Sidor som bilder



BEFORE the introduction of Chris

tianity, so dark were the notices of a state beyond the grave, that it is no wonder if men were little inclined to give up the pleasures and interests of one world, of which they were in actual possession, for the possibility of another, doubtful at best, and too indistinct for hope, too uncertain for comfort.

If a state of future happiness was believed, or rather guessed at, by a few of those who had not the light of revelation, no nation on earth believed it, no public religion in the world taught it. This single truth, then, firmly established, not only by the preaching of Jesus, but by his actual resurrection from the dead, - pro

produced a total revolution in the condition of man. It gave a new impulse to his conduct, infused a new vitality into his existence. Faith became to man an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast. This anchorage enables him to ride out the blackest storms; and though he must still work out his passage, the haven is near, and the deliverance certain," while "he keeps his eye to the star, and his "hand to the stern."

The value and importance, then, of this doctrine, seems to have made it an especial object of Divine care. Founded on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, perhaps it may have afforded one reason, why the long suffering of God permitted Jerusalem to stand near half a century after this last event had taken place. By this delay, not only the inhabitants of that city, but the multitudes who annually resorted thither, could gain full leisure to examine into its K 6 truth:

truth had the destruction followed immediately upon the crime which caused it, occasion might have been furnished to the Rabbies for asserting, that a truth could not now be authenticated which was buried in the ruins of the city. Nor would the enemies of Jesus have scrupled any subornation to discredit his pretensions, even though at the expence of a doctrine, which involved the happiness of worlds unborn.

Jerusalem, however, survived for a time, and the doctrine of a resurrection was established for ever. And now, had it been a doctrine of any ordinary import, as Saint Paul was not writing to persons ignorant of the truths of Christianity, but to Christian converts, it might have been less his object to propound it dogmatically, than to develope and, being a thing previously known, acknowledged, and received. In writing a letter, when we allude to facts already


notorious, we do not think our notices. the less acceptable, because we do not repeat intelligence already popular; while we content ourselves with drawing inferences from it, making observations upon it, or allusions to it. The reader having the same object in view with the writer, would catch at intimations, seize on allusions, and fill up the implied meaning.

Such, however, was not Saint Paul's conduct with respect to this doctrine. There were, indeed, it should seem, among his converts, many sceptical Jews infected with the philosophizing spirit of the Grecian schools, and who doubted, what these last derided, the resurrection of the dead. Consequently, upon every account, Saint Paul is found to give it a peculiar prominence, and on all occasions to bestow upon it more argument and illustration, than on most other tenets of the new faith.


There is no profession, no class of men, whether Jew or Gentile, before whom Paul was not ready to be examined on this subject, and was not prompt to give the most decided testimony. Uniformly he felt the strength of evidence on his side; uniformly he appealed to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as a fact established on the most solid basis, - a fact, not first propagated in distant countries, where the facility of imposition would have been greater; not at a distant period of time, when the same objection against it might have been made, but on the very spot where it occurred, at the very moment of its occurrence.

In his writings, also, the same confidence, the same urgency appears. He always adverts to this tenet, as to the main hinge on which the whole of Christianity turns. The more reasoning oppugners of the faith thought that if this doctrine could be got rid of, either by argument or ridicule, it would subvert the whole fabric

« FöregåendeFortsätt »