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xx. 3dly, That it happened on the first day of the week. As the creation of the world and of light began on that day, so our Lord was pleased to determine that, on the same day, by his coming forth from the grave, the epoch of a new world, and of a happier age, should commence. From the earliest times of the Christian Church, that day was, therefore, held sa cred, and called “ the Lord's day.”n
XXI. 4thly, That it took place early in the morning of the first day, whilst the sun was rising, or about to rise. Thus he showed himself that “ hind of the ti “ morning,”p which, while the shades of night were disappearing and the day was only beginning to dawn, burst from its fetters, leaped into the open fields, and :: coming forth from its lurking-place, brought day out of night. For he is not only " the bright and the “ morning-Star,”! but also “the Sun of righteousness," who “ gives light to them that sit in darkness and in “ the shadow of death,” to guide their feet into the “ way of peace.”
XXII. As to the MANNER of the resurrection, the following circumstances demand our attention. Ist, It was accompanied by an earthquake; which indicates “ the removing of those things that are shaken, as of “ things that are made, that those things which can“ not be shaken may remain.” Since at the death of Christ the vail was rent, and the enmity abolished in his flesh ;u and the handwriting having been blottet
n Rev. i. 10.
m Mat. xxviii. 1.
Ps. xxii. title.
Mal. iv. 2. + Heb. xii. 27.
out on the cross, a discharge, so to speak, was given him by the Father, at his resurrection; the consequence was, that the things which were appointed to continue “ until the time of reformation,” were shaken, to make room for those which are perpetual and stable. Now
this was symbolically signified by the shaking of the į earth. 2dly, A glorious retinue of angels was pre
sent; for “ When he again brought in his First-be“ gotten into the world, he saith, And let all the an“gels of God worship him.”w 3dly, He left his sepulchral vestments in the tomb; to wit, “ the linen clothes, " and the napkin wrapped together in a place by it“self.” By this it was intimated, that our Lord stood in no need of funeral ornaments, because he was to put on immortality; and that the saints, when raised again from the dead, shall, through him, have every cause of shame done away, and, instead of garments, be adorned with celestial glory.
XXIII. The leaving of the linen clothes served, also, in no inconsiderable degree, to confirm the truth of the resurrection of Christ. This argument is illustrated by Sedulius in the following lines; which, considering the age in which he flourished, are not inelegant.
Speak, ruthless keeper; answer, guard profane;
w Heb. i. 6.
Col. ii. 14.
Can you suppose, the thief would long delay,
And thus we come insensibly to another head of our discourse, namely, the TRUTH and CERTAINTY of our Lord's resurrection; which we are now farther to establish.
XXIV. And, first, let us attend to the evidence of the fact itself; which is sufficient to overcome the incre- . dulity even of the most pertinacious. The Jewish. rulers, conscious of guilt, and full of apprehensions , arising from the predictions of Christ, urged Pilate to command that the sepulchre should be se cured till the third day, to prevent the removal of the body by force. or fraud. Having gone themselves, they secure the sepulchre as carefully as possible, seal the stone, and set a watch. In the mean time, as it began to dawn towards the third day after his death, the earth is shaken by a great earthquake; and a celestial messenger, descending from heaven, rolls back the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and sits down upon it. His
-- Fare, improbe Custos;
raiment was so white, that it surpassed the snow; the splendour of his countenance so great, that it might be denominated lightning rather than brightness.* The keepers, whom Jewish malignity had provided, see him ; but struck dead, in a manner, with fear, they fall prostrate on the earth. Mean time, no man daring to hinder him, Jesus comes forth alive, and betakes himself to the place, where, conformably to the notice he had given, he was to make his first appearance to his friends. Some of the keepers, having gradually come again to themselves, hasten to the city, to relate to the chief priests the events which had happened. The priests, however reluctant to admit the fact, could not refuse them credit. Yet, wishing others not to believe what their own mind told them was too true, they bribed the soldiers by a large sum of money, to circulate a ridiculous and impertinent story—to report, that the disciples had come by night and stolen Jesus away, while the guard were asleep.Y Are not all these events, which were not done in a corner, but in the most populous city of Judea-are not these events, of such a nature, that if they were not true, they could never have been contrived or published by any one, and especially at that time and place in which they are affirmed to have happened—whilst those whose interest it was that they should not obtain credit, were living, and were the rulers of the land ?
xxv. Add to this, the testimony of the Angels, who, notwithstanding the impotent rage of the soldiers, showed the Lord's empty sepulchre to the women, testifying that he had risen, and was going before them to Galilee, where they should see him.z
* Fulgur potius quam fulgor. Mat. xxvii. - Mat. xxviii. 6, 7. Luke xxiv. 4—7.
XXVI. But what can be more decisive than the frequent appearances of Christ after his return from the grave, by which he extorted conviction even from the most incredulous of his friends ? Peter urges this evidence in the Acts,a and Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians. Of these appearances, we find eleven in the sacred history, previous to Christ's ascension to heaven ;-five of them on the very day of the resurrection, and six on subsequent days. We cannot, however, in every instance, exactly determine their order. He appeared, 1. To Mary Magdalene alone at the sepulchre. 2. To the women, when they had returned from the sepulchred 3. To the two disciples, Cleophas and his companion, when going to Emmaus.e 4. To Simon Peter alone. 5. To the Apostles when assembled at Jerusalem, Thomas excepted. Mark calls this college of Apostles, “ the eleven ;'h and Paul calls them “ the twelve."i For colleges or societies, that have been restricted to a certain number at their first institution, as those of the Septemviri, the Decemviri, and the like, still retain their original appellation, though the number be diminished or increased. Thus also the Rulers of Athens are styled by Xenophon, the
Thirty; though, after Theramenes was put to death, only twenty-nine remained. 6. Eight days after, to all the disciples together, Thomas being present. 7. At the sea of Tiberias, to seven disciples, when they were
a Ch. x. 40, 41.
• Ch. xv. 5—8.
Luke xxiv. 13–32.
i i Cor. xv. 5.
Luat sxviii.9. John st. 14