The third day he rose again from the dead


Now followeth His second estate, which is His exaltation into glory, set down in these words: The third day He rose again from the dead etc. And of it we are first to speak in general then in particular according to the several degrees thereof.



In general, the exaltation of Christ is that glorious or happy estate into which Christ entered after He had wrought the work of our redemption upon the cross. And He was exalted according to both natures, in regard of His Godhead and also of His manhood.


1. The exaltation of the Godhead of Christ was the manifestation of the Godhead in the manhood. Some will peradventure demand how ChristÕs Godhead can be exalted, seeing it admits no alteration at all. Answer: In itself it cannot be exalted, yet being considered as it is joined with the manhood into one Person, in this respect it may be said to be exalted; and therefore I say, the exaltation of ChristÕs Godhead is the manifestation of the glory thereof in the manhood. For though Christ from His incarnation was both God and man, and His Godhead all that time dwelt in His manhood, yet from His birth unto His death, the same Godhead did little shew itself, and in the time of His suffering did as it were lie hid under the veil of His flesh, as the soul doth in the body when a man is sleeping, that thereby in His human nature He might suffer the curse of the law and accomplish the work of redemption for us, in the low and base estate of a servant. But after this work was finished, He began by degrees to make manifest the power of His Godhead in His manhood. And in this respect His Godhead may be said to be exalted.


2. The exaltation of ChristÕs humanity stood in two things:


(1) The first, that He laid down all the infirmities of manÕs nature, which He carried about Him so long as He was in the state of a servant, in that He ceased to be weary, hungry, thirsty etc. Here it may be demanded whether the wounds and scars remain in the body of Christ now after it is glorified. Answer: Some think that they remain as testimonies of that victory which Christ obtained of His and our enemies, and that they are no deformity to the glorious body of the Lord but are themselves also in Him in some unspeakable manner glorified. But indeed it rather seems to be a truth to say that they are quite abolished; because they were a part of that ignominious and base estate in which our Saviour was upon the cross; which after His entrance into glory He laid aside. And if it may be thought that the wounds in the hands and feet of Christ remain to be seen, even to the last judgment, why may we not in the same manner think that the veins of His body remain emptied of their blood, because it was shed upon the cross?


(2) The second thing required in the exaltation of ChristÕs manhood is that both His body and soul were beautified and adorned with all qualities of glory. His mind was enriched with as much knowledge and understanding as can possibly befall any creature, and more in measure than all men and angels have; and the same is to be said of the graces of the Spirit in His will and affections; His body also was incorruptible, and it was made a shining body, a resemblance whereof some of His disciples saw in the mount; and it was endued with agility, to move as well upward as downward; as may appear by the ascension of His body into heaven, which was not caused by constraint or by any violent motion, but by a property agreeing to all bodies glorified. Yet in the exaltation of ChristÕs manhood we must remember two caveats: First, that He did never lay aside the essential properties of a true body, as length, breadth, thickness, visibility, locality, which is to be in one place at once and no more, but keeps all these still, because they serve for the being of His body. Secondly, we must remember that the gifts of glory in ChristÕs body are not infinite, but finite; for His human nature, being but a creature and therefore finite, could not receive infinite graces and gifts of glory. And hence it is more than manifest that the opinion of those men is false which hold that ChristÕs body glorified is omnipotent and infinite, every way able to do whatsoever He will; for this is to make a creature to be the Creator.




Thus much of ChristÕs exaltation in general. Now let us come to the degrees thereof, as they are noted in the Creed, which are in number three:

He rose again the third day

He ascended into heaven

He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.


In the handling of ChristÕs resurrection we must consider these points:

1. Why Christ ought to rise again.

2. The manner of His rising.

3. The time when He rose.

4. The proofs of His resurrection.

5. The uses thereof.



For the first, it was necessary that Christ should rise again, and that for three especial causes:


(1) The hereby He might shew to all the people of God that he had truly overcome death. For also, if Christ had not risen, how should we have been persuaded in our consciences that he had made a full and perfect satisfaction for us? Nay, rather we should have reasoned thus: Christ is not risen, and therefore He hath not overcome death, but death overcame Him.


(2) Secondly, Christ which died, was the Son of God; therefore the author of life itself; and for this cause it was neither meet nor possible for Him to be holden of death, but He must needs rise from death to life.


(3) Thirdly, ChristÕs priesthood hath two parts: one, to make satisfaction for sin by His one only sacrifice upon the cross; the other, to apply the virtue of this sacrifice unto every believer. Now He offered the sacrifice for sin upon the cross, before the last pang of His death, and in dying satisfied the justice of God; and therefore being dead must needs rise again to perform the second part of His priesthood, namely, to apply the virtue thereof unto all that shall truly believe in Him, and to make intercession in heaven unto His Father for us here on earth. And thus much of the first point.




Now to come to the manner of ChristÕs resurrection, five things are to be considered:


(1) The first, that Christ rose again not as every private man doth, but as a public person representing all men that are to come to life eternal. For as in His passion, so also in His resurrection, He stood in our room and place; and therefore when He rose from death, we all, yea the whole church rose in Him and together with Him (Eph. 2:6). And this point not considered, we do not conceive aright of ChristÕs resurrection, neither can we reap sound comfort by it.


(2) The second is that Christ Himself, and no other for Him, did by His own power raise Himself to life. This was the thing which He meant when He said (John 2:19), Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it again; and more plainly, I have (saith He (John 10:18)) power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again. From whence we learn divers instructions:


(i) First, whereas Christ raiseth Himself from death to life, it serveth to prove that He was not only man, but also true God. For the body being dead, could not bring again the soul and join itself unto the same, and make itself alive again; neither yet the soul that is departed from the body can return and quicken the body; and therefore there was some other nature in Christ, namely, His Godhead, which did reunite soul and body together, and thereby quicken the manhood.


(ii) Secondly, if Christ gave life to Himself being dead in the grave, then much more now being alive in heaven glorified, is He able to raise up His members from death to life. We are all by nature even stark dead in sin, as the dead body rotten in the grave; and therefore our duty is to come to Christ our Lord by humble prayer, earnestly entreating Him that He would raise us up every day more and more from the grave of our sins to newness of life. He can of men dead in their sins, make us alive unto Himself, to live in righteousness and true holiness all the days of our life.


