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ABRIDGED FROM THE MOST EMINENT DIVINES
OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH,
ADAPTED TO THE SERVICE OF THE DAY.
INTENDED FOR THE USE OF FAMILIES AND SCHOOLS.
BY THE REV. J. R. PITMAN, A.M.
ALTERNATE MORNING-PREACHER OF BELGRAVE AND BERKELEY
FOUNDLING AND MAGDALEN HOSPITALS.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
COURSE OF SERMONS.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
EVIDENCE SUFFICIENT. LUKE xvi. 31.And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and
the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the Dead.
[Text taken from the Gospel for the Day.] Who would not think, that the coming of one from the dead would effectually convince an unbeliever And yet this evidence, our Saviour tells us, would have no effect
him: the reason of which judgement may appear from the three following considerations :
First : Let us consider, whether the evidence upon which revelation stands, be in itself greater or more convincing, than the evidence of one coming from the dead can be: if it is, we must subscribe to our Saviour's judgement; that he who will not hear Moses and the Prophets,' or Christ and his Apostles, ' would not be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Whatever a dead man, who appears to you, may tell you concerning another world, all the reason you can have to believe him is, because you suppose him to come from the other world, and to relate things which he has seen and known: so that his authority is no more than barely the authority of a traveller, who relates things of the countries through which he has passed. And how will it appear to you, that one from the dead cannot possibly deceive you? As he is a man, I am sure you have reason to mistrust him ; and what reason you have to rely on him as a dead man, I know not.
Our Saviour's resurrection was something more than merely the apparition of a dead man: he foretold the time and cirVOL. II.
cumstances of his resurrection, and put the proof of his mission and doctrine upon the performance of this great wonder : and since part of his doctrine is, that the dead shall be raised, we are thus far certain, that he, who has power to raise the dead, has assured us that the dead shall be raised : so that the authority of our Saviour's word after his resurrection was not barely the authority of one coming from the dead, but it was the authority of him who has power to raise the dead; which authority, we know, belongs not to man, and therefore is greater than the authority of any man, either from the dead or the living. So that our Saviour's resurrection proves a commission from the highest power to teach the world; which cannot be proved merely from the appearance of one from the dead. And here lies the true difference between the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of those whom our Saviour himself raised from the dead : their resurrection was a proof of his power and commission, who raised them to life, but of their own power and commission it was no proof: they were merely passive in their resurrection, and brought no more authority from the grave, than they carried to it; and therefore had no right to set up for teachers.
Then, as to the reality of our Saviour's resurrection, warning was given to expect it, which of itself is a great evidence of sincere dealing; as men do not use to give public notice of the cheats they intend to play. And, after his resurrection, his stay upon earth was so long, as to give full satisfaction, to all concerned, of the truth and reality of what they saw. At his first appearance, the disciples were in the same case with others, who think they see spectres and apparitions ; that is, they were confounded and amazed, and did not know well what they saw: and, had not the frequency of our Saviour's appearances made them familiar to them, so that they bore the sight of him with the same sedateness of mind as they did in his life-time, and consequently had all the necessary qualifications to judge rightly concerning what they heard or saw; had it not been for this, their evidence in this case would not have been equal to the weight of those truths it is to support. But, perhaps, you think you might find that conviction in seeing one come from the dead yourself, which you cannot find in the reports even of the Apostles, who have seen one.
Let us then consider, whether he who believes upon the