John 19

CHAPTER XIX.

Jesus is scourged, crowned with thorns, and mocked by the

soldiers, 1-3.

He to brought forth by Pilate, wearing the purple robe; and the

Jews clamour for his death, 4-8.

Conversation between our Lord and Pilate, 9-11.

Pilate expostulates with the Jews on their barbarous demands;

but they become more inveterate, and he delivers Christ into

their hands, 12-16.

He, bearing his cross, is led to Golgotha, and crucified, 17-22.

The soldiers cast lots for his raiment, 23, 24.

Jesus commends his mother to the care of John, 25-27.

Jesus thirsts, receives vinegar, and dies, 28-30.

The Jews request that the legs of those who were crucified might

be broken; the soldiers break those of the two thieves, and

pierce the side of Christ; the Scriptures fulfilled in these

acts, 31-37.

Joseph of Arimathea begs the body of Christ; and Nicodemus

brings spices to embalm it, 38-40.

He is laid in a new sepulchre, 41, 42.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIX.

Verse 1. Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him.] That is, caused

him to be scourged: for we cannot with Bede suppose that he

scourged him with his own hand.

As our Lord was scourged by order of Pilate, it is probable he

was scourged in the Roman manner, which was much more severe than

that of the Jews. The latter never gave more than thirty-nine

blows; for the law had absolutely forbidden a man to be abused, or

his flesh cut in this chastisement, De 25:3. The common method of

whipping or flogging in some places, especially that of a military

kind, is a disgrace to the nation where it is done, to the laws,

and to humanity. See Mt 27:26, and the note there. Though it was

customary to scourge the person who was to be crucified, yet it

appears that Pilate had another end in view by scourging our Lord.

He hoped that this would have satisfied the Jews, and that he

might then have dismissed Jesus. This appears from Lu 23:16.

Verse 2. Platted a crown of thorns] See Clarke on Mt 27:29.

Verse 5. And Pilate saith] The word Pilate, which we supply in

our version, is added by one MS., the later Syriac, later Arabic,

and the Coptic.

Behold the man!] The man who, according to you, affects the

government, and threatens to take away the empire from the Romans.

Behold the man whom ye have brought unto me as an enemy to Caesar,

and as a sower of the seeds of sedition in the land! In him I find

no guilt; and from him ye have no occasion to fear any evil.

Verse 6. Crucify HIM] αυτον, which is necessary to the text, and

which is wanting in the common editions, and is supplied by our

version in Italics, is added here on the authority of almost every

MS. and version of importance. As it is omitted in the common

editions, it affords another proof, that they were not taken from

the best MSS.

Verse 7. We have a law] In Le 24:14-16, we find that

blasphemers of God were to be put to death; and the chief priests

having charged Jesus with blasphemy, they therefore voted that he

deserved to die. See Mt 26:65, 66. They might refer also to the

law against false prophets, De 18:20.

The Son of God.] It is certain that the Jews understood this in

a very peculiar sense. When Christ called himself the Son of God,

they understood it to imply positive equality to the Supreme

Being: and, if they were wrong, our Lord never attempted to

correct them.

Verse 8. He was the more afraid] While Jesus was accused only as

a disturber of the peace of the nation, which accusation Pilate

knew to be false, he knew he could deliver him, because the

judgment in that case belonged to himself; but when the Jews

brought a charge against him of the most capital nature, from

their own laws, he then saw that he had every thing to fear, if he

did not deliver Jesus to their will. The Sanhedrin must not be

offended-the populace must not be irritated: from the former a

complaint might be sent against him to Caesar; the latter might

revolt, or proceed to some acts of violence, the end of which

could not be foreseen. Pilate was certainly to be pitied: he saw

what was right, and he wished to do it; but he had not sufficient

firmness of mind. He did not attend to that important maxim, Fiat

justitia: ruat caelum. Let justice be done, though the heavens

should be dissolved. He had a vile people to govern, and it was

not an easy matter to keep them quiet. Some suppose that Pilate's

fear arose from hearing that Jesus had said he was the Son of God;

because Pilate, who was a polytheist, believed that it was

possible for the offspring of the gods to visit mortals; and he

was afraid to condemn Jesus, for fear of offending some of the

supreme deities. Perhaps the question in the succeeding verse

refers to this.

