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female disciples, though they might have formed the design of embalming his body as early as the evening of Friday, should yet not be able to execute their purpose before the morning of the Sunday at the earliest. Of the setting of the guard meanwhile, and of the sealing up the entrance of the sepulchre, (which, though they did not interfere with the conception, would necessarily have prevented the accomplishment, of their purpose,) if they took place at the time we have conjectured, they could not be aware beforehand; and it would seem they were still in ignorance even on the morning of their visit.
Now, upon the assumption of a design like this, conceived by the women, who attended our Lord's last moments on the evening of Friday, but not executed, nor capable of being executed, before an early hour on the morning of Sunday, the harmony of the course of events upon that morning, relating to the visits to the tomb, must be constructed.
For first, the number of these women was considerable; and indeed the resort of females to the several feasts, especially to the Passover and the Scenopegia, though voluntary on their part, was almost as great as that of the men. Besides those who are mentioned by name, many others are alluded to in general terms, as they who had attended upon and ministered to our Lord in Galilee, and had come up with him on this occasion to Jerusalem. All these, or most of them, must have concurred in forming the resolution in question.
Secondly, these women, as believers in Jesus and followers of Jesus in common, either would be known to each other, or would not. If they were not known. to each other, though they might all have concurred in forming the same design, it cannot be supposed that they would all act in concert to execute it. Hence,
though all might have gone to the tomb, and all have finally been assembled at the tomb on the morning in question, they might set out at different times, and would set out in different parties; and consequently they might arrive at different times, as they would in different parties. But if they were known to each other, though they might have agreed to act in concert to execute, as well as concurred in conceiving, the design of their visit, still if some lodged apart from the rest, or they belonged to different Paschal companies, their agreement would extend no further than an appointment to meet at the tomb by a certain hour on the morning specified: in which case, some might be earlier in arriving than others; though, if nothing had occurred to prevent their waiting for the rest, all might have met there at last.
Thirdly, there are only two parties of women of which any evidence is found in the Gospel accounts; one of which we may call the party of Salome, and the other the party of Johanna. The former is the party in St. Matthew or in St. Mark; the latter is the party in St. Luke: for though St. Matthew and St. Mark mention others in common with St. Luke, and St. Luke mentions others in common with St. Matthew and St. Mark, they only mention Salome, and he only mentions Johanna. These two parties were distinct and either, as consisting of persons unknown to each other, acted entirely independently throughout, or, if they consisted of persons known to each other, they set out at different times and from different places; and so arrived at the sepulchre at different times. This conclusion we may confirm as follows:
I. It is a kind of presumptive argument in its favour, that the party of Salome appears to have consisted, and is certainly specified as consisting, of three
individuals only; Salome, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of James and Joses: the party of Johanna is not specified by name; but in general terms, and under the description above given, it is said to have included many; which I think must mean more than three. Among these, if we compare Luke viii. 2, 3, Susanna would probably be one.
II. It is a similar presumptive argument, that Salome and the second Mary; the former a person of some consequence and the mother of two of the Apostles, the latter a near relation of the Virgin's, the mother also of one Apostle and the wife of Cleopas; would probably lodge not with the rest of the disciples, but with the Eleven; who seem, like our Saviour, to have lodged somewhere by themselves.
III. According to St. Luke, the party of Johanna got their spices ready on the day of the Preparation, as soon as they returned from the garden, after the burial but before the sabbath: and rested, as he expresses it, subsequently during the sabbath, according to the commandment: whereas it is expressly affirmed by St. Mark, xvi. 1, that the party of Salome did not get their's ready until after the sabbath; that is, until a night and a day later: διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου......ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα, ἵνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσιν αὐτόν. This must be sufficient to prove that the two parties were so far distinct, and acted independently of each other. There would be time enough, even after sunset on the sabbath, both to purchase and to prepare what would not be wanted for use before the next morning. But had not this party been a different one from the other, and detained longer than that in the garden on the evening of Friday, they too, we may reasonably infer, would have bought and prepared their spices before the sabbath. This very circumstance of a sepa
rate provision of such articles in each case suggests the same distinction. Had the parties been one and the same, a single provision would have sufficed for both. It is not clear, indeed, whether the party of Johanna had not their spices procured before the interment of the body there is no assertion that they were bought, but only that they were prepared, before the sabbath; and this would be a distinct thing from that. The spices, even after they had been provided, would still require a certain mixture and preparation, the most important part of the process, before they could be ready for use. The party of Salome, however, had not merely to prepare, but also to purchase their spices before the sabbath.
If these considerations, then, should render it probable a priori that the parties in question were distinct, and consequently, though they might act in concert with respect to the common end in view, yet might set out at different junctures of time, or from different places, and consequently arrive at the tomb in a different order of succession; the argument a posteriori, or the comparison of particulars, as recorded to have transpired upon the actual arrival of each, will confirm this conclusion; and place it beyond a question that the visit of the one party was a distinct thing from the visit of the other.
I. If we contrast the account of the visit in St. Matthew with the relation of the visit in St. Luke; when the women arrived at the tomb, according to the former, they found the stone removed from the entrance -an angel sitting upon it-and the watch still present about the sepulchre—but in a state of great alarm and consternation; according to the latter, they found the stone removed indeed, but no one visible either in or about the tomb-and the entrance in particular entirely
unoccupied and free. If the visits were one and the same, these different accounts would not be consistent : but if the visits themselves were distinct, each of them may be true. The first party of the women being gone, the stone would continue removed from the entrance as before; but the angel might cease to be visible: and the watch also might be departed to make their report of what had happened.
Besides which, the visit in St. Matthew was preceded by a great earthquake; which accompanied the descent of the angel a particular altogether so remarkable, that had it formed one of the circumstances connected with the visit in St. Luke, we can scarcely suppose that he would have omitted it. For the descent of the angel was preliminary to the rolling away of the stone; without which there could have been no access to the sepulchre. Nor can it be objected here that St. Mark also omits the same circumstance: for St. Mark's account, as I shall shew by and by, is critically supplementary of St. Matthew's.
Again, according to St. Matthew's account, it does not distinctly appear that the parties even entered the tomb: every thing which he relates seems to have taken place outside of the tomb: but according to St. Luke's, the party must have entered the tomb; and whatsoever he records to have happened unto them, must have happened within the tomb.
II. If we compare St. Mark's account with St. Luke's; according to the former, upon entering the tomb, and before they had time to examine whether the body was still to be seen or not, the women perceived an angel, in a sitting posture and on their right: according to St. Luke, upon entering the tomb they saw no one present; and before the appearance of any angel they had time to examine and to discover that the body was