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they received their commission from him, yet now himself could not act without receiving a commission from them. And therefore, having no commission from them to do it, he would not intrench so much upon their privilege and power as to determine the controversy betwixt the two brethren contending about their inheritance. "Man," saith he, "who made me a judge or a divider over you?" And to show his submission to the civil magistrate as highly as possibly he could, rather than offend them he wrought a miracle to pay the tax which they had charged upon him. And when the officers were sent to take him, though he had more than twelve legions of angels at his service to have fought for him if he had pleased, yet he would not employ them, nor suffer his own disciples to make any resistance. He was also as lowly and respectful to the lowest, as he was to the highest that he conversed with: he affected no titles of honour, nor gaped after popular air, but submitted himself to the meanest services that he could, for the good of others, even to the washing his own disciples' feet, and all to teach us that we can never think too lowly of ourselves, nor do anything that is beneath us; propounding himself as our example, especially in this particular: "Learn of me," saith he, "for I am meek and lowly in heart."4
His humility also was the more remarkable, in that his bounty and goodness to others was so great, for "he went about doing good."5 By him, as himself said, "the blind received their sight, and the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, and the deaf heard, the dead were raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them." Yea it is observable, that we never read of any person whatsoever that came to him, desiring any kindness or favour of him, but he still received it, and that whether he was friend or foe. For indeed, though he had many inveterate and implacable enemies in the world, yet he bore no grudge or malice against them, but expressed as much love and favour for them as to his greatest friends. Insomuch, that when they had gotten him upon the cross, and fastened his hands and feet unto it, in the midst of all that pain and torment which they put him to, he still prayed for them."
Oh! how happy, how blessed a people should we be, could
1 Luke, xii. 15.
2 Matt. xvii. 27. 3 Matt. xxvii. 52, 53. 4 Matt. xi. 29. 5 Acts, x. 38. 6 Matt. xi. 5. 7 Luke, xxiii, 34.
we but follow our blessed Saviour in this particular! How well would it be with us, could we but be thus loving to one another, as Christ was to all, even his most bitter enemies! We may assure ourselves it is not only our misery, but our sin too, unless we be so. And our sin will be the greater, now we know our Master's pleasure, unless we do it. And therefore, let all such amongst us as desire to carry ourselves as Christ himself did, and as becometh his disciples in the world, begin here.
Be submissive and obedient both to our parents and governors, humble in our own sight, despise none, but be charitable, loving, and good to all; by this shall all men know that we are Christ's disciples indeed.
1. Of whom was Jesus Christ the Son? | trates? 2. Name his reputed father and his real motber.
3. In what respect was Christ infinitely above his mother?
4. In what was he below her?
5. How did he behave as man to his mother?
.6. What proof of his love to her did he give while hanging on the cross.
7. Explain the words "carry ourselves to our earthly parents."
8. Does that son however great he may become, imitate Jesus, who is ashamed of his poor parents?
9. Who are our civil parents? 10. Who gives rulers their authority? 11. What is Christ called in 1 Timothy, vi. 15?
12. How was Christ under the magis
13. What instances are given of his submission to them?
14. What proof of deep humility did he give his disciples?
15. Who will report to me the sweet words of Matt. xi, 28, 29, 30?
16. What miracles of healing was Christ constantly working?
17. Did he refuse acts of kindness, even to enemies?
18. Repeat his prayer for those who crucified him.
19. Would it not be a happy world if men were to copy Christ's example in all things?
20. How may a true disciple be known? 21. Who will quote to me the verses referred to in this lesson?
X.—EVIDENCES OF THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD.
AFTER our Saviour's crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea, we are told, laid the body in his own new tomb,' hewn out of a rock, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre. In order to secure themselves against any fraud, the Jews desired the Roman governor, Pilate, to grant them a band of soldiers to guard the sepulchre, lest, as they said, the disciples should come by night and steal the corpse away. Pilate's answer was in these words, "Ye have a watch, go your way, make it as sure as you can: so they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." The Evangelist then proceeds to relate the great event of the resurrection with that ingenuous and natural simplicity which characterises the sacred historians, and which carries upon the face of it every mark of sincerity and truth. "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen,* and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake: for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door, and sate upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the Angel of the Lord answered and said unto the woman, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, that was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there ye shall see him; Lo, I have told you. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now, when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all that was done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money and did as they were taught And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews unto this day."
1 Sepulchres, places for burying the dead, were usually hollow rooms dug into rocks with an upright door to enter into them, to which a large stone was put.
