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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
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.
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.
Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.-Epbesians, v. 14.
THE apostle St. Paul having been warning his Ephesian converts against falling again into the impurities of their heathen neighbours, breaks out into this noble apostrophe, which is the application indeed of a passage of Isaiah to the times of Christ *.
The words may be applied to those who sleep in life; and to those, who sleep in the grave.
To the sleepers of this world religion calls: Awake thou, who art immersed in the pleasures and business of life. Thou art asleep. Thou art in a dream. Awake. Recollect where all this tends. Wouldst thou spend thy whole life in a dream? Arise. Set about the great work before thee. Rise from the dead-from the death of this
world-The world is thy distemper-seek relieffly to Christ; and he will give thee light.
HINTS FOR SERMONS.
Again, when this world is over, the same awful voice will sound through the regions of the grave: Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead. Christ shall judge thee: and if thou art among those, who were 'roused from the dream of a mortal life, Christ will indeed give thee light, and thou shalt be removed into mansions of eternal glory.
END OF THE HINTS FOR SERMONS.
G. WOODFALL, PRINTER,