Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

his blessed and immediate presence in heaven. Observe, 3. How Christ may be present with, and very near unto, his people, and yet not be presently discerned by them: Jesus stood by Mary, but she knew not that it was Jesus. Her not expecting a living Christ, was one cause why she did not discern him. Observe, 4. How exceedingly Mary's thoughts were taken up with Christ; she saith to the gardener, If thou have borne him hence. What him? She doth not say whom, but her heart was so taken up with Christ, and her mind so full of him, that she concluded every body would understand whom she meant, though she did not say whom she meant. Hence note, That the soul of a sincere believer is full of earnest and longing desires after Jesus Christ. 2. That such a soul is yet sometimes at a loss for Christ, and cannot tell where to find him. 3. That whilst the soul is at a loss for Christ, its desires are often quicker and more stirring after Christ. This was the case of Mary here; with the spouse by night on her bed, and early in the morning, she sought him whom her soul loved.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master. 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.

In the former of these verses, Christ makes himself known to Mary, and calleth her by her name. In the latter he gives her a prohihition and injunction. Observe, I. The prohihition. Touch me not; together with the reason of it, For I am not yet ascended to my Father. It is concluded by interpreters, that Mary Magdalene was now fallen at Christ's feet, and embraced them; that having found him whom her soul loved, she hugs him now, and hangs about him; but Christ forbids any farther embracing, and rejects such testimonies of her love: as if he had said, Although I will allow you as much familiarity as shall satisfactorily convince you of the verity of my resurrection, yet you must not expect to converse with me in the bodily manner which you did before my death; for I am ascending to my Father, and must be enjoyed no longer after a

corporeal, but spiritual, manner. Learn hence, That our love to Jesus Christ is best shown, not by our human passionate affections to his bodily presence, but by our spiritual communion with him by faith here on earth, in order to an immediate communion with him face to face in heaven. Christ now after his resurrection was advanced to a more spiritual condition, therefore refuses at Mary's band the offices of human conversation, but expects of her the duties and services of spiritual devotion. Observe, 2. Christ's injunction: But go to my brethren, and say, I as. cend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Where note, The endearing title given to the disciple;, my brethren. He had before his death called them his servants, his friends, his children; but now, after his resurrect;;:), he calls them his brethren: he became our brother by assuming our nature in his incamation, he continues our brother by resuming that nature at his resurrection. Note farther, That Christ calls his disciples, brethren, after his exaltation and resurrection; thereby showing, that the change of his condition had wrought no change in his affection towards his poor disciples; but those that were his brethren before, in the time of his humiliation and abasement, are so still, after his exaltation and advancement: Go to my brethren, and say, Ire. Humility doth not only go before honour, but dwells with honour, and doth evermore accompany it. Observe lastly, The good news or message of joy which Christ send: by Mary to his dear disciples; Say, I ascend to my Father and your Father, fs my God and your God; as if nature and adoption gave the same interest. Cbnst calls God his God, and his disciples' God, his Father and their Father; first bis and then theirs, and therefore theirs because his. Learn hence, That God for Christ's sake hath dignified believers with that near and dear relation of his being a Father to them in and through his Son; so that as they ought to carry it towards him like children by obedience, subjection, and resign at ion, so they may expect that he will retain a fatherly affection towards them, and they may expect from him fatherly compassion, provision, protection, correction, and all things needful. Lastly, remark from Christ's saying, I go to my God and your God, the false inferences of the Socinians, viz. That because Christ styled God his God, hence, say they, it is evident that Christ is not God: but from these words it only follows, that be was not God according to that nature which ascended. Thus Psalm, xlv. it is said of Christ, God even thy God hath anointed thee: and yet he adds of the same person, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever,

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. 10 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.

Our blessed Saviour's first appearing after his resurrection having been to Mary Magdalene, as the former verses acquainted us, the same day at evening, when the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus miraculously, and, as to the disciples, insensibly opens the door, and stands in the midst of them, and says, Peace be unto you: and shows them his hands and his side. Where note, 1. That it has been no strange thing in the church, that the best members of it have been put to frequent their assemblies with great fear, and been forced to meet in the night with great caution, because of the fury of the persecutors: here Christ's own disciples were forced to meet together in the night, the doors kept shut, for fear of the Jews. Note, 2. Let Christ's disciples meet together never so privately, and with never so much hazard and jeopardy, they shall have Christ's company with them; neither bolts, nor locks, nor fastened doors, shall hold Christ from them; When the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood in the midst of them. Observe lastly, The evidence which our Saviour offers to evince and prove the certainty, of his resurrection: He showed his disciples his hands and side. Christ appealed to, and admitted of, the judgment of their senses, to assure them that was the real body. And if we roust not be allowed to believe our senses, (as the Romish synagogue would persuade us,) we

shall want the best external evidence we can have to prove the truth of the christian religion; namely, the miracles of our Saviour; for how can we be assured those miracles were true, but by the judgment of our senses? Now as our senses tell us that Christ's miracles were true, so they assure us that the popish doctrine of transubstantiation is fake.

21 Then said Jesus to them again. Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on I hem, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins yc retain, they are retained.