(3) The third thing is that Christ rose again with an earthquake. And this serves to prove that He lost nothing of His power by death, but still remained the absolute Lord and King of heaven and earth, to whom therefore the earth under His feet trembling doth Him homage. This also proveth unto us that Christ which lay dead in the grave, did raise Himself again by His own almighty power. Lastly, it serveth to convince the keepers of the grave, the women which came to embalm Him, and the disciples which came to the sepulchre, and would not yet believe that He was risen again. But how came this earthquake? Answer: St Matthew saith (Matt. 28:2) there was a great earthquake. For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven etc. This shews that the power of angels is great, in that they can move and stir the earth. Three angels destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1,13). An angel destroyed all the firstborn of Egypt in one night (Exod. 12:29). In the host of Sennacherib, one angel slew in one night an hundred fourscore and five thousand men (2 Kin. 19:35). Of like power is the devil himself to shake the earth and to destroy us all, but that God of His goodness limits and restrains him of his liberty. Well, if one angel be able to shake the earth, what then will Christ Himself do when He shall come to judgment the second time, with many thousand thousands of angels? Oh how terrible and fearful will His coming be! Not without cause, saith the Holy Ghost, that the wicked at that day shall cry out, wishing hills to fall upon them, and the mountains to cover them for fear of that great and terrible day of the Lord.


(4) The fourth thing is that an angel ministered to Christ, being to rise again, in that he came to the grave and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. Where observe:


(i) First, how the angels of God minister unto Christ, though dead and buried; whereby they acknowledge that His power, majesty and authority is not included within the bounds of the earth, but extends itself even to the heavens themselves and the hosts thereof, and that according to His humanity. Wicked men for their part laboured to close Him up in the earth, as the basest of all creatures; but the angels of heaven most readily accept Him as their sovereign Lord and King; as in like manner they did in His temptation in the wilderness and in His agony in the garden.


(ii) Secondly, that the opinion of the papists and others, which think that the body of Christ went through the gravestone when He rose again, is without warrant. For the end, no doubt, why the angel rolled away the stone was that Christ might come forth. And indeed it is against the order of nature that one body should pass through another without corruption or alteration of either, considering that every body occupies a place, and two bodies at the same instant cannot be in one proper place.


(iii) Furthermore it is said that when the angel sat on the stone (Matt. 28:3,4), His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment as white as snow; and this served to shew what was the glory of Christ Himself. For if the servant and minister be so glorious, then endless is the glory of the Lord and Master Himself.


(iv) Lastly it is said that for fear of the angel the watchmen were astonied, and became as dead men; which teacheth us that what God would have come to pass, all the world can never hinder. For though the Jews had closed up the grave with a stone, and set a band of soldiers to watch, lest Christ should by any means be taken away, yet all this availeth nothing; by an angel from heaven the seal is broken, the stone is removed and the watchmen are at their wits ends. And this came to pass by the providence of God; that after the watchmen had testified these things to the Jews, they might at length be convicted that Christ, whom they crucified, was the Messiah.


(5) The fifth and last point is that Christ rose not alone, but accompanied with others; as St Matthew saith (Matt. 27:52,53), that the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves, and went into the city, and appeared unto many after ChristÕs resurrection. And this came to pass, that there is a reviving and quickening virtue in the resurrection of Christ, whereby He is able, not only to raise our dead bodies unto life, but also when we are dead in sin, to raise us up to newness of life. And in this very point stands a main difference between the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of any other man. For the resurrection of Peter, nothing avails to the raising of David or Paul; but ChristÕs resurrection avails for all that have believed in Him. By the very same power whereby He raised Himself, He raiseth all His members; and therefore He is called a quickening spirit. And let us mark the order observed in rising; for Christ riseth and then the saints after Him. And this came to pass to verify the Scripture, which saith (Col. 1:18) that Christ is the firstborn of the dead. Now He is the firstborn of the dead, in that He hath this dignity and privilege to rise to eternal life, the first of all men. It is true indeed that Lazarus and sundry others in time rose before Christ; but yet they rose to live a mortal life and to die again. Christ, He is the first of all that rose to life everlasting and to glory; never any rose before Christ in this manner. And the persons that rose with Christ are to be noted, they were the saints of God, not wicked men; whereby we are put in mind that the elect children of God only are partakers of ChristÕs resurrection. Indeed both good and bad rise again, but there is great difference in their rising: for the godly rise by the virtue of ChristÕs resurrection, and that to eternal glory; but the ungodly rise by the virtue of Christ, not as He is a redeemer, but as he is a terrible judge, and is to execute justice on them. And they rise again for this end: that besides the first death of the body, they might suffer the second death, which is the pouring forth of GodÕs wrath upon body and soul eternally. This difference is proved unto us by that which Paul saith (1 Cor. 15:20), Christ is the firstfruits of them that sleep. Among the Jews such as had cornfields gathered some little quantity thereof before they reaped the rest, and offered the same unto God; signifying thereby that they acknowledged Him to be the author and giver of all increase; and this offering was also an assurance unto the owner of the blessing of God upon the rest, and this being but one handful did sanctify the whole crop. Now Christ to the dead is as the firstfruits to the rest of the corn, because His resurrection is a pledge and an assurance of the resurrection of the faithful. When a man is cast into the sea, and all his body is under the water, there is nothing to be looked for but present death; but if he carry his head above water, there is good hope of a recovery. Christ Himself is risen as a pledge that all the just shall rise again. He is the head unto His church, and therefore all His members must needs follow in their time. It may be demanded, what became of the saints that rose again after ChristÕs resurrection? Answer: Some think they died again; but seeing they rise for this end, to manifest the quickening virtue of ChristÕs resurrection; it is as like that they were also glorified with Christ, and ascended with Him to heaven.




