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DR MACGREGOR., Issue 7950, 4 July 1889
ADDRESS ON 'THE RESURRECTION.'
A large gathering of men and women representing all branches of the Christian Church, and some maybe representing no denomination at all, squeezed inside Knox Church last night to hear a lecture on • The Resurrection' by the Rev. Dr Macgregor, who Is on his way to attend the jubilee celebration of the Presbyterian Church in Victoria. The proceedings were announced to begin at eight o'clock, but by half-past seven there was no room to admit even a little fellow, and Dr Stuart wisely started the service twenty minutes before timo by giving out the ' Old Hundred.' The Rev. Dr Macgregor said that tho cligion which the Apostles proclaimed, and which was to-day proclaimed by the most enlightened nations of the world, was distinctly based on the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. The Gospel the Apostles bore across the then known world was emphatically the Gospel of the resurrection. There were two questions which suggested themselves, and which it was necessary to answer—viz., how did the belief in the resurrection originate ? and wherein lay and lies its power ? With regard to the first a most important observation had been made by the Dean of Peterborough, the highest authority on the subject, who said: "The belief is itself the interpretation of phenomena which cannot be recalled." It was obviously impossible to preserve completely the grounds on which the belief is based. They might be indi-
cated moreorless fully, but it was easy to see that many details could find no place in the record. St. John had said: "Many other signs did truly Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book : But these are written that ye, might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." Innumerable things must have ocourred which could not find a place in the bripf record of the Gospels, but which all went to prove that those who were there were satisfied that Jesus was alive. The merest idea of what those people knew had come down to us; but it was unnecessary that we should know more than wo did. We knew, for it was absolutely certain, that the eleven Apostles and others who had lived constantly with Jesus for the space of three years were assured that he had been dead, and that he was alive again. It was an utter misstatement of the case, an utter misrepresentation of the facts, to say that what occurred was simply a big miracle—that it was merely the resurrection of a man
who had lived. Had it been such an event, the resurrection of our Lord would never have been the great moral force it has been. The mere belief that a man who lived nearly 1,900 years ago died and came to life again was not the belief that made him and his hearers Christians; it was not the belief that made the Apostles Christians; it was not the belief that ohanged the world and would change it more and more till the day of doom. It was not the rising of a man from the dead that did that. The resurrection of Christ as we read it in the New Testament was a totally different thing. It was the resurrection of a dead Christ to conditions of life entirely different from the conditions of life which we found on earth. It was a case in which ordinary human experience had nothing to do; for it had its weight in this, that it was entirely unlike anything that had happened before or since, What did we find That Christ was the same after the resurrection as before, and yet not the same. His form (was familiar, and yet unfamiliar. He could eat and drink, and showed the impress of the cross upon his body ; and yet there was not a boy or girl in their schools who did not know that from the first word to the last that He uttered it was evident that a mighty and mysterious change had comeoverHim. Heappearedand disappeared at will. He came before the disciples, thongh Bitting with closed doors, without a note of warning, and though they saw him and felt him those in his presence roalised that he had changed. So utterly incomprehensible had he become that they at first thought! they had seen a ghost. In one word, he was glorified. His earthly life was altered in this respect, that it was no longer subject to < mortal conditions. Then this resurreotion I
was totally different to other recorded resurrections brought forward by sceptics who wished to explain away the mystery. The sceptic asked : "Do you believe that a man who was dead lives again ?" He (the speaker) would ask Who is the man ? That was an allimportant consideration. Was it some Tom, Dick, or Harry who might or might not be known ? That was the main question. If it were reported, for instance, on the evidence of eleven persons, or five hundred, or five thousand for the matter of that, that a man whom they had seen laid in the grave had been seen alive, the case would be regarded with incredulity. It would be put down as a mistake. Was there any parallel in such a case to that of Christ? To find that parallel, the objectors must bring a parallel to what went before—they must bring a parallel to the known life of Jesus, to the force of the Christianity based en this event—and then he (the speaker) would consider whether the so-called parallel was true or not. But to take the matter as it was, and to say that the resurrection of Christ was like that of John Thomson, or of that of a man who had lived, say, in Invercargill or Auckland, was an insult to the intelligence of an Otago audience. As the Dean of Peterborough had said : "By its own evidence, and taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the Christian Church is justified in believing that there is no historical event of the past more strongly established than the resurrection of our
