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them to be wicked, nay, they were so far Serm. from that, that the Exemplariness of their V. Lives, and Purity of their Doctrine, brought m e Multitudes over to the Christian Religion . In the next Place let us see, supposing this to be a Cheat, what Motives they could have to contrive and carry it on. People don't use to cheat, unless it be to get by it : But this they could not propose to themfelves ; for all the Advantages lay on the other Side : Nay, they were so far from getting any thing by it, that they were fure to meet with nothing but Scorn and Contempt, and to bring themselves into a great deal of Danger by it. Now ’tis highly improbable to suppose that people would run. themselves into Danger, and get the Hatred of the World by propagating a Cheat, knowing it to be such, To carry on a Cheat, when there is not only no Profit nor Advantage, but a great deal of Inconvenience, Hazard, and Disadvantage attending it, which might be so easily avoided only by telling the plain Truth, is too monstrous to be believ'd, especially of Men who had no Crime laid to their Charge. But, on the contrary, the greater the Advantages were which they renounced, the stronger Argument it is of their Sincerity, and Goodness
Serm. of their Cause. But they not only undera
b ut laid down their very Lives for it too,
which is the last and strongest Proof of a
Thus you see what Evidence we have, and how well the Matter of Fact is proved. Let us now see what Evidence there is on the other Side; and, if any, whether they be rightly qualified to give Testimony in this Matter. Now the only Evidence on the other Side, is the Watch that was set to guard the Sepulchre, which is no Evidence at all ; neither indeed will the Nature of the Thing admit of any. For the Evidence of a Man, who can say nothing, but that he did not see another after he was risen from the Dead, can't by any means be admitted
as a good Evidence, nor have the leaft SERM. Weight in lessening the Testimony of one V.. who did see him. My not seeing a Person after his Resurrection from the Dead, can certainly be no Argument that no one elfe did. They might have been direct Evidences indeed, had the Fact been false; had he not risen, but remain'd still in the Sepulchre. But, instead of that, they are Evidences for the other Side: For when the Angel came and rolld away the Stone froni the Door of the Sepulchre, and told the Women who went there to seek the Lord, that he was not there, but was risen, they were astonised, and went and Mewd the High Priests all the Things that were done. As to their Qualifications for giving Testimony in this Matter, they are very indifferent ; for we find, after they had been brib'd, they said, the Disciples came by Night and stole him away. How inconsistent is this, when we are affur'd they hid themselves for fear of the Jews ! But how is it possible to steal a Body when there is a Guard set to watch it? This does not seem to be well contriv'd at all. Why to this it is answer'd, That it was done while they were asleep. Something, it seenis, must be faid; but any thing would have done better than
Serm. this. This looks as if they were in great V. Haste for an Excuse ; for, besides the In
probability of supposing them all to be asleep together, and not to be awaken'd by the Removal of the Stone and of the dead Body, how came they to know, if they were asleep, that the Disciples stole him away ? A Man that is asleep can be an Evidence of nothing but of his not being awake; and therefore can't be admitted asEvidence to a Fact suppos'd to be done when he was capable of knowing nothing of the Matter. Besides, had they been awake, as they really were, is their Evidence, who could say and unsay so much, to be depended upon, as theirs who, to an unexceptionable Life and Conversation, added Miracles also to confirm the Truth of what they said ? This is to interest Heaven in the Cause, and to procure the Almighty himself to ratify the Evidence. “.
Thus you see how the Matter of Fact stands. The Witnesses on one Side were so far from having any Motives of worldly Advantage for what they testified, that they depriv’d themselves of all Things, liy'd a Life of great Poverty, and at last laid down their Lives for the Truth of it, which tho’ fome have done for an Error, yet this
is not consistent with their Character to do, Ser Me even their Enemies themselves being Judges. Vis Neither is it to be supposed that they would lay down their Lives for a Lye, whose Religion teaches them to abhor it, especially fince they are sure to be punished for it according to their own Scheme. “. And therefore the Cafe being so, there is no replying to this but by disproving the Fact, all other Arguments being out of the Question, as I have already shewn: But instead of that, the Evidence on the other Side own'd the Fact to the High-Priests; tho' afterwards they thought proper to disown it' again, by saying that the Body was stolen away, while they were a peep : Yet that will amount to no more than this, that the Fact was supposed to be done when they did not know whether it was done or no; which is too weak of itself to be further expofed. : I am fatisfy'd the Argument has drawa me too great a Length, but however I hope you will indulge me while I fhew, ,
III. In the third and last Place, What will be the Benefit of Christ's Relurrection to us. And this is no less than a Confirma-.
tion and Establishment of the whole Chrium ·ftian Scheme, which is a wonderful Cona