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and in deed, But they knew not how to see through so dark a cloud: their hopes were almost extinguished, and they could only say, Wc trusted this had been he that should have redeemed Israel. Pitiable weakness! Yet too just an emblem of the temper which often préyails in the pious mind ; when the Christian is ready to give up all, if deliverance does not proceed just in the method he expected. Yet was Christ even then delivering Israel in the most glorious and effectual manner, by those very sufferings which gave them such distress. Verily thou art the God of Israel, and the Saviour, when thou art a God that hidest thyself from us.
In faithful friendship, and with a plainness well becoming his office, the compassionate Redeemer upbraids them with their slowness of heart to believe these things, when they had received line upon line, hrecent upon precept, concerning them. How justly do we fall under such a rebuke in many instances! Let us then humbly say, Lord, in. crease our faith!
We should reasonably have thought ourselves happy in an opportunity of hearing or reading this discourse of Jesus, in which he threw such lustre on the prophecies of the Old Testament, and proved that, according to the tenor of them, it was necessary that the Messiah should thus suffer, and so enter into his glory. As providence has denied us this satisfaction, let us however improve this general and very important hint, that Moses and all the prophets speak of these things. Let us delight to trace the heavenly beam from its earliest dawn, and to observe how it grew brighter and brighier unto the perfect day. May the blessed Spirit, by whom those mysterious predic. tions were inspired, so direct our inquiries, that every veil may be taken off from our eyes, that we may see Jesus in the Old Testament as well as in the New; and see him in both with that lively fervour of holy affection which may cause our hearts to burn within us! And oh, that we may especially find that, when we surround his table, he makes himself known to us in the breaking of oread, in such a manner, as to fill our souls with all joy, as well as peace in believing!
The two disciples return to the apostles ; and Jesus appears to them the evening after his resurrection. MARK xvi. 14. LUKE xxiv. 33–43. John XX. 19-23.
A ND when the two disciples came back to Jerusalem, they found the Al eleven ahosiles assembled, and others with them who eagerly addressed them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon. And they (the two travellers) then recounted the things which had happened to themselves, in the way to Emmaus ; and how he was known by them in the breaking of bread*.--Then on the evening of the same day, which was the first day of the week, when the doors of the room, where the disciples were gathered together, were shut
* Mark, “ And quickly afterwards (as they were speaking of these things) while they were sitting at supper, Jesus himself appeared to the eleven."
and fastened for fear of the Jews, Jesus himself came in, and stood in the midst of them, and said to them, Peace be unto you. But they were amazed and terrified, and suspected that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do suspicions arise in your hearts ? Behold my hands and iny feet, to convince you that it is I myself: handle me, and see ; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me have. And saying this, he shewed them his hands and his feet, and his side.-The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. And when they * as yet believed not for joy, and were astonished, he said to them, Have you any food here left? And they gave him part of a broiled fish and of an honeycomb. And taking it, he eat before them, that they might be fully satisfied that he had a real body. And he upbraided them for their unbelief, and the hardness of their hearts, that they had not believed those who had seen him since he was risen. Then Jesus said to them again, Peace be unto you: As my Father sent me, so also I send you as my ambassadors to the children of men. And saying this, he breathed upon them, and said to them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whose soever sins you remit, or declare forgiven, they are remitted to them; and whose soever sins you retain, or pronounced unfardoned, they are retained, and their guilt lies upon them.
REFLECTIONS. With pleasure let us echo back the words of the apostles, and join in that glad anthem which so well suits a resurrection-day, The Lord is risen, he is risen indeed. We owe our daily praises to God for the abundant demonstration he has given us of so important a fact, for every apearance of Christ to his disciples, and for all the infallible tokens by which he shewed himself to be alive after his passion. He came with peace and blessings in his mouth; he came to disperse their fears, and to assure them of his forgiving love. How strong were those prejudices which so hardly yielded to such convincing proofs ! And how rich was that grace which condescended to overcome them!
