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Holy Ghost which proceedeth from the Father and the Son. As to the prerogative now committed to the Apostles, and in some sense to their successors after them for
may enough to observe here that "the absolution pronounced must be .... conditional, as running upon the conditions of faith and repentance; and then, if those conditions are not found in the person so absolved, it is but a seal to a blank, and so a mere nullity to him.”
THE DOUBTFULNESS AND CONFESSION OF
St. John xx. 24, 25.
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.
We cannot tell why Thomas was not with the remaining ten Apostles when the Lord first appeared to them; whether it was his fault, or, to speak after the manner of men, his misfortune. It was doubtless for the time his loss; yet was it overruled to the lasting benefit of the Apostle himself, and
1 South, Ser. xxiii. part 1. See the hands of Church officers, distinct Bp. Taylor, Holy Dying, cap. v. sec. from the civil magistrate. 2. To 4. The following extract from the these officers the keys of the Kingdom Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian of Heaven are committed, by virtue Establishment in Scotland may be whereof they have power respectively not unworthy of consideration in days to retain and remit sins, to shut that of controversy. This, together with Kingdom against the impenitent, both the kindred charge in St. Matt. xvi. by the word and censures, and to open 19, are the places of Scripture cited it unto penitent sinners by the in support. “Chap. xxx. Of Church ministry of the Gospel, and by absolu. Censures :-1. The Lord Jesus, as tion from censures, as occasion shall King and Head of His Church, hath require." therein appointed a government in VOL. II.
also made to minister to the edification of the Church for evermore. They are still called “the twelve," ' by a familiar figure of speech, though one, we know, was wanting; for this was the original and complete number of the Apostolic band, the Elders of the New Testament Church, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. Our Evangelist too, writing in the Greek language, and for Gentiles as well as Jews, is -careful again 3 to add the name by which this doubtful one would be recognized among the former, to the familiar Hebrew name by which he was known among his brother Apostles. It would seem that soon after the Lord had thus shown Himself alive to that little company, Thomas either rejoined the rest, or fell in with one and another of them. They said “therefore” unto him, We have seen the Lord. They are bursting with this good news. They cannot contain themselves. But we are hardly prepared for the
. incredulity with which he received it. To this good but melancholy man, who, we may remember, once before took such a gloomy view of the Lord's journey to Jerusalem, who had said again, “ We know not whither Thou goest,
t." who in
4 his deep despondency had given up all hope of ever seeing his Lord again on earth,—to him it seemed, as men say, too good news to be true, 5 “He sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust His eyes. For he said not only, 'Except I shall see,' but, 'Except I shall handle.'” This was the doubtfulness of Thomas. Soon we shall see his confirmation, and hear the confession of his faith.
I As in Acts vi. 2.
Thomas we have, one of the last in the chorus; resolving to tie his understanding close to his senses ; to believe no farther than he could see, nor to venture himself but where he could feel his way . . . He must trace
the print of the nails, follow the spear into our Saviour's side, till he even touched the miracle, and felt the article of the resurrection."South, Ser. lii. on The Certainty of our Saviour's Resurrection.
We may note the frequent repetition of the article in the original of this 25th verse.
& Chrysos. in S. Jo. Hom. Ixxxvii.
THE SAME SUBJECT —continued.
St. John xx. 26-29.
And 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. 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.
Let us note the day on which this took place. It was the first day of the week, the Lord's day,' weekly festival of the Resurrection. Had we not the analogy of the Old Testament Church to guide us, we might still see, in the Church of the New Testament, the wisdom of set days of fast or festival.
“The Sundays of man's life,
Threaded together on Time's string,” ? with those other high and holy days of the Church's Kalendar, commemorations of Divine acts or of Apostolic men, become to us, if we use them aright, not only way-marks of the Church's year, but no small helps in the Christian life. They are the larger and the lesser stations in our heavenward journey; a set of “ orient pearls," with here and there, at fitting interval, a richer and rarer jewel on the string. 3 But chiefly this day wherein we may commemorate and enjoy
An Easter-day in every week.” For as one of the Proper Psalms for that Day teaches us, “This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice 1 Rev. i. 10,
Christian Year, for the Sunday next ? George Herbert.
before Advent. 3 See that summary of them in The + The Christian Year, Easter Day.
