« ForrigeFortsæt »
before us: let us then endure our called their attention to the resurlighter cross, and despise the shame:rection of Christ as an undeniable assured that if we suffer with Christ, fact: and he showed, that the denial we shall reign with him in glory.
of a resurrection was equivalent to But my fellow-sinners, where will saying that Christ was not risen; you appear at his second coming to and thus tended to subvert the founjudge the world, if you now neglect dation of Christianity, and to dehis great salvation? If you join stroy the hopes and comforts of his enemies; and, by cleaving to believers.
If there be no resuryour sins, prefer Barabbas to Jesus, rection of the dead, then is not sell him as Judas did for a few Christ risen: and if Christ be not pieces of silver, or determine you risen, then is our preaching vain, will not have him to reign over you? and your faith is also vain: yea, Still he invites you to come to him and we are found false witnesses for that you may have life eternal: Oh God. that you would seek to him as a Saviour, who will shortly come to be your judge.
And if Christ be not raised, ye are yet in your sins: then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life In fine, contemplating the cross of only we have hope in Christ, we Christ teaches us most effectually are of all men most miserable." every lesson contained in the sacred All the joys and supports of ChrisScriptures. Let us then, my bre- tians are inseparably connected with thren, further prosecute our medi- future and eternal felicity; without tations at the Lord's table; and the hope of which they would have while we remember the love and nothing to counterbalance their pesufferings of our Redeemer, let us culiar trials and conflicts. renew our repentance and acceptance of his salvation, and give up ourselves to his service; that," as bought with a price, we may glorify him with our bodies and spirits, which are his."
ON THE RESURRECTION
1 COR. XV. 20.-Now is Christ risen from the dead.
If Christ were not risen, believers were yet in their sins, and even the martyrs had finally perished. But were not the primitive Christians converted from idols to serve the living and true God? Did they not repent 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? WE learn from this chapter, that Because, none of these things could certain persons among the Corin- atone for their transgressions; and, thians had denied the doctrine of a if Christ were not risen, no effectual resurrection; probably explaining atonement had been made they away the apostolical language on must therefore have still continued that subject as figurative, and only under condemnation, and exposed meaning conversion, or that change to the curse of the law they had which took place in the world by broken. A most conclusive proof, the introduction of Christianity. that the death of Christ was a vica2 Tim. ii. 17, 18. In confuting rious satisfaction for sin; and that this dangerous error, the apostle none can be saved, who are not inPreached on Easter Sunday, 1796. terested in that atonement.
It is deemed uncandid to charge fatal contagion. It is therefore men's doctrines with the conse- greatly to be lamented, that pious quences resulting from them; espe-persons are in general so little furcially if they do not seem to per-nished with this sort of knowledge, ceive them. Yet I apprehend we of which they might make such imshould feel ourselves bound to warn portant uses.
people against the consequences of It is commonly said, that the taking a poisonous mixture, even if New Testament is built upon the he who administered it seemed not foundation of the Old, and must aware of its nature: and the apos- stand or fall along with it: and tle has here set us the example of there is a truth in this sentiment, doing the same, in opposing errone- though it be somewhat diverse in ous doctrines by which immortal its nature and consequences, from souls are fatally deceived. that which is generally supposed.
He then adds the words of the Our Lord and his apostles have so text, "Now is Christ risen from frequently quoted the Old Testathe dead," and proceeds to treat ment, and almost every part of it, very copiously on the doctrine of the resurrection. But I shall confine myself to the subject before us, and attempt,
