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Mark xv. 43. an honourable counsellor,


would have directed them, first to spread the report that our Lord was risen from the grave, and then to employ an individual, whom they could trust, to personate him, and to appear before the multitude in such a manner and at such times as would not endanger a discovery: as our Lord never appeared to the multitude after his resurrection, this removed all suspicion that the disciples had contrived a scheme for deceiving the people.

These considerations show that our Saviour's appearance, after he rose from the dead, only to a competent number of witnesses, who were intimately` acquainted with him before his decease, is a circumstance highly calculated to establish the truth of his resurrection to posterity.

The character of the apostles also proves the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and there are nine considerations which give their evidence sufficient weight, viz.

1. The condition of these witnesses.-They were not men of power, riches, eloquence, or credit, to impose upon the world. They were poor, and mean, and despised: they were also incredulous of the fact itself. It is evident, that though our Saviour foretold his resurrection, yet after his death the disciples did not expect it, and therefore were with difficulty convinced of its reality. But as it was a subject of the highest importance to them and to the world, they obtained the fullest satisfaction of its truth. Intimately acquainted with his person after his resurrection, they felt his body, frequently examined his person, renewed the private conversations which he had with them before his decease, and enjoyed such an intimacy with him, as removed the possibility of their being deceived.

2. The number of these witnesses.-This was more than sufficient to establish any fact. When St. Paul published a defence of our Lord's resurrection, he declared to the world that Jesus appeared to five hundred witnesses at one time; and he appealed to a number of them, who were then alive, for the truth of his assertion. Could all those men agree voluntarily to maintain a vile falsehood, not only altogether unprofitable, but also such as involved them in certain dishonour, poverty, persecution, and death? According to their own principles, either as Jews or Christians, if this testimony, to which they adhered to the last moment of their lives, had been false, they exposed themselves to eternal misery. Under such circumstances, these men could not have persevered in maintaining a false testimony, unless God had wrought a miracle in human nature to enable impostors to deceive the world.

3. The facts, which they themselves avow: not suppositions, distant events, or events related by others, but real facts, which they have beheld with their own eyes. "That....which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of Life....declare we unto you." (1 John i. 1. 3.)

4. Observe the tribunals before which they gave evidence. The members of these tribunals were Jews and heathens, philosophers and rabbies, courtiers and lawyers. If they had been impostors, the fraud would certainly have been dis


5. The place in which they bore testimony.-It was not at a distance where it


and he was a good man, and a just:

Lake xxiii.50.

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 lime 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 Apostles 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 authenticity, 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 you, 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. TownIn 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. 38. 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 wow, before the appointed time early in the morning, or as the day dawned, in order Jɛwpñσaι, 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

Luke xxiii.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 some very peculiar observations (g). "Leaving her very suddenly, our Lord appeared to the other Mary and Salome, whom he permitted to embrace his feet, comforted them under their fear, and renewed the assurance the angel had given them, that he would meet his disciples in Galilee. While these things were passing at some distance, and the scene at the sepulchre was clear, Joanna and the women who brought the spices, (and of whom Luke only writes) came, and entering into the sepulchre, at first saw no one in it, till the two angels, who a few minutes before had appeared to Mary Magdalene, made themselves visible to Joanna and her attendants, and assuring them of the resurrection of Jesus, reminded them how it had been foretold by himself, with the previous circumstances of his sufferings, but gave them no charge concerning the information to be carried to the apostles; that having been committed to the others. Yet (as it was natural to suppose they would) some of this second company ran to the city, and, by whatever accident it happened, reached the eleven, and some other disciples who were with them, before the two Maries and Salome arrived, telling them, (which was all they could tell them) that they had seen a vision of angels, who asserted that Jesus was alive. Peter, on this, ran a second time to the sepulchre, (Luke xxiv. 12.) and not entering as before, but only stooping down and looking into it, he saw no angels, or any thing else but тà ỏ0óvia keiμeva póva, but only the linen clothes lying' there, on which he returned; and just on his making that report, the two disciples who went that day to Emmaus, or some from whom they received their information, (Luke xxiv. 22-24.) left the place before the arrival of the two Maries and Salome; who retarded, as was hinted above, by some unknown accident, (perhaps by guessing wrong as to the place where they might find the largest company together,) at last, however, reached them, and made abundant satisfaction for the little delay, (for all might perhaps have passed in an hour,) by assuring them, not only that they also had seen an angel, who informed them of their Lord's resurrection, but that Jesus himself had appeared to them, and had even permitted himself to be touched by two of them."

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.

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