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upon the cross; and persons so dying have not much ceremony and state at their funeral. The dead body of the Lord was not brought from his own house, as other men's commonly are, but from the cross. They begged it of his judge. Had they not obtained this favor from Pilate, it must have been buried in Golgotha-cast into a pit dug under the cross. And when buried, it was attended with a very poor train: a few sorrowful women followed it. Other men are accompanied to their graves by their relations and friends: the disciples were all scattered from him, afraid to own him dying, and dead. And these few that were resolved to give him a funeral, are forced, by reason of the strait of time, to do it in great haste; for the preparation for the passover was at hand. This was the obscure funeral which the body of the Lord had. Thus was the Prince of the kings of the earth, who has the keys of death and hell, laid into his grave.
2. Yet though men could bestow little honor upon his funeral, the heavens bestowed marks of honor; adorned it with divers miracles, which wiped off the reproach of his death. These miracles preceded or attended his in
There was an extraordinary and preternatural eclipse of the sun; such an eclipse as was never seen since it first shone in heaven: the sun fainted at the sight of such a rueful spectacle, and clothed the whole heaven in black. The sight of this caused a great philosopher, who was then far from the place where this unparalleled tragedy was acting, to cry out, "*Either the God of nature now suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolved." Such a preternatural eclipse is unknown in the world's history it was not in the time of conjunction, but oppo
* Aut Deus naturæ patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvitur.Dionysius Areopag.
sition, the moon being then at full. From the sixth to the ninth hour "there was darkness over all the land."
And as Christ's funeral was attended with such a miraculous eclipse, which put the heavens and earth into mourning; so the rocks did rend; the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom; the graves opened, and the dead bodies of many saints arose and went into the holy city, and were seen of many. The rending of the rocks was a sign of God's fierce indignation, Nahum, 1:6, and manifested the greatness of his power; showing what they deserved, and what he could do to them that had committed this horrid deed; though he rather chose at this time to show the dreadful effects of it upon inanimate rocks, than rocky-hearted sinners: but especially it served to convince the world that it was none other but the Son of God that died.
As for the rending in twain of the veil, it was a notable miracle, plainly showing that all ceremonies were now accomplished and abolished-no more veils now— as also that believers have now most free access into heaven. At that very instant when the veil was rent, the high priest was officiating in the most holy place, and the veil which hid him from the rest of the people being rent, they might freely see him about his work in the holy of holies; a lively emblem of our High Priest, whom now we see by faith in the heavens, there performing his intercession-work for us.
The opening of the graves plainly showed the design and end of Christ's entering the grave; that it might not have dominion over the bodies of the saints, but being vanquished and destroyed by Christ: might yield up all his whom he ransomed from the grave; a specimen whereof was given in those holy ones that rose and appeared to many in the holy city.
And now we have seen Jesus interred; he that wears at his girdle the keys of hell and death, himself locked
up in the grave. What shall I say of him whom they now laid in the grave? Shall I undertake to tell you what he was, what he did, suffered, and deserved? Alas! the tongue of angels must pause and stammer in such a work. He is a Sun of Righteousness, a Fountain of Life. Of him it might be said in that day, Here lies the adorable Jesus, in whom is treasured up whatsoever an angry God can require for his satisfaction, or an empty creature for his perfection; before him was none like him, and after shall none arise comparable to him. "If every leaf and spire of grass," saith one, "nay, all the stars, sands, and atoms, were so many souls and seraphim, whose love should double in them every moment to all eternity, yet would it fall infinitely short of what is due to his worth and excellency. Suppose a creature possessed of all the choice endowments that ever dwelt in the best of men since the creation of the world; and added to this, the understanding, strength, splendor, and holiness of all the angels, it would all amount but to a dark shadow of this incomparable Jesus."
Come and see, believing souls, look upon Jesus in his winding-sheet, by faith, and say, Lo, this is he, of whom the church said, "My Beloved is white and ruddy:” his ruddiness is now gone, and a death-paleness hath prevailed over all his body, but still he is lovely as ever, yea, altogether lovely. If David, lamenting the death of Saul and Jonathan, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights; who put ornaments of gold upon your apparel;" much rather may I say, Children of Zion, weep over Jesus, who clothed you with righteousness and the garments of salvation.
This is he who quitted the throne of glory; left the bosom of unspeakable delights; came in a body of flesh produced in perfect holiness; brake through many and great impediments, (thy great unworthiness, the wrath
of God and man,) by the strength of love to bring salvation home to thy soul. Can he that believingly considers this, do less than wonder at the love that brought him to the dust of death, and cry out with an ancient worthy, "My Lord was crucified!"
INFERENCE 1. Was Christ buried in this manner? Then a decent and mournful funeral, where it can be had, is very laudable among christians. I know the departed souls of the saints have no concern for their bodies; yet there is a respect due to them, as they are the temples wherein God hath been served and honored by the souls that once dwelt in them; as also on account of their relation to Christ, and the glory that will be revealed in them, when they shall be changed, and made like unto Christ's glorious body. Upon such grounds as these their bodies deserve an honorable treatment, as well as from humanity, which owes this honor to the bodies of all men. To have no funeral is accounted a judgment. Eccles. 7: 4. We read of many solemn and mournful funerals in Scripture, wherein the people of God have affectionately paid their respects and honors to the dust of the saints, as men that were deeply sensible of their worth, and how great a loss the world sustains by their removal. Christ's funeral had as much of decency and solemnity in it as the time would permit; though he was a stranger to all pomp, both in life and death.
2. Did Joseph and Nicodemus so boldly appear at a time of so much danger, to beg the body and give it a funeral? Let it be for ever a caution to strong christians, not to despise or glory over the weak. You see here a couple of timorous persons, that were afraid to be seen in Christ's company, when the other disciples professed their readiness to die with him: yet those flee, and these
* Gen. 23: 2; 35: 19, 1, 10. 2 Chron. 35: 24. John, 11:31, Acts, 8: 2.
appear for him when the trial comes indeed. If God desert the strong, and assist the weak, the feeble shall be as David, and the strong as tow. I speak not this to discourage any from striving to the utmost to improve the grace imparted to him; for it is ordinarily found in experience, that the degrees of assisting grace are given according to the measure of grace sin exercises; but I speak it to prevent a sin incident to strong christians, of despising the weak, which God corrects by such instances and examples as this before us.
3. Hence we may be assisted in discerning the depths of Christ's humiliation for us, by seeing from what, and to what his love brought him. It was not enough for him who was in the form of God, to become a creature, which was an infinite stoop, nay, to be made a man, an inferior order of creatures; nay, to be a poor man, to spend his days in poverty and contempt; but his dead body must be laid in the tomb for our sakes. Oh what manner of love is this! Now the deeper the humiliation of the Son of God the more satisfactory must it be to us; for it shows us not only the heinousness of sin that deserves all this, but the fulness of Christ's satisfaction, whereby he restores the breach. Oh, it was deep humiliation indeed! How unlike himself is he now become! Doth he look like the Son of God? What! the Son of God, whom all the angels adore, to be hurried by three or four persons into his grave in an evening! to be carried from Golgotha to the grave in this manner, and there lie as a captive to death for a time! Never was such change of conditions; never such abasement.
4. From this funeral of Christ results the purest and strongest consolation and encouragement to believers against the fear of death and the grave. If Jesus hath lain in the grave before you, let me say then to you as the Lord spake to Jacob, "Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will go down with thee, and I will also