« PreviousContinue »
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. soldiers 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 hin- 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 ed convulsed; the dead left their never told the Sanhedrim the stograves; the rocks confessed ry of stealing the body; and that some mighly 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 improbabil- had 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 reed, 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 knowle their own consciences must have edge of what was transacted. testified, as Pilate's did, that he But they, who would admit suck 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, or to admit its not 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 acknowldigment 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 po 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 bolieve 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 imwould, 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 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 evermen, 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 paligion 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 Arminno 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 cenmatter; 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.
ness was to remove objections against the doctrine of perseve
rance. Now it is quite different. REPLY OF LUTHER TO J. C.
2. Your concessions deserve DEAR SIR,
notice. You acknowledge the canIt 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 docmind, 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 speak 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, seldom a spirit of candour; if they are fail to become unprofitable and
clar and forcible in themselves, irksome to readers,
and forcible too on that Calvinis1. It cannot be unobserved, tic ground, which you now 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 Luenergy, and such a cast was give 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.
do not feel very confident. Your pentance and faith in a dying hour. language is that of uncertainty. David was a good man, a penitent, “ We may have mistaken the a believer. It he had turned from design of the writer." You may penitence to in penitence ; if he feel assured, that the licence you had become a re-impenitent, or have taken to conjecture Li's a total apostate from religion, he meaning has exposed you to would have been lost. This is mistake. You charge him with Luther's meaning. “If David holding," that David did totally had died impenitent; or as he apostatize from God and holi- would now more fully and definess ; that he fell, for a time, in- nitely express it; if he had to precisely the same moral again become an impenitent sinstate, in which he was previous- ner, or had totally apostatized ly to his conversion ; that other from God and holiness, he would good men are sometimes entire- have been lost.” But is it inly holy, and sometimes entire- volved in the nature of a suppuly sinful,” Sc. All this you in- sition, that the thing supposed fer from the following passage.. does or must actually take It is asked, what would have be place ? Because Luther says, if come of David, if he had died in believers should become apos. the midst of his crimes? Luther tates, they would perish ; can be replies, If he had died impeniteni, be charged with holding, that he would have been lost. Here they are apostates in fact? you think Luther fairly con- 4. Let us, with care, attend cedes," that, in his opinion, Da- to the construction of Heb. vi. 4, vid did totally apostatize from 5, 6. It may be pertinent to reGod and holiness ; that he fell mark, that the question among into precisely the same moral Calvinists, who adopt different state, in which he was previous- constructions of this text, does ly to his conversion.” Luther not relate to the theory of divine freely owns that his idea was not truth. It is merely this ; whethso clearly and definitely express- er the passage contains one or ed, as it ought to have been, and the other of two sentiments, that his language may possibly which are equally admitted on give some occasion for your in- both sides. In other words, the ference. He therefore begs question respects no essential leave to remark, that when he truth of religion, but merely the uses the expression, “if David construction of a particular text. had died impenitent, he would It is also granted that many have been lost,” he does not plausible arguments have been mean that David, in order to sal- urged in favour of each of the vation, must have died in the act two constructions. Nor do I of repentance. A regenerate pretend to decide, with certainty, person, whose pious exercises which arguments preponderate. are suspended in the last solemn It is my first wish, that the arscene, has as sure a title to hea- guments on both sides may be ven, as one, who dies, triumph- fairly exhibited, and that readers ing in faith and hope. The would form a conclusion, not acmercy of God has not made sal- cording to my judgment, but acvation to depend on the act of re. cording to the truth. While I
suggest some of the considera- hypocritical, render his reason, tions, which favour one construc- ing nugatory? If unrenewed sin, tion, 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 cery sage respects the regenerate, be- tainly perish. But it is equally cause the description is too high true, thạt if they do not fall away, for any unregenerate persons. but continue as they are, they Tasting the heavenly gif ; 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, in. renewed. 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 repent: that 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- falling, and falling away, is evimer? If true repentance be not dent. The old English translameant, 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 false, 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 fall away, is The Editors are happy to have it the same, which the Septuagint 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 has