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With what joy did Mary receive this errand ! with what joy did the disciples welcome it from her! Here was good news from a far country, even as far as the utmost regions of death.
Those disciples, whose flight scattered them upon their Master's apprehension, are now, at night, like a dispersed covey met together by their mutual call: their assembly is secret; when the light was shut in, when the doors were shut up. Still were they fearful, still were the Jews malicious. The assured tidings of their Master's resurrection and life hath filled their hearts with joy and wonder. While their thoughts and speech are taken up with so happy a subject, his miraculous and sudden presence bids their senses be witnesses of his reviving their happi
“When the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto O Saviour, how thou camest in thither, I wonder, I inquire not. I know not what a glorified body can do; I know there is nothing that thou canst not do. Had not thine entrance been recorded for strange and supernatural, why was thy standing in the midst noted before thy passage into the room ? why were the doors said to be shut while thou camest in? why were thy disciples amazed to see thee, ere they heard thee? Doubtless, they that once before took thee for a spirit, when thou didst walk upon the waters, could not but be astonished to see thee, while the doors were barred, without any noise of thine entrance, to stand in the midst : well might they think thou couldst not thus be there if thou wert not the God of spirits. There might seern more scruple of thy reality than of thy power; and therefore after thy wonted greeting, thou showest them thy hands and thy feet, stamped with the impression of thy late sufferings. Thy respiration shall argue the truth of thy life. Thou breathest on them as a man, thou givest them thy Spirit as a God; and as God and man thou sendest them on the great errand of thy Gospel.
All the mists of their doubts are now dispelled, the sun breaks out clear. “They were glad when they had seen the Lord.” Had they known thee for no other than a mere man, this re-appearance could not but have affrighted them, since till now by thine Almighty power this was never done, that the long since dead rose out of their graves, and appeared unto many: but when they recounted the miraculous works that thou hadst done, and thought of Lazarus so lately raised, thine approved Deity gave them confidence, and thy presence joy.
We cannot but be losers by our absence from holy assemblies. Where wert thou, O Thomas, when the rest of that sacred family were met together? Had thy fear put thee to so long a flight, that as yet thou wert not returned to thy fellows ? or didst thou suffer other occasions to detain thee from this happiness ? Now, for the time, thou missedst that divine breath which so comfortably inspired the rest ; now thou art suffered to fall into that weak distrust which thy presence had prevented. They told thee, “We have seen the Lord;" was not this enough ? would no eyes serve thee but thine own? were thy ears to no use for thy faith? “Except I see in his hands the prints of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Suspicious man, who is the worse for that? whose is the loss, if thou believe not ? is there no certainty but in thine own senses? why were not so many and so holy eyes and tongues as credible as thine own hands and eyes? how little wert thou yet acquainted with the ways of faith!
“ Faith comes by hearing ;" these are the tongues that must win the whole world to an assent; and dost thou, the first man, detract to yield ? Why was that word so hard to pass ? Had not that thy divine Master foretold thee with the rest that he must be crucified, and the third day rise again? Is any thing related to be done, but that which was fore-promised ? any thing beyond the sphere of divine omnipotence? Go then, and please thyself in thine over-wise incredulity, while thy fellows are happy in believing:
It is a whole week that Thomas rests in this sullen unbelief; in all which time doubtless his ears were beaten with the many constant assertions of the holy women, the first witnesses of the resurrection, as also of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, whose hearts, burning within them, had set their tongues on fire in a zealous relation of those happy occurrences, with the assured reports of the rising and re-appearance of many saints, in attendance of the Lord and giver of life: yet still he struggles with his own distrust, and stiffly suspends his belief to that truth whereof he cannot deny himself enough convinced. As all bodies are not equally apt to be wrought upon by the same medicine, so are not all souls by the same means of faith ; one is refractory, while others are pliable. O Saviour, how justly mightest thou have left this man to his own pertinacy! whom could he have thanked, if he had perished in his unbelief? But oh thou good Shepherd of Israel, that couldst be content to leave the ninety and nine to go fetch one stray in the wilderness, how careful wert thou to reduce this straggler to his fellows! Right so were thy disciples re-assembled, such was the season, the place the same, so were the doors shut
when that unbelieving disciple being now present with the rest, thou so camest in, so stoodst in the midst, so showedst thy hands and feet, and, singling out thy incredulous client, invitedst his eyes to see, and his fingers to handle thine hands, and his hand to be thrust into thy side, that he might not be faithless, but faithful.
Blessed Jesu, how thou pitiest the errors and infirmities of thy servants ! even when we are froward in our misconceits, and worthy of nothing but desertion, how thou followest us, and overtakest us with mercy; and in thine abundant compassion wilt reclaim and save us, when either we meant not or would not! By how much more unworthy those eyes and hands were to see and touch that immortal and glorious body, by so much more wonderful was thy goodness, in condescending to satisfy that curious infidelity. Neither do I hear thee so much as to chide that weak obstinacy. It was not long since thou didst sharply take up the two disciples that walked to Emmaus; 0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken !” but this was under the disguise of an unknown traveller, upon the way, when they were alone: now thou speakest with thine own tongue before all thy disciples ; instead of rebuking, thou only exhortest; “Be not faithless, but faithful."
Behold, thy mercy no less than thy power hath melted the congealed heart of thy unbelieving follower; “Then Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord, and my God." I do not hear, that when it came to the issue, Thomas employed his hands in this trial: his eyes were now sufficient assurance; the sense of his Master's omniscience, in this particular challenge of him, spared perhaps the labour of a further disquisition. And now how happily was that doubt bestowed, which brought forth so faithful a confession, "My Lord, my God!"
I hear not such a word from those that believed. It was well for us, it was well for thee, O Thomas, that thou distrustedst; else neither had the world received so perfect an evidence of that resurrection whereon all our salvation dependeth, neither hadst thou yielded so pregnant and divine an astipulation to thy blessed Saviour. Now thou dost not only profess his resurrection, but his Godhead too, and thy happy interest in both. And now, if they be blessed that have not seen, and yet believed ; blessed art thou also, that having seen, hast thus believed: and blessed be thou, O God, who knowest how to make advantage of the infirmities of thy chosen, for the promoting of their salvation, the confirmation of thy church, the glory of thine own name. Amen.
It stood not with thy purpose, O Saviour, to ascend immediately from thy grave into heaven ; thou meantest to take the earth in thy way, not for a sudden passage, but for a leisurely conversation. Upon thine Easter-day thou spakest of thine ascension but thou wouldest have forty days interposed. Hadst thou merely respected thine own glory, thou hadst instantly changed thy grave for thy Paradise ; for so much the sooner hadst thou been possessed of thy Father's joy. We would not continue in a dungeon, when we might be in a palace : but thou, who for our sakes vouchsafedst to descend from heaven to earth, wouldst now, in the upshot, have a gracious regard to us in thy return.
Thy death had troubled the hearts of many disciples, who thought that condition too mean to be compatible with the glory of the Messiah : and thoughts of diffidence were apt to seize upon the holiest breasts. So long therefore wouldst thou hold footing upon earth, till the world were fully convinced of the infallible evidences of thy resurrection ; of all which time thou only canst give an account. It was not for flesh and blood to trace the ways of immortality; neither was our frail, corruptible, sinful nature a meet companion for thy now glorified humanity: the glorious angels of heaven were now thy fittest attendants. But yet how oft did it please thee graciously to impart thyself this while unto men: and