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turally, upon this occasion, reason thus: 'Jesus hath now put his pretensions upon a fair issue. He hath told us, he will arise from the dead on the third day :-here then let us suspend our judgment, and wait the result. Three days will determine whether he be an impostor, or the real Messiah.' It is very natural to suppose, that the favourers of Jesus would reason, after his death, in a manner like this: and it is beyond credibility, that any of them would have continued his disciples, had they found him falsifying in this point. But we know they did continue his disciples after this. We know also, that many proselytes, convinced by this very event, embraced the Christian religion. We have all the reason in the world, therefore, to believe that they were fully satisfied. His miracles were to them a sufficient proof of his pretensions. All candid men would have acquiesced, as they did; and in their belief we have a very strong foundation for our own. Let us proceed then to matter of fact.
That the body was dead, and safely lodged in the tomb, and afterwards conveyed out of it, was agreed on, both by those who opposed, and by those who favoured the resurrection. In the circumstances of the latter fact, they differ widely.
The disciples tell their story-a very plain and simple one-that, scarce expecting the event, notwithstanding their master had himself foretold it, they were surprised with an account that the body was gone that they found afterwards, to their great astonishment, that their master was again alive
that they had been several times with him; and
appealed for the truth of what they said to great numbers, who, as well as themselves, had seen him after his resurrection.
The chief priests, on the other side, declared the whole to be a forgery; asserting, that the plain matter of fact was, the disciples came by night, and stole the body away, while the soldiers slept.
Such a tale, unsupported by evidence, would be listened to in no court of justice. It has not even the air of probability. Can it be supposed, that the disciples, who had fled with terrour when they might have rescued their master's life, would venture in the face of an armed guard, to carry off his dead body? Or is it more probable, that they found the whole guard asleep; when we know, that the vigilance of sentinels is secured by the strictest discipline?-Besides, what advantage could arise from such an attempt? If they miscarried, it was certain ruin, both to them and their cause. If they succeeded, it is difficult to say what use they could make of their success. Unless they could have produced their dead body alive, the second errour would be worse than the first. Their master's prophecy of his own resurrection was an unhappy circumstance; yet still it was wrapped in a veil of obscurity. But if his disciples endeavoured to prove its conpletion, it was their business to look well to the, event. A detection would be such a comment upon their master's text as would never be forgotten. When a cause depends on falsehood, every body knows, the less it is moved the better.
This was the case of the other side. Obscurity.
there was wanted. If the chief priests had any proof, why did they not produce it? Why were not the disciples taken up, and examined upon the fact? They never absconded. Why were they not judicially tried? Why was not the trial made public? And why were not authentic memorials of the fraud handed down to posterity; as authentic memorials were of the fact, recorded at the very time and place, where it happened? Christianity never wanted enemies to propagate its disparagement. But nothing of this kind was done. No proof was attempted-except indeed the testimony of men asleep. The disciples were never question ed upon the fact; and the chief priests rested satisfied with spreading an inconsistent rumour among the people, impressed merely by their own authority.
Whatever records of heathen origin remain, evince the truth of the resurrection. One is very remarkable. Pontius Pilate sent the emperor Tiberius a relation of the death and resurrection of Christ; which were recorded at Rome, as usual, among other provincial matters. This intelligence made so great an impression, it seems, upon the emperor, that he referred it to the senate, whether Jesus Christ of Judea should not be taken into the number of the Roman gods.--Our belief of this fact is chiefly founded upon the testimony of Justin Martyr and Tertullian, two learned heathens, in the age succeeding Christ, who became Christians from this very evidence, among others, in favour of Christianity. In their apologies*, still
*Just Mart. Apol, ad Anton. P.-Tertal. Apol. cap. 15. VOL. I.
extant, one of which was made to the senate of Rome, the other to a Roman governor, they both appeal to these records of Pontius Pilate, as then generally known; which we cannot conceive such able apologists would have done, if no such records had ever existed. Gilpin.
PROOF, IN THE MANNER OF AN ALIBI, OF THE
As we cannot have the viva voce examination of all
evangelists would give, in whatever court of justice they were examined; and this, I apprehend, would sufficiently establish the alibi of the dead body from the sepulchre by supernatural means.
PAUL A PROPER WITNESS OF THE RESURRECTION. You think Paul an improper witness of the resurrection: I think him one of the fittest that could have been chosen; and for this reason-his testimony is the testimony of a former enemy. He had, in his own miraculous conversion, sufficient ground for changing his opinion as to a matter of fact; for believing that to have been a fact, which he had formerly, through extreme prejudice, considered as a fable. For the truth of the resurrection of Jesus he appeals to above five hundred living witnesses; and before whom does he make this appeal?-Before his enemies, who were able and willing to blast his character, if he had advanced an untruth.-You know, undoubtedly, that Paul had resided at Corinth near two years; that, during a part of that time, he had testified to the Jews, that Jesus was the Christ; that finding the bulk of that nation obstinate in their unbelief, he had turned to the Gentiles, and had converted many to the faith in Christ; that he left Corinth, and went to preach the gospel in other parts; that, about three weeks after he had quitted Corinth, he wrote a letter to the converts which he' had made in that place, and who, after his depar