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with having stolen away their master's body out of the sepulchre. Now, whether they had any thoughts that Jesus, by magical arts, would escape from the cross; or whether they apprehended that he would be rescued by the populace; both these suspicions were extremely injurious to our blessed Saviour. Some are likewise of opinion, that a stronger guard than usual was appointed to watch our Saviour on the cross, at the solicitation of the chief priests; yet, by the Divine superintendency, this precaution served only to confirm, before all the people, first the reality
of his death, and afterwards of his resurrection...
3. St. Mark observes, that this division of Christ's garments, was made about the third hour, i. e. in the third temple hour or great division of the day, which begun at noon, and ended at three in the afternoon: For the Jews divided both night as well as day into four quarters, each of which contained three common hours. If in this circumstance of our Saviour's passion, namely, the dividing of his garments, we contsider the behaviour of the Roman soldiers, it must be yowned, that they may put many Christians to the blush, who, in the division of inheritances, often break out into violent quarrels, and irreconcilable enmities, and engage in chargeable law-suits. This division, on the contrary, was carried on without the least dispute or wrangling; and such was the prudence and moderation of the parties, that they consented the whole coat should fall by lot to one of them, rather than be spoiled by cutting it asunder. Will rétthose Pagan soldiers rise in judgment at the hot day, to the condemnation of those malignant Christians, avho, rather than gratify their neighbour, will suffer a thing to be destroyed, or consume it among lawyers, rather than come to an amicable agreement with their relations. These soldiers are; likewise an emblem of those who are satisfied, if they can only get food and raiment by their external profession of religion. Had these wretched men humbled themselves before
Christ, acknowledged their sins, and desired to have been partakers of the forgiveness which he supplicated for them: they might have obtained from him a place in Paradise, as one of the malefactors on the cross did, to his unspeakable happiness. But they, when they had got our Saviour's raiments, cared for nothing further. They leave the blessed Jesus to bleed and die on the cross, while they are busied about dividing his garments. Herein they represent those earthly minded nominal Christians, who, if they can but draw a good income from the world, little concern themselves about knowing Christ, and the power of his resurrection.
But let us now direct our eyes to the Lord Jesus, under these sufferings; for he has both atoned for several sins, and acquired grace for us by his behaviour on this occasion: He has both sanctified such sufferings of his faithful servants, and left them a pattern for their imitation.
He has first expiated the loss of the Divine image, and that glorious innocence, bestowed on our first parents. Man was then pure from all inordinate desires and evil propensities, so that he was not ashamed of his natural nakedness; for he knew no sin, and consequently experienced no shame. This invaluable jewel we lost in Adam; at his fall, we, as it were, immediately fell among thieves; who stripped us naked, deprived our souls of this precious ornament, and placed us in such a condition that we may well be ashamed of our nakedness.
But secondly, he has likewise hereby obtained for us a garment to cover the nakedness of our souls; which was prefigured by the coats of skins, which God made for our first parents, after their eyes became opened, so as to perceive that they were naked, (Gen. iii. 21.) Jesus Christ himself is, in Scripture, represented as a garment, which we are to put on; 'Put ye on the Lord Jesus, (Rom. xiii. 14.) As many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put
on Christ,' (Gal. iii. 27.) But on what account the sacred person of Jesus Christ is considered under the emblem of a garment, we are informed by several other passages in Scripture; for it speaks of a 'Garment of salvation, and a robe of righteousness,' (Isaiah Ixi. 10, &c.) But the righteousness of Christ is nothing but his perfect obedience, by which he has fulfilled whatever the sinner was to have done, to acquire a right to eternal life; and suffered all that the sinner was to have suffered, by making atonement to the Divine justice for the offences committed against it. Now, as this righteousness is imputed by God to the penitent sinner, and accepted by him through faith; so it may very properly be compared to a garment, since it is of the same use to the soul, as a garment is to the body. For as a garment covers the nakedness of the body, preserves it from heat and cold, and both cherishes and adorns it. So likewise the righteousness of Jesus Christ covers the shameful nakedness of the soul, (Psalm xxxii. 1. Rev. iii. 18.) It protects the soul against the heat of Divine wrath, and the howlings and gnashings of teeth of the damned; it warms and kindles in believers an ardent love and gratitude towards God, who, for their sake, has not spared his only begotten Son. Lastly, it is such a glorious ornament to the soul, that, in this dress, it need not be ashamed to make its appearance before the throne of God, and to have fellowship with the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. But as the human body can receive no benefit from a garment without putting it on; so must the righteousness of Jesus Christ be put on, before it can cover, protect, warm, and adorn the soul. Now it is put on, when the soul through faith and love becomes united with Christ Jesus, and by obeying his divine precepts, brings forth the fruit of good living; so that putting on the Lord Jesus, includes both our justification and sanctification.
