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in themselves. These are they who read the scriptures with two great views.
The first is, to rectify in themselves what they may observe amiss.
If they look attentively into the scriptures, and compare their own thoughts, words, and actions, with what they find there ; they will of course find many things daily getting wrong. We see our own faults with a tender
eye. A faithful friend, who will point them out to us, is a kind of monitor. Friendship however is delicate. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty, may be sure, if his heart go with his eyes, to see his faults laid truly before him.
The second great point he has in view, after the amendment of his faults, is to adorn himself with virtues. Many, as was observed, look into a glass to adorn themselves fantastically; he puts on merely such ornaments as are plain, simple, and becoming, and render bim in fact more agreeable to others. He adorns himself with the virtues of a christian.
This is the man, whom the apostle's comparison points out to us for imitation--this is the man, who, in the language of the text, shall be blessed in his deed.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one
went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto them, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. Luke, xvi. 30, 31.
passage puts the following objection into the mouth of the free-thinker.
“ If a person's rising from the dead,” says he, " is not a mode of evidence suited to persuade, why should Jesus offer his own resurrection from the dead, as the last and best proof of his divine commission ? On his own authority we see it is of little weight; and yet his disciples are continually urging it as the strongest evidence that could be produced.”
If the objector will be at the pains of considering the fact, he will find, that his statement of it is not quite exact; and that there is no disagreement between what our Saviour says, and what his apostles urged.
The parable represents an infidel calling for & resurrection from the dead, as the strongest evidence to convince another infidel. Abraham does not in the least insinuate, that a resurrection from the dead was not the strongest evidence: indeed his argument plainly leads us to believe, he thought it was the strongest evidence. What he says therefore amounts only to this that if the infidel, who was a Jew, would not give a fair hearing to Moses and the prophets, no evidence, however strong, could have weight with him. When the heart is hardened and confirmed in infidelity, it will shuffle off, and avoid the force of any evidence, that can be given.
The strongest would be thrown away.
Now this was in fact the very case of the unbelieving Jews at that time, to whom the parable was addressed. They rejected our Saviour as the Messiah, and ascribed his miracles to the devil; though they saw them plainly wrought to counteract the works of the devil. Nay, many of them, who had been present at the resurrection of Lazarus, had even the evidence here required of a man raised from the dead; and yet they still continued impenitent. And afterwards the more awful circumstances of the resurrection of Jesus
himself, had no better effect upon them. So that it is plain a resurrection from the dead, however convincing a proof in itself, is not sufficient to convince those, whose hearts are hardened by infidelity.-It seems also as if it had been one design of our Saviour in this parable to point out the future hardened infidelity of the Jews with regard to the very event of his own resurrection.
“But still,” replies the objector, “it appears from the parable, that Jesus thought the evidence of Moses and the prophets sufficient, without adding the further evidence of a man raised from the dead. And though we may allow the evidence of a man raised from the dead to be the strongest evidence that can be given, yet still if it was more than was necessary, it seems more than Providence ordinarily allows. So that at any rate there seems to have been no occasion for the resurrection of Jesus."
To this we reply, that if we consider the different pretensions of Judaism and Christianity, there was occasion for it. The faith of the Jews was confined to Moses and the prophets ; for which they had sufficient evidence of various kinds. They did not therefore require the additional evidence of a man raised from the dead. F F 2
But the gospel carries our faith into higher regions. It not only brings immortality to light; it further teaches, that our very bodies shall not lie in the grave; but shall hereafter take a spiritualized form, and be united to our souls. As these articles of faith therefore were new, some new evidence seemed requisite to enforce them. And what could be so proper as for the author and finisher of this faith to prove it by his own resurrection from the dead ?-In fact, it was a kind of evidence, which had more weight than any other, with honest, unprejudiced minds, though the hardened heart was able to resist it.
From these premises then it follows, first, that our Saviour by no means designed to speak lightly, in the parable before us, of the evidence of a man raised from the dead : secondly, that such evidence was well suited to the Christian, though unnecessary to the Jew—and lastly, that it was a mode of evidence well calculated to give the firmest support to the christian faith.