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its credit with the world, in order to keep the populace in awe. Besides, in this case, the grand evidence for Christianity, which arose from the martyrdoms of its first preachers, had been wanting; for, if all had been Christians, as there had been none to persecute, so there had been none to suffer.
But if these great persons, becoming witnesses for the resurrection, had only brought over to Christianity some of their contemporary Jews and Romans, then nothing had been done by their attestation but what was done without it; and sure I am, that, had the unbelieving Jews and Romans put them to the test of martyrdom, they would have shamefully deserted and betrayed the truth, through their excessive fondness for life, together with the grandeur and pleasures of this world. This, humanly speaking, would have wholly ruined Christianity. For men at first professing it, afterward to renounce it, nay, to declare it an imposture (which, to satisfy their persecutors and save their lives, they must have done), had been enough to render ridiculous the martyrdom of lower, but honester witnesses, who continued to profess it in flames. As these men had already bought our Saviour, so we may be sure they would have sold him, as soon as their own lives became the price of his discredit.
From hence, and from a great deal more that might be said on the same subject, it appears, that Christ judged infinitely better in not appearing after his resurrection to those who crucified him, than the short-sighted unbelievers, who make this an objection to the truth of his resurrection.
This only objection of weight being thus removed, and the evidence given to the resurrection of Christ being proved irresistible, it is scarcely in our power to suspect the fact.
It is true, the strangeness of that fact is apt to stagger the faith of such as measure credibility only by what is common, or frequently brought under their own observation. Such people should consider, that the resurrection is said to be the work of God; that all his works are marvellous, though in wisdom he hath made them all ;' nay, that his works which we see every moment, such as the light, the motion of bodies, the growth of plants, the production of animals, are all infinitely more wonderful in themselves than the resurrection
of Christ, or any other man. Nay, all that we see and know of God's works, great and excellent as they are, is not more necessary to the belief of his wisdom and goodness, than the resurrection of Christ.
Indeed, if Christ did not rise, Christianity is altogether an imposture; so is Judaism; and, consequently, as no other species of religion hath the least shadow or mark of a divine original, it follows, that God never made any revelation to mankind; that is, that although he made it impossible for mankind to subsist without religion, or to be happy without the true religion, yet he never afforded them the means of attaining to it..
To evade the imputation of this blasphemous conclusion, our modern infidels say, God hath given to all men sufficient means of knowing the true religion by the mere light of nature, although no mortal should ever talk one word to them about it, or teach them a tittle of it. This most extravagant assertion, which the continual experience of every mortal fully refutes, is all that infidelity or Deism hath to build on.
But let this pass; and let us, who firmly believe in the resurrection of our blessed Saviour, consider it as the first fruits of a universal resurrection, since it is so set forth to us in holy Scripture. Let us continually reflect, that . God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by his Son Christ Jesus, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him up from the dead.' Let us consider, that, as sure as Christ is risen, as sure as man is a free and accountable creature, as sure as God is a just governor of the world, and an infallible performer both of what he promises and threatens; so surely shall we all arise from the earth, and, ‘standing before the judgment-seat of God, shall receive the full reward of that which we have done in the flesh, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. That infinitely wise and powerful Being, who hath weighed every thing in a balance, who hath given proportion, beauty, convenience, and order, to all the works of nature, will most assuredly, at his own appointed time, put the moral world also into the balance, and assign the righteous and the wicked their respective stations, as well as the water and the fire. The material elements lay at first in a frightful confusion, till by the operation of divine wisdom and power, they fell into their proper places ; so that, in their present state, they do infinite honour to the great Artificer of nature. In like manner, the moral world, which is by far the more excellent part of the creation, although it now lies in confusion, good and evil being intermixed, and the righteous and wicked perpetually interfering, shall be reduced to order; insomuch that the good and the bad shall no longer contend for superiority, nor shake God's kingdom with trials or convulsions. When the day appointed for judgment shall arrive, the righteous shall have dominion over the wicked in the very morning' of that day; and shall have power to compel them, although against their wills, to obey and answer the purposes of Providence. To suppose the contrary; to believe that accountable beings shall never be called to account, and that the moral or intellectual world shall never be cleared up and regulated; would reflect more dishonour on God, and argue greater weakness in our reason, than the supposition of endless confusion in the material world. To preserve the heavenly bodies in their courses; to confine the elements to their stations; to promote the birth, and ensure the being, of the vegetable and animal species ; are not as necessarily the effects of God's wisdom, goodness, and power, as to relieve the virtuous from their distresses, and crown them with eternal peace and joy; as to put an end to the insolence of the vicious, and make them everlasting examples of divine justice. The faith of the good man may be sometimes so staggered with his afflictions, and that of the wicked so lost in his successes and triumphs, as to suppress the fears of the one, and cloud the hopes of the other; but he who at present guides the year, and brings round the seasons, without even a momentary variation, is, with the same steady and irresistible hand, leading us all to the seat of judgment, making the necessary dispositions, and ripening the course of things for the proper season marked out, in his unalterable decree, for the great event. Howsoever vice may feed itself up with false reasonings, or amuse itself with sensual pleasures, or lull itself in stupidity and security, yet it is as certain as that we are now alive and shall soon die, that, after death, we shall arise from the grave, and be judged in the flesh for what we have done in the flesh.
