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back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow; and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men." Matt. xxviii. 2, 3. There is something very real in this description-very much opposed to the incorporeality of the angelic host. The act of rolling away the massive stone which the good Joseph of Arimathea had placed as a security against the enemies of that sacred body, and which the high priests had farther made sure, and moreover sealed it, as a barrier against his friends, and his seating himself upon it, we can hardly believe to have been only in semblance. The angel, the highly-privileged angel, who was sent, or rather who was permitted to rush upon this enrapturing service, seems to have alighted upon earth with a force that made it quiver; and to have rent or spurned from its place the stone that barred the egress of the Lord Jesus from his dark prison. No mortal eye beheld that egress; the countenance of the angel caused the keepers to become as dead men: knowing as they did that any violation of the seal upon the stone would be visited on them with the extreme of punishment, they had no power to resist; they fell prostrate, rendered senseless by terror; and no marvel, seeing what was the aspect of the angel. Our foolish and improper habit of using the most hyperbolical comparisons on ordinary occasions, deprives Scripture of much of its due force. As quick as lightning, as vivid as lightning, are expressions in ordinary use among us; and when we read that the angel's countenance was like lightning, we do not perhaps recall
one of those terrific flashes or blazes of electric fire, from which the boldest is constrained to avert his eyes; and add to it the highest possible expression of intellectual power. We do not even try to render that small measure of justice which our very imperfect faculties would enable us to yield to the might and majesty of an angelic envoy from Him who maketh his ministers a flaming fire. And we may well believe, that the triumphant joy, the holy indignation of the angel, who came to open the Lord's sepulchre, would shine forth from his countenance with a most heavenly radiance. The miserable children of the dust had so far been allowed to work their wicked will, and Satan, utterly crushed as his head now was through the assumption of all power, both in heaven and in earth, by his almighty Conqueror, had still, with his inferior spirits, an hour during which they could boast that their conquest over vile man had laid the Lord of life in the grave. Very short, and fearfully embittered was that season of hellish exultation; but it was enough to rouse the keenest emotions in the breast of a celestial spirit; and we may be assured, that when the longed-for command was issued, and the waiting angel sped his way to the garden of Joseph, the poor, wretched soldiers of Rome engaged but little of his attention, fixed as it must have been on the baffling of the malice of Satan. Not against the miserable sinners of earth, the poor heathen slaves who occupied an assigned post at the sepulchre, did the lightning of his countenance flash forth; but against those hostile legions who had wrought so much wo; against him who, having had
the power of death, was now virtually destroyed by the dying of the Lord Jesus.
Although only one angel is named as having executed this commission, we know that many were present. No mortal was found worthy to witness that greatest event that creation ever viewed-the rising of the Son of God from the tomb; but "seen of angels" it unquestionably was; and they seem to have become visible under different circumstances, singly or not, to the individuals who came to the sepulchre. Thus we find that the angel who in the sight of the keepers sat upon the stone which he had just rolled away, was not found there by the women, but, finding the stone rolled away, "and entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith. unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you." Mark xvi. 5-7. Here we read of no lightning, nothing to terrify: the angel's aspect is that of a young man, and his words full of gentleness and peace. He speaks as one intimately acquainted with all that so thrillingly interested them: he refers to what had been spoken to them by their Lord; and Peter, whose heart was still writhing under the conscious guilt of his denial, is particularly named, to assure him of his being still included among the beloved followers of the Lord.
Again, when Mary Magdalen was there alone indulging her grief," as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." John xx. 11-13. It seems as though the angel, knowing how often our Lord had spoken of his resurrection from the dead, marveled how any one who loved him could weep at the evident fulfilment of that glorious prediction.
During the forty days of our Lord's farther continuance on earth, we may be assured that he was still "seen of angels," who surrounded his path, adoring him, ministering unto him, and eagerly looking forward to the moment when they should escort him to his throne above, with the rejoicing song, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in!" Those forty days that intervened between the rising again and the ascension into heaven of the Lord Jesus, were a precious type of the coming time, when earth shall once more enjoy the presence of her heavenly King, and bask in the brightness of his divine glory, while angels tread her peaceful surface, and that which is now but a howling wilderness of sin, shall blossom like a rose, and become as the garden of Eden. May the Lord hasten that day, when his children, no longer buffeted by messengers of Satan, and pining for communion with Him, too often in vain through the abound.