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14 af "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat || at meat, and up

braided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because ther believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, Pand preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; "but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; "In my name shall they cast out devils; 'they shall speak with new tongues; 18 "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them : they shall lay lands on the sick, and they shall recover.

n Luke xxiv. 36; John xx. 19; 1 Cor. xv. 5. Or, together. o Matt. xxviii. 19; John xv. 16. p Col. i. 22. 9 John ini. 18. 36 ; Acts ii. 38, xvi. 30-32; Rom. x. 9; 1 Pet. iji. 21. John xii. 45. s Luke x. 17; Acts v. 16, viii. 2 xvi. 18, xix. 12. Acts ii, 4, X. 46, xix. 6; I Cor. xii, 10, 28. u Luke x. 19; Acts xxviii. 5. 7 Acts v. 15, 16, ix, 17, urui. James v. 14, 15.

Ilere is the conviction which Christ gave his apostles of the truth of his resurrection (ver. 14),He appeared to them himself, when they were all together, as they sat at meat, which gave him an opportunity to eat and drink with them, for their full satisfaction. See Acts x. 41. And still, when he appeared to them, he upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, for even at the general meeting in Galilee, some doubted, as we find in Matt. xxviii. 17.—The evidences of the truth of the gospel are so full, that those who receive it not, may justly be upbraided with their unbelief; and it is owing not to any weakness or deficiency in the proofs, but to the hardness of their heartits senselessness and stupidity. Though they had not till now seen him themselves, they are justly blamed because they believed not them who had seen him after he was risen ; and perhaps it was owing to the pride of their hearts that they did not; for they thought, If indeed he be risen, to whom should he delight to do the honour of showing himself, but to us?” And if he pass them by, and show himself to others first, they cannot believe it is he. Thus many disbelieve the doctrine of Christ, because they think it below them to give credit to such as he has chosen to be the witnesses and publishers of it. It will not suffice for an excuse of our infidelity in the great day, to say, “We did not see him after he was risen,” for we ought to have believed the testimony of those who did see him.

The commission which he gave them to set up his kingdom among men by the preaching of his gospel, the glad tidings of reconciliation to God through a Mediator.

Observe to whom they were to preach the gospel. Hitherto they had been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and were forbidden to go into the way of the Gentiles, or into any city of the Samaritans; but now their commission is enlarged, and they are authorised to go into al the world, into all parts of the world, the habitable world, and to preach the gospel of Christ to every creature—to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews--to every human creature that is capable of receiving it. “ Inform them concerning Christ—the history of his life, and death, and resurrection : instruct them in the meaning and intention of these, and of the advantages which the children of men have, or may have, hereby; and invite them, without exception, to come and share in them. This is gospel. Let this be preached in all places, to all persons.” These eleven men could not themselves preach it to all the world, much less to every creature in it; but they and the other disciples, seventy in number, with those who should afterward be added to them, must disperse themselves several ways, and, wherever they went, carry the gospel along with them. They must send others to those places whither they could not go themselves, and, in short, make it the business of their lives to send those glad tidings up and down the world with all possible fidelity and carenot as an amusement or entertainment, but as a solemn message from God to men, and an appointed means of making men happy. “ Tell as many as you can, and bid them tell others; it is a message of universal concern, and therefore ought to have a universal welcome, because it gives a universal welcome.”

The summary of the gospel they are to preach (ver. 16),—“Set before the world life and death, good and evil

. Tell the children of men that they are all in a state of misery and danger, condemned by their Prince, and conquered and enslaved by their enemies.” This is supposed in their being saved, which they would not need to be if they were not lost. “Now go and tell them, (1.) That if they believe the gospel, and give up themselves to be Christ's disciples; if they renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and be devoted to Christ as their Prophet, Priest, and King, and to God in Christ as their God in covenant, and evidence by their constant adherence to this covenant their sincerity herein, they shall be saved from the guilt and power of sin-it shall not rule them

it shall not ruin them. Ile that is a true Christian, shall be saved through Christ.” Baptism was appointed to be the inaugurating rite, by which those that embraced Christ owned him; but it is here put rather for the thing signified than for the sign, for Simon Magus believed and was baptized, yet was not saved. Acts viii. 13. Or thus, We must assent to gospel truths, and consent to gospel terms. (2.) If they believe not—if they receive not the record God gives concerning his Son, they cannot expect any other way of salvation, but must inevitably perish, by the sentence of a despised gospel, added to that of a broken law." And even this is gospel, it is good news, that nothing else but unbelief shall damn men, which is a sin against the remedy.

