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to that holy supper which he instituted, and receive the pledges of his mercy, his grace, and his everlasting favour : there let us keep the feast, in memory of Christ, that very Paschal Lamb who was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world—who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again, hath restored to us everlasting life: there let us proclaim, with holy triumph, that Christ hath risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept; and there let us receive the pledges of that hope, at once our triumph and our joy-our triumph over the doubts and the errors of this mortal life-our joy amidst the changes, the sorrows, and the trials of this uncertain world that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory, and be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom.
THE REASONS OF JOY IN CONTEMPLATING THE DAY OF
Psalm cxvii. 24.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and
be glad in it.
This, my brethren, is the voice of triumph which, on the recent festival of Esther, was heard in the church. What a different scene, even to the eye of the world, does the day of Christ's resurrection present, from that which marked the day of his crucifixion! We, my brethren, even on that day, penetrated by faith the cloud of humiliation which enveloped our Lord and Master, and beheld his cross and passion but as the preludes to his glorious resurrection—to the triumphs of this day. But the incredulous world could only have seen in Jesus Christ a malefactor suffering the ignominious death of the cross.
What is the spectacle which the day of Christ's resurrection presents ? The sepulchre to which the body of this malefactor was consigned, the entrance of which was sealed by the seal of the Roman governor, and which was guarded by the implacable enemies of Christ, is open—the body of Jesus is gone. Even the incredulous world must adopt the language of the faithful—“ The Lord is risen indeed." “ This is the day which the Lord hath made ; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Yes, my brethren, this one circumstance alone, if there is faith to be given to what no man in his senses will doubt-historical testimony—this one circumstance, that the body of the crucified Jesus disappeared from that tomb which his vigilant enemies guarded with the express purpose
preventing its being stolen away-this one circumstance proves that he must have burst the bands of the grave through divine power-that God raised him from the dead. But we have other evidence of this glorious
It is morally impossible that the apostles should violate every dictate of common sense, and every feeling of interest, by enduring persecutions and privations without a parallel, in the service of a crucified impostor-in the testimony that their Master had risen; that they had seen him, conversed with him, handled him, and associated with him for a considerable time-when, in fact, his body was rotting in the grave. It is morally impossible that they should have submitted to persecution and death in attestation of an event which they knew had never happened; that they, who, timid and cowardly, forsook their Master and filed when he was taken and crucified, should suddenly become bold and undaunted in proclaiming what they knew to be false--that this crucified malefactor had risen from the dead. We shall discover an incredulity which sets common sense at defiance, if we can believe that these unlettered, friendless, and despised fishermen of Galilee could, by their own unassisted efforts, induce the Jew to forsake the magnificent ceremonies of his law, and the Pagan to renounce his vices, and the splendid, wanton, and sensual worship that allured him in.. the temples of his gods, in order to take up the cross of an outcast Nazarene. It would be the extreme of incredulity to believe that the stupendous truth, that the crucified Jesus was risen from the dead and exalted to universal dominion, should almost immediately find its way into the remotest regions of the known world, and become the glory and the consolation of the learned and the great, as well as of the poor and the ignorant, unless it had been enforced by the power of the Most High.
Of the day of Christ's resurrection we may then say, in the language with which the inspired psalmist eulogized it—“ This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad.” We rejoice,
1. Because, by his resurrection, the scandal of the cross of Christ is removed.
Certainly the humiliation in which Christ appeared was not calculated to conciliate the favour of mankind. Poverty, obscurity, suffering, are not the passports to their applause. Pride of birth, elevation of station, and a course marked by ease, by wealth, by splendour, and by deeds of glory, are the means of exciting human favour and commanding human applause. Jesus Christ had none of these, with which to win the hearts of men. Humble in his birth, poor and suffering in his life, he died the death of a malefactor. The world beheld only darkness, only scandal in the cross. But when Jesus Christ arose from the grave, he surrounded that cross with splendour and with glory. The Victim who suffered on it is not a malefactor -smitten of God, but the favourite of heaven, who has vanquished death, and is crowned with honour. We rejoice,
2. Because the resurrection of Christ authorizes our confidence in him as a Teacher sent from God.
It is indeed most contrary to human calculation, that a messenger from heaven, on the most benign errand that could bring down one of its exalted host, should appear in the character of the most humble of the tenants of the earth, and, marking his course by tears and sorrow, should descend from the cross to the tomb. But how has God confounded the wisdom of this world! The cloud of humiliation that covered the Saviour, rendered more illustrious the glory of his resurrection, and made more striking this attestation of God to the truth of his mission. 66 He was crucified out of weakness,” saith the apostle ;," he liveth by the power of God.”: He foretold what the language of prophecy had pointed out' as the characteristic of the Messiah, that he should be crucified, and should rise again. Contrary to all human calculation, and certainly above all human power, the prediction was verified: Jesus. Christ was raised from the dead. He could have been thus raised only by the power of God. Either, then, we must blasphemously put the seal of God to an imposture, or acknowledge that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is from above; that all which he proclaimed, all which he commanded, all which he promised, all which he threatened, are armed with the authority and sanctioned by the voice of the Most High. We rejoice, Vol. HI.