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than in the fancy of its inventors ;) or, that he went to SERM. deliver the souls of the just, and Prophets, from the wicked XXVIII. powers, into whose power they had fallen, (as Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Tryphon, p. 105.)
That he went to affront, triumph over, and terrify the Vid. Monpowers of darkness upon their own ground, or in their part. Posi. own dominions.
Appar. 1. These and the like conceits seem enough discountenanced 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 expofitions 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 obedience, and purchased by his blood, both a redemption from all future Heb. ii. 14. 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 fouls out of subterraneous clofets, or * prisons, (as they call them,) that local. Bellarm. triumph in the Devil's kingdom, it is quite filent, or very dark in expression about them ; whence we may well be somewhat backward in yielding afsent 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 fufficiently directed and encouraged. So that Vid. Fidei we may however safely be ignorant in regard to any of Symbeli un. those notions. But let it suffice to have discoursed thus tinian. Tit. far about this endless question; except we will end it with ad lit. viii.
Colof. ii. 15.
1. De Gen,
SERM. that saying of St. Austin; Melius est dubitare de occultis, XXVIII.
quam litigare de incertis : or with that more peremptory Calv. Inf. saying of Calvin ; Atqui ftultum et temerarium est de reiii. 25, 6.
bus incognitis altius inquirere, quam Deus nobis fcire permittit.
be rose again from the Dead.
Acts i. 3.
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his pasfon by
many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God. The most proper and most usual way of God, in con- SERM. firming any truth of high moment in special manner re- XXIX. vealed 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 surpafseth 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 fouls 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 prerogative of doing this unto himself; he holding (as it is expressed in the Revelation) Rev. i. 19. the keys of hell and of death ; he having said, I am he, and Deut.xxxii. 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 confider the persons whom it was designed for, or the doc
SERM. trines it propounded. The Jews were uncapable of conXXIX. vi&tion by any other way, than by miracle ; no other rea
son would have been apprehended by them, or would 2 Cor. i. 22. have had any force upon them: The Jews, faith St. Paul, John iv. 48. require a hgn; and, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye 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 difputation, 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 Meshas, the Son of God, and Saviour of the world; the future resurrection, general judgment, and difpensation 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 Jefus 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 ; AQs x. 41. to which purpose he did, as St. Peter saith, apox Espotovelv,
predesign, pick 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
of historical narration affirm. And because the truth thereof is in its kind the principal argument, whereby the truth 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 affiftance 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 affert. Now whoever with reason shall doubt thereof or deny it, must do it, either because of some repugnance in the fa&t itself, im- SERM. plying that it could not well be done ; or from deficiency XXIX. 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 presumeable 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 affifted 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 achievable by Omnipotence: let the soul be what it will, and in whatever life may be supposed to confift, 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; a It is, faith he, a great solace of our imperfect nature, that even God cannot do all
a Imperfetæ vero in homine naturæ præcipua folatia sunt, ne Deum qui. dem poffe omnia; nam neque fibi poteft mortem consciscere fi velit, (quod homini dedit optimum in tantis vitæ malis) nec mortales æternitate donare, Dec revocare defunétos. Plin. ii. 7.