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1 COR. XV. 3-9.
I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once-of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles; and last of all, he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time: for I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
AMONGST the various testimonies that have come down to us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and which, by consequence, ensure to us the hope of our own, no one possesses greater evidence, or carries with it stronger credentials of truth and authenticity, than that which is contained in the words which I have read to you.
I shall employ the present solemn, and surely if any ever was so, this joyful occasion, first, in laying before you such remarks and explanations as the words themselves may seem to suggest; and secondly, in addressing you concerning the author and authority from which they proceed.
Saint Paul, previously to his writing this letter to the Christians of Corinth, had himself been in that city preaching the Gospel amongst them in person.
Those to whom he now writes, whilst he was absent upon the same business in another country, were they whom he had some time before taught face to face; and most of them persons who had been moved by that his teaching to embrace the new faith. After having finished some occasional subjects which he was led to treat of in the epistle, he proceeds, as was indeed natural, to bring to their remembrance the great topics which he had set forth amongst them when he appeared at Corinth as an apostle of Jesus Christ." I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." He then introduces that short but clear abstract of the fundamental part of his doctrine, which composes our present text; and he introduces it with this remarkable preface:" I delivered unto you first of all." This was the first thing I taught you-intimating that this is the fundamental and great essential of the Christian
system. In correspondence with which declaration you will find that the fact of Christ's resurrection from the dead, and what appeared to be, and what is, a plain and undisputed inference from it, that God will fulfil his promise by raising up us also at the last day, were in reality the articles of information to mankind which the apostles carried with them whereever they went; what they first disclosed to their converts, as the groundwork of all their addresses, as the cause and business of their coming amongst them, as the sum indeed and substance of what they were bound to deliver, or their disciples to believe. In proof of this, I desire it to be particularly remarked, that when the apostles, at Peter's suggestion, chose out from the followers of Christ a new apostle in the place of Judas, the great qualification insisted upon in that choice was that he should be one who had accompanied the other apostles at the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst them, that he might be, together with them, a witness of his resurrection. This circumstance shows that what they regarded as the proper office and business of an apostle was, to testify to the world from their own knowledge, and the evidence of their own senses, that he whom they preached had died, been buried, and was raised up again from the dead. After this transaction, the first preaching of Christianity to the public at large, to those, I mean, who had not professed themselves the followers of Christ during his lifetime, was after the descent of the Holy Ghost,
upon the day of Pentecost. Upon this occasion, in the presence of a great multitude who had then resorted to Jerusalem from all quarters of the world, whom the noise of this miracle had gathered together, Saint Peter, with the rest of the apostles standing about him, delivered a discourse, of which the sum and substance was briefly this "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." The same thing may be observed of two discourses held at Jerusalem by Saint Peter a short time afterwards: one upon curing the lame man at the gate of the Temple; the other upon his miraculous deliverance from prison. Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the solemn attestation of the fact, was the theme and subject of both discourses. Follow the apostles to any new place in which their discourses are recorded, and you will find this same thing the stress and constant burthen of their preaching. When Peter was called in so remarkable a manner to open the knowledge of the Gospel to Cornelius and his friends, the intelligence with which he gratified the eager expectation of his audience was this brief but surprising history-" Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." When Paul and Barnabas, a short time afterwards, had been solemnly appointed to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, and for that purpose had set out upon a progress through the Lesser Asia, the most popu
lous and frequented country of the East, the first public address which Saint Paul is recorded to have delivered was at Antioch in Pisidia, of which this was the message" We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again."
After much journeying from place to place, for the purpose of diffusing wherever he went the Christian faith, we find his travels at length brought him to Athens, at that time the metropolis, in some measure, of science and learning. We cannot help being curious to know what the apostle would say there; how he would first unfold his extraordinary message to an audience of philosophers. Accordingly his speech upon this remarkable occasion is preserved; in which he first reminds them of the great topics of natural religion, (which we at this day call the unity, omniscience, omnipotence, and infinity or ubiquity of God), all which their own researches might have taught them; and then proceeds to disclose that which was the proper business of his preaching, the great revelation which he was going about the world to communicate:-"God now commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed him a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he raised him from the dead."
Whenever a set speech of the apostle's at a new