The serpent of brass which was erected in the wilderness was a figure of Christ on Mount Calvary, but the figure here again fell far short of that which it prefigured ; for the serpent of brass healed only the bodies of those stung, whilst Christ on His Cross recovers men of the wounds of their souls.
When Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, again there was an earnest of the future mighty deliverance wrought by Christ. But that to which it pointed was the greatest deliverance of all. Moses brought the people from Egypt into the desert, but Christ leads His elect into Heaven.
Joseph between the butler and baker of Pharaoh, was a foreshadowing of Christ between the two thieves ; but Joseph only promised the butler restoration to the servitude of his master's table, whilst Jesus promised the penitent thief the liberty of Paradise. The butler was to be raised after three days ; but " To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" was the promise of Christ.
Truly, from these few examples may be seen how the antitype surpasses the type, as the rose excels the thorn, as the fruit surpasses the leaf, as the truth is better than the dream, and the spirit than the letter.
When our Blessed Lord said, " Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life ; and they are they which testify of Me" (S. John 5: 39), He plainly taught us to read the Sacred Writings with great diligence, else we should not understand the mysteries contained in them. To search is not to read carelessly and without attention ; and unless we read with devotion and thought, we shall fail to detect their testimony to CHRIST. To search out a testimony as CHRIST commands us, requires care in seeking, time for finding, light whereby to discern, understanding with which to grasp, wisdom by which to retain, and love by which to enjoy that testimony which has been sought, found, discerned, grasped, and retained.
Coming then to our purpose, we note one of the types of the Son of God in Jacob the Patriarch, among the Fathers one of the most honourable and renowned, so that the Angel, in addressing the holy Virgin, says that her SON shall reign in the house of Jacob, singling Him out in preference to either Abraham or Isaac. Let us now search into the type of Jacob.
Jacob was at variance with his brother Esau on account of their father's inheritance, and so was Christ with the Jew touching the pre-eminence of His Church ; but as, in the end, Jacob purchased the birth-right and inheritance of Esau for a mess of pottage, so Christ bought from the Synagogue its right and inheritance with His Blood. Jacob served for Leah and for Rachel his two wives ; and Christ had first the Synagogue and then the Church. The Synagogue, weak-eyed like Leah, could not discern what was for its good, and was hated ; whilst the Church, like Rachel, for whom the greatest toil was undergone, was the best loved.
Jacob died blind, his arms crossed, laden with years, surrounded by his children ; and CHRIST gave up the Ghost on Calvary with His eyes dulled by tears, His arms stretched out on the Cross, weighed down with our offences, and with Jew and Gentile around.
At the point of death, and with the sign of the Cross, Jacob took away the heritage from his nephew Ephraim, the elder, to confer it on Manasses, the younger ; and in like manner, at the last hour of life, and on the Cross, CHRIST disinherited the Synagogue, and gave the right of inheritance to the Church.
Jacob entered Egypt rich in gold, silver, and cattle, but when taken out of it, there were but the ointments and balm about his body. So Christ, the King of Glory, possessing all things, left this world in death, divested of all, exceeding poor, embalmed with the myrrh and aloes purchased by other men's money, and shrouded in a borrowed sheet.
Seeing, then, we have come from the figure to the thing figured, from the type to the anti-type, from the shadow to the substance, it is expedient for us to say something about the ointments wherewith the Son of God was anointed, and the shroud in which He was wrapped.
THE Son's Body having been placed in the Virgin-Mother's lap, and night approaching, dusk falling, and time being short, Joseph and Nicodemus were moved with great pity, and yet were constrained to ask the Mother to surrender to them the Body of her dear Son. The two honourable old men on one side beheld the SON resting on the lap on which, as an Infant, He had so often reposed, and were fain to let that wearied frame lie there where Nature pointed out its true place of sleep ; but on the other side the approach of night constrained them to conquer their compassion, and proceed with their work.
"The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, . . . and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin : and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary : it shall be an holy anointing oil" (Exod. 30: 22 — 25).
