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sion of the three thousand on the ensuing day of Pentecost, only fifty-two days after.
Among the spectators on this occasion, besides those that stood near the cross, there stood afar off, all his acquaintances, both men and women, from Galilee especially, and among the latter, Salome, the mother of the Apostles James and John, Matt. xxvii. 55, 56, Mark xv. 40, 41, Luke xxiii. 49. These probably contributed to soften the multitude by their grief.
As soon as the first evening was come, (which began at the third hour, afternoon, see Vol. I. p. 15,) because it was Friday, the eve of the Sabbath, and preparation day, the day before the first and great day of the feast also; the chiefs of the Jews besought Pilate that the criminals might be dispatched and taken away, before their high Sabbath began; according to the law, which required that the bodies should be taken down at sunset, Deut. xxi. 23, Josh. x. 27. The soldiers, therefore, came, and according to their cruel custom, broke the legs of the two malefactors, who were still alive, before they dispatched them; but when they came to JESUS, and saw that he was already dead, they brake not his legs; one of the soldiers, however, to ensure his death, with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout "blood and water," John xix. 31, 34.
This was indeed the most decisive proof of his death. For either the spear pierced the pericardium*, or bag in which the heart swims in a small quantity of water, to prevent adhesion; which therefore was let out along with his heart's blood; or else the blood was now chilled, and the cruor, or red particles, separated from the serum, or watery part. On the former supposition, he must have been instantly killed, if not dead before; on the latter, he must have been dead some time. These two most important facts, therefore, are attested with the utmost solemnity by the eye witness, John, and further, that they were designed as the fulfilment of the types and prophecies of the OLD TESTAMENT, for the conviction of believers.
"And he that saw, hath testified, (and his testimony is true, and JESUS himself knoweth that he speaketh the truth!) that ye might believe. These were done that the Scripture might be
The following curious, incidental observation of a skilful anatomist, is given in the Yverdon Encyclopedie, art. Pericardè. "I have constantly found water in the pericardium of the quadrupeds that I have dissected alive. And I have found it constantly in the case of criminals capitally punished."
fulfilled, a bone of Him shall not be broken, (Psalm xxxiv. 20.) And again, another Scripture saith, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced," (Zech. xii. 10,) John xix. 35-37.
The parenthetical observation, virtually includes the testimony of two witnesses; first of the eye witness, John, vouching the truth of the fact; and an animated appeal to the sufferer himself, as THE SEARCHER OF HEARTS, to vouch it also *. Unfortunately, our English Bible, ambiguously renders ɛɛvoç, the emphatic pronoun," that person," referring to JESUS, ver. 33, foregoing, by "HE;" which is liable to be confounded with the former, "he," the rendering of the article ó, prefixed to ἑωρακως, the eye witness." The merit of this correcter translation is due to Wakefield. May this noble attestation to the divinity of CHRIST, "cover a multitude of sins" in the translation of this strenuous Unitarian !
This " greater testimony" of THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY †, (which is the SPIRIT OF GOD,) seems to be confirmed, by its analogy to the former passage in the Gospel; for the prophecy, (Psalm xxxiv. 20,) referred to in the expression, "a bone of Him shall not be broken," was evidently founded on that typical rite, that not a bone of the paschal lamb should be broken, (Exod. xii. 46, repeated Numb. ix. 12,) which was so exactly fulfilled in CHRIST, our passover, the true antitype; and the water and blood, shed from his side, and sprinkling perhaps the people, as well as the ground, is represented by Paul, as the ratification of that new and better covenant, corresponding to the typical ceremony of sprinkling the people, the tabernacle, and the holy vessels, with the blood of the victims, mixed with water, under the first covenant, Heb. ix. 18-24; referring to Exod. xxiv. 5, 6, and to Levit. xvi. 14—18. In these passages of the O. T. it must be allowed, there is no mention, at present, of water mixed with the blood of the victims; but that it was usual, may be inferred from another, and a parallel rite, Levit. xiv. 4-7, which was explained before, Vol. II. p. 247.
This also is conformable to John's style elsewhere: "And we testify, and ye know that our testimony is true," 3 John 12.
This is what Peter calls "the prophetic argument," and which he holds to be "firmer" than the testimony of the senses, even at CHRIST's transfiguration, which he witnessed, 2 Pet. i. 19.
After Pilate had given permission to the chiefs of the Jews to remove the bodies of the crucified, CHRIST, by a signal Providence, fulfilling prophecy, though "numbered with the transgressors in his death," was distinguished from them in his interment; for while they were buried ignominiously at the foot of the cross, he was interred in "the tomb of a rich" man, and embalmed like the rich, Isa. liii. 9. See the foregoing explanation, Vol. II. p. 408-409. For Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, good and just, and an honourable counsellor, who had not been consenting to the act of the Jewish council, and was himself a disciple of JESUS, but secretly, hitherto, for fear of the Jews, now nobly avowed himself, and went boldly to Pilate, and asked permission to take away the body, which was at this time dead, he having probably attended the crucifixion. Pilate wondered if JESUS was dead already, and sent for the centurion to know how long it was since he died; who having informed him, he granted the body to Joseph *, Matt. xxvii. 57, 58; Mark xv. 42-45; Luke xxiii. 50-52; John xix. 38.
