Page images
PDF
EPUB

cases,

XVI. All the four evangelists have particularly mentioned our Saviour's burial : that “ Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus; Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he laid it in his own new tomb,” Matt, xvii. 58-60; Mark xv. 45, 46; Luke xxiii. 50-53; John xix. 38–40. And it may be fairly concluded, the rulers of the Jews did not disapprove of it: since they were solicitous that the bodies might be taken down, and not hang on the cross the next day. John xix. 31, “ The Jews therefore,” says St. John, “ because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath-day, (for that sabbath-day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” Burial was not always allowed by the Romans in these

For we find that sometimes a soldier was appointed to guard the bodies of malefactors, that they might not be taken away and buried.y However it seems that it was not often refused, unless the criminals were very mean, and infamous. Cicero reckons it one of the horrid crimes of Verres's administration in Sicily, that he would take money of parents for the burial of their children whom he bad put to death. Both Suetoniusa and Tacitus b represent it as. one of the uncommon cruelties of Tiberius in the latter part of bis reign, that he generally denied burial to those who were put to death, by his orders, at Rome. Ulpian in bis treatise of the Duty of a Proconsul says; . The bodies of * those who are condemned to death are not to be denied to • their relations: and Augustus writes in the tenth book of • his own life, that he had been wont to observe this cus• tom ;'° that is, to grant the bodies to relations. Paulus says: ' that the bodies of those who have been punished, ' (with death,) are to be given to any that desire them in • order to burial.'d quæ ad fretum spectaret. in Verr. lib. v. c. 66. n. 169.

y Miles cruces asservabat, ne quis ad sepulturam corpora datraheret. Petron. Arb. Satyr. c. 71.

Rapiunt eum ad supplicium dii patrii; quod iste inventus est, qui e complexu parentum abreptos filios ad necem duceret, et parentes pretium pro sepultura posceret. In Verr. lib. i. cap. 3.

a Nemo punitorun non et in Gemonias abjectus, uncoque tractus. Vit. Tiber. c. 61.

b Et quia damnati, publicatis bonis, sepulturâ prohibebantur. Ann. lib. vi. cap. 29.

Corpora eorum qui capite damnantur cognatis ipsorum neganda non sunt: et id se observâsse etiam D. Aug. lib. x. de Vitâ suả, scribit. Hodie autem eorum, in quos animadvertitur, corpora non aliter sepeliuntur, quam si fuerit petitum et permissum ; et nonnunquam non permittitur, maxime majestatis causâ damnatorum. I. i. ff. de cadaver. Punit. Corpora animadversorum quibuslibet

6

d

6

6

It is evident therefore from these two lawyers, that the governors of provinces had a right to grant burial to the bodies of those who had been executed by their order : nay, they seem to intimate, that it ought not usually to be denied when requested by any:

We may then depend upon it, that burial was ordinarily allowed to persons put to death in Judea. The law of Moses is express, that malefactors should be buried. Deut. xxi. 22, 23, “ And if a man bave committed a sin worthy of death, and be be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day—that thy land be not defiled.” And the later Jews retained a reverence for this law. A body of the Idumeans having been let into Jerusalem by the zealots, in order to strengthen their party; after the mention of very great barbarities they had committed in the city and in the temple, Josephus gives their neglect to bury those whom they had murdered, as one of the strongest proofs of their wickedness. • They

came,' says he, to such impiety, as to throw out inen ‘unburied, though the Jews had so great concern for burial,

as to take down and bury before sun-set those who were • crucified by a legal sentence.'e . Since burial was strictly required by the Mosaic law, and was so agreeable to the sentiments and inclinations of the Jewish people, we bave all the reason in the world to suppose it was seldom denied by the Roman governors in that country.

XVII. St. John says, ch. xix. 39, 40, " There came also Nicodemus, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they [Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus] the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” This may seem to some a large quantity of spices to be bestowed on a single body at its interment. And it has been made an objection by a modern' Jew against the history of the New Testament. And yet, according to St. Mark and St. Luke, Mary Magdalene and some other women having observed the sepulchre, and where the body was laid,” went and “ brought sweet petentibus ad sepulturam danda sunt. I. iii. eod.

Προηλθον δε εις τοσοτον ασεβειας, ώσε και αταφες ριψαι, καιτοι τοσαυτην Ιεδαιων περι τας ταφας προνοιαν ποιημενων, ώσε και της εκ καταδικης ανασαυρεμενες προ δυντος ηλιο καθελειν τε και θαπτειν. De B. J. 1. iv. c. 5. Sect. 2.

