Изображения страниц

to Solomon's prayer imply a real and sensible thee. But he answered and said unto them, residence of Deity, but that it was the uni- an evil and adulterous generation seeketh versal belief of the Jews and of the strangers after a sign; and there shall no sign be given who visited Jerusalem, that there was an in- to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For gress of God into the temple, and a habitation as Jonas was three days and three nights in in it; and, in another place, that God de- the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be scended and pitched his tabernacle there. three days and three nights in the heart of The Jews themselves, however, admitted, the earth.” The Sadducees, opponents still that whatever glory these expressions might more virulent than the Pharisees, perfectly signify was now departed. To restore that understood him as meaning on the basis of glory, and to bestow it on the second temple his own, to establish the belief of a resurin more abundant measure than the first ever rection of the body; for they argue with him possessed, was the end of Christ's mission ; on the subject, and frame a case which they and in him was the prediction fulfilled: “ The supposed would reduce the author of the docglory of this latter house shall be greater trine to an absurdity. This afforded our Lord than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts." an opportunity of showing that the doctrine He was that oracle by whose answers all in dispute was actually an article in their light and truth were emitted; the true Sche- own ereed, as being the disciples of Moses. chinah who had the spirit without measure; he Thus it runs through the whole of divine Rewas anointed with the "oil of gladness above velation. The fathers beyond the flood lived his fellows,” and thus in all respects greater and died in this faith. The dust of Abraham, than the temple. That temple, says he, Isaac, and Jacob thus rested and rests in hope. which you have defiled I have cleansed: and It is indeed more clearly stated under the this temple of my body which you are going Gospel dispensation, and the ground of it is to destroy, I will raise up again.

more fully demonstrated, that is, the dawning When this prediction was verified by the light of the morning gradually brightened into matter of fact, that fact became the founda- the perfect day. tion of one of the distinguishing doctrines of " In three days I will raise it up." This the gospel, the resurrection of the dead. is an explicit déclaration of his own inherent Jesus early taught and frequently repeated Deity, for God alone has the right and the it, that it might be clearly understood and power over life and death. An angel may carefully remembered. The impostor is at be the delegated instrument in executing the pains to conceal his purpose till it is ripe for sentence of divine justice, by taking away execution. He fears prevention, and there- life; as in the case of the first-born of Egypt, fore endeavours to take you by surprise. The of those who fell by the pestilence, to the thief gives no warning of his approach, but number of seventy thousand, for the offence comes upon men while they sleep. The true of David in numbering the people, and of the prophet discloses his design, prepares, fore- hundred, fourscore, and five thousand smitten warns, puts the person who doubts or disbe- in one night, in the camp of the Assyrians. lieves upon his guard, bids defiance to pre- But we no where find the power of quickenvention. His own resurrection, and the ing the dead delegated to a created being. doctrine of a general resurrection which is Man has the desperate power of destroying founded upon it, were not barely hinted at, his own body, but there it ends, and the disor declared in obscure and equivocal terms. embodied spirit ceases from all power to They were not the casual topic, and for once repair the awful violence which it has comonly, of private conversation with his disci-| mitted. Man cannot by a mere act of his ples. No, this was a leading, a commanding will even lay down his life, any more than object, presented continually to view, placed he can reanimate the breathless clay. It is in the strongest light, announced with equal the incommunicable prerogative of him who fairness and simplicity to friends and to ene- has life in himself, to dispose of it at pleasure. mies. " And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, This prerogative Jesus Christ claims and extook the twelve disciples apart in the way, ercises. « For as the Father raiseth up the and said unto them, behold, we go up to Je- dead and quickeneth them : even so the Son rusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed quickeneth whom he will.” In the case of unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, his own death, it was an act of sovereign, and they shall condemn him to death, and almighty power. “Jesus said, It is finished: shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and he bowed his head, and gave up the and to scourge, and to crucify him; and the ghost,” while as yet the principle of natural third day he shall rise again." He declares life was strong within him, thus demonstratthe same truth thus openly in the court of the ing that his assertion concerning himself was temple. He repeats it in the presence and founded in truth: "I lay down my life, that hearing of the multitude, “when the people I might take it again. No man taketh it were gathered thick together, then certain from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, power to lay it down, and I have power to saying, Master, we would see a sign from take it again." And on this power over his


