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IF during the life time of .their Lord the. apostles received such evidence of his. divine authority as no enthusiasm could supply, such evictence.jaS';»p^ proves itself to our reason, and abundantly accounts for their ready obedience to their Master's call, and their adherence to his person, even unto death, much more did they receive clear and undeniable proofs of his resurrection from the dead.' I '). » .- - \
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If indeed we contemplate their situation and con? duct at this important crisis, it. will appear, that enthusiasm mnst have been wholly excluded from their minds. Suppose for a moment, that by some unaccountable means, they had been worked up into an enthusiastic belief of miracles they had never seen, and of divine perfections, which existed only in their fond imaginations, how utterly impossible that such a delusion should have survived their crucified Lord. They had, as they1 confess, followed him as a tem
1 Matt. xvi. zi. to the end. Mark ix. 33—37. Matt. xx. to xxviii. compare Mark x. 35—45. Luke xxiv. 31.
poral poral Messiah, who would prove by miracles his claim to the throne of David, who would be received by the assembled thousands of Israel, rescue them from the Roman yoke, and subjugate to their power the remotest nations of the earth. But the event exhibited the total reverse of this ; their Master seized, bound, accused, declaring " his kingdom -was not of this world," and submitting, without reply or resistance, to insult and outrage; they saw him persecuted by the priests and rulers; they heard the populace clamour for his condemnation, till the Roman governor pronounced his ignominious doom; and they beheld him expire on the cross, dying the death of the accursed, and lodged in the depths of the grave. Every fond hope seemed to be thus for ever blasted, every ambitious thought was crushed, every prejudice of their religion, their education, outraged.
Alas! what delusion could have withstood fttcftf a shock as this? what credulity could have longer blinded? what enthusiasm could have longer possessed them? how disappointed, how dejected, how alarmEven after his resurrection, they resumed for some time the same ideas of his kingdom, as appears from their question to him, Acts i. 6. "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the "kingdom to Israel i" So ill prepared were they for the spiritual and enlarged scheme of the gospel, till enlightened and directed by the miraculous effusion of the holy Spirit.
ed, must the coolest and the steadiest minds have been at such a scene? and much more enflamed enthusiasts, with whom the bitterness of disappointment is ever proportioned to the extravagance of expectation, how unwilling must they be to resume a hope, which had thus deplorably deceived them? how slow to re-imbark in a cause, thus plainly desperate? Such must have been the necessary tenor of their mindsm. And exactly conformable to this is the artless description which the evangelists record, of the feelings and conduct of their brethren. When the two disciples relate the crucifixion of their Lord, how full of perplexity and despondence, is their narrative °. "But ive, said they, trusted that it had been he which "Jhould have redeemed Israel".—When assembled together, it was with the 0 doors Jhutfor fear of the Jews."
But this state of doubt and dismay was soon changed to triumphant faith, and these very men became witnesses of the resurrection of their crucified Lord..
By what means was this wondrous change atchieved? here it is the question principally rests. Was their faith in this great article the impulse of enthu
n Vid. this point very well illustrated by Dr. Archibald Campbell, in his discourse, to prove the apostles were not enthusiasts, from p. 47 to 70.
A Luke xxiv. 5sk "Johnxx. 19.
siasin, fiasm, or founded on the certainty of truth? Let us attend to the progress of this changa.
'Was it enthusiasm which moved them to reject the evidence of those women, who had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive p, and who afterwards spoke to him in personq? Two of the apostles discovered, that the body was miffing, but as yet they "knew not the scripture, that he must rise from the '' deads' they retired wondering, not believingr.
Could enthusiasm have deceived them into a belief, that a dead body no longer occupied the sepulchre in which they had seen it lodged, and which they deliberately and minutely examined? how utterly impossible S!" He appeared to two separately, but neither believed they them." Was this extreme flowness of faith a mark of enthusiasm? the very reverse; it proves, that their minds were utterly void of every hope which might delude, and on their guard against every artifice that might deceive them.
But was it enthusiasm, to admit the evidence of their senses, when they repeatedly saw, and felt, and
p Luke xxiv. i—Ii. * Mark xvi. n. r John xx. I—19. Luke xxiv. 12. Mark xvi. 12.,
S Paley's Evidences, p. 485, Dublin edition.—" The pre"fence and the absence of the dead body, are alike inconsistent "with the hypothesis of enthusiasm ; for if present, it must "have cured their enthusiasm at once j if absent, fraud, not "enthusiasm, must have carried it away."
D 2 spoke spoke to their Lord restored to life, when he "1 eat "and drank before them" when he invited them— "behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself; "handle me and fee, for a spirit hath not flejh and "bones, as ye fee me have"—when he called unto Thomas, who declared, except "/ shall ufee in his "hands, the print of the nails, and thrufl my hand "into his fide, I will not believe." When even this proof was granted him, and extorted from the obstinacy of his scepticism, the exclamation of '' my "Lord, and my God!" When he performed miraracles in their presence—when "for forty days toge"ther he frequently conversed with them, expound"ing the things which belong to the kingdom of God and finally, in the sight of all his apostles, ascended into x heaven, there to remain at the fight hand of the Majesty on y high.
Was it enthusiasm to admit such evidehce as this, which nothing but blindness or frenzy could reject? —yet the proofs they received did not cease here; forty days after they received the Spirit of God, descending with sensible signs, and resting upon them.—" They were all with one accord in one "place, and suddenly there came a sound, as of a "rustling mighty wind, and it filled all the house "where they were sitting, and there appeared to "them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it fat "upon each of them, and they were all filled with
c Luke xxiv. 36—4.3. "John xx. 24, 25/ * Acts i. 3. * Luke xxiv. J J. Acts i. 6.