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It is commonly said, that the new Testament is built upon the foundation of the Old, and must stand or fall along with it: and there is a truth in this sentiment; though it be somewhat diverse, in its nature and consequences, from that which is generally supposed. Our Lord and his apostles have so frequently quoted the old Testament, and almost every part of it, as the scripture, the word of God, the oracles of God, and the language of the Holy Ghost ; that their credit must be connected with the divine inspiration of the books thus repeatedly attested by them.-We are able to prove, that the canon of the old Testament in those days differed very little, if at all, from that which we have at present, yet our Lord referring to different parts of it, says, “Thus it is written, and thus it “must be,” “the scripture cannot be broken,” “the
scriptures must needs be fulfilled.” And the apostles say, “All scripture is given by inspiration from God:”
Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the
Holy Ghost.” This single consideration completely establishes the whole of the old Testament as a di. vine revelation, with all those who duly reverence the words of Christ and his apostles. In all other respects the new Testament stands on its own basis, and is proved to be the word of God by distinct evidence : it affords unspeakably more support to the old Testament than it receives from it; and the resurrection of Christ alone is sufficient to authenticate the whole sacred volume.
The restoration of a dead body to life is no more difficult to omnipotence, than the production of life at first. The divine operation is in both respects alike incomprehensible: but as we continually observe life to be communicated in a certain way, we call that the law of nature : though we understand not our own meaning, and cannot explain how causes produce their effects. But dead bodies do not return to life, in the ordinary course of human affairs : we therefore suppose some law of nature to the contrary, the violation of which in any particular instance, we should call a miracle ; that is a divine interposition and operation to produce an effect, above or contrary to the general energy of second causes. Some persons indeed pretend that this is impossible : but “ Why « should it be thought incredible with you, that God " should raise the dead ?” The power exerted is no greater, than that by which thousands of infants receive new life every day: and will man presume to say, that God cannot, or shall not, exert his power in any way which they have never before observed? -If a sufficient reason can be assigned for his extraordinary interposition, and the fact be indisputably proved; it becomes as credible as other well attested events; many of which do not coincide with our expectations or ideas of probability.
Universal history, observation, and experience prove that “the world lieth in wickedness. Idolatry, superstition, impiety, and every kind of vice and misery, have in all ages, covered and desolated the earth. But it hath pleased God, of his infinite mercy, to reveal himself to sinful men; to make known a way in which they might be reconciled to him and recovered to holiness; and thus to introduce a religion suited to rectify the disorders of the world, and unite
the honour of his name with the eternal happiness of unnumbered millions. Miracles, and the resurrection of the Redeemer especially, formed a suitable demonstration that this religion came from God, and served to arrest the attention of mankind : for alas! sinners for the most part are too much occupied about the affairs of this life, to notice those things which relate to God and their eternal state. These are reasons assigned for a divine interposition on this occasion ; and more important cannot possibly be conceived.
The Jews, the most inveterate enemies of Chris: tianity, preserve, with profound veneration and scru. pulous care, the books of the old Testament, which have been handed down in the same manner from generation to generation, during a long succession of ages. These books evidently contain a system of prophecy, centring in the person and redemption of the Messiah; and, among other particulars, his sufferings and death are circumstantially foretold, withi clear intimations of his resurrection and subsequent glorious kingdom.*
We know also, that the gospels were made pub. lick in the earliest ages of Christianity; for they are continually quoted and referred to by those writers, whose works have been preserved : and from them we learn, that our Lord predicted his own death and resurrection on the third day, in so explicit a manner, that the Jewish rulers were aware of it, and took their measures accordingly. Yet when the body of Christ was delivered to Joseph, they were so fully satisfied, by what they saw and heard, of his being really dead, that they made no objection on that ground: but they requested Pilate that the sepulchre might be securely closed, and guarded by Roman soldiers, till the third day was past; lest the disci. ples should steal his body, and say that he was risen again. After all their precautions, however, the body was gone, and they were never able to shew by whom it was removed, or what became of it.
* Ps. ii. xvi. 8–11. Isai. liii. 10-12.
Here let us pause, that we may consider the credibility of testimony.-One consistent witness, of sound
understanding and fair character, who has no apparent - interest in deceiving, is often deemed sufficient to de. termine the sentence of life or death, the most important of all temporal concerns : but if three or four such witnesses should agree in deposing, that they saw such a murder or robbery committed by the prisoner at the bar; no sober man could doubt of the fact, or scruple to pronounce him guilty. Now there were twelve appointed witnesses to the resurrection of Christ, of plain good understanding, and unexceptionable character : for Peter's denial of his Lord, through the force of sudden temptation, forms no impeachment of his integrity; seeing he so honestly confessed his guilt, and so fully proved the sincerity of his repentance by his subsequent conduct: and when Judas by transgression fell, another was chosen in his place. These witnesses had constantly attended Jesus during some years, and must have been competent to know him from all other men. They were remarkably incredulous respecting his resurrection; and his crucifixion seems almost to have extinguished their hopes : how then can it be supposed, that they would have attempted to overpower or deceive the vigilant and valiant Roman soldiers, and to steal the body of Jesus? In so desperate an undertaking they must have been sure to excite the combined rage of both the Jewish and Roman rulers: and success itself could only expose them to hatred, persecution, and all kinds of hardships and sufferings. It is manifest, that from the time they began to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ; they renoun. ced all prospects of worldly interest, ease, or greatness; and willingly embraced poverty, labour, cotto tempt, bonds, stripes, and perils as their portion. So that no possible account can be given of their con. duct, unless it be ascribed to a principle of conscience: while the strict and exact morality of their writings demonstrates, that they could not be actuated by false principles: for they do not allow men, in any case, to do evil that good may come; and they condemn all kinds of imposition with the most decided severity. Is it then possible for human beings deliberately to choose temporal and eternal misery, and to persevere in decided adherence to a plan, which on their own principles, ensures their damnation in another world, as well as a complication of miseries in this