« السابقةمتابعة »
that he should be numbered with transgressors, or be treated as a public malefactor.
According to the appointment of heaven, his highly meritorious sufferings and death have revoked the sentence of condemnation from mankind. He died that we might live. He has abrogated the sentence, restored the human race to the possession of vitality, and has rendered that inconscious, inactive, and humiliated state of human nature, which might have terminated in total annihilation, a temporary suspension of the vital powers. He has converted it into a transient sleep.
Many and obvious are the advantages derived from the submission of our Saviour to the death of the cross. He presented his followers with an example of the most profound submission, in a case the most repugnant to all the feelings of human nature. This was an act of faith, an edifying act of faith in the promises of God, that it shall be well with the Righteous, amidst such sufferings and disgrace as naturally suggest the idea of an impossibility.
The calm firmness of his conduct before his judges, and the resolution with which he met the horrors of such a death, evinced the Inte
grity of his character. They fully demonstrated to every man that he was not an impostor. They proved the conviction of his own mind, that he was himself the promised Messiah; that he really thought himself to be commissioned from above, to teach as no man had taught, and to act as no man had acted.
But he rose again. This every Christian believes. That he was really dead is as incontestible as that the malefactors were dead, who were crucified with him. For when the soldiers came and break the legs of the two malefactors, "they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, and they break not his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forth with came there out blood and water." This singular diversity in their conduct answered two very important purposes; it was the accomplishment of a prophecy; and had he been still alive, it would have been more effectual in expediting his death, than the means used with the malefactors; for the piercing of the pericardium, whence issued the blood and water, induced a wound which no being could possibly survive.
His Resurrection, on the third day after he was incontestibly murdered, was a stupendous miracle. It could alone be performed by the
power of the Almighty; and as the exemplary life and voluntary death of the risen Jesus, were proofs that he was not an impostor; his Resurrection demonstrates that he was not a visionary enthusiast; that, whatever he believed concerning himself and his God, was an important reality. His Resurrection proved also the perfection of his moral character. Hence was his soul not left in Hades, nor could thé holy one see corruption. He was unjustly slain by wicked men, "but God hath raised him up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it," because perpetual death is the natural punishment of sin alone. It proved him to be a true prophet; for in the character of a shepherd he foretold that he should lay down his life for his sheep. When the unbelieving Jews demanded a sign of his mission, "Jesus answered, and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up;' speaking of the temple of his body. Thus "was he declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead." By this miracle is proved the truth of Christianity; for no one has ever supposed that a God of truth would either sanction an imposition, which the impostor himself had planned for the good of mankind,
or affix the seal of truth to the fictions of a visionary.
The Resurrection of Christ demonstrated the possibility of our Resurrection. It was a complete answer, from fact, to all the doubts of scepticism, and the specious argumentations of presuming philosophy, and of that confidence in theory, which dared to limit the power of the Almighty.
It was also the promise of our Resurrection. It was an assurance that life shall be restored to the human race. He died that we might live. He rose again for our Justification; to shew that the sentence of death was repealed, that we shall once more be treated as the sons of God, and be received into the family of heaven. "Because he lives we shall live also."" He is the first fruits of them that sleep."
His Resurrection revived the desponding spirits of his disciples, and confirmed their faith in him, as the promised Messiah. They were now convinced that "this was he, in whom they had trusted, that he would redeem Israel." His sojourn among them so many days, evinced that they were not deluded by a phantom; and it afforded them an opportunity of being fully instructed in the nature and object of his spiritual kingdom.
After he had thus accomplished these objects* of his mission, he ascended into heaven. This was a corroborating proof, to the astonished multitude, that he was the sent of God. Previous to his death he had foretold this event also to his disciples, and shewed the necessity of it. "In my father's house (says he) there are many mansions. If it had not been so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also,"
He farther assures us, that his ascension to heaven was necessary for another important purpose. In his affectionate address to his disciples, upon the prospect of his death, he tells them, "I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him. But ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom, the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. When the comforter is come, whom I shall send unto you, from the father, even the spirit of truth, which proceeds from the father, he shall testify of me. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is