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First Published 1659

[see original PDF file text at Project Canterbury for extensive footnotes]


And buried.

1.WHEN 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.


And 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.


Nor 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. 


For 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.


Now 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.


As 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.


As 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. 


for the next chapter in Pearson:  He descended into hell.