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is, confessedly, of the highest concern to them; and therefore, if the resurrection of Christ was intended to be a proper ground of faith in this respect, then the reason of the thing most obviously requires, that that resurrection should have been as publick and notorious, as evident and certain as it could possibly be, or as the nature of things would admit, that so the forementioned belief might be procured by it, and be rendered general to mankind. And, as Christ, at his crucifixion, was exposed to a multitude of spectators, who were witnesses of his death; so the nature of the thing seems to require, that upon his refurrection he should as publickly have exposed himself, and made those spectators the witnesses of his resurrection also. And, when the story was published that Christ's Disciples came by night and stole him away, the case plainly required that he should publickly have appeared, and confronted the story by his living presence among them ; and thereby have given publick satisfaction that the story was false ; not but the story itself seems greatly to exceed the bounds of credit. That the chief Priests should invent, and the soldiers publish the ridiculous story of the Disciples of Christ
stealing the dead body of their master, out of the sepulchre, whilst those soldiers Nept, seems greatly improbable ; because they could have nothing to ground a supposition upon, that the story would answer the end proposed to be obtained by it, viz, the ftifling, as it were in the birth, the knowledge of the fact of Christ's resurrection, and thercby prevent it's passing into the world; which supposition of concealing that fact, must have been the spring of action to the chief Priests in inventing, and endeavouring to propagate this story. For, as the chief Priests knew, according to their own account, Matthew xxvii. 63. that Christ had pub. lickly declared he would rise from the dead, which declaration gave occafion for sealing the stone and fetting a watch ; fo, if Christ was risen, which they were satisfied he was from the report of the soldiers, then they could expect nothing less than that he would publickly appear, and that foon, and thereby satisfy the world of his having made good the above declaration ; which publick appearance, as nothing less could be expected, so it would have rendered the story, with all it's abettors, greatly ridiculous and contemptible. I say, that nothing less than Christ's
publick appearance could have been expected by the chief Priests : And therefore, as nothing but the suppoħtion of the non-publick appearance of Christ, after his resurrection, could render this story passable, even upon the minds of the chief Priests themselves, and which it seems next to imposible they should suppose, especially considering the terrible circumstances of an earthquake, &c. that attended Christ's resurrection, according to the account given them by the soldiers; so it is much more likely that this story was not coined till after the event had Thewn that Christ made no such publick appearance at all, than that this story was made by the chief Priests, and put into the mouths of the soldiers by them, at the time when Christ was said to have risen from the dead; the former of these, I say, appears from the story itself to be much more likely, than the latter.
But farther, the publick appearance of Christ, after his resurrection, seems to have been made necesary by Chrilt himself; viz. by his publickly declaring (lupposing he made such declaration) to the people, that he would rise from the dead, by which he raised the people's expectations, and in some
measure made them parties in the cause ; and therefore, seemed in honour obliged to make good his declaration, to publick fatisfaction. Not but Christ's declaring or foretelling that he would rise from the dead, or rather the ground of such his declarations, seems to be attended with some dificulties, which render those declarations greatly improbable. The probability or improbability of any relation or fact does, from the nature of the thing, strengthen or weaken the credit of such relation, or fact. But, before I come to consider the declarations referred to, I Thall make two observations, as previous to it. First, the character Christ assumed was that of a divine messenger, one who was sent by the Deity to be a Saviour to the vicious or lost part of mankind; and accordingly, it is said of him, that he came to seek and to save that which was loft ; and that he was sent particularly to the loft sheep of the house of Ifrael. So that the most difsolute, stubborn, and faithless people of that time, or that wicked and adulterous generation, were the people Christ was particularly and specially sent to; and these were the persons he came on purpose to seek and Jave. And it was under the pretext of this
character of a spiritual Pbyhcian, that Christ justified his own conduct, in keeping company with Publicans and Sinners : “ whole (said he) have no need of the Physi
cian, but they that are fick; I came, not
to call the righteous, but finners to repen" tance.” And as Chrift affumed the character of a messenger sent from God; so, secondly, he represented his working of miracles as a proper evidence of that character; and as a proper means of conviction, to those they were wrought before. Thus, in Luke vii. when yohn the Baptist sent to Christ, to enquire whether he was the person expected, or were they to look for another ? Christ said, by way of answer to John's query, verfe22. go your way, and tell John what things you have seen and beard, how that the blind see, &c. John X. 25. The works that I do (faid Christ) in my father's name, they bear witness of me, verse 38. Tho'
Tho' ye believe not me, believe the works : that ye may know and believe that the father is in me, and I in him. These two points being premised, I observe, that in Matthew xii. 38, 39, 40. Christ is represented as expressing himself in the following words. Then certain of the Scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, master, We would see a sign from thee. But be