the most precious and immaculate soul of Christ was really separated from
his flesh, and that union in which his natural life consisted was dissolved,
his sacred body, as being truly dead, was laid up in the chambers of the
grave: so that as we believe him dead, by the separation of his soul, we
also believe him buried by the sepulture of his body.
because there is nothing mysterious or difficult in this part of the
Article, it will be sufficiently explicated when we have shewn, first, that
the promised Messias was to be buried; and, secondly, that our
Jesus was so buried as the Messias was to be.
2.—That the Messias was to be buried, could not possibly be denied by
those who believed he was to die among the Jews; because it was the
universal custom of that nation to bury their dead. We read most frequently
of the sepulchres of their fathers: and though those that were condemned by
their supreme power were not buried in their fathers' graves, yet public
sepulchres there were appointed even for them to lie in: and not only they,
but all the instruments which were used in the punishment were buried with
them. And yet beside the general consequence of death among the Jews,
there was a perfect type in the person of Jonas: for as that prophet
was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so was the
Messias, or the Son of Man, to be three days and three nights
in the heart of the earth.
was his burial only represented typically, but foretold prophetically, both
by a suppositive intimation, and by an express prediction. The Psalmist
intimated and supposed no less when, speaking in the person of the Christ,
he said, My flesh shall rest in hope: for thou wilt not leave my
sout in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
That flesh is there supposed only such, that is, a body dead, and
that body resting in the grave, the common habitation of the dead; yet
resting there in hope that it should never see corruption, but rise from
thence before that time in which bodies in their graves are wont to
putrefy. Beside this intimation, there is yet a clear expression of the
grave of the Messias in that eminent prediction of Isaiah;
He was cut off out of the land of the living, and he made his grave with the
wicked, and with the rich in his death. For whatsoever the true
interpretation of the prophecy be (of which we shall speak hereafter), it is
certain that he which was to be cut off, was to have a grave;
and being we have already shewn that he which was to be cut off was
the Messias; it followeth, that by virtue of this prediction the
promised Messias was to be buried.
3.—Secondly, that our Jesus, whom we believe to be the true
Messias, was thus buried, we shall also prove, although it seem
repugnant to the manner of his death. For those which were sentenced by the
Romans to die upon the cross, had not the favour of a sepulchre, but
their bodies were exposed to the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the
field, or if they escaped their voracity, to the longer injury of the air
and weather. A guard was also usually set about them, lest any pitying hand
should take the body from the cursed tree, and cover it with earth.
4.—Under that custom of the Roman law was now the body of our Saviour on the
cross, and the guard was set; there was the centurion, and they that were
with him, watching Jesus. The centurion returned as soon as Christ
was dead, and gave testimony unto Pilate of his death; but the watch
continueth still. How, then, can the ancient predictions be fulfilled? How
can this Jonas be conveyed into the belly of the whale? Where shall
he make his grave with the wicked, or with the rich, in his death of
crucifixion? By the providence of him who did foretel it, it shall be
fulfilled. They which petitioned that he might be crucified, shall
intercede that he may be interred. For the custom of the Jews required,
that whosoever suffered by the sentence of their law should be buried, and
that the same day he suffered. Particularly they could not but remember the
express words of Moses, If a man have committed a sin worthy of death,
and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body shalt not
remain all night upon the tree; but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day.
Upon this general custom and particular law, especially considering the
sanctity of the day approaching, the Jews, that the bodies should
not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, besought Pilate that their
legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. And this is
the first step to the burial of our Saviour.
though, by the common rule of the Roman law, those which were
condemned to the cross were to lose both soul and body on the tree, as not
being permitted either sepulture or mourning; yet it was in the power of the
magistrate to indulge the leave of burial: and therefore Pilate, who
crucified Christ only because the Jews desired it, could not
possibly deny him burial when they requested it; he which professed to find
no fault in him while he lived, could make no pretence for an accession of
cruelty after his death.
though the Jews had obtained their request of Pilate, though
Christ had been thereby certainly buried; yet had not the prediction
been fulfilled, which expressly mentioned the rich in his death. For
as he was crucified between two thieves, so had he been buried with them,
because by the Jews there was appointed a public place of burial for
all such as suffered as malefactors.
5.—Wherefore to rescue the body of our blessed Saviour from the malicious
hands of those that caused his crucifixion, there came a rich, man of
Arimathea, named Joseph, an honourable counsellor, a good man and a just;
who also himself waited for the kingdom of God, being a disciple of Jesus,
but secretly for fear of the Jews: this Joseph came and went in boldly unto
Pilate, and besought him that he might take away the body of Jesus. And
Pilate gave him leave, and commanded the body to be delivered: he came
therefore and took the body of Jesus.
Beside, there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by
night, a man of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews, a master of Israel; this
Nicodemus came and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred
pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen
clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
6.—And thus was the burial of the Son of God performed, according to the
custom of the people of God. For the understanding of which there are three
things considerable: first, what was done to the body, to prepare it for the
grave; secondly, how the sepulchre was prepared to receive the body;
thirdly, how the persons were fitted by the interring of our Saviour to
fulfil the prophecy.
for fulfilling the custom of the Jews as to the preparation in
respect to his body, we find the spices and the linen clothes.