2 A Roman guard generally consisted of sixty men.
Matth. xxvii. 65, 66. 4 Luke, vili. 2. 5 Mark, xvi. 1.
6 Matth. xxvii, 1-15.
Such is the relation of this wonderful fact given by St. Matthew, which comprehends not only his own account of it, but that also which was circulated in opposition to it by the chief priests and rulers of the Jews. Here then we have fairly before us the two different representations of this event by the friends and by the enemies of Christ; of which the former asserts that it was a real resurrection, the other that it was a fraud; and between these two we must form our opinions; for no third story has been set up, that we know of, by any one.
One thing is agreed on by both sides, viz. that the body was not to be found in the sepulchre. It was gone; and the question is by what means? The soldiers gave out, that the disciples "came by night, while they slept, and stole it away." But it is not very easy to understand how the soldiers could depose to any thing that passed while they were fast asleep; they could not possibly tell in what manner the body was stolen away, or by whom. Nor, considering the extreme severity of the Roman military discipline, is it credible, that if they had been asleep they would have confessed it. For it was certain death to a Roman soldier to be found sleeping upon guard. Nothing could have prevailed upon them to make such a declaration as that, but a previous promise of impunity and reward from the Jewish rulers; a plain proof that they had been tampered with, and that it was a concerted story.
In the next place, supposing the story true, of what use could the dead body be to the disciples? It could not prove to them, or to others, that their Master was risen from the dead; on the contrary, it must have been a standing and a visible proof of the contrary. It must convince them, that he, instead of being the deliverer they expected, was an impostor, and they most cruelly deceived. And why they should choose to keep in their possession, and to have continually before their eyes a lifeless corpse, which completely blasted all their hopes, and continually reminded them of their bitter disappointment, is somewhat difficult to be imagined.
The tale, then, told by the soldiers, is upon the very face of it, a gross and clumsy forgery. The consequence is, that the account given by St. Matthew is the true one. For if the body was actually gone (an acknowledged point on all
sides) and if it was not, as we have proved, stolen away by the disciples, there are but two possible suppositions remaining; either that it was taken away by the Jews and Romans, or that it was raised to life again by the power of God. If the former had been the case, it could only have been for the purpose of confronting and convicting the disciples of falsehood and fraud by the production of the dead body. But the dead body was not produced. It was therefore, as the Gospel affirms. raised from the grave, and restored to life. There is no
other conceivable alternative left.
And that this was actually the case, is proved by our Lord's appearing after his resurrection, not only to the two women who came first to the sepulchre, but to the two disciples going to Emmaus, and to the disciples assembled together at two different times, and to all the apostles, and to above 500 brethren at once. And he not only appeared to them silently, but he talked and ate with them; he showed them his hands and his feet; he made them handle him; he held several long conversations with them; and, at last ascended up into heaven in their sight.
These were things of which the plainest and most ignorant men could judge. It was impossible for them to be deceived in an object with which they were well acquainted, and which presented itself to all their senses:
1. Describe the sepulchres used in the East.
2. Where was Jesus buried?
3. Who applied to Pilate for a guard of
4. What number of soldiers was usually in a Roman guard?
5. What did they do to make the sepulchre sure?
6. When did the two women come to see the tomb?
7. Who was Mary Magdalene, and who the other Mary?
8. Which day of the week is the Jewish Sabbath? and which the Christian ?
9. What wonderful event had just taken place before they came to the tomb? 10. What said the Angel to the women? 11. Who met them as they ran to tell the disciples?
12. What did Jesus say to them? 13. Who informed the chief priests of these things?
14. What were the soldiers told to say? 15. Are these the only two accounts given of this wonderful event?
16 On what point do both parties agree?
17. What did the soldiers say had become of the body?
18. Now do you think it likely the whole guard would be asleep at once?
19. If your house was robbed while you were in a sound sleep, could you tell when you awoke who were the robbers?
20. Do you think the soldiers could tell what happened while they slept?
21. What was the punishment of sleeping on guard in the Roman army?
22. Would any soldier in his senses declare he had fallen asleep, when he knew he would be punished with death for having so done?
23. Besides, think again, who set them to guard the sepulchre?
24. Well, if they had negligently fallen asleep, who would have been most anxious to have them punished?
25. What then does the soldiers' declaration clearly show?
26. But supposing the disciples did steal the body, would it have confirmed their faith in Jesus as the Messiah?
27. Seeing the disciples did not steal the corpse, what two suppositions only are left?
28. If the Jews and Romans had had it, would they not have produced it to prove Christ an impostor?