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Jerusalem. and he was a good man, and a just:
would have been difficult to detect them if they asserted a falsehood; but at Jerusalem, in the synagogue, in the prætorium.
6. The agreement of their evidence.—These witnesses were separated from one another : many of them were imprisoned, separately examined, severely tried, and cruelly tortured, yet they all agreed in every part of their testimony. In no instance whatever did they contradict either themselves or one another : but cheerfully sealed with their blood this truth, that they saw and conversed with Jesus after he was risen from the dead. Every person, possessed of common sense, must see the absolute impossibility of this agreement among the witnesses, if the subject of their testimony had been a falsehood.
7. The time when this evidence was given.-It was not after the lapse of several years, but only three days after our Saviour's crucifixion, that they declared he was risen-yea, even before the rage of his enemies was quelled, and while Calvary was yet dyed with the blood they had shed. If the resurrection of Christ had been a fraud, it is not likely that the apostles would have come forward in open day, and thus publicly have affirmed it.
8. Consider the motives, which induced them to publish the fact of Christ's resurrection :-It was not to acquire fame, riches, glory, or profit. By no means. On the contrary, they exposed themselves to sufferings and death, and proclaimed the truth from a conviction of its importance and certainty.
9. Lastly, the miracles performed by these witnesses in the name of Jesus, and in confirmation of their declaration concerning the resurrection of Jesus, are God's testimony to their veracity. No subject was ever more public, more investigated, or better known, than the transactions of the apostles. St. Luke, an historian of great character, who witnessed many of the things which he relates, published the Acts of the Aposties among the people who saw the transactions. It would have blasted his character to have published falsehoods which must instantly be detected; it would have ruined the credit of the Church to have received as facis notorious falsehoods. Now the Acts of the Apostles were written by St. Luke, received by the Church, and no falsehood was ever detected in that book by Jew or Gentile. The primitive fathers attest its truth and anthenticity, and heathen authors record some of the important facts which are related by the sacred historian. In the second chapter, we are informed that the apostles, who were known to be unlearned fishermen, began to speak the several languages of those people, who at that time were assembled at Jerusalem from different countries. When the people were astonished at this undoubted proof of inspiration, the apostles thus addressed the multitude : “ Ye men of Israel, hear these words ; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles and signs which God did by him in the midst of yon, as ye yourselves also know this Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses.” To the gift of tongues, as a proof of inspiration, was added a number of undoubted miracles, in confirmation of this testimony concerning Jesus Christ, which are related in the Acts of the Apostles, and were published among the people who witnessed them.
Though these arguments are apparently sufficient to satisfy the most determined sceptic, we are by no means contented to rest the merits of this cause upon general statements alone. As the Evangelical narrative has been so
Lukexxiii.51. who also himself waited for the kingdom of God; Jerusalem.
frequently objected to by the opponents of Christianity, many writers who have been as willing as the most resolute sceptic to abandon the cause of Christianity, if they had deemed it on enquiry to be unworthy of support, have devoted so much attention to this part of the inspired history, that every incident recorded, and every word that relates it, have been repeatedly examined with the most acute and diligent attention ; and the result has been, to place the authenticity of the sacred story on the firmest foundation.
The principal embarrassment in the history of the resurrection arises from the account of the time at which the women came to the sepulchre. It was long supposed that they came there together, and a great difficulty was consequently felt, as to the one angel mentioned by Matthew and Mark, and the two mentioned by St. Luke. Lightfoot has endeavoured to reconcile this apparent discrepancy, by supposing that they saw one angel, as they went together, sitting on the entrance stone, and another in the inside, a solution which appears by no means satisfactory. The reasoning by which the later harmonizers have concluded that there were two, and not one party of women only, will be given in the notes to the second section.