Thus much of the manner of ChristÕs resurrection. Now follows the time when He rose again, and that is specified in the Creed: The third day he rose again. Thus saith our Saviour Christ unto the Pharisees (Matt. 12:40), As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whaleÕs belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. And though Christ was but one day and two pieces of two days in the grave (for He was buried in the evening before the Sabbath, and rose in the morning the next day after the Sabbath), yet is this sufficient to verify the saying of Christ. For if the analogy had stood in three whole days, then Christ should have risen the fourth day. And it was the pleasure of God that he should lie thus long in the grave, that it might be known that He was thoroughly dead; and He continued no longer, that He might not in His body see corruption. Again, it is said (Matt. 26:1) that Christ rose again in the end of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn. And this very time must be considered as the real beginning of the new spiritual world in which we are made the sons of God. And as in the first day of the first world, light was commanded to shine out of darkness upon the deeps; so in the first day of this new world, the Son of righteousness riseth and giveth light to them that sit in darkness, and dispels the darkness that was under the Old Testament. And here let us mark the reason why the Sabbath day was changed. For the first day of the week, which was the day following the JewsÕ Sabbath, is our Sabbath day, which day we keep holy in memory of the glorious resurrection of Christ; and therefore it is called the LordÕs day. And it may not unfitly be called Sunday, though the name came first from the heathen, because on this day the blessed Son of righteousness rose from death to life.




Let us now in the next place proceed to the proofs of ChristÕs resurrection, which are diligently to be observed, because it is one of the most principal points of our religion. For as the apostle saith (Rom. 4:25), He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification; and again (1 Cor. 15:14), If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.


The proofs are of two sorts: first, ChristÕs appearances unto men; secondly, the testimonies of men.


ChristÕs appearances were either on the first day, or on the days following.


The appearances of Christ the same day He rose again are five:


(1) And first of all, early in the morning He appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9). In this appearance, divers things are to be considered:


(i) The first, of what note and quality the party was, to whom Christ appeared. Answer: Mary Magdalene was one that had been possessed with seven devils, but was delivered and became a repentant sinner, and stood by when Christ suffered; and came with sweet odours when He was dead to embalm Him. And therefore to her is granted this prerogative: that she should be the first that should testify His resurrection unto men. And hence we learn that Christ is ready and willing to receive most miserable wretched sinners, even such as have been vassals and bondslaves of the devil, if they will come to Him. And man would think it a fearful case, to be thus possessed with devils, as Mary was; but let all those that live in ignorance, and by reason thereof live in sin without repentance, know this: that their case is a thousand times worse than Mary Magdalene was. For what is an impenitent sinner? Surely, nothing else but the castle and hold of the devil, both in body and soul. For look as a captain that hath taken some hold or sconce, doth rule and govern therein, and disposeth it at his will and pleasure; even so it is with all blind and impenitent sinners; not one devil alone; but even legions of devils possess them and rule their hearts; and therefore howsoever they may soothe themselves, and say all is well for God is merciful; yet their case is far worse than MaryÕs was. Now then, would any be freed from this fearful bondage? Let them learn of Mary Magdalene to follow Christ, and to seek unto Him, and then albeit the devil and all his angels possess their hearts, yet Christ being the strong man, will come and cast them all out, and dwell there Himself.


(ii) The second is, what Christ in His appearance said to Mary. Answer: He said (John 20:17), Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. Mary, no doubt, was glad to see Christ, and therefore looked to have conversed as familiarly with Him as she was wont before His death; but He forbids her to touch Him, that is, not to look to enjoy His corporeal presence as before, but rather to seek for His spiritual presence by faith, considering He was shortly to ascend to His Father. For this cause, when He appeared to His disciples, He stayed not long with them at any time, but only to manifest Himself unto them, thereby to prove the certainty of His resurrection. This prohibition shews first of all, that it is but a fond thing to delight in the outward picture and portraiture of Christ, as the Jesuits do, who stand much upon His outward form and lineaments. Secondly, it overthroweth the popish crucifixes, and all the carved and molten images of Christ, wherein the papists worship Him. For corporeal presence is not now required; therefore spiritual worship only must be given unto Him. Thirdly, it overthroweth the real presence of Christ in the sacrament. Many are of mind that they cannot receive Christ, except they eat and drink His body and blood corporeally; but it is not much material whether we touch Him with the bodily hand or not, so be it we apprehend Him spiritually by faith. Lastly, as we must not have earthly considerations of Christ; so must we on the contrary labour for the spiritual hand of faith, which may reach up itself to heaven, and there lay hold upon Him. This is the very thing which Christ insinuateth unto Mary, saying, Touch me not. And St Paul saith (2 Cor. 5:16,17), Henceforth know we no man after the flesh, yea though we had known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him no more; that is, we know Him no more as a man living among us, and therefore he addeth, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; and this new creation is not by the bodily presence of Christ, but by the apprehension of faith.


(2) The second appearance was to Mary Magdalene and to the other Mary (Matt. 28:9,10), as they were going from the grave to tell His disciples; at which time, Christ meets them and bids them go tell His brethren that He is risen again.


(i) And whereas Christ sendeth women to His disciples, He purposed hereby to check them for their unbelief. For these women forsook Him not at His death, but stood by and saw Him suffer, and when He was buried, they came to embalm Him; but all this while, what became of His disciples? Surely, Peter denied Him, and all the rest fled away, even James and John the sons of thunder, save that John stood aloof to behold His death. Hereupon Christ, to make them ashamed of their fault, sendeth these women unto them, to publish that unto them which they by their calling ought above another to have published.


(ii) Secondly, this teacheth that whereas Christ buildeth His kingdom and publisheth His gospel by apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers; He can if it so please Him, perform the same by other means. In this His second appearance, He used weak and silly women to publish His resurrection, and thereby sheweth that He is not bound by the ordinary means which now He useth.


(iii) Thirdly, He sent them to His disciples to shew that howsoever they had dealt unfaithfully with Him by forsaking Him and denying Him, yet He had not quite forsaken them; but if they would repent and believe, He would receive them into His love and favour again, and therefore calleth them His brethren, saying, Go and tell my brethren (Mark 16:7). This teacheth us a good lesson, that howsoever our sins past are to humble us in regard of ourselves, yet must they not cut off or dismay us from seeking unto Christ; yea, even then when we are laden with the burden of them, we must come unto Him and He will ease us.


