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in their behalf, should they be in danger of punishment for sleeping on their watch, which was death by the Roman law. The guards for the sake of the bribe consented, and those Jews who resolved to disbelieve the resurrection, gave credit to their report; thus proving, that prejudiced persons will often believe the greatest inConsistencies, if they have the least tendency to confirm their own opinions. It certainly was very improbable that the disciples, who were weak ignorant men, full of the popular opinions and superstition of their countrymen, which all their Master's discourses had not eradicated, should engage in so desperate a design as to steal away the body, in opposition to the combined power of the Jews and Romans. They had no temptation to comìnit such a theft. The dead body could do them no good; or if it could have done them any, they had no hope of sacceeding in their attempt. A dead body is not to be removed. by sleight of hand; it requires many hands to move it. Besides, the stone at the mouth of the sepulchre was to be removed, which could not be done silently, or by men walking upon tiptoe to prevent discovery; so that if the guards had really been asleep, it was hardly possible but that the rolling away of the stone, moving the body, and the hurry and confusion of carrying it off, must have awakened them. But supposing the thing practicable, yet the attempt was such as the disciples, consistently with their own notions, could not undertake. They continued all their Master's lifetime to expect to see him a temporal prince; but, after he was dead, they could not expect to make a king of his lifeless corpse, if they could get it into their power.
Bishop Sherlock's Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Or, if they even expected his resurrection, they could not suppose it depended on their having his body in their own possession. And in respect to the guards, if they really were asleep, it was not possible for them to give so punctual an account of the transaction, and know that the disciples had stolen him, since they saw nobody.
We perceive then, how very inconsistent the story was which the Council put into the mouths of the soldiers. We will now consider the report which they originally made to the chief priests.
The soldiers asserted, that they guarded the sepulchre agreeably to the orders they had received, and continued quietly on their watch till the dawning of the day; when suddenly there was a great earthquake, and the stone, which the High Priests had so carefully scaled, was rolled away from the mouth of the sepulchre by a glorious Being, whose radiant appearance so dazzled their eyes, that they could behold no other ob. ject, but fell on the ground like dead men; and when they recovered a little from their consternation and terror, they fled away, not daring to remain on a spot where such prodigies had happened. This aceount is perfectly consistent with our SAVIOUR'S declaration, that he was the Son of GOD, and should rise again the third day; for though it was impossible that his disciples should steal his body away, and absurd to suppose they would attempt it, yet if he was the Son of God, it might reasonably be expected that Divine power would be exerted to break open the sepulchre, which the guards certainly could not resist.
Our LORD's prediction, that he should rise again the third day, was exactly fulfilled.
CHRIST expired on the cross about three o'clock on Friday afternoon, he lay in the grave all Saturday, and VOL. VI.
rose from the dead very early in the morning of the day following. This agrees with our usual mode of reckoning the third day, in which the first and the last are included. Our LORD lay long enough to prove the reality of his death, and revived soon enough to preserve his body from corruption; which, as it was pierced with thorns, torn with scourges, transfixed with nails, and pierced with a spear, would have been, according to the course of nature, very soon in a state of putrefaction.
JESUS APPEARS TO TWO OF HIS DISCIPLES IN THEIR WAY TO EMMAUS.
From Luke, Chap. xxiv.-John, xx.
AND behold two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that while they communed together, and reasoned, JESUS himself drew near, and went with them.
But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him.
And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk and are sad?
And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering, said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
And he said unto them, What things? And they said
unto him, concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God, and all the people.
And how the chief priests, and our rulers, delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
But we trusted that it had been he, redeemed Israel; and besides all this, day since these things were done.
which should have
to-day is the third
Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre.
And when they found not his body, they came, say. ing, 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.
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
Ought not CHRIST to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself.
And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went; and he made as though he would have gone further.
But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
And it came to pass, as he sat, at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and break, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him ; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures ?
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The two disciples mentioned in this section, had either left Jerusalem before any of the women, to whom our LORD appeared, made their report, or else had heard it imperfectly related, and only been informed, that they had seen a vision of angels, who told them that JESUS was risen from the dead. As they walked along, they debated on the subject, lamenting the death of their beloved Master; and endeavouring, by their own reason, to reconcile his sufferings with what the Prophets had foretold concerning the MESSIAH. JESUS knowing their affection for him, and their sincere desire to be acquainted with the truth, graciously vouchsafed to satisfy their doubts, but did not discover himself to them at first; and as his appearance was quite unexpected, and they were too intent on the subject of their conversation to examine his person, they did not know him. Our LORD's motive for keeping himself unknown was, that he might, before he gave them a sensible proof of his resurrection, convince them, that the Prophets had foretold all the wonderful circumstances concerning which their minds were at present so perplexed. Resides the reasons above-mentioned for their not knowing him, there might also be a supernatural cause; it is intimated by the Evangelist, that our LORD threw a mist before their corporeal eyes, that he might remove from their internal sight that strong delusion, which held them from perceiving the true import of those types and prophecies by which his sufferings, death, and resurrec