Verse 9. Whence art thou?] This certainly does not mean, From

what country art thou? for Pilate knew this well enough; but it

appears he made this inquiry to know who were the parents of

Christ; what were his pretensions, and whether he really were a

demigod, such as the heathens believed in. To this question ve

find our Lord gave no answer. He had already told him that his

kingdom was not of this world; and that he came to erect a

spiritual kingdom, not a temporal one: Joh 18:36, 37. This answer

he deemed sufficient; and he did not choose to satisfy a criminal

curiosity, nor to enter then into any debate concerning the

absurdity of the heathen worship.

Verse 11. Hath the greater sin.] It is a sin in thee to condemn

me, while thou art convinced in thy conscience that I am innocent:

but the Jews who delivered me to thee, and Judas who delivered me

to the Jews, have the greater crime to answer for. Thy ignorance

in some measure excuses thee; but the rage and malice of the Jews

put them at present out of the reach of mercy.

Verse 12. Pilate sought to release him] Pilate made five several

attempts to release our Lord; as we may learn from

Lu 23:4, 15, 20, 22; Joh 19:4, 12, 13.

Thou art not Caesar's friend] Thou dost not act like a person

who has the interest of the emperor at heart. Ambassadors,

prefects, counsellors, &c., were generally termed the friends of

the emperor. This insinuation determined Pilate to make no longer

resistance: he was afraid of being accused, and he knew Tiberius

was one of the most jealous and distrustful princes in the world.

During his reign, accusations of conspiracies were much in

fashion; they were founded on the silliest pretenses, and punished

with excessive rigour. See Calmet, Tacit. An. l. i. c. 72, 73, 74.

Sueton. in Tiber. c. 58.

Verse 13. The Pavement] λιθοστρωτον, literally, a stone

pavement: probably it was that place in the open court where the

chair of justice was set, for the prefects of provinces always

held their courts of justice in the open air, and which was paved

with stones of various colours, like that of Ahasuerus, Es 1:6,

of red, blue, white, and black marble; what we still term Mosaic

work, or something in imitation of it; such as the Roman pavements

frequently dug up in this and other countries, where the Romans

have had military stations.

Gabbatha.] That is, an elevated place; from gabah, high,

raised up; and it is very likely that the judgment seat was

considerably elevated in the court, and that the governor went up

to it by steps; and perhaps these very steps were what was called

the Pavement. John does not say that Lithostroton, or the

Pavement, is the meaning of the word Gabbatha; but that the

place was called so in the Hebrew. The place was probably called

Lithostroton, or the Pavement: the seat of judgment, Gabbatha,

the raised or elevated place.

In several MSS. and versions, the scribes not understanding the

Hebrew word, wrote it variously, Gabbatha, Gabatha, Kapphatha,

Kappata, Gennetha, Gennaesa, and Gennesar. Lightfoot conjectures

that the pavement here means the room Gazith in the temple, in

which the grand council, called the Sanhedrin, held their

meetings.

Verse 14. It was the preparation of the Passover] That is, the

time in which they were just preparing to kill the paschal lamb.

Critics differ widely concerning the time of our Lord's

crucifixion; and this verse is variously understood. Some think it

signifies merely the preparation of the Sabbath; and that it is

called the preparation of the passover, because the preparation of

the Sabbath happened that year on the eve of the Passover. Others

think that the preparation of the Sabbath is distinctly spoken of

in Joh 19:31, and was different from what is here mentioned.

Contending nations may be more easily reconciled than contending

critics.

