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I have long had the conviction that the results of that fuller and more exact interpretation of the books of the New Testament to which biblical scholars have been conducted, might be made available for framing such a continuous and expanded narrative of the leading incidents in our Redeemer’s life as would be profitable for practical and devotional, rather than for doctrinal or controversial purposes. It was chiefly to try whether I could succeed in realizing the conception I had formed of what such a narrative might be made, that the volume on the Last Day of Our Lord’s Passion was published. The favourable reception which it met has induced me to issue a companion volume on the succeeding and closing period of our Lord’s life on earth. Should this meet with anything like equal favour, I will be encouraged to prosecute the task of completing the narrative in a similar form.To one who previously had doubts of the historic truth of the entire Gospel narrative, a personal inspection of the localities in which the events are represented as having occurred, must have a peculiar interest and value. It was in such a state of mind, half inclined to believe that the whole story of the Gospel was legendary, that M. Renan visited the Holy Land three years ago. He has told us the result. “All that history,” he says, “which at a distance seemed to float in the clouds of an unreal world took instantly a body, a solidity, which astonished me. The striking accord between the texts and the places, the marvellous harmony of the evangelical picture with the country which served as its frame, were to me as a revelation. I had before my eyes a fifth gospel, mutilated but still legible, and ever afterwards in the recitals of Matthew and Mark, instead of an abstract Being that one would say had never existed, I saw a wonderful human figure live and move.” In listening to this striking testimony as to the effect of his visit to the East, we have deeply to regret that with M. Renan the movement from incredulity towards belief stopped at its first stage.
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THE FORTY DAYS
Our Lord’s Resurrection
REV. WILLIAM HANNA, LL.D.
author of “the last day of our lord’s passion.”
EDMONSTON AND DOUGLAS
Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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I. The Resurrection
II. Appearance to Mary Magdalene
III. The Journey to Emmaus
IV. The Evening Meeting
V. The Incredulity of Thomas
VI. The Lake-Side of Galilee
VII. Peter & John
VIII. The Great Commission
IX. The Ascension
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I have long had the conviction that the results of that fuller and more exact interpretation of the books of the New Testament to which biblical scholars have been conducted, might be made available for framing such a continuous and expanded narrative of the leading incidents in our Redeemer’s life as would be profitable for practical and devotional, rather than for doctrinal or controversial purposes. It was chiefly to try whether I could succeed in realizing the conception I had formed of what such a narrative might be made, that the volume on the Last Day of Our Lord’s Passion was published. The favourable reception which it met has induced me to issue a companion volume on the succeeding and closing period of our Lord’s life on earth. Should this meet with anything like equal favour, I will be encouraged to prosecute the task of completing the narrative in a similar form.
To one who previously had doubts of the historic truth of the entire Gospel narrative, a personal inspection of the localities in which the events are represented as having occurred, must have a peculiar interest and value. It was in such a state of mind, half inclined to believe that the whole story of the Gospel was legendary, that M. Renan visited the Holy Land three years ago. He has told us the result. “All that history,” he says, “which at a distance seemed to float in the clouds of an unreal world took instantly a body, a solidity, which astonished me. The striking accord between the texts and the places, the marvellous harmony of the evangelical picture with the country which served as its frame, were to me as a revelation. I had before my eyes a fifth gospel, mutilated but still legible, and ever afterwards in the recitals of Matthew and Mark, instead of an abstract Being that one would say had never existed, I saw a wonderful human figure live and move.” In listening to this striking testimony as to the effect of his visit to the East, we have deeply to regret that with M. Renan the movement from incredulity towards belief stopped at its first stage.
