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remove it, without alarming a numerous band of guards? Besides, if the guards had all slept, which, to those who know the severity of Roman discipline, will appear a most absurd and improbable supposition, how should they kņow that it was carried away? And, if they did not sleep, why did they suffer it to be carried away: Is it again likely, tliat the disciples, who, just before, had shewn themselves so remarkably timid and faint-hearted, should, in a moment, become so daring and resolute, as in the silent hours of darkness to break through a formidable band of soldiers, with manifest danger of their lives, and steal away a body deposited under the public seal ? And if they had done so, what purpose would it have answered ? The fact might easily have been proved to the world by the testimony of the Roman guard, and therefore could have been of no'avail to support their cause. And on the other hand, they themselves must have been convinced, that Christ, by not rising from the dead, had deceived their expectations, and falsified 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, rather than, by persisting in a daring falsehood, to have courted poverty, torments, and death, the necessary consequences of preaching the resur
rection ? It is impossible therefore to imagine, that the disciples could either have the
power or inclination of deceiving the world, in the testimony they gave.
And as little likely it is, that they themselves should be deceived in this matter. For surely it was not possible, that those, who ate with him, drank with him, conversed with him for forty days together, should be mistaken: that five hundred brethren, to whom he appeared, should all be mistaken :. that Thomas, who thrust his hands into his side, and the print of the nails, should be mistaken. These are circumstances 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 persuasion of the truth of the resurrection, in their conduct. For, though we find them, during the life of their divine Master, unable to comprehend what was meant by the rising again from the dead; though, at his arraignment, they all forsook him and fled; though, after his crucifixion, they lamented their fallen hopes, and thought that they had falsely trusted that it had been he, who should have redeemed Israel; yet no sooner had Jesus appeared to them, so as fully to convince them of the reality of his resurrection, 'than they boldly preached in his name, in opposition to all the combined powers and interests of the world, and chearfully submitted to the heaviest torments that could be inflicted upon them. And whence could this proceed, but from a firm faith and assurance of the resurrection, which confirmed to them the divine mission and authority of their crucified Saviour, and taught thein to look for a state of happiness hereafter, when all the sufferings and miseries of this frail life should be no more?
But 3dly, As we have undeniable proof that our Saviour rose again from the dead, so his resurrection also is an undeniable pledge and assurance of our own.
Of all the articles of our holy religion, there has been none more zealously contradicted than that of the resurrection of the body; and that for this plain and obvious reason : because none is a greater check upon the lives and manners
For if we are to rise again, then our hopes do not end in death : then the joy of the present moment is not the only object of the 5
sinner's care: there is a thought of hereafter, which will damp the smile of triumphant guilt: there is a hand-writing upon the wall, which will change the sinner's countenance in the midst of his impious enjoyments ; then there are rewards to animate the desponding, and punishments to terrify the presumptuous. As then these consequences all clearly follow from the doctrine of the resurrection, it cannot be wondered, that it should at all times have been opposed by those, whose wicked lives lead them to wish, that all their guilty thoughts might perish, that there was indeed no hereafter to bring to light their hidden things of darkness, and lay open the black and treacherous secrets of their hearts,
But yainly will the sinner hope to sleep the sleep of death, or, that lie shall not return
out of darkness :” the resurrection of Christ from the dead will leave us no room to doubt of our own. For if he could by his own almighty power break the bonds of death and triumph over the grave, how should he not be able to make good his promises, and to perform that in others, which he performed in his own person? With that flesh and blood, of which we are now partakers, he ascended up on high, and led captivity captive; with his own right hand and with I 3
liis holy arın he gat himself the victory: nor is his arm shortened, that he should not raise up us by the same power with which he raised "himself. We shall therefore live, and shall not die eternally: we shall live and declare the glory of the Lord : all they that go down into the dust shall kneel before him: the grave shall hear his voice, and give up her dead: he will call our scattered remains from the bowels of the earth and the depths of the sea. The dispersed tribes of the remotest nations, the mouldering millions of ancient times, shall all awake at the voice of the trumpet : for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. The unhappy father of mankind shall look down with shame upon the first and latest of his posterity, whom his, transgression in paradise. condemned to sin and sorrow, through all the ages of the world; whilst the judge of the world shall smile upon those, whom lie has redeemed from misery and the shadow of death, and receive them with that transporting welcome, come, ye blessed “ children of my Father, receive the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the $6 world.”
Happy they who shall be found in that blessed number: Happy they who prepare themselves