תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

SERM. against him. Is it credible, that persons otherwise through
XXIX. all their lives ftri&tly blameless and rigidly virtuous,

(even in the more heavenly parts of goodness, in humanity, meekness, peaceableness, humility, and patience,) should, against clearest dictates of conscience, peremptorily and perfeveringly commit so palpable villany, as to broach and propagate such an imposture; that they, all whose demeanours and discourses evidently did tend to the advancement of God's glory, and promoting goodness, should so in their hearts utterly defy God and detest goodness; or that persons in a strain incomparably folemn and serious should fo plainly teach, so strongly press, so otherwise uniformly practise highest good-will and beneficence toward all men, while they were with all their mind and might striving to gull and abuse men? Is it conceivable, that men, otherwise in all their actions fo wise and well advised, (able to manage and to perform so great matters,) should so zealousy drive on a mott vain and senseless project, with more unwearied industry labouring to maintain and disperse a lie, than any inen befide did ever strive in behalf of truth? Is it not marvellous, that men in all respects so impotent, without any arms or aids, should adventure on fo high an enterprise, should with so happy success achieve it; that naked weakness should boldly assault, and thoroughly overpower, the greatest might; pure fimplicity should contest with and baffle sharpest wit, subtlest policy, and deepest learning ; that rude speech (void of strength or ornament) should efféctually persuade an uncouth and unpleasant tale, against all the finest and strongest rhetoric in the world? Is it not strange, that a crew of vile and base persons should so inseparably be linked together with no other hands, than deceit and dishonesty; no truth, no virtue, no common interest helping to combine or contain them together? Is it to be believed, that men of sense should gratis, for no considerable end or advantage, voluntarily embrace and patiently endure all that is distasteful to human nature, freely exposing themselves, they knew not why, only for the sake of a story, to the fury of earth and

1

filames of hell; eagerly facrificing their fortunes, credits, SERM. lives, and souls themselves, to the ghost of a forlorn XXIX. wretch and infamous caitiff? is it not, in fine, prodigious, that so implausible a falsehood upon all greatest disadvantages should encounter, vanquish, and triumph over truth? These are incredibilities indeed, able to choke any man's faith : yet he that rejects this testimony must swallow and digest them, together with others like them of as hard concoction.

15. To these things we may add, that God himself did signally countenance and ratify this testimony; not only by conferring on the avowers thereof extraordinary graces, (invincible courage, irresistible wisdom, indefatigable industry, inflexible constancy and patience; admirable self-denial, meekness, charity, temperance, and all virtues in an eminent degree,) not only farther by a wonderful success and blessing bestowed upon their endeavours; but by enduing them with supernatural gifts, and enabling them to perform miraculous works openly and frequently; So that by the hands of the Apostles many Acts ii. 43. wonders and hgns were done among the people, the Lord 13: XİY: giving testimony unto the word of his grace, and granting hgns and wonders to be done by their hands; fo that with Acts iv. 33. great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all ; (that is, there was a great appearance of the divine favour toward them, and of the divine operation in and by them.) Yielding which kind of attestation was the ancient and usual method of God in authorizing his messengers, and approving the declaration of his mind by them, (the seal, as it were, put to the letters credential from heaven;) nor could God afford more convincing signs than these of his approbation to any person or design: that God did thus GUVET Iuaptupsiv attest, as the Apostle to the Hebrews speak- Heb. ii. 4. eth, together with these witnesses, if the apostolical history (bearing in it all the characters of a simple, faithful, and upright narration) did not relate; yet the effect of this testimony, so speedily and easily prevailing every where, would render it-highly probable, since in likelihood, no

SERM. human endeavour, without divine assistance, could accomXXIX. plish a business so great and difficult: if they did no mi

racles, ToŰTO MÉXIotov onuežov, this, as St. Chrysostom says, was the greatest miracle that could be, that such a testimony should without any miracle prevail 8.

16. Now for conclufion, all these things being considered, it is sufficiently apparent, that this testimony is above all exception; that no matter of fact ever had, or well could have in any confiderable refpeét, a more valid. and certain proof: the greatest affairs in the world (concerning the rights and reputations, the estates and the lives of men) are decided by testimonies in all regards less weighty; fo' that to refuse it, is in effect to decline all proof by teftimony, to renounce all certainty in human affairs, to remove the grounds of proceeding securely in any business, or administration of justice; to impeach all history of fabulousness, to charge all mankind with insufficiency, or extreme infidelity; (for if these persons were not able, or not honest enough, what men can ever be supposed fuch; who can by greater arguments assure their ability, or their integrity in reporting any thing?) to thrust God himself away from bearing credible attestation in any case ; (for in what cafe did he ever or can he be conceived to yield an attestation more full or plain, than he did in this ? what farther can he perform needful to convince men endued with any competency of reason and ingenuity, or to distinguish them from men of contrary disposition, unreasonably and unworthily incredulous ?) in fine, to distrust this teftimony is therefore in effect to embrace the vanity of the most wanton or wicke sceptic.

The use of all is in short this, that we fhould heartily thank God for so clear and strong an affurance of the truth of our faith; that we therefore firmly embrace it,

Heb. X. 23. iv. 14,

8 'Αμήχανον γαρ ανθρωπίνην ισχύν δυνηθήναι τοσαύτα ποτέ. Chry/. Αδ. 1. 3. Vid. in i Cor. Or. v.

Si per Apoftolos - ifta miracula facta effe non credunt, hoc nobis unum grande miraculum eft, quod ea terrarum orbis fine ullis miraculis credidit. Aug. de Civ. D. xxii. 5.

and steadily perfevere therein; that we obey it, and bear SERM.

XXIX. fruits worthy thereof in our practice ; that so doing we may obtain the blissful rewards which upon those terms it propoundeth and promiseth; that we may all so do, God of his mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom for ever be all glory and praise.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead Heb. xiii. our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us that which is wellpleañng in his hght, through Jesus Christ ; to whom lie glory for ever and ever. Amen.

20, 21,

The third day he rose again, &c.

SERMON XXX.

LUKE xxiv. 46.

And he said unto them, Thus it is written; and thus it

behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the

Third day. SERM. THE words of men leaving this world (as proceeding XXX.

from a depth of serious concernedness, and influenced by a special providence) are usually attended with great regard, and a kind of veneration : these are fuch, even the words of our departing Lord: the which therefore deserve and demand our best confideration.

They respect two points of grand importance, the paffion and the resurrection of our Lord; of which I shall only now consider the latter, as being most agreeable to the present season: and whereas there be divers particulars observable in them, I shall confine my discourse to one, being the main point; couched in those words, thus it behoved; which import the needfulness and expediency of our Lord's resurrection : of which I shall endeavour first to declare the truth, then to shew the usefulness, by a practical application thereof.

The resurrection of our Lord may appear to have been needful and expedient, upon several good accounts.

1. It was needful to illustrate the veracity, wisdom, and providence of God, by making good what he had signified in the ancient Scriptures concerning it; either in

« הקודםהמשך »