Besides its use in cases like that of Renan, in removing pre-existing doubts, a journey through Palestine is of the greatest service in giving a certain freshness and vividness to one’s conceptions of the incidents described by the Evangelists, which nothing else can impart. Its benefits in this respect it would be difficult to exaggerate. But if any one go to the Holy Land full of the expectation of gazing on spots, or limited localities, once hallowed by the Redeemer’s presence, and closely linked with some great event in his history; or if he go, cherishing the idea, that a study of the topography will throw fresh light upon some of the obscurer portions of the Gospel record, he will be doomed, I apprehend, to disappointment. I had the strongest possible desire to plant my foot upon some portion of the soil of Palestine, on which I could be sure that Jesus once had stood. I searched diligently for such a place, but it was not to be found. Walking to and fro, between Jerusalem and Bethany, you have the feeling—one that no other walks in the world can raise—that He often traversed one or other of the roads leading out to the village. But when you ask where, along any one of them, is a spot of which you can be certain that Jesus once stood there, you cannot find it. The nearest approach you can make to the identification of any such spot, is at the point where the lower road curves round the shoulder of Mount Olivet, the point from which the first view of Jerusalem would be got by one entering the city by this route. It is here that Dr. Stanley supposes Jesus to have paused and beheld the city, and to have wept over it. There is every likelihood that his supposition is correct; and it was with his description fresh in the memory, that more than once I visited the memorable spot. I found, however, that the best topographer of Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, whom I had the fortune to meet there—one who had studied the subject for years—was strongly inclined to the belief that it was along the higher and not the lower road that the triumphal procession passed; and that it was on his reaching the summit of Mount Olivet, that the city burst upon the Saviour’s view. It did not alter my own conviction that Dr. Stanley was correct; but it hindered, indeed destroyed the impression which absolute certainty would have produced.
There is indeed one circle of limited diameter, I believe but one, that you can trace on the soil of Palestine, and be absolutely certain that Jesus once stood within its circumference,—that which you may draw round Jacob’s Well near Sychar. I had determined to tread that circle round and round; to sit here and there and everywhere about, so as to gratify a long-cherished wish. How bitter the disappointment on reaching it to find no open space at the well-mouth; but, spread all round, the remains of an old building, over whose ruinous walls we had to scramble and slide down, through heaps of stones and rubbish, till through two or three small apertures we looked down into the undiscoverable well!
It would seem indeed that, Jacob’s Well excepted, there is not a definite locality in Palestine that you can certainly and intimately connect with the presence of Jesus Christ. The grotto shown at Bethlehem may have been the stable of the village inn, but who can now assure us of the fact? It is impossible to determine the site of that house in Nazareth under whose roof, for thirty years, Jesus lived. Of Capernaum, the city in which most of his wonderful works were wrought, scarcely a vestige remains. Travellers and scholars are disputing which is Capernaum among various obscure heaps of ruins on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. No one, I believe, can tell the exact place where any one of our Lord’s miracles was wrought, or any one of his parables was spoken. The topographical obscurity that hangs around the history of Jesus, reaches its climax at Jerusalem. Bethany is sure, but the house of Lazarus is a fable. The Mount of Olives remains, but it cannot have been where they show it, so near the city, that the real Gethsemane lay. You cannot err as to the ridge on which of old the Temple stood, but where were the courts around it, in which Jesus so often taught; where the palace of the High Priest, the hall of Pilate, the ground on which the cross stood, the new sepulchre in which they laid his body? Whenever you try to get at some fixed and limited locality, it eludes your search. All is obscurity; either utterly unknown, or covered with a thickening cloud of controversy. May it not have been meant that the natural, but in this case too human curiosity that we cherish, should be baffled? Is it not better that he should have passed away, leaving so little of minute local association connected with his presence in the midst of us? Does it not seem more in accordance with the dignity of his divine character, that of all the lives that were ever lived on earth, his should be the one that it is least possible to degrade by rude familiarities of conception; his the name which it is least possible to mix up with that superstition which ever seeks an earthly shrine at which to offer its incense?
It is true that tradition has fixed on many holy places in Palestine, and that each year sends crowds of worshippers to these shrines; but as the darkness of those ages in which these traditions arose is giving place to light, the faith in many of these holy places cannot stand against the gathering force of evidence. The time must come, however long it be of arriving, when what is doubtful and what is sure shall be clearly known; and if then, still more than now, it shall appear that the most wonderful of all earthly lives has left the fewest visible marks of itself behind in recognisable localities, it will also, perhaps, be believed that this is so, not without a purpose, but that it should be manifest that the ties of Jesus of Nazareth were not with places, but with persons; the story of his life one easily and equally understood in all ages and in every land.
It was while the sheets of this volume were passing through the press, that the Vie de Jesus came into the writer’s hands. I need not say with what lively interest I turned to that part of it in which the period of our Saviour’s life of which this volume treats should have been represented. I found an utter blank. “For the historian,” says M. Renan, “the life of Jesus terminates with his last breath.” It would perhaps scarcely be fair to call this a verdict against evidence, as M. Renan has told us that in a future volume he will explain to us how the legend of the resurrection arose. We must be permitted, however, even in absence of such explanation, to express our strong conviction of the unreasonableness of that procedure which assumes that what are good and sufficient materials for history up to the death of Jesus, are utterly useless afterwards. Admitting for the moment that the resurrection, as a miraculous event, did not and could not happen, the seeing and conversing with Jesus was surely a thing as much within the power of human testimony to establish at one time as at another. And if those witnesses are to be credited, as M. Renan admits they are, who tell us of seeing and hearing him before the crucifixion, why are the same witnesses to be discredited when they tell us of seeing and hearing him after that event? If the mixture of miracle with recorded incident throws the later period out of the historian’s pale, should it not have done the same with the earlier period also?
