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IV. But why do we grieve any longer for Mary's tears? They are indeed superfluous; it would be far better were she to smile and rejoice, than to weep; and although she is still enveloped in night and darkness, yet the Easter sun is already ascending the heavens, and the objects of woe and terror which she beholds exist nowhere but in her own imagination. Beyond that gloomy scene which her faint-hearted melancholy presents to her eyes, the world is bright and beautiful, like the Paradise of old ; and had she only entered the garden one short half-hour before, she would indeed have ceased to weep—she would have seen the Holy One, and been a witness of his resurrection, which took place, as you are aware, in the early morning dawn. The tomb had been silent and closed until then; the King who had been slain, lay amidst the spices in the deep slumber of death ; and the guard who kept watch rejoiced along with the Prince of Hell, because the third day had now appeared, to annihilate for ever the dream of the Galileans concerning the resurrection of their Master. Even while Satan was calling to his dark companions, “ Brethren! the reign of the Nazarene is over!" the hour of the eternal Father arrived; the angels sang with joy to the music of their harps, and a seraphic pair stood ready behind the clouds to dart down at the first signal to the silent garden. What happened? The Father spoke. Borne by the breath of life which proceeds from his mouth, the voice of the Almighty penetrated the gloomy vault of death. The words, " Awake, my Son! in whom I am well pleased !” pealed and reverberated over the
dead. The bowels of the earth now begin to tremble -the ground shakes as though the world were about to fall in pieces—the rocks burst asunder; an angel, shining as the light, appears at the tomb, grasps the ponderous stone, hurls it from the door of the sepulchre, and Ha! what is this? They who keep watch fall to the ground, like dead men; a cry of terror penetrates even down to hell; but the heavens rejoice! Who is it steps out of the gloomy chamber? Who is it before whom the heavenly beings bow down ? To whom do they pay homage, as their Lord and their
-It is he, it is he! Jesus, the crucified one ! He was dead, and yet lives ! He has gained possession of the field, he waves the flag of triumph, and bears the keys of hell and of death!
This, then, my brethren, was the glorious occurrence which took place very early on Easter morning. Mary as yet knew it not; we however know it, and rejoice with great joy on account of the stupendous miracle. To those who are convinced, that without a pledge and mediator they would be utterly undone, it must always be the most important question, " Whether Jesus continued to lie in the grave, or rose from the dead ?" All is staked upon the inquiry, for Jesus could not have been the Christ had he remained in the imprisonment of the tomb. What should we have thought of the man who had assured us he should rise on the third day, if death had continued to hold him captive ? of the man who had undertaken to conquer hell and the grave, if he, on the contrary, had been overpow. ered by them?—of the man who had declared, “I and
the Father are one,” if the Father had seemed uncon. scious of it, and regarded him no longer ?-of the man who had promised to save his people by offering up himself as a sacrifice in their stead, if God had refused to accept him, and permitted him to rest in all the ignominy of a shameful death? We should have regarded him as put to shame, and all his labours branded as useless; and such a saviour, or to speak more correctly, no saviour, would the poor sinner have found in Jesus had he remained in the grave. The disciples felt this bitterly, and for this reason the time between the Friday of Passion week and the Sunday morning was the most sorrowful, and at the same time the most terrible, in the whole period of their existence. But what joy when the message was delivered to them, “ Christ is risen !"
In an instant the fallen palace of their hopes was raised
up from its ruins, more glorious and more beautiful than ever, and resting now upon adamantine foundations. No, no, my brethren, we can never mistake, we can never be in error, while we rest upon Jesus as the rock of our salvation ; the Easter miracle assures us that we build our hopes on the right person ; no one can henceforth say that we relied upon a man who could not keep his promises. Certainly when his words came to pass, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!" we may well, henceforward, rest implicitly upon his truth ; and no one can say that we trusted in a man who is not the Son of God. His triumph over hell, death, and the grave, and the majesty with which he steps forth from the tomb, casts the last
doubt with regard to his divinity to the ground, and inscribes with gigantic letters on the book of history, “This is the true God, and in him is everlasting life !" No one can any longer despise the grounds on which we build our trust; for does not the Eternal bear witness to their stability, by not merely summoning our dead Lord from the tomb, but clothing him in such glory and brightness? Does it not prove that God not only takes pleasure in the work of his Son, but that it is a work perfected and completed, in which sinners may securely find refuge? Yes, let us take fast hold of our Immanuel, and build on him the glorious temple of our hopes; knowing that we stand upon a rock which the waves of doubt may assail, but which they can never shake.
V. Let us now look back to Joseph's garden, and behold our King coming forth in the silence of the morning, beautiful and glorious as the orb of day. Earth has never seen him in such splendour, nor yet have the heavens ; the rising sun does him homage, and the world is like a paradise, over which a morningstar has just arisen. Lo! there he is approaching, but O how different, how very different from before ! No crown of thorns now encircles his head, no garment of mockery envelopes his limbs; but the splendour of the diadem glitters on his brow, the Glory of God covers him as with a garment, a heaven of joy can be read in his glance, and the salutations of peace are on his lips. How peacefully and how gladly can we now rest our eyes upon
him! No longer does he say, mysteriously and sadly, “Whither I go, ye, can
ou come.” Nor yet, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished !" But he says, “I come into my garden, to eat of my own fruits !" And now we may apply to him the words in Genesis, “He couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" His soul now enjoys the most ecstatic delight, that of Easter: the joy which had been promised him, and for the sake of which he had suffered death on the cross, is now realized ; and in the consciousness of the reconciliation being accomplished between God and man, it seems as though he bore paradise about within his own bosom; and the thought that a sinful people have been purchased and redeemed by his blood, penetrates and flows through his soul, like a river of delight, fresh from the fountains of heaven.
The countenance of the Father, so long hidden from his view, now shines down upon him in all its loveliness and splendour ; and the belief in his love is now changed into the vivid consciousness of its reality. The fulness of those blessings comprehended in the expression, to rest on the bosom of the Father, is now restored to him; and though the gates of heaven are not yet opened to admit the Prince of Life, and though the thousand times ten thousand, with their golden harps, have not flown down to meet him, and to cast their crowns at his feet; yet it is only because we poor children of the dust would be almost annihilated on beholding such pomp and glory, as never entered our feeble imaginations to conceive, and instead of drawing near to our Mediator, we should then have