own life, he founds his right of dispensing | tiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs life and death to others. “ And this is the in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; Father's will which hath sent me, that of all and upon the earth distress of nations, with which he hath given me I should lose nothing, perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; but should raise it up again at the last day. men's hearts failing thern for fear, and for And this is the will of him that sent me, that looking after those things which are coming every one which seeth the Son, and believ- on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall eth on him, may have everlasting life: and I be shaken. Verily I say unto you, this gewill raise him up at the last day. Whether neration shall not pass away till all be fultherefore it is said that “Christ was raised filled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, up from the dead by the glory of the Father," but my words shall not pass away.". or that he himself raised up the temple of “ When therefore he was risen from the his body, one and the same source of life, dead, his disciples remembered that he had one controlling, irresistible will, and one su- said this unto them.” Words as they are preme efficient power are displayed. spoken, and events as they pass, frequently

“Then said the Jews, Forty and six years make a slight impression, but when recalled was this temple in building, and wilt thou and fixed by some striking correspondent rear it up in three days? It has been al-circumstance, they rush on the mind like a ready shown that this was a wilful misappre- torrent, and we wonder at our own preceding hension : and it exhibits a humiliating view carelessness and inattention. Had the disciof the power of prejudice. Something may ples been men quick of apprehension, and of be made of a stupid child, if he be disposed easy belief, the fabrication of a cunningly to exert the poor faculties which he pos- devised fable might have been suspected : sesses, but obstinacy sets discipline at defi- but they were persons of a simplicity of cha

It is possible to assist weak eyes, but racter that sometimes bordered on stupidity; what can be done for the man who wilfully they were “slow of heart to believe;" they shuts them, or who madly plucks them out? I often misunderstood their master; they were To enter with commentators, into discussion of all mankind the most unfit to plan and respecting the period of the temple's rebuild- to sapport imposture. When Jesus spake ing, is foreign to our purpose. What is it to of destroying and of raising up again the temus how long time was employed in the work, ple of his body, the Jews wilfully perverted by what prince or princes it was carried on, his meaning, and his disciples seem hardly and what was its comparative magnificence, to have marked his words. The greatest of with relation to the first temple, and to other miracles must be performed to subdue the structures of a similar kind? But it is of incredulity of the one, and to rouse the athigh importance to know, that the prediction tention of the other. In both we contemplate of Christ concerning it, already quoted, was the wrath and the weakness of man niinisexactly fulfilled, about forty years afterward; tering to the glory of God. It was meet that when Jerusalem was besieged and taken by the mouth of malignity should be stopped, the emperor Titus, was pillaged and burnt, and that the truth, as it is in Jesus, should the temple completely destroyed, upwards of be taught to the world by men whose own one million and one hundred thousand of the ignorance had been instructed, whose doubts Jews destroyed by famine and the sword, had been removed, whose faith had been esninety-seven thousand taken prisoners, the tablished. " We still have this treasure in whole nation expatriated and dispersed ; and earthen vessels, that the excellency of the that the state of the temple from the year of power, may be of God, and not of us.” Christ 70, down to the present 1802, and of this The resurrection of Christ from the dead, scattered, degraded, yet providentially sup- therefore, so clearly predicted, and so exactported and distinguished people, at this day, !y accomplished, supplies the Christian world, are a standing evidence of the truth and cer- in every age, with the firmest basis of faith, tainty of the things wherein we have been and with the purest source of hope and joy. instructed. He is faithful and true who pro- The apostle of the Gentiles, once the most mises and who threatens. “When ye shall | violent opposer of the fact, and of the docsee Jerusalem compassed with armies, then trine founded upon it, thus collects the eviknow that the desolation thereof is nigh. dence: “For i delivered unto you first Then let them which are in Judea flee to of all that which I also received, how that the mountains; and let them which are in Christ died for our sins, according to the the midst of it depart out; and let not them scriptures; and that he was buried, and that that are in the countries enter thereinto. he rose again the third day, according to the For these be the days of vengeance, that all scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, things which are written may be fulfilled. then of the twelve : after that he was seen And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, of above five hundred brethren at once; of and shall be led away captive into all na- whom the greater part remain unto this pretions: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down sent, but some are fallen asleep. After that, of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gen- he was seen of James; then of all the apos

