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5. The proofs of the exaltation of Jesus Christ produce not impressions sufficiently lively, because we suffer ourselves to be intimidated more than we ought, by the comparison instituted between them and certain popular rumours, which have no better support than the caprice of the persons who propagate them. Unbelierers tell us that the multitude is credulous, that it is ever disposed to be practised upon by imposture, from the idea of the inarvellous. They accumulate all those noted instances of credulity which ancient and modern history abundantly supply, for it costs very little trouble indeed, to make the collection ample. They avail themselves of those instances to invalidate the argument which we adduce from the unaniinity of that testimony which evinces the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But let them show us, among what they call “popular rumours," let them shew us among these any thing of the same kind with those which we have produced: and then we shall feel ourselves called upon to defend, in another way, the doctrine in question. But under the pretext that mankind is credulous, obstinately to resist the force of proofs which have been admitted by judges the most rigid and acute, is wilfully to shut the eyes against the truth.
6. Finally the proofs of the truth of the exaltation of our blessed Lord and Saviour, produce not impressions sufficiently lively, because they are not sufficiently known. The preceding particulars chiefly relate to the learned, and the philosophic part of mankind, of whom the number, undoubtedly, is on comparison very inconsiderable. This relates to the multitude, of which the far greater part of our audiences is composed. I am well aware that those proofs have been carried farther in the present age, than ever had been done, perhaps, since the days of the apostles. I have, oftener than once, adored the conduct of divine Providence, in that the objections of unbelievers, of which it may likewise be affirmed, that they have been carried farther in the present age than they had been since the times of the earliest antagonists of the Christian religion: I have oftener than once, I say, adored the conduct of divine Providence, in that those objections have furnished occasion to scrutinize the proofs of the facts, on which the truths of Christianity rest.
In proportion as events are more remote, the more difficult it becomes to ascertain them. If the spirit of superstition and blind credulity had continued to be the reigning folly of mankind, men would have neglected to study the proofs of the facts of which I have been speaking, and we should have had in later ages, much greater trouble in demonstrating the truth of them. But infidelity is the reigning folly of the age in which we live, and has, as it were, succeeded the spirit of superstition and blind cred lity, the reigning folly of ages past. Now Providence has so ordered the course of things, that this very infidelity should prove the occasion of placing, in their clearest point of light, those illustrious proofs which we have of the facts, whereon the Christian religion is founded. But though they have been stated with so much clearness and precision, it is undoubtedly certain that they are not hitherto sufficiently known by the generality of professing Christians.
Would you be thoroughly convinced of the exaltation of the Saviour of mankind, devote to the study, which I am recommending, a part, I do not say only of that time which you so liberally bestow on the world and its pleasures, but a part of even that which you have thrown away on useless controversies, on the speculative questions, and the bold researches, with which most books, on the subject of religion, are filled. Let the mind be deeply impressed with that series of presumptions, of arguments, of demonstrations, of which the resurrection, and the other particulars of the exaltation of the Son of God are susceptible. Do all diligence to discern the whole evidence of those facts, without which, to use the apostle's expression, “your faith is vain, and our preaching also is vain," 1 Cor. xv. 14. Then you will perceive, that the truth of the exaltation of the Saviour is founded upon proofs, which it is impossible for any reasonable man to resist. You will be, in some measure, as much convinced that he is raised up from the dead, and ascended into heaven, as if you had seen him with your own eyes, bursting asunder the bars of the grave, and assuming his seat at the right hand of the Father: you will be in the first sense, “ quickened together with Christ, and raised up, and made to sit together in heavenly places with him.”
The Christian a Partaker in the Exaltation of Jesus
EPHESIANS ii. 4, 5, 6.
God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith
he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Having given a few preliminary advices relative to my subject, I went on to justify the accuracy of the Apostle's idea, by shewing, that the Christian is
quickened, raised up, seated in heavenly places, together with Christ,"
1. By the reasons which persuade him of the certainty of the exaltation of Jesus Christ. I now pro.ceed to justify St. Paul's idea, by shewing,
II. The Christian's participation in the glory of Jesus Christ, by the means with which he is furnished of knowing himself, and of attaining assurance that he is fulfilling the conditions under which he is enabled to promise himself an interest in that exaltation. I do not mean to insinuate that this knowledge is of easy attainment,
I maintain, on the contrary, that you
it is one of the most difficult which can be proposed to man. And without entering here into a detail of the reasons which evince the difficulty of it, it is sufficient for me to adduce a single one ; it is the sinallness of the number of those who know themselves. The judgments which men form of their own character is an inexhaustible source of ridicule. The world is crowded with people totally blind, especially where they themselves are concerned.
What illusion do they practise upon themselves, with respect to the body! How many are there whom Nature has sadly degraded in point of person;
forms which would say were only blocked out, and of which, if I may use the expression, God seenis to have erected only the first scaffoldings, conceive of themselves ideas directly opposite to the truth. Talk of the corporeal qualities of such and such persons, and they will be among the first to make them an object of derision, and discover this to be too slim, that to be too gross; falling foul of the whole human race, and shewing tenderness to no one but themselves. If we are thus subject to blindness, where things sensible, palpable, are concerned, how much greater must be the danger, where matters of a very different complexion address themselves to our selflove?
We practise illusion upon ourselves, on the score of our understanding. How many ignorant, dull, stupid people betray a conceit that they are intelligent philosophers, profound politicians: that they possess a judgment accurate, enlightened, uncommon; and are so powerfully prepossessed with the