Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

author of the doctrine to an absurdity. This afforded our Lord an opportunity of shewing that the doctrine in dispute was actually an article in their own creed, as being the disciples of Moses. Thus it runs through the whole of divine Revelation. The fathers beyond the flood lived and died in this faith. The dust of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob thus rested and rests in hope. It is indeed more clearly stated under the Gospel dispensation, and the ground of it is more fully demonstrated, that is, the dawning light of the morning gradually brightened into the perfect day.

"In three days I will raise it up." This is an explicit declaration of his own inherent Deity, for God. alone has the right and the power over life and death. An angel may be the delegated instrument in executing the sentence of divine justice by taking away life; as in the case of the first born of Egypt, of those who fell by the pestilence, to the number of seventy thousand, for the offence of David in numbering the people, and of the hundred, fourscore and five thousand smitten in one night, in the camp of the Assyrians. But we no where find the power of quickening the dead delegated to a created being. Man has the desperate power of destroying his own body, but there it ends, and the disembodied spirit ceases from all power to repair the awful violence which it has committed. Man cannot by a mere act of his will even lay down his life, any more than he can reanimate the breathless clay. It is the incommunicable prerogative of him who has life in himself to dispose of it at pleasure. This prerogative Jesus Christ claims and exercises. "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." In the case of his own death, it was an act of sovereign, almighty power. "Jesus said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost," while as yet the principle of natural life was strong within him, thus demonstrating that his assertion concerning himself was founded in

truth: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." And on this power over his own life, he founds his right of dispensing life and death to others. "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life and I will raise him up at the last day." Whether therefore it is said that "Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father," or that he himself raised up the temple of his body, one and the same source of life, one controlling, irresistible will, and one supreme, efficient power are displayed.

"Then said the Jews, forty and six years was this temple in building and wilt thou rear it up in three days? It has been already shewn that this was a wilful misapprehension: and it exhibits a humiliating view of the power of prejudice. Something may be made of a stupid child, if he be disposed to exert the poor faculties which he possesses, but obstinacy sets discipline at defiance. It is possible to assist weak eyes, but what can be done for the man who wilfully shuts them, or who madly plucks them out? To enter, with commentators, into discussion respecting the period of the temple's rebuilding, is foreign to our purpose. What is it to us how long time was employed in the work, by what prince or princes it was carried on, and what was its comparative magnificence, with relation to the first temple, and to other structures of a similar kind? But it is of high importance to know, that the prediction of Christ concerning it, already quoted, was exactly fulfilled, about forty years afterward: when Jerusalem was besieged and taken by the Emperor

Titus, was pillaged and burnt, the temple completely destroyed, upwards of one million and one hundred thousand of the Jews destroyed by famine and the sword, ninety-seven thousand taken prisoners, the whole nation expatriated and dispersed, and that the state of the temple from the year of Christ seventy, down to the present, eighteen hundred and two, and of this scattered, degraded, yet providentially supported and distinguished people, at this day, are a standing evidence of the truth and certainty of the things wherein we have been instructed. He is faithful and true who promises and who threatens. "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it, depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away.

""

"When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered. that he had said this unto them." Words as they are spoken, and events as they pass, frequently make a slight impression, but when recalled and fixed by some striking correspondent circumstances, they rush on the mind like a torrent, and we wonder at our own preceding carelessness and VOL. IV.

2 M

inattention. Had the disciples been men quick of apprehension, and of easy belief, the fabrication of a cunningly devised fable might have been suspected: but they were persons of a simplicity of character that sometimes bordered on stupidity; they were "slow of heart to believe;" they often misunderstood their master; they were of all mankind the most unfit to plan and support imposture. When Jesus spake of destroying and of raising up again the temple of his body, the Jews wilfully perverted his meaning, and his disciples seem hardly to have marked his words. The greatest of miracles must be performed to subdue the incredulity of the one, and to rouse the attention of the other. In both we contemplate the wrath and the weakness of man ministering to the glory of God. It was meet that the mouth of malignity should be stopped, and that the truth as it is in Jesus should be taught to the world by men whose own ignorance had been instructed, whose doubts had been removed, whose faith had been established. "We still have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

The resurrection of Christ from the dead, therefore, so clearly predicted, and so exactly accomplished, supplies the christian world, in every age, with the firmest basis of faith, and with the purest source of hope and joy. The apostle of the Gentiles, once the most violent opposer of the fact, and of the doctrine founded upon it, thus collects the evidence: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of

all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." Paul's reasoning upon the subject is conclusive and satisfactory; it meets the human heart in all its desires and expectations. We resign ourselves to the stroke of death with composure. We bury our dead out of our sight, without bidding them a final farewell, because "the flesh also shall rest in hope." "For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorrup tion, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.

""

The importance of this doctrine, in the scale of christianity, will warrant our following up the article of our Lord's history which we have been reviewing, to its more remote effects and consequences. This will accordingly form the substance of the following lecture

This passover afforded occasion of working various other public miracles, which are not enumerated in the sacred record, but which attracted attention and produced conviction in the minds of many who saw and heard him. He was now at the metropolis of the country, and at the season of universal resort to Jeru salem. Of the multitudes who flocked thither to celebrate the feast of passover, very many must have been in the habit of searching the Scriptures, and were, with Simeon, "waiting for the consolation of Israel," and with Anna the prophetess, "looking for redemption in Jerusalem." Persons of this description must have been forcibly impressed with the personal appearance of Jesus Christ, with the singularity of his manner and address, with the gravity and dig. nity of his deportment, with the authority which he exercised in teaching and reproving. His zeal in the

« ForrigeFortsæt »