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1. If we have clear, satisfactory evidence, that Christ rose from the dead; then we have good ground to believe, that the gospel is true. The truth of the gospel rests entirely upon the truth of Christ's resurrection. If the apostles propagated a fraud and falsehood, with respect to the fact of Christ's rising from the dead, then the gospel they preached was a mere cunningly devised fable. But if we have clear and conclusive evidence of Christ's resurrection, then we have equally clear and conclusive evidence of the truth and divinity of the gospel. Our Saviour, before his death, suspended the highest and ultimate proof of the divinity of his person, and of the truth of his doctrines, upon the event of his resurrection from the dead. He repeatedly and plainly told his disciples, that he should be crucified and slain by wicked hands, and afterwards rise from the dead. He said, “ 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.” He said in reference to his body, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” He said, “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Sometime before his death, “he shewed unto his disa ciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day." These declarations were known not only to his friends, but to his enemies, who for that reason took peculiar care to ascertain the fact, whether he did, or did not rise again, as he predicted. And if he had not risen again according to his prediction, both his friends and enemies would have had a right to consider and call him an impostor. But by actually rising from the dead, he distinguished himself from all impostors, and exhibited the highest possible evidence, that he was what he professed to be, the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world.
Accordingly, the apostles made the resurrection of Christ the principle subject of their preaching. Wherever they preached, whether among Jews, or gentiles, they boldly declared, that Jesus of Nazareth, was risen from the dead, and was the only all-sufficient Saviour of sin
This was agreeable to the commission that Christ gave them to preach the gospel, just before he ascended to heaven. “ And he said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with
you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. Thus Christ founds the truth of the gospel upon the truth of his resurrection, and he directs his apostles to found the truth of it upon that single and all-important fact. And agreeably to this, the apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, that the gospel he had preached was founded entirely upon the truth of Christ's résurrection. “ If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain ye are yet in your sins.
But if it be morally certain, as we have shown, that Christ was raised from the dead, then it is morally certain, that the gospel, with all its precepts, promises, and threatenings, is infallibly true. And
And upon this foundation, it has stood the test of ages, and been mighty, through God, to the pulling down of the strong holds, and to the resisting of the most powerful attacks of its most inveterate and subtile enemies.
2. If God raised Christ from the dead, then we may justly conclude, that he made a complete and satisfactory atonement for sin, by his sufferings and death on the cross. If he had not been perfectly obedient to his Father's will, and faithfully performed every part of the work which he gave him to do, he would not have
manifested his approbation of him by raising him from the dead. Christ requested his Father, before he died, that he would give him a peculiar mark of his approbation, on account of his fidelity in performing his mediatorial work. He goes to him and says, “I have glo
. rified thee on earth : I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory I had with thee before the world was. Such a mark of his
approbation his Father gave him by raising him from the dead, as well as by receiving him to heaven. Hence says the apostle, that “Christ was declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead."... Again, he represents the Father as exalting him to his own right hand, as a mark of approbation, on account of what he did and suffered on the cross. " Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This was the highest possible mark of approbation, that the Father could give him, on account of his dying the just for the unjust, making his soul a sacrifice for sin, and giving his life a ransom for many. When Christ had drank the last drop of sufferings on the cross, he cried, 6. It is finished !" The atonement for the sins of the world is made. And the truth of this declaration, God the Father sealed, by raising him from the dead.
3. Since God has raised Christ from the dead, we may be assured, that he will completely accomplish the whole work of redemption. He has begun this great and arduous work, and performed the most difficult parts of it. He has come into the world, and tak.
en upon him human nature. He has lived a life of universal obedience and self-denial. He has died a painful and meritorious death, and he has risen triumphant from the grave. These were the most formidable evils and difficulties he had to meet and surmount in performing the great work of man's redemption. If he had fainted in the garden, or if he had been confined in the grave; he would have failed in his whole design. This his friends feared, and his enemies hoped, from the time of his death, to the time of his resurrection. Then he soon removed the fears of his friends, and destroyed the hopes of his enemies. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary; then to Peter; then to the twelve; and after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. Having completely convinced his friends of his resurrection to life, just before he left the world, he called his eleven disciples together, and assured them that he had power, and was determined to pursue the work he had undertaken, and would employ and assist them in carrying it into effect. * And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Since God has raised
Christ from the dead, given him all power in heaven , and earth, and made him to be head over all things to
the church, we may confidently believe, that he will continue to carry on, until he has finished the whole work of man's redemption. His resurrection is a solid foundation to expect, that he will do all the great and good things which he has promised to do for the salvation of those whom the Father has given him. Accordingly, when he was about to reveal to his beloved disciple John, the future glory and prosperity of his kingdom, he mentions his death, resurrection, and supreme authority, as the infallible evidence of the full accomplishment of all his predictions. John says, “I was in the spirit
on the Lord's day; and heard behind me a great voice, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last : and what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks, one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot. And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not, I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." The resurrection of Christ is the primary and principal ground we have to believe that he will fully accomplish the whole work of redemption. Since he has risen from the dead, and holds the reins of universal
government, we may confidently expect, that he will go on conquering and to conquer, until all his enemies are made his footstool, all the elect are called in, and all the promises and predictions of the gospel are fulfilled. Thus the resurrection of Christ is the richest source of divine consolation to all true believers. < Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus : Christ,” says the apostle Peter, “ who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last
time." 4. If Christ was literally raised from the dead, there is reason to believe, that there will be a literal and
general resurrection of the dead at the last day. Christ was literally raised from the dead. He arose in the same body in which he was laid in the tomb. Not only Thomas, but all the disciples, had a full belief of his body's being the same after his resurrection, that it was before. And from Christ's literal resurrection, the