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SERM. and did take it for their especial duty to attest this XXIX. matter, beside many others, who in their order were able and ready to do it.
Acts i. 21,
2. These witnesses were no strangers to Jesus, but persons by long conversation most familiarly John xv.27. acquainted with him; who had (as it is said, and as it was notorious) been with him from the beginning, who went out and in with him all the time (that is, for three years' space) from his baptism to his ascension.
Luke i. 2.
3. They did aver themselves to be auténтαS TOU λóyou, or avτηkóous, eye or ear-witnesses of the matter, as fully informed about it as senses could make Acts iv. 20. them; We cannot but speak what we have heard 1 John i. 1. and seen: What we did see with our eyes, and what our hands did handle of the word of life, that we report unto you; so St. John (the beloved disciple, who constantly attended on his dear Mas2 Pet. i. 16. ter) expresseth his testimony: and, We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty; so St. Peter affirmeth concerning the manner of their testifying these matters. They did, I say, hear and see him, and that with all advantage possible or needful, not once or twice, not in passing, or at distance, not in way of glimpse or rumour; but often, for a good time, thoroughly; many days conActs x. 41. versing and interchanging discourses with him; who, as St. Peter in the name of the rest saith, did eat
and drink with him after that he rose from the Acts i. 3. dead: and, To whom, as St. Luke, their companion, from their mouth in our text saith, also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible
proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking SERM. of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: XXIX. and, He was, saith St. Paul, another familiar of Acts xiii. theirs, seen many days of them which came up with 31. him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. And two of these witnesses, St. John and St. Matthew, are in writings extant relaters of passages occurring in their conversation with him, very many, very sensible as can be.
4. We may also consider, that the chief of these witnesses, the apostles themselves, were at first (as St. Luke of them and from them confesseth) so far from being easy or credulous in regard to this matter, that, hearing it from others, who before had seen our Lord risen, they took it for a trifle, or a fiction, and gave no credence thereto : their words, saith Luke xxiv. the text, épámoar woeì λñpos, did seem to them (a toy, Matth. or) an idle tale, and they believed them not. Yea, some of them would hardly confide in their own eyes, nor would yield assent unto the fact appearing to them, until, by letting them touch him, and shewing them the marks of his crucifixion remaining on his body, he demonstrated himself to be the very same person who had lived with them and died before them; They were terrified and affrighted, supposed they had seen a spirit—and while yet believed not for joy, and wondered, &c. words in the history.
and Luke xxiv, they John xx.
5. Upon these grounds, as they professed, they did, without any mincing, hesitancy, or reservation, in the most full, clear, downright, and peremptory manner, with firm confidence and alacrity, concurrently aver the fact; They spake the word of God Acts iv. 31. with boldness—and with great power gave the 33. xiv. 3.
SERM. apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord XXIX. Jesus.
Which things being weighed, it will appear impossible that the attesters of this fact (supposing Ημεῖς πιο them in their wits and senses; and certainly they were so, as presently we shall shew, and as the 2 Cor. iv. thing itself plainly speaks) could not be ignorant therein, or mistaken about it. For if all the senses of so many persons in a matter so grossly sensible, so often, and for such a continuance of time, can be distrusted; if the apostles could imagine they saw their Friend and Master, whom they so long had waited upon, when they did not see him; that they heard him making long discourses with them, when they did not hear him; that they did walk, eat, and drink with him, did touch and feel him, when there was really no such thing; what assurance can we have of any thing most sensible? what testimony can be of any validity or use? On that hand, therefore, the testimony is impregnable, the witnesses cannot be accounted ignorant or mistaken in the case; for number, or for ability, they cannot be excepted against.
It must be therefore only their seriousness, honesty, or fidelity, that remains questionable in them; they must be said to have wilfully deceived and imposed upon the world; self-condemned hypocrites, impudent liars, and egregious impostors they must have been, if their testimony was false: but that they were not such persons, that they could not, and would not do so, there are inducements to believe, as forcible as can be required, or well imagined, in any such case.
1. They were persons who did (with denumcia
15. xxi. 27.
tion of most heavy judgments from God on the con- SERM. trary practices) preach and press constantly and earnestly all kinds of goodness, veracity, and sincerity, together with humility, modesty, ingenuity, and equity, as main points of that religion, which they by this testimony confirmed. All their discourses plainly breathed a most serious and sprightly goodness and charity toward men, very inconsistent with a base plot to delude them; their doctrine utterly condemned all malice, all falsehood, craft, and hypocrisy, detruding into the bottomless pit all that Rev. xxii. love or make a lie. Consider these sayings and rules of theirs: As we have opportunity, let us do good Gal. vi. 10. unto all men: Let your moderation (or equity) be Phil. iv. 5. known to all men: Shew all meekness to all men: Tit. iii. 2. Laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypo- 1 Pet. ii. 1. crisies, and envies, and evil speakings, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: Putting aside all lying, speak ɛph. iv. 25. every man truth with his neighbour: Lie not one col. iii. 9. to another, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds: Brethren, be not children in un-1 Cor. xiv. derstanding: however in malice be ye children, Tit. ii. 7, 8. but in understanding be perfect men. Such were their precepts, discountenancing all malice and all fraud; propounded in a manner as serious and grave and simple as can be imagined; all the tenor of their doctrine consenting to them: wherein also they earnestly declare against and prohibit all vanity of mind and perverseness of humour; all affectations of novelty and singularity; all peevish factiousness. and turbulency; all fond credulity, stupidity, and precipitancy; all instability and giddiness of mind;
SERM. all such qualities, which dispose men without most XXIX. sure and evident grounds either to introduce or to
embrace any new conceits, practices, or stories: such was their discourse, nowise sounding like the language of impostors; deceit could hardly so disguise or so thwart and supplant itself.
2. Their practice was answerable to their doctrine, exemplary in all sorts of virtue, goodness, and sincerity; such indeed whereby they did in effect conciliate much respect and authority to their words:
1 Thess. ii. Ye are witnesses, (they could, appealing to the ob
2, 6.ii. 17.
servers of their demeanour, and to the all-knowing God, say,) and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you 2 Cor. iv. that believe: and, We have renounced the hidden Phil. ii. . things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Such a lively sense of goodness shining forth in a long course of practice; so to bridle appetites, so to moderate passions, so to eschew all the allurements of pleasure, profit, and honour; to bear adversities so calmly and sweetly; to express so much tender kindness and meekness toward all men; to be continually employed in heavenly discourses and pious works; exhorting men by word, leading them by example, to all sorts of goodness indisputably such : to live thus, long and constantly, doth nowise suit unto persons utterly debauched in mind, and of a profligate conscience; who had devised, and did then earnestly drive on the propagation of a vile cheat. The life, I say, they led was not the life of