THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. EDITED BY THE REV.

HENRY NEWLAND,

St. John, XX. 1. " TJie first day of the week" How can I begin on this glorious evening better than with the words of the same St. John in the Revelation ; " Weep not, the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath conquered?" con quered sin, conquered Satan, conquered death. The kingdom of Heaven is open ; the head of the serpent is bruised; God died as man, to the end that man might live as God. "The first day of the week." He may well say, The First. O truly first day, in which He, the First and the Last, rose again! O truly blessed day, the first of our Lord s vic tory! O truly glorious day, which has delivered them who, through fear of death, have all their lifetime been subject to bondage ! Now is fulfilled the prophecy of Jacob:

158 u THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." " Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise. f By the name of Judah he calls Jesus Christ; "for it is evident," says St. Paul, "that our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah." And His brethren for He is not ashamed to call us brethren being ransomed from death by Him, do indeed praise Him. "Thine Hand," said Jacob, "shall be on the neck of Thine enemies;" that is, Thou shalt mightily overcome them; as about mid night last night Christ did, when He burst the bars of death. These holy women, then, came to see this victory, though as yet they knew nothing of it. And notice this: Mary Magdalene hastened, while it was yet dark, to the sepulchre. Day dawned there, at that time of the year, at about five o clock. And Bethany, where she lived, was about fif teen furlongs from Jerusalem; so that St. Mary must have left her house about four in the morning. The full moon for it was then the Easter moon gave her light; and so, before daybreak, she came to the sepulchre.

I should think that to these holy women that Sabbath and you know that the Jewish Sabbath is our Saturday must have been the longest, the most tedious, the most wearisome that ever was known. How was it possible for them to pray? Whom should they pray

" THE FIBST DAY OF THE WEEK." 159 to ? Their faith was shaken ; they knew not whether our Lord were God, or only man. What could they do? Which way should they turn? We read in Malachi, how God rebukes those that said of the Sabbath, " What a weariness is it !" But lie would not so have rebuked those holy women who would not break His commandment by going out on the Sabbath, and yet longed to be at the sepulchre. "And seeth the stone rolled away." They were early, but our Lord was earlier yet; for then was that Psalm fulfilled, " I myself will awake right early." Fulfilled in that verse, fulfilled in the following verse also, " For the greatness of Thy mercy reacheth unto the Heavens, and Thy truth unto the clouds." On Good Friday we saw how the greatness of the Lord s mercy did indeed reach to the Heavens, when He hung upon the cross, and the sun was darkened for the space of three hours. To-day His truth is set forth in the fulfilment of His promise, that on the third day He should rise again. " Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, ivhom Jesus loved, and saith unto them. They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him."

160 " THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." Now it was past the grey of the morning, and the sun was nearly ready to rise. But it shows us how we ought to be patient with those that are weak of faith, when we find one who loved so much as Mary Magdalene, so utterly doubting of the Lord s promise. The Lord gone from the sepulchre! Why, how could lie not have gone ? Is it so strange that His words should be fulfilled? But she does not even seem to have remembered them. She was so filled in her one work of love, the

anointing His Body, that she will not see His work. We are all apt to do this. We determine to serve God in a particular way, and then we cannot see that He is working a much nobler work in another way. Now Peter, and that other disciple namely, St. John himself came forth to see, and their race is written for our instruction. " Peter, therefore, went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he, stooping down, and looking in, saiv the linen clothes lying ; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre" These two set forth to us the Jews and the Gentiles. John was the first that came to the

" THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." 161 sepulchre : so the Jews were the first to hear of the Lord s death, "as He spake by the mouth of the holy prophets which have been since the world began." They had seen it in all their types; they had themselves set it forth in all their sacrifices ; the offering of Isaac, and the Passover Lamb, proclaimed it as clearly as did the words of Isaiah, that " His soul should be made an offering for sin," or those of Daniel, that " after threescore and two weeks should Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself." "Yet went they not in." They clave with all their heart to the letter of Scrip ture, but they would not enter into its mean ing ; just as it is a favourite illustration of the fathers Uriah, by keeping too faithfully the letters which David had given him, perished by means of their contents. Peter was the first to enter in ; and so the Gentiles were the first to take hold of the benefits of Christ s Passion, to acknowledge their own weakness, and to find their strength in the True Rock, according to that saying, u The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their house in the rock." u And seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about His Head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself" 47

