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and do works meet for repentance? Were they not exemplary in the practice of all good works? And did they not meet death for the sake of a good conscience towards God ? How then could they be yet in their sins ?-Because, none of these things could atone for their transgressions; and, if Christ were not risen, no effectual atonement had been made: they must therefore have still continued under condemnation, and exposed to the curse of the law they had broken. A most conclusive proof, that the death of Christ was a vicarious satisfaction for sin; and that none can be saved, who are not interested in that atonement.

It is deemed uncandid to charge men's doctrines with the consequences resulting from them; especially if they do not seem to perceive them. Yet I apprehend we should feel ourselves bound to warn people against the consequences of taking a poisonous mixture, even if he who administered it seemed not aware of its nature: and the apostle has here set us the example of doing the same, in opposing erroneous doctrines by which immortal souls are fatally deceived.

He then adds the words of the text, “ Now is Christ risen from the dead," and proceeds to treat very copiously on the doctrine of the resurrection. But I shall confine myself to the subject before us, and attempt,

1. To prove that Christ is risen from the dead.
II. To shew the inferences which may be drawn from that event.
III. To apply the subject to ourselves.
I. I shall prove that Christ is risen.

Though true Christians have “ a witness in themselves,” which satisfies their minds in general, as to the certainty of the things which they have believed ; yet, in peculiar seasons of temptation, an acquaintance with the evidences of Christianity would tend greatly to their establishment. And in these times of infidelity and scepticism, all who would “contend earnestly for the truth once delivered to the saints," should be able to give a reason of their hope to every inquirer or objector; both to defend themselves from the charge of enthusiasm and credulity; to obviate the doubts of those with whom they converse ; and to preserve young persons, perhaps their own children, from the fatal contagion. It is therefore greatly to be lamented, that pious persons are in general so little furnished with this sort of knowledge, of which they might make such important uses.

It is commonly said, that the New Testament is built upon the foundation of the Old, and must stand or fall along with it: and there is a truth in this sentiment, though it be somewhat diverse in its nature and consequences, from that which is generally supposed. Our Lord and his apostles have so frequently quoted the Old Testament, and almost every part of it, as the Scripture, the word of God, the oracles of God, and the language of the Holy Ghost ; that their credit must be connected with the divine inspiration of the books thus repeatedly attested by them. We are able to prove, that the canon of the Old Testament in those days differed very little, if at all, from that which we have at present, yet our Lord referring to different parts of it, says, “ Thus it is written, and thus it must be,” “the Scripture cannot be broken," “ the Scriptures must needs be fulfilled.” And the apostles say, “ All Scripture is given by inspiration from God:” “ holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” This single consideration completely establishes the whole of the Old Testament as a divine revelation, with all those who duly reverence the words of Christ and his apostles. In all other respects the New Testament stands on its own basis, and is proved to be the word of God by distinct evidence : it affords unspeakably more support to the Old Testament than it receives from it: and the resurrection of Christ alone is sufficient to authenticate the whole sacred volume.

The restoration of a dead body to life is no more difficult to omnipotence, than the production of life at first. The divine operation is in both respects


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alike incomprehensible ; but as we continually observe life to be communicated in a certain way, we call that the law of nature, though we understand not our own meaning, and cannot explain how causes produce their effects. But dead bodies do not return to life, in the ordinary course of human affairs : we therefore suppose some law of nature to the contrary ; the violation of which in any particular instance, we should call a miracle ; that is a divine interposition and operation to produce an effect, above or contrary to the general energy of second causes. Some persons indeed pretend that this is impossible: but “ why should it be thought incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” The power exerted is no greater, than that by which thousands of infants receive new life every day: and will man presume to say that God cannot, or shall not, exert his power in any way, which they have never before observed ?-If a sufficient reason can be assigned for his extraordinary interposition, and the fact be indisputably proved, it becomes as credible as other well attested events, many of which do not coincide with our expectations or ideas of probability.

Universal history, observation, and experience prove that “ the world lieth in wickedness." Idolatry, superstition, impiety and every kind of vice and misery have, in all ages covered and desolated the earth. But it hath pleased God of his infinite mercy, to reveal himself to sinful men; to make known a way in which they might be reconciled to him and recovered to holiness; and thus to introduce a religion suited to rectify the disorders of the world, and unite the honour of his name with the eternal happiness of unnumbered millions. Miracles, and the resurrection of the Redeemer especially, formed a suitable demonstration that this religion came from God; and served to arrest the attention of mankind : for alas, sinners for the most part are too much occupied about the affairs of this life, to notice those things which relate to God and their eternal state. These are the reasons assigned for a divine interposition on this occasion; and more important cannot possibly be conceived.

