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My dear Sir,
No. 4. essay, are such as are connected I am much pleased that you with the story, propagated by the find such friendship and valuable Jews, that the disciples came by society with Mr. - I hope night and stole the body of Jesus, you will derive much assistance while the watch were asleep. Of and animation from him in those course but a small portion of the studies, in which I pray the arguments in favour of the res: MOST High to grant you the best urrection must be expected. I direction, and the happiest suc- lay no claim to novelty ; if any cess.
one shall say, “ I have heard, or With respect to your choice of thought of the same before," books, though I bave not an idea perhaps some others have not. of adding much to what will meet The advancement of the truth, you from other quarters, I will not the gratification of curiosity, however drop a hint or two. is my sole object. One is, to prefer those authors, The body of Jesus, let it be who take up divine subjects, in remembered, was placed in a septhe way which is most agreeable ulchre, which had been cut out of to their nature, and most adapt- a rock ; all entrance into it thereed to interest the heart. Divini- fore was excluded, except at the ty has this special quality ; that mouth. The mouth was closed it is always wronged, when it is by a very large stone, and guardtreated in a mere speculative ed by a band of Roman soldiers, manner. Yet it often has been, who, as it is well known, if found and by great writers, especially asleep at their posts, must have where they treat upon the great answered for it with their lives. first principles of natural or re- How happened it, that the discivealed religion. Yet these, bea pies, who undoubtedly were apcause they are first principles, are prized of this military law, and the more interesting, and should of the other facts referred to, be treated as such ; and when should venture to gain access to they are, the effect is perceived the sepulchre, at so great a hazat once. I do not suppose that ard? Knowing the watch to be either of us considers Necker, as awake, they must have despaired a finished divine. But there are of success; and what reason had some specimens in him of the they to imagine that sixty or kind I refer to, which are certain- seventy men, for such was the ly very impressive ; and worthy usual number of a Roman guard, to be remembered by the divine would suffer themselves to sleep, and the preacher: Particularly in at the risque of their lives; and his 5th chapter on the impor- that all would so sleep at the same tance of religious opinions, to instant of time? Here would inwhich I refer yoti.
Yours, &c. deed have been a miracle, how (To be continued.) much soever the enemies of
Christianity may wish to avoid For the Panoplist. one in matters of revelation.
But, admitting that the sold
iers were asleep, how could they The arguments, which I have testify that the disciples stole the selected for the subject of this body? They might, it is true,
testify that, before they slept, the the body, it was incumbent upon body was there ; and that, when them also to conceal it. they awoke, it was missing ; but Had the chief priests believed this is not telling how it was that the body was stolen, why missing ; whether through the was not an immediate search or. stealth of the disciples, or mirac- dered, to discover where it was ulously, or any other mode of es- deposited ? Had search been cape.
But I will not waste time made, there is every reason for in examining the evidence of believing that a discovery would facts, which were witnessed by have been the result. It is no persons asleep.
very easy, matter to conceal a Admitting again that the sol- dead body for any great length of diers were asleep, how happened time, so that no traces of it be it, that the disciples knew that observed ; and at that time, in fact? We cannot suppose that Jerusalem and its environs, full they were watching such an e- of people collected to keep the vent, an event the most improb- passover, the difficulty must have able, and beyond the power of the been increased. The thing was imagination itself to fancy. Be- possible indeed ; and that possi sides, what reason had they, or bility, we allow objectors to emany body else, to suppose that ploy to their utmost advantage. the body could be conveyed away That the chief priests believed without giving alarm to the sole nothing about the stealing of the diers, when it is considered, espe- body, and that they fabricated the cially, that many hands would story themselves, or connived at be required to move the stone the fabrication, is, manifest from from the mouth of the sepul- the fact, that they made no effort chre,* and that this could not be to detect the fraud of the disciperformed without producing a ples, as they would term it. They very considerable noise ! Would had the strongest motives to exit, furthermore, be natural for the pose to the world the knavery of disciples, in their haste, to be so these men, if any such knavery particular, as to strip the body existed ; they had the fullest reaof its winding sheet, and the head son to believe, that by a diligent of its napkin ; and, wrapping search the body might be discovthem up in separate parcels, to ered ; if such discovery had been lay them carefully in the tomb? made, Christ would have been Would it not have been more proved, at once, to be an imposnatural, to take the body with tor; his religion have been overits clothes about it, and make all thrown; and themselves not onpossible dispatch, to avoid detec- ly exonerated from the guilt of tion ? Why did they choose the putting him to death, but shown latter part of the night, as it to be highly praiseworthy in must seem they did, on the sup- vindicating the truth of God. position made, for such an expe. These were motives, which could dition ? For it should be consid- not have failed to influence the ered that, after they had stolen minds of such men, as compos
ed the Sanhedrim of the Jews ; * See Mark xvi, 1-4; also xv. 46.
