have lost that evidence for the truth of our religion, which arises from persecutions undergone by the first teachers of it; from the very advantageous circumstances, that the Jews, our adversaries, have been the keepers of those prophecies, which prove Christ to be come; and also from their wonderful dispersion and preservation; besides the proof which will arise, in God's good time, from their conversion to Christianity.

II. Thus much for the reality of Christ's resurrection. The circumstances of it, which was the second head proposed, it is best that you should read in the New Testament, where they are told at large. And if the accounts, which the several Evangelists give, should seem not easy to be reconciled in some particulars, you will recollect, that nothing is more common in all histories, than for one to omit what another relates-to tell but part of what another tells more fully-to join close together in writing, what happened at some distance of time in fact; and to neglect a trifling exactness in points that are not material. And the Spirit of God, which directed the Gospel historians, might, with great wisdom, permit them to do thus it being a strong proof to every considerate mind, that they did not contrive together what story they should tell; but that each related, fairly and artlessly, what he saw and heard at the time, and recollected afterwards, concerning this great fact of which the more absolutely certain they were in general, the less they would think of being accurate in every little part; and of drawing up a methodical, and minute, and scrupulously strict narration of the whole that had passed.



But there is one circumstance, which requires to be considered more distinctly-that of the time. The almost constant expression of Scripture concerning this, is the same with that of the Creed, that "he rose again the third day :" reckoning the


day of his death for the first, the day which he continued dead for the second, the day of his resurrection for the third. And this is the common way of computing every where. Thus, the Jews computed the eighth day, on which their children were to be circumcised. Thus, also, the physicians call that a tertian, or third day ague, in which there is but one day wholly free from it. And thus men reckon in all cases. Sometimes the expression in Scripture is, that " he should rise after "three days," meaning, not after the third day was ended, but after it was begun. Just as when Rehoboam had said unto the people, “Come again "unto me after three days," it follows, "So all "the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king bade, saying, Come again to me on "the third day."4 And in one single place of the New Testament it is said," the Son of Man should "be in the heart of the earth three days and three "nights." But this, without doubt, was intended to be understood comformably to the rest as it well may. For a day and night in the Jewish language, is no more than what we commonly call a day in ours. Hence, we find in the Book of Esther, than when she had appointed the Jews to fast for her good success, "neither eating nor "drinking three days, night nor day;" that is, to fast three days and three nights; and, after that she would go in to the king to petition for them: the very next words, notwithstanding, are, that "on the third day she put on her royal apparel, "and went into the king's presence." Again, when we read, that Elijah went forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the Mount of God, (1 Kings, xix. 8.) we have no cause to think that the meaning

(4) 2 Chron..x. 5-12. See Whitby on Mark vii. 31.
(5) Matt. xii. 40.

(6) Esth. iv. 16. v. 1. See Whitby on Matt. xii. 40.

is, that he travelled incessantly, night and day: for So, his journey must have been much sooner ended: but that he employed in it such a part of every day, during all that time, as he was con veniently able. This way of speaking may seem strange to us; but the Jews understand it so well, that not a man of them, excepting a very weak one of late date, hath ever pretended to raise an objection from this passage, though very slight pretences will serve their turn. Thus, then, our Saviour dying on Friday, and rising on Sunday, was dead three days, and yet rose the third; which was a sufficient space of time to prove him really dead; but not sufficient, either for him to see corruption, or for his enemies to leave off watching his grave, or for his disciples to despair absolutely and totally; and, therefore, no fitter time could have been fixed.

III. The third point to be considered is-the uses of the resurrection of Christ; which are great and many.

In general, it appears plainly from hence, that he really came from God; and that, therefore, whatever he hath commanded must be done and whatever he hath affirmed, promised, or threatened, will be found true. For there can possibly be no stronger proof of his divine mission, than when he had been openly put to death as a deceiver, for God to reverse the sentence in so extraordinary a manner, as restoring him to life again. This was the great evidence to which he had, before his death, appealed. No one either did, or could, object against it, as not being a decisive one; and, therefore, on its coming to pass, as he had foretold it would, he is justly said, by the Apostle, to be "declared the Son of God with

(7) Nizzachon vet. Wagenseil, p. 236. who objects, that at most it could be but three days and two nights.

(8) Concerning this whole matter, see Reland, iv. 1—21.


power, by the resurrection from the dead." But there are two things proved by it more particularly.

1. That his sufferings are accepted by our hea venly Father, as a full atonement for the sins of For since God hath loosed the bands of




the grave, with which he was holden on our account, it is manifest, that he hath completed the satisfaction owing from us; that he hath "through "death destroyed him that hath the power of “death, that is, the devil; and delivered those, "who, through fear of it, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. If, then, we do, by faith and repentance, qualify ourselves to receive the pardon that he is authorized to give, we may boldly say, with the Apostle, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God "that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It "is Christ that died: yea, rather, that is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, who "maketh intercession for us. ท2



2. From our Saviour's resurrection, appears the certainty of our own. The promise which he made was, that "every one who believed in him, should "have everlasting life, and he would raise him up "at the last day;' ;"3 and to show the truth of it, he raised up himself from the death which he had suffered for the sins of men. This is a proof, clear and strong beyond all exception or cavil. Since Christ is risen, our resurrection is possible: and since Christ hath promised, it is certain. If, then, "we believe that Jesus died, and rose again," we must believe, too, as St. Paul justly argues, that "them, also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring "with him. For the Lord himself shall descend "from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the

(9) Rom. i. 4.

(2) Rom. viii. 33, 34.

(1) Heb. ii. 14, 15.
(3) John vi. 40.


"archangel, and with the trump of God, and the "dead in Christ shall rise first: and they, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up toge"ther with them in the clouds, and so shall we be "ever with the Lord." "Blessed (therefore) be "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resur"rection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an in"heritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth "not away, reserved in heaven for us.' And may "the God of peace, that brought again from "the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant,


make us perfect in every good work, to do his "will; working in us that which is well pleasing "in his sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory, for ever and ever."6






Article VI. He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.

THE first care of our blessed Lord, in consequence of his resurrection, was, to satisfy his disciples fully of the truth of it; the next, to fit them for instructing mankind in his religion, of which it was one principal doctrine and evidence. "(therefore) showed himself alive to them after


(4) 1 Thess. iv. 14, 16, 17.

(5) 1 Pet. i. 3, 4

(6) Heb. xiii. 20, 21,

« VorigeDoorgaan »