(iv) Fourthly, whereas silly women are sent to teach ChristÕs disciples, which were scholars brought up in His own school, we are admonished that superiority in place and calling must not hinder us sometime to hear and to be taught of our inferiors. Job saith (Job 31:13) he never refused the counsel of his servant; and Naaman the Syrian (2 Kin. 5:3,13) obeyed the counsel of a silly maid which advised him to go to the prophet of the Lord in Samaria to be cured of his leprosy, and when he had been with the prophet, he obeyed the counsel of his servants that persuaded him to do all the prophet had said, Wash and be clean.


Now after that the women are come to the disciples and make relation of ChristÕs resurrection, the text saith (Luke 24:11), Their words seemed as feigned things unto them, neither believed they them. Hence we learn two things:


(i) The first, that men of themselves cannot believe the doctrine of Christian religion; it is a hard matter for a man to believe sundry things in the work of creation. The temporal deliverance of the children of Israel seemed to them as a dream (Psa. 126:1); and the resurrection of Christ, even to ChristÕs own disciples, seemed a feigned thing.


(ii) The second, that it is a hard thing truly and unfeignedly to believe the points of religion. Disciples brought up in the school of Christ, and often catechised in this very point of ChristÕs resurrection, yet dull are they to believe it. This confuteth and condemneth our carnal gospellers, that make it the lightest and easiest thing that can be to believe in Christ; and therefore they say their faith is so strong that they would not for all the world doubt of GodÕs mercy; whereas indeed they are deceived, and have no faith at all, but blind presumption.


(3) The third appearance was on this manner: As two of ChristÕs disciples were going from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about threescore furlongs, and talked together of all the things that were done, Jesus drew near and talked with them, but their eyes were holden that they could not know Him; and as they went He communed with them and proved out of the Scripture His resurrection, expounding unto them all things that were written of Him. Then they made Him stay with them, and their eyes were opened, and they knew Him by breaking of bread; but He was taken out of their sight. In this notable appearance we may observe these four points:


(i) The first, that Christ held their eyes that they could not know Him. They saw a man indeed, but who He was they could not tell. By this it is more than manifest that the use of our outward senses, as seeing, feeling, smelling etc., is supplied unto us continually by the power of Christ; and therefore even in these things we must acknowledge the continual goodness of God. Now if one man cannot so much as discern another but by the blessing of Christ, then shall we never be able to discern the way of life from the way of death without Him; and therefore we must pray unto God that He would give us His Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our understanding, whereby we may be able to see and know the way that leadeth unto life, and also to walk in the same.


(ii) The second, that as Christ was in expounding the Scriptures unto them (v.32), their hearts burned within them. By this we learn that howsoever the ministers of God publish the gospel to the outward ears of men, yet it is the proper work of Christ alone to touch and enflame the heart by the fire of His Holy Spirit, and to quicken and raise men up to the life of righteousness and true holiness. It is He only that baptiseth with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Luke 3:16).  And it further admonisheth us that we should hear the Word preached from the mouth of GodÕs ministers with burning and melting hearts; but alas, the ordinary practice is flat contrary; menÕs eyes are drowsy and heavy, and their hearts dead and frozen within them; and that is the cause why after much teaching there follows but little profit.


(iii) The third thing is that Christ did eat with the two disciples, and was known of them in breaking bread (vv.30,31). It is very likely that our Saviour Christ did in some special manner bless the bread which He brake, whereby His disciples discerned Him from others. And in like manner we must by blessing our meats and drinks distinguish ourselves, though not from such as are the servants of God, yet from all ungodly and careless men. Many being silent themselves do make their children to give thanks and to bless their meats. And indeed it is a commendable thing if it be done sometimes to nurture the child; but for men to disburden themselves wholly of this duty is a fault. And it is a shame that the mouth which openeth itself to receive the good creatures of God, should never open itself to bless and praise God for the same. Therefore in this action of eating and drinking, let us shew ourselves followers of Christ, that as by blessing the same, He was known from all other; so we may also hereby distinguish ourselves from the profane and wicked of this world. Otherwise what difference shall there be between us and the very hog that eats mast on the ground, but never looks up to the tree from whence it falls? And as Christ revealed Himself unto His disciples at that time when they caused Him to eat meat with them; so let us suffer Christ to be our guest, and let us entertain Him in His members, and no doubt He will bless us and withal reveal Himself unto us.


(iv) The fourth thing is that, having eaten, He is taken out of their sight (v.31). And this came to pass not because the body of Christ became spiritual, but because either He held their eyes as before, or He departed with celerity and speed according to the properties of a body glorified.


(4) The fourth appearance of Christ was to Peter alone, mentioned only by St Paul (1 Cor. 15:5), He was seen of Cephas.


(5) The fifth appearance was to all the disciples together save Thomas (John 20:19). In it we must consider three things which are all effectual arguments to prove ChristÕs resurrection.


(i) The first, that He came and stood in the midst among them, the doors being shut. Now it may be demanded, how this could be? Answer: The papists say, His body was glorified and so passed through the door, but (as I have said) it is against the nature of a body that one should pass through another as heat doth through a piece of iron, both bodies remaining entire and sound. Therefore we may rather think that whereas Christ came in when the doors were shut; it was either because by His mighty power He caused the doors to give place, the disciples not knowing how; or else because He altered the very substance of the doors that His body might pass through, as He thickened the waters to carry His body when He walked upon the sea. Now if this be true, as very like it is, that these dumb creatures gave place to Christ and became pliable unto His commandment, then much more ought we to carry our hearts conformable and pliant to the will of our Lord Jesus in all His commandments.


(ii) The second point is, that when as the disciples thought Christ to have been a spirit; He, to prove the truth of His manhood, shewed unto them His hands and feet, and the wound in His side, and calls for meat and eats among them. But it may be asked, how this could be, considering that a glorified body hath no blemish and needs not to eat, but is supported by God without meat; for if this be true in our bodies when they shall be glorified, then much more was it true in Christ. Answer: True it is, a glorified body hath no blemishes; but our Saviour Christ had not yet entered into the fullness of His glory. If He had been fully glorified, He could not so sensibly and plainly have made manifest the truth of His resurrection unto His disciples; and therefore for their sakes and ours, He is content, after His entrance into glory, still to retain in His body some remnants of the ignominies and blemishes which, if it had pleased Him, He might have laid aside. He is also content to eat, not for need, but to prove that His body was not a body in shew, but a true body. This teacheth us two lessons:


(a) First, if Christ for our good and comfort be content to retain these ignominious blemishes, then answerably every one of us must as good followers of Christ refer the works of our callings to the good of others, as Paul saith (1 Cor. 9:19), He was free from all men, yet he was content to become all things unto all men, that by all means he might win the more.


