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may well say, “this is the Lord's doing, and it is “ marvellous in our eyes.” But it is not only matter of admiration to us, as a great and wonderful event, but also is a subject deserving our warmest gratitude and affection, since it is the pillar of our faith as Christians, and the ground of all our hopes as men. For not only now is Christ risen from the dead, but also he is become the first-fruits of them that slept !
That we may therefore be fully confirmed in our Christian confidence of rising from death to immortality, I shall endeavour to shew, first, that our Saviour's resurrection is an undeniable proof of his divinity; and therefore is an incontestible confirmation of our faith :
Secondly, That we have the most full and satisfactory evidence of the truth of our Saviour's resurrection; and
Thirdly, That his resurrection is a pledge and assurance of our own; and therefore is a most comfortable foundation of our hopes.
And 1st, If the evidence of St. Paul can have any weight in this matter, he expressly tells us, that the resurrection of Christ was a confirmation of his Godhead; or, as he himself better ex
presses it, “ Christ yas declared to be the Son “ of God with power by the resurrection from " the dead.” And this is agreeable to what the same Apostle says, in his address to the people of Antioch: “ we declare unto you glad tidings," says he,“ how that the promise, which was " made unto the Fathers, God hath fulfilled the “ same unto us their children, in that he hath os raised up Jesus from the dead again :". as it is written in the second psalm, “thou art my Son; " this day have I begotten thee.” This day, by making thee the first born from the dead, I have declared thee my Son with power; that all nations may acknowledge thy divine authority, and honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.
Agreeably to this, we find that our Saviour himself constantly appeals to his resurrection, as the particular proof of his divinity. Thus he tells the Jews, when they sought for a sign from him, as an evidence of his divine mission : "an 56 evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a “ sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but " that of the prophet Jonas : for as Jonas was " three days and three nights in the whale's $6 belly, so shall the Son of man be three days "s and three nights in the heart of the earth.?? Thus also, when he drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple, that is, out of the court of
the gentiles adjoining to it, which as well as the Sanctuary itself was called the temple, and the Jews said unto him, “what sign shewest thou, “ seeing thou doest these things ?” his answer was, “ destroy this temple of my body, and in “ three days I will raise it up again.” His other miracles did indeed abundantly demonstrate his divine power; for no man could give feet to the lame and eyes to the blind, except God were with him: but the resurrection was to be the great seal and confirmation of all, as being the Inost clear and undeniable exertion of divine power; for none but a God could say, “I have “ power to lay down my life, and I have power “ to take it again";" and also as being the least liable to any suspicion of fraud and imposture, when it had been so long and openly predicted. by him.
Hence it is that St. Paul also stakes the whole credit of the Christian religion upon this single fact; “ If Christ be not risen,” says. he, “then " is our preaching vain, and your faith is also “ vain.” Hence too it was, that the primitive Christians, when they would express tlie resurrection, called it pcplupsov, the witness or testimony; as if the whole of their faith rested upon it. And for the same reason it was, that the whole jewish Sanhedrim used their utmost endea
vours to stop the belief of it in the world; as well knowing, that if it could once be proved, that Jesus rose from the dead, there could be no doubt, that he was truly the Son of God.
And 2dly, That our Saviour thus did actually rise from the dead, we have the fullest and clearest evidence. For as this article is of the greatest importance in our holy religion, so there is none whose foundation is more stable and unquestionable. Nay indeed it has been so ordered by the good providence of God, that those very things, which were intended to obstruct the belief of it, have consequentially strengthened and confirmed it. Of this we have a very remarkable instance in the malicious vigilance and circumspection of the Jews. For, no sooner had they vented their malice, by. dooming the Lord of life to a painful and ignominious death, than the chief priests and Pha- . risees came to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remem“ ber that that deceiver said, while he was yet “ alive, after three days I will rise again : to "prevent, therefore, any fraud or imposture, “ command that the sepulchre be made sure “ till the third day; lest his disciples coine by “ night and steal him away, and say unto the • people, he is risen from the dead.” And Pilate said unto them, “ye have a watch, go
es your way, make it as sure as you can. So " they went and made the sepulchre sure, seal
ing the stone, and setting a watch.” Here then, you see, was a deliberate plan to crush the Christian faith, and prevent its farther progress. A guard of soldiers, a sepulchre hewn out of the solid rock, the mouth of it closed by a stone of immense weight, and that farther secured by the public seal. " Now that he lieth, said " they, let him rise up no more; he trusted in " God, that he would deliver him; let him 66 deliver him, if he will have him." But, how short-lived was this their triumph! and how feeble, vain man, are all thy devices against the arm of Omnipotence! What they intended as a þar to the belief of a Redeemer rising from the grave, served only to confirm and strengthen it, by removing every shadow of suspicion. For, in spite of all this sage precaution, the body of Jesus was missing, after it had lain three days in the grave. Here then was an unlooked-for blow indeed! And what could the poor mise taken Pharisees say, to. ward off its weight? Could they pretend, that his disciples' came by night, and stole him away, whilst the soldiers slept? But how then, it might be asked, could they come near the sepulchre, and roll away the stone, which we have good authority for saying required nearly the force of twenty men to Y9L. II.
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