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Thus, you fee, that, notwithstanding the feeming unreasonableness and abfurdity of the doctrine of the gospel, it is a moft wife and effectual contrivance for the reforming and faving of mankind. But unto them that are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Chrift the power of God, and the wifdom of God.
The proper inference from all this is, to ftir us up to a thankful acknowledgment and admiration of the wisdom and goodness of God, in the falvation of men by Jefus Chrift. We are moft apt to admire that wisdom which finds out fuch means to an end, as human wisdom would have been leaft apt to devife, and hit upon; and yet, the more we confider them, the more we must approve their fitnefs. Such is the defign of the recovery and redemption of mankind, by the death and fufferings of the Son of God. However it may appear to rafh and inconfiderate men, who judge fuperficially, and according to the uppermost appearances of things, to be a very unlikely and improbable defign; yet, upon a through and impartial examination of things, we fhall find, that God's way the wifeft, and that, in the management of this defign, he hath outdone the utmoft prudence and wisdom of men, and hath ordered things to infinitely more advantage, than they would have been, in any of those methods which the fhort and imperfect wifdom of carnal men would have been moft apt to pitch upon. Ignorant, and conceited, and prejudiced men, may cenfure it for folly; but the angels, more intelligent and decerning creatures than we are, and of a deeper reach, do look upon it with wonder and aftonifhment. So the Apoftle tells us, 1 Peter i. 12. where, fpeaking of the gofpel, he calls it a thing which the angels defire to look into. An allufion to the cherubims, who looked earnestly upon the mercy-feat which was over the ark, as if they would pry into it.
And then, let us acknowledge the infinite goodnefs of God, in faving us, by the death and fufferings of his Son, us vile and miferable finners. Had we been the moft innocent and righteous, and the dearest friend's to him in the world, what could he have done more? How could he poffibly have teftified greater love to us, than to give his Son to die for us? Here is goodness without
bounds, love without parallel and example; for greater love than this hath no man, that a man should lay down bis life for his friend; this is the highest pitch that human affection ever attained to, to die for one's friend: But herein hath God commended his love to us, that, while we were enemies, he gave his Son to die for us.
This is that which we are to commemorate at this feafon, and, by the commemoration thereof, to prepare ourfelves for the receiving of the bleffed facrament of his body and blood, which was broken and shed for us. The confideration whereof, as it fhould excite us to a hearty forrow and repentance for fin, fo fhould it alfo inflame us with love to Chrift, who, by fuffering fuch things for us, hath laid upon us an eternal obligation of love and obedience to him. The remembrance of whofe death fhould not only put us into a prefent fit and paffion of grief and love, but fhould be the ground of lafting affections and refolutions; the thoughts of what he hath done and fuffered for us, fhould make us ambitious to do or fuffer
any thing for him. What should not we be willing to part with for him, who did not think his own life and his glory dear to him for our fakes? Did he die for us? and fhall we think much to live to him? Did he become miferable for our fakes? and fhall we think much to become holy and happy for his fake and for our own?
Such affections and holy refolutions the confideration of our Saviour's death and fufferings should be apt to excite in us. What grief, what love, what thankfulness fhould the remembrance of his dying love work in us! When we confider feriously the many and mighty bleffings and benefits which flow to us out of his wounds, and are taking the cup of falvation into our hands, how should our fouls, and all that is within us, blefs his holy name, who pardoneth all our iniquities, and healeth all our difeafes who redeemeth our life from deftruction, and crowneth us with loving-kindness and tender mercy! To him, therefore, our gracious and good God, let us give ail thanks, adoration, and praife. Amen.
ACT S, i. 3.
To whom also be shewed himself alive after his paffion, by many infallible proofs, being feen of them forty days, and fpeaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
HESE words comprehend, in fhort, the whole evi dence of our Saviour's refurrection, which may be referred to these four heads:
Firft, His appearance to them after his death and paffion: To whom alfo he fhewed himself alive after his paffion. To whom; that is, to the Apoftles, whom St Luke had mentioned juft before. After he had given commandment to the Apostles, whom he had chofen; to whom alfo, &c.