Amram, in B. Kidder, affirms, that this was enough for two hundred dead bodies, and that it could not be carried with less than the strength of a mule, and therefore not by Nicodemus. Kidder's Demonstrat. of the Messias, Part III. ch. ii. sect. 11.

SO

e

[ocr errors]

spices, that they might anoint him. And on the first day of the week, early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared,” Mark xvi, 1, Luke xxiii, 55, 56, xxiv. 1.

But the largeness of this quantity will not surprise any who consider the Jewish custom ; and that they were wont not only to embalm or anoint the body, but to lay it also in a bed of spices. It is said of Asa, 2. Chron, xvi. 14,“ They buried him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours, and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.” The Jews of this time seemn not to have fallen short of their ancestors in this kind of expense : for Josephus in the account of Herod's funeral procession says: • The soldiery 6 was followed by five hundred slaves and free-men bearing sweet spices.'s He mentions the same number in the War, and in the Antiquities. It is likely there were spices here for a burning, as well as for a bed to lay Herod's body in.

It is likewise objected by the same Jew, that the quantity of spices mentioned by St. John was a load for a mule, and therefore could not be carried by Nicodemus. One would not have expected such an objection from a reasonable creature, who might know it to be a very just, as well as common way of speaking, to ascribe to any person that which is done by his order or direction. St. John has made particular mention of Joseph and Nicodemus as present at the burial of Jesus. They were both of them inen of substance, and may be supposed to have ordered the attendance of some of their servants on this occasion.

8 Πεντακοσιοι δε υπ' αυτοις των οικετων και απελευθερων αρωματοφοροι. de B. J. 1. i. c. ult. sect. 9. Τετοις ειποντο πεντακοσιοι οικετων αρωματοφοροι. Αntig. lib. xvii. 8. sect. 3. As Bisl Kidder has not quoted these passages, I hope they will not be unacceptable here.

CHAP. VIII.

OF THE TREATMENT WHICH THE APOSTLES AND OTHER DISCIPLES OF JESUS MET WITH FROM JEWS

AND GENTILES.

I. The malice of the Jews against the first christians, and

the favour showed to them by governors and other Roman officers, according to St. Luke. II. Proofs of the Jewish malice from other rcriters. III. The Romans at this time protected all people in the observation of their several religious rites. IV. The Jews in particular. V. Instances of the justice and equity of Roman governors to men of different religions. Vi. An objection considered. Víl. Three observations for clearing up this matter. VIII. A difficulty removed ; and the conclusion.

I. THERE is no one that has read the New Testament, but must have observed the implacable malice of the Jews not only against our Saviour, but also against the apostles; and the heat and rage with which they opposed them, not only in Judea, but likewise in all other countries where they met with them, because they did not practise and recommend all their particular rites and traditions, But the Roman officers and governors were far from being equally offended with the neglect they showed of their religion, and usually protected them from the injuries the Jews would have done them.

At Thessalonica, Acts xvii. 5-9, “ The Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them [Paul and Silas] out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain of the brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also, whom Jason has received, and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying, that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these thing's. And when they had taken security of Jason, and the other, [brethren,] they let them go." This was a piece

of

great goodness. The magistrates did not imprison Jason and those with him, but took their security that Paul and Silas should appear if called for ; which it is likely they never

were.

St. Paul preached a year and six months at Corinth, and the Jews commenced a warm prosecution against him. But it was impossible to move Gallio, elder brother of Seneca the stoic philosopher, and then deputy of Achaia, to give any judgment upon the case. He protected Paul from their rage, stopped the prosecution, and did not so much as give Paul the trouble of replying. Acts xviii, 11-16, “ And he continued there [at Corinth] a year and six months, teaching the word of God among thein. And when Gallio was deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you. But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it, for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat.”

At Ephesus, Demetrius a silversmith, " which made silver sbrines for Diana, with the workmen of like occupation," made a speech to the people in behalf of themselves and their goddess; insomuch that " the whole city was filled with confusion, and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not." And “ certain of” the chief of Asia, " which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre," Acts xix. 24-31.

By “ the chief men of Asia," or Asiarchs, as it is in the Greek, we are to understand the rulers of the games of Asia, It is generally supposed they were priests. But if they were not always priests, it is certain, that the rulers of games were magistrates of considerable wealth and reputa tion. And it was a piece of civility in them to send Paul a message from the theatre to advise him of the temper of the people, and to dissuade him from coming thither.

The town-clerk went yet farther, for he reprimanded the people who had been drawn into a riot by Demetrius and the other artificers and their workmen : assuring them, they

1 Τινες δε και των Ασιαρχων. Polit. Ecc. A. 55. n. 7. b Vid. Grot. Whitb. in loc. Basnage, Ann.

« PreviousContinue »