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to the door of the sepulchre, soldiers were placed to guard against the fraud of his friends. There has always seemed to me a striking analogy between the stupendous miracle of the resurrection, and that of the sacrifice in the time of the prophet Elijah. Every precaution seems to have been used to make it as striking as possible. "And he put the wood in order and cut in pieces the bullock and laid him on the wood and said : Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, do it the second time, and they did it the second time. And he said, do it the third time, and they did it the third time. And the water ran about the altar and filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said : Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it they fell on their faces, and they said: “ The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
To the imagination, which strongly recalls the times of the Saviour, a fearful suspense seems to hang over the earth from the burial of Jesus to the morning of the third day. The world pursues its accustomed avocations, regardless of the stake which millions unborn have in the fulfilment of the predictions of Jesus. When we meditate on the quiet of that sepulchre, and the world rolling on in its old channel, the disciples scattered, disheartened and dismayed, preparing to resume their old occupations, and to remember the ministry of Jesus as an inexplicable dream, we begin to think of the possibility of the great alternative of the Apostle;—“ If Christ had not risen,”—what a different order of things mankind would have witnessed from that day to this ! Idolatry would have been safe upon her throne. Ignorance and oppression would have been still the lot of man, and the noble army of the martyrs, who have dignified and adorned human nature, would have enjoyed nothing but the dim light of nature, as their only spiritual guide. But the plans of Omnipotence could not be defeated. The third day brought life and immortality, vindicated the claim of Jesus of Nazareth, and placed his religion upon a basis never to be shaken.
In the worldly and ambitious minds of the disciples, this simple event effected what words had been unable to accomplish. It interpreted and spiritualized
the whole Gospel. It transferred the seat of the kingdom of the Messiah from Jerusalem to heaven, from the outward life of man to the inmost recesses of his soul; and though it took away Jesus as their earthly guide and companion, it exalted him in oriental phrase to the right hand of God, demonstrated that Almighty Power was enlisted in his cause, and gave them a confidence which his own presence, in a state of humiliation, was unable to inspire. This event, together with his frequent interviews for forty days, and at last his ascension to heaven, gradually dispelled their Jewish prejudices and anticipations, converted them from ambitious aspirants for earthly honors to the preachers of a disinterested and spiritual faith, and sent them forth as the missionaries of piety and holiness. There was but one mistake which clung to them still, and which Jesus himself did not choose to correct, but left it to be the work of events and slow revolving years, their expectation of his personal and speedy return to earth. On this point they pressed him almost at their first meeting after his resurrection. 66 Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel.” To this question, which was plainly an unjustifiable prying into the designs of the Almighty, he gave them no direct reply. “ It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come
shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” As much as if he had said, With the ultimate designs of the Almighty you have nothing to do. He will order them in infinite wisdom. Your duty is single and simple, to bear witness to the world of what you have seen and heard. Go preach the Gospel to every creature. And the time will soon come, when you will receive such tokens of the presence and aid of God, as will enable you to preach with confidence and effect.
Accordingly at the feast of Pentecost, ten days after the ascension of Christ, and fifty after his crucifixion, when the multitudes of the Jewish nation were again assembled at Jerusalem, the Apostles by some manifestation of Divine power, of the nature of which we at the present day can form no accurate idea, were prompted and emboldened to commence their great work of converting the world. The fact of their having been the witnesses of the most interesting and stupendous event that has ever taken place in the annals of the human race, the return to earth of a spirit from the mysterious unknown of the unseen world, and the promise of eternal happiness, which they were authorised to make from him to all who should believe on and obey him, transformed them in the eyes of the multitude from illiterate peasants to the ambassadors of Heaven. The miraculous powers
GRADUAL ILLUMINATION OF THE APOSTLES.
which they displayed completed the chain of evidence, and the spiritual world generally so dim and distant, for a while became a present, living reality. An enthusiasm broke forth, which rose above the realities of this diurnal sphere, which filled their hearts with a perpetual joy, and testifies to all time the extraordinary events which then took place, by suspending for a season one of the strongest passions of the human heart, the desire to retain our possessions.
Thus the promise of Christ was fulfilled, and the Spirit, the miraculous acts of God, took the place of Christ as their teacher, and led them into all the truth; took the things of Jesus and showed them unto them; established his religion in the world as an institution authenticated by God.