In the ancient law, the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, and the congregation, were anointed with this ointment. Without all doubt, this is a wonderful figure ; but yet its accomplishment is more wonderful, for now on Calvary the Tabernacle of God among men, our Emmanuel is anointed by the aged Joseph and Nicodemus, as was the old tabernacle by Moses and Aaron ; and that ointment which embalmed the Tabernacle of Christ's Body, now fills the whole house of His Church, and descends to every member of His congregation, as the oil on Aaron's beard ran down to the skirts of his clothing.
Tell me, I pray you, when God commanded in the Law of Moses that odoriferous perfumes should be offered in His sanctuary, did He care for the fragrance, like a man, or had this law a spiritual significance ? Most certainly, when the Holy Ghost inspired these laws, deeper mysteries were taught than the blind Jew discerned on the surface.
Let it be noted that there were many conditions to be fulfilled in the anointing with the holy oil. God commanded it to be made of only sweet and odoriferous spices ; also these spices were very costly and precious ; they were to be such as the law named, and not indiscriminately selected scented gums. None were to be wanting, and none were to be added thereto. They were to be accurately measured, and that, not by the secular and common scale, but weighed by the sacred shekel of the sanctuary. What is the holy Tabernacle but the Body of Christ ? This is the Hill to which we lift up our eyes, this the Tower to which we betake ourselves for safety, this our City of refuge, this the Tabernacle in which we will dwell, and this, too, the Temple in which we must worship.
What were the aromatic spices which were offered by the Priest ?—but the most holy virtues of the Son of God, whose fragrance fills the world, and of which the congregation of the elect are made to partake. On Calvary, where had been the odour of decaying carcasses, was now the fragrance of sweet spices. There, where all our sins and iniquities were offensive in the nostrils of God, is now the sweet-smelling savour of the perfected humility, obedience, love, long-suffering, and patience of Christ. As the wood cast by Moses into the bitter waters sweetened them, so the fetor of Calvary is made aromatic by the virtues of Christ.
What other things are those four sweet perfumes with which God commanded the holy Sanctuary to be made sweet;—but the bitter myrrh of suffering, the sweet cinnamon of charity, the calamus of patience, and the cassia of obedience ?
All the odours were of exact measure by careful weighing, to let us understand that the Son of GOD did equally and indifferently shed His Blood for all, great or small, rich or poor, living or dead. Origcn says, Often our Lord bestows His favours more or less, when He pleases, and how He pleases, and to whom He pleases, yet to all is sufficient by measure. S. Anselm, in an Epistle, writes, What do I care, my Brother, that thou art stronger than I, more noble in blood, more beautiful in body, more renowned in dignity, seeing that we are created by One God, and redeemed by One Christ, and governed by One Holy Ghost ? What does it mean, that of cinnamon there should be two hundred and fifty shekels, and of calamus the same amount ? —but that CHRIST shed His Blood as much for the labouring man who cuts stubble as for the prince who sits upon a throne. And what does it mean, that of myrrh there should be five hundred shekels, and an equal amount of cassia ?—but that, however great might be the sufferings of Christ, His obedience was equal in measure thereto.
S. Chrysostom says, When the SON of God imparted His precious Blood, He gave in excess to none, nor gave too little to any, nor deprived any wholly of it; but afterwards it had greater force in some than in others, but the fault lies with those to whom it is entrusted, not with Him Who entrusts it. What is the meaning of this, that all these sweet spices were pounded in a mortar before they were offered in the temple, and, having been ground very, small, were carefully sifted, and then mixed into a mass with oil ? Surely it points to the bruising and crushing of our Blessed LORD in His great sufferings on this day of trial and rebuke, and to the mingling with all the virtues He exhibited, and wherewith His congregation were to be anointed, His most precious Blood. And with respect to us, if our virtues and works are to be accepted of God, they must be crushed in sincere contrition, and sifted by self-examination, and fused in the oil of Divine Unction.