(b) Secondly, we learn that for the good of our neighbour and for the maintaining of love and charity, we must be content to yield from our own right, as in this place our Saviour yields of His own glory for the good of His church.


(iii) The third point is, that He then gave the disciples their apostolical commission, saying, Go and teach all nations; of which, three points are to be considered:


(a) The first, to whom it is given? Answer: To them all, as well to one as to another, and not to Peter only. And this overthrows the fond and forged opinions of the papists concerning PeterÕs supremacy. If his calling had been above the rest, then he should have had a special commission above the rest. But one and the same commission is given alike to all.


(b) The second, that with the commission He gives His Spirit; for whom He appointeth to publish His will and Word, them he furnisheth with sufficient gifts of His Holy Spirit to discharge that great function. And therefore it is a defect that any are set apart to be ministers of the gospel of Christ, which have not received the spirit of knowledge, the spirit of wisdom, and the spirit of prophecy in some measure.


(c) The third point is that in conferring of His Spirit, He useth an outward sign, for the text saith (John 20:22), He breathed on them, and said, Receive the Holy Ghost. The reasons hereof may be these:


i. First, when God created Adam, and put into Him a living soul, it is said (Gen. 2:7), He breathed in his face. And so our Saviour Christ in giving unto His disciples the Holy Ghost, doth the same, to shew unto them that the same person that giveth life, giveth grace; and also to signify unto them that being to send them over all the world to preach His gospel, He was as it were to make a second creation of man, by renewing the image of God in him which he had lost by the fall of Adam.


ii. Again, He breathed on them in giving His Spirit, to put them in mind that their preaching of the gospel could not be effectual in the hearts of their hearers, before the Lord doth breathe into them His Spirit, and thereby draw them to believe; and therefore the spouse of Christ desires the Lord (Song 4:16) to send forth His north and south wind to blow on her garden, that the spices thereof might flow out. The garden is the church of God, which desires Christ to comfort her and to pour out the graces of His Spirit on her that the people of God, which are the herbs and trees of righteousness, may bring forth sweet spices, whose fruit may be for meat, and their leaves for medicines.



Thus much for the five appearances of Christ the same day He rose again. Now follow the rest of His appearances which were in the forty days following, which are in number five:


(1) The first is mentioned in St John in these words (John 20:26): Eight days after when the disciples were within, and Thomas with them, came Jesus when the doors were shut, and stood in the midst of them, and said, Peace be unto you. In it we must consider two things:

(i) The occasion thereof.

(ii) The dealing of Christ.


(i) The occasion was this: After Christ had appeared unto the other disciples in ThomasÕ absence, they told him that they had seen the Lord; but he made answer (v.25), Except I see in His body the print of His nails, and put mine hand into His side, I will not believe. Now eight days after, our Saviour Christ appeared again unto all His disciples, especially for the curing of Thomas his unbelief, which was no small sin, considering it contains in it three great sins:


(a) The first is blindness of mind; for he had been an hearer of our Saviour Christ a long time, and had been instructed touching the resurrection divers times. He was also with Christ and saw Him when he raised Lazarus and had seen, or at leastwise had heard the miracle which He did; and also had heard all the disciples say that they had seen the Lord, and yet it will not sink into his head.


(b) The second is deadness of heart. When our Saviour Christ went to raise Lazarus that was dead, Thomas spake very confidently to his fellow disciples (John 11:16), Let us go, that we may die with Him. Yet when Christ was crucified, he fled away, and is the longest from Christ after His resurrection, and when he is currently told thereof, he will not acknowledge it or yield unto it.


(c) The third is wilfulness; for when the disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he said flatly that unless he saw in His hands the print of his nails he would not believe, and that which is worse than all this, he continued eight days in this wilful mind.


Now in this exceeding measure of unbelief in Thomas, any man, even he that had the most grace, may see what a mass of unbelief is in himself, and what wilfulness and untowardness to any good thing, in so much that we may truly say with David (Psa.8:4), What is man that thou so regardest him? And if such measure of unbelief was in such men as the disciples were, then we may assure ourselves that it doth much more exceed in the common profession of religion in these days, let them protest to the contrary what they will.


Now the cause of his unbelief was this: he makes a law unto himself that he will see and feel, or else he will not believe; but this is flat against the nature of faith which consisteth neither in seeing nor feeling. Indeed in things natural a man must first have experience in seeing and feeling, and then belief; but it is contrary in divinity, a man must first have faith and belief, and then comes experience afterward. But Thomas having not learned this, doth overshoot himself; and herein also many deceive themselves, which think they have no faith because they have no feeling. For the chiefest feeling that we must have in this life, must be the feeling of our sins and the miseries of this life, and though we have no other feeling at all, yet we must not therefore cease to believe.


(ii) In ChristÕs dealing with Thomas we may consider three actions:


(a) The first, that He speaks to Thomas alone (v.27), and answers him accordingly to the very words which he had spoken of Him in His absence, and that word for word. And by this He laboured to overthrow his unbelief, and to convince him that being absent He knew what he spake. And by this we learn that though we want the bodily presence of Christ, He now being in heaven, yet He knows well what we say, and if needs were, could repeat all our sayings word by word; and if it were not so, how could it be true that we must give an account of every idle word? Now this must teach us to look that our speech be gracious according to the role of GodÕs holy Word. Secondly, this must make us willing and ready to direct our prayers to Christ, considering He knoweth what we pray for, and heareth every word we speak.