By one of those singular coincidences which sometimes occur, three competent and learned men were engaged at the same time in studying the scriptural account of the resurrection. These were Pilkington, a country clergyman, whose work is a monument of patient investigation ; Doddridge, the well known author of the Family Expositor ; and West, a layman ; whose treatise on the resurrection will always be valued by those who would understand the evidences of their religion. These three writers, unknown to each other, all came to similar conclusions respecting two companies of women. Mr. West's work was actually published when Pilkington's was ready for publication ; and the latter has directed his reader to correct one of his sections, in consequence of Mr. West's observations on the resurrection. The section itself had been printed off. Dr. Doddridge had but just published the part of his Expositor, containing the Gospels, and at the end of his postscript to this part of his work he thanks Mr. West for the advantage he had derived from his labours, and points out in what respects they had differed from each other. The only variation with respect to the two parties of women is, that Doddridge supposed them to have left the city by different ways, and therefore that they did not meet till they arrived at the tomb.
As it may seem necessary to give some account of the several theories of the three authors who have so deeply studied this subject, (before the plan I have adopted be considered) I shall give here the abstract of the harmonies of the resurrection proposed by West, and by Dr. Townson ; the elaborate work of the latter being a correction, and a more systematic arrangement of the whole account laid down by the former. To these I shall add that of Mr. Cranfield, of Trinity College, Dublin, who, in a prize essay on the subject, proceeded with great attention once more through the whole mass of reading necessary to enable him to decide on some minute points in which he differs from Dr, Townson. In the disposal of each event in this arrangement no notes will be requisite where the harmonizers are agreed; where they differ, the reasons will be assigned.
being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of John xix. 35. the Jews,
I have endeavoured to express in the titles to the sections, the conclusions to which I have been led from the perusal of these authors.
The best abstract of Mr. West's plan, is that compiled by Dr. Doddridge, in the postscript to the first part of the Family Expositor.
“ During the time of our blessed Redeemer's lying in the grave, several of the pious women who attended him from Galilee, together with some of their female friends and acquaintance at Jerusalem, agreed to meet him at his sepulchre early on the morning of the third day, to embalm the body. Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Salome, and Joanna, were principal persons in this appointment: the chief care of preparing, that is pounding and mixing the spices, was left to Joanna and her company, who were to be there about sunrising; whereas the two Maries and Salome (of whom Matthew and Mark chiefly write) came thither mpwi, before the appointed time early in the morning, or as the day dawned, in order Jewpñoat, to view the sepulchre, that they might judge whether they and their companions could be able to remove the stone which closed it, or whether it would be necessary to call in other assistance, as they then knew nothing of the guard which was set upon it. While these three women last mentioned were on their way, Jesus arose, when the angel had opened the sepulchre and struck the guards into amazement and consternation ; the consequence of which was, that some of them went to the Jewish rulers, and joined in contriving and propagating the senseless falsehood of the body being stolen, and others went into other parts of the city, and told the matter as it really was.
In the mean time, when the angel disappeared, and Mary Magdalene, approaching the sepulchre, discerned from some distance that the very large stone that stopped it was rolled away, and, concluding from thence that the body was removed, left the other Mary and Salome to wait for Joanna and her company, while she herself ran to Peter and John, to acquaint them with what she had discovered. While she was gone, these two, (the other Mary and Salome) went toward the sepulchre, and entering into it, saw, to their great astonishment, an angel, who told them that Jesus, whom he knew they sought, was not there, but was risen from the dead, and gave it them in charge to go and acquaint his disciples with it, and to let them know that he would give them a meeting in Galilee. The greatness of their consternation prevented them from saying any thing immediately to any one, even to some of their own company, who might pass and repass within their view at least, and so occasioned a delay which left room for some other circumstances. Just as they were on their return, Peter and John came, (perhaps passing by them at some distance,) and Mary Magdalene followed them. John at his first arrival only looked into the sepulchre; but when Peter came and entered it, John went in too, and from the circumstances in which he saw things, believed that Jesus was risen; though the angel, (who could appear or disappear at pleasure) did not render himself visible to either. They returned to the city; and Mary Magdalene, who was now alone, stooping down to look into the sepulchre, saw two angels; but (perhaps imagining they were young men, whom curiosity or accident might have brought thither) took little notice of them, and continued weeping in deep thought and distress, till Jesus appeared, and made himself known to her in
Lukexxiii.51. (The same had not consented to the counsel Jerusalem.
