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Elements themselves; The Earth trembling and quaking, as if in Pangs and Travel to discharge this New
Birth; The Testimony of others, whose
Bodies appeared in the Holy City, Nay 52, 53.
the Testimony of the most inveterate Enemies of Christ. For even the Jew's themselves, by advancing so incredible a Story, as that of his Disciples ficaling him away, do in effect confefs and corroborate a Truth, which they so very weakly endeavour to destroy
Among so great variety of Proofs, I shall confine my self to those, within the Compass of this Gospel. And here what I fall observe to you will come under thefe Two Heads.
First, The Circumstances, in which these Disciples found the Sepulchre.
Secondly, Their great nowness in apprehending and believing our Lord's Resurrection. These Two Observations make up the substance of this Scripture. And it shall be my business to shew, that Both these things contributed very much to the proof of this Article of our Faith, that Christ did really rise again from the Dead.
First, The Circumstances, in which the Disciples found the Sepulchre, were a very considerable Proof of the Reality of Christ's Resurrection, and the strongest Confutation imaginable of that frivolous Pretence, put about by the Chief Priests, of the Disciples stealing him away. Their unnecessary Caution was most happily made an Occasion of rendring that unquestionable, which they design'd especially to prevent, (viz.) The Opinion of Christ's rising the third Day. For (as we
Yesterday were told) to this End they pro
cure a Guard of the Governor to watch the Cave, and contrive that the Stone rolled, to close up the Door of it, should be sealed with his own Sig. net. But, when they found all this impertinent Care
of theirs had no effect; and the Soldiers ran frighted
That Romans, whose Military Discipline was so exceeding strict, should neglect their post upon f) extriordinary an Emergency, and when such particular Zeal and Diligence had been used; is as extravagant an Imagination, as a Man could ever think of, except that other of hïs Disciples stealing him away. For, Are not these the very Men, who, upon the first Affault in the Garden, all forsook him and fled? They durft
not stand by him even then, when he declared it in his Matt. xxvi. 53. his rescue ; and have they now the confi
power to call for twelve Legions of Angels to dence, to come in a Body, and bear away his Corpfe?
They had but two Swords among them all Luke xxii. 38. before; and He, who had the Courage to use one of them, durft not afterwards so muchas own any knowledgeof, or dependance on, his Master ; And is the Casenow changed fo monstrously, that these poor, naked, dispirited Creatures should attempt a Detachment of Armed Men, whose Order and Business it was, to expect, and be provided for them? Is This a likely thing, that They, who durft not so much as appear in publick, but assembled themselves privately, and shut up their Doors, for fear of the Jews, should invade a strong Guard ? That They should, all on a sudden, grow Valiant, or rather indecd Foolhardy, to this degree? When He, in whom they trusted, was dead ; when the Stouteit of them all, even while he was yet alive, trembled at the Voice of a silly Servant, and did the most cowardly Action in the World ; that of affirming, nay swearing to a Falshood, to deliver himself from the danger of an inquisitive and busie Tongue? These are Difficulties, never to be got over; and such as will not suffer any Man, that considers them, to believe that idle pretence, which the Jews so industriously reported, to disprove our Saviour's Resurrection.
But, Let us for once suppose, what yet is most improbable, that the Disciples had Courage enough for lo desperate an undertaking. Yet Robberies, we know, are committed in haste and hurry; and every Moment is tedious, to Men under confusion and fear of discovery. If therefore the removing of the Body had been their work, and they had snatched an Opportunity for it, while the Centinels Nept; Would they not have taken it away, as it was, without staying to unbind and undress it? Do Thieves, after they have rifled a House,
use to spend time, in putting things in order again? And is it not agreeable to all the Reason in the World, that these Persons would have been rather solicitous to make their Escape, than to strip the Corpse, to fold up the Clothes, and to lay them apart from one another in their proper places? That which renders this still more and more unconceivable, is the Custom of Interment in that Country. Which therefore St. John does not forget to mention particularly; As being in truth a fit Preparation, and proper Strengthning, to the Account he gives here. For at the 39th and 40th Verses of the foregoing Chapter, he acquaints us, that Nicodemus brought a mixture of Myrrh and Aloes about a hundred pound
weight; And they took the Body of Jesus, and wound it in linen Clothes, with the Spices, as the Manner of the Jews is to bury. Now these Spices were used to preserve the Body from Corruption: Which they did, by being a sort of Shell, or Crust, over it. And this their glutinous Substance qualified them for. But the same glewy Nature must needs make the Cloathes they were used with, cling very close and fast to the Skin, and not to be drawn off without a great deal of time and difficulty. When therefore these Coverings were found, regularly pulled off, wrapped up, and laid by; This plainly shews the removing of Jesus's Body to be a work of leisure, and much deliberation; Such, as by no nieans agrees with the confusion and haste, of things done by stealth. Nor can it enter into any sober Man's Thoughts, that They, who came privily and in danger of their Lives, should so far venture the awaking of the Guard, and trifle away their time in these so hazardous, so unnecessary Niceties. So that, had the Lord been taken away, we cannot but think they would have taken him as he was, which would have served Their turn very well. But, since the Sepulchre was found empty, and the Grave-clothes left behind; We have great reason to conclude, that He took himself away.
And, by the fame Divine Power, which brought him into the World, of a Mother, still a Virgin, that he raised his own dead Body to Life a second time, without
breaking the Seal, or removing the Stone. Matth. xxviii. 2.
For this, we are exprefly told, was not His, but the Angels doing. And done it was, not to make him passage, but to make the access to the Tomb easy, and give opportunity for discovering this wonderful Work of God. These Objections, I say, lie both against the Jews Fiction, that the Disciples had stollen their Lord; and Mary's Fear, that some other had conveyed him away. And if Peter and John had attended to what they faw, their own Eyes, and their own Reason might have convinced them, that This was Jesus his own doing, how marvellous foever it might seem to them at that time. But, even in this too, there was a particular Providence. For Their very Slowness in apprehending and believing the Resurrection of Christ, did it self contribute much, to the persuading Men, and proving the Reality of it. Which was the Second thing I proposed to fhew, and row proceed to prove it accordingly, upon these Two Accounts.
Firsi, That Backwardness of Believing in the Disciples added to the Evidences given of this Resurrection; and ministred occasion for several moft undeniable Proofs, which otherwise had not been necessary to them. And indeed their Backwardness was so great, that one would wonder, how they should be so exceeding ftupid and heavy, had not God in his Wisdom so ordered the matter, that Their Incredulity should be Our Confirmation. The Certainty of a Resurrection in general our Lord had oftentimes foretold; And that all, abg
were in the Grave, should one day bear bis John v. 29.
Voice, and come fortb. The necessity of his own Resurrection, and the stated time of it, he had exprefly declared. And, when he gave them warning at any time of his approaching Death; he never failed to