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posed upon in any thing of that importance, which was done in his own country, and the chief city of it, in his own day and time, and when he had abundant opportunities to have searched into the truth or falsehood thereof, and his whole nation was set upon the search and severest scrutiny into it. Now that he was a man of parts and knowledge, the good sense and reasoning which appears in his writings, sufficiently testify this character. He was a young man when he was converted, and he was brought up in Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel: He must have great opportunities of enquiring concerning the history of the life, doctrine, and death of Christ, and of the report of his resurrection, among his own countrymen.
2. He seems to be a very sincere and faithful honest man: This his whole conduct shews, if we consider: He appears to have an honest zeal for his religion whilst he was a pharisee, as well as afterward; diligently and openly pursuing what he professed: No flaw was found in his morals: No charge of hypocrisy; Acts xxiii. 1. I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. Nor are his morals impeached by his worst adversaries.
3. He was once a fierce and violent enemy to Jesus Christ, and his name, and his gospel, and his followers. Gal. i. 13. I persecuted the church of God and wasted it. Acts xxvi. 11. And being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 1 Tim. i. 13. Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. This was sufficiently witnessed by his own countrymen the Jews. It hath been sometimes said by unbelievers, that testimonies of the resurrection of Christ came only from his friends, and that you have none of the heathens, or professed Jews, bear witness to it. Here is a professed Jew, and a violent enemy to christianity, who bears strong and constant witness to it. But it could never be supposed that he should continue an enemy and an unbeliever of christianity, after he believed that Christ was risen from the dead, and thereby so evidently proved that he was the true Messiah.
4. He spent his whole life afterwards with much zeal and fatigue, in publishing this truth, that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead, and the doctrines which depend on it. He preached this gospel to a multitude of towns and cities among the heathens, who were utter unbelievers, besides his vindicating this doctrine always among the unbelieving Jews.
5. He exposed himself to perpetual dangers and difficulties, and to many persecutions, by affirming it, and even to death itself; and that without any hope of riches, honours, or pleasures in this world; Acts xx. 23, 24. The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none
of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Now put all these things together, and can it be supposed that any man, a wise, an ingenious, and learned man, faithful and sincere, an enemy to christianity, and of the name of Christ, should be so effectually convinced of the truth of the doctrine of Christ, and of the facts which support it, as to spend his life in preaching this gospel, and to die for it, if he had not abundant ground to believe it. And if Paul believed it with such evidence, we may venture to believe it too.
The Divine Commission of St. Paul examined and established.
ACTS xxv. 18, 19.-Of one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
THE SECOND PART.
SECONDLY: The next thing to be enquired is, what special and particular reasons Paul had to believe the resurrection of Christ, and thus constantly to preach it. Here I shall not run through all the various proofs of the resurrection of Christ, which are often summed up together on this occasion; but only mention those which convinced St. Paul, and gave him this full assurance, that Jesus was risen from the dead.
1. He saw Jesus Christ after his resurrection, and spake with him more than once; Acts ix. 4, 5. And a voice said unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. And xxii. 17. While I prayed in the temple I saw him, saying unto me, Make haste, &c. 1 Cor. xv. 4-8. He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that, of above five hundred brethren at once; after that he was seen of James: then of all the apostles; and, last of all, he was seen of me also. He appeals to this sight of Christ, for the truth of the resurrection of Christ. It belongs to the character of an apostle, that he must be one who had seen the Lord; therefore he partly proves his apostleship that way; 1 Cor. ix. 1. Am not I an apostle? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? The first time he saw Christ, after his resurrection, was on the road to Damascus, when there were several with him accompanying him on the road, who were also surprized with the descending glory, though they were not permitted to hear the words. He saw him again; Acts xxii. 17, 18, 21. when Christ sent him to preach to the Gentiles.
2. He felt a wonderful change in himself, both in his body and soul, after he had the first vision of Christ: He was struck blind, and after three days had his sight restored, by the laying on of the hands of Ananias, a christian, according to the vision which was given him; Acts ix. 8, 18. He had a new scene of things set before his understanding, even the whole scheme of christianity. Some suppose that in the three days of his blindness, he was taught the gospel. And accordingly it is said; Acts ix. 20,
22. That he straightway preached Christ in the synagogue, that he is the Son of God; Gal. i. 1. Paul an apostle, not of man, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ. He had a new heart given him, and was made a new man. I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. God called me by his grace, and revealed his Son in me; Gal. i. 15, 16. And of an enemy he became a friend, and preacher of the gospel; Gal. i. 11-16, 23.