These signs shall follow them that believe. Ver. 17. Not that all who believe shall be able to produce these signs, but some, even as many as were employed in propagating the faith, and bringing others to it; for signs are intended for them that believe not. See 1 Cor. xiv. 22. It added much to the glory and evidence of the gospel, that the preachers not only wrought miracles themselves, but conferred upon others a power to work miracles; which power followed some of them that believed, wherever they went to preach. They shall do wonders in Christ's name, the same name into which they were baptized, in the virtue of power derived from him, and fetched in by prayer. Some particular signs are mentioned. 1. They shall cast out devils. 2. They shall speak with new tongues, which they had never learned, or been acquainted with ; and this was both a miracle for the confirming of the tguth of the gospel

, and a means of spreading the gospel among those nations that had not heard it. 3. They shall take up serpents. This was fulfilled in Paul, who was not hurt by the viper that fastened on his hand, which was acknowledged a great miracle by the barbarous people. Acts xxviii. 5, 6. They shall be kept unhurt by that generation of vipers among whom they live, and by the malice of the old serpent. 4. If they be compelled by their persecutors to drink any deadly poisonous thing, it shall not hurt them,-of which very thing some instances are found in ecclesiastical history. 5. They shall not only be preserved themselves, but be enabled to do good to othersThey shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover ; as multitudes had done by their Master's healing touch. With what assurance of success might they go about the executing of their commission, when they had such credentials as these to produce ! 19 9 So then, 'after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was 'received up

into heaven, and 'sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. .

a Psal. cx. I; Acts vii. 55. After the Lord had spoken what he had to say to his disciples, he went up into heaven in a cloud—which we have a particular account of Acts i. 9. Ele was received up, received in state, with loud acclamations of the heavenly hosts; and he sat on the right hand of God. Sitting is a posture of rest, for now he had finished his work; and a posture of rule, for now he took possession of his kingdom. Ile sat at the right hand of God, which denotes the sovereign dignity he is advanced to, and the universal agency he is intrusted with. Whatever God does concerning us, gives to us, or accepts from us, it is by his Son.

Christ being believed on in the world and received up into glory are put together. 1 Tim. iii. 16. We have here the apostles working diligently for him; they went forth, and preached every where far and near. Though the doctrine they preached was spiritual and heavenly, and directly contrary to the spirit and genius of the world, though it met with abundance of opposition, and was utterly destitute of all secular supports and advantages, yet the preachers of it were neither afraid nor ashamed. They were so industrious in spreading the gospel, that within a few years the sound of it went forth into the ends of the earth. Rom. x. 18. We have here God working effectually with them, to make their labours successful, by confirming the word with signs following ; partly by the miracles that were wrought upon the bodies of people, which were divine seals to the Christian doctrine; and partly by the influence it had upon the minds of people, through the operation of the Spirit of God. See Heb. ii. 4. These were properly signs following the wordthe reformation of the world, the destruction of idolatry, the conversion of sinners, the comfort of saints: and these signs still follow it; and that they may do so more and more, for the honour of Christ and the good of mankind, the evangelist prays, and teaches us to say Amen. Father in heaven, thus let thy name be hallowed, and let thy kingdom come.

y Acts i. 2, 3.

Luke xxiv. 51.

6 Acts v. 12, xiv, 3; I Cor. ii. 4, 5; Heb. ii. 4.








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LET us proceed to harmonize the different accounts of the angelic vision. This is the most knotty part of the whole solution. Matthew mentions but one angel, who appeared outside the tomb, and sat upon the stone; but let us remember, that omissions are not contradictions; that he does not profess to give us a full history of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, but a brief and scanty memoir only; and that while he records one vision merely, he prepares us to expect the other visions mentioned by Mark and Luke, by telling us, that the angel who appeared outside invited the visitors to examine the sepulchre, and they did examine it accordingly: “ Come, see the place where the Lord lay;" " and they departed quickly from the sepulchre, with fear and great joy;" not from the outside, but from the inside of the tomb, as intimated by the Greek word, signifying:

