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houses, which were written by different authors very near the time that Jesus Christ suffered death, which all agree in proof of the fact of the resurrection of Christ. The four Evangelists were written as histories of the life, preaching, miracles, persecutions, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Acts of the Apostles contains a history, founded on the fact of the resurrection, of the preaching, travels, miracles and persecutions of the Apostles who published abroad to the world the Gospel of Christ. Those books were, in very early times, translated into different languages, have ever been considered, since they were written, as containing a just and faithful account of the facts which they relate, they have been written and commented on by a vast number of authors in every century since, and are quoted as undoubted authority by more authors than any other books in the world. These books also contain an account of the insti. tutions of certain ordinances which have been practised from the time of their institution until now, and the Gospel according to those authors, is believed by many nations, of many languages, (that is the Gospel is believed to be divine.) The sacrament of the Lord's supper is a standing evidence of the truth of the thing of which it was instituted as a celebration. Besides those books there are a number of epistles, written by the Apostles of Jesus Christ, which in a very masterly manner set forth the doctrine of the Gospel, founded on the fact of the resurrection, which contains the purest religion ever propagated among men, teaching mankind to deny every species of ungodliness and all hurtful lusts, to live sober, Godly lives, to exercise love and charity towards all mankind, not excepting our enemies. This religion teaches us the will and purpose of our Creator in cleansing the world from all sin and of delivering it from all consequent evil, and finally of perfecting its most bittter enemies, in a divine knowledge of its principles and in reconciliation to holiness.
There are likewise the writings of Moses, which are the most ancient in the world, which bear the marks of credibility, the writings of Hebrew historians and Prophets which all agree in directing our minds to the person, ministry and offices of Jesus Christ. These writings are kept in the hands of the Jews, who accordingly as those Prophets foretold, rejected their expected Messiah,
and have ever held Moses as their prophet, in expectation that God would send them another leader. These books having been kept and held sacred by the Jews, is present positive proof that they were not written by Christians, since the Chris6th. The hope of life and immortality inspired by the Gospel is one of the greatest blessings, and in fact the greatest, with which our race of beings have been favoured. There is not a sincere believer in the gospel in the world, but would be willing to part with every other enjoyment in this world, rather than to part with this. The most wretched, poor, miserable, despised of all mankind, speaking in relation to what we call earthly things and circumstances, will break out in songs of joy and gladness, with praise and thanksgiving to God, the moment they release the hope of the gospel. It appears reasonable to conclude that a fact on which such a glorious fabric is built must be something more than a mere fraud.
It is sometimes said, though it cannot with propriety be stated as an objection to the resurrection, that the thing is incomprehensible and therefore is not entitled to belief. But this is reasoning as much to the expence of every principle in natural philosophy, as to those of the gospel, or even the particular of the resurrection. There is nothing of which we have a perfect comprehension of all its relations. We cannot comprehend how man first came into being, yet we are capable of demon-' strating to our understandings, by the the order of propagating our species, that there must have existed a man and a woman who had not a natural farher and mother as we all have. know to our full satisfaction, that there never was a house built of timber, brick or stone, but of such timber which was once growing in the tree, before it was converted into a house ; or of such brick as was formed of clay or earth before it was converted into a building; or of such stone which lay in its natural quarry before it was erected into an edifice by art. As well as we know these self evident facts, so well we know there was a time when there were no such buildings on earth.
By such refutations our minds are carried back to events which are as mysterious to us as the resurrection of Christ or of any other deceased person. Therefore the incomprehensibility of a thing stated to be true, is no argument that it is not true.
The foregoing observations in regard to the evidences which the Apostles had, and we at this day are in possession of by which we belive in Christ, are by no means considered as a formal dissertation on a subject of such magnitude but they are here inserted only as a few of the numerous arguments in favour of the fact of which an opinion was to be illustrated from the scriptures. And this, though not contemplated at the be
ginning of this subject, was thought proper to accompany the illustration, which we will now pursue a little further, The whole of the 15th chapter in Paul's 1st Epistle to the Corinthians seems to have been designed to confirm and establish the Corithians in the belief of the resurrection. He first states the truth of the gospel which he had before preached to them, which they had received and wherein they stood, and by which they were saved unless they had belived in vain. He then reminds them of the manner in which he began to preach among them. “ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was burried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.” Note, the scriptures to which the Apostle here alludes, must be those of Moses and the Prophets, as the scriptures of the New Testament were not at that time compiled into a book. He goes on, " 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.” Here St. Paul gave his enemies as fair an opportunity to detect him, as was possible, admitting Christ did not rise from the dead. No body but a mad man would make such a statement knowing it to be false. He still goes on.
