« הקודםהמשך »
Laxxiii.5l. a city of the Jews :
The third difficulty, respecting the time, will be discussed in the notes to the seventh section.
The fourth difficulty is local, and has arisen from want of sufficient attention to the particular structure of the holy sepuchre ; which consisted of two parts, the porch, or antichamber, a room about nine feet square, capable of holding about a dozen persons ; from which a narrow passage, not exceeding three feet in height, and two in breadth, led into the inner vault, or tomb, where the body was deposited, and which was eight feet long and seven feet wide. Matthew critically distin. guishes tápos, " the tomb," from "uvnuciov," the sepulchre in general. The other evangelists use uvñua, and uvnučiov indiscriminately (d). This difficulty will likewise be more particularly considered in the notes to the second section.
In reply, however, to all the general objections which have been made to the minor circumstances here alluded to, we may assert, with the utmost boldness and confidence, that we have abundant and every requisite evidence, to convince us of the truth and certainty of the fact, of the resurrection of the body of Christ. It would be impossible to enumerate the many writers who have illustrated this subject, and demonstrated the certainty of the fact. The last(e) who has discussed it has considered the various proofs, as they may be derived,
Ist. From the prophecies of Jesus, that at a certain time he was to rise from the dead, conjoined with his wisdom.
2d. From the fact that at this precise time his body was, by the confession of all who had access to know, not to be found in the sepulchre in which it had been laid, although the most effectual precaution had been taken to prevent its removal.
3d. From the positive testimony of the disciples, that after this time they frequently saw him, conversed with him, and received from him those instructions upon which they acted in publishing bis Gospel.
4th. From the success which attended their preaching, founded upon the alleged fact that he bad actually risen.
All of which arguments are considered at great length, in an admirable and forcible manner. Mr. Horne (f) too has summed up the collective evidence in support of this great event, with his usual perspicuity. If we peruse, he observes, the history of that event with care, we must conclude either that Christ arose, or that his disciples stole his body away. The more we consider the latter alternative, the more impossible it appears. Every time, indeed, that our Saviour attempted to perform a miracle, he risked his credit on its accomplishment: bad be failed in one instance, that would have blasted his reputation for ever. The same remark is applicable to his predictions: had any one of them failed, that great character which he had to support, would have received an indelible stain. Of all his predictions, there is none on which he and his disciples laid greater stress, than that of his resurrection. So frequently, indeed, had Jesus Christ publicly foretold that he would rise again on the third day, that those persons who caused him to be put to death were acquainted with this prediction; and, being in power, used every possible means to prevent its accomplishment, or any imposition on the public in that affair.
After the crucifixon and death of Christ, the chief priests applied to Pilate, the Roman governor, for a watch, and sealed the sepulchro in which the body was deposited. By this guard of Roman soldiers was the tomb watched ; and on the resur
Mtxxvii.57. named Joseph,
Jerusalem. rection of Christ, they went and related it to the chief priests, who bribed them with money, promising to secure their persons from danger, and charged them to affirm that Christ's disciples stole his body away while they were sleeping. (Matt. xxxiii. 4. 11-15.) This flight of the soldiers, their declaration to the high priests and elders, the subsequent conduct of the latter, the detection and publication of their collusion with the soldiers by the apostles, and the silence of the Jews on that subject, who never attempted to refute or contradict the declarations of Christ's disciples—are all strong evidences of the reality and truth of his resurrection. A few additional considerations will suffice to show the falsehood of the assertion made by the chief priests.
On the one hand, the terror of the timid disciples, who were afraid to be seen, and the paucity of their number ;-on the other hand, the authority of Pilate and of the Sanhedrim-the great danger attending such an enterprprise as the stealing of Christ's body—the impossibility of succeeding in such an attempt, both from the number of armed men who guarded the tomb, and also from the lightness of the night, it being the time of full moon, at the great annual festival, when the city was full of people, and many probably passed the whole night ( as Jesus and his disciples had done) in the open air—the sepulchre also being so near the city as to be inclosed within the walls--all tbese circumstances combine to render such an imposture as that, which was palmed upon the Jews, utterly unworthy of credit. For, in the first place, is it probable that so many men as composed the guard would all fall asleep in the open air at once ? 2. Is it at all probable that a Roman guard should be found off their watch, much less asleep, when, according to the Roman military laws, it was instant death to be found in such a state ? 3. Could they be so soundly asleep as not to awake with all the noise which must necessarily be made by removing the great stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, and taking away the body? 4. Is it at all likely that these timid disciples could have had sufficient time to do all this, without being perceived by any person? How could soldiers, armed, and on guard, suffer themselves to be over-reached by a few timorous people? 5. “ Either,” says Augustine, " they were asleep or awake: if they were awake, why should they suffer the body to be taken away? If asleep, how could they know that the disciples took it away? How dare they then depose that it was stolen ?" From the testimony of the enemies of Christianity, therefore, the resurrection of Christ may be fully proved.