(b) The second action is that Christ condescends to Thomas and gives him liberty to feel the print of the nails and to put his finger into His side. He might have rejected Thomas for his wilfulness, yet to help his unbelief, He yieldeth unto his weakness. This sheweth that Christ is most compassionate to all those that unfeignedly repent them of their sins and cleave unto Him, although they do it laden with manifold wants. David saith that the Lord hath compassion on them that fear Him, as a father hath compassion on his children (Psa. 103:13); for He knoweth of what we are made.  And the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 42:3), He will not break the bruised reed, and smoking flax He will not quench. When a child is very sick, insomuch that it casteth up all the meat which it taketh, the mother will not be offended thereat, but rather pity it. Now our Saviour Christ is ten thousand times more merciful to them that believe in Him, than any mother is or can be.


(c) The third action is that when Thomas had seen and felt the wounds, Christ revived his faith, whereupon he brake forth and said (v.28), My Lord and my God. In which words he doth most notably bewail his blindness and unbelief; and as a fire that hath been smothered, so doth his faith burst forth and shew itself. And in this example of Thomas we may see the estate of GodÕs people in this life. First, God giveth them faith, yet afterward for a time He doth (as it were) hide the same in some corner of their hearts, so as they have no feeling thereof, but think themselves to be void of all grace; and this He doth for no other end but to humble them; and yet again after all this, the first grace is renewed and revived. Thus dealt the Lord with David and Solomon (for whereas he was a penman of Scripture, and therefore an holy man of God, we may not think that he was wholly forsaken) with Peter, and in this place with Thomas. And the experience of this shall every servant of God find himself.



(2) The second appearance of Christ was to seven of His disciples as they went on fishing (John 21:1-6), in which He gives three testimonies of His Godhead, and that by death His power was nothing diminished:


(i) The first, that when the disciples had fished all night and caught nothing, afterward by His direction they catch fish in abundance and that presently. This teacheth us that Christ is a sovereign Lord over all creatures, and hath the disposing of them in His own hands; and that if good success follow not when men are painful in their callings, it is because God will prepare and make them fit for a further blessing. Christ comes in the morning and gives His disciples a great draught of fish; yet before this can be, they must labour al night in vain. Joseph must be made ruler over all Egypt, but first he must be cast into a dungeon where he can see no sun, nor light, to prepare him to that honour. And David must be king over Israel, but the Lord will first prepare him hereunto, by raising up Saul to persecute him. Therefore when God sendeth any hindrances unto us in our callings, we must not despair, nor be discouraged; for they are the means whereby God maketh us fit to receive greater blessings at His hands, either in this life or in the life to come.


(ii) The second is, that the net was unbroken, though it had in it great fishes to the number of an hundred and fifty three.


(iii) The third, that when the disciples came to land, they saw hot coals and fish laid thereon, and bread. Now some may ask, whence was this food? Answer: The same Lord that was able to provide a whale to swallow up Jonah, and so to save him; and He that was able to provide a fish for PeterÕs angle with a piece of twenty pence in his mouth; and to make a little bread and a few fishes to feed so many thousands in the wilderness, the same also doth of Himself provide bread and fishes for the disciples. This teacheth us that not only the blessing, but also the very having of meat, drink, apparel is from Christ; and hereupon all states of men, even the kings of the earth, are taught to pray that God would give them their daily bread. Again, when we sit down to eat and drink, this must put us in mind that we are the guests of Christ Himself; our food which we have, cometh of His mere gift; and He it is that entertains us if we could see it. And for this cause we must soberly and with great reverence, in fear and trembling, use all GodÕs creatures as in His presence. And when we eat and drink, we must always look that all our speech be such as may beseem the guests of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Usually the practice of men is far otherwise, for in feasting many take liberty to surfeit and to be drunk, to swear and to blaspheme; but if we serve the Lord let us remember whose guest we are, and who is our entertainer; and so behave ourselves as being in His presence, that all our actions and words may tend to His glory.



(3) The third appearance was to James, as St Paul recordeth (1 Cor. 15:7), although the same be not mentioned in any of the evangelists.



(4) The fourth was to all the disciples in a mountain whither He had appointed them to come (Matt. 28:16).



(5) The fifth and last appearance was in the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:3-12), when He ascended into heaven.


Of these three last appearances, because the Holy Ghost hath only mentioned them, I omit to speak, and with the repeating of them I let them pass.



Thus much of the appearances of Christ after His resurrection. The witnesses thereof are of three sorts:


(1) Angels.

(2) Women that came to the grave to embalm Him.

(3) ChristÕs own disciples who did publish and preach the same according as they had seen and heard of our Saviour Christ.


And of these, likewise I omit to speak, because there is not any special thing mentioned of them by the evangelists.




Now follow the uses, which are twofold: some respect Christ, and some respect ourselves.


Uses which concern Christ are three:


(1) Whereas Christ Jesus  being stark dead rose again to life by His own power; it serveth to prove unto us that He was the Son of God. Thus Paul speaking of Christ saith (Rom. 1:4) that He was declared mightily to be the Son of God touching the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection from the dead. And by the mouth of David, God said (Psa. 2:7), Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Which place must be understood not so much of the eternal generation of Christ before all worlds, as of the manifestation thereof in time after this manner. This day, that is, at the time of thine own incarnation, but especially at the day of thy resurrection; I have begotten thee, that is, I have made manifest that thou art my Son. So is this place expounded by St Paul in the Acts (Acts 13:33).


(2) Secondly, ChristÕs rising from death by His own power, proves to us evidently that He is Lord over all things that are. And this use St Paul makes hereof, for he saith (Rom. 14:9), Christ therefore died, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the quick. And indeed whereas He rose again on this manner, He did hereby shew Himself most plainly to be a mighty Prince over the grave, death, hell, and condemnation, and one that had all-sufficient power to overcome them.


(3) Thirdly, it proves unto us that He was a perfect priest, and that His death and passion was a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God for the sins of mankind. For whereas Christ died, He died for our sins. Now if He had not fully satisfied for them all (though there had remained but one sin, for which He had made no satisfaction), He had not risen again; but death which came into the world by sin, and is strengthened by it, would have held Him in bondage; and therefore, whereas He rose again, it is more than manifest that He hath made so full a satisfaction that the merit thereof doth and shall countervail the justice of God for all our offences. To this purpose, Paul saith (1 Cor. 15:17), If Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain and you are yet in your sins, that is, Christ had not satisfied for your sins, or at least you could not possibly have known that He had made satisfaction for any of them, if He had not risen again.



