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sackcloth of hair." This figurative description was realised at the crucifixion of Jesus. The sun at mid-day was eclipsed, darkness covered the land, from the sixth to the ninth hour, which, by our mode of computing time, was from twelve to three o'clock in the afternoon. The Jews begin their day at six o'clock in the morning. Perhaps it may be thought superstitious weakness, to imagine an eclipse portended some great event? We reply, this was not the result of natural causes. It took place on the day the Jews killed the Passover, which festival they were commanded, and always did observe at the full of the moon ;* therefore, it is evident, the moon's shadow could not then fall on the sun, for then they were in opposition, or one hundred and eighty degrees apart; besides, a total eclipse of the sun never lasts ten minutes, yet, this was a total eclipse from the sixth to the ninth hour, so that darkness covered, at least the whole land of Judea, for three hours, which is contrary to the laws given by heaven's great architect, to these his works. This extraordinary eclipse is noticed in profane history; Dionysius, at Heliopolis, in Egypt, said of this darkness, "Aut Deus naturæ
* Exodus xii. 2. 6. 18.
patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvitur."-Either the God of nature is suffering, or the machine of the world tumbling into ruin. It was a supernatural event, and designed to show, that when Jesus stood forth as the surety of his people, he felt all the dread punishment due to them. Man, by his rebellion, has not only forfeited all spiritual blessings; but to temporal mercies also he has no claim. When Jesus, as our Head and Representative, bore the curse due to our sins, he was deprived of the cheering rays of heaven's great luminary, which was but a faint resemblance of the withdrawing of the light of God's countenance.* Behold the awful effects of sin, although it was only sin imputed to the Son of God. Yet, the lamp of day withdraws his shining, as if sickening at the sight. Unable to behold the astonishing event, he hides his head, and shrinks back, as if unwilling to shed his beams over a scene so tremendously awful. The event might also be designed to show the darkness of the Mosaic dispensation, which was then for ever to be done away. It was but a shadow of good things to come; but light and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Jesus, the Son of
• Mark xv. 34.
Righteousness is arisen, with healing in his wings; and darkness, and its attendant superstition, shall flee away as the shadows upon the mountain's brow, on the appearance of the majesty of day in the rosy east. As the sun in the natural world is the source of light and heat, such is Jesus to the spiritual world; he is the Light of Life, and there is not a ray of hope or light to cheer the rugged path of sorrow, but what must emanate from this Fountain of Light; even amidst seasons of health and prosperity, all is darkness and gloom within, unless the soul is enlightened by his all-gladdening beams.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he hath done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.-Isaiah liii. 9.
It is usual, amongst many nations, for the bodies of those who fall by the hand of the public executioner, not only to be denied the rites of burial, but to be exposed to marked contempt. Though Jesus made his grave with the wicked, yet it was also with the rich in his death., Crucified at Golgotha amidst
two thieves, he shall receive an honourable burial. All the Evangelists have recorded the circumstances of his interment, and nobly distinguished the name of Joseph of Arimathea, for the marked respect with which he treated the body of the despised Nazarene. Timidity kept him from before publicly acknowledging his attachment to Jesus; yet it is remarked, though a member of the Sanhedrim he consented* not to the deed and counsel of those who condemned the Lord of life and glory. Fully aware of the contempt and scorn affixed to the followers of the crucified Jesus, his noble, disinterested spirit now led him resolutely to face it all; to rescue, if possible, the body from further abuse and dishonour. He went boldly unto Pilate, and begged the body. His request is granted, Pilate having ascertained from the centurion, that Jesus had been some time dead. Joseph is now joined by Nicodemus, (who at first came to Jesus by night,) and these two, high in rank and office, the one an honourable counsellor, the other a ruler of the Jews, are busily engaged in paying the last sad tribute of respect to the remains of their dear departed Lord. One having provided an hundred pounds weight of
* Luke xxiii. 50, 51.
spices to embalm the body after the custom of the Jews, and the other supplying the fine linen, they proceed to deposite the body in the sacred chamber of the tomb. The receptacle of this mighty dead was not the royal mausoleum of Judah's kings, but a new sepulchre, hewn out of a rock, in Joseph of Arimathea's garden. There laid they Jesus, where never man before was laid. No funeral pomp or pageantry of state, that solemn mockery of wo, adorned his funeral procession. Though its attendants were few, yet the tears of affection and love bedewed his mangled body, and the voice of lamentation and sorrow reverberate through this solemn vault of death. How was the mighty fallen! That arm, then motionless in death, ne'er did a deed of violence; that tongue, whose universal law was kindness, was then silent as the grave; and that mouth, in which deceit ne'er found a place, was closed by the iron hand of death. Behold here" an Israelite indeed, in whose spirit was no guile." Surely the grave never before contained such a prisoner. Its triumphs were complete, when Jesus was brought into the dust of death.