Having come out,” viz., out of the tomb. Mark takes no notice of what passed at the outside of the sepulchre-neither of the earthquake nor of the angelic vision, that frightened the guards and invited the women to enter the tomb, but simply of the stone being rolled away; and he confines his observations to what passed when, by the invitation of the angel outside, they were induced to enter the sepulchre. Then they beheld another angel, who may be termed the inside guardian of the tomb, sitting on the right side, arrayed like the other, and equally well acquainted as he was with the purport of their visit. They were affrighted, but he addresses them in words similar to the other angel: “Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen; he is not here : behold the place where they laid him. Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” Now, though Matthew omits what passed inside of the tomb, and Mark what passed outside of the sepulchre, the one by no means contradicts the other, because both historians may be perfectly correct in their respective statements. It may be perfectly true that the women saw an angel outside, sitting on the stone, encouraging and inviting them to come and see the place where the Lord lay; and it may be also true, that when they did enter, they saw another angel seated on the right side, who might address them in nearly similar words. If the evangelists had professed to give a full history instead of a brief memoir, then omissions would have been fatal to their veracity, or at least to their qualifications for the task ; but making no such professions, and contenting themselves, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, with noting down insulated occurrences as they came to their knowledge, no such charge can be brought against them. And, in order to be convinced that these were distinct and separate visions, we have only to attend to the different style of the invitations; for the outside angel speaks as to persons still removed from the tomb, “ Come see the place where the Lord lay;" that is, “ Come forward, enter the tomb, and see the place where the Lord lay;" whereas the inside spiritual guardian spoke as to persons already entered, and having the scene before their eyes,—“Behold the place where they laid him." The word come is omitted as unnecessary, and the word behold is alone used, because all they had now to do was to open their eyes and survey the scene.

Nothing more needs be advanced to show the perfect harmony that subsists between these two

evangelists in this particular. They treat of different occurrences ; and though they omit each other's statement, they do not contradict each other. The one does not deny that an angel was seen outside, nor does the other deny that an angel was seen inside; but, on the contrary, gives you notice of something extraordinary to follow.

The chief difficulty in this solution of the angelic visions still remains behind, and that is, to reconcile Mark and Luke; for while the former speaks of only one angel inside, the latter speaks of two angels being seen. This is an apparent contradiction, because they are both narrating the inside occurrence at the tomb; and the query is, Which of the two evangelists are we to credit ? We reply, Both ; and if it be asked, How ? we answer, Because both are, and must be, as inspired penmen, perfectly correct. On an attentive examination, we find that Mark’s and Luke's are two distinct and separate visions, succeeding one another in the tomb, and presenting themselves to one and the same company.

Mark treats of the angelic vision which presented itself to the women at their first entrance into the tomb. There they beheld one angel only, seated on the right side, and guarding, as it were, the sanctity of the tomb till the women's arrival, that they and we might have an undoubted proof that the contents of the sepulchre remained undisturbed by sacrilegious hands. This angel having received them courteously, and having addressed them in language similar to the one outside, and having bid them examine the sepulchre for the verification of his statement that Christ was risen, disappeared, and left them to pursue their anxious search amid the memorials of his decease, imprisonment, and escape, viz., the linen clothes, and the napkin that was about his head. Not finding the body of the Lord Jesus, and “ being much perplexed thereabout" (an expression which implies that some moments or minutes must have passed in the examination of the tomb and its contents, and also that the angel of Mark had disappeared, else they might have appealed to him for farther examination), behold two men stood by them in shining garments, and addressed them in words very different from either of the previous angelic messengers: “ Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen ; remember how he spake unto you, when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. Then they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest." The whole of the presumed discrepancy, then, that subsists between Mark and Luke resolves itself into this point, that Mark omits Luke's recorded vision of two angels, and Luke omits his recorded vision of one angel; but let us remember that omissions are not contradictions.

Each of the evangelists gives a new particular, omitting what had been told before; but this is no objeetion to their veracity, so long as their narrations do not clash with one another;

and though it be perfectly true that the women saw but one angel when they entered, it may also be perfectly true that, previous to their exit, and after examining the tomb, the place of this angel, who had disappeared to relieve the women from their fright, might be supplied by two angels. If it be argued that this system of harmony makes the same company to see three distinct visions, and to receive three distinct assurances of the resurrection of Christ from the dead; we reply, that this is nothing wonderful, considering the vast importance of the event, and their extreme slowness of heart to believe all that the prophets had written.

John's vision alone now remains to be considered. Here no difficulty presents itself. It was not the same as that of Luke's; the circumstances are totally different. It was seen by Mary Magdalene alone. It was seen by her at her second visit to the tomb, not before, but after she had seen Peter; and remember that they give her no message, as in the former case; that she immediately thereafter has an interview with the Lord, and goes to tell the disciples, not that Christ was risen, as in the previous vision of Luke, but that she had beheld the Lord. It was seen by her while she stood outside of the tomb, whereas the former was seen inside of the tomb; for it is stated, that as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre. The first objection that occurs to us is this : If Mary had seen three distinct visions, and received three distinct assurances before of the resurrection of Christ, why is she represented here as still doubting. “Woman, why weepest thou ?" “ Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” * We reply, that her unbelief was most unreasonable; but it was common to her with the apostles, to whom the words of the women seemed as idle tales, and they believed them not; and it is not improbable that their coldness, and perhaps expressed incredulity, might have had a pernicious effect on her mind, in leading her to doubt the reality of the resurrection, even in the face of angelic testimony.