The sixth hour] Mark says, Mr 15:25, that it was the

third hour. τριτη, the third, is the reading of DL, four

others, the Chron. Alex., Seuerus Antiochen., Ammonius, with

others mentioned by Theophylact. Nonnus, who wrote in the fifth

century, reads τριτη, the third. As in ancient times all the

numbers were written in the manuscripts not at large but in

numeral letters, it was easy for γ three, to be mistaken for ς

six. The Codex Bezae has generally numeral letters instead of

words. Bengel observes that he has found the letter γ gamma,

THREE, exceedingly like the ς episemon, SIX, in some MSS.

Episemon = greek 'st' combined, similar appearance to final form

sigma with a nearly flat top. Similar appearance to upper case

gamma. The major part of the best critics think that τριτη, the

third, is the genuine reading. See Clarke on Mr 15:25.

Behold your king!] This was probably intended as an irony; and,

by thus turning their pretended serious apprehensions into

ridicule, he hoped still to release him.

Verse 15. Away with him] αρον: probably this means, kill him.

In Isa 57:1, it is said, καιανδρεςδικαιοι

αιρονται, and just men are taken away; that is, according to

some, by a violent death.

Verse 16. Then delivered he him] This was not till after he had

washed his hands, Mt 27:24, to show, by that symbolical action,

that he was innocent of the death of Christ. John omits this

circumstance, together with the insults which Christ received from

the soldiers. See Mt 27:26, &c.; Mr 15:16, &c.

Verse 17. Bearing his cross] He bore it all alone first; when he

could no longer carry the whole through weakness, occasioned by

the ill usage he had received, Simon, a Cyrenian, helped him to

carry it: See Clarke on Mt 27:32.

Golgotha] See Clarke on Mt 27:33.

Verse 18. Two other] Matthew and Mark in the parallel places

calls them robbers or murderers; they probably belonged to the

gang of Barabbas. See about the figure of the cross, and the

nature of crucifixion, on Mt 27:35.

Verse 19. Pilate wrote a title] See Clarke on Mt 27:37.

Verse 20. Hebrew,-Greek,-Latin.] See Clarke on Lu 23:38.

On Mt 27:37, I have given this title in Hebrew, Greek, and

Latin, as mentioned by this evangelist. The reader, however, will

not be displeased to find the same title repeated here in a

character which was written in the fourth century, and is probably

nearly resembling that used in the earliest ages of Christianity.

The Greek and Latin character, which is inserted here, is an exact

fac-simile of that in the Codex Bezae, cut and cast at the expense

of the University of Cambridge, for Dr. Kipling's edition of that

most venerable MS. which contains the Greek text of the four

evangelists and Acts; and the Latin text of the same, as it

existed before the time of St. Jerome. Having examined the MS.

myself, I can say that these types are a very faithful

representation of the original.

In Hebrew, εβραιστι.

In Greek, ελληνιστι.

ιησουςοναζωρεοςοβασιλευςτωνιουδαιων

In Latin, ρωμαιστι.

iehsus nazarenus rex iudaeorum

Verse 22. What I have written, I have written.] That is, I will

not alter what I have written. The Roman laws forbad the sentence

to be altered when once pronounced; and as this inscription was

considered as the sentence pronounced against our Lord, therefore,

it could not be changed: but this form of speech is common in the

Jewish writings, and means simply, what is done shall continue.

Pilate seems to speak prophetically. This is the king of the Jews:

they shall have no other Messiah for ever.

Verse 23. To every soldier a part] So it appears there were four

soldiers employed in nailing him to and rearing up the cross.

The coat was without seam] Several have seriously doubted

whether this can be literally understood, as they imagine that

nothing with sleeves, &c. can be woven without a seam. But Baun,

de Vest. Sacer. Heb. l. 1, c. 16, has proved, not only that such

things were done by the ancients, and are still done in the east,

but himself got a loom made, on which these kinds of tunics,

vents, sleeves, and all, were woven in one piece. See much on

this subject in Calmet. The clothes of a Hindoo are always without

a seam; and the Brahmins would not wear clothes that were

otherwise made. Besides, the Hindoos have no regular tailors.