Observe here, 1. The repetition of our Saviour's endearing salutation to his disciples, Peace be unto you, Peace be unto you. This was no more than might be needful, to signify his firm reconciliation to them, notwithstanding their late cowardice in forsaking of him, and flying from him, when the storm fell upon him. Observe, 2. How Christ doth renew his disciples' commission for the work of the ministry, who possibly were much discouraged with the remembrance of their faint-hearted ness in the time of his sufferings; he doth therefore anew commissionate them, and sends them forth in these words, As my Father hath sent me; that is, to preach, plant, and propagate the gospel; so send I you. By the same authority, and for the same ends, in part, for which I was sent by my Father, do I send you; namely, to gather, to govern, and instruct my church. Learn hence, That when Christ left the world, he did not leave the church destitute of a gospel ministry, which shall continue to the end of the world. As Christ was sent by the Father, so are his ministers sent by him: and they may expect, he having the same authority and commission, the same success and blessing; and the contempt cast upon them and their message, ultimately reflects upon God and Christ, whose messengers they are. Observe, 3. How Christ that sends them forth, doth furnish them with the gifts of the Spirit for their office: He breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: that is, the gift of the Holy Ghost, They had received the Holy Spirit before as a spirit of snnctification t here they receive it in his extraordinary gifts to fit them for their office. And Christ's conferring the Holy Ghost, by breathing upon them, shows that the Holy Spirit proceeds as well from the Son as from the Father. And as by God's breathing the first man was made a living soul; so by Christ's breathing on the apostles they were quickened and extraordinarily enabled for the service they were called to. Learn hence, That when Christ sends forth any about his work, he will furnish them with endowments answerable to their vast employment; and the best furniture they can have, is the Holy Spirit in his gifts and qualifications suitable to their work: He breathed on them, and taid, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Observe, 4. How Christ asserts their authority in the discharge of their commission, and declares, That what they act ministerially, according to their commission here on earth, is ratified in heaven: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted. Where note, That there is a two-fold power of remitting or forgiving sins; the one magisterial and authoritative, (this belongs to Christ alone;) the other ministerial and declarative, (this belongs to Christ's ambassadors, who have a power in his name to hind and loose.) It is a pious note of St. Austin upon this place, That Christ first conferred the Holy Ghost upon his apostles, and then said, Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted. Thereby intimating, that it is not they, but the Holy Ghost by them, that puts away sin: for who can forgive sin but God only . * The power of forgiving sin, that man hath, is only to declare, that if men be truly and really penitent, their sins are forgiven them for the sake of Christ's satisfaction.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came, 25 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, 1 will not believe.

What the cause of Thomas's absence was is not declared; it is evident that he was not with the rest of the disciples when

Christ appeared to them; and his absence had like to have cost him dear, even the loss of his faith; and he might have had cause for ever to have bewailed his absence from that meeting of the disciples, bad not Christ been more merciful. Learn bence, That the letting slip of one holy opportunity, may prove exceedingly prejudicial to the soul's advantage: it is wise aod safe to lay hold upon every opportunity for enjoying communion with God, and fellowship with his saints. Thomas's absence deprived him not only of the good news which Mary brought of Christ's being rets, but also of the sight of him, which the other disciples got by assembling together: and for want thereof Thomas is left under man; doubts and fears. Verily, we know not what we lose, when we absent ourseivei from the assembly of God's people. Such views of a crucified raised Jesus may be communicated to others whilst we are absent, as would have confirmed our faith, and established our joy, had we been present. Observe farther, What a strange declaration Thomas makes of his obstinate unbehef; Except I see the print of the nails, ttd put my finger into his side, I mil ut believe. Where note, How strangely rooted unbelief is in the hearts of holy men, insomuch that they desire the objects of faith should fall under the view of their senses. Thomas carries his faith at his fingers' ends; he will believe no more than be can see or feel; whereas faith is the evidence of things not seen. 0! Thomas, how deplorable had been thy case, if Christ had never given thee that proof, which was very unreasonable for thee to expect! B"1 Christ takes compassion on him, and appears to him, and cures his obstmate unbelief, which he might have justly poshed, as appears by the following verses.

26 And after eight days apii» his disciples wore within, and Thomas with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither tiiy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Observe here, 1. Our Saviour's appearing again to his disciples after his rcsurrecuoo; it was eight days after he first arose, which was the first day of the week. Here nob That Christ's rising the first day of the week, and appearing on the next first day of the week after to the disciples, and the observing that day for their solemn assemblies, and St. Paul administering on that day the Lord's supper, Acts xx. and commanding on that day collections for the poor, 1. Cor. xvi. and St. John calling it the Lord's day. Rev. i. 10. From these authorities, and the primitive practice, we derive our christian sabbath; for we do not find in all the scripture, one instance of any one congregation of christians only assembling upon the Jewish sabbath, but on the first day of the week ; on which we ground our observation of that day. Observe, 2. The wonderful condescension of Christ to the weakness of Thomas's faith: he hids him reach forth his hand, and thrust it into his side. Not that Christ was pleased with, but only pitiful towards, Thomas's infirmities; and it ought to be no encouragement to any person to follow his example, in seeking or expecting the like signs of their own prescrihing for helping of their faith. Observe, 3. How mercifully Christ overruled Thomas's unbelief, for the confirmation of our faith. His doubting, proved a means for establishing his own and our faith; therefore says Gregory well, Pius mihi profuit dubitatio Thomcc quam credulitas Maria;: "Had not Thomas doubted, we had not been so fully assured, that it was the same Christ that was crucified who rose again."