Unground is the spice man offers to God, who thinks on the Passion of Christ with no broken and sorrowful spirit; and unsifted arc the aromatic gums and woods man presents, when he reads or listens to the account of the Sufferings of Christ without meditating upon them ; and unmingled are the fragrant ' particles with oil, when he reads and meditates on the Death of Christ as a mental exercise, without the Holy Spirit to melt them into an ointment wherewith to anoint all his acts and all his thoughts.
The spices were to be weighed with the shekel of the Sanctuary. " All thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the Sanctuary" (Lev. 27: 25). The Jews had two sorts of measures and weights, those used for profane purposes, and those employed in sacred things. The profane weight was the stater, whilst that used in weighing all things connected with the Temple was the shekel. Thus every thing which was in common use, which went into the market, was estimated by the stater, whilst every sacred estimation was " according to the shekel of the Sanctuary."
S. Augustine says, In thee and in me, all we do, all we think, is only of the common weight, sometimes good, sometimes bad : the perfumes of our prayers are sometimes weighed with devotion, sometimes with coldness ; but far otherwise was it with the love and zeal of the Son of God. Time increased them not, nor trouble made them cold. With the weight of the Sanctuary were the works of Christ weighed, whilst ours are tried by a different measure. His works could not be weighed with the same weight as are ours. The merits of one Holy Man may be measured with the merits of another Saint ; and the constancy and torments of one Martyr may be compared with the constancy and the torments of another ; but the virtues, and the sufferings, and the endurance of Christ must be weighed with another balance, and must not be put into the scale with the works of men. The HEIR of Eternity doth not enter into our account, nor is He tried by our measure. He is not weighed where we are weighed, nor judged as we are judged. How is it possible to weigh Him Who weighs all things ? How is it possible to measure Him Who measures all things by His wisdom?
Above, in the resting-place of the Trinity, and in the depth of the Divinity, the Son of the Living God has His measure and weight ; but the measure and weight of the Sanctuary are not as the measure and weight of our world below. No pains of Martyrs can be compared with the pains of Christ, no holiness of Angels can be meted against His, no majesty of monarchs can enter the scale with the splendour of the King of Kings.
In the balance of the Sanctuary nothing was weighed but that which was of the Sanctuary ; and so in the balance of Christ, His works alone are weighed. As we could not weigh ourselves in His balance, He came to us, and erecting that balance on Calvary, on the arms of the Cross He weighed our offences against His virtues, our rebellion against His obedience, our guilt against His Blood, and satisfied for all with His over-abounding merits.
AND now, whilst the two aged counsellors, S. John, the Blessed Virgin, and the rest are proceeding from Calvary to the grave, let us consider the words of David : " Thou hast maintained My right and My cause : Thou art set in the throne that judgest right" (Ps. 9: 4).
Many great mysteries are contained in the Psalm from which this passage is quoted, and it behoves us, in meditating on them, to set before our eyes first, Who is He Who maintains the cause, and sits in the throne ? then, What is the place where the right is maintained, and whence judgment is given ? and lastly, Whose cause is taken in hand by Him ?
He Who maintains the cause is Christ ; the place where it was maintained was the Cross ; and he whose cause was maintained was Man. What prince wrought such great things fighting as did JESUS on His throne? Who ever obtained such a great victory by hard battle as did He by enduring the contradiction of sinners ? What judge ever maintained a cause on his seat, as did Christ on the throne of His Cross ? O glorious Throne! on which He was accompanied by thieves, crowned with thorns, robbed of His Blood, deprived of His friends, encompassed by enemies!
To this throne Christ was sentenced by Pilate the governor. How then is it said that thence He deals judgment ? On this throne He is robbed of His honour and right; how then can He on it maintain my cause ?
