« PoprzedniaDalej »
in preaching his resurrection. They saw on the other hand that they would avoid all these calamities by remaining silent. They saw even that after they had begun to preach the gospel, they could still elude these miseries by going over to the enemies of Christianity. · They even might expect great rewards if they would abandon their companions, and forsake the cause in which they were engaged. Yet notwithstanding all this, they announce every where the resurrection of Christ; they love better to expose themselves to a thousand woes than to deny or conceal this point; they love better to lay down their lives, to expire in the acutest agonies, than to cease their testimony. Surely there is nothing but the force of truth, of truth with which he is intimately affected, that can push forward a man to so extraordinary a resolution, and encourage him to sustain it with so wonderful a constancy.
You see then, my brethren, that the testimony of the apostles is unexceptionable; that neither their knowledge of the matter they attested, nor their fidelity in attesting it, can be called in question without the most monstrous absurdity. We may
confidently challenge infidels to mention a single one of those historical facts which no man of sense has ever called in question, that has better witnesses than the resurrection of Christ. We may boldly assert that a person who would reject such testimony in any thing except religion, would be accused by all the world of blindness and folly.
Perhaps some of you have thought that we have already spent too much time upon this argument. Perhaps some of you are inwardly saying, “Why need all these reasonings be employed to demonstrate a
thing which none of us disputes ? we are all Christians; we have never doubted of the resurrection of Christ, nor of the other truths of the gospel.' I grant, my brethren, that if a person look only at our outward worship, and observe us constantly attenda ing the courts of the Lord, he would suppose that we were fully persuaded of the truths of religion. But let us not deceive ourselves; all this may be performed, whilst the heart is unbelieving. What, then, must we do, to prove the sincerity of our faith? Is it necessary that we suffer some great affliction for the cause of Christ? Is it necessary that we seal with our blood the sincerity of our profession ? No, my brethren, God does not now call us to so severe a test. What he requires of us as a proof of our sincerity, is only a life conformed to our belief. “Show," says
he by the mouth of his apostle, “ show your faith by your works.” This is what must prove that we are truly persuaded of these truths. Our lives must evince that we believe that Christ is risen from the dead; that, therefore, the doctrine which he taught is true; that, therefore, there will be a judgment for all men, a heaven for the righteous, a hell for the wicked. We.vainly boast of our faith, if our whole conduct does not prove that we are truly convinced of these important doctrines.
But, alas! my brethren, if nothing but a Christian life can show the sincerity of our faith, if all other marks are equivocal, how many unbelievers are there who bear the name of Christians ? What must we say of so many open and profligate sinners, whose whole lives are a perpetual violation of the law of God?
Let us conclude this discourse by considering the resurrection of Christ as a pledge of the resurrec.
tion and happiness of believers, and as a source of abundant consolations.
1. The resurrection of Christ is an assured pledge of the resurrection and subsequent happiness of believers. All mankind must sink under the stroke of death. Our friends, our neighbours, are falling around us, under the arm of this destroyer. Our turn must shortly arrive; in a little while the dust of the church-yard must press upon our cold and unpalpitating breasts. When once deposited in the tomb, no philosopher has sufficient wisdom, no prince sufficient power, to restore us to light and life. But, when human help fails, the Son of God exclaims, “ Believe in me, become my disciple, and I will raise you to an immortal life; though you were dead, yet shall you
live.” His own resurrection is a proof of this promise, since this resurrection shows that there is no natural or moral impossibility in our restoration to life. For, since Jesus by the power which he received from the Father, raised his own dead body from the tomb, and clothed it with glory, and bore it to the heavens, we cannot doubt that he is able to raise and to glorify us also. And as to the moral impossibility of our resurrection, that is, the impossibility which springs, not from want of power in God to produce such an effect, but from the resistance which reason and justice would oppose to it, the resurrection of Christ has satisfied us on this point also. For this moral impossibility would be caused only by our sin; but the resurrection of Christ has shown that our sin is expiated and justice satisfied. . For since the Father has restored him from a death which he suffered only for our crimes; since he has raised him from the tomb, which he entered only for our offences; since
he has delivered him from a prison'in which he was cast only for our debts; since on raising him from this death, from this tomb, from this prison, he has crowned him with glory; he has thereby declared that he is well pleased with his obedience, and has accepted from him, our Mediator and Surety, an atonement for our sins. Our guilt then, will not prevent him from employing in our behalf, his almighty power.
2. But besides these considerations, we are, from the resurrection of Christ, assured of our own resurrection, because he rose from the dead, and took
possession of heaven not merely for himself, but in the name and in behalf of believers. For all those who believe in him are so closely united to him, as to be esteemed one body with him, of which he is the head and they the members. Therefore they are said to be predestinated to be conformed to his image,
and he is declared to be the first fruits of them that slept; and we are said to be raised together with him.
Be of good cheer, then, believers. Your Redeemer liveth. Death, who cries to the wicked, Fools, quit your enjoyments, your pleasures, your Gods ! will accost you in accents of tenderness, and say, • Faithful servants, the period of your anxieties, your griefs, and your tears is ended. Your Saviour calls you. Go, enjoy heaven and your Redeemer. Tremble not to consign your body to the dust: Jesus will watch its scattered particles.'
Since God has deigned to assure such blessings to us; since not satisfied with shielding our souls from the inflictions of justice, he has also provided for our bodies such inconceivable glories, let us live in a
manner worthy of this new and immortal nature. Let us obey the injunction of the apostle, “ If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above."
LIFE OF CHRIST.
CHRIST'S INTERVIEW WITH MARY AT THE SEPULCHRE.
JOHN XX. 11-17.
How interesting, as a writer, as well as a man, is the disciple whom Jesus loved! In reading his writings, we must be taught, by the powerful impulse of feeling, that there never was a heart of greater tenderness and sensibility, more deeply penetrated with that charity, that love to God and man, which forms the soul of the religion which the Saviour announced, and of which John was so worthy a preacher. All his gospel breathes his spirit. It appears to have been written only to inspire it. His favourite principles are those which tend to establish it. To show the excellence and the necessity of it, he employs the most forcible reasonings, the most eloquent figures, the most impressive images, the most striking examples. Those facts which have been slightly mentioned by