men covetous of a character for | See John xx. 6, 7.
zeal in their religion, and little Vol. II. No. 10,
desirous of being considered, in rather than' scenes of pity. The the eyes of the people, as guilty of time was now rapidly approachthe blood of an innocent person. ing, when, according to his pre
On the soldiers* sleeping, I diction, he should rise from the would finally remark, that of all dead. It was the stillness of occasions and of all seasons, that night; apprehension was awake; occasion and that season were curiosity was alive-could the most unfavourable for sleeping. soldierz sleep? A few moments This same Jesus, whose body would decide, whether the object they were guarding, not many of their watch were the body of hours before, had been put to a crucified malefactor, or whethdeath at the instigation of the er the Lord of glory would arise Jews, whose king, MESSIAH, and from the tomb. If even these deliverer; he had affirmed him- soldiers, in such a time, could self to be. , He had declared him- sleep, they were not men, but beself to be the Son of God; had ings, in whom some of the most asserted that, though dead, he distinguishing traits of the hushould arise again. When he man character were wanting., gave up the ghost, nature seem- But I affirm that the soldiers: od convulsed; the dead left their never told the Sanhedrim the stograves ; the rocks confessed ry of stealing the body ; and that some mighty power, and were for these good reasons. First, rent asunder. The minds of all the soldiers were awake and on the people had been occupied, guard ; they were therefore witand were still occupied, with the nesses of whatever took place ; novelty, mysteriousness, and im- and, if the body were removed, portance of what had taken place. they must have known, and been These soldiers knew all, which consenting to it; the improbabilhad been done; they themselves, ity of which, i.e. of their consent. in all probability, had borne a part ing, is sufficiently evident from in the transactions, which pre- the fact, that the opposers of the ceded and accompanied the cru- resurrection; who catch at any cifixion ; were of the number of thing to save their cause, never, those, who had arrayed him with I believe, attributed to the soldmock ensigns of royalty ; had iers any connivance with the disinsultingly cried, “ Hail, king of ciples; or, on the other hand, the Jews !" had spit upon him; if they were not witnesses of and smitten him with the need, what took place, whereas they which, in derision, they compell- were not asleep, they must have ed him to carry, as a sceptre. been supernaturally influenced, Notwithstanding these insults, in order to prevent their knowltheir own consciences must have edge of what was transacted. testified, as Pilale's did, that he But they, who would admit such was a blameless person; that a preternatural influence, would, what they had done, they per- I suppose, concede to us the resformed, not because any thing in urrection. On either supposihis life was worthy of reproach, tion then, that the soldiers were but in the hard-hearted merri- witnesses, or were not, it would ment of a Roman soldiery, to seem, that they were not the auwhom executions were pastimes, thors of the story. Secondly,
the guard had every motive for removed the body, orto admit its Kot publishing such a tale. The resurrection. Let any one reflect publishing of it would have been as much as he pleases, he will find, an acknowledgment of a capital it is believed, no other. Now the offence, and the soldiers well resurrection is out of the quesknew that the Jewish Sanhedrim tion; a thing in no way to be adwould be the first men in the mitted. The disciples then reworld to expose them, in such a moved the body, and in so doing case, to the penalty of the law. acted by stealth, or by permission They would expect to be ques- of the keepers ; of the two, the retioned at once, if the disciples moving of it by stealth, no doubt, came for the body, why did you is the more probable supposition, not apprehend them?” But,“ we improbable as it is; and so, it were asleep." “ How then do seems, the Jews considered it. you know the truth of what you Remark farther, that men always assert ? the world must be per
admit with readiness any thing suaded by another story than this, to disprove what they vehementand we shall see that you reaply wish to be untrue, or that the full reward of your neg
