow understandings; that is, must necessarily be mysterious. ! And therefore this very circumstance, instead of shocking our reason, and staggering our faith, ought to confirm the one, and satisfy the other. " : After the crucifixion of our Lord follows the account of his burial by Joseph of Arimathea, who went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus; and having obtained it, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out of the rock ; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. On this I shall make no other observation than that it was the exact fulfilment of a prophecy in Isaiah, where, speaking of the promised Messiah, or Christ, it is said, “he shall make his grave with the rich *.” And accordingly Joseph, we are told, was a rich man, and an honourable counsellorf. . . Now the next day that, followed th day of the preparation (that is, on the " . " Saturday) * Isaiah, liii.9. t Matt, savii. 57. Mark, xv. 43.

Saturday) the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch, go your way, make it as sure as you can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch *. . . . Here we see the chief priests using every possible precaution to prevent a fraud. For this purpose they went to Pilate to beg for a guard, immediately after our Lord was buried. It is indeed here said that they went the newt day that followed the day of the preparation, the day on which Jesus was crucified. This looks, at the first view, as if the sepulchre had remained one whole night without a guard.


* Matt. xxvii. 62–66.

But this was not so. The chief priests went to Pilate as soon as the sun was set on Friday, the day of the preparation and crucifixion; for then began the following day, or Saturday; as the Jews always began to reckon their day from the preceding evening. They had a guard therefore as soon as they possibly could, after the body was deposited in the sepulchre: and one cannot help admiring the wisdom of Providence in so disposing events, that the extreme anxiety of these men, to prevent collusion, should be the means of adding the testimony of sixty unexceptionable witnesses (the number of the Roman soldiers on guard) to the truth of the resurrection, and of establishing the reality of it beyond all power of contradiction. It is only necessary to add on this head, that the circumstance of sealing the stone was a precaution of which several instances occur in ancient times, particularly in the prophecy of Daniel, where we read, that when Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, a stone was


brought and laid upon the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords, that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel *. The chief priests, having taken these precautions, waited probably with no small impatience for the third day after the crucifixion, when Jesus had foretold that he should rise again, but when they made no doubt, that they should find the body in the sepulchre, and convict him of de

ceit and imposture. On the other hand, it might naturally be imagined that the disciples, after having received from their Lord repeated assurances that he would rise on the third day from the dead, would anxiously look for the arrival of that day, with a certain confidence that these promises would be fulfilled, and that they should see their beloved Master rescued from the grave,

and restored to life. But this seems to have been by no II] CallS means the real state of their minds. It does not appear that they entertained any hopes of Jesus' resurrection. Shocked and confounded, and dismayed at finding him condemned to the ignominious death of the cross, they forgot every thing he had said to them respecting his rising again. When therefore he was led to punishment, they all forsook him, and fled. Most of them seem to have kept themselves concealed during the whole time of Jesus' being in the grave, and to have given themselves up to sorrow and despair. They had not even the courage or the curiosity to go to the sepulchre on the third day, to see whether the promised event had taken place or not. When two of them going to Emmaus met Jesus, their conversation plainly showed that they were disappointed in their expectations, “We trusted (said they) that it had been he which should have delivered Israel “; " and when the women who had been at the sepulchre told the apostles

* Daniel, vi. 17.


* Luke, xxiv. 21.

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