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the dead; nor were they any part of His dying obedience, for He had already breathed His last. They therefore contribute nothing to that glorious robe of righteousness which Jesus now is before God for the sinner. Had neither of the three miracles taken place, Christ's perfection for us before God would have been the same. Nor is either of them predicted in Scripture, as were even minute details of the cross, such as the piercing of His blessed side.

What, then, was the object of these miracles? Were they not amongst the outward and visible tokens of the unspeakable value of Christ's most precious death? They do not constitute its preciousness, but they direct our attention to what that preciousness really was. They are helps to the sinner's faith in Him. They are solemn waymarks, point.

, ing to the sin-bearing Lamb, of God's providing.

Thus considered, they strengthen our faith while they also condemn all unbelief. In this the three are alike, but in character of testimony to Christ's death they differ, and also in sphere of application.

(1) The three hours' darkness was for the whole land ; (2) the rent vail would be for the priests in their deeper sinfulness and malice; for only priests, it may be presumed, witnessed its rending; and (3) the opened graves (for three days) of “saints” would be for the “little flockwho had continued with the Lord in His temptations.

But the lessons taught by these three miracles also differ, and on this we may a little enlarge.

(1) The three hours darkness may serve to remind us of that passing " from darkness to light” which is God's first mercy to the sinner by the cross, and the saved sinner's first joy.

(2) The rending of the vail tells us of that unhindered and near

"access" to God to which believers are called since Christ's death, and which none ever had before.

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(3) The opened graves do surely point to that first resurrection of “saints” only, at Christ's coming, which is the blessed hope of all who are Christ's. This also was not revealed till the great Head of the Church had died.

The lessons taught by these miracles, it may be observed, embrace the whole earthly course of the believer. (1) Through Christ's death he passed in one brief moment from darkness into God's marvellous light (see 1 Pet. ii. 9); (2) thenceforth during all his happy days on earth he is a worshipper, drawing near to God without a vail between ; and (3) his link with earth ends at the moment of "the first resurrection," when he rises in fellowship with Christ's resurrection. How brief the first and last of these trophies of Christ's precious death; how life-long and precious is that which we are taught by the “rent vail !"

But these events at the “wondrous cross will reward a closer scrutiny; for they were stupendous miracles indeed.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land to the ninth hour." Three hours of darkness from noon to three p.m., the brightest part of the day, and under the blaze of an eastern sun! What hand but God's could give it? The same Hand that ages before had brought a three-day darkness on less guilty Egypt now brings a similarly awful darkness on far guiltier Palestine; for Abraham's nation was worse than Gentile Pilate or his soldiers. Surely in both instances it was a God-given warning of the doom and the darkness of an eternal hell; and it was thus an arresting mercy from God, to fright them from it. It was as a writing on “the plaister of the wall” in the midst of their godless merry-making over their Victim's death!

Israel's sins are spoken of as a “cloud” and their transgressions as a thick cloud;" and truly thick and dark must have been the cloud that covered Palestine for those three hours, summoned there by Him whom darkness


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obeys as also does the light. Alas, it was a too correct emblem of the nation's iniquities ! But all was in vain. Israel no more repented at this awful miracle than Egypt or its monarch had done ages before, for

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All the while they work alone. But we are told of the end of this darkness as well as its coming on. It ceased outwardly at the very hour when Christ's awful cry told that all the doom and darkness due to sinners had filled His mighty, suffering soul, and had come between Him and God. “About the ninth hour Jesus cried, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ?” When the three hours' outward emblem of the sinner's dark doom ceased, the awful and infinite reality of God's wrath was felt in Jesus' own soul. The darkness which externally ceased gathered itself up within the Sufferer's soul. “When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.” (Isa. liii. 10.) “Thou hast laid Me in the lowest pit, in DARKNESS, in the depths.” (Psalm lxxxviii. 8.) Yet neither the darkness, while it lasted, nor its sudden ceasing seems to have wrought any softening in the bystanders; their last act was to mock Him with “vinegar" to drink. But to us who do at all

Survey that wondrous cross,” how blessed it is to know that Jesus our Lord Himself passed from His soul's deep darkness to God's own vellous light;" and we also have in HIM. In resurrection God's smile and the light of His countenance ended for ever to Jesus that awful darkness; and now He is to us “the Light of Life.”

But the second miracle of the cross, the rending of the vail of the temple, has its precious teaching also. The temple being at the south-east extremity of Jerusalem was far distant from the hill of Calvary on the west of the city,

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but no sooner did death rend the Lamb of God than God rent the ancient vail from top to bottom, spite of its enclosure within thick temple walls, and its top being out of man's reach (some thirty feet high), and its being woven of the strongest materials. This took place also at the ninth hour of the day, which seems to have been a very public hour at the temple (Acts iii. 1), and many priests would be there. All this was surely God's testimony to them; but their subsequent lies at the tomb of Jesus too plainly shew how they slighted this marvellous event: and painfully suggest how boldly they would dare to sew up the vail again!

But to us the vail is now for ever rent, and we who were born into light out of darkness by a “look at the Crucified One," are now worshippers in the light of the unveiled presence of God and the Lamb. No rood-screen' now intervenes; all believers are equally saints and priests, and equally brought within the vail by Jesus' death.

These are the New Testament gifts of God to us, and we should sin against God if we denied them; nor should we ignore them by sanctioning with our presence a worship that sets them aside. The moment we do so we begin to bring a vail over our spirits, and put ourselves back, more or less, into the place of Old Testament worshippers. But it was to deliver His saints from all "vailed' and distant worship that Jesus died.

The third miracle recorded in Matthew is that of an earthquake which occurred at the same mighty moment, an earthquake so violent that by it “the rocks rent” (Palestine being a most rocky soil), and yet so God-guided was it that it simply opened the graves of sleeping saints, leaving others’ graves untouched. After three days the sleepers awoke when Christ arose, and they entered the “holy city and appeared to many." In previous pages (vol. vii. page 149)

it has been shown how this “finger of God” pointed on to the coming first resurrection, and the details need not be again dwelt on.

To faith the graves of sleeping saints now lie open, so to speak, and the brief "three days" interval will soon pass, so near is the coming of our Lord, and then, while the rest of the dead continue in their graves, these sleepers will awake, and will enter the “holy city," the “ holy Jerusalem” of Rev. xxi. 10, and appear (shine forth) to many; for “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” (Col. iii. 4.)

H. D.


THREE times are Luke and Demas named in the Epistles of Paul, and each time together. Twice their names are joined in a salutation, first to the saints at Colosse and then to Philemon. The third time they are not joined, but are named in striking contrast: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world .. only Luke is with me.” (2 Tim. iv. 10, 11.) The one name furnishes us with a bright example of faithfulness to Christ and His Gospel; the other serves as a beacon, warning against any departure of heart from Him “who loved us and gave Himself for us." Let us seek to dwell briefly on the little we are told of each.

That the Book called the Acts of the Apostles was written by Luke, is universally acknowledged ;* and though his

* From the similarity of certain expressions found in the Epistles of Paul and also in the Acts of the Apostles and Luke's Gospel, a recent writer, we have just learned, seeks to prove that both of the latter were written by Paul. The way in which the personal pronouns are used in the history in Acts seems clearly to disprove this theory.

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