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SERM. parably be linked together with no other hands, than XXIX. deceit and dishonesty; no truth, no virtue, no com
mon interest helping to combine or contain them together? Is it to be believed, that men of sense should gratis, for no considerable end or advantage, voluntarily embrace and patiently endure all that is distasteful to human nature, freely exposing themselves, they knew not why, only for the sake of a story, to the fury of earth and flames of hell; eagerly sacrificing their fortunes, credits, lives, and souls themselves, to the ghost of a forlorn wretch and infamous caitiff? is it not, in fine, prodigious, that so implausible a falsehood upon all greatest disadvantages should encounter, vanquish, and triumph over truth? These are incredibilities indeed, able to choke any man's faith yet he that rejects this testimony must swallow and digest them, together with others like them of as hard concoction.
5. To these things we may add, that God himself did signally countenance and ratify this testimony; not only by conferring on the avowers thereof extraordinary graces, (invincible courage, irresistible wisdom, indefatigable industry, inflexible constancy and patience; admirable self-denial, meekness, charity, temperance, and all virtues in an eminent degree,) not only further by a wonderful success and blessing bestowed upon their endeavours; but by enduing them with supernatural gifts, and enabling them to perform miraculous works openly and freActs ii. 43. quently; So that by the hands of the apostles many
V. 12 xiv.
3. xix. 11. wonders and signs were done among the people, the Lord giving testimony unto the word of his grace, and granting signs and wonders to be done Acts iv. 33-by their hands; so that with great power gave the
apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord SERM. Jesus, and great grace was upon them all; (that is, there was a great appearance of the divine favour toward them, and of the divine operation in and by them.) Yielding which kind of attestation was the ancient and usual method of God in authorizing his messengers, and approving the declaration of his mind by them, (the seal, as it were, put to the letters credential from heaven ;) nor could God afford more convincing signs than these of his approbation to any person or design: that God did thus σVETIμapтupeîv attest, as the Apostle to the Hebrews speak- Heb. ii. 4. eth, together with these witnesses, if the apostolical history (bearing in it all the characters of a simple, faithful, and upright narration) did not relate; yet the effect of this testimony, so speedily and easily prevailing every where, would render it highly probable, since in likelihood, no human endeavour, without divine assistance, could accomplish a business so great and difficult: if they did no miracles, ToŬTO μéylotov onμerov, this, as St. Chrysostom says, was the greatest miracle that could be, that such a testimony should without any miracle prevails.
16. Now for conclusion, all these things being considered, it is sufficiently apparent, that this testimony is above all exception; that no matter of fact ever had, or well could have in any considerable respect, a more valid and certain proof: the greatest affairs in the world (concerning the rights and repu
Β ̓Αμήχανον γὰρ ἀνθρωπίνην ἰσχὺν δυνηθῆναι τοσαῦτα ποτέ. Chrys. in Act. i. 3. Vid. in 1 Cor. Or. v.
Si per apostolos-ista miracula facta esse non credunt, hoc nobis unum grande miraculum est, quod ea terrarum orbis sine ullis miraculis credidit. Aug. de Civ. D. xxii. 5.
SERM. tations, the estates and the lives of men) are decided XXIX. by testimonies in all regards less weighty; so that to refuse it, is in effect to decline all proof by testimony, to renounce all certainty in human affairs, to remove the grounds of proceeding securely in any business, or administration of justice; to impeach all history of fabulousness, to charge all mankind with insufficiency, or extreme infidelity; (for if these persons were not able, or not honest enough, what men can ever be supposed such; who can by greater arguments assure their ability, or their integrity in reporting any thing?) to thrust God himself away from bearing credible attestation in any case; (for in what case did he ever or can he be conceived to yield an attestation more full or plain, than he did in this? what further can he perform needful to convince men endued with any competency of reason and ingenuity, or to distinguish them from men of contrary disposition, unreasonably and unworthily incredulous?) in fine, to distrust this testimony is therefore in effect to embrace the vanity of the most wanton or wicked sceptic.
The use of all is in short this, that we should heartily thank God for so clear and strong an assurance of the truth of our faith; that we therefore firmly embrace it, and steadily persevere therein; that we obey it, and bear fruits worthy thereof in our practice; that so doing we may obtain the blissful rewards which upon those terms it propoundeth and promiseth; that we may all so do, God of his mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom for ever be all glory and praise.
Now the God of peace, that brought again
Heb. x. 23. iv. 14.
from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shep- SERM. herd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good Heb. xiii. work to do his will, working in us that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The third day he rose again, &c.
LUKE Xxiv. 46.
And he said unto them, Thus it is written; and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.
SERM. THE words of men leaving this world (as proceedXXX. ing from a depth of serious concernedness, and influenced by a special providence) are usually attended with great regard, and a kind of veneration : these are such, even the words of our departing Lord: the which therefore deserve and demand our best consideration.
They respect two points of grand importance, the passion and the resurrection of our Lord; of which I shall only now consider the latter, as being most agreeable to the present season: and whereas there be divers particulars observable in them, I shall confine my Discourse to one, being the main point; couched in those words, thus it behoved; which import the needfulness and expediency of our Lord's resurrection: of which I shall endeavour first to declare the truth, then to shew the usefulness, by a practical application thereof.
The resurrection of our Lord may appear to have been needful and expedient upon several good ac