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to the city without delay, and prepared spices and ointments before the sabbath came on, but Mary Magdalene and Mary the wise of Cleopas, remained weeping near the tomb.
We may here notice the circumstances of our Lord suffering on the day immediately before the Jewish sabbath, and in a place near to which one of his disciples had a new sepulchre. Had his body been left in the hands of his executioners it would have been cast into the common grave of the malefactors. But, as Isaiah prophesied, “ His grave was appointed with the wicked, but with the rich man was his toinb.' And this place was one close at hand, where it could be deposited immediately and secured by the Jewish rulers till the third day, that the evidence of Christ's resurrection might be indisputable. Again, had the body been given up to the immediate followers of our Lord, who had no place of sepulture at hand, they would have carried it to some house, that they might perform the requisite acts of attention to the corpse, but the sabbath beginning before these could be completed, the body would not have been buried at the time appointed for the resurrection, which also would have been the case had the body remained on the cross, as it probably would have done if the sabbath had not approached. Thus God in his providence overrules the actions of men for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes, which, although set forth in prophecy, remain unintelligible to us until fulfilled.
THE DAY AFTER THE CRUCIFIXION, or Saturday. The chief priests and pharisees, having obtained Pilate's leave, secured the sepulchre by fixing a seal upon the stone, and setting a guard of soldiers to watch it, of course satisfying themselves that the corpse was there. Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Cleopas, with Salome, joined in purchasing spices in the evening as soon as the sabbath was over. The words in Mark xvi. 1, signify that they then purchased the spices, which alone would be suficient to distinguish them from the party mentioned, Luke xxiii. 56.
The first DAY OF The week, Sunday:-Mary Magdalene and her companions set out to go to the sepulchre, very early, as it began to dawn. Before they arrived there was a great earthquake, an angel descended and rolled away the stone and sat upon it, and the guards were affrighted. Our Lord then arose, but none of the evangelists attempt to describe the particulars. The sun was rising when the first party of women already mentioned, drew near, and saw the stone was removed, and that the door-way of the tomb was open. As the tomb fronted the east, the rising sun would shine upon it, so that this could be seen. Mary Magdalene, without examining further, ran to inform the apostles. Her two companions ventured into the apartment or court before the sepulchre, where they saw an angel, under the appearance of a young man, clothed with a white garment, sitting on the stone. The women being affrighted, the angel encouraged them to ap
proach, saying,' Fear not ye;' from which some have supposed that the guards were still remaining on the spot, struck with terror. The angel told them to go and inform the disciples. They hastened quickly, bui were so overcome with amazement, as not to be able to speak to those whom they first met.
In the mean timne, Mary Magdalene, having told Peter and John that the body of Jesus was taken away, the two apostles ran to the sepulchre. John arrivedd first, and standing on the floor of the outer apartment, stooped down, and looking into the cave or tomb, saw the linen clothes lie. Peter coming soon after went into the tomb, and observed the orderly manner in which the clothes were laid, folded regularly, and not bearing any appearance of having been removed in haste, or in the trepidation which must have attended a removal by his disciples, in the presence of an armed guard and in a moonlight night, had such an attempt been possible, as it was not, for many reasons. John also went in, and began to believe that his Lord was risen. The apostles then returned to their own homes.
Mary returned to the sepulchre and stood weeping in the outer apartment, but looking into the tomb, she saw two angels, who asked why she wept, and having told the cause, she turned round and beheld Jesus, but knew not that it was he till he had called her by her name. She was then sent to relate the glad tidings to the disciples, and as she went, the other Mary and Salome joined her, and while they were together Jesus himself met them, saying, All hail, and when they had worshipped him, gave them a message to the disciples.
Meanwhile the soldiers related in the city what had occurred, and the council of the elders bribed them to spread a false report, that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus while they slept. This story, although involving many improbabilities and contradictions, became commonly reported among the Jews.
We have now to notice the second company of faithful women, consisting of Joanna and other Galilean females, with some women of Jerusalem, they, having prepared their spices on the Friday evening, rose at an early hour, but the delay in assembling a large party, and other causes, hindered them from arriving at the tomb till after Mary and her companions had left it. On their arrival they found the stone rolled away, and entered the tomb, but finding neither the body nor any to give them information, they were much perplexed, when two angels stood by them, and asked why they sought the risen among the dead, reminding them of what our Lord had told them about his sufferings and resurrection, while he was in Galilee. These women retired from the sepulchre, apparently in a more composed state of mind than the others, and related what they had seen and heard to the eleven, and to others of the disciples.