Sitting on the throne of the Cross, the Son of God judged him who judged, that is the World ; judged that which was de
serving of judgment, that is Sin ; judged that which had sentenced Him, that is Injustice. Oh, how well the Prophet says, " Thou hast maintained my right and my cause," when it was my right and my cause which necessitated Thy crucifixion. By Thy death on the Cross Thou didst obtain for me a right to enter Heaven, by Thy pleading Thou didst maintain my cause against my great adversary, the Devil. Thou art my Advocate, Thou art my Judge, Thou art my Deliverer.
On Mount Calvary Jesus Was drucified and died, not for His own cause, but for mine; not because He was guilty, but because I was the transgressor. Then He maintained my cause, when by the surrender of Himself to death He saved me from death eternal. Then He maintained my right, when He suffered for my wrong and made over to me His right. Then He judged on His throne, when He divested Satan of his power and took me from the hands of the destroyer.
" Thou hast maintained my right and my cause " when of one ignorant Thou didst make me wise, when from a slave Thou didst make me a son, when from an alien Thou didst change me into a fellow-citizen, when from condemnation Thou didst set me free. Then didst Thou take my cause in hand, when to the prejudice of Thy Person Thou didst seek only the saving of my soul. I repeat, to the prejudice of Thy Person, for Thou didst suffer Thy Body to be mangled, bereft of life, and transfixed with a spear in death, only in order that my cause might be finished.
"Thou hast maintained my right and my cause." When Thou didst come down from the glory of Heaven, and lay aside Thy splendour, it was for my sake, for my cause. When of One invisible Thou didst make Thyself visible, when of One impassible Thou didst become passible, when of One immortal Thou didst become mortal; when from being Lord of Angels Thou didst become an outcast of men, then Thou didst take my right and my cause in hand.
Oh, how Thou didst plead my cause, seeing that, in order to elevate me, Thou didst abase Thyself; in order to give me honour, Thou didst divest Thyself of dignity and embrace infamy; in order to deliver me, Thou didst suffer Thyself to be taken ; in order to excuse me, Thou didst permit men to condemn Thee !
" Thou hast maintained my right and my cause " on the Cross, where, like an advocate, Thou didst pray for me ; where, like a judge, Thou didst pardon me ; where, like a kinsman, Thou didst pay for me ; where, like a brother, Thou didst answer for me ; where, like a friend, Thou didst die for me ; where, like a father, Thou didst weep for me.
" Thou hast maintained my right and my cause " on Thy Royal Throne of the Cross, where Thou didst hear me and the Devil, and the Devil and me, as we stood before Thee seated in judgment ; then he claimed me as his slave, then he accused me of sin ; and lo ! Thou didst refuse me to him, by claiming me as Thine own, and didst discharge the accusation by suffering Thyself the penalty. And as the Eternal Father was wroth with me because I have broken His commandments, and have not walked in His statutes, nor loved His law, Thou didst maintain my cause before Him, pleading Thy sufferings, offering Thy Blood, expiating with Thy death.
" Thou hast maintained my right and my cause " with the Angels, in giving them charge to guard me. " Thou hast maintained my right and my cause" with the Church, by incorporating me in her. " Thou hast maintained my right and my cause " with Satan, by delivering me out of his hands. " Thou hast maintained my right and my cause " against Sin, by pardoning it.
" Thou hast maintained my right and my cause," not having need or reason to do it, seeing Thou didst create me in Thy image, redeem me with Thy Blood, endow me with Thy merits, heal me with Thy wounds, enlighten me with Thy doctrine, draw me to Thine elect, and reform me with Thy Sacraments ; not that I deserved all this, but that Thou of Thy wondrous and overflowing love didst will it. O Light of my eyes and Rest of my soul ! upon my knees I beseech Thee, and with tears I ask Thee, that Thou wouldest lighten my understanding, cleanse my heart, guide my thoughts, that I may worthily meditate on all the great mysteries of Thy Passion, on all the awful and solemn events of that scene where Thou didst maintain my right and my cause. And now the work is over, Christ on His entry into the world undertook my cause, He has now pleaded it, and has maintained it unto the end. The work is finished, the Advocate has won, but His victory has cost Him His life. He has maintained my right and my cause without a thought of laying it down. Though the Jews bid Him come down from the Cross and make an end of His sufferings, He would not desert that throne, for thereon must He sit to judge my cause, and thereon must He remain till it was brought to an end.
