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by forging the story, that their Master, who had been cruci fied as a malefactor, had risen from the dead. His body, which was guarded in the sepulchre by his implacable encmies, would have been produced, and confounded their plans. They were ignorant and despised, incapable of contriving this forgery, destitute of the means of supporting it; and the simplicity, sincerity, modesty, and candour which are apparent in their writings, are wholly inconsistent with the character of impostors.
Q. Did not the apostles maintain their testimony with the sacrifice of worldly interest, through suffering, persecution, and even death itself?
A. The apostles maintained their testimony to the resur rection of Christ, with the sacrifice of worldly interest, through suffering, persecution, and even death itself. Fanatics and enthusiasts have encountered the most severe sufferings in defence of the errors of a heated imagination; but there never was an instance of men encountering persecution and death in defence of any fact which they knew to be false, and which they could have no interest in maintaining. It is absolutely contrary to reason and common sense to suppose, that the timid and doubting apostles would have asserted the fact of their Master's resurrection when they knew it to be false, and would have maintained their testimony through suffering, persecution, and even death itself; when, by renouncing the false assertion, they would have secured wealth, prosperity, and honour.
Q. Did not the apostles seal their testimony to the truth of the resurrection, by the exercise of miraculous powers?
A. The apostles, as witnesses of the resurrection, sealed their testimony by the exercise of miraculous powers, by which they established the Gospel throughout the earth, in opposition to the pride, the prejudices, and the passions of mankind. The unanimous voice of history attests the fact, that, in the short space of thirty years, the apostles had converted all the world to the belief of the fact, that Jesus, who had been crucified, had risen from the dead; and it is certainly absolutely impossible that the disciples, simple, ignorant, despised fishermen, without learning, power, or respect, could have thus established, by the mere force of ingenuity and cunning, a Gospel that combated the inveterate prejudices of the Jews, the pride and vain learning of philosophers, the idolatry, superstition, and lust of the heathen world. Sensual pleasures and conquest were the means by
which the famous impostor of the East established his religion; but the humiliating, holy, and self-denying religion of Jesus, could have been raised triumphant on the ruins of the kingdom of sin and Satan, only by the arm and power of the Most High.
Q. Why did not Christ show himself openly, after his resurrection, to all the people?
A. The resurrection of Christ is attested in such a manner as should satisfy any reasonable and unprejudiced person. If it is conceived necessary that he should have shown himself to the whole city of Jerusalem, for the same reason it might be fancied necessary that he should have appeared co the whole Jewish nation, and to the whole world in all succeeding ages. It was the design of God to afford such evidences of the resurrection as would be sufficient to satisfy every sincere and unbiassed mind; and it could not be expected that he would gratify the unreasonable demands of those who wilfully resisted evidence, clear and satisfactory to every impartial inquirer.
Q. What were the effects of Christ's resurrection with respect to our Lord himself?
A. By his resurrection, Christ was effectually, and in a most convincing manner, declared to be the Son of God. The blessed Jesus had always claimed this divine character; and his resurrection from the dead, by the mighty power of God, confirmed these pretensions. By his resurrection he was also declared to be the Judge of quick and dead.
Q. What are the effects of Christ's resurrection in respect to ourselves?
A. The resurrection of Christ was, on the part of God, a public declaration, that he had accepted the atonement which the Saviour made, and was ready to forgive the sins of those who repent. "Thus Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification." The resurrection of Christ also powerfully sets forth, and enforces the duty of our rising from the death of sin unto a life of righteousness. "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a pledge and assurance of the immortality of the soul, and of the resurrection of the bodies of men. "God hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the
x Rom. i. 4. y Acts x. 40, 42.
dead." "b "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.'
