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men, than a constant series of miracles, a continued display of the purest excellence, and than the plainest predictions of his death had on his immediate dis. ciples. The testimonies of their respect were not here terminated; for as foon as the Jewish Sabbath was Qver, on the dawning of the sirst day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to fee the sepulchre. They thought not, any more than his other followers, of his resurrection from th£ dead; but their love to their Master was more ardent; and they came with sweet spices to anoint his body. "And behold, there was a great earthquake; "for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, ** and came and rolled back the stone from the door, "and fat upon it. His countenance was like light"ning, and his raiment white as snow. And for "fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as .. ** dead men. And the angel answered and faid unto v ** the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek "Jesus, which was crucisied. He is not here, for *f he is risen, as he faid: come, see the place where "the Lord lay."
In these words you may observe the particular ground of encouragement and comfort which the angel gives to these disconfolate women ;—He is not here; his body is not now in the tomb where you left it. But as this alone would have deprived them of the melancholy consolation of doing the last ofikes of kindness to his dead body, he is in haste to inform them of his -astonishing victory over the power of death. The word risen, in the original language, is expressive of that active power, or self-animatingprinciple, by which the Son of God raised himself from the dead :—But he is risen, as he faid. His resurrection is the sulsilment of what he himself fo frequently foretold; why then should it appear incredible I The request which the angel makes to the two women in the last part of the verse, "Come, fee the place where the Lord lay;" although it was extremely natural, yet, were it to stand alone, it could
asford no absolute proof of the resurrection. The tomb might be empty, and yet the Saviour of the world not restored to lise. The circumstance, at the same time, was extremely natural; because, in the situation in which the women were placed, the empty sepulchre was the first kind of conviction they would require; for, had he been there, he was not risen. But, still sarther, in the connection in which this request stood, it afforded' them the highest possible evidence of the sact: After they were.convinced that the body of their Master was not in the grave, there was no other way of accounting for the earthquake, for the appearance of the angel, and the consternation of the Roman guards* than that he was risen with power and authority from the dead.
It is of the greatest importance to Christians to have their minds well established in the belief of this sact; for the resurrection of Christ is the great and leading evidence of the truth of our religion; the circumstance on which our saith, our hope, and our happiness, do sinally depend.
The Christian revelation was the subject of prophecy under the Old Testament dispensation; it was rendered credible by the reasonableness of its doctrines; it was supported by the miracles which our Saviour wrought; but it was only by this last and concluding evidence, that it was for ever ascertained to ail generations: for if Christ had continued in the state of the dead, all the prooss of his divine mission would have been of no avail. The prophecies would have appeared wondersul, but never completely sulsilled. The doctrine which he taught would have continued reasonable; but its Author had perished. The miracles of his lise' would hvfz remained astonishing, but consuted by his death. His enemies would have continued to insult him in the language of his persecutors, " He saved others, himself he could not save;" and his friends, who loved his doctrine, and looked for salvation by him, could but have joined with the desponding disciples, " We trusted it had been he "who should have redeemed Israel." In a word, as the apostle Paul expresses it, "If Christ had not "risen, our preaching had been vain, and your faith "alfo vain."
The resurrection of Christ, then, being a fact of so great importance, it is certainly of the highest moment to our faith in him, and to our comfortable hope of pardon and falvation, that our minds be well assured of its truth.
In discoursing on this most important and comfortable subject, I shall endeavour to lay before you, first. The evidences of our Lord's resurrection. Secondly, The manner and circumstances of it. And, lqfllyt conlude with a sew practical reflections.
I. Let us attend to the evidences of our Lord's resurrection. And, in doing this, I shall mention a few plain facts, and endeavour to consirm them by fome plain observations.
i. The resurrection os Christ was frequently predicted by himself before his death, both to his disciples and to the Jews. Six days before the transsiguration, " Jesus began to shew unto his disciples "how that he must suffer many things, and be killed, "and be raised again the third day." And as he,was descending from the mountain of transsiguration, he charged the three disciples, faying, " Tell the vision "to no man, until the Son of man be risen from "the dead." For the fame purpose, on his last journey to Jerufalem, he took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and faid to them, " Behold, we go up to "Jerufalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed "unto the chief priests and to the scribes, and they ** shall condemn him to death, and the third day he "shall rise again." But, besides these plain intimations to his disciples, he gave fome obscure hints of his resurrection to the Jews at large. When they required of him a sign from heaven, he faid to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise "it up again ;" and when they mistook his meaning,
and and understood it of the temple at Jerusalem, the evangelist informs us, that he spoke of the temple of his body.
These predictions of our Saviour suggest several observations, which tend to consirm his resurrection. He not only informs them that he was to rise on the third day; but, at the very fame time, he informs them that he was to be put to death in a public manner. The truth of this part of the prophecy, as depending on the malice of his enemies, could not be counterseited; and the sulsilment of this gives credit to the whole. For though you suppose, that the mere.regard to reputation would make an impostor concert with his followers the scheme of a resurrection ; yet, in this case, he would not blend with the prophecy of his death, those circumstances which would make it impossible for them to enrry on the deception. We see sarther, from the history of our Saviour, that this prediction had gained no credit with his disciples. In no part of* their lives do they seem to have been capable of conducting any intricate operations of deceit. They were undesigning, illiterate, simple, but honest men. And at the present crilis, their hopeswere extinguished; they were dispersed, and scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. There is not the least probability, from their character, that, in their present situation, they would make any attempt to impose on mankind; and if, on the other hand, they gave any credit to their Master's prediction, they would wait the event in anxiety and suspense. But when we consider the history of their conduct, in connection with the prediction of our Saviour, the circumstance most worthy of observation is, that if the whole had been an imposition, their conduct would have been represented in a disserent manner. It would have been much more natural for the inventor of such a history, or the abettor of such an imposition, to have told us, that his immediate followers gave credit to his prophecy, and. sirmly expected beforehand that he would rife from the dead.^ The facred regard which every man has to his own character, and the ovcrsinishing of the scene of falsehood, which has, and which ever will happen in every scene of falsehood, would have produced this account. We sind this prediction appearing in its natural effect on the cunning and malicious minds of Christ's enemies. Attentive to every circumstance which might secure^their triumph, they come to Pilate, faying, "Sir, we remember that that "deceiver faid, while he was yet alive, After' "three days I will rise again. Command therefore "that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, "lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, ** and fay unto the people he is risen from the dead; "fo the last error shall be worse than the sirst. And <* they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing ** the stone, and setting a watch." This is one of those instances wherein artisice deseats its own purpose; for this security of the Pharisees and chief priests, is a proof to us, that the thing which they apprehended could not possibly happen.
2. The resurrection of Christ is ascertained by a competent number of witnesses. This plainly appears, from the concurring testimony of the four Evangelists, who agree in telling us, that he rose from the dead on the third day: and, as the highest evidence which such a matter of fact is capable of re- ceiving, that he appeared to his apostles and* disciples, not once, but on several occasions; and not in a manner which would give them a transient view of him, but in a way of the most familiar converfation. Thus he appeared to the women who came to visit the sepulchre, and comforted them; aster this, to two of his disciples going to Emmaus, with whom he familiarly conversed, and' expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. The fame evening he appeared to ten of the apostles, Thomas only being absent; and, a week aster, to all the eleven, when Thomas was present, whose doubting faith- he condescended to confirm, by suffering