Granting the probability of this view of the harmony of the visions, it may, however, be still objected, that John represents Mary Magdalene as running away by herself

, while the other evangelists declare, that she returned as she went first, in company with the other women. For what says John ? “Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter.” Is it not probable, that if she had visited the tomb in company, and returned in company, that John would have mentioned this fact? And may we not infer, therefore, that Mary was not among the company that staid to inspect the tomb, but, as stated by Bishop Horsley, retreated so soon as she came within sight of it, and beheld the stone rolled away? We reply, that if the silence of John, as to her having company in her flight, is to be regarded as of any weight, that silence must be regarded as of equal weight in reference to the fact of her having company in her visit to the tomb; but all the other evangelists, in reality, admit that she had company with her in her first visit to the tomb; and consequently it follows, that the silence of John is no argument against the express statement of the other evangelists, to the effect that she did not run away by herself at the first sight of the sepulchre, but tarried to examine it, was a witness of all the three angelic visions, and returned along with Joanna, the other Mary, Salome, and the other women. The fact is, and this settles the point, that John, who had no doubt seen the other accounts, did not deem it necessary to recapitulate what they had narrated, but contents himself with giving some additional particulars of the resurrection, in so far as Mary Magdalene alone was concerned. For this reason he mentions her name only; while, by using the plural word we, she acknowledges that she had associates,—“We know not where they have laid him." And it must be confessed, that the account of the resurrection would have been very imperfect without the additional and interesting information here conveyed relative to Mary's second visit, and personal interview with our blessed Lord. Still, it


be urged that this theory cannot be correct, because if Mary Magdalene had returned to Jerusalem in company with the other women, she must have seen our blessed Lord before she beheld him singly at the tomb, and that Christ did not appear to her first, as testified by Mark and John, but at a time when the other women witnessed it; for Matthew declares, chap. xxxvi. 9, “ And as they (the women) went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”

We admit the force of this objection. We admit that it is apparently impossible to get over it; and hence the origin of all those theories which separate Mary Magdalene from her company, and make her return alone. Nevertheless, we still adhere to our own theory, as the only one that will ultimately reconcile all difficulties, that Mary Magdalene never left her company till she returned to Jerusalem. We go farther, and affirm that Christ did appear to her first, on her second visit

, as John shows, and as Mark testifies. And we deny the basis of the objection, that Christ appeared to the women on their first return to Jerusalem ; and for this reason, that the women made no conmunication of this kind to the apostles and disciples. Is it reasonable to think, that if Christ had personally appeared to the women, they would have concealed this pre-eminently important event, and contented themselves with announcing the angelic visions? In this case they would now have had ocular evidence of his resurrection; they could now say, Not that angels assured us of the fact, but that we have seen the Lord, have beheld him, and have heard him speak, saying, “ Be not afraid ; but go


my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” And would they not have done so ? Could they have withheld the expressions of their joy ? Could they have cherished still an evil heart of unbelief

, as we find they did from Mary Magdalene's speech to the angels at the tomb ? Impossible. But instead of coming to the apostles with the glad tidings of a personal interview with our blessed Lord, what did they say ? Why, “they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not.” Luke xxiv. 23, 34. At whatever period, then, the women might be favoured with the sight of the Lord, it could not possibly be on their return from their first visit; for then the Lord had not manifested himself to Mary Magdalene; nor did the women, at this time, make that manifestation any part of their communication to the apostles, as they most certainly would, and actually were bound to do.

But the question still occurs, What are we to make of Matthew's statement ? Does not he expressly declare (Matt. xxviii. 9), that “ as they went to tell the disciples, Jesus met them ?" True, but Matthew does not say whether this meeting was at their return from their first or second visit to the sepulchre. This is the pith and marrow of the solution. That all the women returned, or made an attempt to return, after they had found out the eleven and other disciples, and delivered the angelic message, is very probable, either that they might prosecute their inquiries farther, or perhaps in the fond hope of meeting with their risen Lord; it is certain that Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb—and what should hinder us from believing that the same curiosity, or the same holy affection for Christ, or the same desire to see the end of the wonderful scenes that passed at the tomb, should have prompted them also to retrace their steps ? More especially, when they found, upon inquiry, that Mary Magdalene had returned in haste to the tomb, and when they had probably learned from Peter and John, now panting for breath before them, that

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