Our Lord was now in the grand office of high priest, and was

about to offer the expiatory victim for the sin of the world. And

it is worthy of remark that the very dress he was in was similar

to that of the Jewish high priest. The following is the

description given of his dress by Josephus, Ant. b. iii. c. 7, s.

4: "Now this coat (χιτων) was not composed of two pieces, nor was

it sewed together upon the shoulders and sides, but it was one

long vestment, so woven as to have an opening for the neck; not an

oblique one, but parted all along the back and breast; it was also

parted where the hands were to come out." A little before, the

same author says, that "the high priest had a long robe of a blue

colour, which hung down to the feet, and was put over all the

rest." It is likely that this was the same with that upper

garment which the soldiers divided among them, it being probably

of a costly stuff. I may just add here, that I knew a woman who

knit all kinds of clothes, even to the sleeves and button holes,

without a seam; and have seen some of the garments which she made;

that the thing is possible I have the fullest proof. For an

explanation of χιτων and ιματιον which we translate cloak, and

coat, See Clarke on Lu 6:29.

Verse 24. That the scripture might be fulfilled] These words are

found in the common printed text, in Mt 27:35; but they are

omitted by ABDEFGHKLMSU, Mt. BHV, 150 others; the principal

versions, Chrysostom, Titus Bost., Euthymius, Theophylact,

Origen, Hilary, Augustin, Juven. See Griesbach's second edition.

But in the text of John they are not omitted by one MS., version,

or ancient commentator.

The words are taken from Ps 22:18, where it appears they were

spoken prophetically of this treatment which Jesus received,

upwards of a thousand years before it took place!

But it should be remarked that this form of speech, which

frequently occurs, often means no more than that the thing so fell

out that such a portion of Scripture may be exactly applied to it.

Verse 25. Mary the wife of Cleophas] She is said, in Mt 27:56,

(see the note there,) and Mr 15:40, to have been the mother of

James the Less, and of Joses; and this James her son is said, in

Mt 10:3, to have been the son of Alpheus; hence it seems that

Alpheus and Cleopas were the same person. To which may be added,

that Hegesippus is quoted by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. l. iii. c. 11,

as saying that Cleopas was the brother of Joseph, the husband of

the virgin. Theophylact says that Cleopas, (brother of Joseph, the

husband of the virgin,) having died childless, his brother Joseph

married his widow, by whom he had four sons, called by the

evangelists the brothers of our Lord, and two daughters, the one

named Salome, the other Mary, the daughter of Cleopas, because she

was his daughter according to law, though she was the daughter of

Joseph according to nature. There are several conjectures equally

well founded with this last to be met with in the ancient

commentators; but, in many cases, it is very difficult to

distinguish the different Marys mentioned by the evangelists.

Verse 26. The disciple-whom he loved] John, the writer of this

Gospel.

Woman, behold thy son!] This is a remarkable expression, and has

been much misunderstood. It conveys no idea of disrespect, nor of

unconcern, as has been commonly supposed. In the way of

compellation, man! and woman! were titles of as much respect among

the Hebrews as sir! and madam! are among us. But why does not

Jesus call her mother? Probably because he wished to spare her

feelings; he would not mention a name, the very sound of which

must have wrung her heart with additional sorrow. On this account

he says, Behold thy son! this was the language of pure natural

affection: "Consider this crucified man no longer at present as

any relative of thine; but take that disciple whom my power shall

preserve from evil for thy son; and, while he considers thee as

his mother, account him for thy child." It is probable that it

was because the keeping of the blessed virgin was entrusted to him

that he was the only disciple of our Lord who died a natural

death, God having preserved him for the sake of the person whom he

gave him in charge. Many children are not only preserved alive,

but abundantly prospered in temporal things, for the sake of the

desolate parents whom God hast cast upon their care. It is very

likely that Joseph was dead previously to this; and that this was

the reason why the desolate virgin is committed to the care of the

beloved disciple.