others should believe to be false. lect." Thirdly, had the soldiers No great wonder, therefore, that been asleep, or had they suffered the Sanhedrim, in their trying the body to be stolen ; they dilemma, fabricated even this iinwould, beyond a question, have probable tale, to screen themasserted its resurrection ; if selves from the imputed guilt of asleep, to secure them from pun- having put to death the MESishment ; if conniving at the SIAH of their pation. theft, besides the avoiding punish- Arguments to prove the resurment, to carry on the deception. rection of Jesus might be greatly
I am aware of one objection to multiplied. I know of no fact what has been said concerning in history, which I would sooner the fabrication of the story. It undertake to evince, with the is this; “ Had the story been so hope of success, were men as very improbable, those acute willing to believe things of ever men, who composed the Sanhe- lasting, as they are of temporary drim, would never have publish- moment. The stealing of the ed it ; but it is certain, that they body of Christ was incomparadid publish it, and the Jews to bly the most probable story, this day give credit to it; the which the sagacity of the most more then you endeavour to sagacious among the Jews could show its improbability, the more invent, in order to convince manyou establish its probability; kind; and it is the only one, on that is, your argument defeats it- which to this hour the whole self.” I answer ; whether the people of the Jews, scattered story is probable or not, any man throughout the world, found inay judge for himself, as well their disbelief of the resurrecnow as eighteen hundred years tion. The absurdity of the story ago, so far as facts are handed I have endeavoured to expose in down to us. But remark, these a short and perspicuous manner, men had but one alternative ; ei- by laying hold of some of the ther to report that the disciples most prominent circumstances,
which present themselves to an operate against the doctrine of inquirer. If Christ Jesus arose the saints' perseverance.” The from the dead, the Christian re- difficulties, which your first pa. ligion is true ; if this religion is per unfolded, seem all to have true, it behoves all men to em- vanished. In short, your first brace it ; for it assures us, that appearance was wholly in the salvation can be hoped for from dress and manners of an Armins po other. Whether we admitian. Your second exhibits you the evidence of the resurrection, an old Calvinist. This change, therefore, or not, is no trifling which is not by any means cen matter ; our interest is to know sured, must be kept in mind in and obey the truth, whatever it is, order to a proper treatment of and the truth alone will make us the subject. Before, my busifree.
B. C. Dess was to remove objections
against the doctrine of perseve,
Now it is quite different, REPLY OF LUTHER TO J. C.
2. Your concessions deserve DEAR SIR,
notice. You acknowledge the can It is no small satisfaction to dour of Luther's observations ; observe the traits of an inge- and, if you view his arguments nious, inquisitive, and candid as intended to defend the doce mind, which your communica: trine of perseverance upon the tions display. Such a mind is ancient Calvinistic ground, you suited to understand and receive concede that many of them have the truth. The additional re ingenuity and force. You spea's marks, which I have to suggest, in another place of their being shall be as concise as possible. clear and forcible in themselves. For such controversies, when Now if Luther's arguments have carried to a great length, seldam
a spirit of candour; if they are fail to become unprofitable and clear and forcible in themselves, įrksome to readers.
and forcible too on that Calvinis, 1. It cannot be unobserved, tic ground, which you DOW that you have changed your ground. choose to occupy; they are, In your first communication you one would think, just what you took the ground of objection a- desired, and certainly answer gainst the doctrine of the saints' the purpose, for which they perseverance. Your arguments were written. Why then are were expressed in such decisive they not satisfactory? Because terms and urged with so much you have suspicions as to Lu. energy, and such a cast was giv: ther's design. It may be propen to the whole performance, er, therefore, to remark, that it was natural for readers to 3. On the sentiments, which consider you, as not fully believe you are pleased to charge against ing the doctrine. At least, it is Luther. Although you do not certain, that all you wrote was
directly call in question the against it. But now, without strength of his arguments; yet any notice, you take ground en. there is something, which leads tirely different. Your remarks, you to suspect, that he did not you tell us, are by no means mean to defend the doctrine on intended directly or indirectly to Calvinistic ground.