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1. It was needful to illustrate the veracity, wis- SERM. dom, and providence of God, by making good what he had signified in the ancient scriptures concerning it; either in mystical adumbrations, or by express predictions; understood according to those infallible expositions, which the apostles did receive from the instruction of our Lord, or from illumination of that Spirit which dictated the scriptures: the particular instances, as being obvious, and requiring large discourse, I now forbear to mention.
2. It was needful in congruity to other events foretold, and in order to the accomplishment of those designs which our Lord was to manage: the whole economy and harmony of the evangelical dispensation, as it is represented by the prophets, doth require it: it was, according to their predictions, designed, that Christ should erect a spiritual kingdom, and administer it for ever, with perfect equity, in great peace and prosperity; that he should in our behalf achieve glorious exploits, subduing all the adversaries of our salvation, (sin, death, and hell;) that he should establish a new covenant, upon better promises, of another eternal most happy life, assuring to the embracers thereof an entire reconciliation and acceptance with God; that he should convert the world to faith in God, and observance of his will in execution of these purposes, it was declared that he should undergo suffering, and be put to death in a most disgraceful and painful manner; it consequently must be supposed, that from such a death he should conspicuously and wonderfully be restored to life; how otherwise could it appear, that he did reign in glory, that he had obtained those great victories, that he had vanquished death, that
SERM. the former curses were voided, God appeased, and XXX. mankind restored to favour by him? Had the grave
swallowed him up, had God left his soul in hell, had he rested under the dominion of common mortality, had after his dismal passion no evidence of special favour toward him shone forth; what ground had there been to believe those great things? who would have been persuaded of them? The scripture there
1 Pet. i. 11. fore, which foretelleth the sufferings of our Lord, 26. and the glories following them; which saith, that Isa. liii. io, having drunk of the brook in the way, he should lift up his head; that when he had made his soul an offering for sin, he should prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand; that because he had poured out his soul unto death, God would divide him a portion with the great, Isa. xlix. 7. and he should divide the spoil with the strong; that unto him whom man despised, to him whom the nation abhorred, kings should look and arise, princes should worship; the scripture, I say, foretelling these events, doth consequentially imply the needfulness of his resurrection.
3. It was requisite in itself; or in respect to the many great ends for which it serveth, and the excellent fruits which it is apt to produce: as will appear by reflecting on those which are suggested in the New Testament.
I pass by its particular usefulness in regard to our Lord's apostles and disciples; its serving to reinforce their faith, and rear their hopes, being staggered by his passion; to comfort them in those sorrowful apprehensions and despondencies of heart, which arose from the frightful events befalling him; to enlighten their minds by more perfect instruction,
removing their ignorance, and reforming their mis- SERM. takes concerning him and the things of his kingdom; to furnish them with instructions and orders requisite for managing the employments committed to them; to arm them by consolatory discourses and gracious promises of support against the difficulties, hazards, and troubles they were to encounter, in the profession and propagation of his doctrine; in fine, by all his admirable deportment with them, and his miraculous departure from them, to confirm them in their faith, and encourage them in their duty these particular uses, I say, we shall pass over, insisting only upon those more common ends and effects in which ourselves and all Christians are more immediately concerned.
4. A general end of it was the production and M πάντων corroboration of faith in us concerning all the doc-si ixatrines of our religion; for that by it the truth of all ἀναισχυνour Lord's declarations concerning his own person, τοῦντας ἐπι his offices, his power, his precepts and his promises, Chrys. in (to the highest pitch of conviction and satisfaction,) was assured; it being hardly possible, that any miracle could be greater in itself for confirmation of the whole, or more proper for ascertaining the parts of our religion. But more particularly;
Rom. i. 4.
5. First, From it the dignity of our Lord's person and his especial dearness to God (to the voidance of all exceptions and surmises against him) did appear.
If the meanness of his birth and parentage, if the low garb and dim lustre of his life, if the bitter pains and shameful disgraces of his death, (however accompanied with rare qualities shining in him, and wonderful deeds achieved by him,) in persons H h
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SERM. standing at distance, casting superficial glances on things, and judging by external appearances, might John vii. 24. breed disadvantageous apprehensions or suspicions concerning him, whether he were indeed, as he pretended, the Son of God, designed by him to be the Saviour of mankind, the Lord of all things, the Judge of the world; the wonderful power and signal favour of God demonstrated in his resurrection, served to discuss those mists, and to correct such mistakes, evincing those temporary depressions to have been only dispensations preparatory toward his greater exaltation in dignity and apparent favour 2 Cor. xiii. with God; for though, saith St. Paul, he was crucified out of weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God; that is, although in his sufferings the infirmity of our nature assumed by him was discovered, yet by his recovering life the divine power attending him was eminently declared; it was indeed Eph. i. 19. an excessive grandeur of power, an energy of the ΥπερβάλLovμiyos might of strength which God did exert in the raisτῆς δυνά-vie- ing of Christ from the dead, as the apostle labourTous Tns eth to express the unexpressible eminency of this ἰσχύος. miracle; and being so high an instance of power, it was consequently a special mark of favour; God not being lavish of such miracles, or wont to stretch forth his arm in behalf of any person to whom he doth not bear extraordinary regard: the which consequence also, by reflecting on the circumstances and nature of this event, will further appear.
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He was persecuted and put to death as a notorious malefactor, and an enemy to God, to true religion, to the common peace, to goodness; and his being delivered up to suffer was an enforcement of that pretence; for his adversaries thence did argue,
Ps. lxxi. 11.
that God had disavowed and deserted him; they SERM. insulted over him, as one in a forlorn condition, XXX. esteeming him, as the prophets foretold, stricken, Isa. liii. 4. smitten of God, and afflicted: but God thus, by his xxii. 8. own hand, undoing what they had done against him, did plainly confute their reasonings; did evidence their accusations to be false, and their surmises vain; did, in opposition to their suggestions, approve him a friend and favourite of God, a patron of truth, a maintainer of piety and peace; one meriting, because obtaining, the singular countenance and succour of God.
And if yielding our Lord over to death (which being a total incapacity of enjoying any good, doth signify an extremely bad state) might imply God's displeasure or disregard toward him, (as indeed it did in a sort, he standing in our room to undergo the inflictions of Divine wrath and justice;) then, answerably, restoring him to life (which, as the foundation of enjoying any good, doth represent the best condition) must demonstrate a singular tenderness of affection, with a full approbation and acceptance of his performances: this indeed far more pregnantly doth argue favour, than that could imply displeasure; for that may happen to the best men upon other grounds, this can bear no other than a favourable interpretation.
Further, to give life doth ground that relation which is deepest in nature, and importeth most affection; whence, in the holy style, to raise up to life, is termed to beget; and the regeneration is put Acts xiii. for the resurrection; so that it being a paternal act, Matt. xix. signifieth a paternal regard; and thence perhaps St. Rom. i. 4. Paul telleth us, that our Lord was declared, or de