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him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb ; and he took it, and did eat before them.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
With pleasure let us echo back the words of the apostle, 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 appearance of Christ to his disciples, and for all the infallible tokens by which he shewed himself to be alive after his passion. (Acts i. 3.)
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 to be much concerned by whom they are retained. 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. (1 Chron. xvii. 27.) May we always esteem it a very small thing to be judged of man's judgment, (1 Cor. iv. 3,) 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!
MARK XVI. 14. JOHN XX. 24-29.
BUT Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, 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 after eight days again his eleven disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst as they sat at meat, and said, Peace be unto you; and he upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. Then saith he 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 answered 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.
We most evidently see in this instance of Thomas, as well as in many circumstances 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 into my side; and be not faithless, but believing! Evidently did he hereby shew, not only that he was risen from the dead, bnt 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 inspection; 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 we honour the Father (John v. 23), and adoring the indwelling Deity, 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 witnesses of all these things; and what they saw with their eyes, and their hands handled of the word of life, that they have declared unto us (1 John i. 1, 3). 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.
MATTHEW XXVIII. 9, 10, 16—20. 1 Cor. xv. 6.
AND as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them: (and there were above five hundred brethren gathered together there), and he was seen of them all at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things what
soever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
Go tell my brethren: Lord, is thy language concerning those who but a few hours before had forsaken thee, and one of them with such dreadful imprecations denied thee! Compassionate Redeemer! thou hast brought up from the tomb with thee that tenderness and goodness which laid thee there!
With how ill a grace could the Jews complain of any deficiency in the evidence of our Lord's resurrection, when he appeared alive to so great a number as five hundred at once! How glad must these disciples be when they saw the Lord! and with what pleasure must they hear him speaking of those things which concerned the kingdom of God!
The commission he gave his apostles, though it began at Jerusalem, did not end there; nor was it confined within the narrow limits of Judea; but they were appointed to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. We to this day, in our remote land, enjoy the benefit of it. Let us remember the important consequences that will one way or another attend the gospel thus brought us. If we believe it, we shall be saved; but if we believe it not, we shall be damned. Life, or death, O my soul, is the certain issue of it, with regard to thee in particular. Be surety to thy servant, O Lord, for good (Psalm cxix. 122), and let my life be precious in thy sight!
JOHN XXI. 1-14.
AFTER these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side
of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
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. (Hab. i. 16.)
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, (Luke vii. 47.) So may the remembrance of our miscarriages work upon us, to make us more vigorous in