162 " THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." " This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation," for it sets forth to us a great mystery. The napkin that surrounded the Lord s Head, and the linen clothes that had been wrapped about His Body, were not all laid together, but separate. Now, by His Head, His Godhead is meant : by His Body, His Manhood is set forth to us.* Here, there fore, we learn, that though our Lord has only one Person, so that we are compelled by the Catholic faith to say that God was born, God suffered, and God died; yet He has two separate, distinct natures, His Godhead and His Manhood. He, being God, did not suffer as God, but as Man. Take this example. If I pour wine and water into a glass, the mixture there is neither wine nor water, but something between both. It is not in this manner that our Lord s two natures were united. If any man says it is, he is a heretic, for he teaches what the Athanasian Creed calls confusion of substance. But if I take wine and water, and * The napkin that is about our Lord s Head is not found with the linen clothes, i.e., God, the Head of Christ, and the incomprehensible mysteries of the Godhead, are removed from our poor knowledge ; the power transcends the nature of the creature. And it is found not only apart, but wrapped together, neither beginning nor end is seen, and the height of the Divine Nature had neither beginning nor end. Gregory, Horn. 22, in Evang.

" THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." 163 pour them into two separate glasses, and bind them closely together, neither is this a type of our Lord. If I say it is, I fall into a worse heresy than the other. I do not confound His Natures indeed, but I divide His Persons, and make Him two Christs. But if now I take oil and water, and pour them into the same glass, there I get the true type. The oil and water each keep their own nature ; they do not mix into something which is neither oil nor water, and yet they both are one mass. Perfect oil and perfect water : equal to every other oil, as touching the oil; inferior to every other oil, as touching the water. And this is the Catholic faith concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God; from which the Holy Ghost grant that we never depart, even by a hair s breadth ! And it is here set forth to us by the linen

clothes and the napkin, each folded in a sepa rate place. " Then went in also that other disciple which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw and believed" And so it shall come to pass even with the Jews : they, in the fulness of time, shall follow the Gentiles, shall enter into the Lord s sepul chre, shall take hold of the Lord s Passion, shall confess that Jesus is true God, shall be lieve and shall be saved. And so St. Paul

164 " THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." testifies : " Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and so all Israel shall be saved." " For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He should rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own homes." Therefore they went because they understood not. David of old time knew better : "I have set God alway before Me, for He is on my right hand." Yet in the stone rolled away, and the clothes wrapped together, the disciples could not see that their Lord was risen. Well might He afterwards say, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe! Ought not Christ to have-suffered these things? " Went away"- away from the very place where they ought to have stayed ; away from the very place where, if they had had faith as a grain of mustard-seed, they would have given worlds to be. And we do the same thing : we go away from the Lord s sepulchre to our own homes; we hear of His burial and resurrection, and forthwith go and forget it all, some in cares, some in business, some in pleasures. If we even watch with the Lord one hour, over our own business and amuse ment we watch all the rest of the day. " Then the disciples went away to their own homes." Yet they were disciples, and

" THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." 165 true disciples too ; but they did not show their discipleship in this. We imitate them well enough in their negligence, when shall we

learn to follow them in their love and zeal ? It was not so with all. " But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping." Mary had chosen that better part which shall never be taken away from her; and what that part was, with God s help, we will see to-morrow. In the meantime, "Let God," as at that first Easter Day, "arise, and let His enemies be scattered!" May He grant that you, put ting off the Old Man of sin, may be renewed with Him in righteousness. May He, that conquered death by death, free you from the power of sin and death. May He, Who, by His resurrection, bestowed life on the world, raise you up to everlasting life : so that, having now received the type of your own resurrection in His, you may hereafter receive at His hands the fulness of eternal blessedness, for His merit s sake, Who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, God, blessed for ever. Amen.

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