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able by Omnipotence: let the soul be what it will, SERM. and in whatever life may be supposed to consist, nothing can hinder that God may reduce the parts of a man into the same state they sometime before were in. And very easily it is conceivable, that he who (according to the general notions and current traditions of mankind) did first inspire the soul of man into his body, may reinfuse it being separated; that he who after death keepeth it in his hand, may thence restore it; who also (according to histories received in all the principal religions that have been in the world) hath often actually performed it. Pliny indeed doth reckon this among instances of things absolutely impossible; It is, saith he, a great solace of our imperfect nature, that even God cannot do all things; for neither can he bring death upon himself, if he would, nor bestow eternity on mortals, nor recall the dead to life: but it is no wonder, that he, who thought the soul quite to perish by death, should conceive the restitution thereof impossible; although even supposing that, his opinion was not reasonable; for even any thing, how corruptible soever by dissolution of its ingredients, or alteration of its temperament, may, by recollecting and rejoining those ingredients, or by reestablishing the causes of such a temperament, be restored, (as a house whose materials are dispersed may be reedified, or as a liquor by a new fermentation may be revived;) which to effect may not be deemed hard to him that made the whole world: however to such
Imperfectæ vero in homine naturæ præcipua solatia sunt, ne Deum quidem posse omnia; nam neque sibi potest mortem consciscere si velit, (quod homini dedit optimum in tantis vitæ malis) nec mortales æternitate donare, nec revocare defunctos. Plin. ii. 7. Ff
BARROW, VOL. V.
SERM. as him we may say, as our Saviour did to the SadXXIX. ducees, Ye err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the Jer. xxxii. power of God. Especially to those who acknowMatt. xxii. ledge the immortality of the soul, or its permanence in a separate state, and who admit the truth of the ancient histories among the Jews, it is not only most evidently possible, but very credible, that God upon any considerable occasion should perform it with Acts xxvi. such St. Paul might well thus expostulate; What? doth it seem incredible to you, that God should raise the dead? to you that have such previous notions and persuasions about God's omnipotency; (such as the prophet Jeremiah expresseth when he Jer. xxxii. saith, Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the Zech. viii. heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard Heb. xii. 9. for thee :) to you who avow God to be the Father
Job xlii. 2.
22. xxvii. of spirits, who formeth the spirit of man within
Zech. xii. 1. him, and that when man dieth, his spirit returneth
Isa. lvii. 16.
Eccles. xii. to God who gave it: to you who believe that our souls are spiritual substances, like unto angels, subsisting after death, and destined to future rewards: to you, in fine, who may in your holy records find so many experiments of this power exerted by God in his prophets; such as that of Elias's restoring the 2 Kings iv. Widow of Sarepta's son; of Elisha raising the son of 35. xiii. 21. the Shunamite; that of the dead man reviving when his body touched the prophet's bones: to you therefore this fact cannot be in itself incredible; nor indeed can it, for the reason suggested, to any man reasonably seem impossible.
1 Kings xvii. 21.
2. Nor was it apparently in its design unworthy of God, or inconsistent with his holy will: for the ends thereof (such as were pretended by the at
testers of it) were, as very great and important, so SERM. most good and reasonable; it aimed at no slight or trifling matter, but such as in appearance highly concerned the glory of God, and conduced to the welfare of mankind; it professing itself to be a credential of the greatest embassy that ever came down from heaven to men, importing the complete revelation of God's will and procurement of salvation to the world; and did therefore in that respect well become the wisdom and goodness of God to use it. It pretended to confirm a doctrine containing most true and worthy representations of God, the best that could be; declaring most gracious intentions in God of mercy and kindness toward men; no less proper for him than grateful and needful for us; prescribing most excellent rules and patterns of life, (wherein the most genuine piety and virtue, most exact justice and hearty charity, most strict purity and sobriety are prescribed,) yielding the most effectual helps to the practice of all goodness, and tendering the best encouragement thereto; and upon this account therefore also most worthy of God. So that indeed God could not be conceived to perform such a miracle to better purpose, than for promoting the designs it pretendeth, being so very great, and so very good it could not be improper for the Divine power to be thus exerted in favour of a religion so apt to promote his glory, and to procure our benefit.
If it be said, that it is absurd or improbable that God should choose to perform this miracle upon a person of this sort; one so mean and obscure in the state of his life, so wretched and infamous for the manner of his death; that God rather should have
2 Cor. i. 25.
SERM. chosen for the interpreter of his mind, and minister XXIX. of his purposes, a personage more illustrious in rank, and clear in repute; I answer, first, that our shallow fancy is a bad and incompetent judge of what is reasonable or absurd, convenient or unfit, in such 1 Sam. xvi. cases, touching the counsels of God; who seeth not Ísa. lv. 8. as man seeth; whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor ways as our ways; whose folly is wiser than men, (that is, whose counsels, however seeming strange to our dim apprehensions, do yet far excel the results of our best wisdom ;) before Luke xvi. whom, whatever is high among men is abominable; 1 Cor.v. 13. with whom the wisdom of this world is folly; whose Rom. xi. judgments are unsearchable, and his ways are past xxxvi.finding out; as the holy scriptures teach us; and as Job xi. 7. good reason, considering the vast distance between God and us, must acknowledge: so that no such appearance of incongruity can bottom a good exception against this, or any such matter, otherwise well attested. I say further, that God's choice herein, being weighed by a pure and well disposed mind, will appear upon many accounts full of admirable reason and wisdom; all the divine economy concerning our Lord, being rightly apprehended, will soon appear 1 Cor. ii. 6. wisdom to the perfect, and will be justified by the Matt.xi.19. children of wisdom; as that wherein God's transcendent goodness, and perfect justice, and glorious power are with greatest advantage displayed; whereby the hearts of men are most sweetly comforted under their sense of sin and fear of misery, their minds are most clearly instructed in the ways of duty and happiness, their affections are most strongly excited and encouraged to the practice of all goodness: to such purposes (for causes which,
were it now seasonable, we could produce) our Sa- SERM. viour's low condition and hard circumstances did XXIX. admirably serve; and therefore upon that score it could not be unlikely that God should raise him from the dead.
3. But neither (which is the most considerable point) is the testimony asserting this fact anywise defective or insufficient, but hath all the conditions imaginably requisite to the most entire assurance of any such matter. The defect in the testimony, if any be, must arise from weakness or from wilfulness in the witnesses, (their want of knowledge or mistake, their want of honesty or their unfaithfulness,) or from some circumstances belonging to their persons, or their testimony, able to invalidate their attestation; but none of these things can with reason be supposed; they were in all respects more than competently qualified to attest, and all considerable circumstances do assist in confirming their attestation; as by weighing the considerations following may appear.
1. As for their number, it was not one or two persons, (although one or two ordinarily do suffice for decision of the greatest cases among men,) but many who conspired in asserting it. He was (saith St. 1 Cor. xv. Paul, one who was conversant with these witnesses, 5, 6. who, of a zealous adversary and fierce persecutor of this testimony, did become an earnest avoucher thereof) seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present. And, This Jesus, say the twelve apostles, Acts ii. 14, hath God raised up, whereof all we are witnesses: . 22. x. 39. twelve there were who principally were designed,
32. V. 32.