In justification, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to us at the Divine tribunal, and received by us through faith; so that God no longer looks on us as we are in ourselves, in our corrupt sinful nature, but as we are in Jesus Christ, the Son of his love, in whom his soul is well pleased. In sanctification, the Spirit of Christ also works in us an active righteousness, whereby that faith, by which we put on Christ as our garment, now produces in the soul all the fruits. of the Spirit, and good works; and this is called in Scripture, putting on, the new man, (Eph. iv. 24.) putting on bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering,' (Col. iii. 12.) Thus Christ obtained for us a splendid robe of salvation; so that by putting on the garment of our first-born Brother, we happily inherit the blessing. This gar ment is of the same nature with the coat of the Lord Jesus; because it is not to be divided, but must be put on entire. Christ is not only made our righte ousness, but likewise our sanctification, (Cor. i. 30.) and therefore they, who are for having only his righte ousness as a covering for sin, but deny his sanctifying power, and do not seek after holiness, as it were rend Christ's coat, and are worse than these Pagan soldiers.
Thirdly, our blessed Saviour has acquired for us a robe of glory; for, when the use of food and raiment shall be superceded, our glorified bodies shall be adorned with a heavenly effulgence. To this St. Paul alludes in these words: We have a desire to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven,' (2 Cor. v. 2.)
Moreover, our dear Mediator, by these ignominious circumstances, has sanctified the similar sufferings of his children, and sweetened them with superabundant consolations.
1. He has sanctified their bodily nakedness; espe! cially in times of persecution, when they are deprived of all their goods, and are obliged to go about almost
naked, and destitute of every thing, (Heb. xi. 37. 1 Cor. iv. 11.)
2. He has sanctified the sufferings of Christians, when they are stripped by the executioner, stretched out on the rack, given up to the brutality of insolent wretches; or when painful or inhuman outrages are committed on their dead bodies.
3. He has sanctified to his servants the spoiling of their goods for his sake, when they must see what of right belongs to them or their relations withheld from them, or taken away, by the unjust violence of strangers.
4. He has sanctified the state of our spiritual nakedness, when the soul is stripped of what it accounted its dearest property, its covering, ornament, and glory; when it lies in extreme indigence, without comfort, strength, tranquility, or joy; and when all it has to support itself is a word of the Divine pro
Lastly, The Son of God, by this part of his sufferings, has left us an example, which we are to follow.
1. He instructs us how ready we ought to be, to suffer ourselves, when God requires it, to be stripped of all temporal things.
2. He teaches us that we should likewise give our cloak or upper garment to those who would take our coat, rather than sin by revenging ourselves; and that we should rather suffer injustice than do an injury.
3. He enjoins us to part with some of our substance in covering others, and particularly in clothing his persecuted servants.
O FAITHFUL Saviour! we thank thee for all those salutary truths, which we have now learned from two particular circumstances attending thy passion. Praised be thy name, who by the title on thy cross hast given us to understand that, even in thy death,