When there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard,
very precious, and she brake the box and poured it on his head;
Christ made this interpretation of that action, she is come
beforehand to anoint my body to the burying. When Christ was
risen, Mary Magdalen and the other Mary brought the spices which
they had prepared, that they might come and anoint him. Thus was there
an interpreted and an intended unction of our Saviour, but really and
actually he was interred with the spices which Nicodemus brought.
The custom of wrapping in the linen clothes we see in Lazarus
rising from the grave; for he came forth bound hand and foot with
grave-clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. In the same
manner when our Saviour was risen, Simon Peter went into the sepulchre,
and saw the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about his head, not
lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
Thus, according to the custom of the Jews, was the body of Christ
bound in several linen clothes with an aromatical composition, and so
prepared for the sepulchre.
for the preparation of the sepulchre to receive the body of our Saviour, the
custom of the Jews was also punctually observed in that Joseph
of Arimathea had prepared a place of burial for himself and the
manner of it is expressed: for in the place where he was crucified there
was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein never man was laid,
which Joseph had hewn out of the rock for his own tomb: there laid they
Jesus, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre. And so
Christ was buried after the manner of the Jews, in a vault made
by the excavation of the rocky firm part of the earth, that vault secured
from external injury by a great massy stone rolled to the mouth or door
thereof. After which stone was once rolled thither, the whole funeral
action was performed, and the sepulture completed: so that it was not lawful
by the custom of the Jews any more to open the sepulchre or disturb
the interred body.
Thirdly, two eminent persons did concur unto the burial of our Saviour, a
ruler and a counsellor, men of those orders among the Jews as were of
greatest authority with the people; Joseph of Arimathea, rich
and honourable, and yet inferior to Nicodemus, one of the great
council of the Sanhedrim: these two, though fearful whi1e he lived to
acknowledge him, are brought by the hand of Providence to inter him, that so
the prediction might be fulfilled, which was delivered by Isaiah to
this purpose. The counsel of his enemies, the design of the Jews,
made his grave with the wicked, that he might be buried with them which
were crucified with him: but because he had done no violence, neither was
any deceit in his mouth; because he was no ways guilty of those crimes
for which they justly suffered; that there might be a difference after their
death, though there appeared little distinction in it; the counsel of his
Father, the design of Heaven, put him with the rich in his death, and
caused a counsellor and a ruler of the Jews to bury him.
7.—The necessity of this part of the Article appeareth, first, in that it
gives a testimony and assurance of the truth, both of Christ's death
preceding, and of his resurrection following. Men are not put into the
earth before they die: Pilate was very inquisitive whether our
Saviour had been any while dead, and was fully satisfied by the
centurion, before he could give the body to Joseph to be interred.
Men cannot be said to rise who never died; nor can there be a true
resurrection, where there hath not been a true dissolution. That therefore
we might believe Christ truly rose from the dead, we must be first
assured that he died: and a greater assurance of his death than this we
cannot have, that his body was delivered by his enemies from the cross and
laid by his disciples in the grave.
8.—Secondly, a profession to believe that Christ was buried is
necessary, to work within us a correspondence and similitude of his burial.
For we are buried with him in baptism, even buried with him by
baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the
glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
That nothing may be done or suffered by our Saviour in these great
transactions of the Mediator, but may be acted in our souls, and represented
in our spirits.
9.—Thirdly, it was most convenient that those pious solemnities should be
performed on the body of our Saviour, that his Disciples might for ever
learn what honour was fit to be received and given at their funerals. When
Ananias died, though for his sin, yet they wound him up, and
carried him out, and buried him: when Stephen was stoned,
devout men carried him to his burial, and made great lamentation over him:
and when Dorcas died, they washed her, and laid her in an
upper chamber: so careful were the primitive Christians of the rites of
burial. Before, and at our Saviour's time, the Greeks did much, the
Romans more, use the burning of the bodies of the dead, and reserved
only their ashes in their urns: but when Christianity began to increase, the
funeral flames did cease, and after a few emperors had received baptism,
there was not a body burnt in all the Roman empire. For the first
Christians wholly abstained from consuming of the dead bodies with fire, and
followed the example of our Saviour's funeral, making use of precious
ointments for the dead, which they refused while they lived, and spending
the spices of Arabia in their graves. The description of the persons
which interred Christ, and the enumeration of their virtues, and the
everlasting commendation of her who brake the box of precious ointment for
his burial have been thought sufficient grounds and encouragements for the
careful and decent sepulture of Christians. For as natural reason will
teach us to give some kind of respect unto the bodies of men, though dead,
in reference to the souls which formerly inhabited them: so, and much more,
the followers of our Saviour, while they looked upon our bodies as living
temples of the Holy Ghost, and bought by Christ, to be made one
day like unto his glorious body, they thought them no ways to be neglected
after death, but carefully to be laid up in the wardrobe of the grave, with
such due respect as might become the honour of the dead, and comfort of the
living. And this decent custom of the primitive Christians was so
acceptable unto God, that by his providence it proved most effectual in the
conversion of the heathens and propagation of the Gospel.
10.—Thus I believe the only begotten and eternal Son of God, for the
confirmation of the truth of his death already past, and the verity of his
resurrection from the dead suddenly to follow, had his body, according to
the custom of the Jews, prepared for a funeral, bound up with linen
clothes, and laid in spices; and after that accustomed preparation,
deposited in a sepulchre hewn out of a rock, in which never man was laid
before, and by the rolling of a stone unto the door thereof, entombed
there. Thus I believe that Christ was buried.