Page images

John xx. 11.



Mary Magdalene looks into the Tomb, and sees two Angels.
JOHN XX. part of ver. 11. ver. 12, 13. and part of ver. 14.

And as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the Jerusalem. sepulchre,

And seeth two angels" in white, sitting, the one at the

17 As the Cherubim were represented bending over the ark, as if desiring to look into the deep mysteries of God, so were the heavenly messengers engaged, when they were seen by the first human being, who was more deeply interested than they could have been, in the death and resurrection of Christ. The doctrine of the ministry of angels, so much esteemed by the primitive Church, as well as by the most eminent and pious Christians of all ages, has now become one of those which, without any one well founded argument, is to be reasoned away. The repeated appearances of angels, both in the old and new dispensations, seem designed to point out to us the near, though mysterious, connection of the invisible state with that which we now inhabit. And what can be more consolatory to the believer than the idea which this, and other passages of Scripture, appear so much to corroborate, than the belief that the angels of heaven are around us, the ministering spirits of God, for our good watching over us, and fulfilling the wisdom of his providence. Why should this opinion be disclaimed? Angels were present at the creation; they have been repeatedly manifested to man. To Isaiah the Seraphim appeared veiling their faces with widespreading wings. The form that was visible to Ezekiel had the semblance of a lambent flame, enveloping what seemed its body. To the women they appeared in shining garments, and to the keepers at the sepulchre as lightning, with raiment white as snow. They are the happy possessors of that blessedness to which the spirits of the departed hope to be admitted. And they shall be again visible in their thousands of thousands, at that magnificent and glorious triumph, when the Ancient of Days shall sit on the throne of his glory, and the assembled universe be summoned before his high tribunal. Is it impossible, then, that they are the invisible, yet efficient agents, in many of those innumerable events which are attended with moral and religious benefit to individuals, and to the world; which are but too generally ascribed to incidental circumstances, or to the well laid plans of human policy.

The soul of man is gifted with powers and properties which are distinct from the human body, and which it possesses in common with superior beings. I cannot believe, therefore, that idea to be irrational, which represents the manner of our present union with the invisible world by the following ingenious and curious image. Suppose a number of lighted lamps were placed in a room, one of which only was covered with an earthen vessel, the lamp so encumbered, as soon as the covering was either broken or removed, would find itself in the same state and condition with the other lamps. So it may be with the accountable spirit of man. The earthen vessel of the body may be broken by violence, or silently destroyed by sickness or age, but, as soon as the veil or the covering of the body be removed, the unfettered spirit finds itself the companion of kindred spirits, which, though now unseen, are continually surrounding it. The time is not far hence, when we shall know, even as we are known; in the mean time, the very attempt to speculate upon these things, elevates and purifies the mind‍(a).

John xx. 12. head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus Jerusalem. had lain.



Mark xvi. 9.

And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?
She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my
Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back,
and saw Jesus standing.


Christ first appears to Mary Magdalene, and commands
her to inform the Disciples that he had risen.

MARK XVI. 9. JOHN XX. part of ver. 14. and ver. 15-17.

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

(a) On the subject of angels, see Wheatley's Sermons, Hammond on the Angelic Life, a very curious and valuable work, a sermon of Bishop Bull's, &c. &c.

18 As woman brought death into the world, a woman was made the first witness of the resurrection of life. Of the manner of Christ's existence after he arose from the dead, we can form no possible, or adequate conception. The doctrine of the resurrection of the same body was, and is, one of the most incomprehensible difficulties of Christianity; and our Lord therefore has condescended to teach it, not like the generality of his other doctrines, by arguments and reasoning, but by repeated facts: and those of the most undeniable nature. And he taught it, lastly, by his appearing to his disciples after his resurrection.

