« PreviousContinue »
2. That hereby they put the greatest Cheat upon Men, for otherwise they did most perfidiously flatter them out of their Estates, their Lives, their Souls. They fed them all along with the Hopes of living again after this Life; of being born again to a glorious Kingdom; where they should for ever live and reign with God.' Upon this Belief, they put them upon living a very sorrowful and afflicted Life in this World; upon denying themselves many grateful Pleasures, and gainful Interests; upon Fastings, Self-denials and Penances ; upon many Ignominies, Reproaches, and Persecutions; and all this in hope of receiving their Reward at the Resurrection of the Just. And if here they found their Expectation cut off ; if at the last Upshot and Conclusion of Things, they must make their Grave with the Wicked; to what purpose have they been Righteous, and what Good hath their Piety brought them? Had it not been better to have taken the Sinners Course, to have renounced the Faith, and
followed the Epicure's Advice, Let us eat and Cor. Is. drink for to morrow we die 'Were the Cafe
thus, how justly might they have inveighed,
Deceivers ! Te mighty Pretenders to Divine Knowledge and Spiritual Illuminations, and extraordinary Enthusiasms, to constant Fastings, and Devotions, to the stri&eft. Trutb and Integrity! How have you heated
Us out of our Lives, and out of our Souls ? For that was the Part you promised to secure ; upon that account we laid our Goods at your Feet, and thought not our Lives dear unto us, so that at laft, we might gain Christ. After Death we dreamt of nothing less than Thrones and Scepters ; and that we should fit, fome on Christ's Right Hand, others on bis Left in his Kingdom : But how miserably are we disapu pointed? We find our selves rank'd amongst the Wicked; an indiscriminate Darkness covers both the Good and Bad. Thus, if the Resurrection be not true, the Apostles were the worst of Men, and the greatest Deceivers the World ever knew, which was the second Thing proposed from the Words. Yea and we are found False-Witnesses. I proceed to the Third, which was this,
III. That the Testimonies which the Apo
gave of the Resurrection, were plain, full, and abundantly fufficient, to quit them from the Charge of being False-Witnesses. We bave testified of God. In the Management of this Head, 'twill be necessary to do two Things.
1. To shew the Truth and Certainty of that
Evidence they gave of this. 2. That they back'd their Evidence with all
possible Means of Conviction:
1. First of the Truth and Certainty of that Evidence which the Apostles gave of the Re
fütredion. Now this I shall make good by
Acts 1. g.
2. Let us consider, that this was not a fingle Evidence, but a concurrent Testimony, and that all agreed in the same Relation. For besides the Five Hundred Brethren, mentioned at the sixth Verse of this Chapter, we may caft into the Number, the Congregation of Disciples, when he baffled the Infidelity of Thomas; the great Assemblies which saw him in Galilee, and upon Mount Olivet ; amongst all which we find the most exact Agreement, both in the Substance, and in the very Circumstances of what they did attest, which had it not been true, would have been morally impossible. For how could so vast a Number of Men have so punctually agreed in the same Story, had it been an Untruth? Can we think, that such unlettered and undesigning Men as they pretended to be, and really were, Ibould be so well versed in the Politicks of this World, and fo dexterous at laying an Artificial Cheat ? Or that they should not be detected therein, when they were so narrowly fifted, so craftily examined, and cross-questioned by the Jewish Magistrates, who were all of them professed Enemies to Jesus, and the Resurrection?
3. Let us consider again, that there was no visible Reason, no worldly Motive, or Interest, to influence their Depositions. Now that they were not governed by any such Principles and Designs as these will appear to any one that seriously considers the Nature of their Doctrine,
and how severely they condemned the Vices of Lying Hypocrify, and Diffimulation in others. If then they believed their own Do&rine, it is not to be imagined that they would defend it by Arts and Frauds. But whether they believed it or no. Cui bono? To what Purpose should they fallify in this Matter? They could never hope to reap the least Advantage from its either here or hereafter, - Not here; for their Lord had told them, that if they would be bis Disciples, they must fuffer Persecution ; and they could not but forcfee, that by testifying his Refurrection, they must proclaim an open War against both Jews and Gentiles, and confe
Mali most Pucould invent. ---Not hereafter; for if they beJieved another World, they could not but know, that Llars and Deceivers are excommunicated from, and Thall have no share in that Kingdom of Righteousness and Truth. Since therefore Things ftands thus, they can never be conceived to be so extravagantly foolish and mad, as to aver that for Truth, which they knew to be otherwise ; for what Man in his Wits, would be passionately żealous for an O. pinion, from which he can expect no other Fruit, but to die for it here, and be damned for it hereafter ? But
4. Besides all this, they gave the greatest positive Security to the World, that what they witnessed was true. It is required by human