This however is not the place to enter upon any of those momentous topics which M. Renan has brought up afresh for discussion. There are different modes in which his Life of Jesus may be met and answered. One is a full and critical exposure of all the arbitrary assumptions and denials, affirmations without proof, doubts without reasons, inconsistencies and contradictions, errors historical and exegetical, which are to be met with throughout the volume. Renan’s own range of scholarship is so extensive, and he has derived his materials from so many sources, that we trust no incompetent hand will rashly undertake the critical dissection of his book. A simpler, more direct, and more effective method of dealing with this work, would be to expose its flagrant failure in what may be regarded as its capital design and object;—to eliminate all that is superhuman and divine from the character and life of Christ, and yet leave him a man of such pure, exalted, unrivalled virtue, as to be worthy of the unreserved and unbounded love and reverence of mankind. Let the fancy sketch of Jesus of Nazareth, which M. Renan has presented to us, be stripped of that rich colouring which he has thrown around it, and it will appear as that of a man who at times showed himself to be ignorant, weak, prejudiced, extravagant, fanatical; who in his teaching advanced sometimes what was foolish, sometimes what was positively immoral; who in his practice, was often himself misled, and became at least an accomplice in misleading and deceiving others;—it is such a man whom he holds forth to us, and would have us venerate as the author of the Christian faith. Here in this latest assault upon the Divinity of Christ, we have it set before us what kind of human character is left to Him if his Sonship to God be denied. It is a singular result of this attempt to strip Christ of all Divine qualities and perfections, that it mars and mutilates his character even as a man. The two elements—the human, the Divine—are so inseparably interwoven, that you cannot take away the one and leave the other unimpaired. If Jesus be not one with the Father in the possession of Divine attributes, he can no longer be regarded as the type and model of a perfect humanity. A curious inquiry thus suggests itself into the modifications to which the humanity was subjected by its alliance with Divinity in the complex character of the Redeemer, and into the manner in which the natural and the supernatural were woven together in his earthly history.
But without any controversial treatment, the evil which M. Renan’s work is fitted to produce may be neutralized,—by a simple recital of the Life of Jesus, so as to show that the blending of the natural with the miraculous, the human with the Divine, is essential to the coherence and consistency of the record; absolutely precluding such a conception of Christ’s character as that which M. Renan has presented; that the fabric of the Gospel history is so constructed that if you take out of it the Divinity of Jesus, the whole edifice falls into ruins. The writer ventures to hope that such a Life of Jesus as he meditates may at least partially serve this purpose, and be useful in promoting an intelligent and devout faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary, as the Son of God, the Saviour of mankind.
Edinburgh, 11th Nov. 1863.
Matt. 27:62–66; 28:1–6.
We left Mary Magdalene and the other Mary keeping their lonely watch over against the sepulchre till the sun of Friday sets. At its setting, Saturday, the great Sabbath of the Passover, begins. Such a Sabbath never dawned upon this world before or since. All things wear an outward look of quiet in Jerusalem. A great calm, a deeper than Sabbath stillness, has followed the stir and excitement of those strange scenes at Golgotha. Crowds of silent worshippers fill, as usual, the courts of the Temple; and all goes on, at the hours of the morning and evening sacrifice, as it had done for hundreds of years gone by. But can those priests, who minister within the Holy Place, gaze without some strange misgivings upon the rent in the veil from top to bottom, which yesterday they had seen so strangely made, and which they scarce had time imperfectly to repair? Can they think without dismay of that rude uncovering of all the hidden mysteries of the most Holy Place, which they had witnessed? Among the crowds of worshippers without, there are friends and followers of Jesus. They would have been here, had nothing happened to their Master the day before, and they are here now, for, by keeping away, they might draw suspicion upon themselves; but what heart have they for the services of the Sanctuary? They have just had all their brightest earthly hopes smitten to the dust; and so prostrate are they beneath the stroke, that they cannot even recall to memory, that but a few months before, Jesus had, more than once, distinctly told them that he must go up to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. No writer of a fictitious story, no framer of a religious myth, had he previously put into Christ’s lips such distinct foretellings of his death and resurrection, would have attributed to his followers such an entire forgetfulness of these predictions, such an utter prostration of all faith and hope, as that which the Evangelists describe as coming upon all our Lord’s disciples immediately after his death, lasting till the most extraordinary means were taken to remove them, and yielding slowly even then. Yet, after all, is it not true to human nature, that upon the minds and hearts of those simple, rude, uncultivated men and women, filled as they had been with other and quite different expectations, the shock of such a shameful death, coming in such a way upon their Master, was so sudden and so stunning, that all power of forming a new conception of their Master’s character, and taking up a new faith in him, was gone; the power even of remembering what he had said about himself beforehand for the season paralysed?
