« ÎnapoiContinuați »
Testament ? How could they have known that all Jerusalem and Judea had known of a surety that Christ had risen from the dead, but by some written document, and a succession of preachers or believers of the Gospel, or by both; and would that have satisfied our infidel friends ? Or would they not probably have objected, “How do we know that these documents are authentic, whether they have not been corrupted, and so forth ; whether the whole story is not 'a cunningly devised fable,' a mere production of priestcraft ?" Besides, my dear Benjamin, let it be well remembered that the religion of Jesus does not consist merely in the one article of the resurrection of Christ from the dead; but that all that Jesus Christ did, and taught, and suffered, was to be published to the world by eye-witnesses, well qualified for the arduous and all-important work. The gracious and benevolent design of the Son of God, to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as to be the glory of his people Israel, could not have been effected in the manner proposed by infidels; for neither the priests, the sanhedrim, the pharisees, and all the people of Jerusalem together, although they had believed the history and fact of the resurrection of Christ, were well qualified for the task ; for they had neither heard all that Jesus taught from the beginning, nor seen all the miracles that he had wrought; nor had they the power to confirm what they knew and believed by miracle; and above all, they needed the illumination and influence of the Holy Spirit. The plan, there. fore, adopted by our blessed Jesus, was the best and most effectual.
It was briefly this : “As soon as he commenced his minist try he chose twelve persons, to be almost his constant com. panions, in order to be witnesses to the sanctity of his life, to the miracles he wrought, and to the instructions he gave. And as his resurrection from the dead was one of those miraculous events that was intended, among many other reasons, to be the evidence of his divine mission; so he chose to make his apostles witnesses thereot; gave them a spiritual understanding, to understand the Scriptures ; instructed them for forty days from the time of his resurrection till the time of his ascension into heaven, in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God; and on the day of Pentecost he sent forth the Holy Spirit, in a more copious manner, to qualify them to preach the Gospel in foreign languages, which they had never known before; and to confirm their doctrines by miracles. Hence, when the Gospel was first preached by Peter, in the house of Cornelius, he says, in the beginning of his sermon, " The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ; (he is Lord of all;) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power : who went about doing good, and healing all that were possessed of the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; him they slew, and hanged upon a tree; him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not unto all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he who is ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.” Acts, 10 : 36-42.
$ 2. I will now endeavor, my beloved Benjamin, to point out to you the important truth taught by the resurrection of Christ. First-It proves the reality of his being the Son of God. The apostle says that Christ, by his resurrection, was declared to be the Son of God; Rom. 1:4; for in reading the history of Christ, you will observe that the priests and rulers of our people tried, in a variety of ways, to find a cause to justify themselves in putting him to death, but could not find any; at last, Jesus being abjured by the
high priest, by the living God, to tell whether he was the Son of God, and having answered in the affirmative, they condemned him for blasphemy, because he had said he was the Son of God. " Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He has spoken blasphemy, what further need have we of witnesses ? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death." Math. 26: 15, 16. Hence, when Christ was hanging on the cross, they derided and mocked him, saying, "He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God.” Math. 27: 43. Now, this being the crime which was charged upon him, and for which he was crucified and put to death, God, by raising him from the dead, gave evidence that he was no blasphemer, but the Son of God. Hence, said the apostle, he was justified by the spirit. Tim. 3 : 16. The Spirit gave testimony to him at his baptism, and by the mighty works done by him in his life time; but he was most eminently and remarkably justified by the Holy Spirit, by his resurrection from the dead. God hereby bearing him witness that he was unjustly condemned, and that he assumed nothing to himself but what of right did belong to him, when he said he was the Son of God. For how could a man that was condemned to die for calling himself the Son of God, be more remarkably vindicated and more clearly proved to be so, than by being raised from the dead by the power of God? For it is not conceivable that God should put forth an almighty power to raise him, and thereby authorize his usurpation, if by robbery he had assumed that glorious title. It was upon this evidence Thomas adored aim as his Lord and God.
§ 3. In the next place I would observe, that the resurrection of Jesus Christ proved to a demonstration that he was the promised Messiah. Hence, when the Jews asked of him a sign, he referred them to his resurrection. John 2:18, 19. Muth. 18: 38, 39. Had Christ been an impostor, the apostles instead of saying “it was impossible that he should be holden in death," (Acts, 2: 24,) would rather have said, it was impossible for him to escape; for ' neither could he have raised himself nor would God have raised him. Mahomed promised to rise after four days, but his followers were obliged to bury him. None of the false Christs, though there have been many, have risen again. You remember, my dear Benjamin, I have mentioned in a former letter the case of him who called himself Bar Cochar, the son of a star, giving himself out to be the Messiah, and promised to rise again; but as he did not perform his promise, his followers called him Bar Cosbi, i. e. the son of a lie. In like manner, if Jesus had not risen from the dead, I should not hesitate to call him an impostor and deceiver. For have already shown that it was typified and predicted that the Messiah should not see corruption, but rise again on the third day; and Jesus himself had repeatedly foretold his resurrection. Hence you perceive the great importance of this article of our holy religion. Therefore said the apostle " This is the word of faith which we speak, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For he that believeth that Jesus rose from the dead, does believe the other articles of religion which are well confirmed by this. He that believeth that Jesus is risen, does at the same time believe him to be the Christ, and consequently, that his precepts are divine, that his promises are certain, and his power and authority uncontrollable.
$ 4. The resurrection of Christ is a satisfactory proof that his death was an acceptable sacrifice to God his Father, ang regarded by him as a propitiation for the sins of the world. It not only shows that Christ finished all he had engaged to do, and paid every farthing of debt, but that the Father had accepted of it. His law is magnified, justice satisfied, and the prisoner released Had Christ not been liberated from the prison of the grave, we could have had no evi. dence that our debt was discharged. But his resurrection clearly proved that he had satisfied the deinands of law an! justice, and affords us a ground of assured hope and triumphant exaltation. Rom. 4 : 20; 8: 34. In his death, Christ suffered as a malefactor, and did undertake the guilt of our sins; but by his resurrection, he was justified, i. e. declared to the world that he had shaken off all that guilt, and left it, as it were, in the grave, with his grave-clothes.
$ 5. Observe again, my dear Benjamin, that the resurrection of Christ shows the possibility of a general resurrection; is an assurance to the people of God of the certainty of their rising from the dead; and is the glorious pattern, as well as the sure pledge, of what kind their resurrection shall be. That God is able to raise the dead, sound reason and philosophy will not deny. But if it were doubtful, one certain and evident instance of it will be sufficient to answer all objections; since facts are irresistible evidences of the truth and certainty of things. By the resurrection of Christ, therefore, God has in a most satisfactory manner demon. strated the possibility of the thing, and given us an assurance that all believers shall rise too. Hence, saith the
apostle, " Christ has risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept; as the first man was of the earth, earthy; so the second man was the Lord from heaven," not of an earthly nature, but a heavenly original; and "as the earthy man was, such also are those that are earthy,'' of the same frail materials with him from whom they are derived; so also, “as is the heavenly man, such also are those which are heavenly,” the state of their bodies shall be of a heavenly form and constitution like his. · As we have the image of the earthy," have been subject to the infirmities of this frail earthly body, “so shall we bear also the image of the heavenly," be transformed and fashioned in our bodies" like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself." 1 Cor. VOL II.