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That he went to affront, triumph over, and terXXVIII. rify the powers of darkness upon their own ground,
Vid. Mon- or in their own dominions.
P. 442.et in
Part. Post. These and the like conceits seem enough disAppar. 1. countenanced by saying, the scriptures nowhere plainly declare any such thing, and that therefore they have no good ground to stand upon, (they pretend only one or two difficult and obscure places in the First Epistle of St. Peter, which are capable of fair expositions not favourable to them;) whereas in teaching us, that our Lord preached upon earth salvation to them, who in this life should be converted to believe upon him and obey his laws; damnation irrecoverable to them, who should persist in infidelity and disobedience: that he merited by his Heb. ii. 14. obedience, and purchased by his blood, both a redemption from all future distress and a translation into bliss; that he by his death vanquished all the powers of hell, and triumphed over them upon the cross; in these things the scripture is very clear and copious but concerning that redemption of souls beneath, that translation of souls out of subterra*Bellarm. neous closets, or * prisons, (as they call them,) that local triumph in the Devil's kingdom, it is quite silent, or very dark in expression about them; whence we may well be somewhat backward in yielding assent to such devices, of which, if any perhaps should be true, yet could not the belief thereof be of necessity, or great importance to us: for what our Saviour so did below would not belong to the salvation of the living, which is abundantly provided for by his death and resurrection, with what followed them, nor would it much refer to our practice, which is otherwise sufficiently directed
about Vid. Fidei Symbola in
and encouraged. So that we may however safely SERM. be ignorant in regard to any of those notions. let it suffice to have discoursed thus far this endless question; except we will end it with Codice Justhat saying of St. Austin; Melius est dubitare de 1.De Gen. occultis, quam litigare de incertis: or with that 5. more peremptory saying of Calvin; Atqui stultum Calv. Inst. et temerarium est de rebus incognitis altius inquirere, quam Deus nobis scire permittit.
ad lit. viii.
iii. 25, 6.
He rose again from the Dead.
ACTS i. 3.
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
SERM. THE most proper and most usual way of God, in XXIX. confirming any truth of high moment in special
manner revealed by him, is by lending unto them whom he employs as messengers thereof his powerful arm, for the performance of works supernatural or miraculous. Of such works there is none more certainly such, than raising a dead person to life; the doing which upon several accounts plainly surpasseth the power of any creature; not only as exceeding the ordinary law and course of nature established and upheld by God, but for that the souls of men departing hence do return into God's hand, or into a state by high sentence determined, whence no creature is able to fetch them down, or raise them up; because also God hath reserved the pre
Rev i. 18. rogative of doing this unto himself; he holding (as Deut. xxxii. it is expressed in the Revelation) the keys of hell
1 Sam. ii. 6. and of death; he having said, I am he, and there is no God beside me; I kill, and I make alive.
There could also particularly be no more proper way of confirming our religion to come from God,
whether we consider the persons whom it was de- SERM. signed for, or the doctrines it propounded. The Jews were uncapable of conviction by any other way than by miracle; no other reason would have been apprehended by them, or would have had any force upon them: The Jews, saith St. Paul, require a 2 Cor. i. 22. sign; and, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye John iv. 48. will not believe, said our Saviour to them. The Gentiles also had been so used to the winding off and on the subtilties and the plausibilities of disputation, that nothing probably in that kind would have sufficed to persuade them; and therefore somewhat miraculous in the highest kind might be needful to convert them: also the most peculiar and eminent doctrines of our religion (such as are, Our Lord Jesus being the Messias, the Son of God, and Saviour of the world; the future resurrection, general judgment, and dispensation of rewards, answerable to men's practice in this life) cannot more immediately and directly be assured, than by the resurrection from the dead of him who principally did reveal them.
Wherefore Almighty God in confirmation of our religion did perform this great work in raising Jesus our Lord from the dead; and withal (for the conviction of the world, for rendering our faith reasonable and our infidelity inexcusable) he did take especial care, that the fact should by very sufficient testimony be conveyed unto us; to which purpose he did, as St. Peter saith, poxepoтove, predesign, pick Acts x. 41. out, and appoint a competent number of persons, in all respects capable and fit to assert it: thus is that which St. Luke in our text doth in way of historical narration affirm. And because the truth thereof is
SERM. in its kind the principal argument, whereby the truth XXIX. of our religion in gross may be evinced, we shall for the confirmation of our faith against all impressions of this incredulous (and therefore impious) age, endeavour by God's assistance now to declare and maintain it. That Jesus truly died, all the world could testify; no death was ever more solemn or remarkable; nor do any adversaries contest it; that he after that death was by divine power raised again to life is that which we believe and assert. Now whoever with reason shall doubt thereof or deny it, must do it, either because of some repugnance in the fact itself, implying that it could not well be done; or from deficiency of the testimony proving it, as to its authors or circumstances: but neither of these exceptions may reasonably be admitted.
As for the fact itself, or the notion of a resurrection in general, there cannot, (admitting that, which, as capable of antecedaneous proof, and as acknowledged by all persons owning any religion, may be presupposed, the power and providence of God, together with his chief attributes of wisdom and goodness incomprehensible,) there cannot be any repugnance therein, or any incredibility. For it was neither in its nature impossible to God, or in its design unworthy of him; it contained nothing apparently either beyond the power of God, or presumable to be against his will.
1. To raise a dead man to life, is indeed, we confess and avow, a work surpassing the power of any creature not assisted by God; but no reason can be assigned, why it should go beyond the divine power. The doing it doth not involve contradiction, and is therefore an object of power, and at least is achiev