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third day he shall rise again". These were things, all of which, the twelve could judge of by the power of their senses. They could certainly know when they went to Jerusalem, they knew of Christ's being betrayed by Judas to the Chief Priests and scribes, they knew that the Romans must put him to death if he was crucified, as the Jews were not allowed so much power under the Roman Government, they also knew that he was crucified. All those particulars, we may suppose, they could not have been deceived in. Now it appears reasonable to conclude that if these twelve disciples had not been as fully convinced of the resurrection of Christ, as they were of the beforementioned particulars, which Christ connected with it, in his account to them, above quoted, they never would afterwards have appeared as his disciples, vindicating his gospel and his resurrection. See St. Luke xxiv. where is given an account of the opportunity which Christ gave the disciples to satisfy them of the real fact that he was risen from th
lead. The two brethren who went to Emmaus, to whom Christ made himself known, had a lengthy conversation with him on the way, not knowing who he was. This communication consisted.' Ist. Of his enquiring of them the subject of their conversation. 2d. Of their answer to him which is worthy of notice. Cleopas with surprise asks Christ if he is only a stranger in Jerusalem and has not known the things which have come to pass there in those days ? By this it seems the subject of their conversation must be known to all those who dwelt in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood. Christ asks still, what things ? And receives for answer a particular detail of those things concerning himself which had taken place, until the answer comes to the subject of the resurrection, and there the matter is related in an honest artless manner. The two brethren supposed that they were giving this relation to a stranger who knew nothing of the whole matter. Now if they had been dishonest men, disposed to use the craft of imposters to make this stranger believe, what they knew was false, (viz) that he who was crusified had actually risen from the dead, they would undobtedly have stated it as a fact which they knew to be true. But this they do not do ; but say that certain women,
of their company, made them astonished, who were early at the sepulchre, and not finding the body, came and said that they had seen a vision of Angels, who told them that he was alive. They further add, and certain of them that were with us, went to the sepulchrè, and found it even so as the women had said ; but him they saw not. It is evident that
this story was not told with a design to impose a belief of the resurrection on the mind of this, supposed, stranger ; for it does not carry the idea that those who told it fully believed that fact themselves. Nor does it carry the idea that those who went to the sepulchre and found it as the women had told them, fully believed that he had risen from the dead.
3d. Christ then proceeds, not to make himself known to them, but to expound the scriptures of Moses and all the Prophets, to show that Christ ought to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory. This shows very plainly that Moses and all the Prophets had given evidence of the death and resurrection of Christ, which shows, what I first stated, that the resurrection of Christ is a truth on which the gospel rests. As this most luminous explanation of the law of Moses and the scriptures of the Prophets was closed, which had already made such an impression on the minds of the two brethren as caused their hearts to burn within them, they drew near to the city, when Christ made as if he would have gone further, but being constrained he consented to abide with them. “ And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and break, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him ; and he vanished out of their sight.”
These two disciples surely must have known that it was the same person who sat at meat with them, break bread and blessed it, that was with them on the way, if that were the case. This shows that if they saw Jesus at meat with them at Emmaus then it was he who was with them on the way.
These disciples were acquainted with the person of Christ, and if they knew him, they knew him as an acquaintance. They had been acquainted with his manner of breaking bread and blessing it, which perhaps first struck the idea of 'him to their mind, when they saw him perform that office.
These circumstances, together with his vanishing out of their sight, convinced these two brethren that Christ Jesus had actually rose from the dead, and no doubt such circumstances would convince the most confirmed unbeliever on earth. As, might rationally be expected, these two brethren immediately returned, that night, to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together and them that were with them, saying the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon. They then related to this large company, what they had seen, and how Jesus was known unto them in breaking of bread. “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace
be unto you." This appearance produces fearful terrors in the first instance, but he does not leave them in this consternation, but reasons with them as follows.
• Why are ye troubled ? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts ? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.” This filled them with joy and wonder. He then asked them if they had any meat ? " And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish and of an honey-comb. And he took it and did eat before them. And said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” He then opened their understandings to understand the scriptures. And said unto them. “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jer usalem. And ye are witnesses of these things." This was as good an opportunity for the disciples to be fully satisfied of the truth of the resurrection of that man with whom they had had a long and very circumstantial acquaintance, as was necessary. They could not have been deceived. Those circunstances would convince any rational man, however confirmed in unbelief, of the same fact. But, the objector says, it is possible that those disciples were impostors, that they framed the story and the above circumstances and palmed them on the people for truth. To this objection, which is the only one to be made, we reply. ist. It was not possible in the nature of things, that a company of men in that day should plan a fraud in the days of Moses, prosecute it through all the different ages of the Jewish church, and then ripen it into effect. The WONDERS of the EVIDENCES of THIS THING, are as great as the WONDERS of nature, in its utmost sublimity, within the reach of human thought. Who ever can believe that a fraudulent religion, or a religion which is an imposture could have been begun in the days of Moses, and grow and ripen through so many different ages, by types, symbols, prophecies and remarkable events, and finally establish itself by the conviction of many different nations to the belief of its principles, resting the whole on the fact of the resurrection of a man from the dead, who in fact, never did rise from the dead, can believe the most improbable things which might be conjectured.
