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did he say,
voice is always the same: and whenever his sheep hear it, they know him and follow him. No sooner
Mary,” to the one; and, " It is 1,” to the other, than their fears and their sorrows were instantly forgot. If his first appearance was to Mary, the second was to Peter, who had denied him; that he who had been an aggravated sinner, and a most passionate mourner, might first of all receive the greatest consolations. And, blessed be his name, that is not the only instance in which, where sin had abounded, his grace did much more abound. Mary, overjoyed at the sight of him whom her soul loved, would fain have held him fast; but so eager was be to have the joyful tidings communicated to his broken-hearted disciples, that he immediately dismisses her with that astonishingly tender message:
“ Go tell my brethren, that I ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God.” He might have said, “Go tell my faint-hearted and cowardly disciples, who professed when there was no danger, that though they should die with me, yet would they not deny me; yet in the day of my distress they all forsook me and fled; and especially that boasting apostate Peter : go tell them that I dismiss them from my service. I have, without their assistance, triumphed over death and hell; and since they hid their faces from me, as if they were ashamed or afraid to own a relation to me, I disown them for my friends, and discard them as utterly unfit for the difficult and dangerous service in which I intended to employ them." If human resentment had dictated the message, it is likely this had been the purport of it. But to let us see how high his thoughts are above our thoughts, and his ways above ours, he says, to Mary, “Go tell my brethren,” &c.
O thou Divine forgiver, how sweetly dost thou here assure us that thou canst be touched with the feeling of thy people's infirmities; and that when once thou hast set thy love upon us, and chosen us out of the world to be thy friends and favourites, it shall not be in the power of unallowed and lamented failing, however aggravated, to unbrother and separate us from thy love. How unlike our Divine Pattern, are our uncharitable censures and inveterate resentments ! Teach us, blessed Jesus, like thyself, when most grievously injured, even by those who would call themselves our friends, to forgive and forget.
Another thing in this message, in which the wisdom and tenderness of the Redeemer is remarkable, is that he would by these means prevent their being surprised and terrified by his personal appearance. Strong consolations unseasonably administered may prove injurious. Had Jesus broken in upon them abruptly, before they had received any certain account of his being risen, it had very probably confounded and frightened them; and
their joy had been more fatal than their grief. But he who knew their frame, and how little they could bear of either at a time, kindly suited himself to their weakness; and, by smaller mercies, made way for a greater; and prepared them by those tender messages of love, for that more immediate manifestation of himself, which he soon intended them. Let this by the way check our impatience, and encourage us, when we walk in darkness and see no light, still to trust in the name of the Lord, and stay ourselves upon our God; nothing doubting but in the eventime it shall be light, and that, at one time or other, though perhaps it may not be till midnight, when all the doors are shiit upon us, he will come in, we scarcely know how, and cheer our drooping spirits, with a “ Peace be unto you."
So he did to the disciples. It was in the night when the doors were shut, when the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, that Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said, “ Peace be unto you.” If it had not been for the message by Mary, which I just now mentioned, it must have startled them to see a person, whom they knew to have been dead and buried, stand before them; especially at such a time, when night, and the fear of their own safety, might make them more apt to receive terrifying apprehensions. But a revived Saviour is a reviving sight; and the confirmation which their faith and hope thereby received, sweetly removed all the troublesome suggestions of their fear, and turned their doubting into confidence, and their trembling into joy. And the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Thomas was prevented, either by his fears, or indolence, or some other engagement, from being present at that happy meeting. We know not what we lose by once absenting ourselves from the public assemblies. Christ may manifest himself to his waiting worshippers, while those who causelessly stay at home are left to bewail their folly in discouraging doubts, and a darkness that may be felt. They told him they had seen the Lord; but he condemns their credulity, and imputes it all to some apparition, or the melancholy workings of their own imaginations; and resolves that he would not be so imposed upon; for, says he,
Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust
hand into his side, I will not believe.” Foolish man! Who would be a loser by his obstinacy? How little was he acquainted with the
Did le consider that faith comes by hearing? Was it any thing impossible or improbable which they had related ? Was it not what his Divine Master had foretold and promised ? Who can wonder then, that, while they were filled with joy and peace in believing, Thomas was justly punished for his unbelief and rashness? He might have suffered more; and we can
ways of faith!
enough the infinite condescension of a Saviour, that offered a conviction upon his own terms, though they were so very unreasonable and bold.
But we are told, that after eight days; that is, on that day se'nnight, (so great an honour was put upon the first day of a week which was to be thenceforward observed as the christian sabbath,) -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.” And then, turning to Thomas, to let them see that he understood their thoughts afar off, that he heard the discourses, and knew the scruples of that dissatisfied disciple, without the least upbraiding severity of language or behaviour, he said to him, “ 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;" as if he should say, “ Thomas, I know perfectly the situation of thy mind; how full of anxiety and distress. But O! thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Why wouldst thou not credit the concurrent testimony of all thy brethren? Couldst thou believe that I would impose upon them with a spectre or an apparition ? Hast thou so forgotten all the assurances and expressions of my sincere regard for them, as think that I would join with their enemies to deceive and mock them? Didst thou question the