tles. And last of all he was seen of me also as office bearing testimony to Christ's prophetic of one born out of due time.” Paul's reason- character, and to the foundation on which it ing upon the subject is conclusive and satis-rested. “Nicodemus, a pharisee and ruler factory; it meets the human heart in all its of the Jews, came to Jesus by night, and said desires and expectations. We resign our- unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a selves to the stroke of dcath with composure. teacher come from God: for no man can do We bury our dead out of our sight, without these miracles that thou doest, except God bidding them a final farewell, because the be with him." But the sacred historian subtlesh also shall rest in hope." “ For if we joins a reflection most hunniliating to human believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even nature; for it implies that the understanding 80 them also which sleep in Jesus will God may be enlightened, and the conscience perbring with him.” " This corruptible must fectly convinced, and yet the heart remain put on incorruption, and this mortal must corrupted and malignant. “Many believed put on immortality. So when this corrupti- in his name, when they saw the miracles ble shall have put on incorruption, and this which he did.” But the Searcher of hearts morta) shall have put on immortality, then discerned under a sound belief, a dangerous, shall be brought to pass the saying that an unsubdued perversity of disposition in is written, death is swallowed up in vic- which he could not confide. “ But Jesus did tory.”

not commit himself unto them.” In this The importance of this doctrine, in the Christ acted as a pattern to his disciples, and scale of Christianity, will warrant our fol- conformed himself to the doctrine which he lowing up the article of our Lord's history taught them. “ Beware of men: be ye wise which we have been reviewing, to its more as serpents, and harmless as doves." There remote effects and consequences. This will is an excess of caution unworthy of a noble accordingly form the substance of the follow- and generous mind, which damps exertion ing Lecture.

and poisons society. But there is also an exThis passover afforded occasion of work-cess of confidence which puts the candid and ing various other public miracles, which are sincere in the power of the crafty and denot enumerated in the sacred record, but signing. True wisdom safely conducts its which attracted attention, and produced con possessor through the channel which divides viction in the minds of many who saw and them.“ A prudent man,” says Solomon, heard him. He was now at the metropolis foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, but of the country, and at the season of universal the simple pass on, and are punished.” resort to Jerusalem. Of the multitudes who The chapter concludes with an ascrip flocked thither to celebrate the feast of pass- tion to Christ of one of the incommunicable over, very many must have been in the habit attributes of Deity, the knowledge of the of searching the scriptures, and were, with thoughts of men:' " He knew all men, and Simeon, “ waiting for the consolation of Is- needed not that any should testify of man: rael,” and with Anna the prophetess, “ look- for he knew what was in man.” of this he ing for redemption in Jerusalem." Persons had given an illustrious instance in the case of this description must have been forcibly of Nathanael, whose character he clearly impressed with the personal appearance of discerned before any personal intercourse Jesus Christ, with the singularity of his man- | had taken place: “Before that Philip called ner and address, with the gravity and dignity thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I of his deportment, with the authority which saw thee.” Here it is reduced to a general he exercised in teaching and reproving. His proposition of high moment. “ The Father zeal in the purgation of the temple, and the hath committed all judgment unto the Son” sign which he proposed as the evidence of and he is qualified for the discharge of this his inission, must have been noticed and felt. all-important office, by a perfect knowledge When these proofs of an extraordinary cha- not only of the actions of a man's life, but racter were accompanied and supported by a of the motives from which he acted, and of display of miraculous powers, the effect must the end at which he aimed. May it be enhave been what the evangelist relates: “When graved on the living table of our heart, that he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the God “hath appointed a day in the which he feast-day, many believed in his name when will judge the world in righteousness by they saw the miracles which he did." Nor that man whom he hath ordained; whereof was this impression confined to vulgar minds, he hath given assurance unto all men, in for we presently find a man high in rank and that he hath raised him from the dead."