Verse 28. I thirst.] The scripture that referred to his drinking

the vinegar is Ps 69:21. The fatigue which he had undergone, the

grief he had felt, the heat of the day, and the loss of blood,

were the natural causes of this thirst. This he would have borne

without complaint; but he wished to give them the fullest proof of

his being the Messiah, by distinctly marking how every thing

relative to the Messiah, which had been written in the prophets,

had its complete fulfilment in him.

Verse 29. A vessel full of vinegar] This was probably that tart

small wine which we are assured was the common drink of the Roman

soldiers. Our word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, sour

or tart wine; and, although it is probable that it was brought at

this time for the use of the four Roman soldiers who were employed

in the crucifixion of our Lord, yet it is as probable that it

might have been furnished for the use of the persons crucified;

who, in that lingering kind of death, must necessarily be

grievously tormented with thirst. This vinegar must not be

confounded with the vinegar and gall mentioned Mt 27:34, and

Mr 15:23.

That, being a stupifying potion, intended to alleviate his pain,

he refused to drink; but of this he took a little, and then

expired, Joh 19:30.

And put it upon hyssop] Or, according to others, putting hyssop

about it. A great variety of conjectures have been produced to

solve the difficulty in this text, which is occasioned by

supposing that the sponge was put on a stalk of hyssop, and that

this is the reed mentioned by Matthew and Mark. It is possible

that the hyssop might grow to such a size in Judea as that a stalk

of it might answer the end of a reed or cane in the case mentioned

here; but still it appears to me more natural to suppose that the

reed was a distinct thing and that the hyssop was used only to

bind the sponge fast to the reed; unless we may suppose it was

added for some mystical purpose, as we find it frequently used in

the Old Testament in rites of purification. The various

conjectures on this point may be seen in Bowyer's Conject. and in

Calmet.

Verse 30. It is finished] As if he had said: "I have executed

the great designs of the Almighty-I have satisfied the demands of

his justice-I have accomplished all that was written in the

prophets, and suffered the utmost malice of my enemies; and now

the way to the holy of holies is made manifest through my blood."

An awful, yet a glorious finish. Through this tragical death God

is reconciled to man, and the kingdom of heaven opened to every

believing soul.

"Shout heaven and earth, this SUM of good to MAN!"

See Clarke on Mt 27:50.

The prodigies which happened at our Lord's death, and which are

mentioned by the other three evangelists, are omitted by John,

because he found the others had sufficiently stated them, and it

appears he had nothing new to add.

Verse 31. It was the preparation] Every Sabbath had a

preparation which began at the ninth hour (that is, three o'clock)

the preceding evening. Josephus, Ant. b. xvi. c. 6, s. 2, recites

an edict of the Emperor Augustus in favour of the Jews, which

orders, "that no one shall be obliged to give bail or surety on

the Sabbath day, nor on the preparation before it, after the ninth

hour." The time fixed here was undoubtedly in conformity to the

Jewish custom, as they began their preparation at three o'clock on

the Friday evening.

That the bodies should not remain] For the law, De 21:22, 23,

ordered that the bodies of criminals should not hang all night;

and they did not wish to have the Sabbath profaned by either

taking them down on that day, or letting them hang to disturb the

joy of that holy time. Probably their consciences began to sting

them for what they had done, and they wished to remove the victim

of their malice out of their sight.

For that Sabbath day was a high day] 1. Because it was the

Sabbath. 2. Because it was the day on which all the people

presented themselves in the temple according to the command,

Ex 23:17. 3. Because that was the day on which the sheaf of the

first fruits was offered, according to the command, Le 23:10, 11.

So that upon this day there happened to be three solemnities in

one.-Lightfoot. It might be properly called a high day, because

the passover fell on that Sabbath.

Their legs might be broken] Lactantius says. l. iv. c. 26, that

it was a common custom to break the legs or other bones of

criminals upon the cross; and this appears to have been a kind of

coup de grace, the sooner to put them out of pain.

