« PreviousContinue »
THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.
1 Cor. xv. 20. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and
become the first-fruits of them that sept. A S in the animal economy, the action m of the heart and of the lungs, though very different, are equally necessary for the maintenance of life, and we cannot say that either of them, is more effentially requisite, than the other ; so in the system of divine revelation, there are some truths, the knowledge and belief of which, singly considered, are fundamentals, with respect to the falvation of a sinner. And though they are distinct in themselves, we cannot determine which
of them is of most importance to us; for unless we know, approve, and receive them all, we can have no experience of a life of faith in the Son of God. Such, for instance, is the scriptural doctrine concerning the depravity of human nature. This is a first principle ; for unless we understand what our state is in the sight of God, the enormity of our transgressions, and our incapacity for true happiness, until our hearts are changed by the power of his grace, we cannot rightly understand a single chapter in the Bible. Such, likewis, is the doctrine of the atonement. For if we could know how totally we are lost, without knowing the gracious method which God has appointed for our recovery, we must, unavoidably, sink into despair. Again, if we were sensible of our state, as finners, and even if we trusted in Christ for salvation, yet the apostle observes, in this chapter, that unless he be indeed risen from the dead, our faith in him would be in vain, and we should still be in our sins. The resurrection of Christ, therefore, is a doctrine, absolutely essential to our hope and comfort: and it is likewise a sure pledge, that they who believe in him, shall be raised
from the dead also, by virtue of their union with him, and according to his pattern. For now is Christ risen from the dead, and is become the first-fruits of them that Nept. Let us, at present, consider his resurrection The sure consequence of it, that his people shall be raised from the dead, will offer to our meditations, from the following verses,
The resurrection of Christ, being, as a fact, the great pillar upon which the weight and importance of Christianity rest, it has pleased the Lord, to put, the indubitable proof of it, within our power. There is no one point of ancient uninspired history, So certainly and unquestionably authenticated. It may seem unnecessary to prove it, and to many of you, it is entirely fo. Yet I think it proper to take some notice of it; not so much on account of the weak and trifling cavils of infidels, as for the sake of persons who may be assaulted with temptations. For many plain people, who are not much acquainted with the subtilties of sceptics, are sometimes pestered with difficulties and objections in their own minds, perhaps, more shrewd and powerful, than such as are commonly found in books, or retailed in coffee
houses. For unbelief is deeply rooted in every heart; and satan, our great enemy, can, and, if permitted, will, work powerfully upon this evil disposition. He endeavours to beat us off from the belief of every truth of scripture, and of this among the rest. And many persons, who have been so well convinced that our Lord rose from the dead, as to venture their fouls and their all upon it, have found themselves at a loss how to answer the enemy, in an hour of sharp and pressing temptation.
Let us suppose then, that we had lately received the news of some extraordinary, and almost incredible event; and let us consider, what evidence we should require to satisfy us that the report was true, and apply the fame kind of reasoning to the point in hand. That there was, a great while ago, a person named Jesus, who gathered disciples, and died upon a cross, is universally acknowledged. Both Jews and Heathens, who lived at the time, and afterwards, not only admitted it, but urged it, as a reproach, against his followers. Many testimonies, of this kind, are still extant.
Thg The turning point between his enemies and his friends, is, his resurrection. This has been denied. We acknowledge that he did not appear publicly, after he arose, as he did before his death, but only to a competent nuinber of his followers, to whom he shewed himself, and satisfied them, by many infallible proofs, that he was alive, and that he was the same person whom they had seen crucified. They reported what they saw, and we believe their report. We are, there fore, to enquire, Who they were ? And on what grounds we receive and rely upon their testimony ?
If they were mistaken themselves, or, if they were engaged and agreed in a crafty design of imposing upon mankind, we, who depend upon their relation, may be involved in their mistake, or deceived by their artifice. But if neither of these suppofitions can poflibly be true, if they were competent and impartial witnesses, then we are not only justified in giving credit to their testimony, but it must be unreasonable, and (in a case of this importance) presumptuous, and dangerous to reject it.