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JESUS saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast sécn me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. From our LORD's reproof of Thomas, implied in the words, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, it is evident, that our Lord thought his disciples had sufficient cause to believe him to be risen from the dead, even before he shewed himself to them ; and we have reason to think St. John did so.
As our Lord had declared, he should rise from the dead the third day, they might, from the first report that the body was missing, have concluded that he was risen; the sight of the napkin and winding sheet laid in such order, shewed that there must have been a resurrection ; for who that should steal a body, would stay to take off such a quantity of linen and fold it up ? They could not suppose, that either friends or enemies would have proceeded in this manner. The rolling away of the stone, was another proof that a miracle had been wrought; for had it been done by human force they
; would have heard of it, as many people must have been concerned in it; and for what purpose but the resurrection, should such an event have happened ? The prodigies which had attended our Lord's death, gave reason to expect that the same Divine power would deliver him from the grave. The information of the wonien, that angels had acquainted them Jesus was risen, ought to have gained credit, as it accorded with our LORD's own predictions, and those of the ancient prophets.
That they might not suppose that Jesus was take into heaven as Enoch and Elijah were, they were acquainted by Mary Magdalen that she had seen the LORD,
who assured her, that he was not yet ascended to the FATHER; and he at the same time desired her to remind them of a conversation, which he had with them the night before he was betrayed, in which he assured them, that he should go to the FATHER; and that in consequence of his doing so, the COMFORTER Would come unto them. They were soon after informed by the other women, that they had not only seen the LORD, but touched him, and that he bid them tell his brethren that he would go before them into Galilee: nothing therefore was wanting to satisfy all their scruples, but to see him themselves; and till they did so, they resolved to suspend their belief, and treated all these visions as so many idle tales.
As it was necessary the Apostles should have the fullest conviction of the resurrection, that they might convince others, our LORD at length vouchsafed to give them the very evidence they desired; having first prepared them for it by the report of Peter, and the two disciples to whom he previously appeared; but they now doubted the testimony of their own senses, and supposed that they beheld a spirit. Our LORD soon convinced them of their mistake, by submitting his body to be handled by them; and as a farther proof of his being alive, he ate before them and having given them every sensible demonstration of the reality of his resurrection, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and then left them for eight days, that they might deliberately apply themselves to the examination of them, in order to root out their mistaken prejudices, and establish a well-grounded rational faith in their stead, which was particularly necessary for those who were to be witnesses of all these things to the world.
As Thomas was one of those who were selected to bear
bear testimony to the circumstances of our Lord's life, death, and resurrection, it was proper that he should have an equal knowledge of them with the rest; which was granted him in such a manner, as to prove beyond dispute, that Jesus was risen, not only with the same body, but possessed of the same divine knowledge of the hearts of men, which he had repeatedly taught them to attribute to the GODHEAD dwelling in him, Thomas. made an ample profession of faith, and acknowledged: the Being he beheld not only as his LORD, but his God; and no longer desired to put his fingers in the print of the nails, &c. for he found sufficient proofs of the resurrection without doing so.
From the example of Thomas we learn, that it is OUT duty, if doubts arise in our mind, to examine all the evidence which is afforded us of divine truths, and not. to prescribe to God, in respect to particulars, which we think necessary to prove them. Had Thomas fully considered what the other apostles told him, he might, from their aceounts, have been thoroughly convinced, that Jesus was risen from the dead : and even at this. distance of time, every Christian, who will give their writings a fair and candid examination,, may obtain per.. fect satisfaction from them.
" That the Apostles and Evangelists were authors of those Scriptures, which are now received under their. names, we have the concurrent attestation of all: thieearliest writers of the church, deduced by uninterrupted. traditions from the very times of the Apostles *."
If the precepts and examples of Jesus Christ and kis Apostles, were to be the rules by which all those.
* The reader is here directed, by the author I copy from, to readPrefatory Discourses of Dr. Whitby's Annotations on the Gospels, Acts, &c. 'Also L'Abadie de la Religion Chrétienne,. tom. II.
who, in succeeding ages, should believe in him, were to govern themselves, it is reasonable to suppose that the same Holy Spirit, which incited and enabled the Apostles to preach the Gospel, and bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in every nation of the known world, should likewise incite and enable them to deliver down to posterity, in a method the least liable to uncertainty and error, that testimony, and those precepts upon which the faith and practice of aftertimes were to be established ; especially, when all revelation respecting the doctrines and system of the Gospel was confined to the Apostles, and consequently ended with them (as we shall have cccasion to shew).
We cannot doubt, but that those Christians who were converted to Christianity by the first preaching of the Apostles themselves, and who were to transmit to suc. ceeding ages, that Gospel upon which, according to their belief, the salvation of mankind depended, would be solicitous to obtain in writing from the Apostles, the evidence and doctrines of the Christian faith; and it is natural to imagine, that the persons in whose hands such sacred and invaluable treasures were deposited, would preserve and guard them with the utmost fidelity and care ; would impart copies of them to their bre. thren, who could not have access to the originals, and see that those copies were transcribed with all the ex, actness possible. The same care, we may suppose, would be taken by those who should translate them into the several languages spoken by Christians of different nations, who did not understand that in which the Apostles wrote.
It appears from the works of some of the first Chris. tian writers, that the Gospels were written by the Apostles, and dispersed as above supposed, and that the ori. ginal copies of them were preserved for ages. There
is not the least reason to imagine, that these writings were forged, for the deception must have been disco. vered; neither would such numbers of people have been influenced by them to the hazard of their lives and fortunes, if they had not been thoroughly persuaded of their authenticity.
Since, then, we have the greatest reason to conclude, that the Apostles and Evangelists did commit to writ ing what they knew concerning CHRIST and his doctrine, and we have no cause to doubt, but that the Gospels which bear their names, were originally written by them. we should carefully study them; by which means we shall be convinced, that the doctrines they teach are certainly divine; for they relate to things which, without divine revelation, could not have been discovered by human reason.
But we will not enter into a particular examination of the proofs that the Gospels are genuine, as it would interrupt the thread of the history; and it is to be hoped that hone, who have read our LORD's history, will ever suspect the contrary; for it is a dreadful thing to doubt, in a matter of such infinite importance to our immortal souls. Let us rather receive, with the utmost reverence and thankfulness, the evidence which God has graciously afforded us; remembering, that there are peculiar blessings in store, for those who have not seen, and yet have believed.