Verse 34. With a spear pierced his side] The soldier who pierced

our Lord's side has been called by the Roman Catholic writers

Longinus, which seems to be a corruption of λογχη, lonche, a

spear or dart, the word in the text. They moreover tell us that

this man was converted-that it was he who said, Truly this was the

Son of God-that he travelled into Cappadocia, and there preached

the Gospel of Christ, and received the crown of martyrdom. But

this deserves the same credit as the other legends of the Popish

Church.

Whether it was the right or the left side of Christ that was

pierced has been a matter of serious discussion among divines and

physicians; and on this subject they are not yet agreed. That it

is of no importance we are sure, because the Holy Ghost has not

revealed it. Luke Cranache, a famous painter, whose piece of the

crucifixion is at Augsburg, has put no wound on either side: when

he was asked the reason of this-I will do it, said he, when I am

informed WHICH side was pierced.

Blood and water.] It may be naturally supposed that the spear

went through the pericardium and pierced the heart; that the water

proceeded from the former, and the blood from the latter. Ambrose,

Augustin, and Chrysostom, make the blood an emblem of the

eucharist, and the water an emblem of baptism. Others represent

them as the emblems of the old and new covenants. Protestants have

thought them the emblems of justification, which is through the

blood of the Lamb, and sanctification, which is through the

washing of regeneration; and it is in reference to the first

notion that they mingle the wine with water in the sacrament of

the Lord's supper. The piercing appears to have taken place

because his legs were not broken; and, as the law in this case

stated that the criminals were to continue on the cross till they

died, the side of our Lord was pierced to secure the

accomplishment of the law; and the issuing of the blood and water

appears to be only a natural effect of the above cause, and

probably nothing mystical or spiritual was intended by it.

However, it affords the fullest proof that Jesus died for our

sins. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that there is a reference here to the

rock in the wilderness which Moses smote twice, and which,

according to the Jews, Shemoth Rabba, fol. 122, "poured out blood

at the first stroke, and water at the second." Now St. Paul says,

1Co 10:4, That rock was Christ; and here the evangelist says,

the soldier pierced his side, and there came out blood and water.

St. John therefore, in what he asserts in the 35th and 36th

verses, Joh 19:35, 36 wishes to call the attention of the Jews

to this point, in order to show them that this Jesus was the true

Messiah, who was typified by the rock in the wilderness. He

knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

Verse 35. He that saw it] Most probably John himself, who must

have been pretty near the cross to have been able to distinguish

between the blood and the water, as they issued from the side of

our blessed Lord.

And he knoweth] This appears to be an appeal to the Lord Jesus,

for the truth of the testimony which he had now delivered. But why

such a solemn appeal, unless there was something miraculous in

this matter? It might appear to him necessary: 1. Because the

other evangelists had not noticed it. 2. Because it contained the

most decisive proof of the death of Christ: as a wound such as

this was could not have been inflicted, (though other causes had

been wanting,) without occasioning the death of the person; and on

his dying for men depended the salvation of the world. And, 3.

Because two important prophecies were fulfilled by this very

circumstance, both of which designated more particularly the

person of the Messiah. A bone of him shall not be broken,

Ex 12:46; Nu 9:12; Ps 34:20.

They shall look upon him whom they pierced, Zec 12:10;

Ps 22:16.

Verse 38. Joseph of Arimathea] See on Mt 27:57-60; and

particularly Mr 15:42, 43.

Verse 39. Nicodemus] See Clarke on Joh 3:1, &c.

Myrrh and aloes] Which drugs were used to preserve bodies from

putrefaction. Calmet says that the aloes mentioned here is a

liquor which runs from an aromatic tree, and is widely different

from that called aloes among us.

