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CHAPTER XL.

Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, go out to view

the Sepulchre, and bring Spices to embalm the body of Jesus: A great earthquake accompanies the resurrection : An angel descends, and Jesus rises from the Dead: The behaviour of the Jewish rulers there

upon. AFTER the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came very early in the morning to visit the sepulchre, in order to embalm our Lord's body : for the performance of which they had, in concert with several other women from Galilee, brought unguents and spices. But before they reached the sepuls chre, there was a great earthquake preceding the most memorable event that ever happened amongst the chil. dren of men, the resurrection of the Son of God from the dead: For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, aud came and rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre and sat upon it : his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow : and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men; they fled into the city and the Saviour af the world rose from the dead. The angel, who had till then sat upon the stone quitted his station, entered into the sepulchre, and probably placed the linen clothes and napkin in the order they were afterwards found and observed by John and Peter.

In the mean time, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were still on their way to the sepulchre, together with Salome, who joined them on the road; as they proceeded on their way, they consulted amongst themselves with regard to the method of putting their intention of embalming the body of their beloved master in execution ; particularly with respect to the enormous stone which they had seen placed there with the

atmost difficulty two days before: Who, said they, shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre ? for it was very great. But in the midst of their delib. eration about removing this great and sole obstacle to their design (for it does not appear they knew any thing of the guard) they lift up their eyes, and perceived it was already rolled away : alarmed at so extraordinary and so unexpected a circumstance, Mary Magdalene concluded, that the stone could not be rolled away without some design ; and that they who rolled it away could have no other design than that of removing our Lord's body: and being convinced by appearance3 that they had really done so, she ran immediately to acquaint Peter and John of what she had seen, and what she suspected ; leaving Mary and Salome there, that if the other women should arrive during her absence, they might acquaint them with their surprise at finding the stone removed, and of Mary Magdalene's running to inform the apostles of the extraordinary event.

The soldiers who were terrified at seeing an awful messenger from on high, roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and open it in quality of a ser. vant, fled into the city, and informed the Jewish rulers of these miraculous appearances. This account was highly mortifying to the chief priests, as it was a proof of our Saviour's resurrection that could not be denied; they therefore resolved to stifle it immediately; and accordingly, bribed the soldiers to conceal the real fact, and to publish every where, that his disciples had stolen the body out of the sepulchre. What! the body taken away while the sepulchre was guarded by Roman soldiers? Yes! the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. A story so inconsistent, and which so evidently carries the marks of its own confutation with it, deserves no answer. The priests themselves could not be so stupid as not to foresee what construction the world would put upon the relation of persons, who pretend to know and tell what was done while they were sleep, and in a state of insensibility:

CHAPTER XLI.

The Speech of the Angel to the Women, informing them.

that Jesus was risen: Peter and John go into the Sepulchre: CHRIST appears to Mary Magdalene : The company of Women set out a second. Time in Quest of Peter and John: Jesus meets them: Mary Magdalene and the company of Women return from their several Interviews with Jesus: Peter runs to the Sepulchre a second Time, and as he re

turns sees his great Lord and Master. AFTER Mary Magdalene was gone to inform the disciples that the stone was rolled away from the mouth of the sepulchre, and the supposed body taken away, Mary and Salome drew near towards the sepulchre, and at their arrival found what they expected, the body of their beloved Master gone from the place where it had been deposited by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea; but at the same time beheld, to their great astonishment, a beautiful young man, in shining raiment, very glorious to behold, sitting at the right side of the 'sepulchre. Matthew tells us, that it was the angel who had rolled away the stone, and frightened away the guards from the sepulchre. It seems he had now laid aside his terrors in which he was then arrayed, and as. sumed the form and dress of a human being, in order that these pious women, who had accompanied him dur: ing the greatest part of the time of his public ministry, might not be terrified: but, notwithstanding his beauty and benign appearance, they were greatly affrighted, and on the point of turning back when the heavenly mes: senger, to banish their fears, told them, in a gentle aceent, that he knew their errand: Fear not, said he; for I know that ye seck Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here ; for he is risen, as he said: and then invited them to come down into the sepulchre, and view the place where the Son of God had lain; that is, to look on the linen clothes, and the napkin that was about his

head, and which he had left behind him when he rose from the dead : for to look at the place in any other view would not have tended to confirm their faith of his being risen.

Greatly encouraged by the agreeable news, as well as by the sweet accent with which this messenger from the heavenly Canaan delivered his speech, the women went down into the sepulchre, when behold another of the angelic choir appeared. Probably the one sat at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of JESUS had lain; the position in which they appeared to Mary Magdalene afterwards.

However, they did not seem to give credit to what was told them by the angels; and therefore the other gently chid them for seeking the living amongst the dead, with an intention to do him an office due only to the latter, and for not believing what was told them by a messenger from heaven, or rather for not remember. ing the words which their great Master had himself told them with regard to his own resurrection: Why seek ye the living amongst the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

After this, when the women had satisfied their curiosity by looking at the place where our Lord had lain, and where nothing was to be found but the linen clothes, the angel who first appeared to them resumed the discourse, and bade them to go and tell his disciples, particularly Peter, the glad tidings'of his resurrection from the dead; that he was going before them to Galilee ;. and that they should there have the pleasure of sceing

him in person.

The disciples, it may reasonably be supposed, were ordered to go into Galilee to meet their great and be

loved Master, because they were now most of them in Jerusalem, celebrating the passover; and it may easily be imagined that, on the receiving the news of the Lord's resurrection, many, if not all of them, would resolve to tarry in Jerusalem, in expectation of meeting him: a thing which must have proved of great detriment to them at that time of the year, when the harvest was about to begin, the sheaf of first fruits being always offered on the second day of the passover-week. In order therefore to prevent their staying so long from home, the message was sent directing them to return to Galilee, with full assurance, that they should there have the pleasure of seeing their great Lord and Mas. ter; and by that means be happily relieved from the suspicion of his being an impostor, which doubtless had arisen in their minds, when they saw him expire on the cross. Hereupon the women, highly elated with the news of their Lord's resurrection, left the sepulchre immediately, and ran to carry the disciples these glad-tidings.

In the mean time, Peter and John, having been informed by Mary Magdalene, that the stone was rolled away, and the body of Jesus not to be found, were hastening to the grave, and missed the women who had seen this vision of angels. These disciples being astonished at what Mary Magdalene had told them, and desirous of having their doubts cleared up, made all the haste possible to the sepulchre ; and John being younger than Peter, arrived at the sepulchre first, but did not go in, contenting himself with stooping down and see. ing the linen clothes lying which had been wrapped about our Saviour's body. Peter soon arrived, and went into the sepulchre, where he saw the linen clothes lie; and the napkin that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself:

It is the opinion of some, that our dear Redeemer folded up the napkin, to shew the perfect calmness and composure with which he arose, as out of a common

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