wounds of Jesus, should (he avowed) prove sufficient to convince him.

Yet, we must beware of putting too unfavourable an interpretation on the behaviour or language of St. Thomas.

The Apostle's mouth no doubt was rash, and his heart inconsiderate, and the satisfaction presently granted to him might have been less for his sake, than for that of the generations to come ; still, had he been wickedly inclined, God would surely have denied him his demand, and have made choice of another witness in his place. But he was guilty of only an indiscretion, and the merciful and gracious Lord would not for one such impropriety cast off His Apostle “ whom “ He foreknew.” Accordingly, when, “ after “ eight days, again his disciples were within, “ and Thomas with them, then came Jesus, “ and stood in the midst,” and repeated His salutation of peace; immediately on which, He said 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 an“swered and said unto Him, My Lord and my

God! Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: “ blessed are they that have not seen, and ' yet have believed ;" (John xx. 26, 29.) and with this mild, though somewhat deep, rebuke, left the Apostle to his own reflections.

Thus did our compassionate Master condescend to the infirmity of Thomas, instead of treating him with severity or neglect; in so tender and considerate a manner did Jesus render him ashamed of the condition which he had arrogantly prescribed, and endeavour to excite in him a serious regret that he had not more readily believed. When Thomas went forth preaching the Gospel, how must every one, who consented to accept it on his word, have painfully reminded him of his own former refusal to accept it on the word of his brotherapostles! Scarcely on any occasion, throughout the remainder of his life, could he have required others to receive his testimony concerning Jesus, without a feeling of conscious unworthiness, because of the disregard which he himself had once professed towards an equally credible testimony. His calling must have obliged him continually to observe, that what 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,” (John xx. 25.) was rashly and presumptuously resolved ; that the blessings of the Gospel are generally extended only to persons, who will

[ocr errors]

believe, without, for the present, either seeing or handling the things told unto them by faithful men; and that, but for the willing disposition of many such persons, decidedly opposite to the example which he had set, the power of his Lord's resurrection could not have been propagated successfully in the world. Such grievous recollections and self-reproaches could hardly have departed from Thomas, during the exercise of his apostolical office: add to which, every adversary acquainted with his history, might take occasion to humiliate and reproach him, by offering to believe on the same evidence with that which he had formerly demanded and obtained. Leaving the perverse, however, who have hearts already hardened, to glory by themselves in this matter, and to nourish their inveterate unbelief, I propose, my brethren, to instruct you by it, on the subject of the faith or belief which, according to this time, we are required to have and exercise, in order to the Divine blessing.

Let me begin, therefore, from the text, with remarking, that what is therein said of Thomas may certainly be said of ourselves; we were not with the disciples when Jesus came to them after His resurrection : further also, be it noted, that Jesus will probably never shew Himself again in the same fashion, as that in which He then shewed Himself to the ten, and, eight days afterward, to His formerly absent apostle. Truly, it is written, “every eye shall see him," (Rev. i. 7.) and He will, no doubt, accordingly come again; but not for the satisfaction and salvation of such as will not otherwise believe. The future and final coming of the Lord Jesus will be with His glorious majesty, as our Almighty King and Judge, and to the utter confusion of all that shall not previously have called upon His name. Meanwhile, His present abiding place is far above, out of our sight and reach; so that if there be one amongst us, who, like the Apostle Thomas, will allow nothing beyond what he can see and feel, verily his must be reputed a hopeless case. Our calling clearly is, to walk “ by faith, not by sight.” In fact, our faith should seem praiseworthy, and deserving the name, only while it is fixed on truths and objects, which of our own selves we cannot see and ascertain. Seeing and believing, so far from being (as they are proverbially said to be) the same, are in a Christian sense nearly opposite to each other. The faith of Thomas, which prompted him, after that he had obtained an interview, to cry unto Jesus,

My Lord and my God,” was replied to with words scarcely amounting to an approval ; and occasion was at the same time taken to pronounce a superior blessing on those, who, having not seen, would nevertheless believe. We cannot indeed believe any thing contrary to the sight of our eyes; nor is it, by Scripture, required of us that we should; still we must believe much which for the present is beyond our sight. and apprehension, or live and die without any comfortable hope in the “ powers 6 of the world to come.” There is no promise to any other faith than this, which “believeth “ in Him that is invisible,” and in “ things not 6 seen as yet,” however on that account generally discredited by the world.

What then, it may be asked, are our grounds of belief in such things, which are no longer within the range of our senses; for instance, what proof have we of the resurrection of Jesus, on which event the whole truth of the gospel properly depends ? The same proof which was offered to Thomas, and which, al. though at the first rejected by him, he found in time to have been good and true. Untó him said the other disciples, when he came into their assembly, “ We have seen the Lord.” Likewise unto us, with one accord-even Thomas having ceased to doubt-have they uttered words equally decisive, and more explicit. Hear the address of St. John, at the opening of his first general Epistle, which may justly be taken

« VorigeDoorgaan »