and be glad in it.” So the Lord, at this set time in the next week, on the next Lord's day, again appears, as before, to the Apostolic band; Thomas this time being with them; no longer forsaking the assembling of themselves together, even in the sadness of his spirit. And the Lord as before greets them with that same salutation, now for this third time repeated,' speaking peace to their souls; words which have in His mouth a meaning of their own.? Straight He addresses Himself to this desponding one, offering him in His mighty condescension the peculiar proofs on which he in his wilfulness had insisted. But no longer does he need or require these. He no more offers to do what but now he declared he would not believe without doing. He will not handle now that he may. His unbelief all melts away before the rising of the Sun of righteousness. Those beams of love chase off the clouds which were settling upon his soul. And the convinced Apostle sums up the convictions of his mind, and the adoring worship of his heart, in that brief confession of the faith,-sublime testimony to the divinity of Jesus,—“My Lord and my God.” 5 So Thomas touched Christ, not now with the hand, but with his whole
· St. John xx. 19, 21.
of Augustine, which the Church has 2 St. John xiv. 27.
embodied in her Collect of St. Thomas' 3 Abp. Trench (Westminster Abbey Day, the doubtfulness of Thomas, the Sermons, pp. 39 seq.) has a fine sermon confirmation of the Church on this subject. A sentence or two Neither does the Lord say ... 'beis subj«ined. “For eight days ... cause thou hast touched me;' but he walks in gloom, while the other ...because thou hast seen me.' A postles, and the faithful women, and To me it seems certain that Thomas many a llumble disciple, are walking did not touch. Indeed a great part in the light; he like some low and of the glory of the scene would degloomy vale, untouched, ungladdened part, if instead of the electric shock by the rays of the risen sun, while all of an intuitive and instantaneous conthe neighbouring heights long since viction, we assume the slow process of were smitten and lighted up with his the discursive faculty ... and for a glory. At the end of these eight moral substitute a merely sensuous days, for the Lord again claimed the proof. first day of the week for His own, they 4 Mal. iv. 2. are once more gathered together, and “And let Him be the Lord of me, this time Thomas is with them; the and the God of me, who was the Lord others, it may be, waiting for their and God of an Apostle," is the pinus Lord's re-appearance, and he still aspiration of Bp. Pearson in his Ecclosing his heart against their joy ... position of the Creed, Art. 11. so that we may say in the language
heart; not with the touch of mere bodily contact, as a Judas might have done, but with the touch of faith which worketh by love. It is interesting now to call to mind what the Ecclesiastical histories tell us concerning St. Thomas, the Apostle of India, as he is called; how he travelled to remote regions of Asia, bearing witness to the resurrection of his Lord. By this new beatitude our Lord comforts and commends those who should hereafter believe on Him through His Disciples' word. It was needful that there should be those who should be able to say, " That.... which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life .... declare we unto you."
But this could not, in the nature of things, be enjoyed by all. There is a blessedness in store for those who believe when they cannot see, who “walk by faith and not by sight.”6
And this blessedness may be ours.
1 St. Luke viii. 45.
had appointed it that, as the one evi. Neander, Ch. Hist. Sec. i. 13, and dence diminished, there was the other Gibbon (ch. xlvii.) on the Christians which should increase in weight. And of St. Thomas.
this so pre-eminently that Christianity 3 St. John xvii. 20.
shall spread, shall be progressive, 41 St. John i. 1-3; 2 St. Pet. i. shall be perpetually upon the crest of 16-18.
the wave of thought and civilization, 51 St. Pet. i. 8, 9; St. Luke xi. achieving with each coming genera27, 28.
tion new triumphs, and so proving the 6 The following remarks from the original truth which gives her force report of a suggestive speech by Bp. . . So that every age, if the ChrisWilberforce at Reading, on Dec. 16, tian Church be true to her vocation, 1861, may not here be out of place. creates new evidences by new conThe Bishop is reported to have said: quests to the name of Christ.” Au
Many evidences of Christianity must gustine (Ser. ccxlii. 12) has a kindred grow fainter as ages advance. They thought : “ The progress of Christianwere remoter from the possibility of ity, a proof of its divine origin. The proving the facts upon which their Apostles saw Christ, but they saw not faith rested. Each generation, as it the holy Church throughout all the handed down its tradition to its suc- world. They saw the Head, and becessor, removed the successor lieved concerning the body: we see degree further from the original facts the body, let us believe concerning themselves. But God's providence the Head.”