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city, and (hewed unto the chief priests all the things thar •were done. And when they were assembled with the elden, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught. And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews unto this day."

• * . >i This then is the statement of our adversaries, produced in oppo-iaoa to that of the evangelists, which the latter simply relate without any observation upon it, without condescending to make the slightest answer to it, but leaving every man to judge of it for hinuels. And this indeed they might sasely do; for it is a fabrication coo grots and too palpable to impofe on any man of common seme. If any person can bring himself to believe that sixty Roman soldiers should be all sleeping at the same 'time on guard; that they should be able to tell what was dune in their sleep; that they Ihould have the boldness to consuse that they slept upon their post, when they knew the puaishment of such an offence to be death j and that the disciples should be Ib devoid of all common sense as to steal away a dead body, which could not be of the smallest use to them, and instead of proving a resurrection,. was a standing proof against it; if any man, I say, can prevail on himself to listen for a moment to such absurdities, as these, he may then give credit to the tale of the soldiers; but otherwise must treat it, as it truly deserves,, wii.i the most sovereign contempt.

Tliis senseless forgery then being set aside, and the body. of Jelus being gone, and yet n;i>cr having been produced by •the Jews or Romans, there remains only the alternative of a rerl refurreSioii, .

But besides the pofitive proofs of this sact which have been here stated, there is a presumptive one of the most forcible nature, to which I have never yet seen any answer, and am of opinion that none can be given. The proof I allude to is that which is draw n from the sudden andastonistfing change which took place in \he language and the conduct of the apostles, immediately after the period whea they assirmed that Jesus had risen from the dead. From being, as we have seen, timorous and dejected, and discouraged at the death of their Master, they suddenly became courageous, undaunted, and intrepid: and they boldly preached that very Jesus, whom before they had deserted in his greatest distress. This observation will apply, in some degree, to all the apostles; but with regard to St. Peter more particularly it holds with peculiar force.

One of the most prominent seatures in the character of St. Peter {a character most admirably pourtrayed by the evangelists) is timidity of disposition. We see it in the terror that seized him when he was walking on the sea; we see it in his deserting his divine Master when he was apprehended * then turning back to follow him, but following at a distance ; not daring to go into the council chamber when he was examined, but staying in the outer court with the servants; and at length, when he was challenged as one of his disciples, denying three times with the most dreadsul oaths and imprecations, that he knew anything of him, or had the slightest connexion with him.

This is the point of view in which St. Peter presents himself to us just before our Loid's crucisixion.

Turn now to the fourth chapter of the Acts, and see what his language then was after Jesus had actually been put to death.

He and John having healed the lame man whom they found sitting at the gate of the temple, were apprehended, and thrown into prison, and the next day were called upon to answer for their conduct before the high priest, and the other chief rulers of the Jews. And upon being questioned by what power and by what name they had performed this miraculous cure, Peter answered them in these resolute terms. "Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we be this day examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made .Whole, be it known unto you all, 'and to all the people of C c

Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazarefc, whom ye crucisied, 'whom God raised from die dead, er en by him- doth this man stand before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be Caved*." And when, soon after this, Peter and John were straitly threatened, and commanded not to speak at all, or teach in the name of .Jesus, they answered and said unto them, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and iieardf." • - , . . ....,..,«.-...> .,

What now is this that we hear? Is this the man who, But a (hort time before, had shamesully renounced his divine Master, and declared, with the utmost vehemence and passion, that he was utterly unknown to him? And does this same man now, alter the crucisixion of his Lord, and when • he himself was a prisoner, and had reason tp expect a similar sate, does this man boldly tell those in whose power he was, that by the name of this very Jesus he had healed the lame man i Does he dare to reprove them with having crucisied the Lord of lise? Does he dare to tell them that God had raised him from the dead; that there was no other name under heaven by which they conld be saved ; and tliat, in desiance of all their interdictions and all their menaces, he must and would still ^continue to speak what he had seen and heard?- •