The uses which concern ourselves are of two sorts: (1) comforts to the children of God, and (2) duties that are to be learned and practised of us all.


(1) The comforts are especially three:


(i) First, ChristÕs resurrection serveth for the justification of all that believe in Him, even before God the Father; as Paul saith (Rom. 4:25), Christ was given to death for our sins, and is risen again for our justification. Which words have this meaning: When Christ died, we must not consider Him as a private man, as we have shewed before, but as one that stood in the stead and room of all the elect. In His death He bare our sins, and suffered all that we should have suffered in our own persons forever, and the guilt of our offences was laid upon Him. And therefore Isaiah saith (Isa. 53;12), He was numbered among the wicked. Now, in this His rising again, He freed and disburdened Himself not from any sins of His own, because He was without sin, but from the guilt and punishment of our sins imputed unto Him. And hence it comes to pass that all those which put their trust and affiance in the merit of Christ, at the very first instant of their believing have their own sins not imputed unto them, and His righteousness imputed.


(ii) Secondly, the resurrection of Christ serveth as a notable means to work inward sanctification, as St Peter saith (1 Pet. 1:3), We are regenerate to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And St Paul (Rom. 6:4,5), We are (saith he) then buried with Him by baptism into His death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we be grafted with Him to the similitude of His death, we shall be also to the similitude of His resurrection. Which words import thus much: that as Christ by the power of His own Godhead, freed His manhood from death and from the guilt of our sins; so doth He free those that are knit unto Him by the bond of one Spirit, from the corruption of their natures in which they are dead, that they may live unto God. In the natural body, the head is the fountain of all the senses and of motion; and therefore by sundry nerves dispersed through the body, the power of moving and of sense is derived even to the least parts; so as the hands and feet move by means of that power which comes from the head. And so it is in the spiritual body of Christ, namely, the church. He is the Head and the fountain of life, and therefore He conveyeth spiritual life to every one of His members; and that very power of His Godhead, whereby He raised up Himself when he was dead, He conveyeth from Himself to His members, and thereby raised them up from the death of sin to newness of life. And look as in a perfect body, when the head hath sense and motion, the hand that is of the same body hath also the sense and motion convenient for it; so likewise Christ being the resurrection and the life; as there is spiritual life in Him, so every member of His shall feel in itself spiritual sense and motion, whereby it is raised up from sin and liveth unto God.


For the better conceiving of this, we must consider two things: the outward means of this spiritual life, and the measure of it.


(a) For the means, if we will have common water, we must go to the well; and if we would have water of life, we must go unto Christ, who saith (John 7:37), If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. Now this well of the water of life is very deep, and we have nothing to draw with, therefore we must have our pipes and conduits to convey the same to us, which are the Word of God preached, and the administration of the sacraments. Christ saith (John 5:25), The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear it shall live; where by the dead is meant, not the dead in the grave, but those that are dead in sin. And again, Christ saith (John 6:63), The words which I speak are spirit and life, because the Word of God is the pipe whereby He conveyeth into our dead hearts spirit and life. As Christ when He raised up dead men, did only speak the word and they were made alive; and at the day of judgment by His very voice, when the trumpet shall blow, all that are dead shall rise again; so it is in the first resurrection; they that are dead in their sins, at His voice uttered in the ministry of the Word, shall rise again. To go further, Christ raised three from the dead; JairusÕ daughter newly dead, the widowÕs son dead and wound up and lying on the hearse, Lazarus dead and buried and stinking in the grave; and all this He did by His very voice; so also by the preaching of His Word, He raiseth all sorts of sinners, even such as have lien long in their sins as rotting and stinking carrion. The sacraments also are the pipes and conduits whereby God conveyeth grace to the heart, if they are compared to, that is, if they be received in unfeigned repentance for all our sins, and with a true lively faith in Christ for the pardon of the same sins. And so, I take it, they be rightly used, flagons of wine, which revive the church, being sick and fallen into a swoon (Song 2:3).


(b) As for the measure of life derived from Christ, it is but small in this life, and given by little and little, as Hosea saith (Hos. 6:1,2), The Lord hath spoiled us, and He will heal us, He hath wounded us, and He will bind us up. After two days he will revive us, and in the third He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. The prophet Ezekiel in a vision is carried into the midst of a field full of dead bones (Ezek. 37:1-10), and he is caused to prophesy over them, and say, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. At the first there was a shaking, and the bones came together bone to bone, and their sinews and flesh grew upon them, and upon the flesh grew a skin. Then he prophesied unto the winds a second time, and they lived and stood upon their feet, for the breath came upon them, and they were an exceeding great army of men. Hereby it signifieth not only the state of the Jews after their captivity, but in them the state of the whole church of God. For their temporal deliverances signifieth further a spiritual deliverance. And we may here see most plainly that God worketh in the hearts of His children the gifts and graces of regeneration by little and little. First, He giveth no more than flesh, sinews and skin; then after He giveth them further graces of His Spirit, which quickeneth them and maketh them alive unto God. The same also we may see in the vision of the waters that ran out of the temple (Ezek. 47:1-5). First, a man must wade to the ankles, then after to the knees, and so to the loins; then after the waters grow to a river that cannot be passed over; and so the Lord conveyeth His graces by little and little, till at last men have a full measure thereof.


(iii) Thirdly, the resurrection of Christ serves as an argument to prove unto us our resurrection at the day of judgment. Paul saith (Rom. 8:11), If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies. Some will say that this is no benefit, for all must rise again, as well the wicked as the godly. Answer: True indeed; but yet the wicked rise not again by the same cause that the godly do. They rise again by the power of Christ, not as He is a Saviour, but as He is a judge to condemn them. For God had said to Adam; at what time he should eat of the forbidden fruit, he should die the death; meaning a double death, both the first and the second death. Now then, the ungodly rise again, that God may inflict upon them the punishment of the second death, which is the reward of sin, that so GodÕs justice may be satisfied. But the godly rise again by the power of Christ their Head and Redeemer, who raiseth them up that they may be partakers of the benefit of His death, which is to enjoy both in body and soul the kingdom of heaven, which He hath so dearly bought for them.


