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first we believe in God unto righteousness; by the second we live in God unto salvation: but the third, for that also is true, and must be considered, is the great affrightment of all them that live ungodly. But in the whole, Christ's resurrection and ours is the A and 12 of a Christian ; that as “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever,” so may we in Christ become the morrow of the resurrection, the same or better than yesterday in our natural life; the same body and the same soul, tied together in the same essential union, with this only difference, that not nature, but grace and glory, with an hermetic seal, give us a new signature, whereby we shall no more be changed, but, like unto Christ, our Head, we shall become the same for
Of these I shall discourse in order. 1. That Christ, who is “ the first fruits,” is the first in this order: he is already risen from the dead. 2. We shall all take our turns, we shall die, and, as sure as death, we shall all rise again. And, 3. This very order is effective of the thing itself. That Christ is first risen, is the demonstration and certainty of ours; for because there is an order in this economy, the first in the kind is the measure of the rest. If Christ be the first fruits, we are the whole vintage; and we shall all die in the order of nature, and shall rise again in the order of Christ : “ They that are Christ's,” and are found so “at his coming, " shall partake of his resurrection. But Christ first, then they that are Christ's : that is the order.
1. Christ is the first fruits; he is already risen from the dead: for he alone could not be held by death. “ Free among the dead."
Φρίξέν σε γέρων τότε
'Ανεχάσσατο βηλού 4. Death was sin's eldest daughter, and the grave-clothes were her first mantle; but Christ was Conqueror over both, and came to take that away, and to disarm this. This was a glory fit for the Head of mankind, but it was too great and too good to be easily believed by incredulous and weakhearted man. It was at first doubted by all that were
a Synes. Hym. 9. Petavii, p. 347.
concerned; but they that saw it, had no reason to doubt any longer. But what is that to us, who saw it not? Yes, very much: “ Valde dubitatum est ab illis, ne dubitaretur à nobis,” saith St. Austin ; “ They doubted very much, that, by their confirmation, we might be established, and doubt no more.” Mary Magdalene saw him first, and she ran with joy, and said “ she had seen the Lord, and that he was risen from the dead; but they believed her not :- After that, divers women together saw him," and they told it, but had no thanks for their pains, and obtained no credit among the disciples : the two disciples that went to Emmaus, saw him, talked with him, ate with him, and they ran and told it : they told true, but nobody believed them : then St. Peter saw him, but he was not yet got into the chair of the catholic church, they did not think him infallible, and so they believed him not at all. Five times in one day he appeared; for after all this, he appeared to the eleven; they were indeed transported with joy and wonder; but they would scarce believe their own eyes, and though they saw him, they doubted. Well, all this was not enough; he was seen also of James, and suffered Thomas to thrust his hand into his side, and appeared to St. Paul, and was seen by “five hundred brethren at once.” So that there is no capacity of mankind, no time, no place, but had an ocular demonstration of his resurrection. He appeared to men and women, to the clergy and the laity, to sinners of both sexes; to weak men and to criminals, to doubters and deniers, at home and abroad, in public and in private, in their houses and their journeys, unexpected and by appointment, betimes in the morning and late at night, to them in conjunction and to them in dispersion, when they did look for him and when they did not; he appeared upon earth to many, and to St. Paul and St. Stephen from heaven: so that we can require no greater testimony than all these are able to give us; and they saw for themselves and for us too, that the faith and certainty of the resurrection of Jesus might be conveyed to all that shall die, and follow Christ in their own order.
Now this being matter of fact, cannot be supposed infinite, but limited to time and place, and, therefore, to be proved by them who, at that time, were upon the place; good men and true, simple and yet losers by the bargain,
many and united, confident and constant, preaching it all their life, and stoutly maintaining it at their death; men that would not deceive others, and men that could not be deceived themselves, in a matter so notorious, and so proved, and so seen: and if this be not sufficient credibility in a matter of fact, as this was, then we can have no story credibly transmitted to us, no records kept, no acts of courts, no narratives of the days of old, no traditions of our fathers, no memorials of them in the third generation. Nay, if from these we have not sufficient causes and arguments of faith, how shall we be able to know the will of Heaven upon earth ? unless God do not only tell it once, but always, and not only always to some men, but always to all men : for if some men must believe others, they can never do it in any thing more reasonably than in this; and if we may not trust them in this, then, without a perpetual miracle, no man could have faith : for faith could never come by hearing, by nothing but by seeing. But if there be any use of history, any faith in men, any honesty in manners, any truth in human intercourse; if there be any use of apostles or teachers, of ambassadors or letters, of ears or hearing; if there be any such thing as the grace of faith, that is less than demonstration or intuition; then we may be as sure that Christ, the first fruits, is already risen, as all these credibilities can make us. But let us take heed; as God hates a lie, so he hates incredulity; an obstinate, a foolish, and pertinacious understanding. What we do every minute of our lives, in matters of title and great concernment, if we refuse to do it in religion, which yet is to be conducted, as all human affairs are, by human instruments, and arguments of persuasion proper to the nature of the thing, it is an obstinacy as cross to human reason, as it is to Divine faith.
