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continued their insults upon him, even while hanging in agony upon the cross, as we find related in the five following verses: We are then told, that "from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour." The sixth hour of the Jews corresponds to our twelve o'clock, and their ninth hour of course to our three. There was therefore a darkness over all the earth, from twelve at noon till three in the afternoon. This darkness must have been supernatural and miraculous. It could not be an eclipse of the sun, because that cannot happen but in the new moou; whereas this was at the feast of the Passover, which was always celebrated at the full moon. It is taken notice of by several ancient writers, both Heathen and Christian; and Tertullian expressly declares, that it was mentioned in the Roman archives*. From whence it appears, that it was not confined to the land of Judæa, but extended itself, as it is expressed by St. Luke, over all the earth †.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say,
Tertull. Apol. c. 21.
My God, my God,
+ Luke xxiii. 44.
why hast thou forsaken me?" We are not from hence to imagine, that Jesus meant by these words to express any distrust of God's favour and kindness towards him, or any apprehension that the light of his countenance was withdrawn from him. This was impossible. He well knew, that under that load of affliction which, for the salvation of mankind, he voluntarily took upon himself, he was still his heavenly Father's "beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased." These expressions, therefore, of seeming despondence, were nothing more than the natural and almost unavoidable effusions of a mind tortured with the acutest pain, and hardly conscious of the complaints it uttered; of which many similar instances occur in the Psalnis. Indeed these words themselves are the beginning of the 22d Psalm, which perhaps our Lord recited throughout, or at least undoubtedly meant to apply the whole of it to himself. And this And this very Psalm, although in the outset it breathes an air of dejection and complaint, yet ends in expressing the firmest trust in the mercy and the protection of God. And our Lord himself, when he breathed his last, committed himself
with boundless confidence to the care of the Almighty: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit *"
Then some of them that stood there, when they heard him crying out "Eli, Eli," deceived by the similitude of the sound, said, “This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink." This, as St. John tells us, was done in consequence of Jesus saying, "Ithirst." The rest said, "Let be; let us see whether Elias will come to save him." "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, gave up the ghost." This was about the ninth hour, or three in the afternoon. And as he was crucified at the third hour, or at nine in the morning, he had hung no less than six hours in agonies upon the cross. And this, let it never be forgotten, was for us men, and for our salvation! "And behold, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose and came out
* Luke xxiii. 46.
of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Such were the convulsions into which the whole frame of nature was thrown, when the Lord of all yielded up his life.
The vail of the Temple, we are told, in the first place, was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
The Jewish temple was divided into several parts; the most sacred was called the Holiest, or the Holy of Holies, into which none but the high-priest might enter, and that only once in a year. It was considered as a type of heaven; and was separated from what was called the holy place, or the place where divine worship was celebrated, by a curtain of rich tapestry, which is here called the vail of the Temple. This vail, when our Saviour expired, was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; by which was signified the abolition of the whole Mosaic ritual, the removal of the partition between Jew and Gentile, and the admission of the latter (on the terms of the Gospel covenant) into heaven, or the Holy of Holies. “And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent." This earthquake is mentioned
by heathen authors as having, in the reign of Tiberius, destroyed twelve cities in Asia *. "And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Who the holy persons werewhich then arose from their graves must be matter of mere conjecture; but most probably some of those who had believed in Christ, such as old Simeon, and whose persons were known in the city.
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God."
The centurion here mentioned was the Roman captain, who, with a guard of soldiers, was ordered to attend the crucifixion of Jesus, and see the sentence executed. He placed himself, as St. Mark informs us, over against Jesus. From that station he kept his eye constantly fixed upon him, and observed with
*Taciti Annal. I. ii. c. 47 Suet. in Tib. vi. 448. Plin. Nat. Hist. 1. ii. c. 84. S