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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 greata 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
surely bring thee up again." Gen. 46 : 3, 4. Fear not, believer, to go down to the grave, for God will be with thee there, and will surely bring thee up thence. This consideration, that Jesus Christ hath lain in the grave himself, gives manifold encouragements to the people of God against the terrors of the grave.
The grave received, but could not destroy Jesus Christ: and as it was with Christ's personal body, so shall it be with Christ's mystical body: it could not retain him; it shall not for ever retain them. This resurrection of Christ out of his grave, is the very ground of our hope for a resurrection out of our graves.
e Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” 1 Cor. 15:20.
As the union between the body of Christ and the Divine nature was not dissolved when that body was laid in the grave, so the union between Christ and believers is not, cannot be dissolved, when their bodies are laid in their graves. It is true, the natural union between his soul and body was dissolved for a time; but the essential union was not dissolved, no, not for a moment: that dy was the body of the Son of God, when it was in the sepulchre. In like manner the natural union between our souls and bodies is dissolved by death ; but the mystical union between us and Christ can never be dissolved.
As Christ's body, when it was in the grave, did there rest in hope ; so shall the bodies of the saints when they lay them down in the dust : "My flesh also shall rest in hope,” saith Christ. Ps. 16:9. In like manner the saints commit their bodies to the dust in " The righteous hath hope in his death.” Prov. 14:32. And as Christ's hope was not a vain hope, so neither shall their hope be vain.
Christ's lying in the grave before us, hath quite chang. ed the nature of the grave; so that it is not what it onee
was. "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," was a part of the threatening and curse for sin. The grave was as a prison, to keep the bodies of sinners against the great assizes, and then deliver them up into the hands of a great and terrible God; but now it is no prison, but a bed of rest, where Christ lay before us; which is a sweet consideration of the grave indeed : "They shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds.” Isa. 57: 2. Oh then let not believers stand in fear of the grave. He that hath one foot in heaven need not fear to put the other into the grave. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Ps. 23: 4.
Indeed, the grave is a terrible place to them that are out of Christ : death is the Lord's officer to arrest them; the grave is the Lord's prison to secure them. When death draws them into the grave, it draws them thither as a lion doth his prey into the den to devour it. "Death shall feed” or prey
upon them.” Ps. 49 : 14. Death there reigns over them in its full power. Rom. 5: 14. And though at last it shall render them back again to God, yet it were better for them to lie everlastingly where they were, than to rise to such an end; for they are brought out of their graves as a condemned prisoner out of the prison, to go to execution. But with the saints it is not so; the grave (thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ !) is a privileged place to them, whilst they sleep there; and when they awake, it will be with singing. When they awake, they shall be satisfied with his likeness.
5. Since Christ was laid in the grave, and his people reap such privileges by it; as ever you expect rest or comfort in your grave, see that you now become united with Christ. It was an ancient custom of the Jews, to put rich treasures into the grave with their friends, as well as to bestow much upon their sepulchres. It is
possible that you have no great sum to bestow upon your funerals, nor are they likely to be splendid ; no stately monuments; no hidden treasure ; but if Christ be yours, you carry with you to your grave what is better than all the gold and silver in the world. What would
you be the better if your coffin were made of beaten gold, or your grave-stone set thick with glittering diamonds ? But if you die in the Lord, that is, interested in and united to him, you shall carry sir grounds of comfort with you to your grave, the least of which is not to be purchased with the wealth of both the Indies.
The first is, that the covenant of God holds firmly with the very dust of the believer all the days of its appointed time in the grave. So much Christ tells us, Matt. 22:31, 32 ; "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living :" Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are naturally dead; but inasmuch as God, long after their deaths, proclaimed himself their God, they live, that is, their covenant relation lives still. Whether we live, or whether we die, (saith the apostle,) we the Lord's.” Rom. 14:7–9. Now, what an encouragement is here! I am as much the Lord's in the state of the dead, as I was in the state of the living: death puts an end to all other relations and bonds, but the bond of the covenant decays not in the grave: our dust is still the Lord's.
As God's covenant, so his love to our very dust abides. The apostle is express, Rom. 8:38, 39, that death separates not the believer from the love of God. As at first it was not our natural comeliness or beauty that engaged his love to us; so neither will he cease to love us when that beauty is gone, and we become objects of loathing to all flesh. When a husband cannot endure to Bee his wife, or a wife her husband; but saith of them