Imágenes de páginas

8. They could not poffibly have any secular view, by preaching such a dodrine to the world: Nay, in preaching it, they acted against all the rules of worldly in. terest and policy, and could have no profpe&t from the world, but what was frightful and discouraging; their doctrine being to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. - They could not propose to themselves either to gain reputation and eftcem, or to advance their fortunes in the world; nay, suffering the greatest hardships was all they had in view.

9. Consider how fevere the laws were which they published against lying, forgery, and a false teftimony : And if they themselves were guilty of it, they were condemned to everlasting punishments for doing what they did, by the very doctrine which they preached. Yet in this doctrine they perfifted to the last, and if it were a lie, they went out of the world with a horrible lie in their mouths, which is horrid to think; for so they could have no hope of finding mercy and forgive. ness at God's hands; and thus you would make them the most deprared wretches in the world.

10. Now, had they been men who had no religious awe or sense of God themselves, how is it credible that they would have been so very zealous and industrious to impress it upon the minds of others, and to press them to love and fear him, as the scope of all their writings and sermons do thew? How oft do they tell us of a judgment day, and of God his being the searcher of the thoughts and counsels of the heart.

11. It is plain to a demonstration, that these persons heartily believed the doctrines they preached to the world : otherways, how would they have exposed themselves to such dangers and sufferings upon that score?

12. The Jews who lived at that time were infallibly convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Chrift: Which apo pears from this, that the writers of the gospel-hiftory did in express terms pub.ith to the world, that the Jews bribed the soldiers to report that the body of Jesus Chrift wras stolen out of the grave by his disciples. Now, this ras a home charge on the Jews, and thews them to be the most degenerate wretches, that they


[ocr errors]

would fick at nothing to carry, on their designs, even the most abominable piece of forgery and bribery. Nay, their priests and rulers would be guilty of this villany, to tamper with soldiers in this manner. Well, if these chief priests and fathers of Israel had been unjustly ca, lumniated in this manner, it might have been expected that they would have exerted themselves in some extraor. dinary manner to clear themselves of this aspersion, and that the whole nation would have been in a tumult about it : For they would see that their religion, as well astheir credit, was at the stake; this account of their proceedings was like to be published through the world, and transmitted to the latest pofterity. Now, surely one would think the Christians would have been solemnly called to account for this provoking piece of hillory, and challenged to make it good, and that with the greatest zcal and concern. Well, but there is nothing like this ; the Jews content themselves with private whispers, to set the story about, which the bribed soldiers had re. ported, and make no resentment of the charge. From all which we may warrantably conclude, that they were conscious to themselves of the truth of the charge, and knew that they had bribed the soldiers to make the report; and consequently that they knew Christ was risen, otherways they had not bribed the soldiers.

13. Although the disciples of Christ had been fo wicked as to have contrived the stealing away the body of Jesus, it was impossible for them to have accomplished it. The Jews were extraordinary intent and watchful about this event; for they came to Pilate, and told him, that Jesus had foretold, while alive, that he would rise again the third day; and it was proper that a guard should be set upon the fepulchre till that day was over, left his disciples should come and steal him away, and say, that he was risen, and so the latter error would be worse than the first. They were sufficiently aware of the consequences of this event, that it would overturn their religion, and establish Christianity, and therefore they take all necessary precautions, anj this was ordered by God's wise providence for ascertaining the truth of the eyenţ...


14. The

[ocr errors]

14. The coined story of carrying off the body of Jesus, while the guard Nept, is so very gross, that it will scarce b-ar a telling. For if the disciples did this while the soldiers slept, how could the trick be known? Did the disciples tell it themselves, or were the guard con. scious of what passed in their sleep? Were not their senses locked up during their sleep?

15. If the disciples had been concerned in so vile a piece of imposture, with what courage or confidence could they have entered on their ministery, and preached salvation in Christ's name? Could they have ever hoped for any countenance from heaven, or for assistance from the Spirit to work miracles, while they were propagating a lotcrious cheat. They might have expected that both heaven and earth would be engaged against thern in every step of their undertaking, and so would have dropped their design of propagating the Chriftian faith, But being perfectly afsured of the truth of Christ's re. surrection, and of all they preached, they undertook and went through their work with that indefatigable zeal and industry, with that life and spirit far transcending all that ever was known in human nature before, that no ftorms nor difficulties, dangers nor deaths could in the least thake them; yea, were animated the more by the greatest of trials and persecutions.

