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tion to prevent a fraud. For this purpose they went to Pilate to beg for a guard, immediately after our Lord was buried. It is indeed here said that they went the next day that followed the day of preparation, the day on which Jesus was crucified. This looks, at the first view, as if the sepulchre had remained one whole night without a guard. But this was not so. The chief priests went to Pilate as soon as the sun was set on Friday, the day of the preparation and crucifixion; for then began the following day, or Saturday; as the Jews always began to reckon their day from the preceding evening. They had a guard therefore as soon as they possibly could, after the body was deposited in the sepulchre; and one cannot help admiring the wisdom of Providence in so disposing events, that the extreme anxiety of these men, to prevent collusion, should be the means of adding the testimony of sixty unexceptionable witnesses (the number of the Roman soldiers on guard) to the truth of the resurrection, and of establishing the reality of it beyond all power of contradiction. It is only necessary to add on this head, that the circumstance of sealing the stone was a precaution of which several instances occur in ancient times, particularly in the prophecy of Daniel, where we read, that when Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords, that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.*

The chief priests having taken these precautions, waited probably with no small impatience for the third day after the crucifixion, when Jesus had foretold that he should rise again, but when they made no doubt that they should find the body in the sepulchre, and convict him of deceit and imposture.

On the other hand it might naturally be imagined that the disciples, after having received from their Lord repeated assurances that he would rise on the third day from the dead, would anxiously look for the arrival of that day, with a certain confidence that these promises would be fulfilled, and that they should see their beloved Master rescued from the grave, and restored to life.

But this seems to have been by no means the real state of their minds. It does not appear that they entertained any hopes of Jesus' resurrection. Shocked and confounded, and dismayed at finding him condemned to the ignominious death of the cross, they forgot every thing he had said to them respecting his rising again. When therefore he was led to pun

* Daniel, vi. 17.


forsook him and fled. Most of them seem nemselves concealed during the whole time of n the grave, and to have given themselves up d despair. They had not even the courage or ty to go to the sepulchre on the third day to see he promised event had taken place or not.

whe When two of them going to Emmaus met Jesus, their conversation plainly shewed that they were disappointed in their expectations. "We trusted," said they, "that it had been he which should have delivered Israel;"* and when the women who had been at the sepulchre told the apostles that Jesus was risen, "their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not."t

The women, it is true, came to the sepulchre early in the morning of the third day; but they came to embalm the dead body, and of course not with the hope of seeing a living one. So far then is perfectly clear, that the disciples were not at all disposed to be over credulous on this occasion. Their prejudices and prepossessions lay the contrary way; and nothing but the most irresistible evidence would be able to convince them of a fact, which they appeared to think in the highest degree improbable.

Let us now then see what this evidence of the resurrection was. In the beginning of the 28th chapter, on which we are now entering, St. Matthew informs us, that " in the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week;" that is, according to our way of reckoning, very early on the Sunday morning (our Lord having been crucified on the Friday,) "came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, the mother of James and Joses, to see the sepulchre, and," as we learn from the other evangelists, "they brought with them the spices they had purchased to embalm the body of Jesus. And behold there was a great earthquake for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sate upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the keepers did shake and become as dead men. And the angel answered, and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay; and go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there ye shall see him. Lo! I have told you. And

*Luke xxiv. 21.

+ Luke xxiv. 11.

they departed from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail; and they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, be not afraid. Go, tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see

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This is the relation given by St. Matthew of our Lord's first appearance, after his resurrection, to the women who came to the sepulchre. The accounts given by the other three evangelists are substantially the same, though differing in a few minute circumstances of no moment, which however have been very ably reconciled by many learned men. I shall therefore waive all discussions of this kind, and confine myself to the main fact of the resurrection, in which all the evangelists agree, and of which the proofs are numerous and clear. The principal and most obvious are those which arise from the various appearances which Jesus made after his resurrection to various persons, and at various times.

The first was to Mary Magdalen alone.†

The second, to her in company with several other women, as we have just seen.‡.

The third, to Peter.

The fourth, to the two disciples going to Emmaus.§

The fifth, to the apostles in Jerusalem, when they were assembled with the doors shut on the first day of the week; at which time he showed them his hands and his feet, pierced with the nails, and did eat before them. T

The sixth, to the apostles a second time as they sate at meat, when he satisfied the doubts of the incredulous Thomas, by making him thrust his hand into his side.**

The seventh, to Peter and several of his disciples at the lake of Tiberias, when he also ate with them.††

The eighth, and last, was to above five hundred brethren at once.‡‡

There are then no less than eight distinct appearances of our Lord to his disciples after his resurrection, recorded by the sacred historians. And can we believe that all those different persons could be deceived in these appearances of one, whose countenance, figure, voice, and manner, they had for

*Matth. xxviii. 1-10. Matth. xxviii. 9.

Luke xxiv. 13. **John xx. 26. ‡‡ 1 Cor. xv. 6.

+ Mark xvi. 9.1

1 Cor. xv. 5.

John xx. 19. Luke xxiv. 37-43. tt John xxi. 1.

so long a time been perfectly well acquainted with; and who now, not merely presented himself to their view transiently and silently, but ate and drank and conversed with them, and suffered them to touch and examine him thoroughly, that they might be convinced by all their senses that it was truly their beloved Master, and not a spirit that conversed with them. In all this surely it is impossible that there could be any delusion or imposition. Was it then a tale invented by the disciples to impose upon others? Why they should do this it is not easy to conceive; because it would have been an imposition, not only on others, but on themselves. It would have been an attempt to persuade themselves that their Master was risen when he really was not, from whence no possible benefit could arise to them, but, on the contrary, grief, disappointment, and mortification in the extreme. But besides this, the narratives themselves of this great event bear upon the very face of them the strongest marks of reality and truth. They describe, in so natural a manner, the various emotions of the disciples on their first hearing of our Lord's resurrection, that no one who is acquainted with the genuine workings of the human mind, can possibly suspect any thing like fraud in the case. When the women were first told by the angels that Christ was risen, and were ordered to tell the disciples, they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy ;* with joy at the unexpected good news they had just heard; and with fear, not only from the sight of the angel, but lest the glad tidings he had told them should not prove true. They therefore "trembled, and were amazed, and ran to bring the disciples word; neither said they any thing to any man, for they were afraid." And when they told these things to the apostles, their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. When Jesus himself appeared to the apostles at Jerusalem, they were terrified and affrighted, and thought they had seen a spirit; and they believed not for joy, and wondered. When he appeared again unto the eleven as they sat at meat, they were so incredulous that he upbraided them with unbelief;§ and Thomas would not be convinced without thrusting his hand into his side. T This certainly was not the behaviour of men who were fabricating an artful story to impose upon the world, but of men who were themselves astonished and overpowered with an event which they did not in

* Matth. xxviii. 8.

Luke xxiv. 11.
Mark xvi. 14.

+ Mark xvi. 8.

Luke xxiv. 37–41.
John xx. 27.

the least expect, and which it was with the utmost difficulty they could be brought to believe.

The account therefore of the resurrection, given by the evangelists, may safely be relied upon as true.

It may however, be said, that this account 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 show 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 showed 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. 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; and 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 proving a resurrection, was a standing proof against it; if any man, I say, can prevail on himself to listen for a moment to such absurdities as these, he may then give

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