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the welfare, the existence of the state, required its extirpation, which would never have happened, if it had not been founded on truth-if it had not been. the word of God..
If the report of the apostles had been false, in re-gard to the resurrection of their Master, it would: have been very easy for the chief priests and rulersof the Jews, to have proved its falsity to the world. If what they told the Roman soldiers who watched the sepulchre of Jesus to say, had been true; if his disciples had gone to it by night, and stolen away his body, when they were asleep (to steal which from a guard of soldiers stationed at the very spoty. without alarming them, must appear to every one utterly impracticable; especially too as the chief, priests had set a stone * at the door of the sepul-. chre, which they had sealed); if the disciples of Jesus had done this, it would have been
for the chief priests to have sifted the whole matter to the bottom, and to have given satisfactory proofs of the deception to all mankind. But we do not find that: they took any such steps,. zealous as they were to oppose the preaching of the apostles.
* Vide Matthew xxvii. 64.65, 66.
If the resurrection of Jesus did not happen, the apostles must have entered into a plot, they must have agreed together in regard to the minute circumstances of the report that they should make to the world. How then could it be that not one among so many confederates in a cheat, or urged by conscience, or apalled by danger, or subdued by persecution, should have exposed the fraud, and avowed his criminality? What cement, if it had been a plot, could have bound the confederacy? What could have given perseverance to twelve dishonest men (for such they must have been in the extreme if they had forged the story of their Master's resurrection) to continue in a falsehood, which must appear even to themselves an unprofitable one? Is it not. strange, is it to be believed, that twelve such persons should abide by such a falsehood during their lives, that they should maintain it through every extremity, and obtrude themselves with it in their mouths into the presence of their Ma. ker? And here I cannot forbear quoting the very words which the late ingenious Zachary Pearce uses on this subject, in his arguments against that weak and wild writer Woolston, in his “ Miracles of Jesus vindicated.” He says, upon the apostles unanimously asserting the fact of their Master's resurrection with their dying breath, and when : expiring under the cruellest tortures,t “ This is na. : turally as strong a proof as a fact is capable of; for death is the utmost trial, the surest test which human nature can be exposed to. And it is no abatement to the force of this proof to say, that many cheats and criminals have asserted their innocence and denied their guilt in the utmost extremity of death ; for the two cases are so far from being parallel, that they are exactly contrary; such cheats and criminals being tempted to this denial of their guilt by the hope of saving their lives; whereas in the apostles' case the only hope that they couldhave of saving their lives was by owning the false hood (if it was one) and acknowledging themselves to be guilty, which is just the reverse of what they did.”
And now I will express my rapturous joy that there are such strong unanswerable arguments in favour of the resurrection of our Saviour, (for I trust if we review this whole chain of reasoning that it will appear complete and satisfactory) by which it
* All the apostles, except John, sealed their testimony with their blood.
naturally follows that the dreary, cheerless, idea of our annihilation is as false, as it is horrible: we can prove by this that the frame will not become after death like the kneaded clod; the tender parent who is bowed to the earth for the loss of his beloved child, may raise his depressed head, as he may from hence be assured that he will again view the object upon which his eyes were wont to gaze with l.eart-felt joy, for we shall find (to use the tri. -umphant language of the apostle) that “ We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory! The sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinth. xv. 5 51-57
END OF THE PREFACE.