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The Resurrection of Christ.
1 Cor. xv. 20. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and be
come the first-fruits of them that slept.
THE resurrection of our Lord was the most important event that ever took place in this lower world. If it can be proved, christianity must stand in spite of all its opposers: if it cannot, our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins. We have, however, such proofs of that glorious event as cannot be overturned; and we may confidently assert, in the language of our text, “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.”
This passage may be divided into two parts: first, Christ is risen from the dead; econdly, he is become the first-fruits of them that slept.
I. CRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
1. Christ died on the cross. sence of vast multitudes he bowed his head,
In the pre
and gave up the ghost. An impious soldier pierced his side with a spear, from whence flowed blood and water.
This important circumstance fully proves
the reality of his death; for the wound, reaching his heart, must have caused instant death, had he received it in perfect health. Being dead, his body was laid in the sepulchre, where it remained till the third day; but his soul went into the invisible world. Some have imagined that he went into the regions of the damned;
serious examination, this appears to be a mere fiction. The prophecy of David concerning this event,“ Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," means no more than this: Thou wilt not leave my soul in the hidden or invisible world.* The invisible or hidden world to which our Saviour went was Paradise, as appears from his own words to the penitent thief: “To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.'
2. Christ rose from the dead. On the third day his soul returned from the invisible world, and reanimated the same
(Sheol) The invisible state of the dead—the place and state of those who are out of the way, and to be sought for. In this view it seems nearly to answer to the Greek, Hades, the invisible place; and to our English word Hell, which, though now scarcely used but for the place of torment, yet, being a derivative from the Saxon, Hillan, or Helan, to hide, or from Holl, a cavern, anciently denoted the concealed or Unseen place of the dead in general.
body which died on the cross. When the soul departs, the body dies; when it returns, and is again united to the body, there is a proper resurrection. Let us now examine some of the proofs of Christ's resurrection, They may be reduced to three ; namely, the testimony of the disciples-the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pen, tecost-and the rapid progress of christi anity afterwards.
1. The resurrection of Christ is fully proved by the testimony of his disciples. Testimony may always be relied upon, when those who testify are neither deceived themselves nor design to deceive others; and that this was the case with our Lord's disciples, will appear evident upon a fair view of the subject. They could not be deceived themselves; for they all saw him, conversed with him, ate and drank with him, handled his body, and saw him ascend into heaven. It was not possible for them all to be deceived, upon all the various appearances of their Master;* and
* Christ appeared ten times before his ascension: To Mary, Mark xvi. 9—To other women, Matt. xxviij. 9-To two disciples going to Emmaus, Mark xvi. 12. Luke xxiv. 15–To Peter, Luke xxiv. 34—To all the disciples, John xx. 19% To them again, John xx. 26-To the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, John xxi. 1-To the disciples in Galilee, Matt. xxviii, 16, 17---To James, 1 Cor. xv. 7–And to the eleden, Mark xvi. 14. He appeared THREE times after his ascension into heaven: To Stephen, to Saul, and to John in the Isle of l'utmos.
whoefer thinks so, must be very defective in his understanding
They had no design to deceive others. They could have no temptation to such å fraud; for the whole world was against them. They had nothing to gain by such á fräud; but much to lose. Did they aim ât wealth? This was the way to poverty. Did they aim at honour? This was the way to disgrace. Did they aim at ease ? This was the way to hardships, toils, and death. What, then, but truth, could enduce them to declare the resurrection of Christ from the dead? It is also very remarkable that this event inspired them with uncommon boldness; for before they were remarkably timid and fearful. It is not less remarkable that they were all united in their testimony. Some of them doubted at first, and they all appear to have been slow of belief; but they had such satisfactory evidence as removed every doubt. Nor could all their sufferings afterwards, even death in its most dreadful forms, induce one of them to doubt, much less deny this wonderful event.
We may just notice an objection : Did not the Jerus account for his reroval from the sepulchre in another way? They certainly did ; but their account confirms that of the
disciples. They forged a bare-faced lie, and bribed the soldiers to publish it: “Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept." Could they all be asleep at the same time? If they were, how could they tell so exactly what was done? Was it possible for the poor timid disciples, who fled when Jesus was apprehended, to venture through a band of soldiers to steal the dead body of their Master? If the soldiers slept upon guard, why were they not punished with death? But we need not push this enquiry any further: the thing speaks for itself.
It is also worthy of notice, that the ac.. count of Christ's resurrection was written and published in the age when, and in the country where he rose from the dead. When the gospels were first published, many of those Jews were still alive who had “killed the Prince of Life.”. How easily might they have contradicted the apostles, if they had published falsehoods ! How ready would they have been, with all their malice, could they have done it with credit to themselves!
But who did contradict them? Can we produce one writer, either jewish or pagan, who dared to call in question the plain, simple, and honest account of the holy apostles? I never heard