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faces thitherward.”-Behold, O Lord, they are here ready to join themselves to thee in a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten.' Take them under thy guidance; and say unto their souls, “I am thy salvation. O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children: and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it.”
THE UNBELIEF OF THOMAS.
(EASTER.) But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not
with them when Jesus came. The other disciples, therefore, said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, 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. And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, 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. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.—John xx. 24—28.
WHETHER the sacred writers be themselves the characters they record, or whether they describe the lives and actions of others in all their relations we discover an impartiality that cannot fail of being highly acceptable to a lover of truth. Every thing is expressed without prejudice. The failings of good men are exposed as freely as their excellencies; and we are equally instructed and edified by their wisdom and folly, by their faith and their unbelief.
Witness the history of Thomas contained in the narrative which I have read, and from which I would derive a few reflections suited to a season which commemorates the Saviour's victory over his enemies, his deliverance from the reproach of the cross, and his acknowledged glory as the resurrection and the life.
Following the order of the words, we shall consider, I., The incredulity of Thomas. II., The means employed to establish his faith. III., The noble confession he makes in consequence
of his conviction. May He who favoured these disciples with his bodily presence be in the midst of us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit. May he reveal himself to us, not as an object of sense, but of faith; and enable us to receive the kingdom of God as a little child, that we may share in the blessedness of those who have not seen, and yet have believed.
I. Let us consider the incredulity of Thomas. The occasion which drew it forth was this. Our Lord rose early in the morning of the first day of the week. In the evening he suddenly appeared to his disciples. The disciples were assembled together, and had shut the door for fear of the Jews. But it was easy for our Lord and Saviour, who had all power in heaven and in earth, to open himself a passage-he did so, and came unobserved, and stood in the midst of them, and having blessed them, withdrew. 66 But Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus came. We are not informed of the reason of his absence-but no sooner had he returned, than his fellow apostles said unto him, with a rapture becoming the discovery, We have seen the Lord.
- Upon hearing this, who would not have expected that Thomas, after some inquiry, would have exclaimed, Happy you who have been privileged with the sight of a risen Saviour! O that I had been with you—Could I have foreseen that he would have honoured this place with a visit, nothing should have induced me to quit the sacred spot.” But in place of these emotions, , which were so natural, he cries out, “Except I sball 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.” Thus, he will not only have the evidence of sense, but he will trust no one's senses but his own. He is not even satisfied with the sight of his eyes, his very
hands must minister to the wants of his faith. He not only disbelieves himself; but he seems willing to shake the confidence of his brethren. He accuses them, not indeed of lying, but of mistake: he supposes that they had not exercised proper caution, but had been deceived by a phantom, which their imaginations had taken for a reality; or rather by an apparition, which they had supposed to be the body of our Saviour, Two things, it is probable, made him think so. First, the Jews had adopted the notion, that souls occasionally appeared after death, clothed in subtle bodies. From whatever quarter this prejudice originally came, or whatever degree of truth was to be attached to it-it seems the disciples, as
well as their countrymen, had embraced the be. lief. Hence, when our Lord walked upon the water, they believed that they had seen a spirit, and were filled with fear; and hence, also, these very disciples drew the same conclusion when our Lord appeared to them after he was risen from the dead: “ And, as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit." Secondly, what strengthened the prejudice of Thomas, was, that he showed himself to them in the night—the very season in which ghosts and spectres were supposed to appear.
If we pass from the occasion of this unbelief, to the evil of it; we shall find that the behaviour of Thomas at this season was rash, and foolish, and nbstin and every way blameable. For con. sider only the importance of the truth disbelieved. It was the foundation of the Christian religion-and of all our hopes--for if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins.” 'Consider, also, the greatness and force the evidence he had to resist. Jonah had typified this resurrection; David bad clearly foretold it; Job had rejoiced in it; and our Saviour himself had more than once affirmed that he should not only be crucified, but be raised again the third day.--Here was a number of witnesses—for, not to mention that Mary Magdalene had seen him; that Peter bad seen him; that the two disciples going to Emmaus had seen him-here were ten united testimonies; and these witnesses were his companions, and fellow apostles; of whose integrity and capacity he was conscious; and their witness was eye-witness, and ear-witness; and the disciples had doubtless told him that they had not only heard and seen him, but that he had shown them the marks of his passion, and had even eaten with them: for this was the fact, as another evangelist has informed us. "And he said unto them, Why are you troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have
here any meat? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of a honey-comb: and he took it, and did eat before them."
Yet after all this-says unbelieving Thomas, “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." But all this is very instructive. Let us learn from it
The value of Christian fellowship. With this the apostle was well acquainted, and, therefore, he exhorts us “ not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.” He does not only refer to a total forsaking of social devotional exercise, but to a partial and an occasional one. Circumstances will sometimes arise to prevent our attendance, but we should be careful that they are reasons and not excuses that detain us.- What an injury did Thomas sustain in consequence of his absence—and had he not been with the apostles the Lord's day following, he might have continued still in his unbelief. We know not what we lose by neglecting even one op