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"that the expression might clearly denote the grave, " and that no one might suspect a mere appearance."*
XXVI. It is more difficult to perceive the agreement with reference to time, and to find the three days and three nights, which our Lord foretold that, like Jonah, he should spend in the heart of the earth. Several writers on this topic, both ancient and modern, have recourse to subtle refinements. It is observed by the celebrated Cloppenburgh, who, however, seems to favour a more simple interpretation; "that the beginning “ of the three days is not improperly fixed at that hour " in which Christ was lifted up on the cross, and thus “ removed from the land of the living; after which, "the miraculous darkness intervening, the sun thrice "shone, and darkness thrice prevailed, before the hour " of Christ's resurrection.” The rhetorical flourishing of Ambroset is to the same effect. “ Our Lord had “said, that he should be three days and three nights in "the heart of the earth. The sun, having learned this, " obeyed the command. He accordingly deliberated, “ saying, What do I? I rise, and it is day. I set, “ and it is night. If I shall observe my usual course, “ I shall obstruct the salvation of the world. Let us " therefore make haste for the redemption of mankind. “.... When he shall have ascended the cross, I will " abbreviate the hours. Let night commence precisely " at the sixth hour, that I may not beliold the passion " of the Lord, but avoid the sight of so unnatural a “murder. I will set, and there shall be a night of three “ hours. I will come forth, and renew the day, to con“tinue also for three hours. This, when accomplish
* 'Oviyaç észev iv zñ rñ, árn' tv th xapdice. This wyms, 'ovce xxo 70TÁfox δηλωση, και μηδεις δοκησιν υποπτευση.
† De Interpellat. lib. I. cap. 5.
"ed, is the first day. The second night follows, last«ing the usual time. The day succeeds in like man“ ner. The night will then begin. The Lord will “ rise again the third night, and the day will break: “ amidst the splendours of his resurrection."
XXVII. A somewhat different manner of solving this difficulty is adopted by William Teeling, a more judicious and grave Divine, in his Catechetical Exercises, published in the Dutch language. He there observes, that Christ may be said to have been in the heart of the earth from the time at which, oppressed by a sense of the Divine anger," he fell down upon the “ ground ;sh so that the night in which he was betray- 3 ed, and at the beginning of which he celebrated the supper with his disciples, may be reckoned the first of the three nights.
XXVIII. These ideas are amplified thus by the celebrated Cocceius. “ Our Lord's prediction, that he “ should be three days and three nights in the heart of “ the earth, is in part to be understood properly, and “ according to the letter; and in part according to an“alogy, as referring to the whole of that period of “ Christ's humiliation, which extended from the sup“ per till the evening in which he manifested himself “ to the disciples, and, so to speak, lived again in them. “ After the supper, he was in the hour of the power of “ darkness, until he was actually buried in the earth ; “ and he fully revived, only when the greater part of “ his disciples revived, and were recovered from their “ sorrow.”
xxix. Let every one put whatever value he pleases on these observations. We must confess, for our part,
h Mark xiv. 35.
i i Cor. xi. 23.
that, although they are learned, and not unworthy of their authors, we prefer the simple interpretation which is commonly received. Christ, we apprehend, did not compute mathematically the moments of time, but, in conformity to the common mode of speaking, employed the expression “ three days and three nights” to denote three natural days,* of which, by a usual figure,f a greater or a smaller part received the name of the whole. He expired, as we commonly say, on Friday, about three in the afternoon, three hours of that day remaining till the setting of the sun—which are counted the first day. The entire Sabbath succeeded, from evening to evening—which makes the second day. The third night followed, and our Saviour rose again at the dawn of the morning.
xxx. It is not certain, besides, that Jonah spent the entire of three days, or seventy-two hours, in the fish. There is perhaps a closer resemblance even in this respect than, owing to unfounded prepossessions, we have hitherto imagined. After having written the foregoing remarks, I providentially lighted on the following words of Isidorus of Pelusium, which seem worthy of attention: “ Our Lord's three days in the grave are to be "explained thus: It is written, AS Jonas was three “ days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, “SO also shall the Son of man be three days and " three nights in the heart of the earth. He, there"fore, who promised that he would fulfil the type of “ Jonah, since he knew it exactly-for he was present " with Jonah both when cast into the deer, and when
“ thrown out of it again—has ACCURATELY fulfilled “ it, having remained AS LONG a space of time in the “ grave, as Jonah remained in the belly of the fish."* The learned writer then subjoins, in perspicuous and correct language, that interpretation, which we have cited above from Ambrose; and adds some other remarks, which there is no necessity for repeating here.23
XXXI. Let us now attend to the PRACTICAL USES of Christ's burial. It is profitable, First, For INFORMATION. 1st, That we may possess full assurance of the death and the subsequent resurrection of Christ. Hence it is not without reason stated by Mark, that Pilate did not deliver Christ's body to Joseph, till after he had made accurate inquiry respecting his death, and obtained good information of the fact.j Divine providence, too, wisely ordered, that he should not be buried by enemies, who would not have hesitated to lay him in the sepulchre even when half-alive; but by friends, who would, on no account, have interred him, while there was the least appearance of heat or of breath. 2dly, That we may know that Christ has undergone all that abasement which is due to our sins, being humbled to the lowest degree in death, and after death. Although his burial was in many respects honourable, and “ his sleep” in the tomb “ was sweet unto him ;"k because he rested from his labours that were now thoroughly accomplished, and anticipated the most excellent fruits which were immediately to follow; yet in itself, it was a part of his abasement and humilia
* Lib. i. Epist. 114.
22 See Note XXIII.
tion, that he “ descended into the lower parts of the “ earth.”
XXXII. Secondly, For ConsoLATION. 1st, The burial of Christ renders it clear and certain, that the expiation of our sins was finished, and the curse abolished by his death. As, according to the legal type, hanging on a tree denoted the curse still existing and remaining, so the burial of the suspended corpse was a figure of its being abolished.m Now the truth and substance of these shadows is in Christ. 2dly, He buried our sins along with him—both in regard to justification, that they might be covered and removed from God's sight, lest they should be “ set in the light " of his countenance” to accuse usn—and in regard to sanctification, for we are “ buried with him by baptism “into death,” that our old man may by degrees be utterly destroyed, and cease to reign and live in us. · 3dly, Pursuing death, so to speak, to the remotest corner and asylum of his fortress, he expelled him thence, and sanctified our sepulchres, that they might become pleasant resting-places for our bodies,p until we awake “ to behold God's face in righteousness, and to “ be satisfied with his likeness.”I
XXXIII. Thirdly, for ADMONITION ;—that we may not be offended at any part of Christ's abasement, but, agreeably to the example of Joseph, Nicodemus, and the pious women, regard him, even when dead and buried, with the highest veneration ; apprehending him by faith as the sole author of life, seeking him
Ephes. iv. 9.
m Deut. xxi. 23. • Rom. vi. 4. + Ps. xvii. 15.