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portunity of going to the house of God, when it is in our power. There might, perhaps, have been something in the sermon peculiarly suited to our condition, something which might have scattered our doubts, or relieved our distress. Has not the Saviour said, “ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?” Is he not “known in his palaces for a refuge?" Do you not long to “ see his
power and glory, so as you have seen him in the sanctuary
We learn, also, how prone we are to establish improper criterions of truth. How often do we judge of things exclusively by our experience, our reason, our senses! But what can be more foolish than this? To how small a distance do these powers
extend! How many things are certainly true, the truth of which falls not within the compass of either! How many things can a man relate, which appear impossible to a child. Tell the inhabitant of the sultry climes, that at a certain season of the year, water, which they have only seen in a fluid state, becomes solid, and hard enough to walk upon--and it will seem to him an idle tale; he has witnessed no such thing, and, reasoning from what he knows, deems it incredible. If Thomas had constantly judged according to the rule he professed, how little could he have believed at all! He could not have believed that ever there was such a lawgiver as Moses, or such a prophet as Isaiah-he could have believed nothing recorded in the Jewish scriptures-for nothing of all this had be seen and heard. And it is worthy of inquiry, whether many of the objections commonly urged against several of the leading doctrines of the gospel do
not very much arise from a similar source. It would be easy to prove that they are clearly revealed, but ignorance and pride rise up, and ask, “ How can these things be? It is improbable, impossible.”-Whereas, having ascertained the bible to be the word of God, we should implicitly embrace all its contents. Our belief should not be rendered easy or difficult by the probability, or improbability, by the plainness or the abtruseness of the subject-but be always, and simply determined by the authority of the Revealer. This obtains even with regard to human testimony; and, “if we believe the testimony of man, the testimony of God is greater.” To believe no more than we can comprehend, or reduce to some of our modes of knowledge—is not to honour the authority of God at all-yea, it is a reflection upon his wisdom, and upon his veracity: upon his wisdom-as if he could tell us no more than we know; and upon his veracity-as if he were not to be trusted, if he could.
We also remark, that it is possible for a good man to be overtaken in a fault: he is sanctified but in part. He may be checked in his course, and chilled in his zeal: his hope may decline; his faith may stagger through unbelief. Indeed, where is the believer who has not reason to cry out with the father of the child, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief?” The apostles themselves prayed, “Lord, increase our faith.” But there is a difference between impressions and principles; between a wrong step, and a wrong course. Let us not judge of a character by a single action. Thomas had true faith, notwithstanding this instance of unbelief. And he soon recovered from his infirmity.
Yea, it was overruled for good. It ended in the humiliation and zeal of this disciple; and in the greater confirmation of thousands, ever since. For if those who have attested the things reported unto us in the gospel, had been men of easy and basty persuasion, their deposition would have been suspicious—but we find that they were men full of pertinacious doubts, who admitted nothing, till evidence extorted conviction. His unbelief, therefore, is the means of strengthening our faith. To which we may add, that it serves also to honour our Lord and Saviour, not only by evincing more fully the truth of his resurrection, but also in discovering the excellency and amiableness of his character.
For observe, II. The means employed to establish his faith. " 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 bither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."
It is observable from hence, that though Thomas did not believe the declaration of the disciples, he still associates with them, and thus places himself in the way of divine manifestation. This was well. Let us remember it. And, bad as our present frame may be, let us always resolve to repair to the means of grace.
For " They that wait upon the Lord shall
renew their strength.". How often have the people of God been pleasingly disappointed in holy exercises: how often, before they have been aware, have they passed from darkness to light, and from fears and sadness to confidence and joy! Therefore, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Eight days, however, elapse, before Thomas is released from his perplexity. And O what days of dreadful suspense were these-uncertain all the time, whether or not Jesus was the Messiahwhether the curse of the law was removed, or left in all its force! But he will not contend for ever, neither will he be always wroth, lest the spirit should fail before him, and the soul that he has made.” He comes again—not armed with vengeance-but crying, peace. Thomas would doubtless be afraid-and he had reason to expect a severe rebuke-but Jesus instantly forbids all uneasy apprehension, saying “ Peace be unto you. I am not come to destroy, or to condemn; but to save and to reclaim; to restore and to com
Behold the condescension and kindness of our Lord and Saviour, in dealing with this man. Instead of abandoning him, he pities his errors and infirmities: the bruised reed he does not break; and the smoking flax he does not quench, but brings forth judgment unto victory. He seeks after the poor strayed sheep, and with unspeakable tenderness brings it back. He suffers Thomas to prescribe; and complies with his unreasonable demand: “ 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."
But while all this marks the compassion of our Lord and Saviour, it also serves to show his allpervading knowledge. Thomas little thought that Jesus knew his offence; or had heard the language of his incredulity: but our Lord here reminds him that he was perfectly acquainted with his disposition, and that though unseen, he had heard all that had passed. He, therefore, answers him word for word-yea, he repeats the very terms which Thomas had used-he had said, “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 lo! Jesus, the moment he appears, though no one had informed him of this, says- .“ 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.” Let us also remember, that “his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good;" that "he compasseth about our path and our bed, and is acquainted with all our ways;" and that “there is not a word on our tongue, but he knoweth it altogether."
We have only to observe, farther, that it appears evident from hence, that our Lord retained after his resurrection, the memorials of his passion—there were the marks of the nails, and of
And did his ascension erase them? No; John saw him as “ a lamb that was slain.” These not only served at first to prove the truth of his resurrection, and the materiality of his body, but will for ever remind us of the way in which our happiness was procured; and will excite us to everlasting adoration and praise. He challenges the complete salvation of his people: “Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, to behold my glory.”. Do any ask for the justice of his claim? See his appear