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THE TRANSACTIONS OF FORTY DAYS, FROM
THE DAY OF THE RESURRECTION TO THE ASCENSION.
142. The first visit of the women to the se
A. D. 33.
AND very early in the
The morning morning the first day of of the Lord's the week, they came unto day, after the the sepulchre* at the rising of the sun. And, behold, there was a great
Very early in the morning, must note the time at which they set out: the rising of the sun, the time when they arrived at the sepulchre. Christ rose in the interval between their setting out and their arrival.
* 1. The Area, or Portico, 6 cubits, or 9 feet in the square part.
2. Door-way into the cave or tomb, 3 feet high from the floor by 2 wide.
3. North side of the tomb, where the body of Christ is supposed to have lien, over which space is a table, by way of altar, that goes the whole length of the tomb, and occupies rather more than half its breadth. The tomb is about 8 feet long, and 7 wide.
4. The other part of the tomb where 3 or 4 may stand or kneel.
5. The rock cased with marble within and without; and adorned with ten pillars without.
earthquake for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled
THE FORM of the sepulchre merits our consideration; without a general idea of which, the things that are related of the women at it, and the appearances of the angels to them, cannot be distinctly understood.
The Rabbins prescribe that a Hebrew sepulchre should have a court before it, through which you are to pass to the door that leads into the cave, or proper place of sepulture. They direct the court to be made six cubits, or nine feet square.
There is an area or portico of the prescribed dimensions before that which is now called the holy sepulchre; and which seems not ill entitled to the name which it has so long borne. For though in the reign of the Emperor Adrian the sepulchre of Christ was buried under a vast mount of earth, and on this mount was set up an object of Pagan worship in despite to the Christians; yet the place was pointed out to them by these very ensigns of idolatry standing over it: and when this mountain of earth, with all that had been erected over it, was, about two centuries after, cleared away by order of Constantine the Great, then, as Eusebius expresses it," the cave, the holy of holies, obtained a simili"tude of our Saviour's resurrection," which words allude not only to the burial and resurrection of the blessed body that had lain in this sepulchre, but also to the form of the Jewish sanctuary. For the title of holy of holies given to the cave imports, that it had a holy place before it, and was divided in two like the sanctuary. It is therefore an indirect testimony of Eusebius, a native of Palestine, where he lived many years, concerning the platform of our Lord's sepulchre.
A magnificent temple was then built over it; and much of the rock without was cut away, to make room for decorations - around; as is related by Cyril of Jerusalem, who had been deacon under Macarius; in the time of whose episcopate the decorations were made. The inside of the cave is cased with marble; and a marble table is placed over the part where the body of Christ is supposed to have lien. The table, raised above three feet from the ground, extends the whole length of the cave, and takes up full half of its breadth. It is now used as an altar; and its width would make it necessaryto protect one end of it by contracting the
back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his
side of the door-way upon which it abutted. This entrance seems to have been originally a square aperture of three feet, and in the middle of the division between the cave and portico. It is now but two feet wide, and nearer to one side than the other. Possibly this also was done while Macarius was bishop.
Since that time the city of Jerusalem, and the temple of the holy sepulchre have undergone various fates. "Yet, not"withstanding these changes and revolutions, it is highly pro"bable that a faithful tradition has always been preserved "of the several places that were consecrated, as it were by "some remarkable transaction relating to our Saviour and "his apostles."
And if the sepulchre of Christ was found in the days of Constantine, no local memorial of him seems to have had a fairer chance of not being lost ever since. The temple built over it may have been laid in ruins; but the sepulchre had still its signatures, by which it might be discovered within the compass of those ruins.
We have read what Eusebius intimates concerning our Lord's sepulchre: let us now examine the form of it by the Evangelists. St. Matthew tells us that the angel "rolled "back the stone from the door and sat upon it." St. Mark, that the women saw this angel, or "young man clothed in a "long white garment," sitting on the right side. But they did not perceive him till they were entered into the sepulchre. He had therefore not rolled the stone out of it, but to one side of it yet he had rolled it from the door. The door therefore was in a partition that divided the sepulchre in two; and the whole of the inward division was not visible to those who stood in the outer. The angel said to the women, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." They were therefore standing where they did not command a sight of that place: yet they were within the sepulchre; for as soon as he had finished his speech to them, "they went out "quickly and fled from the sepulchre." So St. Mark says; and so also St. Matthew rightly understood. For his words, "they departed quickly from the sepulchre," mean evidently They departed quickly out of the sepulchre; as the same mode of expression is translated in other passages.
Thus the real, as the reputed, sepulchre consisted of a place of sepulture, and an inclosed court or area; as did often the sepulchres of the Greeks.
raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead
And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they
The military guard.
The sepulchre is called in the original Mnema, or Mnemeion by all the Evangelists. But St. Matthew has besides another word on this occasion, in the Greek Taphos. And his use of this word carries such marks of discrimination ; and he is so little apt to deal in a variety of terms, when one will precisely answer his intent; that it may justly be concluded he here employs two, because one of them does sometimes express his meaning more exactly than the other, and that they are distinct in his acceptation of them, as much as with us a church and its chancel. What was in the Taphos was within the Mnemeion: but what was in the Mneineion was not therefore within the Taphos. The Jewish rulers, who would take what they judged the most certain measures to retain the body of Christ in their possession, requested a guard for the Taphos. The Taphos they secured by sealing the stone. The two Maries sat over against the Taphos on Friday evening. The women went to visit the Taphos, as the great object of their care early on Sunday morning. In this therefore the body had been laid. But because they had not been in it when they saw the angel, and as soon as he had done speaking to them fled away, they are said to have "departed quickly out of the Mnemeion." Now if the two words are of different application in St. Matthew, it is plain there was a difference in the places to which they are applied. And this may be added to the proofs, that the sepulchre was divided into two parts, of which the outer and the inner were not made for the same purpose.
were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. Then [Mary Magdalene]
cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
143. Peter and John visit the sepulchre.
PETER therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did out-run Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie. And the napkin, that was about his head,
Peter is mentioned by name, perhaps to soothe his af fliction for the unhappy denial of his master.
With joy at the unexpected good news, and with fear lest the glad tidings they had just heard should not prove
St. John the Evangelist.
Bandages or rollers, in which the body was wound when it was laid in the sepulchre, a different thing from the fine