2d. Impostors never undertake the work of deception for the purpose of depriving themselves of every thing which dishonest and ambitious men are in love with. The disciples of Christ in vindicating his gospel and his resurrection, espoused a persecuted cause, in which they knew their leader had lost his life. What had they to encourage them in this wickedness? The smiting approbations of a good conscience, they must have known, would never soothe them in the rugged path of persecution in which they travelled. They could not have expected any reward, but evil, from God or man.
3d. As Jesus had informed his disciples that he should rise from the dead, it is according to the dictates of reason to suppose, that if he had not risen from the dead, accordinging to his word, they would then have believed that he was an impostor, and would have forsaken his cause at once, even if they had been deceived before. We will suppose for a case, that an impostor should rise up in New England, under the pretention of reviving the true religion of Christ, laying it to the charge of our Christian clergy, in general, of having corrupted the gospel with traditional notions, forms and creeds. He should make this people believe that he could work miracles, such as healing the sick with a word, opening the eyes of the blind, healing all manner of infirmities among the people, and even raising the dead. He should attach to himself a few strict followers who should attend him every where he went; and should draw after him a promiscuous croud of people to hear him preach. He should state, in such a way as to have it generally known, that the clergy, being violently opposed to him, would use their influence with the civil authortiy, against him, and finally put him to death; and that on the third day after his execution, he should rise from the dead. Thus he goes on deceiv. ing the people for several years. He finally tells his disciples that he must go to Boston the capital of Massachusetts where he shall be betrayed by one of them, into the hands of his enemies and that they will condemn him to death, that they will execute him and that he shall rise the third day after. He goes to Boston, is immediately arrested, has his trial, is condmned to die, the day of his execution comes, vast multitudes collect to see the impostor die. His disciples now forsake him, many however, feel so attached to him still, that they follow at a distance weeping in a bitter manner. He is executed, as he dies, he prays in a most fervent manner to God to forgive those who have been active in procuring his condemnation. He is tak
en down from the gallows and put into a sepulchre, or tomb. It is now suggested to the authority that this impostor had taught the people and his disciples that he should rise from the dead the third day after his execution, and a watch is placed at the tomb to prevent any fraud being committed by his disciples. The third day comes, he does not rise. After this, however so many might have been deceived before, and led away after such an impostor, can any man in his reason, believe that any body would appear as his disciples.:
We will further suppose that the disciples of this man collect together and agree to such a base and abominable fraud as to say that they had actually seen their leader alive since he was executed, and likewise agree to preach the same reformation which the impostor preached, and to urge the propriety and reality of their doctrine on the authority of the resurrection of their leader. After they had thus agreed on the deceit they collect together in a certain place in Boston, and it should be immediately known that they were together, and that they presumed to say that their leader had risen, and that they had seen him and known him in breaking of bread, in consequence of which, thousands of people should collect to hear what these impostors should say, and they should affirm that they had seen their leader alive after his execution, who can we reasonably believe would give the least head or credit to what they said ? Can we believe that such wicked men would establish a doctrine founded on such a fact which was uterly false, and even thousands to the belief of it, even in the neighbourhood where the fraud was invented ?
4th. If Christ and his disciples were impostors, there must have been some evil planned againt the public or some individuals which would, in some way, operate to the gratification of some unrighteous vanity of theirs ; but this has never been discovered by any of the keen eyed enemies of the gospel. The first is, Christ never sought to gratify unlawful ambition or pride, but rebuked it in others, preached and practised the purest morality of any man on earth, preached a doctrine which was well supported by the ancient writings which the Jews held sacred; he never attempted to disturb the affairs of state, he never promised any earthly reward to his disciples, but forewarned them that they must forsake the world and endure sore persecutions, and at last death, if they were faithful in his cause. It was under those circumstances that he engaged the witnesses of his resurrection to faithfulness in his ministry of mercy,
5th. There are five well-known books now extant, and in our