The Jews, the most inveterate enemies of Christianity, preserve, with profound veneration and scrupulous care, the books of the Old Testament, which have been handed down in the same manner from generation to generation, during a long succession of ages. These books evidently contain a system of prophecy, centering in the person and redemption of the Messiah ; and, among other particulars, his sufferings and death are circumstantially foretold, with clear intimations of his resurrection and subsequent glorious kingdom. Psalm ii. xvi. 8--11. Isaiah lii. 10–12.

We know also, that the gospels were made public in the earliest ages of Christianity; for they are continually quoted and referred to by those writers, whose works have been preserved : and from them we learn, that our Lord predicted his own death and resurrection on the third day, in so explicit a manner, that the Jewish rulers were aware of it, and took their measures accordingly. Yet when the body of Christ was delivered to Joseph, they were so fully satisfied by what they saw and heard, of his being really dead, that they made no objection on that ground: but they requested Pilate that the sea pulchre might be securely closed, and guarded by Roman soldiers, till the third day was past, lest the disciples should steal his body, and say that he was risen again. After all their precautions, however, the body was gone, and they were never able to shew by whom it was removed, or what became

Here let us pause, that we may consider the credibility of testimony.-One consistent witness, of sound understanding and fair character, who has no apparent interest in deceiving, is often deemed sufficient to determine the sentence of life or death, the most important of all temporal concerns; but if three or four such witnesses should agree in deposing, that they saw such a murder or robbery committed by the prisoner at the bar; no sober man could doubt of the fact, or scruple to pronounce him guilty.-Now there were twelve appointed witnesses to the resurrection of Christ, of plain good under .

of it.

standing, and unexceptionable character: for Peter's denial of his Lord, through the force of sudden temptation, forms no impeachment of his integrity; seeing he so honestly confessed his guilt, and so fully proved the sincerity of his repentance by his subsequent conduct: and when Judas by transgression fell, another was chosen in his place. These witnesses had constantly attended Jesus du some years, and must have been competent to know him from all other men. They were remarkably incredulous respecting his resurrection; and his crucifixion seems almost to have extinguished their hopes : how then can it be supposed, that they would have attempted to overpower or deceive the vigilant and valiant Roman soldiers, and to steal the body of Jesus? In so desperate an undertaking they must have been sure to excite the combined rage of both the Jewish and Roman rulers; and success itself could only expose them to hatred, persecution, and all kinds of hardships and sufferings. It is manifest, that from the time they began to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ, they renounced all prospects of worldly interest, ease, or greatness; and willingly embraced poverty, contempt, bonds, stripes, and perils as their portion. So that no possible account can be given of their conduct; unless it be ascribed to a principle of conscience: while the strict and exact morality of their writings demonstrates that they could not be actuated by false principles; for they do not allow men, in any case, to do evil that good may come; and they condemn all kinds of imposition with the most decided severity. Is it then possible for human beings, deliberately to choose temporal and eternal misery, and to persevere in decided adherence to a plan, which, on their own principles, insures their damnation in another world, as well as a complication of miseries in this present life?

The witnesses of our Lord's resurrection survived that event for a long time; some of them near forty years, and John still more. They were after a while separated into different parts of the world; and seemed to have no common interest, except in the success of Christianity: they passed through a series of the severest trials, and almost all of them died martyrs in the cause ; but no change of circumstance or situation, no promises or threatenings of men, no repeated tortures or impending dangers, induced one of them in the smallest degree, to waver in his testimony. They declared unanimously, that on the third morning after the crucifixion, a vision of angels told some of their company at the sepulchre that their Lord was risen: that afterwards they all saw him repeatedly: that they examined his hands, feet, and side, and were sure it was the same body which had been nailed to the cross: that he ate and drank with them several times : that at length, after giving them particular instructions relative to their future conduct, he ascended from among them, till a cloud intercepted their sight of him; and that two angels appearing to them declared he was gone to heaven. Such an unwavering, persevering testimony of twelve persons, whose holy lives, diligent labours, disinterestedness, and patient sufferings evince their sincerity, forms such a complete proof, that in any other case, he who should not be satisfied with it, would be deemed sceptical almost to insanity.

This is, however, but a small part of the evidence afforded us in this most important concern. Saul the persecutor was a man endued with superior talents cultivated by education, and possessed of peculiar advantages for rising in the world ; of which he was evidently availing himself, while gratifying his implacable enmity to the gospel. Yet was he, all at once, converted into a most zealous preacher of that faith he had attempted to destroy: and renouncing all his former principles and worldly prospects, yea, exasperating above measure his powerful patrons and employers, he spent all the remnant of his days in the most self-denying labours, hardships, and sufferings, endured with the greatest alacrity, for the sake of Christ and the gospel; and at length he sealed his testimony with his blood. How can this fact be accounted for, unless we allow the truth of his narrative concerning the manner of his conversion! And if that be allowed, the resurrection of Christ is demonstrated.