But now all is over, and now that my cause is won, and my right is made clear, He leaves His throne in weariness for His bed in the cool and quiet grave.
" HE came again, and said, Father, one of our nation is strangled, and is cast out in the market-place. Then, before I had tasted of any meat, I started up, and took him up into a room until the going down of the sun. . . . And after the going down of the sun I went and made a grave, and buried him" (Tob. 2: 3,4. 7). These are the words of Holy Scripture, speaking of the care which the good man had to bury the dead. For there was in Babylon a poor man executed by injustice, which, when it was known to Tobit, he brought him secretly into his house, and at sunset he buried him in a new grave. Among the Works of Mercy, the burying of' the dead is very acceptable to God, as is also the visiting of the sick, the which two works always receive a reward of our LORD.
When Saul was slain upon the mountains of Gilboa, King David sent great thanks to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead because they had reverently buried the body of the King. " Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. And now the Lord show kindness and truth unto you : and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing" (2 Sam. 2: 5,6).
Holy Scripture also highly commends Jehu for burying the body of Jezebel because she had been a king's daughter, after that, for her iniquity, she had been slain. And also Joseph is had in honour because he brought the bones of his father out oi Egypt to be buried in Palestine. The great Simon commanded a stately monument to be erected in Modin, in which he buried his brothers, the Maccabees, and reserved a place for his own bones.
But to come to our purpose. The Son of God, Holy Jesus, did not build Himself a sepulchre when He was alive, nor did His Mother know where to lay Him when He was dead ; and, as He had not where to lay His head in life, He had not where to lay His head in death. Alive, He lived in friends' houses; and dead, He reposed in another man's tomb.
How should He make Himself a tomb, when He had not a house to dwell in ? On the Altar of the Cross He remembered well to pray for His enemies, to pardon the thief his sins, but He gave no thought to where He was to be buried, for He sought not Himself, but us.
" Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden ; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore" (S. John xix. 41, 42). Hard by unto the Mount Calvary was a little garden on the hill-slope, in which, in the face of the rock, was a tomb, newly hewn, in which none had yet been laid ; and there Christ was placed.
If we examine the words of the holy Evangelist, we see that there are several remarkable particulars recorded of this grave. It was in the rock, unused, and it belonged to another man. All which conditions were necessary. For if the tomb had not been of stone, the Jews might have had some colour for their lie, when they asserted that the disciples had stolen the Body away. If it had not been new, they might have supposed the Resurrection to have been that of some other than Christ. If it had not been the property of another, and he a counsellor of the Sanhedrim, they might have believed that the Resurrection was feigned.
O Poor LORD ! did it not content Thee to be born without a house, and to live without wealth, and to die without a bed ; but must Thou lie in another man's grave ? Oh, how happy should I be, if Thou wouldst bury Thyself in this soul of mine, that, as Thou didst rise the third day, never after to die again, so I might, with Thee, be raised to newness of life.
The grave had no inscription over it, the door was open, the stone was on one side ; and now the attendants with loving hands lift the Body of CHRIST, spread the sheet on the floor of the tomb, and lay the sacred Corpse on it, and then gently wrap and veil it, ere they close the sepulchre and retire.
There, then, remained Jesus in the cave, covered with the stone, alone, anointed with rich ointments, His winding-sheet wet with the tears of those who had entombed Him.
O Love of my soul, Light of my eyes, Joy of my heart, Rest of my life, tell me, I pray Thee, how, being the LORD of Life, canst Thou lie dead and shrouded in a poor grave ?
'Why, O Good Jesus, didst Thou not elect some sumptuous tomb ? Why didst Thou not summon the choirs of Heaven to chant Thy requiem, and the hosts of Angels to lay Thee to rest ?