But this article was so clearly proved, that presently it came to pass that men were no longer ashamed of the cross, but it was worn upon breasts, printed in the air, drawn upon foreheads, carried upon banners, put upon crowns imperial; presently it came to pass that the religion of the despised Jesus did infinitely prevail; a religion that taught
en to be meek and humble, apt to receive injuries, but unapt to do any; a religion that gave countenance to the poor and pitiful, in a time when riches were adored, and ambition and
pleasure had possessed the heart of all mankind; a religion that would change the face of things, and the hearts of men, and break vile habits into gentleness and counsel; that such a religion, in such a time, by the sermons and conduct of fishermen, men of mean breeding and illiberal arts, should so speedily triumph over the philosophy of the world, and the arguments of the subtle, and the sermons of the eloquent; the power of princes and the interests of states, the inclinations of nature and the blindness of zeal, the force of custom and the solicitation of passions, the pleasures of sin and the busy arts of the devil; that is, against wit, and power, superstition and wilfulness, fanie and money, nature and empire, which are all the causes in this world that can make a thing impossible ; this, this is to be ascribed to the power of God, and is the great demonstration of the resurrection of Jesus. Every thing was an argument for it, and improved it; no objection could hinder it, no enemies destroy it; whatsoever was for them, it made the religion to increase ; whatsoever was against them, made it to increase ; sun-shine and storms, fair weather or foul, it was all one as to the event of things : for they were instruments in the hands of God, who could make what himself should choose to be the product of any cause; so that if the Christians had peace, they went abroad and brought in converts ; if they had no peace but persecution, the converts came in to them. In prosperity, they allured and enticed the world by the beauty of holiness; in affliction and trouble, they amazed all men with the splendour of their innocence, and the glories of their patience; and quickly it was that the world became disciple to the glorious Nazarene, and men could no longer doubt of the resurrection of Jesus, when it became so demonstrated by the certainty of them that saw it, and the courage of them that died for it, and the multitude of them that believed it; who, by their sermons and their actions, by their public offices and discourses, by festivals and eucharists, by arguments of experience and sense, by reason and religion, by persuading rational men, and eştablishing believing Christians, by their living in the obedience of Jesus, and dying for the testimony of Jesus, have greatly advanced his kingdom, and his power, and his glory, into which he entered after his resurrection from the dead. For he is the First Fruits; and if we hope
to rise through him, we must confess that himself is first risen from the dead. That is the first particular.
2. There is an order for us also: we also shall rise again :
Combustusque senex tumulo procedit adultus ;
The ashes of old Camillus shall stand up spritely from his urn; and the funeral fires shall produce a new warmth to the dead bones of all those, who died under the arms of all the enemies of the Roman greatness. This is a less wonder than the former; for “admonetur omnis ætas jam fieri posse quod aliquando factum est.” If it was done once, it may be done again: for since it could never have been done but by a Power that is infinite, that infinite must also be eternal and indeficient. By the same almighty Power, which restored life to the dead body of our living Lord, we may all be restored to a new life in the resurrection of the dead.
When man was not, what power, what causes made him to be? Whatsoever it was, it did then as great a work as to raise his body to the same being again; and because we know not the method of Nature's secret changes, and how we can be fashioned beneath · in secreto terræ,' and cannot handle and discern the possibilities and seminal powers in the ashes of dissolved bones, must our ignorance in philosophy be put in balance against the articles of religion, the hopes of mankind, the faith of nations, and the truth of God? And are our opinions of the power of God so low, that our understanding must be his measure; and he shall be confessed to do nothing, unless it be made plain in our philosophy ? Certainly we have a low opinion of God, unless we believe he can do more things than we can understand: but let us hear St. Paul's demonstration; if the corn dies and lives again; if it lays its body down, suffers alteration, dissolution and death,but, at the Spring, rises again in the verdure of a leaf, in the fulness of the ear, in the kidneys of wheat; if it proceeds from little to great, from nakedness to ornament, from emptiness to plenty, from unity to multitude, from death to life: be a Sadducee no more, shame not thy understanding, and reproach not the weakness of thy faith, by thinking that corn can be restored to life, and man cannot; especially since, in every creature, the obediential capacity is infinite,