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Published by glennpease

The Lord is risen indeed. S. LUKE xxiv. 34.

The Lord is risen indeed. S. LUKE xxiv. 34.

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Published by: glennpease on May 18, 2013
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Easter.UPPER CAADA TRACT SOCIETYThe Lord is risen indeed. S. LUKE xxiv. 34.THE lapse of centuries has not diminished the joy of thatannouncement. The gladness and peace of Easter rest thisday now upon our souls no less than in those early days of theChurch s history, when the words * Christ is risen are said to havebeen the formula of joyful salutation between one Christian andanother.It is an announcement that binds all Christendom together. Eastand West are united in the commemoration of the fact of this day.And the thought that the Saviour is risen, common to-day to everyChristian heart, makes us thrill with the hope of far-off possibilitiesto the world, to be derived from the moral force of a unitedChristendom.In the face of our conflicts and controversies, our misunderstandings and suspicions, Easter Day lays before the Church the vision of an essential union. To all of us, whether those perplexed and distracted at rapidity of movement and change of thought, or thosechafing and distressed at sluggishness and inaction, comes the reconciling message of Easter that there is one Lord and one faith. Toall of us, however eager on one side to shake ourselves free from thebondage of the letter, however loath on the other to part from onesyllable of an inherited formula, the message of Easter sends itshallowing restraint and its liberating power.From whatever side you look, this article of the Christian creedspeaks of comfort and of hope. To a world craving to see beyondthe darkness which girdles an earthly horizon, it suggests that theaspiration after life, even the passionate desire of a personal reunion,may receive fulfilment in some future realm of extended consciousness. To the Church of Christ it brings the explanation both of herpower and of her mission her power derived from the life of herRisen Lord, her mission to realise in the world the perpetual communion with that glorified life by love and courage, by purity andsacrifice, by wisdom and forbearance. Above all, it irradiates witha flood of light the person of Christ, whose appearance and power inthe history of the world remains otherwise a dark enigma.The Resurrection of Christ was the very foundation of the Church.
I. I will not weary you with going in detail through the evidencein favour of the fact of the Resurrection. But it is essential to bearin mind that however freshly Easter Day reminds us of the circumstance, we are concerned really with an event of ancient history.Positive testimony in such a case is not possible in the degree that isrequired in scientific analysis or in a modern court of law. But sofar as facts of antiquity are capable of proof, the evidence in favourof Christ s Resurrection exceeds, both in variety and in strength, thetestimony for almost any great fact in ancient history.The ew Testament represents not one piece of testimony, butmany independent witnesses agreeing together. The writings of S. Paul, of the Apostles S. Peter and S. John who saw the emptytomb, and of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, assume tnatOUTLIES O VARIOUS PASSAGESamong the first Christians, the fact of Christ s Resurrection wasnever doubted. In the Acts of the Apostles the speeches of S. Peterand of S. Paul are based on that belief. The writers of the FourGospels, when referring to the event and describing the appearancesof the Risen Lord, are clear and simple in their description, and arefree from the inflated and exaggerated style which characterises narratives of the miraculous in contemporary apocryphal writings. Thevery variety of the recorded appearances makes for the simplicityand. truthfulness of the account.The difference in detail between the various accounts is not sufficient to shake their claim to veracity, while it constitutes a validargument against collaboration. Writing for the edification of Christian readers, the Evangelists describe the facts on which theChristian Faith was founded ; there is no appearance of their writingas advocates of any special view, or of defending any controversialposition. The same may even be said of S. Paul s description of theappearances after the Resurrection. The celebrated fifteenth chapterof the First Epistle to the Corinthians is not written to defend theResurrection of Christ from the dead that fact the Corinthians didnot dispute. S. Paul wrote to defend the doctrine of the generalresurrection from the dead, which certain Corinthian teachers hadcalled in question. The Apostle defended the general doctrineprimarily upon the fact of the Resurrection of Christ, the testimonyto which, by enumeration in detail, he deemed to be incontrovertible.I need not enlarge upon the evidence supplied by the Apostlesthemselves their altered attitude, their change of character and con
duct, resulting, so far as we can see, solely from the conviction produced by the Resurrection of the Lord. Analogous evidence froman opposite side is furnished by the attitude of the Sadducees, thedeniers of a Resurrection, whose fury and vehemence against theChristians dated from the first public declarations that Jesus had risenfrom the grave. or should we neglect the testimony of Christiansacred days and festivals. The evidence of institutions is often moreconvincing than that of writings. And the change from the JewishSabbath, with its strict and holy observance, to the Christian firstday of the week represents a remarkable transition of usage that couldonly be accounted for by the intense vividness of the belief in thefact thus commemorated. Similarly this day of Easter, the mostholy and gladsome centre of the Christian year, was observed fromthe earliest times, and the question of the right date of its observancewas a fruitful source of contention so early as the second century.ow it is obvious that in the Gospel accounts we are not dealingwith a literary fiction based upon a development of the Pharisaicteaching respecting the Resurrection. The Jewish doctrine of a final143EASTER DAYResurrection and judgment formed no nucleus for such a narrative.It may, I think, be taken for granted that the account of the Resurrection is either wholly true, or a fiction strictly original in type.If the Apostles and the early Christians were ready to lay downtheir lives in support of this narrative of the Resurrection, we cannotquestion that they believed intensely in its reality. It is impossibleto suppose, knowing what we do of the lives and character of theApostles, that their lives were devoted to the dissemination of animposture. But granting their honesty, had they been deceived ?II. Two main lines of explanation upon this supposition are advanced in the present day, the one psychological, asserting thevisionary character of the recorded appearances, the other physical,and asserting that the Lord never having really died, the recordedappearances were natural.1. It seems impossible to satisfy the requirements of the narrativeon the assumption that the appearances of the Risen Lord were onlyvisionary and had no objective reality. The variety of the appearances recorded, and of the conditions under which they were made,

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