Christ breathed on the apostles, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. May he also breathe on our souls, and fill us with that glorious and divine gift, which, if it qualified the apostles for their extraordinary office, may much more furnish us for the common duties of life! May we try our state by the characters which they have laid down in their inspired writings: in which sense, among others, we may assure ourselves, that, if they have declared our sins to be remitted, they are remitted : and, if indeed they are so, we need not be much concerned by whom they are relained. Vain and arrogant men may claim a despotic power, which God never gave, and which these words are far from implying. But, whatsoever be the sentence they may pass, they whom God blesseth, are blessed indeed. May we always esteem it a very small thing to be judged of man’s judgment ; pitying, rather than resenting, the rashness of those who claim any such discretionary sacerdotal power as can give the real penitent any alarm, or the impenitent any encouragement to continue in sin!
* The author substitutes [some of them] but it seemed right to give the word which the evangelist uses. ED.
SECTION CXCIX. Christ alipearing to the eleven a second time, offers to Thomas, who was be
fore absent, the most sensible proofs of his resurrection. JOHN xx. 24-29. 24 DUT Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, called Didymius, was
D not with them when Jesus came; in the evening of the day on 35 which he rose: The other disciples therefore told him, with joy,
We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Unless I shall see in his hands the mark of the nails, and shall put my finger upon the
mark of the nails, and put my hand upon the scar in his side, I will 36 not believe. And after eight days (i. e. on that day seven-night)
his disciples were again (assembled) within, and Thomas was with them. And Jesus came to them again, the doors being shut as be
fore ; and he stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you ! 27 Then he said to Thomas, Reach thy finger hither, and behold iny
hands; and reach thine hand, and put it on my side ; and be not 18 incredulous but believe. And Thomas answered and said to him, 29 My Lord, and my God* ! Jesus says to him, Thomas, thou hast be
lieved because thou hast seen me: but still more happy are they who have not seen, and yet have believedi
REFLECTIONS. We most evidently see in this instance of Thomas; as well as in many tcircumstances of the story mentioned above, how far the apostles were from being rashly credulous in the important fact of Christ's resurrection. It is apparent, they erred in the contrary extreme; yet our gracious Lord condescended to satisfy scruples which were carried to an extravagance. He renewed his visit, and at the same time renewed his salutation too: Peace be unto you was still his language ; nor did he only speak, but act, as one who wished it, and was determined to give it. What peace must it administer to the mind of this good man when his Lord said, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thine hand, and put it on my side ; and be not faithless, but believing? Evidently did he hereby shew; not only that he was risen from the dead, but that he circumstantially knew those events which had passed in his bodily absence, and needed not human information. Let us then ever behave ourselves as in the presence of Christ. Let us act, and speak, and think, in such a manner as may bear his inspec: tion į and, struck with these united demonstrations of wisdom, power, and grace, let us prostrate ourselves before him, and say, Our Lord, and our God! thus honouring the Son as zoe honour the Father, and adoring the indwelling Drity through this veil of flesh, in which it has been pleased to enshrine itself, and kindly to attemper, though not entirely to conceal, its rays.
Though we have not those sensible manifestations which were granted to Thomas, let it suffice us that the apostles were the appointed witnesse? of all these things ; and what they saro with their eyes, and their hands handled of the word of life, that have they declared unto us,
* The argument arising from these words in proof of the Deity of our blessed Lord, cannot be evaded by saying that they are only a crickmation of surfirise, for it is declared he spoke these words to him," VOL. I.
Let us thankfully receive so convincing a testimony. Let us shew an upright and candid mind in accepting such evidence as the wisdom of God has seen fit to give us; remembering that a truly rational faith is the more acceptable to God, in proportion to the difficulties which it is able to surmount ; and that there are peculiar blessings in store for them who have not seen, and yet have believed.
