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EPIPHANIES OF THE FORTY DAYS.
We have now completed our studies in the Summary. Epiphanies of the Forty Days. Let us enumerate them: the Epiphany to Mary Magdalene, to the other Women, to Peter, to the Two, to the Ten, to Thomas, to the Seven, to the Five Hundred, to James, to the Disciples on Olivet. Not that these were the only occasions on which the Risen Lord
But these seem to have been recorded as Specimen Epiphanies. I have alluded more than once to the mysterious character of the Forty Days. Where was the Risen Lord's home during the intervals between His Epiphanies ? On earth or in Heaven? What was His employment ? The Scripture has not told us; and when the Scripture is silent on such points, it is idle to speculate. Enough that we know that He showed Acts i. 8. Himself alive after His Passion by many infallible proofs, being seen during forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Neither can we tell why the Epiphanies of the Risen Lord were limited to forty days. For aught we can see the number might have been
Matt. xvii. 3.
Mark i. 13.
Acts x. 40, 41.
fifty or a hundred as well as forty. Nevertheless it is a significant fact that Moses and Elijah, who had appeared with Him in the Transfiguration Scene, had each of them been in Horeb forty days, and He Himself had been in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. The forty days of Lent are probably good, but forty days of Easter are certainly better. Best of all, the Church of the Resurrection can observe each day of the year as her Easter. It is her blessed privilege to have an Epiphany of her Risen Lord every day.
And this suggests the question: Was the Risen Lord Seen Lord ever seen during the Forty Days by any who only by His Followers. had not been His followers? There is no Scrip
tural evidence that He ever was. Indeed, the Apostle Peter expressly declares that God raised Him up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses before chosen by God, even to ourselves, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. And why should the Risen Lord make His Epiphanies to those who had rejected Him in His ministry of love? Listen to the Master Himself : “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." And as it was through the Forty Days, so it is still. But there is this difference: the probability of beholding Him as Risen is vastly less; if we believe not the Moses, and Prophets who foretold Him, and very especially if we believe not the Gospels and Epistles which declare that what Moses and Prophets had foretold has been fulfilled, neither will we be persuaded though
Luke xvi. 31.
we behold the Risen Lord Himself. In fact, the only Jesus which unbelievers see or can see is the dead Jesus. Their Church, if indeed they have any, is the Church of the Sepulchre. True, they may bring Easter flowers and pay outward homage to an outward resurrection; but there will oe no true Resurrection Morn for them until the 2 Peter i. 19. Day dawn and the Morning Star arise in their own hearts. Before they can see the Risen Lord they must arise out of the sepulchre of their own dead selves. If they would know the power of Phil. ii. 10. His Resurrection, they must first know the fellowship of His sufferings and be conformed to the likeness of His death. Good Friday must come before Easter. And, God be praised, Easter will always come after Good Friday. The most gorgeous spectacle which Rome ever witnesses is on the evening of Easter Sunday, when the exterior of its majestic Cathedral is illuminated from base to dome by thousands of golden lamps. When will the world learn that it is not by suspending external lanterns, but by having the Risen Lord within us, that God's true Cathedral, even His Temple of the Soul, can be illuminated ?
But although the Risen Lord made no Epipha- “Many Infallinies of Himself except to His own followers, yet
ble Proofs." those Epiphanies were made in such a way as to render the fact of His resurrection indisputable. He demonstrated the materiality of His risen body by many infallible proofs, such as appearing, walking, speaking, touching, eating, etc. If ever there was a historic statement, based on the testimony
Matt. xxviii. 11
of eye-witnesses, proved, it is this : Jesus Christ
has risen from the dead. The Suborned And now listen to a most incredible theory. Report.
When, on the first Resurrection morn, the Roman guard had rallied from their paralysis of fright, they hastened back to the city, and told the chief priests the marvelous things which had happened. No sooner did the hierarchy hear the startling report than, in spite of its being the Sabbath, they convoked a session of the Sanhedrim. Alas! for that miserable, conscience-stung body no sine die adjournment was now possible. Having hastily consulted, they offered to the guard large money, saying: “Say ye, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were sleeping.' And if this comes to the Governor's ears, we will persuade him and make you secure.” This then is the abyss of weakness and infamy into which the sacred representatives of God's ancient, chosen people have sunk in their mad fight against the Divine Son of their own Abraham and David; resorting to pitiful bribery, and this of foreign, heathen soldiery; undertaking to overbalance the Resurrection of the Son of God with miserable gold. So the soldiers took the money, and did as they were taught, saying: “His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were sleeping.” And this saying was commonly reported among the Jews down to the time that Matthew wrote his Gospel. How unspeakably absurd as a theory in explanation of Joseph's empty tomb! A drowsy Roman watch (and death was the Roman penalty for sleeping on guard)
the key to the riddle of Cæsar's broken seal! An apostolic theft of a crucified corpse the secret of Joseph's empty tomb! Verily, whom Jupiter would destroy he first dements. And yet is this
. story of the soldiers, considered as an explanation of the alleged Resurrection, one whit more absurd than the theories of many among us, even of educated and, if you please, philosophical men ? Oh, there is no credulity so credulous as the credulousness of incredulity. Compare this hierarchical story of the rifled Sepulchre with the apostolic story of the Resurrection of Jesus. Which is easier to believe: the Sanhedrim, or Mary Magdalene? Caiaphas, or the Women ? Celsus, or Cleopas ? Porphyry, or the Ten? Julian the Apostate, or Thomas the Steadfast? Herbert of Cherbury, or the Seven? Voltaire, or Peter? Strauss, or the Five Hundred ? Rénan, or Paul? Which is easier to believe: the bought report of a sleepy guard, or the Gospel of the Resurrection? Which will you believe: the story of a murderous Sanhedrim, and go down to the grave stripped of immortality, or the story of saintly Apostles, and soar into the air to meet the return- 1 Thess. iv. 17. ing Nazarene, and so ever be with the Lord ?