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On this ground they urged them to repentance ; asserting always before them, that he had risen from the dead. Clear and unanswerable evidence, as I have already remarked, is necessary to convince the most candid man of so wonderful an event. But to convince Jews, that the man whom they had hated and crucified, was risen from the dead-Jews, so opposed to his character, mission, and doctrines-Jews, who in admitting his resurrection, acknowledged themselves to have sinned in a manner unparalleled-demanded singular evidence. Yet three thousand of these Jews believed the apostles' declaration of this fact on the day of Pentecost, fifty days only after the crucifixion. Within a few days more, five thousand others adopted the same belief, and soon afterward very great multitudes.

The evidence of their faith is complete. All these men publicly professed it, and, in spite of their former prejudices and their furious hatred, submitted themselves to Christ, as the Messiah. This crucified man they acknowledged in that glorious character, and yielded themselves to him as the Son of God. Judaism, to which they had been attached with such bigotry, they now publicly renounced ; and gave up their ceremonjous worship, their sabbath, temple, priests, and sacraments; adopting in their stead the Christian worship, sabbath, and sacraments; submitting themselves to the ministers of the Gospel ; and embracing a new life, a life of real holiness, to them in the highest degree self-denying and difficult. A great number of them also sold their possessions, and distributed the avails of them in mere charity to their Christian brethren. Beyond this, these converts voluntarily forsook their friends, their interests, and their hopes, and underwent a series of dreadful sufferings, terminating not upfrequently in a violent death.

To persuade men to renounce their religion, especially bigoted men, and to exchange a sinful life for a virtuous one, is undoubtedly as hard a task as was ever assigned to the human mind; especially when that religion contravenes all the selfishness of man. Jews now exist in great numbers, and have existed ever since the crucifixion of Christ. They hold the same character, and the same religion. Christianity, the religion to which they are to be converted, is also the same. But more Jews were made converts to the religion of Christ




by these two sermons of St. Peter, than have embraced it within the last sixteen hundred years. It is therefore certain, that the apostles possessed advantages for this end, which their followers have not possessed ; and these advantages independently of miracles, consisted, in a great measure at least, in the peculiar circumstances of their hearers. They knew and remembered the life, preaching, and miracles of Christ, and the wonderful events which attended his death. These, as is obvious from the declaration of St. Luke, greatly affected their minds. And all the people,' says the Evangelist, ‘ that came together to that sight, beholding the things that were done, smote their breasts, and returned.' The guards, also, went into the city, and told the story of the descent of the -angel,' who' rolled away the stone from the sepulchre,' the awful circumstances by which he was attended, and the resurrection of Christ. * When to these things were added the miraculous events of the day of Pentecost, and the marvellous cure of the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple, these Jews yielded up their prejudices, and submitted to truths which they could no longer resist. The facts here specified were, in the hands of the Spirit of grace, the means by which such multitudes of enemies were converted to the faith of the Gospel.

3. The sanhedrim believed the resurrection of Christ.

In the Acts iv, we are informed, that the sanhedrim had the apostles brought before them for preaching in the name of Christ the doctrines of Christianity, and for affirming that Christ was risen from the dead. Had they believed that the apostles stole away the body of Christ, they would now certainly have charged them with this gross fraud, this direct rebellion against the Roman and Jewish government; and, unless they could have cleared themselves of the crime, would have punished them for it with at least due severity. Such punishment would not only have been just, but it had now become necessary for the sanhedrim to inflict it, in order to save their own reputation. They had originated the story, and were now under the strongest inducements to support it. Yet they did not even mention the subject; but contented themselves with commanding them to preach no more in the name of Christ.

. Matthew xxviii. 11.



In Acts v. we are told, that the whole body of the apostles were brought before them again, for continuing to preach in opposition to this command. On this occasion also they kept a profound silence concerning the theft, which they had origi nally attributed to the apostles; but charged them with disobedience to their former injunctions. In this charge are contained the following remarkable words : Did we not straitly command you, that ye should not teach in his name? and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.' To bring the blood of one person upon another, is phraseology frequently used in the Bible. In fifteen* differont instances in which we find it there, it has but a single meaning ; viz. to bring the guilt of contributing to the death of a person, or the guilt of murder, upon another person. When it is said, His blood shall be upon his own head;' it is clearly intended, that the guilt of his death shall be upon himself. When, therefore, the sanhedrim accuse the apostles of attempting to bring the blood of Christ upon them, they accuse them of an intention to bring upon them the guilt of shedding his blood ; this being the only meaning of such phraseology in the Scriptures.