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

These words may be considered two ways. 1. As an abrupt speech, importing a vehement admiration of Christ's mercy towards him, and of his own stupidity and dulness to believe. Learn hence, That the convincing condescension of Christ turns unbelief into a rapture of holy admiration and humble adoration. 2. This expression of Thomas, My Lord and my God, contains a short, but absolute, confession of faith. Thomas rightly collects from this resurrection, that he was Lord, God blessed for evermore, the true Messias, the expected Redeemer, and accordingly with an explicit faith he now professes his interest in him, saying, My Lord and my God. Yet note, That this resurrection could not make him God, and render him then the object of divine worship, if he had been

only a creature before. And farther observe, That Christ doth not reprove Thomas for owning him as God, which shows that Thomas did not mistake in owning the divinity of Christ.

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.

Here we have Christ's reprehension of Thomas for not believing without such sensible evidence as he desired. He believed now that Christ was risen from the dead, but it was upon the testimony of his senses only. Therefore Christ tells him, that his faith would have been more excellent and more eminently rewardable, if he had believed without such demonstrative evidence: Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Therefore to give credit to a thing upon the evidence of a sense, is not properly believing. Observe farther, How Christ pronounces them blessed, who should hereafter believe on him through the preaching of the gospel, though they did not see him as Thomas did, nor handle him as he might. This is a sure rule, That by how much our faith stands in less need of the external evidence of sense, the stronger our faith is, and the more acceptable it is, provided what we believe be revealed in the word of God: Blessed arc they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Observe here, 1. The true end for which the miracles of Christ were so carefully recorded ; namely, that we might believe. By believing that Christ is the Son of God, we have life; and by the evidence of his miracles, we know and believe him to have been the Son of God. The miracles which Christ wrought, were the best external evidence of his mission. Observe, 2. That all Christ's miracles, both before his passion, and after his resurrection, were not recorded by the evangelists. Observe, 3. The great point concerning Christ to be known and believed from the scriptures, is this, that Jesus, the Sou of the virgin, is the promised Messiah, the anointed of the Father, he in whom all the types and shadows of the law are accomplished; and that this Jesus is for nature co-essential, for dignity co-equal, and for duration coeternal with the Father; one in essence, equal in power and glory. Thus believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and accompanying that belief with a holy life, if we believe well, and live well, we shall have life through his name.

CHAP. XXL

A FTER these things Jesus shew.

ed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias: and on this wise shewed he himself.

The foregoing chapter acquainted us with several appearances of Christ to his disciples after his resurrection, all which were in Jerusalem. This chapter acquaints us with his appearing to his disciples in Galilee, whither he had ordered hisdisciples to go,promising there to meet them. Jerusalem now becomes a forsaken place, a people abandoned to destruction , Christ will not show himself openly to them, but Galilee was a place where Christ's ministry had found better acceptance; to Galilee therefore doth he go. Such places wherein Christ is most welcome to preach, shall be most honoured with his presence: Jesus showed himself to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias, called elsewhere the sea of Galilee.

2 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. 3 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.

Observe here, That after Christ was crucified, the disciples returned for a time to their trade and employment of fishing; though they were called to be fishers of men, yet churches not being gathered and constituted at present, nor being able to maintain them, they labour with their hands to supply their present necessities.

Afterwards, when at the feast of Pentecost they had received those visible gifts of the Holy Ghost, which did furnish them for preaching the gospel to all nations, and they went forth to plant and propagate the gospel, we may believe they then gave over the labour of their secular callings, and applied themselves wholly to the work of the ministry. That may be done {Ecclesib constituendA) in a church which is constituting, or about to be constituted. Observe farther, How Peter, with the rest, toil all night, and catch nothing; but no sooner is Christ come among them, but they inclose a multitude of fishes.—Thereby teaching us, That all human labours and endeavours are in vain, unless Christ by his presence and blessing crown them with

4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 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.

Observe here, 1. Christ was near, very near to his disciples, but they perceived it not: Jesus stood on the shore, but they knew not that it was Jesus. Leam, Christ is not always discerned by us when be is present with us; it is a double mercy to enjoy his company, and to know indeed that it is he. Observe, 2. Although they had laboured all the night in vain, yet at Christ's command they go to work again, and with great success: They were net able to draw the net for the multitude of fishes. When Christ is about to do great things for his people, yet will he have them exert all possible endeavours of their own; and the want of former success must not discourage from future endeavours. Observe, 3. What a proof Christ here gives of his divinity and godhead: bow were all the fish in the sea at his pleasure, and obedient to his command! he knew where they swam, and brings them from one part of the lake to the other, where the disciples had toiled all night, and caught nothing. Christ our Mediator is true God, and as such he had a sovereign power and

« ElőzőTovább »