But love lives on, even where faith dies out, among those disconsolate and utterly hopeless friends and followers of our Lord. While the two Marys had remained throughout the preceding day before the sepulchre, others of those Galilean women had hastened to occupy the short space between the burial and the sunset, in beginning their preparations for the embalming of their Master’s body. And these, with the two Marys, are waiting now, not without impatience; for their hearts, not in the Temple services, have gone where they have seen him laid,—till the sunset, the close of the Sabbath, enables them to have all the needed wrappings, and spices, and ointments prepared, so that when the third morning dawns they may go out to Golgotha, to finish there at leisure what Joseph and Nicodemus had more hurriedly and imperfectly attempted, before they laid Jesus in the sepulchre.
But how, throughout this intervening Sabbath, fares it with the chief priests and rulers? Are they quite at ease; content and happy; satisfied with, if not glorying in, their success? They have got rid of this obnoxious man; he is dead and buried. What fear can there be of him now? What risk or danger to them, or to their supremacy, can come out of his grave? May they not bury all their apprehensions in that closed sepulchre? No; a ghastly fear comes in to mar the joy of a gratified revenge. They dread that dead man still; he rules their spirits from his sepulchre. They would not cross Herod’s threshold the day before, lest they should be defiled. They could not bear the thought that Jesus should hang suspended on the cross throughout the Sabbath-day; it would disturb, it would desecrate the services of the Holy day, the Holy Place. But they scruple not to desecrate the Sabbath by their jealous fears; by their secret councils; by their plannings to prevent a future, dreaded danger. And so, no sooner is the Sabbath over, than they hasten to the Governor, saying to him:—“Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” They had themselves heard him, at the very beginning of his ministry, say publicly: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again.” They had heard him at a later period say: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Was it to these vague and general sayings of our Lord that the Rulers now referred? It is more likely that they had in view some of those more recent and more explicit declarations of Jesus to his own disciples, such as the one already quoted, or such as that other, and still more explicit one, when he took his disciples apart by the way, as they were going up to Jerusalem, and said to them, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.” What more natural than that the betrayer himself, to whose act such special allusion was thus made, should, in some of his communications with the Rulers, have repeated to them those memorable words? They now remember, while the disciples themselves forget. They fear, while the disciples have ceased to hope. When first reported to them, they had mocked at the unmeaning words; but now that so much of the prophecy has been accomplished, they begin to dread lest somehow or other the remainder of it should also be fulfilled. As yet all was safe; it was not till the third day that he was to rise again. During that Sabbath-day the body of the Crucified was secure enough in the sepulchre; the very sanctity of the day a sufficient guard against any attempt to invade the tomb. But instant means must be taken that thereafter there be no tampering with the place of burial. No night-guard could they get so good as a company of Roman soldiers whose iron rule of discipline imposed death upon the sentinel who slept at his post. Such guard they could get stationed at the sepulchre only under the Governor’s sanction. “Command therefore,” they said to Pilate, “that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.” Little heeding either the first or the last error, having no sympathy with their idle fears about the rifling of the sepulchre, in no good humour either with himself or with the Rulers, yet, since he had gone so far to please them, not caring to refuse their last request, Pilate complies. “Ye have a watch,” he says; ‘a detachment of my soldiers placed at your disposal during the feast, use it as you please; go your way, and, with its help, make the sepulchre of that poor, innocent Nazarene, you got me to crucify, as sure as ye can.’ And they went their way. They passed a cord across the stone which filled the entrance into the sepulchre, and fastened it at each end to the adjoining rock with the sealing clay, so that the stone could not be removed and replaced, however carefully, in its first position, without leaving behind a mark of the disturbance. And they placed the sentinels, with the strict command that they were to suffer no man in the darkness to meddle with that sepulchre; and thus, securely guarded, the dead body of the Redeemer reposes.
