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refurrection was to be the great feal and confirmation of all, as being the most clear and undeniable exertion of divine power; for none but a God could say, "I have power to lay "down my life, and I have power to take it

again :" and also as being the least liable to any fufpicion of fraud and impofture, when it had been so long and openly predicted by him.


Hence it is that St. Paul alfo ftakes the whole credit of the Chriftian religion upon this single fact; "If Christ be not risen, says

he, then is our preaching vain, and your "faith is alfo vain." Hence too it was, that the primitive Christians, when they would exprefs the refurrection, called it μaplov, the witness or testimony; as if the whole of their faith refted upon it. And for the same reason it was, that the whole jewifh Sanhedrim used their utmost endeavours to stop the belief of it in the world; as well knowing, that if it could once be proved, that Jefus rose from


the dead, there could be no doubt, that he was truly the Son of God.

And 2dly. That our Saviour thus did actually rife from the dead, we have the fullest


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and clearest evidence. For as this article is of the greatest importance in our holy religion, fo there is none, whofe foundation is more stable and unquestionable. Nay indeed it has been fo ordered by the good providence of God, that thofe very things, which were intended to obftru&t the belief of it, have confequentially ftrengthened and confirmed it. Of this we have a very remarkable instance in the malicious vigilance and circumfpection of the Jews. For, no fooner had they vented their malice, by dooming the Lord of life to a painful and ignominious death, than the chief priests and Pharifees came to Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver faid, "while he was yet alive, after three days I "will rife again: to prevent, therefore, any "fraud or impofture, command that the fepulchre be made fure till the third day; " left his difciples come by night and steal "him away, and fay unto the people, he 66 is rifen from the dead." And Pilate faid unto them, "ye have a watch, go your 66 way, make it as fure as you can. So they "went and made the fepulchre fure, fealing "the ftone, and fetting a watch." Here then, you fee, was a deliberate plan to crush





the Christian faith, and prevent its farther progrefs. A guard of foldiers, a fepulchrè hewn out of the folid rock, the mouth of it closed by a ftone of immenfe weight, and that farther fecured by the public feal. "Now that he lieth, faid they, let him rife 86 up no more; he trufted in God, that he "would deliver him; let him deliver him, if " he will have him." But, how fhort lived was this their triumph! and how feeble, vain man, are all thy devices against the arm of Omnipotence! What they intended as a bar to the belief of a Redeemer rising from the grave, served only to confirm and strengthen it, by removing every fhadow of fufpicion. For, in spite of all this fage precaution, the body of Jesus was miffing, after it had lain three days in the grave. Here then was an unlooked-for blow indeed! And what could the poor mistaken Pharisees fay, to ward off its weight? Could they pretend, that his disciples came by night, and ftole him away, whilft the foldiers flept? But how then, it might be asked, could they come near the fepulchre, and roll away the ftone, which we have good authority for faying required nearly the force of twenty men to remove it, with


out alarming a numerous band of guards? Befides, if the guards had all flept, which, to those who know the severity of Roman discipline, will appear a most abfurd and improbable fuppofition, how should they know that it was carried away? And, if they did not fleep, why did they fuffer it to be carried away? Is it again likely, that the disciples, who, just before, had fhewn themselves fo remarkably timid and faint hearted, should, in a moment, become fo daring and refolute, as in the filent hours of darkness to break through a formidable band of foldiers, with manifeft danger of their lives, and steal away a body depofited under the public feal? And if they had done fo, what purpose would it have answered? The fact might eafily have been proved to the world by the testimony of the Roman guard, and therefore could have been of no avail to fupport their caufe. And on the other hand, they themselves must have been convinced, that Chrift, by not rifing from the dead,, had deceived their expectations, and falfified his own predictions. Would it not therefore have been more natural for them, by declaring the truth, to have reconciled themselves to the chief priests and rulers,

rulers, rather than, by persisting in a daring falfehood, to have courted poverty, torments, and death, the neceffary confequences of preaching the refurrection? It is impossible therefore to imagine, that the difciples could either have the power or inclination of deceiving the world, in the teftimony they gave.


And as little likely it is, that they themfelves fhould be deceived in this matter. For furely it was not poffible, that thofe, who eat with him, drank with him, converfed with him for forty days together, fhould be mistaken that five hundred brethren, to whom he appeared, fhould all be mistaken: that Thomas, who thruft his hands into his fide, and the print of the nails, should be mistaken. These are circumftances not to be reconciled with any degree of probability, and therefore leave the credit of the Apostles in this matter clear and unimpeached.

And indeed the Apostles themselves gave undeniable testimony of their full conviction. and perfuafion of the truth of the refurrection, in their conduct. For, though we find them,

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