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heathen writer, (Origen cont. Cels. 1. 2, § 55.) who lived near those times, having occasion to speak of Mary Magdalene, calls her a frantic
But the term demoniac, or being possessed with demons, was never used by the ancients to signify any thing vicious or immoral in the character, but only bodily defects and disease, or alienation and disorder of the mind.
And we might wonder whence it should have happened, that, in these latter ages, the having seven demons should be construed as having been exceedingly wicked, and the most injurious aspersion should have been thrown on the character of this person, as if she had been a common woman, one of the most depraved of the human species ; if we did not know that it had arisen from taking her to be the woman mentioned, (Luke vii.) who had unhappily been such, but was become entirely changed when she presented herself to our Lord at the Pharisee's house.
Thus, however, the character of a most virtuous woman has been, and continues to be, aspersed from age to age; for, so far was Mary Magdalene from being such a penitent .
as she is commonly presumed to have been, that there is great reason to believe that she had been one who (like Zachariah and Elisabeth) had walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, and never needed any repentance for any great crimes whatsoever.
If she had been a person whose life had been so sadly stained, though our Lord was ever most ready to show kindness to the truly penitent, he would not have admitted her to have been one of those few of the sex, probably all of them advanced in life, who were occasionally attendant upon him in his journeys to call men from their sins to the knowledge of the truth. And a still more striking impropriety would there have been in such a one being marked out as the person to whom he first appeared after his being restored to life : this is a blot and circumstance which his early enemies, Jews and heathens, would not have failed to hit, and to have dwelled upon.
But, viewing her as one of eminent piety and worth, who had received so vast a favour from Christ as to have her reason restored to her by that divine power with which he was invested, and being full of gratitude on that
account, and attached to him for his eminent virtues and goodness, as though divine Providence judged it fitting that the knowledge of his being raised from the dead should be first communicated to the women of his particular acquaintance, it does not seem that a more proper choice could have been made than of Mary Magdalene.
We are next to consider the manner in which our Lord showed himself alive to her, alone recorded by St. John; in which observe how gradually it was brought on, step by step, to prevent her being alarmed or disturbed, that she might have sufficient presence of mind to consider the object coolly, that it was really Christ himself that she saw, and no illusion.
And we may presume that the principal view of Providence, in these appearances of Christ being first made to her, and to the other women afterwards, was, that, the notice of it being given to his apostles, it might hinder them from being too much agitated, and in some measure prepare them for it when he did actually appear to them; and that, as they were intended to be his witnesses to the world, they might have the most satisfactory evidence of
this most important fact, the very corner-stone and prop of our holy religion, the resurrection of its divine founder. For, if that fact be ascertained, the gospel is true; and no fact of the kind was ever equally ascertained.
During the Jewish sabbath, (Saturday,) all was quiet ; but as soon as it was past, in the twilight of the morning, Mary Magdalene, and the other women, ventured out to pay the last funeral honours to the body of Jesus, not knowing what had been done by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea; when, upon their arrival at the sepulchre, they perceived the stone had been taken away; when they immediately came back to their company to tell what had happened.
Immediately upon this, Peter and John hastened to the sepulchre, and not only found the
report to be true, but also observed such a care and exactness to have been used in disposing of thegrave-cloths that had been wrapped about the body, as convinced them that it had not been stolen, but conveyed away in some very extraordinary manner. It did not, however,
in the least occur to them, that he might be raised to life ; for, strange as it may seem, $o sunk were they with despair at his death,
that they had quite forgot that he was to come to life again. This the evangelist, who was himself one of them, tells us, and adds, (John xx. 10.) “ Then the (two) disciples went again to their own home;" i. e, to the house where they lodged in Jerusalem, not thinking it safe or prudent for them to be seen about the sepulchre.
But the women who had gone with them a second time to it, who were not so likely to give offence, and who showed more courage on this occasion, still remained upon the
spot. I cannot help stopping here to make one remark in a few words, but surely of importance in the present state of sentiments and opinions concerning our Saviour Christ, and the errors which the world has been under concerning him for so many ages; and it is this, viz. ; that, most assuredly, his apostles in his lifetime, and all others his disciples, never took him to be any thing but a human being like themselves ; for, if they had believed him to be God, would they have been under such despondency as we find they were, and give him up quite for gone, so as never to expect to see him more? It could not be; certainly they knew nothing of the matter,