The darkness deepens round the sepulchre, the sentinels kindle their night-lamps, and pace to and fro before it. The midnight hour has passed; it is yet dark. The day has but begun to dawn, when those women, whose wakeful love sends them forth on their early errand, leave the Holy City to go out to Calvary to complete there the interrupted embalming. They are already near the spot, when a difficulty, not thought of till then, occurs to them. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? That stone which they had seen two nights before closely fitted into its place, was too large, too firmly embedded in its place for their weak hands to move, and at this hour, and at that spot, what aid of stronger hands can they obtain? Another difficulty there was; but of it happily they were ignorant, or it might have stopped their movement altogether. Of that sealing of the stone, of that guard planted the preceding day before the sepulchre, they had heard nothing, else they might have put to one another the further question, How, with such guard before it, shall we ever get access to the grave? It is as they are communing with one another by the way, that the earth quakes, and the angel descends from heaven, and rolls the stone back from the door of the sepulchre, and, having done this service for the embalmers, sits down upon it, waiting their approach. Was it then that the great event of that morning took place? Was it as the angel’s hand rolled back the stone, and opened the entrance of the tomb, that the Great Redeemer of mankind awoke, arose, and stepped forth from his temporary rest among the dead? It is not said so. The keepers did not witness the resurrection. They saw the angel, the light of his countenance, the snowy radiance of his raiment, and for fear of him they became as dead men. But they saw not the Lord himself come forth. The angel himself may not have witnessed the resurrection. He did not say he had. He speaks of it as an event already past. It may not have been as a spectator or minister to his Lord, in the act of rising from the dead, that he was sent down from heaven. The Lord of life needed not that service which he came to render. Through that stone door he could have passed as easily as he passed afterwards through other doors which barred not his entrances nor his exits. Altogether secret, the exact time and manner of the event, unnoticed and unknown was that great rising from the dead. The clearest and amplest proof was afterwards given of the fact that, some time between sunset of the last and sunrise of the first day of the week, the resurrection had taken place; but it pleased not the Lord who then arose to do so under the immediate eye or inspection of any human witness.
Alarmed by the quaking of the ground beneath their feet, bewildered by the strange light which is seen streaming forth from beside the sepulchre, the women enter the garden, approach the sepulchre, gather courage as they see that the stone is already rolled away, but might have sunk again in terror as they looked at him who sat upon that stone, had he not prevented their fears by saying to them, in tones, let us believe, full of soothing power: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified”—‘I know the errand that you come on. I know that it is love to the Crucified which brings you, thus early, to what was once his grave; and I have tidings of him that such love as yours will delight to hear. True, all that labour of yours about these spices and ointments is lost; you will find here no body to embalm. But not lost this visit to the sepulchre; for to you first, among all his followers, have I to tell: “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay;” ’ and he led them into the sepulchre.
“Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” How little did the angel who first uttered these words, and heard the echo of them die away among the recesses of the rocky garden,—how little, perhaps, did he think that the invitation which he thus gave to those few trembling women who stood before him, would be conveyed down through all after times, and be borne to the ears of millions upon millions of the followers of Jesus Christ. And yet it has been even so, and in the course of its long descent and wide circulation, it has reached even unto us. Let us listen to and obey it. Come, let us look at the place where the Lord once lay, and from which on that third morning he arose.
We cannot indeed literally accept the angelic invitation, and go and look into the empty sepulchre. The hand of time, and in this instance the still rougher hands of the devotee and of the infidel, have wrought such changes in that sacred neighbourhood that the exact site of the holy sepulchre cannot be identified. But though we may not be able to plant our footsteps on the very ground that the trembling women occupied, or follow them as, angel led, they passed into the deserted tomb, yet in thought we may still bend over the place where the Lord once lay.
