“There laid they Jesus.”—John 19:42
My soul, it is usual for the relations and friends of those that are deceased to attend the funeral. Art thou a friend, a relation, of Jesus? Oh yes; I trust thou art. He was, and is, the dearest of all friends, the nearest of all relations. He is at once all and every one—the Father, the Husband, the Brother. The invitation is therefore sent to thee, personally to thee. Every voice of affection calls thee to the tomb of Jesus, saying, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” And if, like Mary Magdalene, from more abundant love, thou art asking, “Where have they laid him?”—the answer immediately is returned, “Come and see.” Yes, thou dear Redeemer! by that faith thou hast graciously given me, I will come and see. Let my faith take wing, and light down in Joseph of Arimethea’s garden, and behold the place where the Lord lay. Was this the memorable spot? Did Jesus lay here? Did he here make (according to the ancient prophecy foretold of him)”his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth? “Here let me look; here let my soul wander in contemplation. Oh what a marvellous sight to behold Jesus thus lain in the grave. Surely we may cry out, as the church did in the view,” My beloved is white and ruddy. “Never did death triumph so before. Never did the grave receive and hold’ such a prisoner. But, my soul, behold also, in the view, how Jesus triumphed even in death. It was “through death he destroyed him that had the power of death-that is, the devil, that he might deliver them who, through fear of death, are all their life-time subject to bondage. “And what saith Jesus to my soul from the grave? Fear not,” I have the keys of death and the grave: fear not to go down to the Egypt of the grave, I will go with thee, and will surely bring thee up again from thence. “And observe, my soul, as the grave could not detain thy Lord, thine Head, a prisoner; so neither can the grave, beyond the appointed time, detain any of his members. And as the union between the Godhead and the manhood in Jesus was not broken off by death, so neither can the union between Jesus and his people be interrupted by death. The covenant of redemption, the union of Jesus with his people, the love of God in Christ to the souls and bodies of his redeemed, all these rot not in the grave; nay, where sin is taken out, the very enmity of the grave is slain; and though it acts as a devourer of our corrupt bodies, yet it acts as a preserver also of the refined part, that the dust and ashes of his saints Jesus may visit, and manifest his care over, from day to day. Precious Lord, here then, as in every thing, thou hast the pre-eminence. Thou hast gone before: thou hast sweetly perfumed the grave by having lain there. And where should the dying members be but where their living Head hath been before? Hence then, my soul, take comfort and fear not, when thy partner, the body, is called upon to go down to the grave. When the soul flies to Jesus in heaven, the body will sweetly rest in Jesus till summoned from the grave. Thy God, thy Jesus, hath the appointment for thy departure; both the place where, the time when, and the manner how, are all with him. He hath the keys both to open the door of death, and to open the kingdom of heaven. Leave all then with him. Frequently; by faith, visit his sepulchre, and behold where they laid him, And in the triumphs of thy Jesus, as thine head, already take part, as a member of his body, crying out with the apostle, “Oh death where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory? God be praised who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."