adorable Lord and Master." Then, having seen that the belief in the resurrection originated in fact, he would pass on to the seiond question: "Wherein lay and lies its power !" The power of the resurrection lay in its objestive aspect aa an essential part of Christ's work as our Redeemer, and also in its subjective aspect as the close and consummation of the spiritual life in man. First, the death and resurrection of Christ attested and established his claim to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. If Christ be not risen, where is he ? If he is not risen, then he who was born in Bethlehem and died upon the cross endured life and lived it under the ordinary conditions which govern humanity. There was no sacrifice for sin, no forgiveness, no connection between God and man, no authentic revelation from the Father, no open Heaven, no Christ sitting upon the right hand of God. All that was left was a noble character in many ways, but marred by self-assertion. Apart from Him we know nothing of the future and of the purposes of God beyond what Nature can tell us. If He bo not risen, the grave holds him fast sealed in the silence of eternal death. What right had men to believe such a one when he told them of eternal life ? He would bo but a guesser like ourselves, and His guesses might be all wrong. If He be not risen, the fate before us i as one mighty blank, and we have nothirg to rest upon but a grim perhaps. But if He is risen, all is changed. God is no longer the Great Unknown. So, too, in the resurrection we have the only pledge and guarantee that the death of Christ was indeed a sacrifice for the sins of the world, a sacrifice accepted of the Father. Ho (the speaker) asked for no more. And that was a great thing for his brethren the ministers to remember. They need not speculate about
the Atonement. If Christ bo God's eternal Son, proved and authenticated by the resurrection, no theories wero wanted about the Atone*nent. Tho beat theory of all was this : I am a great sinner, and he is a great Saviour, and he died for mc. We could never hear too often that tho three great facts on which the redemption of the world rested wore these : first, and deepest of all, tho incarnation of God's eternal Son ; secondly, the death of the incarnate Son upon the crosß; and thirdly, the resurrection of the incarnate Son from the grave. The central fact of course was the deatH, but it derived its value from what went before and what followed it—the incarnation and the resurrection. If He was not incarnate His death wa3 that of a man. If He be not risen, He is still in His grave, and He is nothing to us. The whole truth might be expressed in one short sentence : The Father gave His eternal Son to be born of a woman in order that He might die; He died in order that He might rise again; He rose again in order that He might bring with Him out of death the glorified man. Out of that grave the Second Adam came, and with Him our glorified humanity arose. When the incarnate Son passed
through human life and human death and entered upon the higher life over which death has no power, the divine purpose was accomplished. And so the morn of the resurrection was mankind's second birthday. Had it ever occurred to those present to wonder why so little was 6aid about the Ascension? The answer was plain. There was no occasion to fay much about it, because it must follow the resurrection. The Apostles preached the resurrection and left the Ascension to take care of itself, because the Ascension was a necessary sequence of the resurrection. For the risen body of the Redeemer fortydays on earth were quite enough. He had finished His work, and was going home, to make a home for us. Thus the resurrection of Christ also established tho resurrection of His people, the revival of all complete humanity after death in a changed and glorified form. To sum up briefly the evidence on what the resurrection secured and attested, it would be found that the disciples, and through them the Christian world, had visible evidence that death was not the end of man. They saw with their eyes what men had always and everywhere gazed at; what the Old Testament had faintly hinted at and dimly taught —that for man at least there was life beyond the grave. Then the resurrection of Christ was the fullest revelation of the conditions of our future existence. It was not merely a revelation that we would live again—it was not merely a revelation of immortal life beyond tho grave—but, bless God's holy name, a revelation that that life would be a
continuity of this, each of us in his or her own individuality, body and soul together. That was what would survive the wreck and rnin of death. There were doubtless many before him who had lost all their friends, and they could only think of them as they used to be, and as they would be at the resurrection day. It would be no dim and cloudy host of unsubstantial spectres, masses of mountain mist, who were going to meet the Lord. No, but separate, individual identities, men and women, the men and the women whom we knew, who ran tho race along with us, and fell only a day or two before ourselves. What they are now and what we are by-and-byo ourselves to be, wc could not tell. All we could do was to hold on by both hands to Christ—tho one perfect Man in the universe, body and soul, and what Ho is they and wc, in God's great mercy, shall yet be. And just as surely that we know that the risen Christ was recognised by His dsiciplcs, so surely do wc know that the dear ones now at rest with Him would be recognised by ourselves ; that tho familiar intercourse of old
days would be renewed ; that they who had walked hand in hand together, and were loving helpmeets to one another amongst the shadows and perplexities and pitfalls of time, would walk hand in hand together in that happier clime and be loving helpmeets to each other in whatever highland holy work the wise and loving God might think them qualified to do; and He knew best. When our time came to go we would leave behind us a poor, old, worn-out body--our sorry companion all our journey through ; and he could understand that to some, now before him, this in itself would be Heaven. It would be a day of joy to Borne when they could say " Well, old body, I have done with you; you will pain and pest and pollute me no more." The speaker concluded by exhorting his hearers to keep closely by the Gospel, not as a mere matter of personal salvation, but on the ground that it was their duty to elevate the country and serve it with the truest patriotism.
DR MACGREGOR., Issue 7950, 4 July 1889
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