In the chapter whence our text is taken, this man declares, that Christ appeared after his resurrection to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remained to that time. This was an appeal to nearly three hundred living witnesses of that event: but no one ever attempted to disprove the truth of his assertion ; though false teachers would have concurred with open enemies in such an attempt, had it been practicable.

The testimony of the apostles to the resurrection of Jesus implied a charge of the most complicated wickedness against the rulers of the Jewish nation : these had the power in their hands, and were every way concerned to vindicate their characters, and punish those who thus accused them. This might readily have been done, had they produced the Roman soldiers in court, to testify that the body of Jesus had been stolen, or have stated in what way it was removed from the sepulchre.

But in fact they had bribed the soldiers to circulate a self-contradictory report on this subject, which would not bear investigation: and when Matthew soon afterwards charged this publicly upon them, and declared that the story was generally current among the Jews to that time; no one attempted to deny or disprove the charge. In every case of this nature, silence must be construed into a confession of guilt: and if the rulers could have accounted for the removal of the body, without either admitting the truth of Matthew's charge or our Lord's resurrection, no doubt can reasonably be made, but they would have done it in the most public manner.

Every reflecting person must perceive, that the evidence is completely satisfactory, provided it can be made clear, that these books were published at the time to which they refer. To obviate therefore every doubt on that head, without engaging in an argument far too complicated for this occasion, I would inquire, at what subsequent time it could have been possible to obo tain credit to writings of this description ? If a manuscript, said to have been long concealed in some library, be produced or published, as the work of an eminent author, who flourished two or three centuries ago ; it immediately is subjected to a severe scrutiny, and imposture in such cases seldom escapes detection. But writings which contain a circumstantial narrative of “things not done in a corner, but in the open view of mankind, during several years; and connected with an epistolary correspondence resulting from them; could never have obtained the least credit in the world; if published after the times referred to, with an express appeal to mankind, that they all along had been familiarly acquainted with them. Such an insolent attempt, to persuade whole nations out of their senses and understandings, must have excited universal astonishment and indignation: or, had it been possible to convince a few individuals that they had received these books from their ancestors, and been taught from infancy to revere them as the writings of the apostles, when in fact neither they nor any other persons had ever before seen or heard of them; the effrontery of the deceivers and the credulity of the deceived must have constituted an unprecedented event, and marked the age in which it occurred. As therefore no time can be mentioned, when any attempt of this kind is so much as hinted at, by either Christian, Jewish, or Pagan historians; we might be confident, that the writings in question were extant, and well known in the church, from the very period in which they are said to have been published, even had we no other evidence. But no impartial man of learning can be imposed upon by pretences of this kind ; having access to proofs of another nature in abundance; and this argument is principally adduced for the benefit of those who have neither leisure or advantages, for these investigations.

We should also remember, that on the day of Pentecost, immediately following the resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the assembled apostles, with such extraordinary circumstances, as drew together vast multitudes who then resided at Jerusalem. In the presence of all these witnesses, they spoke fluently and correctly in the languages of the several countries from which their hearers were collected, though it was certainly


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known that they had not had the opportunity of learning them : and this stupendous miracle, together with Peter's sermon on the occasion, was made effectual to the conversion of three thousand persons. The gifts of tongues, and of working miracles in the name of Jesus, were ever after continued to them, and were frequently exercised in the most public and undeniable man. ner, before numerous witnesses, enemies as well as friends. The same powers were likewise communicated to many others, by the laying on of the apostles' hands. The time, place, occasion, and circumstances of these extraordinary transactions are frequently specified in their writings. Thus the inhabitants of many cities and countries were appealed to; and the enemies of Christianity were challenged to disprove their pretensions if they were able. But none ever attempted to do it: for the Jews themselves do not deny that many extraordinary works were performed by Jesus and his disciples: and the way in which they try to account for them, demonstrates that, from the first, their ancestors had nothing plausible to object. In this manner the witnesses and proofs of our Lord's resurrection were multiplied, in almost every part of the vast Roman empire : yea, “ God also bare them witness, both with signs, and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost." And can any reasonable man suppose, that a general belief could ever have prevailed, through whole nations, of such public and extraordinary events, without any person attempting 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 princi. pal penmen 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 sceptic indeed might doubt, whether the predictions, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, were not penned 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.” Luke xxi. 24. Has not this been actually the case with the Jews and with Jerusalem, during almust 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 exactly and circumstantially predicted by the several witnesses of our Lord's resurrection: and the undeniable accomplishments of them are so many divine attestations to their testimony, for the satisfaction of all succeeding generations.

The Jewish ritual, or the pagan theology, was intimately 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


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