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“neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see cor“ ruption: thou wilt show me the path of life;" where, as St. Peter assureth us, in his sermon, Acts, i. David spake not in his own person, but “being a “ prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an
oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according “ to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit upon “his throne; he seeing this before, spake of the re“surrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in “hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.”
A fact of so extraordinary a nature as the resurrection of a body from the dead, predicted, as we have seen, at sundry times and in divers manners, by the patriarchs, the law, and the prophets, cannot be supposed to have happened without sufficient witnesses of its accomplishment. These are now to be collected, and made to pass in due order be
And first, we shall cite heaven and earth to give in their evidence; for both of them perceived the power of their Lord at his rising, and both proclaimed it to the inhabitants of the world, by those awful signs and appearances which ushered in the morning of the resurrection. At the time fore-appointed in the divine counsels, “the angel of the Lord de“scended from heaven," bringing with him a strange and more glorious day-spring, his brightness covering the heavens, and enlightening the world.
countenance,” saith St. Matthew," was like light“ning, and his raiment white as snow;" all purity, and joy, and triumph, and glory. At this manifestation
of splendour and majesty from heaven, the earth trembled and quaked, as declaring itself unable any longer to detain the body which had been committed to it for a little season. “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 sat upon it.” At the instant of this universal commotion, the blessed Jesus awaking right early from that which was but a sleep to him, and will be no more to us who believe in him, left the bed of death. He arose, and came forth, almighty, all glorious, fresh as the light of the morning, as a bridegroom proceeding out of his chamber, as a strong man prepared to run his course; and
saying, or seeming to say, “I am he that liveth, and " was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore"."
The next witnesses which appear in favour of the resurrection are the holy angels. For as the devout women, who came betimes in the inorning, with a pious but needless care, to perform the last instance of duty and affection to the body of their Lord, were much perplexed at what they saw, lo, two of the inhabitants of heaven, ever rejoicing to minister to the heirs of salvation, appeared in robes of glory, and reproved them for expecting to find their Master among the tombs, as if it were possible that he should be holden of death, who was to give life to all. “Why seek ye the living among the
dead? He is not here, he is risen. Remember
m Rev. i. 18.
“how he spake unto you, when he was yet in Ga.
lilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into “ the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the " third day rise again".” As if they had said, “How “ long will ye be ignorant of the divine dispensations
concerning the Messiah, and continue seeking the “ Lord of life in the regions of death? He died, in“deed, unto sin once, as he told you he should; but “ do you not bear in mind what he told you at the
same time, that, after payment of the debt, he “ should be released from prison, naming the very “ day of his discharge, the third day, which is now “come? He is risen, as he said; and being so risen, “ he dieth no more, death hath no more dominion “ over him, nor hath he any farther connexions with "mortality.”. The same heavenly messengers were seen by Mary Magdalen in the sepulchre, arrayed in white, and sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. The grave was now rendered a scene of joy and triumph, where Christ had overcome the sharpness of death; and where, from thenceforth, the bodies of the faithful rest in peace, under the care of Heaven, till the general resurrection; when they shall become as the angels of God, and shall “walk with him in " white."
As one set of witnesses descended from above, to bear testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, so others ascended, for the same purpose, from the lower parts
Luke, xxiv. 5.
o Rev. iii. 4.
of the earth. For "
many bodies of saints which “slept, arose, and came out of their graves after his “ resurrection, and went into the holy city, and ap
peared unto many." The astonishment produced in Jerusalem by the sudden appearance of these new and unexpected evidences, is more easily conceived than expressed. We may only observe, that if this fact had not been as the Gospel represents it, it must have exposed the inventors of the tale to utter scorn and contempt, and proved the ruin of the cause which it was intended to support.
But it is time to allege the many appearances of Christ himself, after his resurrection, to Mary Magdalen apart; to the other devout women with her; to the two going to Emmaus; to St. Peter, to St. James, to the eleven; to "about five hundred brethren at “once;" to St. Stephen, just before his martyrdom; and to St. Paul, at his conversion. And so far were these witnesses of the appearances of Christ from being credulous, that they were altogether sceptical; God having in a wonderful manner provided for the confirmation of our faith, by suffering them to doubt. For not only the reports of those who had seen him were disbelieved by those who had not, but when he represented himself in the midst of the eleven, they could not credit their own senses. And when all the rest were convinced, Thomas still stood out, till ocular and palpable demonstration forced from him that ever-memorable confession, My LORD AND MY
P Matth. xxvii. 52.
Gov! “ Thus was there no capacity of mankind, no
time, no place, but had visible proof of the resur“rection of Christ. He appeared to men and wo
men, to clergy and laity, to sinners of both sexes; “to weak men and to criminals, to doubters and de“niers, at home and abroad, in public and in pri
vate, in their houses and their journeys, unexpected “ and by appointment, betimes in the morning and “ late at night, to his disciples in conjunction and to “ them in dispersion, when they did look for hiin “and when they did not; he appeared upon earth ós
to many, and to St. Paul and St. Stephen from 66 heaven.
So that we can require no greater “ testimony than all these are able to give us, “ who saw for themselves and for us too, that " the faith and certainty of the resurrection of Je
sus might be conveyed to all ages and gene“rations."
To enable the apostles thus to convey it, the Spirit of truth himself set his seal to this article of our creed, by coming down upon them on the day of Pentecost, and bestowing on them wisdom to teach, power to confirm, and patience to suffer for the doctrine of the resurrection, until, converted by their preaching, the nations of the earth bore universal testimony to the reality thereof.
For that “a religion “ which taught men to be meek and humble, dis“posed to receive injuries, but not to do any; a re
ligion which gave countenance to the poor and “ lowly, at a time when riches were adored, and am"bition and pleasure had possessed the hearts of all