Imágenes de páginas

not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

The doctrine adopted towards the close of the first century, that Christ was the divine logos of the Platonists, gives a peculiar character to the descriptions of Jesus in this Gospel. The title, Son of God, is given more frequently, as well as intimations of his possessing a super-human character. He exhibits fewer traces of actions and thoughts common to men, but moves and speaks like a sublime and mystical personage not belonging to this world. The difference between this and the first three Gospels is, indeed, so marked in this respect, that the Fathers considered the former as treating of the humanity, and the latter of the divinity, of Christ.

Our object now being merely to form an opinion as to the historical credibility of the Evangelists, it is unnecessary to dwell upon those beauties in their works which are generally acknowledged. It has been observed, that the circumstances attending the breaking-up of the Jewish state, and the supposed advent of the Messiah, would account, in a great measure, for the exaltation of thought and feeling observable in the first three Gospels. That of John was written much later; and we find in most parts a want of the concise energy of his predecessors, and an occasional tendency to feebleness and prolixity. But, on the other hand, a tone of affection and pathos has often been noticed in this Gospel, which agrees well with the character attributed to the author, of the beloved disciple; and which, although it may not prove that he was incapable of indulging at times in garrulity and romance, yet tells that he was not a common interested deceiver, misleading men for profit or from ambition alone, but that he was enthusiastically attached to the memory of his Master, and a sincere believer in the divinity of his cause.




1. Peter and the other Apostles were dismayed for a time by the death of Jesus; but having become persuaded that he was the Messiah, and having abandoned all for his cause, they comforted themselves with the belief that he was taken up into heaven like Moses and Elias, and would soon appear again to fulfil his promises and restore the throne of Israel. They determined then to maintain their society; and having assembled in an upper chamber those of the disciples who had not yet dispersed themselves, they agreed to preach that their Master was risen from the dead. “ Wherefore of these men which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken


from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” Acts i. 21, 22.

The resurrection of the dead was a stirring question at that time, and was part of the creeds of both the Pharisees and Essenes. The doctrine, therefore, that Jesus had risen from the dead, in a spiritual sense at least, would easily be admitted by the mass of the people, and, indeed, cannot be disputed by persons of any age believing in the immortality of the soul.

It seems probable that the original belief amongst the Apostles was merely that Christ had been raised from the dead in an invisible or spiritual manner; for where we can arrive at Peter's own words, viz., in his Epistle, he speaks of Christ as being put to death in the flesh,


but made alive in the spirit.” 1 Pet. iïi. 18,* Oxvatwbers μεν σαρκι, ζωοποιηθεις δε τω πνευματι.ή That the last phrase signifies a mode of operation invisible to human eyes appears from the following clause, which describes Jesus as preaching, also in the spirit, ev y, to the spirits in prison.

But some of the disciples soon added to this idea of an invisible or spiritual resurrection, that Jesus had appeared to many in a bodily form. In the book of Acts, the Apostles are frequently made to profess themselves “witnesses, M@ptupes, of the resurrection of Jesus.” But as the word does not signify, of necessity, an eye-witness, but rather an assertor or testifier, this declaration of the Apostles may mean only that they believed, and were ready to assert, that he was risen. That they had actually seen him alive since his supposed resurrection, is quite a distinct assertion, and not included in the former. And it is this latter point which it chiefly concerns us to examine. First, let us collect all the testimonies concerning the resurrection found in the Acts, which, it must be remembered, is not from the pen of an Apostle, but of Luke, who does not tell us that he was present at the earlier transactions which he relates.

Acts i. 22, Of these men must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Acts ii. 24, Whom God hath raised up. 32, This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

* The genuineness of the first Epistle of Peter seems to be very well established. (See Lardner, vol. vi. p. 254.) But, of the second, Eusebius said that it was not received in ancient times, but was read, because it appeared to many to be useful. And to the sceptical, ch. i. 14, affords suspicion of its spuriousness.

+ The received translation is in the flesh—by the spirit;" but it does not appear why the preposition should be changed. 1 Pet. iv. 6, seems to be a parallel place, and shews that the insertion of the article does not give a different sense to tvEUMATI. “By the Spirit,” (Matt. iv. 1,) is oto T8 uveUpatos.

Acts iii. 15, And killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised up, whereof we are witnesses.

Acts iv. 1, 2, The Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

10, Whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

20, For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

33, And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Acts v. 17, Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and were filled with indignation.

Acts v. 30, The God of our Fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Acts x. 40, 41, Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly. Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he was risen from the dead.-Peter's speech.

Acts xiii. 30—37, But God raised him from the dead. And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people

For David was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption : but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.-Paul's speech at Antioch in Pisidia.

Acts xvii. 18, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange Gods, because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

Acts xvii. 31, Whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts xxiï. 6, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee ; of the hope and resurrection of the dead am I called in question.

Acts xxiv. 21, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day. Acts xxv. 19, They had certain questions against him

[ocr errors]

of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

Acts xxvi. 8, Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead? 22, 23, I continue unto this day, witnessingthat Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.

In only one of these speeches is Peter made to say that the witnesses had seen Jesus. (x. 40, 41.) And here we have little reason to think that we have Peter's exact words. For, at the distance of about forty years at which Luke wrote, he could only have a general impression of the purport of the Apostles' early discourses; and since by that time the stories of the re-appearance of Jesus had grown into general repute, and were believed by Luke himself, it was natural for him to mingle his own and the popular belief in his report. All that the Apostles had said concerning the resurrection, although applicable at first only to an invisible and supposed resurrection, would, in consequence of the prevalence of the stories alluded to, come to be understood as attesting a bodily re-appearance. The distinction between the two kinds of assertion might easily be overlooked, and the one, when reported at second-hand and from hearsay, be changed into the other. It has been seen in the case of Gamaliel, that Luke allowed himself to fill up what he considered suitable speeches for his personages; we are therefore on surer ground when quoting the Apostles' own writings.

In Peter's first Epistle, all the testimonies are these

i. 3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. 20, 21, Who (Christ) was pre-ordained before the foundation of the

« AnteriorContinuar »