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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 in
terred 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 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 ascer. tain 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 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 interment.
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 indigna. tion, 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 nowas 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