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be supposed, that guards, who had been particularly cautioned by their officers, sat down to sleep, and that, however they deserved credit when they said the body of Jesus Christ was stolen: it must be supposed, that men who had been imposed on in the most odious and cruel manner in the world, hazarded their dearest enjoyments for the glory of an impostor. It must be supposed that ignorant and illiterate men, who had neither reputation, fortune, nor eloquence, possessed the art of fascinating the eyes of all the church. It must be supposed, either that five hundred persons were all deprived of their senses at a time, or that they were all deceived in the plainest matters of fact; or that
; this multitude of false witnesses had found out the secret of never contradicting themselves, or one another, and of being always
uniform in their testimony. It must be supposed, that the most expert courts of judicature could not find out a shadow of contradiction in a palpable imposture. It must be supposed, that the apostles, sensible men in other cases, chose precisely those places, and those times which were the most unfavorable to their views. It must be supposed, that millions madly suffered imprisonments, tortures and crucifixions, to spread an illusion. It must be supposed, that ten thousand miracles were wrought in favor of falshood: or all these facts must be denied, and then it must be supposed, that the apostles were idiots, that the enemies of christianity were idiots, and that all the primitive christians were idiots.
The arguments that persuade us of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, are so clear and so conclusive, that if any difficulty remain, it ariseth from the brightness of the evidence itself. Yes, I declare, if any thing has shaken my confidence in
it, it hath arisen from this consideration. I could
I not conceive how a truth, attested by so many irreproachable witnesses, and confirmed by so many notorious miracles, should not make more proselytes, how it could possibly be, that all the Jews, and all the heathens, did not yield to this evidence. But this difficulty ought not to weaken our faith. In the folly of mankind its solution lies. Men are capable of any thing to gratify their passions, and to defend their prejudices. The unbelief of the Jews and heathens is not more wonderful than a hundred other phænomena, wbich, were we not to behold them every day, would equally alarm us. It is not more surprizing than the superstitious veneration, in which, for many ages, the christian world held that dark, confuted, pagan genius, Aristotle ; a veneration, which was carried so far, that when metaphysical questions were disputed in the schools, questions on which every one ought always to have liberty to speak his opinion ; when they were examining whether there were a void in nature, whether nature abhorred a vacuum, whether matter were divisible, whether there were atoms, properly so called ; when it could be proved, in disputes of this kind, that Aristotle was of such or such an opinion, his infallibility was allowed, and the dispute was at end. The unbelief of the ancients is not more surprizing than the credulity of the moderns : We see kings, and princes, and a great part of christendom, submit to a pope, yea to an inferior priest, often to one who is void of both sense and grace. It is not more astonishing than the implicit faith of christians, who believe, in an enlightened age, in the days of Descartes, Paschal, and Malbranche; what am I saying? Descartes, Paschal, and Malbranche themselves believe, that a piece of bread, which they reduce to a pulp with
their teeth, which they taste, swallow, and digest, is the body of their Redeemer. The ancient unbelief is not more wonderful than yours, protestants ! You profess to believe there is a judgment, and a •hell, and to know that misers, adulterers, and drunkards, must suffer everlasting punishments there, and although you cannot be ignorant of your being in this fatal list, yet you are as easy about futurity, as if you had read your names in the book of life, and had no reason to entertain the least doubt of your salvation.
II. We have urged the arguments, that prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ : I shall detain you only a few moments longer in justifying the joyful acclamations which it produceth, The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.
The three melancholy days that passed between the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection, were days of triumph for the enemies of the church. Jesus Christ riseth again ; and the church triumphs in
l its turn: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.
1. In those melancholy days, heresy triumphed over truth. The greatest objection that was made against the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, was taken from his innocence, which is the foundation of it. For if Jesus Christ were innocent, where was divine justice when he was overwhelmed with sufferings, and put to death? Where was it, when he was exposed to the unbridled rage of the populace ? This difficulty seems at first indissoluble. Yea, rather let all the guilty perish; rather let all the pos
terity of Adam be plunged into hell; rather let divine justice destroy every creature that divine goodness hath made, than leave so many virtues, so much benevolence, and so much fervor, humility so profound, and zeal so great, without indemnity and reward. But when we see that Jesus Christ, by suffering death, disarmed it, by lying in the tomb took away its sting, by his crucifixion ascended to a throne, the difficulty is diminished, yeait vanisheth away: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord is exalted : the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly. God and man are reconciled ; divine justice is satisfied ; henceforth we
; may go boldly to the throne of grace. There is nowo no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, Heb. iv. 16. Rom. viii. 1, 32, 34.
