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heard the humble petition of his comrade; he heard the gracious return made to it, granting him more than he had ventured to ask; he was a witness to the kingdom of heaven being bestowed on a fellow-convict ;—and yet he remained proud and impenitent, and would not bend his mind to ask what he might have freely received. Yet this is no strange or uncommon thing; it is every day verified in multitudes who enjoy the gospel.
Fifthly, How mysterious and manifold the ways by which God imparts the knowledge of his mind to men—makes those that are blind to see, and those that see to be blind! He opened the eyes of an Eastern astrologer to behold afar off " the Star that should come out of Jacob, and the Sceptre that should rise out of Israel ;” and when, blinded by " the wages of unrighteousness," he rushed on obstinately in the path of wilful disobedience, disregarding the messenger of death who opposed him, the mouth of the dumb ass was opened to rebuke the madness of the prophet. When 6 the scornful men” who ruled the people of Jerusalem rejected “ him who came in the name of the Lord to save them,” shut their eyes against the light of his heavenly doctrine and of his divine works, blasphemed both the one and the other, and persecuted their author to the death, a heathen ruler was made to confess his innocence, and to predict the glory of his kingdom ; and although he meant not so, but it was in his heart to mortify those, who yielded him a feigned and reluctant obedience, and had urged him on to an act against which his conscience remonstrated, yet Providence overruled his designs and actions to the accomplishment of its own purposes; and in consequence of this, the inscription which he had ordered to be affixed on the cross, and which he refused to recal or to modify, became the instrument of savingly enlightening an ignorant malefactor, and enabling him to silence and still the increasing tumult of those who maliciously or ignorantly reviled the Holy One and the Just. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
Sixthly, What a small portion of truth will be of saving benefit to a person when accompanied by the blessing of the divine Spirit! Who teacheth like God! When the vision of all is to the learned as a sealed book, and the eyes of the prophets and their rulers and seers are covered, he can unveil its mysteries to the most ignorant and uninitiated. By means of a few words he can make the outcasts of society wise to salvation, while those who despised and cursed them have 6 precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little," and yet all the effect is that they “ fall backwards, and are broken, and snared, and taken.” What slender means will prove successful when God puts his hand to the work ! What a small portion of truth will irradiate the mind of a sinner, and dispel its darkness, when the Spirit of God makes way for it, and accompanies it home with his secret and irresistible influence! At the beginning he had only to say, “ Let there be light, and there was light;" and a single word will call a sinner from darkness into marvellous light. “ Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee,” said Jesus to Nathanael, who instantly replied, “ Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel ;” a reply which drew an expression of surprise from Jesus. The effect of electricity is not more instantaneous. 66 Thou hast had five husbands ; and he whom thou now hast is not thine husband,” said the same divine preacher to the Samaritan woman; and what was her report to her townsmen of the effect produced by this saying ? - Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did.” Who can calculate the extent of the wonderful discoveries which the smallest portion of divine truth entering into the soul will produce ! Let in the light of day by the smallest chink into a dark room or cellar, and you will see ten thousand motes floating and dancing in the circling wave of its beams. Every portion of truth is a ray from the Sun of Righteousness, and his rays, like those of the natural sun, are divisible to an inconceivable degree, and every the minutest particle possesses the essential properties of the luminary from which it emanates, and accordingly is capable of enlightening, quickening, cheering, invigorating, and making fruitful in every good work. All things that are reprovable are made manifest by the light, for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. No doubt, where the word of truth is clearly revealed, and where it is faithfully preached and unfolded according to the ordinance of heaven, free from any mixture of error or of human inventions, we have reason to expect that the most extensive good will be done. But we must not limit the Spirit of truth, who hath wrought hitherto, and doth work, and will work, sovereignly as he willeth. When persons are placed in unfavourable circumstances, we know not what small means may produce saving effects. Though we are commanded to 66 cease from the instruction which causeth to err from the words of knowledge,” and are not to receive into our houses, or bid God speed to the teachers of " another gospel,” yet the Spirit of God, who is present where we cannot be with safety, or without sin, may bless (and we doubt not he has blessed) such portions of divine truth as proceed from erroneous teachers, to the conversion or sanctification of his chosen. Yea, words spoken without any serious or fixed design, perhaps thrown out in the way of scoffing and derision, may fall into the conscience and heart of a sinner, take root there, and bring forth fruit unto life eternal; and when this is at any time verified, both the word and the power by which it is made effectual, appear the more evidently to be of God.
THE CONFESSION OF THOMAS.
John, xx. 28.
“ MY LORD, AND MY GOD."
The Sun of righteousness rose, like the natural sun, early but slowly, gradually scattering the darkness and the clouds. First the grave of Christ was seen to be open ; then it was seen to be empty; and then the grave-clothes were found lying, carefully wrapt up, denoting that the illustrious prisoner had neither been taken away by violence, nor gone out hastily or by flight. First, an angel announced his resurrection, and then he showed himself alive. First he appeared to one of his disciples, next to two of them, and lastly to them all. In this chapter, we have an account of the first appearance which he made to his disciples collectively. They had already received a message from him by Mary Magdalene; one of their number had also seen him ; but still they doubted. Now, he not only appeared in the midst of them, and spoke to them, but he showed them his hands and his side, the former bearing the mark of the nails by which he had been fixed to the cross, and the latter the scar of the spear by which he was pierced. And now all the doubts of those present were dissipated. “ Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.”
But one of their number, Thomas, called in the Greek Didymus, was absent during this interview. On his arrival, his brethren informed him that they had seen the Lord. One would have thought that the concurring testimony of so many would have commanded his belief. But he remained incredulous; and expressed his unbelief in very strong terms,« Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and
put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Next Lord's day, the disciples being assembled, and Thomas with them, Jesus appeared in the midst of them, and having saluted them, desired the faithless apostle to take the satisfaction which he had required. 66 Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side : and be not faithless, but believing.” This was irresistible; and Thomas cried out in a transport, “ My Lord, and my God!”
The great secret, my brethren, of profiting by ordinances, is to wait on them in the faith of Christ's spiritual presence in them, according to his promise, “ Lo, I am with you alway:" and our assembling together at this time will be for the better and not for the worse, if the words read shall be blessed for correcting our unbelief and strengthening our faith. Let us then, in dependence on the Spirit who testifies of Christ,
I. Make a few observations from the text in its connexion. II. Open up the import of the exclamation.
I. 1. The text in its connexion leads me to observe, that our Lord Jesus put peculiar honour on the first day of the week. On that day he rose from the dead ; and by that very act it was distinguished from all the other days. As God rested from all his works in creation on the seventh, so did Christ rest from his works in redemption, and declare them complete, by rising from the grave on the first day. On this day he appeared to the women, to Peter, to the two disciples travelling to Emaus, and to the ten apostles. The evangelist is very particular in naming the day; for though it had been mentioned before, he does not satisfy himself with saying, “ Now the same day in the evening,” but adds, “ being the first day of the week.” On the ensuing first day he renewed his visit. And it was on the same day of the week, that the Spirit descended on the apostles. These acts were sufficient to dedicate that portion of time to a sacred use ; for divine authority having already set apart one day in seven, there was