to deny them; if they had not actually happened, and been so notorious as to be incontrovertible?

The chosen witnesses of our Lord's resurrection were likewise the principal writers of the New Testament, and the whole was doubtless written under their inspection. Now in these books prophecies are inserted, which have been accomplishing ever since to the present day. A sceptick indeed might doubt, whether the predictions concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, were not written after the event: but who can account for other parts of the same prophecy, without allowing that the writer was divinely inspired ? “ The people shall be led away "captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be " trodden down of the gentiles, until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled.#" Has not this been actually the case with the Jews and with Jerusalem, during almost eighteen hundred years? Could human sagacity have foreseen such an unparalleled series of events ? Or would God have thus confirmed the testimony of impostors? And does not this prophecy, thus wonderfully accomplished, demonstrate the resurrection of Christ, and the truth of Christianity? The coming of the man of sin, with lying miracles, doctrines of demons, worshipping of angels, prohibitions of marriage, and commands to abstain from meat; the impositions, usurpations and persecutions of the Roman antichrist; with various other particulars, were most cxactly and circumstantially predicted by the severad witnesses of our Lord's resurrection : and the unde

* Luke, xxi. 24.

niable accomplishments of these prophecies are so many divine attestations to their testimony, for the satisfaction of all succeeding generations.

The Jewish ritual, or the pagan theology, was in. timately connected with the foundations of the several governments then existing in the world : and all the learning, ingenuity, and authority on earth were engaged in their support. Yet a few unarmed, obscure, unlettered men, by preaching a crucified and risen Saviour, in the midst of persecution and sufferings, established Christianity on an immoveable basis; and their successors, following their example, so wonderfully prevailed, that at length Judaism and Paganism, fell before them; the religion of Jesus was professed by powerful nations; and, however corrupted or despised, it subsists to this day! Whatever men may insinuate concerning the ministers of religion : it is an undeniable fact, that plain preaching, fervent prayers, holy lives, and patient sufferings were the only weapons that the primitive preachers of the gospel opposed to all the authority and learning of the world, which were resolutely employed against them : and yet they decidedly triumphed in a contest apparently so unequal! A wise man will always allow, that every effect is produced by some adequate cause : but what adequate cause of this astonishing effect can be assigned ; unless we allow that Christianity was o God, and man could not overthrow it, or prevent its success and triumph ? I will only add, that every instance which at this day occurs, of notoriously wic ked persons, converted by the preaching of the gos ped from their evil ways, and afterwards walking i

newness of life, constitutes a proof that Christ is ri. sen; that he has all power in heaven and earth, and is efficaciously present with his faithful servants, “always even to the end of the world."

We may now I trust confidently say, that no other past event was ever proved by such an accumulated body of evidence. Who doubts whether Alexander conquered Darius ? or Julius Cæsar, Pompey? Yet who can produce the tenth part of the proof in respect of these events, which hath even at this time been stated of our Lord's resurrection ? But men can be. lieve that Alexander conquered Darius, without ei. ther parting with their sins, or feeling uneasiness of conscience : while the truth of the gospel is very alarming to all, who walk according to the course of the world, and neglect the salvation of Christ.

It would be difficult to find out any satisfactory me. thod, of further attesting the Redeemer's resurrection, which could have possibly been devised. For had he openly appeared to the whole Jewish people ; and had they with one accord embraced Christianity; the gentiles would naturally have considered it as a concerted plan to aggrandize the nation : and had the Jews, through excessive pride and prejudice, still persisted in unbelief and opposition; the gospel would have laboured under additional disadvantages in other countries: and future ages could at last have had no other human testimony, than that of the individuals whose writings should have been transmitted to them. - In short, should the Lord grant the presumptuous demand of those, who refuse to believe without the testimony of their own senses; and should the Saviour


VOL. 11.

appear to every individual through successive ge rations; how could men be sure, that this was identical person crucified on mount Calvary? or he demonstrate that the transient vision was not an sion ? Universal uncertainty and doubt must ther fore be the consequence, of rejecting such unanswe able and multiplied evidences, as the Lord hath me cifully vouchsafed us, of that great event which we th day commemorate.

II. We proceed to shew what inferences may b deduced from the subject before us.

It would be the grossest inconsistency, and th most absurd trifling, to contend earnestly that Chris is risen, and then overlook or deny the peculiar doc trines, which his resurrection was intended to authenticate. We infer therefore from our subject that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, “ One with the Father,' “ God manifest in the flesh.” On account of various expressions, which he used in speaking of himself, he was charged with blasphemy, and with making him self equal with God. For this crime he was condemned by Caiaphas and the Jewish council; who said before the Roman governor, “ We have a law, " and by our law he ought to die, because he made “ himself the Son of God. *" The centurion who attended his crucifixion could not but know for what crime he suffered : when therefore he witnessed the miracles which accompanied his death, he cried, “ Truly this was the Son of God.” “Certainly this

* John xix. 7.

" was a righteous person.” When incredulous Thomas was at length convinced that Christ was risen from the dead; all that he had before heard, seen, believed, or hoped, seems at once to have rushed into his mind; and be exclaimed in adoration, “ My "Lord, and my God!” Thus was Jesus “ declared " to be the Son of God with power,—by the resur+ rection from the dead." He was demonstrated to be the promised Messiah, the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Son of David, Emmanuel, “ the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace,” “ JEHOVAH our Righteousness;” and whatever the prophets from the beginning had spoken concerning the expected glorious Redeemer. -All that he had spoken of himself was likewise thus fully proved to be true: it now was manifest, that he was warranted to say, “ I and my Father are One:” “He « that hath seen me hath seen the Father :" “ Before “ Abraham was I AM:” “ I am the Way, and the

Truth, and the Life: no man cometh to the Fa“ ther, but by me:" “ No man knoweth the Father “ but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal “him :” “I am the Light of the world :” “ I am " the Resurrection and the Life." “thirst let him come unto me, and drink :” “ The “Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all " judgment to the Son; that all men should honour “the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that “honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father " that sent him.” In short the resurrection of Christ not only demonstrates the truth of Christianity, but the infallible certainty of all its doctrines, and authen.

[ocr errors]

any man

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »