« PoprzedniaDalej »
ed Jesus, merciful Redeemer, our hearts shall be thine; they shall henceforth burn with no other love than love to thee; they shall live and breathe but for thee; thou shalt reign in them supreme and unrivalled.
LIFE OF CHRIST.
RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
Acts v. 30, 31, 32.
A CONSIDERATION of the conduct of the greater part of those who profess to believe in Christianity,gives us but too much cause to doubt whether they are really persuaded of the truth of this religion. To believe so holy a religion, and to live a worldly and sinful life, these are two things which it is difficult to reconcile, perhaps they are entirely incompatible. It is not then a useless labour for the ministers of the gospel to endeavour to persuade their hearers of the divinity of the gospel which they preach. It is proper for us constantly to press those powerful motives to obedience which the gospel presents to lead men to piety: but nevertheless, it is certain, that these motives will have no effect upon an unbelieving heart; and probably this unbelief is the cause of the little effect of our preaching. It will not then be a loss of
. time to demonstrate to you that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which St. Peter declares in the text, is a certain fact; as certain as any of those which are recorded in history, and regarded as incontestable, This is what I shall endeavour to do in the ensuing discourse. It is not an unimportant matter. If we can establish the certainty of the resurrection of Christ, we establish at the same time, the certainty of the Christian religion, since this resurrection is the seal which God annexed to the teachings of the Redeemer.
I confine myself at present to a single point. I propose to establish the truth of our religion by proving the resurrection of Christ, which is the most important and most wonderful of the facts which the scriptures record. The text affords me two decisive proofs : one is the testimony of the apostles ; the other is the testimony of the Holy Ghost. The first of these we shall illustrate in this discourse. 66 We are witnesses,” says St. Peter, “ of the resurrection of Jesus, and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.”
I. The first proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and consequently of the Christian religion, is the testimony that the apostles give to this miraculous event. • We are witnesses of these things; of the resurrection of that Jesus whom ye have crucified. We do not know it merely by report; we are eye-witnesses; we ourselves have seen this risen Jesus; we have seen him many times; we have conversed with him ; we have touched his body; we have attended him to the place where he left us, and seen him ascend into heaven. It is not only one of us who have seen him; we have all seen him, and the other apostles bave
seen him as well as we. We are all witnesses of this miraculous resurrection: many others of his disciples, many women of his acquaintance, unite their 'testimony with ours. We can even mention, nearly five hundred persons who are still living, and who with their own eyes, have beheld this risen Saviour.' (1 Cor. xv. 6.)
This is the testimony which the apostles give to the resurrection of Christ. We must receive this
. testimony unless we maintain one of these two things : either that all these witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, were themselves deceived when they supposed that they saw Jesus risen; or else that they agreed to deceive others, by falsely pretending to be eye-witnesses of a thing which none of them ever
The first of these things must be acknowledged to be impossible, if we reflect but a single moment, who were these eye-witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were all persons who had frequently seen him; and who regarding him as an extraordinary character, had attentively considered him. They were even the most intimate friends of Christ, his disciples, who, during many years, had continually been with him; who had very lately eaten the passover, and celebrated the holy supper with him; who had passed the night with him in the garden, and accompanied him to the place where he was taken by his enemies. To say that these were all deceived, when they supposed that they saw Jesus Christ risen from the dead, we must maintain that they had lost entirely, and all at the same time, every idea of their Master; that in three days, they had all forgotten what were the traits of his countenance, what his
ance, his voice, and every thing which distinguishes one person from another.
Still this would be more possible, if they had said that they saw him but once. But no; they witnessed that this risen Jesus showed himself to them numerous times: sometimes to one of them in particular; sometimes to many together; sometimes to all at once; sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; that he has allowed them even to handle his ·body and touch his wounds, to assure the most incredulous that he was the same Jesus who expired upon the cross.
Besides, Jesus Christ was not content to show himself to his disciples one moment here and another moment there; he remained a long time with them, travelled and ate with them, held different conversations with them, gave different instructions to them, and made them many promises; and before he quitted them, instituted the solemn ordinance of baptism. Is it possible that the disciples, the intimate friends of Jesus Christ, could mistake their Master whilst he did, said, and instituted these things? Is it possible that the force of imagination could so far enchant the senses of so many men, and for so long a time, and upon so many several occasions, as to possess them with a belief that they saw a person alive who had been dead ; a person with whom they had been intimately acquainted'; and that they felt the substance of his flesh and bones, and conversed with him, when there was really no such thing nor nothing like it? Most certainly not. It is then evident that the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ could not themselves be deceived.
An infidel, then, to reject this testimony, must maintain that these witnesses agreed among themselves to deceive others. This is the only entrench
ment which the unbeliever can have, after we have proved that they themselves could not be deceived. But I will show you clearly, that such a suspicion is,
I. Without any foundation.
III. That it is a suspicion entirely false and unreasonable.
1. I say such a suspicion is without foundation. To accuse a person of fraud with any foundation, we must observe in him some mark of imposture, or be convinced that he has acted deceitfully on other occasions. But nothing of this nature has ever been proved against either the apostles or the other witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, although it was the highest interest of the enemies of christianity to make these witnesses pass for impostors. There is, then, no foundation to suspect their fidelity.
2. This suspicion is entirely improbable. If those who first preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ had done it to establish an impure or impious worship, infidels would have reason to doubt of the truth of this resurrection. But on the contrary, the religion which the apostles and their disciples laboured to found, by preaching the resurrection of its author, is of all religions which have ever been in the world, the most pure, the most holy, the most worthy of the Divinity. This is granted by all reasonable and candid infidels. In truth, if there ever have been men in this world who have served God in a manner worthy of him, we may confidently say that Christians are these men: I mean real Christians, who have embraced with all their heart the holy doctrine of Christ; who have trusted in his promises, and have laboured to practise the commands and to imitate the example of their Master : certainly these have