“ 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."
He then states the low opinion which he entertained of himself on account of having persecuted the church of God, and then proceeds to reprove some among them for saying that there was no resurrection of the dead.
In this reproof he writes this remarkable passage, “ But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God : because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ; whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” This passage fully accords with what has been before stated, that the resurrection of Christ Jesus is a fact on which the truth of the Gospel rests. It shows also that the Apostle was not only sensible that he was acting the part of a false witness on the supposition that Christ was not risen from the dead, but that he was ready and willing to be put to the test of his honesty and veracity, as an evidence, or a witness in this case. He had just before, as has been noticed, informed the Corinthians that Christ was seen of more than five hundred brethren at once, after his resurrection, of which number of witnesses the greater part were then alive. But it is worthy of observation that the truth of the resurrection did not, by any means, wholly depend on the testimony of those who were eye witnesses of the fact, for its
support and confirmation in the minds of others, for if that had been the case the people must have had to depend on human testimony, but it is evident that this was not the case. At Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to a multitude of people the resurrection of Christ, and adduced the testimony of David, in whom the Jews put great confidence, to show that the resurrection is the fulfilment of his prophecy ; but there was such an additional manifestation of divine agency on that occasion, that no mention was made of the veracity of Peter, but those who'heard, being Jews devout men out of every nation under heaven, marvelled that they heard every man in his own tongue wherein he was born. The happy result of this day's preaching was the addition of about three thousand believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to the Church.
This first of miracles, wrought for the purpose of accompanying the testimony of the Apostles with divine evidence of the resurrection, is here noticed that the reader may, from this instance, trace the wonderful works of God which attended the Apostles ministering in confirmation of their testimony in evidence of the resurrection.
There may be queries, rather of a speculative kind, in some minds, respecting the bodies which we shall have in the coming world, and the Apostle in the 15th of Corinthians, may not be perfectly understood as to that point, but there can be no question about the ultimatum at which he directed his argument, and that, to us, is all which ought to be considered important. He shows the order of the divine economy as it is written. “ The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. The first man is of the earth, earthly, the second man is the lord from heaven. As is the earthly, such are they also shat are earthly, and is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthly we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." He likewise shows in as plain a manner as possible that this resurrection into the image of the heavenly man, would be as universal as the dearth in the earthly man.
For this purpose he speaks of Christ as the first fruits of them that slept.
“ For since by man came death, by man came also the
resurrection of thc dead. For as in Adam all die, Even so in Christ shall all be inade alive.” That this Apostle believed that there is immediate enjoyment after death in the presence of Christ, seems to be shown by his words to the Philippians see chap. i. 23.
“ For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” This is evidently the greatest excellency of the gospel. It gives the soul of the believer victory over death, and presents, to the eye of faith, the blessed society of Jesus the brightness of the father's glory, pro,nising to the weary sin-sick traveller final sanctification through the blood of the everlasting covenant. With great propriety did St. Peter call this faith PRECIOUS. to call the most valuable things of this world precious, how much more shall that be called precious without which the present life is a barren wilderness, and which promises immortal life and riches in the world to come? If people in general were not blind to their own interest, would they not be daily seeking after those things which are laid up for them who love him, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift ?
If it be proper
OF THE SECOND DEATH. The second death, spoken of in several passages in revelations, has been generally understood to signify a state of never-ending misery in the coming world ; where far the greatest part of mankind will experience the pain of positive torment with every possible aggravation, as long as God exists, as a just reward for the sins they have conmitted in this life. This sentiment is supposed to be held forth and vindicated by the general tenor of scripture where it treats on the subject of puuishment for sin, or of rewarding mankind according to their works.
For some considerable time past this sentiment has been doubted, by many in this country, as it has by some perhaps in the most of Christian countries ever since the days of the Apostles. However, even among those who have been fully satisfied, from the general tenor of scripture, that the opinion of the endless misery of God's rational offspring is not a truth which the wisdom of God saw fit to incorporate in the body of divine revelation, there are many who are still so much under the influence of traditional sentiments and notions, that when they read of the second death they hardly know in what light to view it.