As we do so, let us reflect upon the proofs of the divine mission of the Redeemer afforded by his resurrection from the grave. Evidence enough had been afforded by our Lord himself, during his lifetime, of his divine character and authority. The words he spake, the works he did, proclaimed him to be the Son of the Highest. But sufficient as it was to convince the candid, that evidence had not been sufficient to silence the cavillers. His words were misunderstood and misinterpreted; his miracles, though not denied, were attributed to Satanic agency. It was as a blasphemer that he was put to death. But his resurrection appears at least to have had this effect, it stopped the mouths of his adversaries. There might be a few among the more credulous of them who accepted the clumsy tale that the chief priests tried to circulate about his disciples coming by night and taking the body away. But loudly and publicly as, both in the heart of Jerusalem and elsewhere, the apostles proclaimed this fact in the presence of the Rulers themselves, it does not appear that its reality was ever openly challenged, or that any such attempt was made to explain it away as had been made regarding other miracles wrought by the Saviour’s hands. If it failed to convince, it succeeded at least in silencing those who would, if they could, have dealt with it in a like manner.
It had indeed the force of a double miracle. Barely, and by itself, the rising of Jesus from the dead most fully authenticated the claims he had put forth. Had the Son of Mary not been all that he had declared himself to be, never would such an exercise of the Divine power have been put forth on his behalf. But more than this, Christ had publicly perilled his reputation as the Christ of God, on the occurrence of this event. When challenged to give some sign in support of his pretensions, it was to his future resurrection from the dead, and to it alone, that he appealed. Often, as we have seen, and that in terms incapable of misconstruction, had our Lord foretold his resurrection. It carried thus along with it, a triple proof of the divinity of our Lord’s mission. It was the fulfilment of a prophecy, as well as the working of a miracle; that miracle wrought, and that prophecy fulfilled, in answer to a solemn and confident appeal made beforehand by Christ to this event as the crowning testimony to his Messiahship.
But not yet have we exhausted the testimony which the resurrection of Jesus embodies. He spoke of that resurrection as the raising of himself by himself. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. I lay down my life, that I may take it again. I have power to lay it down; I have power to take it again.” An assumption by Jesus Christ of a power proper to the Creator alone; a clothing of himself with the high prerogatives of the giver and the restorer of life. His actual resurrection, did it not in the most solemn manner ratify that assumption, convincing us by an instance of the highest kind, that whatsoever thing the Father doeth, the same doeth the Son likewise?
But further still—and it is this which attaches such importance to this incident in the history of our Redeemer, and causes it to be spoken of in the New Testament Scriptures as standing in such close connexion with all our dearest hopes as to the life beyond the grave,—in the resurrection of the Saviour, the seal of the Divine acceptance and approval was put upon that great work of service and of sacrifice, of atonement and of obedience in our room and stead, which Jesus finished on the cross. The expression and embodiment of that acceptance and approval in a visible act, an outward and palpable incident, gives an aid and a security to our faith in Christ for our acceptance with God, far beyond that which any bare announcement in words could possibly have conveyed. Can we wonder, then, at the prominence given, in the teachings and writings of the apostles of our Lord, to an event so full of convincing evidence, so rich in spiritual instruction and comfort? To be a witness to this great event was held—as the election of Matthias informs us—to be the special function of the apostolic office. It was to this event that Peter referred at large in his discourse to the multitude on the day of Pentecost. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Questioned, a short time afterwards, before the Sanhedrim, as to the earliest of the apostolic miracles, “Be it known,” said Peter, “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.” When Paul addressed the men of Athens, this was the one supernatural incident to which, in the way of attestation, he referred: “God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” I have but to refer to the 15th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, to remind you of the place and prominence given to the event by the great apostle of the Gentiles: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”11
From the first, it was to that crowning miracle of Christianity that its teachers made appeal. And now once more, in our own times, it is by that event that we desire that the entire question of the supernaturalism of our religion should be decided; for if that event be true, then any, then all other miracles are at least credible, for where among them shall a greater than this be found? If that event be true, then upon it does the entire fabric of our Christian faith securely rest; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then are we prepared along with this, and as harmonizing with this, to believe all that the Scriptures have taught us of the glory of Christ’s person, as one with, and equal to the Father;—all that they have taught us of the design of his life and death among us, as the Redeemer of our souls from death,—the giver, the infuser, the nourisher, the maturer of that eternal life which is for our souls in him. Let us then be devoutly grateful for it, that our faith in him—in knowledge of whom, in union with whom standeth our eternal life—has such a solid foundation of fact to rest upon,—a foundation so firmly embedded among all those other foundations upon which our knowledge of the past reposes, that to unsettle, to overturn it, you must unsettle, must overturn them all.
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Nowy sposób na e-księgarnię
Czytelnicy nie wierzą
Legimi idzie na całość
Projekt Legimi wielkim wydarzeniem
Spotify for ebooks