Before that time our Lord had lived among his disciples as a man among his companions. He was in all points like unto them, sin only excepted. After that event his body, though to appearance the same as it had ever been, assumed various properties and powers which it had not before possessed. We read, that when the disciples had assembled in a room, the doors of which were shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus suddenly stood in the midst. On the evening of the day of his resurrection, he joins himself to two of his disciples as they were going to Emmaus. He enters into conversation with them. He talks of the Scriptures and of himself, till their hearts burn within them. But their eyes were holden, and they did not know him. When they came to their own home, he sat down with them, and then it was, in breaking the bread, that he made himself known; but at the very instant, when they were filled with joy, he became invisible: he vanished out of their sight. Before his resurrection our Lord had conversed familiarly with his disciples: after that event he was seen only occasionally among them, in a more solemn and mysterious manner. His great object on these occasions seems to have been, to increase their faith, and to convince them that the same body they had beheld committed to the ground, was now raised to life again, in a glorified form. He proves to them that a door, or a wall, or the sides of a grave, could not oppose his progress. He passes through solid matter as through the yielding air, yet he had still a body which they could touch and

John xx. 14. and [she] knew not that it was Jesus.


Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?
whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gar-
dener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence,
tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself"; and
saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

handle, bearing the marks of the spear and the prints of the
nails. The day of his ascension arrives, Christ ascends by
bis own power. No horses of fire, no chariots of fire, elevated
him. Of himself, he raised himself, a divine and glorious
being, into the blue firmament of heaven; and he ascended
where he still remains, with his Father and our Father, with his
God, and our God.

This doctrine of the resurrection of the body, which our
Lord and Saviour thus taught by action, is explained in the
Epistles of St. Paul, by the most powerful and eloquent rea-
soning. Some man will say, how are the dead raised up, and
with what body do they come? That which thou sowest is not
quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou
sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain. That is,
as the labourer may commit to the ground, in the winter or in
the spring, the seed of a flower, or a grain of wheat, which in
the course of its appointed time rises from the ground in a
different and superior form, with the beautiful blossom, and
the fragrant flower; so also the mouldering body, which is com-
mitted to the ground, may be called the seed of that body
which shall be raised from the grave in glory. We are removed
from the sight of our nearest kindred and our dearest friends.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But the pale and
corrupting corse, the cold clay, the fading features, and the
icy limbs, shall burst from the tomb of earth, and be clothed
with the beauty of holiness! It is sown a mortal body, it is
raised a spiritual body; it is sown in corruption, it is raised in
incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown as the
bare grain, and the worthless seed, but after the winter of the
grave is over, when the dead, small and great, shall stand be-
fore God, the bodies of men shall be raised in that form, and
invested with the same nature, properties, and powers, as the
resurrection body of their Divine Master. Our vile bodies
shall be made like unto his glorious body. More than this the
Scripture does not reveal. Why it was that neither Mary Mag-
dalene, nor the other disciples going to Emmaus, nor his own
Apostles at the sea of Tiberias, were not at first able to re-
cognize our Lord, though they afterwards knew him, is among
those mysteries which we shall understand hereafter, when we
ourselves shall arise from the grave, and renew our former
friendships in our glorified bodies.

19 Mary Magdalene is here said to have turned herself back; and afterwards, in ver. 16. again to have turned herself. Schacht, in his Harmony of the Resurrection, proposes, as a solution of the difficulty, the supposition, that in the first instance she only turned her head, and in the second her whole body. Or, he adds, after her address to Jesus as the gardener, she may again naturally enough have directed her attention to the sepulchre. This is from Koecher. I prefer the former so lution. Dr. F. Lawrence's Remarks on Scripture, p. 73.


John xx.17.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not 20; for I am not yet Jerusalem. ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say

20 Μη μου άπτου. Mr. Chandler would translate this, "Embrace me not, hold me not." And he produces many examples from Homer, Xenophon, and Euripides, Hec. ver. 339. avai μητρος, embrace thy mother. ̓Αναβέβηκα he would translate as a present tense, as it must mean, he says, John iii. 13. when Christ had certainly not ascended. He quotes Homer also in the first Iliad, ver. 37. for the similar use of another compound from the same primitive verb, ὃς Χρύσην ἀμφιβέβηκας: he would then join this, not with the preceding, but with the following sentence; and the whole sense will be, "Hold me not; for I am not yet going to ascend to my Father: but go unto my brethren, and say unto them, I do ascend (for I shall shortly ascend) unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God."