I. To prove that Christ is risen from the dead.
II. To show the inferences which may be drawn from that event. III. To apply the subject to selves.
I. I shall prove that Christ is risen.
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. are able to prove, that the canon of the Old Testament in those days differed very little, if at all, from our-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 Though true Christians have " a must needs be fulfilled." And the witness in themselves," which sa- apostles say, "All Scripture is tisfies their minds in general, as to given by inspiration from God:" the certainty of the things which holy men of God spake as they they have believed; yet, in peculiar were moved by the Holy Ghost." seasons of temptation, an acquaint-This single consideration completeance with the evidences of Chris-ly establishes the whole of the Old tianity would tend greatly to their Testament as a divine revelation, establishment. And in these times with all those who duly reverence of infidelity and scepticism, all who the words of Christ and his aposwould "contend earnestly for the tles. In all other respects the New truth once delivered to the saints," Testament stands on its own basis, should be able to give a reason of and is proved to be the word of their hope to every inquirer or ob- God by distinct evidence: it affords jector; both to defend themselves unspeakably more support to the from the charge of enthusiasm and Old Testament than it receives credulity; to obviate the doubts of from it: and the resurrection of those with whom they converse; Christ alone is sufficient to authenand to preserve young persons, per- ticate the whole sacred volume. haps their own children, from the The restoration of a dead body
to life is no more difficult to omni- of the world, and unite the honour potence, than the production of life of his name with the eternal happiat first. The divine operation is in ness of unnumbered millions. Miboth respects alike incomprehen- racles, and the resurrection of the sible: but as we continually observe Redeemer especially, formed life to be communicated in a cer- suitable demonstration that this retain way, we call that the law of ligion came from God; and served nature, though we understand not to arrest the attention of mankind : our own meaning, and cannot ex- for alas, sinners for the most part plain how causes produce their ef- are too much occupied about the fects. But dead bodies do not affairs of this life, to notice those return to life, in the ordinary course things which relate to God and of human affairs: we therefore sup- their eternal state.-These are the pose some law of nature to the con- reasons assigned for a divine intertrary; the violation of which in any position on this occasion; and particular instance, we should call more important cannot possibly be a miracle; that is a divine interpo- conceived. sition and operation to produce an The Jews, the most inveterate effect, above or contrary to the gene- enemies of Christianity, preserve, ral energy of second causes. Some with profound veneration and scrupersons indeed pretend that this is pulous care, the books of the Old impossible: but "why should it be Testament which have been handed thought incredible with you, that down in the same manner from God should raise the dead?" The generation to generation, during a power exerted is no greater than long succession of ages. These that by which thousands of infants books evidently contain a system of receive new life every day: and will prophecy, centering in the person man presume to say that God can- and redemption of the Messiah; and, not, or shall not, exert his power in among other particulars, his sufferany way, which they have never ings and death are circumstantially before observed? If a sufficient foretold, with clear intimations of reason can be assigned for his ex- his resurrection and subsequent traordinary interposition, and the glorious kingdom. Psalm ii. xvi. 8 fact be indisputably proved; it be--11. Isaiah lii. 10-12. comes as credible as other well at- We know also, that the gospels tested events, many of which do not were made public in the earliest coincide with our expectations or ages of Christianity: for they are ideas of probability. continually quoted and referred to
Universal history, observation, by those writers, whose works have and experience prove that "the been preserved and from them world lieth in wickedness." Idola- we learn, that our Lord predicted try, superstition, impiety and every his own death and resurrection on kind of vice and misery have in all the third day, in so explicit a manages covered and desolated the ner, that the Jewish rulers were earth. But it hath pleased God of aware of it, and took their measures his infinite mercy to reveal himself accordingly. Yet when the body to sinful men; to make known a of Christ was delivered to Joseph, way in which they might be recon- they were so fully satisfied by what ciled to him and recovered to holi- they saw and heard, of his being ness; and thus to introduce a reli- really dead, that they made no obgion suited to rectify the disorders jection on that ground; but they
requested Pilate that the sepulchre undertaking they must have been might be securely closed, and sure to excite the combined rage of guarded by Roman soldiers, till both the Jewish and Roman rulers; the third day was past, lest the disci- and success itself could only exples should steal his body, and say pose them to hatred, persecution, that he was risen again. After all and all kinds of hardships and suftheir precautions, however, the ferings. It is manifest, that from body was gone, and they were the time they began to bear witnever able to show by whom it was ness to the resurrection of Christ, removed, or what became of it. they renounced all prospects of
Here let us pause, that we may worldly interest, ease, or greatness; consider the credibility of testi- and willingly embraced poverty, mony.-One consistent witness, of contempt, bonds, stripes, and perils sound understanding and fair cha-as their portion. So that no possiracter, who has no apparent inter-ble account can be given of their est in deceiving, is often deemed conduct; unless it be ascribed to a sufficient to determine the sentence principle of conscience: while the of life or death, the most important strict and exact morality of their of all temporal concerns; but if writings demonstrates that they three or four such witnesses should could not be actuated by false prinagree in deposing, that they saw ciples; for they do not allow men, such a murder or robbery committed in any case, to do evil that good by the prisoner at the bar; no so- may come; and they condemn all ber man could doubt of the fact, or kinds of imposition with the most scruple to pronounce him guilty.—decided severity. Is it then possiNow there were twelve appointed ble for human beings, deliberately witnesses to the resurrection of to choose temporal and eternal Christ, of plain good understanding misery and to persevere in decided and unexceptionable character: adherence to a plan, which, on for Peter's denial of his Lord, their own principles, insures their through the force of sudden tempta- damnation in another world, as well tion, forms no impeachment of his as a complication of miseries in this integrity; seeing he so honestly present life?