Further, the conduct of the priests and elders towards the soldiers evidently implies a conviction that our Saviour was actually risen. They were now certain that he was not in the grave. If there had been any suspicion that his disciples were in possession of the dead body, these rulers, for their own credit, would instantly have imprisoned them, and used means to recover it, which would have quashed the report of his resurrection for ever. There can be no doubt, therefore, of their conviction that he was actually risen from the dead. If Jesus had appeared to the priests and rulers, it could have served no good purpose, as they were already convinced of the fact, but would not acknowledge it to the people. Supposing that bis appearance to them, after his resurrection, would have changed their minds, and induced them publicly to confess the truth, the testimony of the priests and rulers would have been very sus
Mark XV.43. an honourable counsellor,
Jerusala picious to posterity ; it would have been said that they were influenced by some political motive. Besides, this would have weakened the testimony of the disciples; for the men who bribed the soldiers could secretly have bribed them; therefore the support of the priests and rulers would have rendered the declaration of the chosen witnesses suspicious. Their inveterate opposition to the cause, and violent persecution of the Christians, remove all suspicion of priestcraft and political design. If the disciples had agreed to impose upon the world in this affair, common sense would have directed them, first to spread the report that our Lord was risen from the grave, and then to employ an individual, whom they could trust, to per sonate him, and to appear before the multitude in such a manner and at such times as would not endanger a discovery: as our Lord never appeared to the multitude after his resurrection, this removed all suspicion that the disciples had contrived a scheme for deceiving the people.
These considerations show that our Saviour's appearance, after he rose from the dead, only to a competent number of witnesses, who were intimately acquainted with bim before his decease, is a circumstance bighly calculated to establish the truth of his resurrection to posterity.
The character of the apostles also proves the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and there are nine considerations which give their evidence sufficient weighi, viz.
1. The condition of these witnesses. They were not men of power, riches, eloquence, or credit, to impose upon the world. They were poor, and mean, and despised: they were also incredulous of the fact itself. It is evident, that though our Saviour foretold his resurrection, yet after his death the disciples did not expect it, and therefore were with difficulty convinced of its reality. But as it was a subject of the bighest importance to them and to the world, they obtained the fullest satisfaction of its truth. Intimately acquainted with his person after his resurrection, they felt bis body, frequently examined his person, renewed the private conversations which he had with them before his decease, and enjoyed an intimacy with bim, that removed the possibility of their being deceived.
2. The number of these witnesses.-This was more than suffi. cient to establish any fact. When St. Paul published a defence of our Lord's resurrection, he declared to the world that Jesus appeared to five hundred witnesses at one time, aud he appealed to a number of them, who were then alive, for the truth of his assertion. Could all those men agree voluptarily to maintain a vile falsehood, not only altogether unprofitable, but also such as involved them in certain dishonour, poverty, persecution, and death? Accordiog to their own principles, either as Jews or Christians, if this testimony, to which they adhered to the last moment of their lives, had been false, they exposed thenselves to eternal misery. Under such circumstances, these men could not have persevered in maintaining a false testimony, unless God had wrought a miracle in human nature to enable impostors to deceive the world.
3. The facts, which they themselves avow ;..not suppositions, distant events, or events related by others, but real facts which they bave beheld with their own eyes. “ Tbat....which we have seen with our eyes, which we bave looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of Life....declare we unto you.” (1 John i. 1. 3.)
4. Observe the tribunals before which they gave evidence.
La.xxiii,50. and he was a good man, and a just :
The members of these tribunals were Jows and heathens, phi-
5. The place in which they bore testimony.-It was not at a
6. The agreement of their evidence.—These witnesses were separated from one another : many of them were imprisoned, separately examined, severely tried, and cruelly tortured, yet they all agreed in every part of their testimony. In no instance whatever did they contradict either themselves or one another; but cheerfully sealed with their blood this truth, that they saw and conversed with Jesus after he was risen from the dead. Every person, possessed of common sense, must see the absolute impossibility of this agreement among the witnesses, if the subject of their lestimony had been a falsehood.
