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were, to Life again, and thus confidently affert the Truth of this joyfull News in the Text, The Lord is Rifen indeed?
And what Testimony ought to be of more Authority, than that which is deliver'd by Them, who were so far from being Credulous or easy to admit any Delufion or Impofture, that for a while they could hardly be brought to Believe even their own Eyes? So far from forgeing themselves a Counterfeit Relation or helping to carry on a Cheat by spreading about a false ftory, tho'ready made to their hands, that even those Holy Women, People of their own Profession and Party, could not prevail with them to give Credit to what was True. It was by the Holy Spirit fo ordain'd, that the Hardness of Belief, which the Apofles express'd, should so distinctly and unanimously be recorded by all the Four Evangelifts, that the Belief of this Great Work of our Salvation might to Us, who were to come after, be made more Easy, that by their Infirmitys we might be more con. firm'd. And indeed all the Generations of Chriftian People, that shall succeed to the end of the World, are in this case more beholden to Thomas, who so long doubted; than to Mary Magdalett, who so soon afferted : for the Weakness of his Faith has not only made Ours more Strong, but ob
tain'd also a Promise from our Saviour of a Blessing, which else he had not had an Occasion to have Pronounc'd, a peculiar Blesfing to those that have not Seen, and have yet Believ'd, that the Lord is Risen indeed.
From which Words I shall First discourse of the Truth of our Saviour's Resurrection.
Secondly, shew the Benefits that accrew to us by it, and what Returns on our part ought to be made for it.
1. As to the First, I suppose that in a Chriftian Congregation it will not be thought necessary to infift long upon the Proof of that, without which, as the Apostle tells us, both our Preaching and your Faith is Vain, 1 Cor. 15. 14. If it were needfull I could produce the Testimonys of Angels and Men, of those Blessed Spirits that waited even upon the Grave Cloaths that had wrapp'd ap our Saviour, and attended in the Sepulchre to certify the Devout Women, that came to seek the Lord, that he was not there, but Rifen. I could recount the several undeniable Witnesses, those that Saw, Felt, Talkt, and Eat and Drank with our Blessed Saviour after his Resurrection. I could reckon, to how great Numbers he shew'd Himself, how he was seen of Cephas, then of the Twelve, after that of five Hundred Brethren
at once, the greater Part of which remaind even then alive, at the time when St Paul testify'd this to the Corinthians; after that how he was seen of James, then of all the Apostles : and lastly, how in a Wonderful and Glorious Manner he appear'd to St Paul also out of Heaven. Evidences as full and clear as any History or Records Sacred and Profane can produce for the most universally received Truth. Now to relate the idle and absurd Forgerys, which in Opposition to a Truth attested by such a Cloud of Witnesses, the Malice of the Jews and the High Priests gave out, I say to Relate them is to Confute them. For is it worth a serious Examination, How an inconsiderable Company of poor disconsolate Wretches, so frighted and dismay'd, that most of them Aed and deserted their Master afloon as he was taken, and the stoutest and boldest of them deny'd Him soon after, should affoon as he was to openly and shamefully put to Death receive on a fuddain so strange and unheard of Courage, as to undertake so rash and odd an Adventure, as stealing a dead Body from a Band of Soldiers set on purpose to guard it? And this too in order to have it believ'd, that he was risen from the Dead, by the Jews, who crucify'd him for a Malefactor, which They' themselves, who took him for the Son of God, even when it was done, could scarce believe. So wild and improbable a Story ought to be supported, as the High Priests in their Wisdom thought, by sufficient Witnesses to make it pass current: and indeed they hir'd Such as were exactly suited to the Tale they were to swear to; for the Soldiers convincing Proof of the Matter of Fact was, that at that time the Deponents were indeed a sleep. If any thing more material, or that carry'd any manner of Likelyhood or Appearance of Reason could have been objected against our Saviour's Resurrection, the High Priests wanted not Malice to have urg 'd and improv'd it, nor would the Holy Treasury have been backward to Disburse, nor the Soldiers to Receive, the Price of a more Plausible and Coherent Perjury. But out of their own Mouths are the Enemys of the Resurrection condemn'd; while the grossness of their Diabolical Lyes adds further Luftre to Divine Truth, and had we less Assurance of it than we have, from the moft undoubted and sacred Relations, yet the Weakness of whatever has, or can be, invented againft it, were sufficient to make us conclude, That the Lord is Rifen indeed.
I will only take notice, on this Head, of one Thing further, for which the Wordőr
indeed, here in the Text gives a fair Occasion: which is, That our Lord, as he
suffer'd in a true and proper Body; fo with the same true Body, that was nailed to the Cross, he again rose from the Dead. For tho'after that last Enemy which was to be Destroy'd, which was Death, had been by our Saviour overcome, and He now being Rifen once to Dye no more, his Body receiv'd an infinitely greater Perfection of Brightness and Glory than ever before his Death, much more than even at the Transfiguration on the Mount, where his Face did fine as the Sun, and his Garment was as white as Light. Tho' it was fo pure and refin'd as to appear or vanish out of their Sight, whenever the Lord pleased'; and even when the doors were shut, came in and stood in the Midst of them ; in short, thoʻ it was a Glorify'd Body, it was nevertheless a True Body; and that very Body, which hang'd on the Tree; as the Wounds of the Nails and the Spear, which he offer'd to be handled and felt, manifestly did convince. Quomodo enim non Corpus, saith St Ambrose, in quo manebant Infignia Vulnerum & Vestigia Cicatricum, quæ Doc' minus palpanda obtulit? How could that be other than a Body, in which were still remaining the Marks of the Wounds and the Prints of the Nails, which the Lord offer'd to be felt and handled by his Disciple? Which, as that Father in the same place piously obferves, fhould be of Force not