When the second evening, therefore, was come, at sun-set, Joseph took down the body from the cross, assisted by Nicodemus, another rich and respectable disciple, (the same that came to JESUS by night, at the first passover,) who likewise nobly avowed his faith in a crucified Redeemer, bringing with him a costly mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight, to embalm the body; and they wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, which Joseph had bought, with the aromatic spices †, and laid it in a new tomb, designed for Joseph himself, in which no one had ever been laid, hewn out of the rock in his garden, which was near the place of execution, (only an hundred and eight feet distant, according to Sandys, p. 129,) because the sabbath drew nigh, or [the moon] was beginning to shine
Joseph afterwards was interred himself in another tomb, under the former, on the slope of the hill, hewed into the rock, which is shewn to travellers. See Vol. II. p. 410. These were probably dry spices, with which the body was wound in the linen shroud, to perfume it, as distinguished from the liquid, with which the women intended to anoint it. The largeness of the quantity, a hundred pounds weight, might be necessary to fill the tomb with a part of them, as was customary in Scripture funerals, and to burn the rest, to excite a fragrant odour at the time of interment. See 2 Chron. xvi. 14. Thus was CHRIST interred like a prince.
(ETEOWOKE) shortly before sun-set, or the commencement of the Sabbath day, allowing only time for a hasty interment before the Sabbath day commenced. And after they had finished the interment, they rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, in order to secure it from intrusion, and departed, Matt. xxvii. 59, 60; Mark xv. 45, 46; Luke xxiii. 53, 54.
Of all our Lord's Galilean friends and acquaintances who attended the crucifixion, Matt. xxvii. 55, Mark xv. 40, 41, Luke xxiii. 49, only Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the mother of James the less and Joses, attended the interment also, and sate down opposite the tomb, and beheld where and how the body was laid, Matt. xxvii. 61; Mark xv. 47; Luke xxiii. 55. And they seem to have lingered there, after the interment, in pensive mourning, until respect for the sabbath compelled them to retire.
The rest of the women seem to have returned to the city from the crucifixion, where they prepared aromatic spices and ointments, to finish the embalmment of the body, after the sabbath. But they religiously rested during the Sabbath, according to the [fourth] commandment, Luke xxiii. 56 *.
There is here a considerable ambiguity in Luke's narrative, which has principally contributed to embarrass the harmony of the resurrection hitherto.
At first sight, the same Galilean women who attended the crucifixion, in general, seem also to have attended the interment, ver. 55, and afterwards to have returned to the city, and prepared the aromatic spices and ointments before the Sabbath began, ver. 56. But these must have been distinct parties, for the former consisted only of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, as we learn from the express testimony of Matthew xxvii. 61, and of Mark xv. 47; and they staid so late at the tomb, till the Sabbath was going to dawn, by Luke's own account in the preceding ver. 54, that it was impossible they could prepare the embalming materials before it commenced. And accordingly, we learn from Mark, xvi. 1, that they actually purchased them after the Sabbath was fully passed, on Sunday morning. It must, therefore, have been the rest of the Galilean women who prepared the materials on Friday evening, and went to embalm the body on Sunday morning, according to Luke's continuation, xxiv. 1.
And this is confirmed by Luke's phraseology in the former ver. 55, where the anarthrous term, yuvaukɛg, is indefinite; signifying, that "some women of those that had come with him from Galilee, attending [the interment,] beheld the tomb, and how his body was laid, while [others] returning, prepared aromatic spices and ointments," &c. ὑποστρέψασαι δε [αλλαι, οι λοιπαι,] ήτοιμασαν, &c.
And the necessity of supplying this ellipsis in ver. 56 is confirmed by Luke's subsequent enumeration of the Galilean women in general, xxiv. 10, as distinguished from the second party, whose visit to the tomb he notices in the preceding part of the chapter, ver. 1-9.
This distinction is judiciously remarked by Townson, in his Harmony, p. 131, &c. and will be more fully explained in the sequel.
THE SEPULCHRE GUARDED BY ROMAN SOLDIERS.
Far otherwise were the ceremonious high priests and scrupulous Pharisees employed on the Sabbath day! As soon as it arrived, at night-fall, they went to Pilate, to entreat him that he would station a guard there, until the third day of that deceiver's predicted rising from the dead, lest his disciples should steal away the body on this or the following night, and pretend that it was risen. So the last error would be worst than the first, Matt. xxvii. 62-64.
Pilate consenting, they took with them a part of the temple guard, and we may be assured, after previously examining whether the body was in the tomb, they sealed the stone, to secure it against the soldiers themselves, and set the watch to guard it against the disciples, Matt. xxvii. 65, 66.
Thus did these whited sepulchres "fair without and foul within," as our Lord significantly upbraided them, "strain at a gnat, but swallow a camel." They scrupled indeed to enter the Roman prætorium on Friday, for fear of being polluted, but on Saturday, that high and holy day, they dared not only to profane the Sabbath by unhallowed work, but even to incur the highest pollution, of entering a sepulchre and approaching a dead body!-What a strange inconsistency was this!
All this uncommon care and caution on their part only contributed to defeat its own end. It was permitted, but overruled by PROVIDENCE, in order to furnish the strongest proofs of the miraculous resurrection of HIS SON, and to confute these wicked men, and their calumny, which they suggested to Pilate, and afterwards propagated, that the disciples stole away his body by night, although they had used every human precaution to prevent its being taken away out of a new tomb," where there was no other corpse," and that tomb "hewn out of a rock," inaccessible behind, and its mouth secured by a "great stone," under "a seal," and " a guard of soldiers!"—" to make assurance doubly sure." In vain did they fight against GOD! and kick against the pricks! sorely to their own confusion and destruction.