3. He found strange powers communicated to him, and he could speak many unknown languages, and gave this gift of tongues to other men; he could heal the sick with a touch of his hand, or a word of his mouth: he could make the lame to walk, as at Lystra; Acts xiv. 8, 10. and strike men blind with a reproof, so Elymas; Acts xiii. 11, 12. and could raise the dead; so Eutychus, Acts xx. 10, 12. and besides all this, he had a power of communicating these miraculous and healing gifts to christians; which eminently appears among the Corinthians; to which he appeals in his disputes with them; 1 Cor. xiv. 18.
Now was it possible for a man who felt such amazing changes wrought in him, and such amazing powers communicated to him by Jesus Christ, to doubt whether Christ was risen from the dead, whether Jesus were alive or no? Or would God have communicated such powers to a man, who went about to preach the resurrection of Christ, if Christ had never been raised from the grave? Would God have afforded such favours to a man who preached the christian religion, if it had not been true and approved of God?
Nor could St. Paul be deceived in his frequently exercising these powers, nor could he deceive others by pretending to them, nor could he appeal to men who enjoyed them, if he had not received them and bestowed them. He appeals, in his public epistles to the Corinthians and Romans, two large assemblies in two noted cities; Rom. xv. 18. 2 Cor. xii. 11. These letters were to be read by the churches, and they published his vindication. And let it be observed too, that several among the Corinthians were his professed adversaries, and had set themselves up against him, and endeavoured to deny his apostleship. 1 Cor. ix. 1, 2. If I be not an apostle to others, I am unto you; for ye are the seal, or proof of my apostleship, by receiving divine gifts
4. Upon closer examination of the bible, St. Paul found, that Christ's rising from the dead was agreeable to the revelations that God had made to mankind in former ages, agreeable to the prophecies of the prophets his predecessors, and particularly agreeable to the explications of those scriptures by his forefathers, and the promises contained in his own native religion, and in the books which teach it; Acts xiii. 30-37. and eminently in that
great type and figure of him, Jonah the prophet, who lived again after he had lain three days and nights in the belly of the whale, in the heart of the sea; Mat. xii. 39, 46. Which was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ.
5. By conferring with others of his own nation, and his own religion, who were well acquainted with Jesus Christ in his lifetime, he found the same truth confirmed by them; for they had seen Jesus Christ, and eat and drank with him after he rose from the dead: So Peter and James, as Gal. i. 18, 19. And they confirmed the same doctrine by their testimony to him, and by gifts and miracles, as well as by their own personal knowledge.
6. He saw the blessed and amazing effects of the resurrection of Christ among the Gentiles, who were once grossly ignorant idolaters, devoted to gross superstitions, slaves to every lust, and given up to all abominations; as they are described Rom. i. 18, &c. Gal. iv. 8. Eph. iv. 17. 1 Cor. vi. 11. But they were changed by this gospel, and made new creatures.
Before I proceed any further, I would make two or three Remarks.
Remark 1. Which of all the infidels of the Jewish or heathen nations, which of all the unbelievers and apostates in a christian land, ever could pretend to bring such powerful and convincing arguments against the resurrection of Christ, as St. Paul had for it? Who hath ever attempted or presumed to prove that Jesus Christ continues still among the dead, by such effectual arguments as Paul had to prove that he is alive? St. Paul's own reason exercising itself on these arguments, could not resist the power of them, but he became a captive to the force of this reasoning, and a rational believer, and a zealous preacher of a risen Jesus.
2. How necessary it is for christians, whose life and hopes depend on the New Testament, to be well satisfied that St. Paul was in the right, and that St. Paul's doctrine is true. For it is evident, that a great part of our religion, at least in the clearness, and fulness, and glory of it, is derived from his writings. His writings make up near half the New Testament.
Many of the articles of our religion would be less plain, and more doubtful, if we did not borrow light from Paul's writings. Many a comfortable expression which our souls rest upon would be lost and useless to us, if we are not satisfied of the truth of what St. Paul tells us, as one commissioned by our risen Saviour. Many a sweet and powerful promise, on which christians have lived and died, would lose its sweetness and its force, if we doubt of the truth and authority of the epistles of St. Paul. What would some of you have done without several chapters, and many verses in them as Rom. iv. andv. 8, 12, 14. I meanparticu