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THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
A Socratic Dialogue.
But what sceptic was ever satisfied? What cavi futed? The adversaries of our faith finding no further resources on the plain ground of common sense, make their last retreat into the thorns of subtilty.
The resurrection, it seems, was an event so strange, that no testimony whatever is enough to prove it. The story, we may be sure, is not true, whoever he be that tells it.
On what foundation, pray, do you build an assurance so
On the foundation of experience.
I am to tell you, then, that we know nothing of the essence of causality; but found all our assent upon similitude.
I am not sure that I comprehend you.
You cannot be possessed of so fine an argument in its perfection, without having recourse to the original inventor. It may suffice to let you know in brief, that we believe always what is most likely, and call that most likely which most sembles what we have before met with.
But things often fall out that were not likely.
Yes, so often, that we find it, in general, likely that they should; and in each particular case reflect which of the two is less likely, that the thing should be as it is represented, or the reporter represent it falsely.
Have you ever found in the course of your experience that anything was not true which had been as well attested as the resurrection?
It was a miracle. Experience, therefore, universal experience declares against it.
That of the five hundred brethren who saw it was, sure, on the other side.
You must appeal to present experience. Nature we find unchangeable.
Nature! When I dispute with you about Christianity, I suppose
Then I have no further dispute with you: I leave you to other hands. Christianity desires no greater honour than to be received by every one that is not an atheist.
Suppose there be a God: what then?
And a multitude of things must have been done at that time of the creation, which are not comprehended within the present course of nature. Every animal, every vegetable, must have been brought into being at first in some manner of which the world now affords no examples. Of this we have no experience, yet we allow it to be true; and we need no testimony, for we know it must have happened.
And if the Son of God were to assume our nature a second time, and be once more crucified and buried, according to the unalterable laws of the universe, He must rise again from the grave, and “the pains of death be loosed” as before, “ because it was not POSSIBLE that He should be holden of it.”
The Lord's Supper.
[There may be some question as to the propriety of ascribing to a Divine speaker a discourse like the following. But it must be accepted as the author designed it—as at once an epitome and paraphrase of the Redeemer's last address to His disciples. Without adopting all its sentiments, we are glad to quote it, as coming so near that great theme of “ Christ crucified,” from which most of the preaching of those days kept so strangely aloof.]
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
Imagine you see our Divine Redeemer sitting with His disciples at His last supper, and hear Him addressing Himself to them in the following manner :
“The solemn ceremonies which I and you are now observing, are memorials, you know, of a great event which happened many ages ago to your forefathers. This lamb before us is the representation of that which was slain and eaten by them in Egypt. Come, I will institute a new rite, to be kept in remembrance of what shall immediately befall myself on your account. Before the evening and the morning shall conclude the present day, this body of mine shall be delivered into the hands of men, and they shall wound, and pierce, and kill it. I take this bread into my hands, and break it to pieces. Take, eat; it is my body which is given for you. By this token you shall keep in memory and represent to all ages unto the end of the world, this 'precious sacrifice, fore-ordained before the foundation' of it, and now going to be offered for your
sake. “My Father, who is in heaven, loves me, His own and only begotten Son, with a tender aud unparalleled affection. He 'loved me before the foundation of the world.' And though I indeed was and am willing to suffer, yet would He not have sent me down into this state of humiliation, to undergo the sufferings and death which are even now preparing for me, if He had not also loved you, and had compassion on you, though enemies to Him by evil works, and dead in trespasses and sins. For God indeed is love. It is the chief part of His very nature, which it is possible for you to comprehend and to imitate. Love Him, therefore, who is love, with all your heart, and mind, and strength. This is the first and great commandment. Of His own tender pity towards a lost world, He sent me to do and suffer all that you have seen and shall soon see, for the benefit of men. And when I am removed from you, and you see me no more, He shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, to supply the want of my presence,
and conduct that great work of the salvation of mankind for which the Father sent me, and for which I am come willingly into the world.
“ And as the bread which I broke represented my crucified body, so this cup which I command you all to drink of, let it signify my blood, which is now going to be poured out for all
“It is written, that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.' * By the law almost all things are purged with blood : and without the shedding of blood is no remission.' But it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away the sins of men. That was required, and was available only as a type of my blood, now to be shed, once for all. Take this cup, to be partakers of this atonement.
“ You remember also, when Moses had read to the people the book of the covenant between God and them, and the people consented to the covenant, and said, 'All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient,' Moses took half of the blood of the sacrifices, and sprinkled it on the altar, and the other half he sprinkled on the people, and said, ' Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you.' The blood was sprinkled on both the contracting parties; the one half on the altar, representing him who was there worshipped, and the other half on the people of the Jews.
“That covenant is now expiring in my death, and a new one is to be made with all the nations of the earth. I am the victim offered at this great solemnity on the altar of the cross. When
you take this cup you ratify this new covenant on your part, and give your consent to the conditions of it.
“ You will be no longer bound by the ceremonial law. It expires of course with me, who am its end and consummation.
“But my own power and providence shall abolish it more effectually, and execute what I now predict. Some even of
THE FAREWELL ADDRESS.
yourselves, to whom I am speaking, shall live to see the time, when of this noble temple, the work of so many years, the wonder of so many ages, there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.'
“ As you are to be thankful for this deliverance from 'a yoke which neither your fathers nor you were able to bear,' so take care not to turn your liberty into licentiousness. The sense of your freedom from this bondage should restrain you from violating those laws which are of everlasting obligation. As you will not henceforth be occupied in sacrifices, and other burdensome ceremonies, apply yourselves so much the more to what is better.
“ Look upon the whole race of mankind as your neighbours and brethren. Embrace them with a cordial and unrestrained affection. They were always the workmanship of the same Creator, and bore His divine image; they are now to be redeenied by the same blood. “Do good to as many as possible.
Imitate in this your Father which is in heaven. But as you can follow Him in doing good but a little way, come nearer to His example in your good wishes and kind intentions. Let there be no limits to the exercise of this part of your charity. Since you can never repay Him anything for His infinite patience, and mercy, and love to you, love men for His sake. He, the origin of all good, is exalted above all recompense; but you can reach those who belong to His household; let not the highest among you disdain to be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of
“But if even in these little expressions of your condescension and charity your abilities are still too weak to keep pace with your inclination, can you relent, can you pardon for the love of God? If you cannot bestow because you are poor, or labour because you are weak, can you forgive as you yourselves are forgiven?