[blocks in formation]




But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou foul.

that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest no: that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other grain : but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasis, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead: it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption : it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.-1 CORINTHIANS XV. 35–44.

To him who believes in the life and im-, himself shall wipe away all tears from all mortality which are brought to light by the eyes. gospel; to himn who has the witness of death Previous to the breaking of bread, in comevery day presented to his eyes, and who memoration of our Saviour's dying love to feels it continually in his own frame, can it perishing sinners, we were led to meditate ever be unseasonable or unprofitable to hear on the final consummation which the ordiof the ground of his holy faith, of his glori- nance has directly in view. “As often as ous privileges, of his exalted hope? Does ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do the worldling ever tire in calculating his show the Lord's death till he come;" an gains, and of reckoning over his hoard? Is event which involves in itself the fate of the eager heir ever cloyed in contemplating angels and of men; an event which shall his fair and ample expected inheritance? exhibit the grandest display of the divine When were the praises, the reported suc- power and wisdom, of justice, goodness, and cesses, wisdom, and virtue of a darling child, truth; an event which is at once the object a burden on the listening ear of parental af- of just terror, and the purest source of joy. fection? When was the eye fatigued in sur-One, and that not the least interesting, conveying the beautiful and majestic fabric of sideration connected with the prospect of nature, or turned away from it with disgust? that a great and notable day of the Lord,” is Wherefore, then, should it be apprehended that which constitutes the subject of the that the disciple of Jesus, who has fled for apostle's reasoning in the passage which refuge to the hope set before him, whose has been now read, namely, the resurrection brightest prospects open beyond the grave, of the dead. The ground of belief respecting who is rejoicing in the promise of his Mas- this is the truth and certainty of Christ's ter's coming

“the second time, without sin, resurrection, on the third day after his pasunto salvation;" wherefore suppose that sion, conformably to frequently repeated, such a person could say, “What a weari- well-known, and minutely particular predicness is it!" when the preacher's theme is tions respecting this illustrious event. These the complete restoration of man's fallen na were the subject of the preceding Lecture. ture, the resurrection of the body, the perfect " Jesus and the resurrection,” were the great resemblance of all the members of Christ to theme of Paul's preaching at learned Athens, the glorious head, the final and unfading tri- and of his epistles to the churches, particuumph of redeeming love? No, well-pleased larly to the Corinthians, in this chapter. This you withdraw from the pursuit of temporal is the sure foundation which God hath laid pleasure and profit, from surveying the in Zion, and lo, What a structure is Provikingdoms of this world and the glory of dence rearing upon it ! them, from contemplating even the more The apostle introduces an unbeliever caglorious wonders of the starry heavens, to villing at the doctrine of the resurrection, expatiate over the blissful regions of Ema- and triumphantly demanding, as one defying nuel's land, to drink of the pure river of the all possibility of reply, “How are the dead water of life,” to eat of the fruit of the tree raised up? and with what body do they of life, to feast on the promise of "new hea- coine?" Grasping at mere phantoms of worldvens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth ly hope, credulous as children in admitting righteousness," where there is no more death, " the unreal mockery" of a heated imaginawhere the curse is not known, where Godtion, men doubt and disbelieve only when