Since, then, God cannot be wise, nor good, nor just, nor powerful, if we be not judged; since the only religion that hath any right to the title of truth hath given us strong and repeated assurances of a judgment to come; 'what manner of persons ought we to be, in all godliness and true holiness!' This is an event we cannot possibly shun, and ought therefore continually to apprehend. What are the things of this world, that they should turn our eyes aside from that awful throne, from whence we are to be either carried to the eternal enjoyment of God, or sent away to the endless torture of fire! What are the pleasures and honours of this life, when compared with the joys and glories of heaven! What are the sufferings of the righteous here, when set against the miseries of the damned hereafter! What is reason, if she cannot apprehend a difference that is so immensely wide ! And what is the will or heart of man, if, when his reason rightly apprehends the difference, it cannot be brought to submit itself to reason, and act accordingly!
But as our hearts are indeed very deceitful, and desperately wicked,' insomuch that reason can by no means govern them, let us, in the spirit of deep contrition and fear, smite upon our breasts, and cry aloud to God for the assistance of his Holy Spirit, that he may enliven our faith, and, through that only instrument of salvation, strike upon our insensible hearts such an impression of God's final judgments, as cannot be resisted, nor for a moment suspended ; that we may so conduct our lives, as if the whole of them were to be passed at the very footstool of God's throne, and we saw him entering every thought, word, and action, in the great book of our account, so shall we please and honour him here, and he shall bless and make us happy hereafter.
Grant this, we most humbly and earnestly beseech thee, O Fountain of all good, for the sake of Christ Jesus, our dear Redeemer; to whom, with thee, and the Holy Ghost, one glorious and eternal Trinity, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.
JUDAS A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The argument in favour of Christ and his miracles, drawn from the listory of Judas, and here beat out, was briefly sketched in the fifth dialogue of Deism Revealed, and, some years afterward, enlarged on in a pamphlet published in Scotland, which the author of these sermons did not see, till a good many years after this discourse was written and preached. From hence it may be with probability inferred, that the reasonings here'urged are conclusive, as they have had considerable weight with others, as well as with the author, Basnage having touched on it long ago.
ST. MARK XIV. 43–45.
And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve,
and with him a great multitude with swords, from the chief-priests and
the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I
shall kiss, that same is he ; take him, and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Mas
ter, Master ; and kissed him.
I have not chosen these words to be the subject of an invective on the baseness of that man who hath outdone all other traitors in villany, and hath made the name of Judas, to all succeeding generations, as strong an expression for ingratitude and falsehood, as that of the devil himself; but from this passage I shall take an occasion to try, whether the whole of his history, as set forth here, and elsewhere in Scripture, doth not furnish us with a good argument in favour of the Master he betrayed, and the religion he deserted.
If, on the one hand, the great facts of our Saviour's history are fully proved to be true by the readiness of his first witnesses to brave the fury of persecution in its utmost cruelties, rather than to give up the truth of those facts, or even to stifle it in silence; an argument as strong, on the other, for the reality of his miracles, and the purity of his whole