Q. Does not reason render probable the immortality of the soul?
A. Though reason cannot establish the certainty of the immortality of the soul, it furnishes us with many arguments that render this immortality probable. Thought and reflection, the power of choosing and refusing, are attributes which are wholly repugnant to matter; and therefore must be ascribed to some spiritual principle, not subject, like matter, to decay and corruption. Mankind have, in all ages and nations, cherished the belief of the soul's immortality; and this universal consent is a proof that this doctrine is entirely agreeable to the natural dictates of our minds, and must be derived from the Author of nature. God is a being of infinite goodness, and it is contrary to his goodness to suppose, that he has created the soul of man with powers and desires which render him capable of immortality, and which eagerly aspire after it, and yet has confined the existence of the soul only to the present life. The justice of God can only be vindicated by a future state of rewards and punishments, in which the unequal dispensations of the present life will be done away, and the righteous and the wicked rewarded and punished according to their respective deserts. The hopes of the righteous, and the apprehensions of the wicked, can only be accounted for on the supposition, that there is an immortal state after death, to which, by the constitution of human nature, the hopes and fears of man-> kind are directed. But though these arguments lead to the probability of a future state, it is the Gospel alone which has "brought life and immortality to light," and established the immortality of the soul on the authority of an express revelation from God.
Q. What evidence did the ancient patriarchs and Jews possess of a future state?
A. The account which Moses gave of the soul of man, that it was of divine original, and made after the image of God, would lead to the belief of its immortality. The patriarchs, it appears, all lived as "6 strangers and sojourners upon earth, looking for a city which hath foundations, whose
builder and maker is God." The whole economy of the Jewish worship was typical of greater and better things; "the law having a shadow of good things to come."d
Q. What assurance does the Gospel afford of the immortality of the soul?
A. The immortality of the soul lies at the foundation of the Christian revelation: "Life and immortality are brought to light through the Gospel." "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 338 God will" reward every man according to his works." The "wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal."h
Q. What effect should the belief of the immortality of the soul have upon us?
A. The belief of a future state, in which everlasting happiness or everlasting misery will be our destiny, should make us prefer the interest of our souls before all the advantages of the present life; and should make us ready and willing to part with every thing most dear to us in this world, to secure our eternal welfare. "For what will it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" It should excite us earnestly and diligently to seek to establish in our souls those holy graces and virtues, which only can prepare us for immortal happiness; and carefully to avoid all sin, which is destructive both to our future hopes and to our present quiet. The belief of an immortal life should wean us from the love of this world, which cannot satisfy the desires of our immortal souls; and should support us under all the afflictions of life, which are designed to "work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Especially, it should comfort us at the approach of death; because we know that "our Saviour Jesus Christ hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel."
Q. What are we to believe concerning the resurrection of the body?
A. We are to believe, that as it is appointed unto all men once to die, so it is also determined that all men shall rise from death; that their bodies, committed to the grave, and dissolved into dust, shall, at the last day, be restored, and be 1 reunited to their souls; that the same bodies which lived
f John iii. 16.
d Heb. x. 1.
e 2 Tim. i. 10.
h Matt. xxv. 46.
before, shall be revived; that this resurrection shall be universal-the just to enjoy everlasting life, and the wicked to be condemned to everlasting punishment.
Q. What argument serves to prove that the resurrection of the body is not impossible?
A. The resurrection of the body is not impossible; for with God, who is infinite in knowledge and in power, 66 nothing is impossible." When there was no man, God made him of the earth; and, therefore, when he returns to earth, the same God can make him man again.
Q. Does not reason lead us to consider the resurrection of the body as highly probable?
A. It is highly reasonable to suppose, that as the body has been partaker with the soul in her good or bad actions, so it will be raised, to share with her the rewards or punishments of a future life. The body would not have been formed to be the companion of the soul only for the short period of the present life. Nature also bears testimony to a resurrection. The day which had sunk into darkness, rises again from the dead of night; the summer springs forth from the grave of winter; and every seed cast into the earth, corrupts, and then revives and multiplies. The deductions of reason, therefore, render highly probable the resurrection of the body; but the certainty of this doctrine can only be deduced from divine revelation.
Q. Is the doctrine of the resurrection of the body revealed in the Old Testament?
A. The declaration of Job-" I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God," &c.; the assurance in the prophet Isaiah, (chap. xxvi. 19.) " Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; the earth shall cast out the dead;" and the assurance in the prophet Daniel, "that many of them who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt;"j evidently refer to a resurrection of the dead. The declaration of God to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,"k is considered by our Saviour as a proof that God would not permit his servants to remain for ever under the dominion of death, but would raise them to life again; for "God is
i Job xix. 25, 26
j Dan. xii. 2.
k Exod. iii. 6.