For confirming the truth of the witnesses testimony concerning our Lord's resurrection, consider the horrid and intolerable absurdities that would follow on ques. tioning or denying the truth of it.

s. A deilt, who denies it, must believe that a despicable company of wilful impoitors and deceivers, men of a hated nation and religion, without power or force, without learning or experience, without wit or policy, should be able to run down all wit, learning, power and policy of the world, and by preaching a moit des. piled, incredible, and fècming!v ridiculous doctrine, directly contrary to all the worldly intereits and humours of men, and to their religions and culto.ns, yea, and to their rearn and philosophy too, ihould propagate the belief of it tar and wide through the earth, to that there was scarce a naison in the whole compass of the


globe, but what in whole or in part received this fi&tion, as the most sacred truth of God, and accordingly laid the whole stress of their salvation upon it! Or if deifts will suppose that the apostles and their companions were a company of brain-fick enthusiasts, or of lunatics and madmeni : then they rust own that such pitiful weak perfons did argue with so much art and force, as to overpower all the learning and wisdo:n of the world: That all the fages, philosophers, and statesmen, who embraced Christianity in great numbers, as well as the poor and illiterate, were convinced and perfuaded by mere enthusiasm ; that they mistook downright raving for the strongest reason, and a chain of incoherent fal. lities for bright and evident demonstrations of truth!

2. The deists must believe that twelve poor fishermen were not only able to compass that valt design of making the world stoop to the laws they imposed : but also that they laid their plots so deep, that the effects of it should be permanent and lasting, and no succeeding age or generation ever be able to fathom it, and she w where the cheat lay. Strange! that a company of illiterate men outdid the profoundest wisdom and fagacity of mankind, and concerted matters so artfully, that none of all the penetrating wits of the world should, for so many cen. turics, after the strictest examination, find it possible to discover the least failure or flow in the contrivance.

3. They must believe that these persons absolutely divested themselves of all regard to their own preserva. tion or happiness ; that they despised all the comforts and enjoyments of life, and ventured upon poverty and mifery, upon torments, upon death, yea, upon damna. tion itself in the next world, and all for nothing, but the propagating of a cheat, which is most abfurd to suppose.

4. They must believe that these very persons, who but a few hours before had so little spirit and courage left them, that they forsook their master in his extremity, and durf not own themselves his disciples, nor shew themselves openly for fear of the Jews, Thould all of a sudden grow so refolute, as to venture on that bold and hazardous undertaking, of forcing the fepulchre, and


carrying off his body; and that they effectuated the design without being challenged by one of the guard.

5. They must believe that these timorous men would, in an enterprise that required fo much expedition and dispatch, spend so much of their time in divesting a dead body of its burial-clothes, and wrap them up by them. selves; and not rather chuse to carry off all together in haste, left the next minute the guard might awake, and come upon them.

6. They must believe that a set of the greatest cheats that ever the world saw, did, not withstanding, furnish mankind with the most exact system of morality that ever was, and lay the best foundations and scheme for the peace and happiness of the world, that could be laid ! That the vilest hypocrites would spend all their time and lives too in indefatigable labours to make other men upright and sincere, and denounce damnation against Jying, dissimulation, &c. That the system they compiled of religion was a standing comment of their own thame; and that all their sermons and writings were but so many fatires and lampoons upon themselves.

Object. Christ's resurrection is atrested only by his own friends and disciples. Why did he not converse as publicly with men as he did before? Why did he not appear to the chief priests and elders of the Jews, to have convinced thein of the truth of this faci ?'

Anf. 1. We are not to prescribe rules to the Divine Majesty; all his works are done in infinite wisdom, and he is riot obliged to account to us for his actings; he himself knows best what makes molt for his own glory and the happiness of his creatures.

2. It was not to a few that Christ appeared, but to the twelve appostles, to the seventy disciples ; yea, to

five hundrej brethren at once, to whom he gave the i most convincing proofs of his resurrection.

3. It was a sufficient demonstration to the Jews of Christ's resurrection, Pilate's securing the sepulchre with a guard of soldiers, and Christ's body not being found therein. They might have been assured that a handful of timorous men would never adventure on stealing it: and they had a sufficient confirmation from the soldiers,


« AnteriorContinuar »