Some have objected that a hundred pounds' weight of myrrh and

aloes was enough to embalm two hundred dead bodies; and instead of

εκατον, a hundred, some critics have proposed to read εκατερων-

a mixture of myrrh and aloes, of about a pound EACH. See Bowyer's

Conjectures. But it may be observed that great quantities of

spices were used for embalming dead bodies, when they intended to

show peculiar marks of respect to the deceased. A great quantity

was used at the funeral of Aristobulus; and it is said that five

hundred servants bearing aromatics attended the funeral of Herod:

see Josephus, Ant. b. xv. c. 3, s. 4; and b. xvii. c. 8, s. 3: and

fourscore pounds of spices were used at the funeral of R. Gamaliel

the elder. See Wetstein in loc.

Verse 40. Wound it in linen] See Clarke on Joh 11:34.

Verse 41. There was a garden] It was an ancient custom for

particular families to have burying places in their gardens. See

2Ki 21:18, 26.

New sepulchre] See Clarke on Mt 27:60.

Verse 42. Because of the Jews' preparation] From this it may be

conjectured that they had designed to have put him in a more

magnificent tomb; or, that they intended to make one expressly for

himself after the passover: or, that they had designed to have put

him somewhere else, but could not do it for want of time; and that

they put him here because the tomb was nigh. It appears plainly,

from embalming, &c., that none of these persons had any hope of

the resurrection of Christ. They considered him as a great and

eminent prophet, and treated him as such.

1. IN the burial of our Lord, a remarkable prophecy was

fulfilled: His death was appointed with the wicked; and with a

rich man was his tomb. See Lowth on Isa 53:9. Every thing

attending his mock trial, his passion, his death, his burial, &c.,

afforded the fullest proof of his innocence. In still continuing

to reject him, the Jews seem to have exceeded the ordinary bounds

of incredulity and callousness of heart. One might imagine that a

candid attention to the Gospel facts, collated with those passages

in the law and in the prophets which they acknowledge to speak of

the Messiah, would be sufficient to furnish them with the utmost

evidence and fullest conviction that he is the Christ, and that

they are to expect none other. But where people once make a

covenant with unbelief, argument, reason, demonstration, and

miracles themselves, fail to convince them. As their conviction,

through this obstinacy, is rendered impossible, it belongs to

God's justice to confound them. At present they have scarcely any

correct knowledge of the true God; and, while they continue to

reject the genuine faith, they are capable of crediting the most

degrading absurdities.

2. The holy sepulchre, or what has long passed for the burial

place of our Lord, is now no more! On the following information

the reader may depend: "On the night of October 11, 1808, the

Church of the Holy Sepulchre was discovered to be on fire; and

between five and six in the morning the burning cupola, with all

the melting and boiling lead upon it, fell in. The excessive heat

which proceeded from this immense mass of liquid fire, caused not

only the marble columns, which supported the gallery, to burst;

but likewise the marble floor of the Church, together with the

pilasters and images in bas relief that decorate the chapel,

containing the holy sepulchre, situated in the centre of the

church. Shortly after, the massive columns which supported the

gallery, fell down, together with the whole of the walls." Thus

has perished the famous church raised by the Empress Helena

fourteen hundred years ago, over the place where the body of our

blessed Lord was supposed to have been deposited, while he lay

under the power of death. And thus has perished an engine of

superstition, fraud, and imposture. To the most sinful purposes

has this holy sepulchre been abused. The Greeks and Armenians have

pretended that, on every Easter-eve, fire descends from heaven,

and kindles all the lamps and candles in the place; and immense

crowds of pilgrims frequent this place, on these occasions, in

order to witness this ceremony, to light a taper at this sacred

flame, and with these candles to singe and daub pieces of linen,

which are afterwards to serve for winding sheets; for, says Mr.

Maundrell, who was present, April 3rd, 1697, and witnessed the

whole of this absurd and abominable ceremony, "it is the opinion

of these poor people that, if they can but have the happiness to

be buried in a shroud smutted with this celestial fire, it will

certainly secure them from the flames of hell."

See the whole of his circumstantial account of this imposture,

and the ridiculous and abominable ceremonies with which it is

accompanied, in his Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, edit. 5th,

pp. 94-97; and let the reader thank God that he is not degraded

with a superstition that renders the grace of the Gospel of none

effect.

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