Should any doubt remain in the mind of any man concerning this interpretation, it may be settled, I think, beyond all question, by recurring to another passage, to which hitherto I have not alluded. In Matthew xxvii. 24, 25, we are told, that when · Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing' towards releasing Christ, he took wator, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person ; see yo to it:' and that then all the people answered, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. The meaning of the phraseology in this passage cannot be mistaken ; and it is altogether probable that the declaration of the sanbedrim being made so soon after this imprecation, to the apostles, so deeply interested in the subject, and on an occasion which so naturally called it up to view, the sanhedrim referred to it directly.

But if Christ was not raised from the dead, he was a falso

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* Lev. xx. 9, 11, 13, 16, 27; Deut. xix. 10; xxii. 8: 2 Sam, i. 16; xvi. 8: 1 Kings ii. 37: Jer. li. 35: Ezek. xviii. 13: xxxiii, 5: Matt. xxiii. 35; Acts xvii. 6.

prophet, an impostor, and, of course, a blasphemer; because he asserted himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Such a blasphemer the law of God condemned to death. The sanhedrim were the very persons to whom the business of trying and condemning him was committed by that law, and whose duty it was to accomplish his death. If, therefore, bis body was not raised from the dead, there was no guilt in shedding his blood, but the mere performance of a plain duty. His blood, that is, the guilt of shedding it, could not possibly rest on the sanbedrim, nor, to use their language, be brought upon them by the apostles, nor by any others. All this the sanhedrim perfectly knew; and therefore, had they not believed him to have risen from the dead, they could never have used this phraseology.

It is farther to be observed, that on both these occasions the apostles boldly declared to the sanhedrim, in the most explicit terms, that Christ was raised from the dead; yet the sanhedrim not only did not charge them with the crime of having stolen his body, but did not contradict, nor even comment on, the declaration. This could not possibly have happened through inattention. Both the sanhedrim and the apostles completely knew, that the resurrection of Christ was the point on which his cause, and their opposition to it, entirely turned. It was the great and serious controversy between the contending parties; and yet, though directly asserted to their faces by the apostles, the sanhedrim did not even utter a syllable on the subject.

Had they believed their own story, they would either bave punished the apostles with death, as rebels against the Jewish and Roman governments, or confined them as lunatics in a bedlam.

IV. Christ was raised from the dead, because the apostles converted mankind to his religion.

The Apostles, from the beginning to the end, published the story of Christ's resurrection as the proof of his mission, and doctrines; and as the foundation on which rested their own commission, and the truth of the religion which they taught. To prove the reality of his resurrection, they publicly declared that he had invested them with the power of working miracles on all occasions, and openly asserted that they were possessed of this power. Here, then, the cause was fairly at issue between them and mankind. If they wrought miracles in proof of this story, the story was true of course; because, as I observed in a preceding Discourse, pone but God can work a miracle; and God cannot support a falsehood.

That this was the real profession of the apostles is unitedly testified, without one dissenting voice, by all antiquity; heathen, Jewish, and Christian. It is, therefore, certainly true.

If the apostles, after having made this profession, did not work miracles, they were convicted of falsehood in a moment. Their cause fell at once; for they had rested it wholly on this single fact. The weakest man would see, at a glance, that they were cheats and liars, and could never place the least confidence in any of their declarations. They could not, therefore, have made a single convert.

But they did convert a great part of the civilized, and not a small part of the savage world. They, therefore, certainly wrought miracles in the manner which they professed, as proof of the reality of Christ's resurrection. The resurrection of Christ was of course real. God set to it his own seal, and placed it beyond every reasonable doubt.

That the apostles wrought miracles in great numbers, is completely proved also by the united testimony of heathen, Jews, and Christians. All these classes of men were deeply interested to deny this fact, if it could with any pretence be denied. The heathen and Jews would certainly have denied it; because they wished to prevent, as far as possible, other heathen and other Jews from embracing Christianity; and because, if they could have supported the denial, they would have stopped the growth of that religion in its infancy. Christians would have denied it; that is, such as became Christians in consequence of a belief in these miracles under any illusion which could have been practised on them, because they would certainly have detected the cheat, and must have strongly resented the villany, by which it bad been played off upon themselves. I say these things, admitting the supposition that the imposture might succeed for a time; but, to my own view, such success must plainly have been impossible.

All these persons have, however, agreed in asserting that the apostles wrought miracles. The Jews and heathen attributed them to magic. Christians, under the influence of

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