He brings many instances of the present tense (as dvabáivo
here) being used to signify what is shortly to be done.

Vogelius has here a very ingenious conjecture of μη ου πτοου,
be not afraid, for μn μov aжтоv, touch me not. This approaches
so near to the traces of the letters, and, besides, so resembles
the first address of Christ to the women in Matthew, and of
the angel to the women in Matthew and Mark,
be not affrighted;" that, if it were supported by any manu-
"Fear ye not,
script authority, I should willingly adopt it. But the sacred
text should not be altered on conjecture only.

Bowyer, in his Conjectures, proposes un pou dπтov. No;
(I am not the gardener, as you suppose ;) touch me.
this he quotes Paulus Bauldrius, in Neoceri Bibliotheca. But
And for
it seems to me too researched a reading, and inconsistent with
Mary's previous recognition of Christ, in the appellation of

Koecher observes, that Michaelis proposes to make it an in-
terrogation, "Do you not touch me?" as inviting that test of
his real appearance. Kypke, in his Observ. (he says) explains
the passage as a prohibition of adoration until after his ascen-


On the whole, I continue to adhere to Chandler's explana-
tion, to which I would add, that dμpibébŋrac is explained by
the Pseudo Didymus, as περιβέβηκας ὑπερμαχεις, clearly giving
it a present signification, and shewing that the other com-
pounds of the same verb are used in the same manner.
too the preterpluperfect tense of the simple verb is used by
Homer to denote merely past time, as equivalent to the aorist
of other verbs, & ovλvμπővde bebýkei, Il. á. 221. which the same
scholiast interprets by areλnλvel, ¿πoρεún. Aristophanes has
βεβήκως περισκυμνοις, which the scholiast explains by ὕπερμάχων

St. John has a similar form of another compound of Baivo,
used for the present tense, chap. v. ver. 24. dλλà μeтabébŋкev
ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου εἰς τὴν ζωήν. Some of the Latin MSS. in this
place translate μɛrabébŋkev by transit; and some Greek MSS.
of inferior note and modern date, feeling a supposed incon-
gruity, read μerabηoeraι, as thinking the future more consist-
ent with the rest of the context.

Homer has Bébŋkɛ, or Bibŋkel, in the sense of a simple, present, or past, and that in a connection, which so marks it, six or seven times, and never otherwise.-Dr. Lawrence's Remarks on Scripture, p. 73-75.

Job.xx.14. unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and Jerusalem. to my God and your God.

John xx. 18.







Mary Magdalene, when going to inform the Disciples that
Christ had risen, meets again with Salome, and the other
Mary-Christ appears to the three Women.

MATT. xxviii. 9, 10. JOHN XX. 18.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples" that she
had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things
unto her.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus
met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held
him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid go tell my
brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see



The Soldiers who had fled from the Sepulchre, report to
the High Priests the Resurrection of Christ.

MATT. XXViii. 11-15.

Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

And when they were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept ".

21 That Mary Magdalene rejoined her two friends when Christ appeared to them, seems to be most probable, from comparing, Matt. xxviii. 9. with John xx. 18. Dr. Townson translates St. Matthew's words, they were going to tell [to report] to the disciples; and St. John, Mary Magdalene cometh to tell [to report] to the disciples. He speaks of her, not as arrived among them, but on her way to them.

It may be made probable too by the behaviour of the women. Mary would have told them, if she thus rejoined them, that Christ had actually appeared to her; and they would have been thereby prepared to meet him, with that composure which they seem to have done. Immediately on seeing him, they embraced his feet, and worshipped him. When the others saw him, they did not know him, and were terrified. This conduct appears to be the result of some preparatory disclosure.

22 The absurdity and folly of this story are admirably displayed in Mr. West's treatise. No complaint was made against the soldiers-no punishment inflicted on the disciples-no alarm had been given when the poor dispirited disciples came to roll away the stone, and break the seal, and profane the sepulchre.-all the sixty soldiers, and their commander, were with one accord asleep, although at the same time the penalty of sleep was death; and the noise of rolling away the stone could not awake even one of the party. And this overpowering

« PreviousContinue »