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it is not now time to loiter) to convey His message to those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren. But how do these receive it? With a strange incredulity, for which their Lord reproves them afterwards. “Their words seemed to them as idle tales and they believed them not.” The women must have been imposed upon. They must have been the victims of their overwrought fancy. The excitement they have lately gone through has been too much for them.3 So the duller minds of the men reasoned, and imagined they had accounted for it all. Their slowness of heart however helps to confirm our faith. They who were so long before they were convinced, required such unmistakeable proofs, did not believe till they saw with their own eyes, may surely be believed by us.
THE SOLDIERS' REPORT.
St. Matthew xxviii. 11-15.
Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught ; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
While the holy women go to tell the good news of Prophecy fulfilled to the Disciples, some of the soldiers go to tell their tale of baffled opposition to their employers. As those conveyed tidings of victory, so these of defeat. They had now to some extent recovered from their consternation. Some of them at least. For they seem to have become a broken-up party. The rest, it might be, had not recovered from the shock. But of those that were rallied, some were despatched with this report of their defeat, and of the triumph of the Galilæan. Whereupon the chief-priests assemble the Council which had condemned Him, to consider what must now be done. These unjust judges have no thought of confessing their error, but desire only to prevent the consequences of it from recoiling on themselves. They add sin to sin. To their judicial murder they add a contemptible falsehood, and with a large sum of money they bribe the soldiers to become their accomplices, and give some colour to the cheat. But as sleeping at their posts would, if found out, be fatal to a Roman sentinel, they promised, if this should come to Pilate's ears, to persuade him it was not their fault. And so great was believed to be their influence with Pilate, that the soldiers consented. The sight of the ready money prevailed over the remote prospect of discovery. Those who could procure the condemnation of the innocent, could doubtless procure the condonation of the guilty. At all events they would somehow be secured. So they argued to themselves. What a state of mind, and what a state of society, does the whole transaction betray! The Priests, whose office it was to teach men to tell the truth, bribing them to disseminate falsehood. The soldiers, ready to do anything, however base, for filthy lucre's sake. The people, ready to believe any lie, rather than admit the unwelcome truth.
1 St. Mark xvi. 14.
3 Acts xii, 13-15.
HE APPEARETH TO TWO DISCIPLES AT EMMAUS.
St. Luke xxiv. 13-24.
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things ? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people : and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre ; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
1 « Galilæan, Thou hast conquered," Julian's exclamation at the last. is said to have been the Apostate ? Compare Acts iv. 14-17.
“ Two of them ;" that is two of “the rest,”1 who were reckoned generally among the followers of the Lord, though not of the number of the Apostles. They conversed together on the way, and reasoned ; inquiring one of another why their hopes should have been disappointed ;3 seeking each from the other some comfort; each wanting to know the other's thought.
“ Jesus Himself drew near,” as once before He drew nigh to the storm-tossed ship which contained His troubled Disciples. So He overtook them.5 Often He is with us in the troubles in which we are so absorbed, long before we perceive His presence. He who was taken by Mary Magdalene to be a gardener, appeared · St. Luke xxiv. 9, 22.
• St. John vi. 19. ? The same word in the original as 5 The history has been beautifully is in v. 14 rendered “talked to paraphrased by Cowper. gether.”
6 Mal. iii. 16. 3 St. Luke xxiv. 21.
now to these in another form ;' that is, to these also He appeared to be other than He was. Their eyes were not as yet thoroughly opened ? to recognise Him. It would appear that after His resurrection our Lord was not instantly recognizable as before. He who belongs to another world is not to be seen at will by those who still belong to this. So their eyes were holden, as it were; their vision limited.4 By their gestures, and by their countenance, they showed that something agitated them, enough to justify the courteous inquiry of a fellow-traveller desirous of assisting them in their trouble. The Evangelist mentions the name of the chief speaker. He does not seem to have been a prominent personage. There are many known to God who are yet not famous among men. Sometimes He reveals Himself to those whom we might least expect. There are last which shall be first. But now the speaker expresses surprise at this seeming stranger's question. As if they could be supposed to be speaking of anything but the allabsorbing topic of recent events. He must surely be a stranger in the place, or he would have guessed as much. The Lord's question is but to draw out what is in their minds. He no more feigns ignorance than one who by questioning examines another in order to instruct him more perfectly. From their answer we find the general idea of Jesus among the many' outside His more immediate followers. A Propheto at least; not only impressing the people by His preaching; but endued also with the strange power of working miracles; witnessed to by God as well as by men. They would not have been surprised had He even proved to be the Messiah.10 They had indeed quite hoped
I St. Mark xvi. 12.
6 The Cleopas, or more correctly 2 St. Luke xxiv. 31.
Clopas, of St. John (xix. 25) is the 3 St. John xxi. 4, 7, 12, 14.
same with Alphæus. As St Luke 4 Wisdom ix. 15 - 17.
(vi. 15; Acts i. 13) speaks of Alphæus, 5 The words in the original are he probably means by Cleopas another very striking. They were eagerly person. bandying their arguments to and fro, 1 Cor. xv. 6. not as opponents, but as those of the & St. Matt. xvi. 13-16. same way of thinking sometimes will. A prophetic man. See the ori. They were tossing their words each ginal. Compare Eze. iii. 26, margin. to other, as in a game at ball.
10 St. Luke ii. 38; Acts i. 6.
as much. But His death seems to have been the death-blow of their hopes. How could anyone deliver their nation from the Romans without the assistance of their Rulers? And the Rulers, so far from encouraging Him, had actually delivered Him up to the Romans. And what adds to their perplexity is, that, this being the third day since His death,when they now seem to recall His promise that He would rise again,-He has not returned. They have only the Angels' word for it, as reported by the women. His Body is missing. This they know from the report of some of their own band; but Himself no one has yet seen.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Luke xxiv. 25-35.
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken : ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went : and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and
, returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together,
1 There was evidently a large some one part, some another, of the party of women (St. Luke xxiv. 10; strange story, and not all at once. St. Mark xv. 41) some of whom told Cleopas is evidently one of those who some, and some of whom told others; has heard a part, not all.