confessed his guilt and so fully The witnesses of our Lord's reproved the sincerity of his repent-surrection survived that event for a ance by his subsequent conduct: and long time; some of them near forty when Judas by transgression fell, years, and John still more. They another was chosen in his place. were after a while separated into These witnesses had constantly different parts of the world; and attended Jesus during some years, seemed to have no common interest, and must have been competent to except in the success of Christiknow him from all other men. They anity: they passed through a series were remarkably incredulous re- of the severest trials, and almost specting his resurrection; and his all of them died martyrs in the crucifixion seems almost to have cause; but no change of circumextinguished their hopes: how stance or situation, no promises or then can it be supposed, that they threatenings of men, no repeated would have attempted to overpower tortures or impending dangers, inor deceive the vigilant and valiant duced one of them in the smallest Roman soldiers, and to steal the degree, to waver in his testimony. body of Jesus? In so desperate an They declared unanimously, that
on the third morning after the cru- ing the manner of his conversion? cifixion, a vision of angels told some And if that be allowed, the resurof their company at the sepulchre rection of Christ is demonstrated. that their Lord was risen: that after- In the chapter whence our text wards they all saw him repeatedly is taken, this man declares, that that they examined his hands, feet, Christ appeared after his resurrecand side, and were sure it was the tion to above five hundred brethren same body which had been nailed to at once, of whom the greater part the cross that he ate and drank remained to that time. This was with them several times: that at an appeal to nearly three hundred length, after giving them particular living witnesses of that event: but instructions relative to their future no one ever attempted to disprove conduct, he ascended from among the truth of his assertion; though them, till a cloud intercepted their false teachers would have concurred sight of him; and that two angels with open enemies in such an atappearing to them declared he was tempt, had it been practicable. gone to heaven. Such an unwaver- The testimony of the apostles to ing, persevering testimony of twelve the resurrection of Jesus implied a persons, whose holy lives, diligent charge of the most complicated labours, disinterestedness, and pa- wickedness against the rulers of tient sufferings, evince their since- the Jewish nation: these had the rity, forms such a complete proof, power in their hands, and were that, in any other case, he who every way concerned to vindicate should not be satisfied with it, their characters, and punish those would be deemed sceptical almost who thus accused them. This might to insanity. readily have been done, had they
This is, however, but a small produced the Roman soldiers in part of the evidence afforded us in court, to testify that the body of this most important concern. Saul Jesus had been stolen, or have stated the persecutor was a man endued in what way it was removed from with superior talents cultivated by the sepulchre.
education, and possessed of peculiar But in fact they had bribed the advantages for rising in the world; soldiers to circulate a self-contraof which he was evidently availing dictory report on this subject, which himself, while gratifying his impla- would not bear investigation: and cable enmity to the gospel. Yet when Matthew soon afterwards was he, all at once, converted into charged this publicly upon them, a most zealous preacher of that and declared that the story was faith he had attempted to destroy generally current among the Jews and renouncing all his former prin- to that time; no one attempted to ciples and worldly prospects, yea, deny or disprove the charge. In exasperating above measure his every case of this nature, silence powerful patrons and employers, he must be construed into a confession spent all the remnant of his days of guilt; and if the rulers could in the most self-denying labours, have accounted for the removal of hardships, and sufferings, endured the body, without either admitting with the greatest alacrity, for the the truth of Matthew's charge or sake of Christ and the gospel; and our Lord's resurrection, no doubt at length he sealed his testimony can reasonably be made but they with his blood. How can this fact would have done it in the most be accounted for, unless we allow public manner.
the truth of his narrative concern- Every reflecting person must