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ment, when even the Son of God cried out that he was forsaken ; who, of all his followers, were with him then, to support him by their sympathy, and prove to him their love? In the midst of scoffing soldiers, and brutal executioners, under the lowering sky, and just below the frightful cross, we behold four weeping females,* and one disciple, the youngest and the gentlest of the twelve, braving the horrors of this place of blood, braving the anger of those in authority and the insults of those who do their bidding, determined to be near their friend and Master in his agonies, and ready, on the spot and at the moment, to share them. And what is it that braces
the nerves of this feeble company to such a singular pitch of fortitude and daring ? The simple, but unconquerable strength of affection ; the generous omnipotence of their attachment and gratitude. In the might of their love they ascend the hill of Calvary, and take their station beneath the cross; hearing nothing amidst all that tumult, but the promptings of their devoted hearts; seeing nothing but their dying Lord; remembering nothing
* They were Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome the mother of James the Greater and of John. There were other women in company with them, but these four probably stood nearer the cross than the rest.
but that he was dear to them, and that he was in misery. Oh! how loftily does courage like this, rise above that ruder and earthly courage which rushes to the battle field, and is crowned with the applauses of the world! It calls for none of those excitements and stimulants from without which goad rough spirits into madness, but relies on those resources that are within, those precious stores and holy powers which are the strength of a single and faithful breast. That is the courage of the animal ; this is of the soul. It is pure; it is divine. To say all in one word, it was such as moved the complacent regard of the Saviour himself, even in the height of his sufferings. Hanging on the cross, bleeding and exhausted, yet when he saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he was touched by their constancy; his thoughts were recalled to earth; the domestic affections rushed into his bosom; and with a tender care which provided at once a protection for his parent and a reward for his friend, " he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother !” Where was there ever so affecting a bequest as that which was then made, when love and filial piety triumphed over suffering? Where was there ever so affecting an
adoption as that which then took place, when attachment and fidelity triumphed over fear ? The last earthly care of Jesus was accomplished. His mother was confided to the disciple whom he best loved. The favorite disciple eagerly accepted the honorable and precious charge; for, “ from that hour,” as we are told by himself, he “ took her unto his own home.”
The whole scene is one of unrivalled pathos. Had it taken place in a quiet chamber, and by the side of a peaceful death-bed, it would have moved us; but how singularly and solemnly does it come in, a sweet and melting interlude, in the midst of that wild and appalling conflict, under the
open and frowning heaven ! It is like one of those hushed pauses between the fits of a midnight storm, when the elements wait, and pity seems pleading with wrath, ere the war and the turmoil begin again.
It would appear that the enemies of our Lord were satisfied, for that time, with his destruction; for we do not read that John, or the females who were with him, suffered any harm on account of their fearless exposure. It is probable also that the prodigies which succeeded the death of Jesus, deterred his executioners from pursuing any further their work of blood.
On the morning of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene having gone to the sepulchre early, and observed that the stone was taken away from its mouth, announced this fact to Simon Peter and to John, who both ran toward the spot. John outran Peter, and came first to the sepulchre, and stooping down, saw the linen clothes in which his Master had been buried; but he went not in. Then Peter came up, and went in, and then John followed him. Why the latter did not go in immediately, does not appear from the history; nor is it easy to form a conjecture; for he was certainly equal to Peter, both in courage and attachment to his Master. Perhaps in the mere agitation of his feelings, he delayed till Peter arrived; who no sooner came up, than, with his characteristic promptness, he descended into the sepulchre where his crucified Lord had been deposited, in order, it may be, that he might ask forgiveness even of his remains, for having so shamefully denied him.
A passage in John's own account of this visit to the tomb of Jesus, renders it probable that he was the first person who believed in the resurrection of his Lord. “ Then went in also that other disciple, who came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed;" that is, believed that Jesus
had arisen from the dead. Nor is this obvious interpretation contradicted by the succeeding verse; “ For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead." By the word “
they” is not meant Peter and John particularly, but all the disciples. The belief was not yet received among them, that their Master was to rise from the dead; and therefore it was a remarkable circumstance, and one worthy of being recorded, that John was the first who remembered the predictions of Jesus, and acknowledged their fulfilment. So unprepared were the disciples for his resurrection, that Peter, who first saw that the tomb was empty, did not think of ascribing the fact to its true cause. into the mind of the beloved disciple that the light first broke. He first believed the glorious truth, that death was vanquished by the Son of God, and that Jesus of Nazareth was the Prince of Life.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples for the third time after his resurrection, and at the close of his solemn address to Peter, intimated to him that he should die a violent death, that disciple, seeing John just behind, desired to know what his lot was to be. The answer of Jesus was, “ If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that