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This, which is the true interpretation of the text, shows of what great moment the resurrection of our
which was to be the basis of the Christian institution, and the ground of our hope and faith in him. Had he died like one of the prophets, and been no more heard of, how should we have believed that his death had atoned for all the blood spilt from the foundation of the world, and that remission of all sin had been granted, through the destruction of him, the greatest of all the prophets? But when he rose from the grave and brought back with him the pardon which he had sealed with his blood, taking on himself to be the Mediator and Intercessor for mankind as he had been their sacrifice, there was no room to doubt the efficacy of his death so confirmed. Our Lord's first coming was attended with mean and low circumstances; he was a man of sor, rows and acquainted with grief; and when he fell a victim to the malice of his foes, his best friends and companions gave him over for lost; they esteemed him stricken and smitten of God; all their hopes died with him, and their remembrance of his miracles; and nothing less was thought of, than that this was he who should redeen Israel. But when he rose again, having subdued the
powers of darkness and of death, then was he declared to be the Son of God with power; and thenceforward our faith has stood in the power and demonstration of the spirit of life : now we may say, we know in whom we have trusted.
But if the resurrection of Christ be the support of the Christian faith, how is itself supported ? To our apprehension nothing is more incredible than that a man dead and buried should be restored to life again. The particulars of the evidence of this great event too long to be introduced here. Moreover, one ground of objection ought to be removed before they are considered : the great difficulty at which many stick, does not so much arise from the nature of the evidence proposed, as from the nature of the thing itself: they are persuaded that it is not capable of being supported by any evidence at all. This
prejudice was a very early one: why (says the Apostle to Agrippa) should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead? The force of this expostulation considered : whether it is strong enough to encounter the prejudice. The credibility of a thing depends intirely on knowing whether there is, or is not, a power adequate to the undertaking. The resurrection of the dead is a stupendous work : if it depended on us, it would be incredible indeed: it is the work of God, and of him only; and surely we have named one of credit and power sufficient to be trusted : and this is St. Paul's argument, why should it be thought incredible that God should raise the dead? Whoever affirms that a resurrection is in itself incredible, must affirm that God has not power to raise the dead. And who is it that can deny to him this power ? no one who admits that he made the world : for if he gave us life, what should hinder him from restoring it to us? If there be any contradiction therefore in the notion of a resurrection, there
. must be the same in that of a creation : hence natural religion is as much concerned in this point as revelation : if we doubt God's power of creation, we must bid adieu to all religion at
The power of God being admitted equal to this work, Christ's resurrection comes to be a question of fact, a fact as capable of evidence as any whatever, inasmuch as it is an object of sense. We are told that Christ died, and rose again: of his death there can be no great doubt; nor can there be any more difficulty in seeing and knowing that he was dead, than in knowing when others were dead : those therefore about him might be trusted when they report that he died. But he came to life again : very true; and it was very easy for those who conversed with him to know whether he was alive or not. His having been dead and buried could not alter the case, or create any difficulty in judging whether he was really alive. Lay these things then together, the promise of God to give us life eternal,
his power to make good his word, the confirmation he has given of our hopes by the resurrection of Christ, and what is wanting to make the belief of this article a rational act of faith? The promises of God have never borrowed help from moral probabilities : the promises made to Abraham did not : but his reliance on those promises, against all the presumptions of human experience and probability, was the very thing that was imputed to him for righteousness. This compared with the case of Christians. We have a great promise made to us by God in Christ, the promise of a resurrection to life : past ages have afforded no instance of the kind, and daily experience is, as it were, a witness against this hope : under these difficulties whither shall we go for support? whither, but to the promises them. selves, and to the full persuasion, that what he has promised he is able to perform ? Here is the great article of the Christian faith, even of that faith which will be imputed to us, as it was to Abraham, for righteousness. Conclusion : as the blessed fruit of this faith is to all true believers life and immortality, so it highly concerns us to consider what the event of unbelief 'must be : for whether we like it or not, all who are in the grave shall come forth, some to life, and some to condemnation,
ROMANS, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 25.
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our
The manner of expression here used is different from what is generally to be met with in other parts of the New Testament on the like occasion. Here we are told that Christ was delivered' for our offences,' and “raised' for our justification ;' as if the remission of our sins was to be ascribed peculiarly to the passion, and our justification in the sight of God to the resurrection of Christ : whereas in the chapter before this, verse 25, the Apostle tells us in general that God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood;' and in chap. 5. verse 9. particularly and expressly, 'that, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him ;' and verse 10. that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son.' In the twentieth of the Acts, the Apostle, in his exhortation to the elders of the church, warns them to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,' verse 28. To the same purpose both St. Peter and St. John speak;
the one telling us, “that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin,' 1 John i. 7; the other, that we have been redeemed
with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,' 1 Pet. i. 19.
It is the constant tenor of Scripture, that atonement for the sins of the world was made by our great High Priest on the cross; that his death was our redemption, and his blood the price paid for us. So that, when we consider the redemption (which includes our justification) with respect to Christ, the author and finisher of it, it must be ascribed to his death and passion : but as to ourselves, our title and interest in this com
mon salvation being grounded on faith, our justification, though purchased by the blood of Christ, must be appropriated to ourselves through faith in that blood : for the same Apostle who has told us that we are `justified freely through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,' hath likewise told us that God hath set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' For this reason we are said to be justified by faith ; not that our faith is the purchase of justification, which we owe to the blood of Christ alone; but because through faith we obtain the benefit of the redemption wrought by Christ Jesus. Now, though the death of Christ was the reconciling of the world to God, yet the resurrection of Christ is the great and solid foundation of our hope and faith in him, even of our faith in his blood, by which he made the propitiation for our sins : and therefore although Christ died for our offences, and by his precious blood made atonement for our sins ; yet, since our faith in his death, our hope in his blood, by which hope and faith we are justified, are built on the truth and credit of his resurrection, it is very properly said that “he rose again for our justification :' for the death of Christ would have been no justification to us, nor could we have had hope or faith in it, but for the power and glory of the resurrection; which has wiped away the scandal and ignominy
1 of the cross, and made it a rational act of faith to hope for life and immortality from him, who himself once died on the tree.
For the truth of this exposition I appeal to St. Paul, who, 1 Cor. xv. 17. has told us, “that, if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain ; we are yet in our sins.' So that faith in the death of Christ, not grounded on the assurance of his resurrection, is a vain faith, and such a one as cannot deliver us from our sins. Nay, that the death of Christ could not have been a propitiation for sin without his resurrection, he expressly teaches in the next verse, saying, that, “if Christ be not raised, then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.' The
power of the resurrection, together with the atonement for sin made by the death of Christ, is very beautifully expressed by St. Paul, Rom. viii. 34. · Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.' The death of Christ freed us from condemna