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desirous of being considered, in the eyes of the people, as guilty of the blood of an innocent person. On the soldiers' sleeping, I would finally remark, that of all occasions and of all seasons, that occasion and that season were most unfavourable for sleeping. This same Jesus, whose body they were guarding, not many hours before, had been put to death at the instigation of the Jews, whose king, MESSIAH, and deliverer, he had affirmed himself to be. He had declared himself to be the Son of God; had asserted that, though dead, he should arise again. When he gave up the ghost, nature seemed convulsed; the dead left their graves; the rocks confessed some mighty power, and were rent asunder. The minds of all the people had been occupied, and were still occupied, with the novelty, mysteriousness, and importance of what had taken place. These soldiers knew all, which had been done; they themselves, in all probability, had borne a part in the transactions, which preceded and accompanied the crucifixion; were of the number of those, who had arrayed him with mock ensigns of royalty; had insultingly cried, "Hail, king of the Jews!" had spit upon him; and smitten him with the reed, which, in derision, they compelled him to carry, as a sceptre. Notwithstanding these insults, their own consciences must have testified, as Pilate's did, that he was a blameless person; that what they had done, they performed, not because any thing in his life was worthy of reproach, but in the hard-hearted merriment of a Roman soldiery, to whom executions were pastimes,
rather than scenes of pity. The time was now rapidly approaching, when, according to his prediction, he should rise from the dead. It was the stillness of night; apprehension was awake; curiosity was alive-could the soldiers sleep? A few moments would decide, whether the object of their watch were the body of a crucified malefactor, or whether the Lord of glory would arise from the tomb. If even these soldiers, in such a time, could sleep, they were not men, but beings, in whom some of the most distinguishing traits of the human character were wanting.
But I affirm that the soldiers never told the Sanhedrim the story of stealing the body; and that for these good reasons. First, the soldiers were awake and on guard; they were therefore witnesses of whatever took place ; and, if the body were removed, they must have known, and been consenting to it; the improbability of which, i.e. of their consenting, is sufficiently evident from the fact, that the opposers of the resurrection, who catch at any thing to save their cause, never, I believe, attributed to the soldiers any connivance with the disciples; or, on the other hand, if they were not witnesses of what took place, whereas they were not asleep, they must have been supernaturally influenced, in order to prevent their knowledge of what was transacted. But they, who would admit such a preternatural influence, would, I suppose, concede to us the resurrection. On either supposition then, that the soldiers were witnesses, or were not, it would seem, that they were not the authors of the story. Secondly,
the guard had every motive for removed the body, or to admit its sot 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 Sean of their nation. 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 ;
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
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 inquirer. If Christ Jesus arose from the dead, the Christian religion is true; if this religion is true, it behoves all men to embrace it; for it assures us, that salvation can be hoped for from no other. Whether we admit the evidence of the resurrection, therefore, or not, is no trifling matter; our interest is to know and obey the truth, whatever it is, and the truth alone will make us free. B. C.
REPLY OF LUTHER TO J. C.
It is no small satisfaction to observe the traits of an ingenious, inquisitive, and candid mind, which your communications display. Such a mind is suited to understand and receive the truth. The additional remarks, which I have to suggest, shall be as concise as possible. For such controversies, when carried to a great length, seldom fail to become unprofitable and irksome to readers.
1. It cannot be unobserved, that you have changed your ground. In your first communication you took the ground of objection against the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. Your arguments were expressed in such decisive terms and urged with so much energy, and such a cast was given to the whole performance, that it was natural for readers to consider you, as not fully believing the doctrine. At least, it is certain, that all you wrote was against it. But now, without any notice, you take ground entirely different. Your remarks, you tell us, are by no means intended directly or indirectly to
operate against the doctrine of the saints' perseverance." The difficulties, which your first paper unfolded, seem all to have vanished. In short, your first appearance was wholly in the dress and manners of an Arminian. Your second exhibits you an old Calvinist. This change, which is not by any means cen sured, must be kept in mind in order to a proper treatment of the subject. Before, my business was to remove objections against the doctrine of perseve, rance. Now it is quite different,
2. Your concessions deserve notice, You acknowledge the candour of Luther's observations; and, if you view his arguments as intended to defend the doc
trine of perseverance upon the ancient Calvinistic ground, you concede that many of them have ingenuity and force. You speak in another place of their being clear and forcible in themselves. Now if Luther's arguments have a spirit of candour; if they are clear and forcible in themselves, and forcible too on that Calvinis. tic ground, which you now choose to occupy; they are, one would think, just what you desired, and certainly answer the purpose, for which they were written. Why then are they not satisfactory? Because you have suspicions as to Lu ther's design. It may be proper, therefore, to remark,
3. On the sentiments, which you are pleased to charge against Luther. Although you do not directly call in question the strength of his arguments; yet there is something, which leads you to suspect, that he did not mean to defend the doctrine on Still you
