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faith and confidence, he respectfully makes his request: Grant me the body of the man who has been crucified between the thieves. Surely this was the triumph of faith, and, like his divine Master, this Joseph, in the presence of Pontius Pilate, witnessed a good confession.

The

To be a Christian seems, perhaps, to some of us, as difficult and impossible as it would have been to some, at the crucifixion, to do what Joseph did, and which, in their view, was a great reproach to him. What would have induced a scribe or priest to give the Saviour a reputable burial ? The answer is easy: Faith, like Joseph's. It was because Joseph believed, that he made this act of confession. apostles, when they were charged not to speak any more in the Saviour's name, said, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." So, when we believe with all the heart, we shall not be hindered by trifles or great difficulties from professing Christ. Any man among us, however far he may now be from religion, may soon be seen confessing his divine and crucified Redeemer. The grace of God can make any man so strong in faith that he will long to profess, before all on earth and all in heaven, as Joseph did, that he is not ashamed of Christ. If our desires and faith were greater, we might oftener see wonderful instances of conversion, and of consecration to Christ.

II. IN THE CONDUCT OF JOSEPH, WE HAVE AN

ILLUSTRATION OF MORAL COURAGE AND DECISION OF

CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

In the view of many, the Saviour was the greatest malefactor of the three who were hanging on the cross. But even if he were not a malefactor, he had been disgraced; for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." It exposed any man to the loss of reputation to favor one who was subjected to crucifixion. But we read of Joseph, “This man went in boldly unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus." It was the body of one whom that governor had delivered to the accursed death of the cross, and the request of Joseph was an implied reflection on the governor. At the next meeting of the sanhedrim, what might Joseph expect would be his reception by them? There is the man, they might say, who took the body of the impostor from the cross, and buried it in his own tomb. Every epithet which scorn and hatred could heap upon him, he might expect would be in requisition against him. What a sight must that have been when this honorable man went boldly to the cross with his servants, and took from it the body of Jesus. Overhead remained the inscription designed for insult and triunph: "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Beneath the cross, the rapacious soldiers were parting the garments of the Saviour, and for

his vesture casting lots. Passing by, the infidel Jew was repeating aloud the assurance which he strove to maintain, notwithstanding the miraculous darkness and the earthquake: "He saved others, himself he cannot save." But still, in this bold and public manner, this friend of Jesus conveys away that form on which earth and hell had poured their contempt; and he bestows upon it an honorable and costly burial. Who does not entertain for such a man a feeling of the deepest respect and reverence?

Yet with all the light which eighteen centuries have accumulated around the name of Christ and his religion, there are many who are ashamed of Christ. One hinderance to their conversion and salvation is, they are not willing to have it known that they are seeking religion. The thought of having certain persons look at them with the reflection, He is anxious about his salvation, or, He has become a Christian, is more than they can bear. How do they appear by the side of Joseph of Arimathea, who, with all that was repugnant to the natural and social feelings, in the circumstances of the Saviour, not only espoused his cause, but cherished his dishonored body, and committed his reputation, for evil or for good report, to that Redeemer whom his associates had slain and hanged upon a tree?

The Saviour said, "Whosoever cometh not after me, and taketh not up his cross daily, cannot be my

disciple." Is there no opportunity for cross-bearing in our situation in life? Do none of us ever meet with occasions for it? Are you not thrown in connection with some to whom your sentiments and practice are obnoxious, or to whom they would be, if you were to become a Christian? How do you bear being called a 'bigot,' or 'exclusive,' because you will not admit that all are safe, believe as they may, and because you will not countenance those who reject truths which, with you, are essential to salvation, nor join with them in acts of religious fellowship? It is easy to swim with the tide; but we must stem the flood. There is a cross for every one to bear who is consistently and ardently devoted to Christ, and the promotion of his cause. The greatest part of the trial which it occasions, if not the whole of it, is in taking it up; afterward, as the Saviour said, the yoke is easy, and the burden light.' We shall next see what it was which imparted moral courage, and made the cross so light a burden, to the rich man of Arimathea.

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III. THE CONDUCT OF JOSEPH IS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE POWER WHICH ARDENT LOVE FOR CHRIST HAS IN THE LIFE AND CONDUCT.

Here was the secret of his courage, the hiding of its power. He loved Christ; the Saviour's rejection and sufferings had raised the affections of this friend

to their highest pitch; and he bestowed upon the dead body of his Redeemer the utmost proofs of love.

He had prepared for himself a family tomb. No member of his family had yet occupied it. As he prepared that sepulchre, no doubt he sometimes thought of the first interment which should be made there, and he asked himself, unwillingly, which member of his household would be the first occupant of that sacred place. Had any applied to him for leave to bury an entire stranger there, perhaps his feelings would have revolted at the request. He might have said to himself, It is my family tomb; far distant be the day when we shall follow one of our number to the spot; yet, until the place is hallowed in this mournful manner, I would keep it sealed. But now, behold, the first occupant of that tomb is taken from what we should call the scaffold, the gibbet; from between two thieves; amid the execrations of a great city; and in the face of contempt and scorn without

measure.

The body is detached from the cross; that 'descent from the cross' is the subject of the masterpiece of Rubens; but Rubens, even, could not paint the beauty and love of that attachment which moved this friend of the Saviour in performing the offices of this interment.

Let us follow the bier. Few, very few, even of the

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