and deed of them ;)
those very remarkable words, John xx. 17. which Mr. West illustrates with
This is Mr. West's scheme of this important story; and the reader will per
(g) Mr. West observes, that this text, “ I am not yet ascended," &c. comprehends in a few words a variety of most important hints, which have not commonly been taken notice of in them; particularly that our Lord intended by them to recall to the minds of his disciples the discourse he had with them three nights before, in which he explained what he meant by going to the Father (John xvi. 28.); and by twice using the word “ascend," designed to intimate, that he was to go up to heaven, not merely in spirit, as the pious dead do, but by a corporeal motion and translation, and that it would be some time before he took his final leave of earth by this intended ascension ; all which weighty expressions and predictions concur with a thousand other circumstances to shew how impossible it was that such an apprehended appearance should have been merely the result of a disordered imagination; a consideration which Mr. West illustrates at large, as he also does the mistaken apprehension of the disciples, who, when some of their companions, whose veracity they could not suspect, testified they had seen the Lord, thought his body was not risen, but that it was only his spirit that appeared to them.
ceive, that it chiefly differs from that of Dr. Doddridge in these two circumstances :--That it supposes the women to bave made two different visits to the sepulchre, and, in consequence of that, two distinct reports ; whereas his unites them, (though he does not suppose they all came together, but that they met there :) and that it also makes Peter to have run to it twice, of which there can be no reasonable doubt, though Dr. Doddridge, before he perused Mr. West's plan, had incorporated Luke's account with that of John, relating to his running thither with John, on Mary Magdalene's first report.
Dr. Townson prefaces his plan by observing, that the chief difficulties which occur in the evangelical history of the Lord Jesus, from his death to his ascension, are found in the morning of his resurrection. The events related of it fell within a short space of time, and were nearly coincident, or quickly successive to each other. They are told briefly, and but in part, by the evangelists, with few notes of time or order in the Gospel relative to another. It cannot therefore excite surprise, that learned men have judged variously of their connexion, and have pursued different methods of reducing them into one narrative. Many of them have succeeded so far as to shew by a very probable arrangement, that the Gospels are wholly reconcileable with each other.
This is an important point; yet what may suffice to prove that there are not characters of disagreement in the facts ® recorded, may not quite satisfy us that they are altogether rightly methodized.
Mary Magdalene is mentioned by St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. John, as going early to the sepulchre on the first day of the week. St. Mark joins two others with her; Mary the mother of James, and Salome the mother of Zebedee's children. He names these three ; and his context will not allow us to suppose that there was any other person of their party. St. Luke, who speaks of a greater number of women going to the sepulchre, has so guarded his account of them as not to include the three just mentioned : and what is said by him of their vision and behaviour at the sepulchre, is totally unlike any thing that is related of the two Maries and Salome. If these things can be made appear evident, from a comparison of the Evangelists, we must then, in justice to them, consider the women as going to the sepulchre in a less and larger company.
I shall now subjoin, however, a summary of the arrangement proposed both by Dr. Townson and Mr. Cranfield, and add a table of Scripture passages. The reader will be then able to perceive, at one view, the variation of the Arranger from both, and his agreement or disagreement with either. The following is a summary of Dr. Townson's proposed arrangement :
Section 1.-Friday Evening. Our Lord's disciples, and the women that had followed him from Galilee, were not absent from his crucifixion, “ They stood beholding afar off.”
Only his Virgin Mother, Mary her sister, mother of James and Joses, and Mary Magdalene, with the disciple whom Jesus loved, and to whose protection he then recommended his mother, are mentioned as venturing to approach his
But when Joseph of Arimathea had obtained leave from Pilate to inter the