So much for the comforts; now follow the duties, and they are also three:


(i) First, as Christ Jesus when He was dead rose again from death to life by His own power, so we by His grace, in imitation of Christ, must endeavour ourselves to rise up from all our sins, both original and actual, unto newness of life. This is worthily set down by the apostle (Rom. 6:4) saying, We are buried by baptism into His death, that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. And therefore we must endeavour ourselves to shew the same power to be in us every day, by rising up from our own personal sins to a reformed life. This ought to be remembered of us because howsoever many hear and know this point, yet very few do practise the same. For (to speak plainly) as dead men buried would never hear though a man should speak never so loud; so undoubtedly among us there be also many living men which are almost in the same case. The ministers of God may cry unto them daily and iterate the same thing a thousand times, and tell them that they must rise up from their sins and lead a new life, but they hear no more than the dead carcass that lieth in the grave. Indeed men hear with their outward ears, but they are so far from practising this duty that they may judge it to be a matter of reproach and ignominy. And those which make any conscience of this duty, how they are laden with nicknames and taunts, who knoweth not? I need not to rehearse them; so odious a thing nowadays is the rising from sin to newness of life. Sound a trumpet in a dead manÕs ears, he stirs not; and let us cry amendment of life till breath go out of our bodies, no man almost saith, What have I done? And for this cause undoubtedly, if it were not for conscience of that duty which men owe unto God, we should have but few ministers in England. For it is the joy of a minister to see the unfeigned conversion of his people; whereas, alas men generally lie snorting in their corruptions, and rather go forward in them still, than come to any amendment; such is the wonderful hardness that hath possessed the hearts of most men. He which hath but half an eye may see this to be true. Oh! How exceeds atheism in all places, contempt of GodÕs worship, profanation of the Sabbath; the whoredoms and fornications, the cruelty and oppression of this age cry to heaven for vengeance. By these and such like sins the world crucifies Christ again. For look as PilateÕs soldiers with the wicked Jews took Christ and stripped Him of His garments, buffeted Him and slew Him; so ungodly men by their wicked behaviour strip Him of all honour and slay Him again. If an infidel should come among us and yield himself to be of our religion, after he had seen the behaviour of men, he would peradventure leave all religion; for he might say, surely it seems this God whom these men worship, is not the true God, but a God of licentious liberty. And that which is more, whereas at all times we ought to shew ourselves new creatures, and to walk worthy of our Saviour and Redeemer, and therefore also ought to rise out of our sins, and to live in righteousness and true holiness, yet we for the most part go on still forward in sin, and every day go deeper than other to hellward. This hath been heretofore the common practice, but let us now learn after the example of Christ, being quickened and revived by His grace, to endeavour ourselves especially to come out of the grave of sin, and learn to make conscience of every bad action. True it is, a Christian man may use the creatures of God for his delight, in a moderate and godly manner, but Christ never gave liberty to any to live licentiously; for (1 Cor. 7:22) He that is free, is yet servant unto Christ, as Paul saith; and therefore we must not enterprise anything but that which may be a work of some good duty unto God; to which end the apostle saith (Eph. 5:14), Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life. If this will not move us, yet let the judgment of God draw us thereunto. Blessed is he (saith the Holy Ghost (Rev. 20:6)) that hath part in the first resurrection; for on such the second death hath no power; where mention is made of a double death; the first is the separation of soul and body, the second is the eternal condemnation of soul and body in hell fire. Would we now escape the second death after this life? We must then labour in this life to be partakers of the first resurrection, and that on this manner: look what sins we have lived in heretofore, we must endeavour to come out of them all and lead a better life according to all the commandments of God. But if it be so that ye will have no care of your own souls, go on hardly to your own peril, and so ye shall be sure to enter into the second death, which is eternal damnation.


(ii) Secondly, we are taught by the example of St Paul (Phil. 3:10), to labour above all things to know Christ and the virtue of His resurrection. And this we shall do, when we can say by experience that our hearts are not content with a drowsy profession of religion, but that we feel the same power of Christ whereby He raised up Himself from death to life, to be effectual and powerful in us, to work in our hearts a conversion from all our sins, wherein we have lien dead, to newness of life, with care to live godly in Christ Jesus. And that we may further attain to all this, we must come to hear the Word of God preached and taught, with fear and trembling; having heard the Word, we must meditate therein, and pray unto God, not only publicly but privately also, entreating Him that He would reach forth His hand and pull us out of the grave of sin wherein we have been lien dead so long. And in so doing, the Lord of His mercy, according as He hath promised, will send His Spirit of grace into our hearts, to work in us an inward sense and feeling of the virtue of ChristÕs resurrection. So dealt He with the two disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24); they were occupied in the meditation of Christ, His death and passion; and whilst they were in hearing of Christ, who conferred with them, He gave them such a measure of His Spirit as made their hearts to burn within them (v.32). And Paul (Eph. 1:18-20) prayeth for the Ephesians, that God would enlighten their eyes, that they might see and feel in themselves the exceeding greatness of the power of God, which he wrought in Christ Jesus when He raised Him from the dead.


(iii) Thirdly, as St Paul saith (Col. 3:1), If we be risen with Christ, then we must seek the things that are above. But how and by what means can we rise with Christ, seeing we did not die with Him? Answer: We rise with Christ thus: The burgess of a town in the parliament house beareth the person of the whole town, and whatsoever he saith, that the whole town saith, and whatsoever is done to him, is also done to all the town. So Christ upon the cross stood in our place and bare our person; and what He suffered, we suffered; and when He died, all the faithful died in Him. And so likewise as He is risen again, so are all the faithful risen in Him. The consideration whereof doth teach us that we must not have our hearts wedded to this world. We may use the things of this life, but yet so as though we used them not. For all our love and care must be for things above, and specially we must seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We must therefore sue for the pardon of sin, for reconciliation to God in Christ, and for sanctification. These are the precious pearls which we must seek, and when we have found them, we must sell all that we have to buy them; and having bought them, we must lay them up in the secret corners of our hearts, valuing and esteeming of them better than all things in the world beside.