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. liii. 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.