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faith in him, and through the influence of that faith, producing the fruits of righteousness and of good works. It seemed agreeable, also, to the same supreme wisdom, that this divine messenger should sacrifice his life in the execution of his office. The expediency of this measure we can in part understand, because we can see that it conduced with other causes to fix a deep impression on the hearts and consciences, both of his immediate followers, the living witnesses and spectators of his death and sufferings, and of those who, in after ages, might come to a knowledge of his history. It bound them to him by the tenderest of all reflections, that he died for their sakes. This is one intelligible use of the death of Christ. But we are not to stop at this in various declarations of Scripture concerning the death of Christ, it is necessary also to acknowledge that there are other and higher consequences attendant upon this event the particular nature of which consequences, though of the most real and highest nature, we do not understand, nor perhaps are capable of understanding, even if it had been told us, until we be admitted to more knowledge than we at present possess of the order and economy of superior beings, of our own state and destination after death, and of the laws of nature by which the next world will be governed, which probably are very different from the present. But that there are such benefits arising from the death of Christ various passages of Scripture declare, and cannot be fairly interpreted without supposing them. We are sure that the whole was a wise method of accomplishing the end proposed, because it was the method adopted by the wisest of all beings, Perhaps it was the only method possible; but what I am at present concerned to point out is, that it is to be re
ferred to the love of God the Father. It is to be regarded as an instance, and the very highest instance, of his paternal affection for us. You have heard, in the several texts which I have read to you, that it was
, so regarded and so acknowledged by our Lord himself, and by his Apostles.
What remains, therefore, but that, whilst we cherish in our remembrance and our hearts a lively sense of gratitude towards the divine person, who was the visible agent, the great and patient sufferer, in carrying on the redemption of the world, we look also to the source and origin of this, as of every blessing which we enjoy, the love and tender mercies of God the Father. “ Blessed therefore be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, to the praise of his glory in Christ, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
1 COR. XV. 3-9.
I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that he was seen of above five. hundred brethren at once-of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles; and last of all, he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time: for I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
AMONGST the various testimonies that have come down to us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and which, by consequence, ensure to us the hope of our own, no one possesses greater evidence, or carries with it stronger credentials of truth and authenticity, than that which is contained in the words which I have read to you.
I shall employ the present solemn, and surely if any ever was so, this joyful occasion, first, in laying before you such remarks and explanations as the words themselves may seem to suggest; and secondly, in addressing
you concerning the author and authority from which they proceed.
Saint Paul, previously to his writing this letter to the Christians of Corinth, had himself been in that city preaching the Gospel amongst them in person.
Those to whom he now writes, whilst he was absent upon the same business in another country, were they whom he had some time before taught face to face; and most of them persons who had been moved by that his teaching to embrace the new faith. After having finished some occasional subjects which he was led to treat of in the epistle, he proceeds, as was indeed natural, to bring to their remembrance the great topics which he had set forth amongst them when he appeared at Corinth as an apostle of Jesus Christ." I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." He then introduces that short but clear abstract of the fundamental part of his doctrine, which composes our present text; and he introduces it with this remarkable preface: "I delivered unto you first of all." This was the first thing I taught you-intimating that this is the fundamental and great essential of the Christian system. In correspondence with which declaration you will find that the fact of Christ's resurrection from the dead, and what appeared to be, and what is, a plain and undisputed inference from it, that God will fulfil his promise by raising up us also at the last day, were in reality the articles of information to mankind which the apostles carried with them wherever they went; what they first disclosed to their converts, as the groundwork of all their addresses, as the cause and business of
their coming amongst them, as the sum indeed and substance of what they were bound to deliver, or their disciples to believe. In proof of this, I desire it to be particularly remarked, that when the apostles, at Peter's suggestion, chose out from the followers of Christ a new apostle in the place of Judas, the great qualification insisted upon in that choice was that he should be one who had accompanied the other apostles at the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst them, that he might be, together with them, a witness of his resurrection. This circumstance shows that what they regarded as the proper office and business of an apostle was, to testify to the world from their own knowledge, and the evidence of their own senses, that he whom they preached had died, been buried, and was raised up again from the dead. After this transaction, the first preaching of Christianity to the public at large, to those, I mean, who had not professed themselves the followers of Christ during his lifetime, was after the descent of the Holy Ghost, upon the day of Pentecost. Upon this occasion, in the presence of a great multitude who had then resorted to Jerusalem from all quarters of the world, whom the noise of this miracle had gathered together, Saint Peter, with the rest of the apostles standing about him, delivered a discourse, of which the sum and substance was briefly this—“ This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." The same thing may be observed of two discourses held at Jerusalem by Saint Peter a short time afterwards: one upon curing the lame man at the gate of the Temple; the other upon his miraculous deliverance from prison. Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the solemn attestation of the fact, was the theme and subject ca
h discourses. Follow the apostles to any