the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
We find the greatest attention paid by the Hebrews, from the earliest ages, to the depositing of the remains of their friends in sepulchres. Perhaps, in all the compass of language, and in all the refinements of courts, there is nothing to be found in history equal to the manners and address of the patriarch Abraham, when standing up before his people to ask a place for the burial of his beloved Sarah from the children of Heth.
Would men wish to behold a portrait of the most unaffected dignity with politeness, they must look for it in the twenty-third chapter of Genesis, where, I venture to say, is discovered every thing that can be truly called elegant, dignified, and venerable in the character of the great Father of the faithful. Surely, the patriarch here appears the most accomplished and finished gentleman the world ever beheld. In proof, I hope that I shall be pardoned if I recite a few words from that interesting chapter.
"And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba, the same is Hebron, in the land of Canaan. And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, "Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead. None of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mightest bury thy dead. And Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth."
What a very interesting view doth this afford of the conduct of Abraham on this occasion. And when in the after conversation, the children of Heth proposed giving the spot of ground the patriarch fixed on for a sepulchre for his beloved Sarah, with what grace and dignity did he decline it as a gift; but requested that he might have it by purchase. And during the transaction of this business, we are told, that Abraham again bowed down himself before the people of the land.
Last offices to the dead were among the first in the concern of the living. Probably, though it was reserved for the gospel dispensation to bring life and immortality to light, yet among those who, like of Christ afar off, they were not wholly untaught concerning the doctrine of the resurrection in Jesus. But be this as it may, certain it is, that the greatest regard was had in the burial of the dead among the early followers of our Lord; and to be without a burial place, was considered among the severest calamities. Hence Jacob, when a-dying, charged his children to bury him with his fathers. "There" (said he), "they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah." (Genesis 49:29) And hence, Joseph also gave commandment "concerning his bones?" (Genesis 1:25) And it is spoken of in Scripture, by the Lord himself, as the marked punishment of Ithoiakim, that he should have no burial place, but be cast forth as an ass without the gates of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 22:18-19) And what is it now? Believers in Jesus still feel some degree of concern, that the ashes of their friends may be deposited with decent solemnity in the grave. And when we consider what the blessed Scriptures have said, that the bodies of Christ's people are the temples of the Holy Ghost, there seems to be a manifest propriety, though void of all idle parade and ostentation, to commit the remains of those who die in the Lord to the bowels of the earth, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in him, and through him, and by him, who is himself the resurrection and the life. How blessedly the apostle Paul speaks on this subject, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, in his epistle to the church. "I would not (saith he) have you to he ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For if we believe, that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13, etc.)
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Burial'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​b/burial.html. London. 1828.