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footing; yea, and when the soul can no longer tabernacle here, it can cast itself upon God, with, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Oh precious faith!
5. Do the souls of dying believers commend themselves into the hands of God? Then let not the surviving relations of such sorrow as those that have no hope. A husband, a wife, a child, is rent by death out of your arms: well, but consider into what arms, into what bosom they are commended. Is it not better for them to be in the bosom of God than in yours? Could they be spared so long from heaven as to come back again to you but an hour, how would they say to you, as Christ said to the daughters of Jerusalem, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." I am in safe hands, I am out of the reach of all storms and troubles. Oh did you but know what their state is who are with God, you would be more than satisfied about them.
6. Is it the privilege of dying believers to commend their souls into the hands of God? Then as ever you hope for comfort or peace in your last hour, see that your souls be such as may then be commended into the hands of a holy and just God: see that they be holy souls; God will never accept them if they be not holy: "Without holiness no man shall see God." Heb. 12: 14. "He that hath this hope, (namely, to see God,) purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John, 3:3. Endeavors after holiness are inseparably connected with all rational expectations of blessedness. Will you put an unclean, filthy, defiled thing into the pure hands of the most holy God? Oh see that thy soul be holy, and already accepted in the Beloved; or wo to it when it shall take its leave of the tabernacle it now inhabits! The gracious soul may then confidently say, Lord Jesus! into thy hand I commend my spirit. O let all that can say so then, now say, Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
CHRIST'S FUNERAL ILLUSTRATED.
"Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jews' preparationday; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." John, 19: 40-42.
You have heard the last words of the dying Jesus commending his spirit into his Father's hands. And now the Life of the world hangs dead upon a tree. The Light of the world, for a time, shut up in a dismal cloud. The Sun of Righteousness set in the region and shadow of death. The Lord is dead; he that conquered death, is now himself to be locked up in the grave. All friends and lovers of Jesus are now invited to his funeral. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Mark,
1. The preparations made for it, particularly the begging and perfuming of the body. His body could not be buried, till, by begging, his friends had obtained it as a favor from his judge. The dead body was by law in the power of Pilate, who adjudged it to death, as the bodies of those that are hanged are in the power of the judge to dispose of them as he pleases. And when they had gotten it from Pilate, they wound it in fine linen clothes with spices. But what need of spices to perfume that blessed body? His own love was enough to embalm it in the remembrance of his people to all generations: but hereby they manifest, as far as they are able, the dear affection they have for him.
2. The bearers that carried his body to its grave were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two secret disciples; both men of estate and honor. None could ima
gine that these would have appeared at a time of so much danger, with such boldness for Christ; that they, who were afraid to come to him (except by night) when he was living, would go openly and boldly to manifest their love to him when dead. But now they are inspired with zeal and courage, when those that made greater and more open confessions have left him.
3. The attendants who followed the body were the women that attended him out of Galilee; among whom only the two Marys and the mother of Zebedee's children (whom Mark calls Salome) are named.
4. The grave, or sepulchre, where they laid him was Joseph's new tomb, which he had prepared in a garden near Golgotha, where our Lord died. Two things are remarkable about this tomb; it was another's tomb, and it was a new tomb. It was another's; for as he had not a house of his own to live in, so he had not a tomb of his own to lay his body in when dead. And it was a new tomb, wherein never man was yet laid. Doubtless there was the hand of Providence in this; for had any other been laid there before him, it might have proved an occasion of marring the credit and the glory of his resurrection, by pretending it was some former body, and not the Lord's, that arose. In this also Divine Providence had a respect to that prophecy, Isa. 53: 9, which was to be fulfilled at his funeral: "He made his grave with the rich."
5. No mention is made of the groans and tears with which they laid him in his sepulchre; yet we may well presume they were not wanting in expressions of their deep sorrow; for as they wept and smote their breasts when he died, Luke, 23: 48; so, no doubt, they laid him with melting hearts and flowing eyes in his tomb.
6. The solemnities with which his funeral rites were performed were all suitable to his humbled state. It was, indeed, a funeral as decently ordered as the straits
of time and circumstances would permit; but there was nothing of pomp or outward state. Thus was he laid in his grave, where he continued for three incomplete days and nights in the territories of death, in the land of darkness and forgetfulness; partly to correspond with Jonah his type, and partly to show the world the reality of his death. Hence,
The dead body of our Lord Jesus Christ was decently interred by a small number of his own disciples, and continued in the state of the dead for a time.
These matters of fact being so plainly recorded by the several evangelists, we need only here satisfy two inquiries: Why Christ had any funeral at all, since his resurrection was so soon to follow his death? and, What manner of funeral he had?
I. Why had Christ any funeral, since he was to rise again from the dead within the space that men commonly lie before their interment; and had his body continued longer unburied, it could see no corruption, having never been tainted by sin?
1. It was necessary Christ should be buried, to ascertain his death; else it might have been looked upon as a cheat for, as his enemies were ready to impose so gross a cheat upon the world at his resurrection, " That the disciples came by night, and stole him away," much more would they have denied at once the reality, both of his death and resurrection, had he not been so perfumed and interred. But his being bound "in linen with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury," and remaining so long in the tomb, gave full assurance to the world of the certainty of his death. Now, since our eternal life is wrapt up in Christ's death, it can never be too firmly established. To this, therefore, we may well suppose Providence had special respect in the manner of his burial.
2. He must be buried, to fulfil the types and prophecies.
His abode in the grave was prefigured by Jonah's abode three days and nights in the belly of the whale: "So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matt. 12:40. Yea, the prophet had described the very manner of his funeral, and, long before he was born, foretold in what kind of tomb his body should be laid: "He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death," Isa. 53:9; pointing, by that expression, at this tomb of Joseph, who was a rich man; and the Scriptures cannot be broken.
3. He must be buried to complete his humiliation; this being the lowest step he could possibly descend to in his abased state. "They have brought me to the dust of death;" lower he could not be laid.
4. But the great end and reason of his interment was the conquering of death in its own dominion and territories; which victory over the grave furnished the saints with that triumphant song of deliverance, "O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?" 1 Cor. 15:55. Our graves would not be so sweet and comfortable to us, when we come to lie down in them, if Jesus had not lain there before us and for us. Death is a dragon, the grave its den; a place of dread and terror; but Christ goes into its den, there grapples with it, and for ever overcomes it; disarms it of all its terror; and not only makes it cease to be inimical, but to become the greatest blessing to the saints; a bed of rest, and a perfumed bed; they do but go into Christ's bed, where he lay before them.
II. Let us inquire what manner of funeral Christ had? 1. It was a very obscure and private funeral. Here was no external pomp: Christ affected it not in his life, and it was no way suitable to the ends and manner of his death. Humiliation was designed in his death; and pomp is inconsistent with such an end: besides, he died