« PreviousContinue »
chre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had Inin. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? she saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. (Christ's first appearance.) Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weep. est thou? whom seekest thou ? She, supposing him to be the gardner, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary; she turneth her. self and saith unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master. Jesus said unto her, go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” Now, as the company of women who had carried the news of having seen an angel who had told them that Jesus had risen from the dead, were returning, " Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshiped him. Then said Jesus unto them, be not afraid ; go tell my
breth. ren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." (Christ's second appearance.)
§ 2. The woman, thus ordered by Jesus himself to carry the tidings of his resurrection into the city, went no further in quest of Peter, but being now charged with a more important message, turned back immediately to publish the glad tidings of having seen the Lord.
Now, when they were going, behold some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all things that were done; and when they had assembled with the Elders, and taken counsel, they gave large sums (i. e. great bribes) unto the soldiers, saying, say ye, his disci. ples came by night and stole him away while ye 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 amongst the Jews until this day."
During this time, as is supposed, the Lord appeared to Peter, according to I Cor. 15: 5; which is his third appearance.
After this Jesus met the two disciples in the way to Emmaus. This is his fourth appearance on the day of his resurrection. This interesting and important meeting and conversation which took place, is narrated by the Evangelist Luke, c. 24: 13–29. On the evening of the same day, Jesus appeared to the apostles and others, Thomas being absent. This is the fifth appearance, and is thus related. “ 'The same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet, and his side. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat ? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honey comb. And he took it and did eat before them. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didimus, i. e. the twin, was not with them when Jesus came, The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
§ 3. The sixth appearance of our Lord took place when all the apostles were together, and Thomas with them. And Jesus said to Thomas, “ Reach hither thy finger, and
behold my hands; and reach bither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said, My Lord and my God. Jesus
unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not scen, and yet have believed."
Next, our Lord appeared to his disciples, the seventh time, at the sea of Tiberias; John, 21:1-25; and afterwards the eighth time to five hundred of the brethren in Galilee. Math. 28: 16, 17. The ninth appearance was to James, as we are informed by the apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 15:6; and lastly lie appeared to the apostles, and in their presence ascended into heaven.
§ 4. Thus, my dear Benjamin, I have endeavoured to give you, in as brief a manner as possible, an account of the ten different appearances of our Lord and Savior in the order in which they seem to have taken place; but it is more than probable that he did appear more frequently, for we are expressly told by the Evangelist Luke, "that he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts, 1: 3. And the Evangelist John says: “many other signs did Jesus truly in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book ; but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing, ye might have life through his name." John 20; 30, 31. We shall now proceed to examine the subject.
$5. That Jesus Christ died on the cross, that he was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea ; that his tomb was sealed with the seal of the High Priest; that it was guard. ed by a band of Roman soldiers; and that the body of Je. sus was not found in the tomb early on the first day of the week, is believed by our people as well as by Christians. The only question of dispute is what became of the body of Jesus? It must either have been taken away, or it must have risen from the dead. If it was taken away, it must have been done either by the enemies of Jesus or by his friends. The enemies surely would not do it; for this is the thing they were anxious to prevent, and therefore procured a guard to watch the tomb, les his disciples should come and take away the body, and say he had risen. And as the enemies would not do it, so the friends could not, even if they had been inclined to do so. For consider, dear Benjamin, their cowardly spirit. They had frequent demonstrations of the almighty power of their Master, who but spake to the raging waves, and there was a great calm; and gave but the word of command, and legions of devils trembled and obeyed. What then had they to fear? Yet when they saw but a few men approaching the Garden of Gethsemane, all fled and forsook Chrisi except Peter; and he, the most zealous, denied his Lord and Master thrice, and swore and cursed that he knew not the man. Now, is it credible that men of such timorous dispositions, and so few in number, would attempt to approach the tomb and take away the dead body, when they knew that a band of soldiers, not less than fifty in number, were placed there for the purpose of preventing the body from being taken away? But supposing the temper and disposition of the disciples to have been the reverse of what they were, bold, enterprizing, cunning impostors, and capable of making so hazardous an attempt; can it also be supposed that a company of Roman soldiers, trained up under the strictest discipline, and placed there but a few hours before night, should be all asleep at the same time, and sleep so soundly and so long as not to be awakened, either by the rolling away of the stone, which must have been very large to cover the whole tomb, or by the carrying off the body. Besides, what evidence have we that the disciples took away the body? None hath ever been offered, except that of a part of the soldiers; who said, that whilst they were asleep the disciples came and stole away the body. How ridiculous the story! If they were Vol. II
asleep, how could they know what became of the body, whether it arose or was taken away? And if taken away, how did they know that the disciples did it? We should think it almost incredible that any one in his right senses would believe such an ill-contrived, self-refuting story. Would any people or jury receive the testimony of such a set of men, who deposed, that one night, while they were fast asleep, they saw the accused break open his neighbor's stable and steal his horse ? And yet, my dear Benjamin, you well know that this most idle, inconsistent, and improbable story, which rests wholly and solely on the testimony of the soldiers, is still believed by our people, whilst they deny the resurrection of Christ, which is established by evidence superior to any other fact that has been proved to the satisfaction of all. Let us then carefully and most scrupulously examine the following testimony in favor of the resurrection of Christ.
$ 6. First, we have the testimony of angels.
The apparition of angels was very common under the Old Testament, whereby God used to attest and verify to man the truth and reality of things. From the preceding statement, it appears that at first one angel from heaven came and removed the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, and sat upon it, and spoke to the women as they were entering into the sepulchre, and bade them be of good cheer, for Christ was risen, and shewed them the place where the Lord lay, void of Christ's body. After the women went out, two other angels met them, and confirmed what the first had said. "They appeared," said the Evangelist, "in shining white garments;" but these could not be more clear than their testimony is true. "He is not here, for he is risen."
$ 7. Secondly, We notice the testimony of the soldiers.
Because the testimony of an adversary is in most cases thought of greater validity, we have not only friends but even enemies of Christ to confirm the truth of his resur. rection. For “behold some of the watch came into the