Christ discovers himself to Peter and other disciples at the sea of Tiberias,
while they were fishing. John xxi. 1-14. I COME time after these things, Jesus manifested himself again
N to the disciples, at the sea of Tiberias ; and the manner in 2 which he now manifested himself to them was thus : Simon Peter,
and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, and the two Sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples, were
together in Galilee ; whither they were returned by Christ's 3 direction. Simon Peter says to them, I will go a fishing :
They say to him, We also will go with thee. They went
out therefore, and immediately took ship, and that night they 4 caught nothing. And when the morning was now come, Jesus
stood upon the shore ; nevertheless the disciples knew not that 5 it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, Have you any thing to 6 eat, my lads? They answered him, No. And he said to them,
Throw the net on the right side of the ship, and you will find some.
They threw the net therefore, and now they were not able to draw 7 it, on account of the multitude of fishes. Then that disciple whom
Jesus loved, says unto Peter, It is the Lord. Simon Peter therefore hearing that it was ihe Lord, girded on his coat (for he was
naked, excepting his under garment and threw himself into the 8 sea and swam 10 shore. And the other disciples came with the
boat, drawing the net full of fishes ; for they were not far from 9 the land, but about two hundred cubits. As soon as they came
ashore, they saw a fire of burning coals, and fish laid upon it, and 10 bread prepared. Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish which Il you have now taken. Simon Peter went aboard, and drew the
net to land, full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty-three ; and · 12 though they were so many the net was not broke... Jesus said to
them, Come, and refresh yourselves. And none of the disciples presumed to ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the
Lord, though he conversed with them in a more distant manner than · 13 usual. Jesus then came and took bread, and gave it them ; and 14 likewise some of the fishes. This was now the third time that
Jesus shewed himself to such a number of his disciples, after he was risen from the dead.
REFLECTIONS. Christ first called these disciples when they were employed in the duties of their proper profession in life, and he now manifests. himself to them while they were so engaged ; perhaps particularly
intending thereby to encourage an honest industry, in which indeed we are far more likely to enjoy his presence, and to converse with him, than when we throw away our time in idleness and inactivity. A while he leaves them to labour in vain, that when the plentiful draught of fishes came, it might be the more remarkable. Sometimes he may deal thus with his ministers, in their endeavours to catch men ; that we may be convinced thereby, to whose power we owe our success, and may not sacrifice to our own net, or burn incense to our own drag.
All the disciples rejoiced at his appearance ; but Peter was the foremost to cast himself at his feet. Conscious that so much had been forgiven him, he is solicitous to shew that he loves much. So may the remembrance of our miscarriages work upon 11s, to make us more vigorous in Christ's service, and to inspire us with such zeal and affection as many waiers may not be able to quench, nor the floods 10 drown!
Let us not imagine this miracle was merely intended for a demonstration of Christ's divine power over all that passeth through the paths of the sea ; it was also the work of wisdom and bounty. By the sale of so many large and fine fishes a seasonable provision was made for the subsistence of his disciples at Jerusalem, while they were there waiting for the descent of the Sfiirit. Let every circumstance of this kind encourage us to trust him, as the Lord of nature and of grace, who will withhold from us no necessary supply of either, while we are. making it our humble and faithful care to promoto his glory.
Chiist questions Peter about his love to him, renews his commission, and
prophesies concerning his death. John xxi. 15—24. W THEN therefore they had made a meal, Jesus said to Simon
VV Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, dost thou love me more than
these thy brethren do? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord, thou know16 est that I love thee. Jesus said to him, Feed my lambs. He says
to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, dost thou
indeed love me? He answers him as before, Yea, Lord, thou 17 knowest that I love thee. . Jesus says to him, Feed my sheep. He
says to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, Dost thou love me ? Peter was grieved, that he said to him the third time, Dost thou love me? And he said to him, Lord, thou knowest all things;
thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus says to him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou didst
gird thyself, and walk about whithersoever thou wouldst ; but when
thou art grown old, thou shalt stretch out thine hands, and another 19 shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldst not. This he
said signifying by what kind of death he should glorify God. And
having said this, he further says to him, Follow me. 20 And Peter turning about, saw that other disciple whom Jesus
loved, silently following him ; (the same who reclining at his breast