2. In those mournful days infidelity triumphed over faith. At the sight of a deceased Jesus the infidel displayed his system by insulting him, who sacrificed his passions to his duty, and by saying ; See, See, that pale motionless carcase: Bless God and die* ! All events come alike to all, there is
* So the French bibles. render the words ; BLESS God and die ! our translation hath it, CURSE God and die. Job, who best knew his wife, calls this a foolish saying ; that is, a saying void of humanity and religion: for so the word foolish signifies in scripture. It was a cruel popular sarcasm, frequently cast by sceptics on those who persisted in the belief of a God, and of the perfection and excellence of his providence, even while he suffered them to sink under the inost terrible calamities. “ Your God is the God of universal nature ! He regards the actions of men! He rewards virtue! He punishes vice! On these erroneous principles your adoration of him has been built. This was a pardonable folly in the time of your prosperity; but what an absurdity to persist in it now! If your present sufferings do not undeceive you, no future means can. Your mind is past information. Persevere ! Go on in your adoration till you dic.”
one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the clean and to the unclean ; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not ; as is the good, so is the sinner, and he that sweareth as he
It may seem strange at first, that the same term should stand for two such opposite ideas as blessing and cursing : but a very plain and natural reason may be assigned for it. The Hebrew word originally signified to bless (benedicere): and when applied to God is meant io bless, that is, to praise God by worshipping him. The Talmudists say, that the religious honors which were paid to God, were of four sorts. The prostration of the whole body was one : The bowing of the head another : The bending of the upper part of the body towards the knees a third ; and genuflecion the fourth. Megillæ fol. 22. 2. apud Buxtorff. Lex. In these ways was God praised, worshipped or blessed, and the Hebrew word for blessing was naturally put for genuflexion, the expression of blessing, or praising: thus it is rendered Psalm xcv. 6. let us kneel before the Lord : 2 Chron. vi. 13. Solomon kneeled down upon his knees. The bending of the knee being a usual token of respect, which people paid to one another, when they met, the word was transferred to this also, and is properly salute : 2 Kings iv. 19. If thou meet any man salute him not. The same token of respect being parting, the word was also applied to that: They blessed Rebekah, that is they bade her farewel, accompanying their good wishes with genuflexion. From this known meaning of the word, it was applied to a bending of the knee where no blessing could be intended; he made his camels kneel down, Gen. xxiv. 11. It was put sometimes for the respect, that was paid to a magistrate, Gen. xli. 43. and sometimes for the respect, which idolators paid to false gods. But to bow the knee to an idol was to deny the eristence of God, to renounce his worship, or, in the scripture style, to curse God, to blaspheme God, &c. "If I beheld the sun, or the moon, and my mouth hath kissed my hand ; I should have denied the God that is above, Job xxxi. 26, 27, 28. Only the scope of the place, therefore can determine the precise meaning of the word. The word must be rendered curse, deny God, or renounce his worship, Job i. 5. 11. and it must be rendered bless, acknowledge, or worship him, in ver. 21. The Sep. tuagint, after a loug sarcastic paraphrase, supposed to have been spoken by Job's wife, renders the phrase Eiroy to parece topos xuplov xar Teasuta. To bring our meaning into a narrow compass. If an ancient Jew had seen a dumb man bend his knee in the tabernacle, or in the temple, he would have said he blessed the Lord. Had he seen him, bend his knee at court in the presence of Solomon, he would have said he blessed, that is, he saluted the King. And had he seen him bend his knee in a kouse of Baal, or in an idolatrous grove, he would have said, he blessed an IDOL; or, as the embracing of idolatry was the renouncing of the worship of the true God, he would have said, he cursed JEHOVAH. We have ventured this conjecture to prevent any prejudices against the English bible, that may arise from ite seemingly uncertain mcaning of some Hebrew words.