. * * . . * • - *. '-.- _

. In what manner shall we account for this sudden and .astonishing alteration uvthe language of St. Peter? There is, I will venture to asiert, no other possible way of accounting for it, but from that very circumstance which St. Peter himself mentions in his speech to the high priest, namely, " that he whom they.had crucisied was, by the almighty power of God, raised from the dead J." It was this change in the condition of his divine Master, which produced a correspondent change in the character and conduct of St. Peter. It was this miracle of our Lord's res

* Acts, iv. 8. i». f Act*, iv. 18. ao. f Acts, iv. io

nrrection, which could alone have produced the almost

Formation. Had Jesus never risen from the dead, -as he had repeatedly promised to do, he would have been a deceiver and an impostor; and that St. Peter, knowing this, should openly and boldly prosess himself his disciple when dead, after having most peremptorily denied him and disclaimed all knowledge of him when living, and should expofe himself to the most dreadsul dangers in asserting a sact which he knew to toe salse, and for the' sake of a man who had most cruelly deceived and disappointed him, is a supposition utterly repugnant to every principle of human nature, and every dictate of common sense, and an absurdity too grofs for the most determined insidel to maintain.

We have here then one more proof, in addition to all the rest, of the resurrection of Christ, intelligible to the lowest, and convincing to the most improved understanding. And that this was the great decisive sact which operated so surprizing a revolution in the mind of St. Peter, is still surther consirmed by the stress which he himself laid upon it, in his answer to the high priest, and by the constant appeal which he and all the other apostles made to this argument, in preserence to every other; for we are told that " with great power gave the apostles witness of the refurreSion of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all*." And St. Paul goes so sar as to make the belief of this single article the main ground and basis of our salvation. "If thou shalt consess with thy moudl the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be savedf/'— The reason of this is, because the belief of the resurrection of Christ unavoidably leads to the belief of the whole Christian religion, to the truth of which God set his seal, by raising the author of it from the dead: and the belief of the Christian revelation, if genuine and sincere, will, with the blefimg of God on our own strenuous exertions, produce all thofe Christian graces and virtues, which, through the merits of our Redeemer, will render our final calling and election sure.

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The resurrection of Christ being thus established on the firmest grounds, the conclusions to be drawn from it are many and important; but I shall at present consine myself to two of them; which seem more particularly to deserve our notice.

The sirst is, that this great event of the resurrection affords a clear and decisive proof that Jesus was what he pretended to be, Tht Sox Of God; that the religion he taught came from God (f that consequently every doctrine he delivered ought to be believed, every command he gave to be obeyed, and that every thing he promised or threatened will certainly come to pass. For had not his pretensions been well founded, and his religion true, it is impossible that the God of truth could have given them the sanction of his authority, by raising him from the dead. But by doing this, he gave the strongest possible attestation to the reality of his divine mission.

The next inserence from this sact is, that the resurrection of Christ is an earnest, a pledge, and a proof of our own. He had promised his disciples, "that where he Was, there should they be also f And the scriptures in numberless places assure us, that we shall rise again from the grave, and become immortal. Now these promises receive the strongest consirmation from his resurrection, which shows, in the most striking and sensible manner, that our bodies are capable of being raised to lise again, and that God will actually re-animate them, as he. did that of Jesus. In this our Saviour acted consormably to the spirit and genitts of his religion, and to his constant method of teaching, which was, to instruct mankind by sacts rather than by words. It was his intention (and thanks be to God that it was) that our saith should stand, not in the wisdom or eloquence of man, but in the demonstration of the spirit and of power. He went about therefore, not only preaching the word, but doing good, doing good miraculously, making the principles and the evidences of his religion palpable to the senses of mankind. When John sent to know whether he was the expected Messiah or no, Jesus, instead of entering into a long and laboured proof of his divinity, took the more

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