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fishing.k 8. To the eleven disciples on a certain mountain of Galilee, as Jesus had appointed. 9. To more than five hundred brethren at once.m 10. To James apart. 11. On the very day of the ascension, to all the Apostles at once on mount Olivet.
After his ascension into heaven, too, he appeared to Stephen,o to Paul,p and frequently to John in the Revelation; although those visions were rather extatic and emblematical, than corporeal and personal.
XXVII. It would be unreasonable to demand, that our Lord should show himself alive after his death, in the temple, or in any other place of concourse, to the whole Jewish people, or at least, to the priests and elders of the people. 1. It is fit that he should be Master of his own actions, and it is sufficient that the reason of them is known to himself. “He giveth not ac“ count of any of his matters.”q 2. The Jewish people, with their rulers, had wantonly abused the time of grace; now was the day of judgment and severity, and of the hiding of God's countenance from them, according to that threatening; “ For I say unto you, ye “shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed " is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”r 3. It was the time of humbling that arrogance on the part of the rulers, by which they exalted themselves above the people of God, and of teaching them that the kingdom of Christ is entirely spiritual and heavenly, not founded on human authority, and not standing in need of human protection or patronage. It pleased
* John xxi. 1.
| Mat. xxviii. 16.
ni Cor. xy. 7.
Mat. xxiii. 39.
God that the history of so important a matter should be published to mankind, rather by some of the common people than by the princes of this world," that “ our faith might not stand in the wisdom,” or authority, “ of men, but in the power of God.” 4. Our Lord intended to exercise the faith of his followers, agreeably to these words; “ Blessed are they that have “ not seen, and yet have believed.”
xxvIII. Further, those Saints that slept in the dust, who “ came out of their graves after the resurrection : “ of Christ, and went into the holy city, and appeared “ unto many,” furnish an incontestable proof of the resurrection of Christ.u Whether they were ancients, as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and others; or saints of a later age, as Simeon, Anna, Zacharias, John the Baptist, or others well known at that time,—they unquestionably bore witness to Christ's resurrection, and recognised it as the cause of their own. They appeared to many for this purpose, as it is expressed by Euthymius, “ that by their resurrec« tion, others might be assured of the resurrection of “ Christ, concluding that, since he raised them, much “ more did he raise himself.” This argument serves to demonstrate, not only the truth of our Lord's resurrection, but also its efficacy. “Christ, when returning « after the third day,” says Eusebius of Emesa, “ brought back with him to the land of the living, the “ fruits of his three days journey ; and, that none “ might question his return from the dead, he showed " them, with himself, to those that were living on the
t John xx. 29.
si Cor. ii. 5.
" earth, as witnesses and preachers of the victory ob“ tained over death.”*31
xxix. I intend not now to speak of the visible effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; or of the gift of tongues; or the miracles performed by the Apostles in his name; or the propagation of the Gospel, which is the “ rod of his strength sent forth out of “ Zion;" or of the efficacy of his quickening Spirit in the hearts of the elect; or the destruction of idolatry; or the overthrow of the Jewish polity; or the wonderful protection afforded to the faithful; or of the dreadful vengeance inflicted on enemies, by which, in spite of their hostility, confessions of the truth were extorted from their breasts. On these, and other such considerations, which might easily be enlarged on, and urged as evidences that Christ is alive and that he reigns in heaven, it is not my design at present to insist.
XXX. Nor is there the least pretext for any to contend, that the statements which we have produced from the sacred volume, were disingenuously devised by the Apostles, either from blind attachment to their deceased Master, or from ambition or avarice, or from a design, by subtle fabrications, to impose on men of a superstitious spirit, or from any other conceivable motive for such an imposture. It can with no appearance of reason be alleged, that they performed a part similar to that which was acted by Philostratus, who, without assigning bounds to the colouring, has artfully delineated the character and history of one Apollonius Tyanæus, and represented him as a kind of SemiGod, exempt from death, and possessed of an immortal nature. The Apostles, however simple and harmless, were by no means such arrant fools, as to suffer themselves to be persuaded of any thing whatever, by, or concerning, their Master;—especially of any thing which the very circumstances of the case might clearly discover to be false. Observe their behaviour in relation to this very point. They could not allow themselves to believe that their Master had risen again, till their incredulity was at last overcome by irresistible proofs. Nor was it possible, that, in opposition to the consciousness of their minds, they could have furnished the whole scene with fables of their own contrivance. What extreme arrogance would it have been, so wantonly to fabricate stories regarding events which had happened, at that very time and place, amongst men that were at once the ruling powers, and anxiously attentive to all that passed! What, in short, was their reward for the imposture? Not, surely, riches or honours, but quite the contrary, the indignation of the people and the rulers, prisons, stripes, banishments, the most dreadful deaths; all of which they might have prevented by an obsequious silence on this subject. Our conclusion, therefore, must be the following; As to those who have testified of these things, and wrote these things, we know that their testimony is true." Philostratus, in his splendid account of Apollonius, had certainly a different object in view. From its whole contexture it is manifest, that he wished rather to attract admiration of his own skill and eloquence, than to adhere strictly to historical truth. Had be been obliged to answer on oath in the presence of a Judge, in reference to every particular, he would un
* Homil. vi. Pasch. • v Ps. cx. 2. 31 See Note XXXI.
doubtedly have deemed it better to acknowledge the imposture, and renounce his fictitious Hero, than to submit for his sake to the most exquisite punishments.32
xxxi. Besides, let none object the seeming contradictions in the different accounts of the Evangelists, as tending to weaken the credit of the whole history. It served a useful purpose, as the celebrated Vossius has judiciously observed, that the history should be written by the Evangelists in a manner thus apparently inconsistent; for otherwise it would have been alleged, that they had combined, and adjusted the matter by previous concert. It appears to be written in this manner, too, in order to exercise our faith and our diligence; for if we examine all the narrations with serious attention, we shall find, that there is really no disagreement between them, and that apparent discrepancies are owing to the fault of the readers, not of the writers. To show this in detail, however, would lead us beyond the bounds of the present Dissertation.33
XXXII. We now pass on to the third head, which relates to the NECESSITY of the resurrection. This is taught us by our Lord: “OUGiit not Christ to have “ suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?"x It was necessary that Christ should rise again, 1st, That the prophetic oracles might be accomplished. 2dly, That the typical emblems might be fulfilled. 3dly, Because the glory alike of the Father and of Christ, required, that he should be declared the Conqueror of death.
* Luke xxiv. 26.