7. The time when this evidence was given.-It was not after the lapse of several years, but only three days after our Saviour's crucifixion, that they declared he was risen-yea, even before the rage of his enemies was quelled, and while Calvary was yet dyed with the blood they had shed. If the resurrection of Christ bad been a fraud, it is not likely that the apostles would have come forward in open day, and thus publicly have affirmed it.
8. Consider the motives, which induced them to publish the fact of Christ's resurrection :-It was not to acquire fame, riches, glory, or profit. By no means. On the contrary, they exposed themselves to sufferings and death, and proclaimed the truth from a conviction of its importance and certainty.
9. Lastly, the miracles performed by these witnesses in the name of Jesus, and in confirmation of their declaration concerning the resurrection of Jesus, are God's testimony to their veracity: No subject was ever more public, more investigated, or better known, than the transactions of the apostles. St. Luke, an historian of great character, who witnessed many of the things which he relates, published the Acts of the Apostles among the people who saw the transactions. It would have blasted his character to have published falsehoods which must instantly be detected; it would have ruined the credit of the Church to have received as facts notorious falsehoods. Now the Acts of the Apostles were written by St. Luke, received by the Church, and no falsohood was ever detected in that book by Jew or Gentile. The primitive fathers attest its truth and authenticity, and heathen authors record some of the important facts which are related by the sacred historian. In the second chapter, we are informed that the apostles, who were known to be unlearned fishermen, began to speak the several languages of those people, who at that time were assembled at Jerusalem from different countries. When the people were astonished at this undoubted proof of inspiration, the apostles thus addressed the multitude : “ Ye men of Israel, hear these words ; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also knowthis Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses.” To the gift of tongues, as a proof of inspiration, was added a number of undoubted miracles, in confirmation of this testimony concerning Jesus Christ, which are related in the Acts of
La.xxii.61, who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. Jerusalem.
the Apostles, and were published among the people who wit.
Though these arguments are apparently suficient to satisfy
The principal embarrassment in the history of the resurrection, arises from the account of the time at which the women came to the sepulchre. It was long supposed that they came there together, and a great difficulty was consequently felt, as to the one angel mentioned by Matthew and Mark, and the two mentioned by St. Luke. Lightfoot has endeavoured to reconcile this apparent discrepancy, by supposing that they saw one angel, as they went together, sitting on the entrance stone, and another in the inside, a solution which appears by no means satisfactory. The reasoning by which the later harmonizers have concluded that there were two, and not one party of women only, will be given in the notes to the second section.
By one of those singular coincidences which sometimes occur, three competent and learned men were engaged at the same time in studying the scriptural account of the resurrection. These were Pilkington, a country clergyman, whose work is a monument of patient investigation ; Doddridge, the well known author of the Family Expositor ; and West, a layman; whose treatise on the resurrection will always be valued by those who would understand the evidences of their religion. These three writers, unknown to each other, all came to similar conclusions respecting two companies of women. Mr. West's work was actually published when Pilkington's was ready for publication ; and the latter has directed his reader to correct one of his seca tions, in consequence of Mr. West's observations on the resurrection. The section itself had been printed off. Dr. Doddridge had but just published the part of his Expositor, containing the Gospels, and at the end of his postscript to this part of bis work he thanks Mr. West for the advantage he had derived from his labours, and points out in what respects they had differed from each other. The only variation with respect to the two parties of women is, that Doddridge supposed them to have left the city by different ways, and therefore that they did not meet till they arrived at the tomb.
As it may seem pecessary to give some account of the several theories of the three authors who have so deeply studied this subject, (before the plan I have adopted be considered) I shall give here the abstract of the harmonies of the resurrection proposed by West and by Dr. Townson ; the elaborate work of the latter being a correction, and a more systematic arrangement of the whole account laid down by the former. To these I shall add that of Mr. Cranfield, of Trinity College, Dublin, who, in a prizo essay on the subject, proceeded with great attention once more through the whole mass of reading necessary to enable him to decide on some minute points in which he differs with Dr. Townson. In the disposal of each event in this arrangement