Secondly, The proof of the reality of his appearance : To whom also he fhewed himself alive after his paffion, by many infallible proofs, i wonnois Texμneiou, idque complu ribus argumentis, faith Erafmus," and that by many certain and undoubted proofs, or arguments."
Thirdly, The duration and continuance of his appearance to them: Being feen of them forty days.
Fourthly, The fubject-matter of his difcourfe with them: And Speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Each of thofe affords us a confiderable evidence of Chrift's refurrection.
Firft, His appearance to them after his death and paffion: To whom alfo he fhewed himself alive after his paffion. In which words, there are three things very confiderable, and which give great evidence to our Saviour's refurrection. 1. His
I. His appearance to his Apoftles.
II That he was really alive, and his body vitally united to his foul
III. And this after he was really dead, after his passion; that is, after he was crucified, dead, and buried, he was raifed to life again. I fhall fpeak briefly of these.
I. His appearance to his Apoftles: To whom alfo he Thewed himself alive. The Apostles are here only mentioned, becaufe this is here fpoken of, in order to their defignation and appointment, to be the witneffes of Chrift's refurrection to the world, as the great confirmation of that doctrine which they were to publish: But because I am confidering his appearance after his refurrection, as an evidence of the truth of it, I fhall therefore take in his appearance to others alfo of his difciples and followers, and confider likewife, why he only appeared to his own followers, and not alfo to the unbelieving Jews, who had put him to death, for the full conviction of his enemies and murderers, and the converfion of that whole nation, to whom he was primarily fent.
In confidering his feveral appearances, not only to his Apoftles, but to his other difciples and followers, that I may give the shorteft and fulleft view of them, I fhalt take them as they are briefly fummed up by St Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 4, &c. where, giving an account of the fum of his doctrine among the Corinthians, he tells us, that the foundation of all his preaching was the death and resurrection of Chrift, I delivered unto you, first of all, that which I alfo received, how that Chrift died for our fins, according to the fcriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rofe again the third day, according to the fcripAures. And then follows the particular evidence of his refurrection, verfe 5. And that he was feen of Cephas. St Paul here takes no notice of his firft appearance to the devout women, who brought fpices and ointments to the fepulchre, Mary Magdalen, and Foanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women, as we find, Luke xxiv. 10. The reafon of which feems to be this, becaufe his firft appearance was in confideration of their piety and affection to him, and of the weakness of their ex, their faith being liable to be firft ftaggered; and
they were only to relate it to the Apoftles, and to be honoured with carrying the first news of it, not to be witneffes of it to the world; fo that this appearance was only for the private confirmation of their faith, and, therefore, not particularly taken notice of by St Paul, among the publick evidences of Chrift's refur. rection.
He was feen of Cephas. This is mentioned Luke xxiv. 34. The Lord is rifen indeed, and bath appeared to Simon.
St Paul goes on; and then of the twelve. The college of the Apoftles, because their number was twelve by our Saviour's inftitution, are moft frequently called The Twelve, though, at fome meetings, fome one of them might perhaps be abfent: It is true, there was a fhort interruption, by the mifcarriage of Judas, from the time of our Saviour's apprehenfion, to his afcenfion, and then they are called The Eleven, as before, and after they are called The Twelve; yea, at this first appearance of our Saviour to them, when they were but ten, Thomas being abfent, they are called The Eleven; Mark xvi, 14. He appeared to the eleven as they fat at meat; because they were then but eleven in all. And, indeed, in this text of St Paul, both the vulgar tranflation, which certainly follows a very antient copy, and St Ambrofe there, inftead of twelve, render it eleven; so that St Paul probably means our Saviour's first appearance to them, mentioned by St Mark, where they are also called The Eleven, though Thomas was abfent: Which is the reason why St Paul fays afterwards, at the 7th verfe, that he was feen of all the Apostles, that is, Thomas alfo being prefent, as I fhall fhew by and by.
After that, he was seen by above five hundred brethren at once. This was the most folemn appearance of all, mentioned Matth. xxviii. 10. and John xxi. 1. where our Saviour appointed a general meeting of all his difciples and followers. Go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, aud there they shall fee me. Verfe 16. They went into Galilee into a mountain, where Jefus had appointed them. This mountain, according to the antient tradition, was mount Tabor,