O Good Jesus, how much more am I bound unto Thee for redeeming me, than for creating me ; for in making me, Thou didst only give me myself; but in redeeming me, Thou didst give me Thyself. Thou didst give me Thyself when I was a stranger from Thee through sin, reconciling me by grace, making me Thy brother by nature, and Thy companion in glory.
Oh, how much more do I owe Thee for having re-made me, than for having first created me! For when I was first made, Thou didst give me nothing ; but when Thou didst redeem me, Thou didst bestow on me all Thy wealth. In creating the world Thou wast occupied six days, and in redeeming me Thou wast engaged thirty and three years ; in Thy speech receiving contradiction, in Thy doing walking amidst snares, in Thy torments an object of mockery, in Thy miracles surrounded by blasphemers.
O GLORY of Jerusalem, Joy of Israel, at the instant Thou didst assume human flesh, then began the travail of Thy soul and the sufferings of Thy body. What was Christ's most holy life, but a long and cruel Passion ? What did Holy Jesus not suffer ? what did He not endure ? seeing that in every age He was troubled, by all people He was persecuted, in all parts of His body He was tormented! He suffered in His eyes, shedding tears ; in His ears, hearing blasphemies ; in His face, feeling buffets ; in His mouth, tasting gall and vinegar ; in His hands and feet, enduring wounds ; in His head, thorns ; in His heart, a spear-point. In the manger He endured poverty ; in the desert, persecution ; in Egypt, exile ; in the temple, resistance ; in the way, weariness ; in the garden, sweat; and on the Cross, death. In the day-time He taught; in the night-time He prayed. From the hour of His birth till the moment of His entombment, what time was there in which He did not some good ? And for whom, and to whom, was that good done, but Man?
At the Hour of Lauds JESUS is seized, at Prime He is accused, at Tierce scourged at the pillars, at Sext condemned, at Nones put to death, at Vespers anointed, at Compline buried. Oh, how at each hour He does and suffers for man ! He, the Judge, for man is judged; He. the King, for man is mocked; He, the Priest, for man is, as the victim, slain ; He, the Innocent, for guilty man suffers. Oh, wondrous mystery ! He suffered in friend and in foe; and friend and foe helped Him to suffer. He suffered in the weeping women, and in the accusing infidels ; in the blaspheming and in the penitent thief; in the soldier who pierced Him, and in the Mother, pierced through with many sorrows.
Infinite was the love of my LORD and my God, for nothing could induce Him to leave His Cross till He had wrought out my salvation—no, not the hardness of the bed, nor the bitter drink, nor the grievous torment, nor the cruel death, nor the love of His Mother, nor the shame of nakedness, nor the persuasion of the people, nor the ingratitude of the world.
O Good Jesus, Love of my soul! what charity is this that overcomes Thee ? What love is this that guides Thee, that, when asked to descend from the Cross, Thou dost refuse, and yet that makes Thee mount Thy Cross unasked ? What am I, that Thou shouldst suffer thus for me, when I am conceived in sin, born in pain, brought up in ignorance, powerless to resist evil, ready to yield to sin, inconstant in virtue ? May my soul mark with attention, and consider with gravity, Who this is Who has suffered for me, where He has suffered, how He has suffered, and for whom He has suffered ; all which, if rightly considered, will fill me with amazement, and humility, and shame.
What can I present unto thee, O Lord, in return for all Thou hast done for me ? What can I give Thee, but the Blood Thou didst shed for me ? What can I offer Thee, but only the charity Thou didst bear for me ? All this I offer Thee on my knees, presenting it to Thee with many tears, hoping that it may profit me.
Finally, I present unto Thee, O my Good JESUS, all this work and the author of the same, to the end that it may profit Thy servants, and that the glory may redound unto Thee, and to no other; and, if it be not perfect, then, O Good JESUS, I pray Thee to supply that which may be wanting.