« PreviousContinue »
affured us that the Dead shall be raised : For no one can foretell the Time and Circumstances of a dead Man's rising to Life, who has not the Power, or is not commissioned by Him who has the Power, of Life and Death. So that the Authority of our Saviour's Word after his Resurrection was not barely the Authority of one coming from the Dead, but it was the Authority of Him who has Power to raise the Dead; which Authority we know belongs not to Man, and therefore is greater than the Authority of any Man either from the Dead or the Living. So that our Saviour's Resurrection proves a Commission from the Higheft Power to teach the World; which cannot be proved merely from the Appearance of one from the Dead. And here lies the true Difference between the Resurrection of Christ, and the Resurrection of those whom our Saviour himself raised from the Dead. We have been asked, why Lazarus and the rest did not publish their Knowledge of the other World? One plain Answer is, they were not commiffioned fo to do: Their Resurrection was a Proof of his Power and Commission, who raised them to Life, but of their own Power and Com
miffion it was no Proof: They were merely paffive in their Resurrection, and brought no more Authority from the Grave, than they carried to it; and therefore had no Right to set up for Teachers. .
Then, as to the Reality of our Saviour's Resurrection, there was Warning given to expect it; which of itself is a great Evidence of fincere Dealing. Men do not use to give public Notice of the Cheats they intend to play; or, if ever they have, the Success has been answerable to the Management, and yielded nothing but Shame and Confusion to the Contrivers. And, after his Resurrection, his Stay upon Earth was so long, as to give full Satisfa&tion, to all concerned, of the Truth and Reality of what they saw. At his first Appearance, the Disciples were in the fame Case with others who think they see Spectres and Apparitions ; that is, they were confounded and amazed, and did not know well what they saw: And, had not the Frequency of our Saviour's Appearances made them familiar to them, so that they bore the Sight of him with the fame Sedateness of Mind as they did in his Life-time, and confequently had all the necessary Qualifications to judge rightly concerning what they heard
or faw'; had it not been for this, I say, their Evidence in this Case would not have been equal to the Weight of those Truths it is to support. And farther, since this Appearance was in consequence of the Prediction he made of his own Resurrection, there is no room to doubt that it was a true and proper Resurrection of his Body: For it is much easier to imagine that he should come to Life, and fulfil his Prediction, than that he should, being really dead, contrive and execute any thing that should seem to fulfil it. s · Pofsibly this may be allowed, and yet not give Satisfaction in this Matter: For it is not, you will fay, that the Resurrection of our Saviour is such a Work as is not proper to satisfy all Doubts, that makes you desire to see one from the Dead; but it is, that you would willingly be satisfied by your own Eyes, and not depend upon the Credit of another for a Thing of this Nature: Had you been in the Place of the Apostles, and seen our Lord come from the Grave, that then you would not have desired to have seen any body else; but now you think you might find that Conviction in seeing one come from the Dead yourself, which you
cannot find in the Reports of those who pretend to have seen one.
Let us consider this Cafe then; Whether he who believes upon the Credit of a private Apparition to himself, believes upon a surer Evidence, than he who receives the Gospel Account upon that Evidence on which it at present stands. I will not deny but that à Man's Fancy may be more powerfully wrought on, not only by seeing, but even by supposing that he sees, one from the Dead : But this is so far from being an Advantage, that in truth it is quite otherwise; for, the more Work Things of this Nature find for the Imagination, the less Room do they leave for the Judgment to exercise itself in. Our Senses at all times are liable to be imposed on, but never more than when we are in a Fright or Surprize. In such cases it is common to overlook our Friends, and not to know who was with us, or who not: And the very Surprize, that would necessarily attend upon seeing one come from the Dead, would be a great Reason for us to suspect afterwards the Report our Senses made of what they had seen. And this was indeed the Case of those who saw our Saviour upon
his first Appearance : Nor could any thing have cured this, but his staying with them so long as he did; so that at last they were able to see him without being disturbed, or suffering any Alteration in their usual Temper: And this qualified them to judge. for themselves, and report to others with Authority what they saw. So that the Circumstances of our Saviour's Resurrection were such as admitted a due Teitimony; whereas it is very much to be doubted, whether he who sees one come from the Dead be capable to give himself Satisfaction afterwards, either' as to what he faw, or what he heard. And judge you, whether you would chuse to believe the concurring Testimony of many Persons in their right Senses, so well qualified to judge, or rely upon yourself, at a Time when you are hardly Master of your Senses.
But farther ; Suppose you could converse with a Man from the Dead with the same Temper and Calmness, that you do with one of your Friends or Acquaintance; what would be the Consequence? You would probably rest assured that you had seen a Man from the Dead, and perhaps be more satisfied of this, than at present you are that