do not feel very confident. Your language is that of uncertainty. "We may have mistaken the design of the writer." You may feel assured, that the licence you have taken to conjecture L.'s meaning has exposed you to mistake. You charge him with holding," that David did totally apostatize from God and holiness; that he fell, for a time, into precisely the same moral state, in which he was previously to his conversion; that other good men are sometimes entirely holy, and sometimes entire ly sinful," &c. All this you in fer from the following passage. It is asked, what would have become of David, if he had died in the midst of his crimes? Luther replies, If he had died impenitent, he would have been lost. Here you think Luther fairly concedes, "that, in his opinion, David did totally apostatize from God and holiness; that he fell into precisely the same moral state, in which he was previous ly to his conversion." Luther freely owns that his idea was not so clearly and definitely expressed, as it ought to have been, and that his language may possibly give some occasion for your inference. He therefore begs leave to remark, that when he uses the expression, "if David had died impenitent, he would have been lost," he does not mean that David, in order to salvation, must have died in the act of repentance. A regenerate person, whose pious exercises are suspended in the last solemn scene, has as sure a title to heaven, as one, who dies, triumphing in faith and hope. The mercy of God has not made salvation to depend on the act of re
pentance and faith in a dying hour. David was a good man, a penitent, a believer. If he had turned from penitence to impenitence; if he had become a re-impenitent, or a total apostate from religion, he would have been lost. This is Luther's meaning. "If David had died impenitent; or as he would now more fully and definitely express it; if he had again become an impenitent sinner, or had totally apostatized from God and holiness, he would have been lost." But is it involved in the nature of a supposition, that the thing supposed does or must actually take place? Because Luther says, if believers should become apostates, they would perish; can he be charged with holding, that they are apostates in fact?
4. Let us, with care, attend to the construction of Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. It may be pertinent to remark, that the question among Calvinists, who adopt different constructions of this text, does not relate to the theory of divine truth. It is merely this; whethe er the passage contains one or the other of two sentiments, which are equally admitted on both sides. In other words, the question respects no essential truth of religion, but merely the construction of a particular text, It is also granted that many plausible arguments have been urged in favour of each of the two constructions. Nor do I pretend to decide, with certainty, which arguments preponderate. It is my first wish, that the arguments on both sides may be fairly exhibited, and that readers would form a conclusion, not according to my judgment, but according to the truth. While I L
suggest some of the considera- hypocritical, render his reason: tions, which favour one construc- ing nugatory? If unrenewed sintion, I should be gratified if ners, partially reformed, fall away, some writer would exhibit, to from what? from their serious, the best advantage, the argu- though ungracious profession ments, which may be used to and deportment;' it is impossisupport the other. *
ble to renew them to repentance. 1. It is urged, that the pas. Thus falling away, they shall cers sage respects the regenerate, be- tainly perish. But it is equally cause the description is too high true, that if they do not fall away, for any unregenerate persons. but continue as they are, they Tasting the heavenly gift ; being shall perish. Is it not difficult made partakers of the Holy to conceive, that the apostle used Ghost; tasting the good word of so many solemn words, merely God, and the powers of the to warn men not to fall away world to come, and all other from a state in which it was phrases like them, in their com- death to remain ? These, with mon scripture use, refer to the some other considerations, inrenewed. All the phrases, here cline me at present to think, employed, taken together, form that the passage belongs to the a description, which none would regenerate. According to this think of applying to the unre: construction, the apostle informs newed, were it not for the sup- Christians, what would be the position of their falling away, consequence of their falling a. which is introduced at the close.
way. It would be impossible to But this is nothing different from renew them again to repentance. the language of solemn caution, “ This,” you say, “is Luther's which Scripture often addresses explanation of the passage. But to the saints.
he still believes that David did 2. Do not these words, “ It is fall away, and that every renew. impossible to renew them again ed person frequently falls away, to repentance," clearly denote, and yet is renewed to repentthat the persons intended had ance.” But what has Luther been once renewed to repentance? said that implies this? With If true repentance, or as Dr. Ow- reference to David, indeed, he en allows, “ if a gracious change spoke of believers' falling. But of mind,” is meant in the last surely the difference between place, is it not meant in the for- fulling, and falling away, is evi, mer? If true repentance be not dent. The old English transla, meant, what is the evil pointed tions render this passage, if they out? It is impossible to renew
shall fall ; which Dr. Owen well them to a fulse, ungracious re- observes, “expressed not the pentance.
import of the word.” 3. Does not the supposition, The best saints on earth fall, that the characters intended by but do not fall away. The Greek the apostle were unrenewed or word here rendered falt away, is
the same, which the Septuagint The litors are happy to have it in their power to present these argu
use, Ezek. xviii. 34, where ments as stated by a very able and the case of apostates is mention, Accomplished writer. See page 466. ed. " In his trespass that he