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is the representation of friends, of those who were interested in asserting the reality of a resurrection; but that there is probably another story told by the opposite party, by the Jews and the Romans, which may set the matter in a very different point of view; and that before we can judge fairly of the question, we must hear what these have to say upon it as well as the evangelists. This is certainly very proper and reasonable. There is, we acknowledge, another account given by the Jews respecting the resurrection of Christ; and to shew the perfect fairness and impartiality of the sacred historians, and how little they wish to shrink from the severest investigation of the truth, they themselves tell us what this opposite story was. In the 11th verse of this chapter St. Matthew informs us, “ that as the women were going to tell the disciples that Jesus was risen, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we
slept. slept. "And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you, So they took the money, and did as they were taught. And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews unto this day.” .
This then is the statement of our adversaries, produced in opposition to that of the evangelists, which the latter simply relate without any observation upon it, without condescending to make the slightest answer to it, but leaving every man to judge of it for himself. And this indeed they might safely do; for it is a fabrication too gross and too palpable to impose on any man of common sense. If any person can bring himself to believe that sixty Roman soldiers should be all sleeping at the same time on guard; that they should be able to tell what was done in their sleep; that they should have the boldness to confess that they slept upon their post, when they knew the punishment of such an offence to be death; and that the disciples should be so devoid of all common sense as to steal away a dead body, which could not be of the smallest use to them, and instead of propt! ing a resurrection, was a standing proof against swabs3
it; if any man, I say, can prevail on himself to listen fora moment to such absurdities as these, he may then give credit to the tale of the sol diers; but otherwise must treat it, as it truly deserves, with the most sovereign contempt.
This senseless forgery then being set aside, and the body of Jesus being gone, and yet never having been produced by the Jews or Romans, there remains only the alternative of a real resurrection.
But besides the positive proofs of this fact which have been here stated, there is a presumptive one of the most forcible nature, to which I have never yet seen any answer, and am of opinion that none can be given. The proof I allude to is that which is drawn from the sudden and astonishing change which took place in the language and the conduct of the apostles, immediately after the period when they affirmed that Jesus had risen from the dead. From being, as we have seen, timorous and dejected, and discouraged at the death of their Master, they suddenly became courage, ous, undaunted, and intrepid : and they boldly preached that very Jesus, whom before they, had deserted in his greatest distress. This ob
servation will apply, in some degree, to all the apostles ; but with regard to St. Peter more particularly it holds with peculiar force. ;."
One of the most prominent features in the character of St. Peter (a character most admirably pourtrayed by the evangelists) is timidity of disposition. We see it in the terror that seized him when he was walking on the sea; we see it in his deserting his divine Master when he was apprehended ; then turn-i ing back to follow him, but following at a distance; not daring to go into the council : chamber when he was examined, but ståying in the outer court with the servants; and at length, when he was challenged as one of histu disciples, denying three times with the most dreadful oaths and imprecations, that he knew any thing of him, or had the slightest cón-2 Dexion with him.
This is the point of view in which St. Peter presents himself to us just before our Lord's crucifixion. . is
Turn now to the fourth chapter of the Acts; and see what his . language then was afterJesus had actually been put to deathsafie 21577
He and John having healed the lame man whom they found sitting at the gate of the temple, were apprehended, and thrown into prison, and the next day were called upon to answer for their conduct before the high priest, and the other chief rulers of the Jews. And upon being questioned by what power and by what name they had performed this miraculous cure, Peter answered them in these resolute terms. 6 Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we be this day examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole, be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God' raised from the dead, even by him doth this: man stand before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the head of the corner, Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." And when, soon after this, Peter and John were straitly threatened, and commanded not
* Acts, iv. 8. 12.