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LUKE xvi. 31.
and the Prophets, neither will they be per-
T sometimes happens in Matters
Objects of Sense: That which
Shew,upon Examination proves to be worthless, and of no Esteem. Some Fruits, which allure the Eye most, can the least bear the Test of the Palate: They may be admired by the Traveller, who rides hastily by, and only sees them at a distance; but, when they are served up at the Table, the Taste foon rectifies the Mistake of the Eyes. So likewise, in Matters of Reason:
Some Arguments strike the Fancy immediately, and take the Judgment captive, before it has Time fairly to examine the Merits of the Cause; and yet, when the Vigour of the first Onset is over, and Time is given for Reflection, the Demonstration dwindles into nothing, and leaves a Man admiring that he was so easily deceived by so palpable a Cheat. And this seems to be the Case of the Argument in which the Text is concerned: Who would not think that the Coming of one from the Dead would effectually convince an Unbeliever? Or, were we for ourselves to desire the last Evidence for a future State, what more should we desire, than to see one come from the Dead; one of our old Acquaintance ; and to hear from him the Relation of what happened to him after Death, and of what he had seen and experienced in the other World? And yet this Evidence, our Saviour tells us, would have no Effect upon an Unbeliever: He, who can hold out against the Evidence that God has already given that he will one Day judge the World in Righteousness, would not be persuaded, though one rose from the Dead.
Our Saviour does not deny the Coming of one from the Dead to be an Evidence of a future State; nor yet, allowing it to be an Evidence, does he determine of what Weight and Authority it is, or ought to be. This only he affirms; That, let the Authority of it be what it will, they who will not submit to the Authority of a divine Revelation, will not submit to this: The Reason of which Judgment may appear from the following Considerations :
First, If the Evidence of Revelation be in itself greater and more convincing than the Evidence given by one from the Dead can possibly be, then there is no Reason to expect that he who rejects the greater (hould submit to the less Authority.
Secondly, If the Objections which the Unbeliever makes use of againft the Aur thority of Revelation, lie stronger against the Authority of one coming from the Dead, it is not to be fupposed, that he will pass over that in one Case, which he fo mightily Itumbles at in the other. Or,
Thirdly, If Unbelief be the Effect of a vitiated and corrupted Mind, which hates to be reforined; which rejects the Evidence, because it will not admit the Doctrine, not the
Doctrine, because it cannot admit the Evidence; in this case all Proofs will be alike, and it will be lost Labour to ply such a Man ‘with Reason or new Evidence, since it is not want of Reason or Evidence that makes him an Unbeliever. And it is upon this Case chiefly that our Saviour grounds his Judgment in the Text.
First then, Let us consider, whether the Evidence
which Revelation stands be in itself greater or more convincing, than the Evidence of one coming from the Dead can be: If it is, we must subscribe to our Saviour's Judgment; That he who will not bear Moses and the Prophets, or Christ and his Apostles, would not be persuaded, though one rose from the Dead. Whatever a dead Man, who appears to you, may tell you concerning another World, all the Reason you can have to believe him is, because
you suppose him to come from the other World, and to relate Things which he has seen and known: So that his Authority is no more than barely the Authority of a Traveller, who relates Things of the Countries through which he has passed. And how will it appear to you, that one from the Dead cannot possibly deceive you ? As he is a Man, I
have Reason to miftruft him; and what Reason you have to rely on him as a dead Man, I know not. Possibly you may think that the very Seeing of one come from the Dead will of itself
great Point of all, the Reality of a future State. But are you sure it is impossible for any Being of the other World to personate a dead Man, and to appear to you in the Shape and Figure of one you formerly knew? Surely, it is one Thing to prove that there is another World, and Beings belonging to its and another to prove a future State, that is, a World in which dead Men shall live.
Our Saviour's Resurrection was something more than merely the Apparition of a dead Man: He foretold the Time and Circumstances of his Resurrection, and put the Proof of his Mission and Doctrine upon the Performance of this great Wonder: So that by this means his Resurrection became a direct Proof of this, That the Doctrine he taught was the Doctrine of Him who has Power to raise the Dead : And since Part of his Doctrine is, That the Dead shall be raised; we are thus far certain, that He, who haş Power to raise the Dead, has