Though the apostles received from both companies of the women assurances that Christ was risen, they believed not, but still mourned. Peter, however, went again to the sepulchre, but the angels having departed, he only saw the linen clothes.
From Luke xxiv. 34, and 1 Cor. xv. 5, we find that Christ appeared to Peter before the other disciples, and probably early in the day. His next appearance was to Cleopas and another, in the afternoon, as they went to Emmaus; with them he conversed a considerable time as recorded Luke xxiv. On discovering it was their Lord they returned to Jerusalem, a distance of eight miles, with the glad tidings, and while relating to the apostles what had passed, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, conversed with them, showed his hands and side, and when they distrusted for joy, he did eat before them. At this time he breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
DURING THE REST OF THIS WEEK those who had seen our Lord informed the other disciples that he was risen, and conversed respecting it, but some still refused to believe, and among them the apostle Thomas.
ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK FOLLOWING, Thomas, and the rest of the apostles, with other disciples, being together at meat, Jesus again appeared to them. He desired Thomas to touch his wounds, who being convinced, exclained with devotion and adoration, My Lord and my God! Jesus then mildly rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart.
SOME DAYS AFTER, our Lord showed himself in Galilee to the apostles and to more than five hundred of his disciples, who were assembled by appointment for the purpose, agreeably to his words before his death and after his resurrection. On this occasion he appeared first at a distance, when some doubted, but for their satisfaction he drew near and conversed with them and declared that all power was given unto him, in heaven and in earth,
SUBSEQUENTLY he appeared to Peter and six others of the disciples who had remained together in Galilee. So little had they anticipated their future honourable employment as apostles, that they seem to have resumed their former humble occupation, and were fishing on the sea of Tiberias when Christ had that intimate discourse with them recorded in John xxi.
AFTER THEIR RETURN TO JERUSALEM our Lord again gave instructions to his disciples, and commissioned them to preach tne gospel to all nations. Whether this was done on one or more occasions does not appear, but on THE FORTIETH DAY after his resurrection, he led them out to the mount of Olives, to the part where the district of Bethany began, and there ASCENDED in their sight.
A few observations may be added to the preceding account, respecting the chief difficulties experienced by early harmonists; this was, to reconcile the accounts of the different evangelists respecting the visits of the women to the sepulchre West was the
first who published a statement showing that these difficulties might be accounted for on the principle of there being two companies of women; and, singular to relate, Pilkington and Doddridge had at the same time come to a similar conclusion. Townsen has shown that these two parties of women may easily be supposed to have visited the sepulchre, nearly at the same time, without encountering each other, either in going or returning He illustrates this by reference to a plan of Jerusalem, compiled from ancient documents. It will be necessary to observe, that the situation of the houses mentioned has been preserved by tradition, and by the erection of churches or public buildings upon their sites; and there is no reason to doubt its being correct, as, though the city was razed from its foundations by the Romans, yet it did not remain long without inhabitants, and the christians returning thither would be guided to the sites they venerated, by the natural elevations of the ground, and the bases of the walls near which these houses were situated. Nor is it difficult to suppose many circumstances which explain Zebedee's possessing a house at Jerusalem, and we are to remember that this account of the resurrection, and the map referred to, were drawn up and framed quite independently of each other, so that their undesigned agreement adds considerable weight to the evidence.
We now have to state the places from whence the first party of women had to proceed. 1. Zebedee's house. This is supposea to have stood near the wall, a little to the north of the Dunghillgate. Here Salome, the wife or widow of Zebedee, would reside with her son John, and here probably the spices were deposited. The two Marys would proceed from the places where they lodged to this house, and from thence their nearest way to the sepulchre would be through the Dunghill-gate. 2. Joanna, being the wife of Herod's steward, would probably lodge in or near the house of Herod, which was situated to the north of the temple. The direct way from that quarter to the sepulchre would be through the gate of the Valley, and the way thither was quite different from that of the other party. The distance the party of Joanna had to go was more than twice as much as the distance from Zebedee's house, and if they were rather later in starting, there is no difficulty in concluding that their arrival at the sepulchre would be at leasi an hour later, which is time enough for all that is supposed to have taken place before their arrival.
The first party of women were sent to the apostles. John, we conclude, lived in the house of his father, and Peter evidently was near him; the sites of the houses of James and of Thomas are also pointed out as having been in the immediate neighbourhood. The women therefore, in proceeding thither, would not meet Joanna and her companions advancing by a different road.