the God of truth speaks; they are careless, then, that limited faculties are lost in the in only where their spiritual and everlasting vestigation of that which is greatest ? Car interests are concerned : they reject that the clown tell how the handful of “bare which reason and religion concur to prove, grain” which he scattered along the surface which the constitution and frame of nature, of the ground, has been transformed into a in her unceasing reproductions, stamp with multitude of stately, fair and fragrant plants ? striking marks of probability, and which a No, and neither can the philosopher. But revelation from heaven has rendered infalli- the simplest clown is a philosopher too enble. The objection of infidelity proceeds on lightened to doubt, or to disbelieve what the supposition that there is nothing apparent uniform observation and experience have in the system of the universe which is ana-confirmed to him. He is too wise to suspend logous to the resurrection of the body; that the operations of his useful and necessary it is inconsistent with all knowledge and ex- art, till he has discovered the how and the perience. The apostle goes on to demon- wherefore of it. Can the philosopher then strate that this change, wonderful as it is, arrogate to himself the praise of wisdom, has its counterpart in nature, and is perfectly who refuses the information, and denies himconsistent with appearances which fall every self the consolations of Christianity, because day under every man's observation, and he cannot penetrate into every mystery, rewhich are level to every human capacity. solve every difficulty, and dispel all the obHe refers the infidel to the universally known scurity which it presents ? What one art or and understood progress of vegetation, which science has been carried to its highest posis a constant representation of death and the sible perfection? Do men therefore neglect resurrection, of corruptibility and incorruption. to avail themselves of the progress which One of the most obvious and ordinary opera- has been made in science? And shall the tions in husbandry das'y presents the image most profound of all sciences, but which has, of this great mystery o godliness. The seed, of all others, been most successfully investiO man, which thou castest into the ground, gated, whose discoveries are far more in is surrendered to loss, to putrefaction, to number, and in their nature infinitely more death. It disappears, it seems for ever gone, important than all the rest, be laughed to its form and substance, all, all is dissolved. scorn, be despised and rejected, because it No, sir, it dies but to be quickened. Indeed presents “some things hard to be underit could not have been quickened, unless it stood,” because some of its grander discovehad died. What dropped into the earth, a ries are reserved to a future exhibition, besingle, solitary grain, springs up out of it, cause there are “times and seasons," interincreased thirty, sixty, a hundredfold. Had positions, relations, and dependencies which the little seed never known corruption, the Father hath put in his own power.” where would have been that goodly tree Again, “God," it is said, “giveth to every laden with golden fruit? It fell naked into seed his own body."

“ Thou fool," argues the ground, it rises thence clothed with a St. Paul, “that which thou sowest is not new, verdant, transparent covering. It every quickened except it die. And that which day unfolds some latent beauty, it assumes a thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that more majestic form, it expands an unknown shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of ,excellence. Its temporary destruction is its wheat, or of some other grain: but God perennial establishment.

giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and “So also is the resurrection of the dead." | to every seed his own body.” This implies, The body was emaciated by disease, it with that the change produced by the resurrection ered by reason of age, it was lost in the grave, is not arbitrary or contingent, but established it became a mass of corruption. But does it by a certain law, conformably to the nature follow that it shall remain for ever a prey to and qualities of each distinct species. What corruption ? Does it follow, that it shall rise was wheat, continues to be wheat, after it again with the selfsame qualities which it has risen again. What was any other kind formerly possessed? No, it is the glory of of grain, when cast into the earth, rises up God not to raise up again weakness, mor- that selfsame kind of grain, and no other. tality, corruption, but out of weakness to The individual substance is indeed changed, raise power, to clothe corruption with incor- but the essential properties, the specific and ruption, to swallow up mortality of life. But distinguishing qualities remain. The same how is this done? I cannot tell

. O man, vital principle animates it in every state ; " thou knowest not what is the way of the when it sprung up in the germ of the parent spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the seed; when it became naked, dry grain, womb of her that is with child: even so when it lay buried under the clod; when it thou knowest not the works of God who mouldered away and died, and when it start. maketh all." Who is able to trace and to ed up again in all the vigour and freshness describe the common process of vegetable of a new life. Doth not man, in like manner, nature? Where is the man that presumes to in his body, in his mind, in his condition, unexplain that which is least ? Is it any wonder, I dergo revolutions equally obvious, equally

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »