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pomp of worldly arrogance so harassing at once to “mind and body, and out of thine abundance to admi“ nister to my necessities whilst yet destitute in my “members; and for my sake to suffer scoffs and re“ proaches which can do thee no great harm ? Are you “ not willing to render a slight return to me, who, al“ though possessed of the highest dignity, have done
so much for thee? Knowing that shortly my speech “ must be broken off by death, I exhort and beseech " thee, by the bowels of my love, by the wounds of my
body, by this cross on which I hang, by thy own life " and salvation_Withdraw thyself from the assembly “ of the wicked ; and keep at as great a distance from
them as possible, in sentiment, in disposition, and in " the whole course of thy life. Go forth without the
camp, bearing my reproach; for here you have no “continuing city, but you expect one to come.
Take upon you with alacrity the delightful yoke of my precepts, and bear it with constancy. Resign not thy body to lewdness, but adorn thy mind with those “ beauties of holiness which I have procured by my “ nakedness. Cheerfully celebrate and industriously " imitate my virtues, which ungodly men have traduced " in vain. Return love to me, who have loved thee “ with so great a love. Devote thyself wholly to me, “ who have devoted myself entirely for thee. In short, “—for I must die,-LIVE TO HIM WHO DIES FOR " THEE.”
Lxxv. In fine, resort to the death of Christ for an EXAMPLE OF A PIOUS AND BLESSED DEATH. lst, Perform with activity whatever you ought to do in this life, that having finished your work, you may securely compose yourself to rest; and presume not to take possession of the prize, before you have successfully accomplished the fight.* 2dly, Disengage yourself from every secular care, that when the decisive hour approaches, you may promptly and willingly depart to God.y 3dly, In your departing moments give yourself to prayer; and if your tongue become unable to speak, at least pour forth groans which cannot be uttered, for yourself, for your friends, for your enemies. 4thly, Die in the faith of obtaining a better state in heaven immediately after death, and a blessed resurrection at the last day.*
ON THE BURIAL OF CHRIST.
1. The death of Christ was succeeded by his burial. " When they had fulfilled all that was written of him, " they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a “ sepulchre.” Of this the Evangelists have given a circumstantial account; and Christian piety requires us to improve it for our own benefit, by holy meditation.
11. The chief care of the interment of Christ devolved upon Joseph of Arimathea, to whom Nicodemus afterwards joined himself. Both of them were honourable men, opulent members of the Jewish council, and held in high estimation amongst their connexions. God has chosen his people from every order of mankind;—not many wise men, or mighty, or noble, yet some of those classes. That Divine providence displayed admirable wisdom in this dispensation, it would be criminal to doubt. The Apostles could not so properly have requested permission to undertake the office of interring their Master, lest the Pharisees and priests, who fabri
• Acts xii. 29.
1 Cor. i. 26.
cated the story that Christ's body was stolen from the sepulchre, should have alleged that he was not buried. How much soever, too, the Apostles had wished it, they could not have succeeded in procuring such permission either from Pilate, or from the council of the Jews. It was necessary that men of rank should interpose their influence, that our Lord might obtain an honourable burial.
111. These individuals, having honoured and loved their Master during his life, now discover the same, or even a stronger regard for him, after he had suffered death, nay, the death of the cross. Thus they exhibit an example of sincere and stedfast faith and love, which were so far from declining in any degree in consequence of the ignominious punishment of our Lord, that, on the contrary, they were exercised more nobly than before. While Jesus was living, Joseph was his disciple “ se
cretly for fear of the Jews :" Nicodemus, for the same reason, came by night.”. Joseph now becomes bold, and professes before Pilate the high esteem which he entertained for Christ :d Nicodemus, dismissing his fears, comes forth openly, and honours the deceased with a magnificent gift of spices. Here was an instance of what we read in the Song of Solomon :e “ Love is
strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the
coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehe“ment flame.. Many waters cannot quench love, nei“ ther can the floods drown it.”
iv. Besides, the more rich and honourable they were, their faith and zeal are the more conspicuous; for by this magnanimous conduct they put all their
d Mark xvi. 43.
- John xix. 38, 39. • Chu viii. 6, 7.
worldly greatness to immediate hazard. So bitter was the hatred of their colleagues against the Saviour, and so violent the rage of the infatuated people, that there appeared every reason to apprehend at once the confiscation of their goods, the loss of their liberty, and the indignation of their fellow-citizens. And who does not know how mightily the minds of the rich are, in general, attached to their wealth and honours ? Our Lord himself accordingly, observes, that nothing is more difficult than for a rich man to be saved, and to enter into the kingdom of heaven. But these great men, now truly great, esteem the most valuable earthly possessions but loss and dung in comparison of Christ. At least, they cheerfully sacrifice them to Him; resolving to be “ rich towards God," and “ rich in good works.”:
v. It is also worthy of notice, that while some of the rulers were friendly to his cause, our Lord would not avail himself of their services or intercession for the purpose of escaping death; but, with great propriety, made use of their influence to procure for him an honourable burial. It behoved Christ by all means to die, that he might abolish death : it behoved him not to remain long unburied, lest the curse should seem to continue after death.19
VI. Nor must it be omitted, that the very name JoSEPH reminds us of a type. Joseph was the name of him who supported the patriarch Jacob his father, when living, and magnificently buried him when dead. A Joseph also had the charge of watching over Jesus in infancy, and of training him up in the
Mat. xix. 23, 24.
8 1 Tim. vi. 18. h Gen. 1.
19 Sec Note XIX.