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their debate by shewing them his hands and feet. as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them. The expression,
en er pesow autav, signifies that he stood among them, without intimating whether they saw him come forward, or did not observe him till he was near them. John however mentions a circumstance, which, compared with Luke's account, seems to prove that they saw him enter the room and come forward. " 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,” John XX. 19. “ But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit,” Luke xxiv. 37. The disciples had secured the doors of the house by locks and bolts, as well as they could, for fear of the Jews. But Jesus, before he entered, opened the locks and drew the bolts by his miraculous power, without the knowledge of any in the house. Wherefore, as the whole company knew that the doors had been secured, it was no wonder that they supposed they saw a spectre, and were exceedingly affrighted, when something in a human form, whose features they could not easily discern by the evening light, entered the room. Thus the circumstance of the doors being shut is very happily mentioned by John, because it suggests the reason why the disciples took Jesus for a spi. rit, as Luke tells us, notwithstanding the greatest part of them believed he was risen, and were conversing about his resurrection at that very instant. To dispel their fears and doubts, Jesus came forward, spake to them, and shewed them his hands and feet, desiring them to handle him, and be convinced by the united report of their senses, that it was he. And he said unto them, “ Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet, and his side." Luke xxiv. 38, 39, 40. The disciples beholding these infallible proofs of their Master's resurrection, received him with exultation and rapture. But their joy and wonder so wrought upon their minds, that some of them, sen. sible of the commotion they were 'in, suspended their belief till they had considered the matter more calmly. Jesus, therefore, knowing their thoughts, called for meat, and did eat with them, to prove more fully the certain truth of his resurrection from the dead, and the reality of his presence with them on this occasion. “ And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat ? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them,” Luke xxiv. 41, 42, 43. He tarried so long with them, that they had time to make ready some fish for supper, which he took a share of. “ Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father bath sent me, even so send I you,” John xx. 21. I send you to preach the gospel, and teach men the way of salvation, for which purpose I honour you with an authority and commission from God, and bestow on you power to confirm your doctrine and mission by miracles. i. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Luke, xxiv. ver. 35, informs us, that the disciples from Emmaus told their brethren on this occasion what things were done in the way. Among the rest, no doubt they repeated the interpretations which Jesus gave of the prophecies concerning his own sufferings and death. But such a sense of the Scriptures being diametrically opposite to the notions which the Jews in general entertained, a peculiar illumination of the Spirit was necessary to enable the apostles to discern it. This illumination they now re. ceived from Jesus, who, in token that he bestowed it, breathed upon them, and bade them receive it. The effect of this illumination was, that by perceiving the agreeableness of the things which had befallen him with the ancient prophecies concerning Messiah, their minds were quieted, and they were fitted to judge of the present appearance, and of the other appearances which Je. sus was to make before his ascension. Farther, the expression, “ Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” may have a reJation not only to the illumination of the Spirit which they now received, but to those which they were to receive afterwards, and in greater measure. Accordingly it is added, “ Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” This may refer to the temporal pardon and punishment of men's sins. Or the meaning may be, Ye are soon to receive the Holy Ghost in the fulness of his communications, whereby you shall understand the will of God for men's salvation in the most comprehensive manner, and so be qualified to declare the only terms on which men's sins are to be pardoned. Some indeed carry the matter higher, supposing that this is the power of what they call authoritative absolution. Yet the only foundation on which the apostles themselves could claim such a power, must either have been the gift of discerning spirits, which they enjoyed after the effusion of the Holy Ghost, i Cor. xii. 10, and by which they knew the secret thoughts of men's hearts, consequently the reality of their repentance; or it must have been some infallible communication of the will of God con: cerning men's future state that was made to them. For, properly speaking, they neither forgave nor retained sins, they only declared a matter of fact infallibly made known to them by God. In the mean time, to render this interpretation feasible, the general expressions, “Whose soever-sins ye remit, &c.” must be very much limited, since it was but a single individual here and there, whose condition in the life to come can be supposed to have been made known to the apostles by revelation. < But Tho. mas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, that is, the twin, was not with them when Jesus came," John xx. 24. It is said, Luke xxiv. 33, that the disciples from Emmaus told their story to the eleven, and to them that were with them. The eleven was the name by which the apostles went after the death of Judas, whether they were precisely that number or fewer. Wherefore we are under no necessity, from this name, of supposing that Thomas was present when the disciples came in. We are sure that he was not present in this meeting, when Jesus shewed himself. Yet, if Luke's expression is thought to imply that Thomas was with his brethren at the arrival of the disciples, we may suppose that he was one of those who would not believe, (Mark xvi. 13.) and that he went away before they had finished their relation. · 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, except Í have the fullest evidence, arising from the testimony of my own seeing and feeling him, I will not believe that he is risen."
Thus ended the transactions of the day on which our Lord arose from the dead ; a day much to be remembered by men throughout all generations, because it brought fully into act the conceptions which had lodged in the breast of infinite wisdom from eternity, even those thoughts of love and mercy on which the salvation of the world depended. Christians therefore have the highest reason to solemnize this day with gladness each returning week, by ceasing from labour, and giving themselves up to holy meditations and other exercises of devotion. The redemption of mankind, which they commemorate thereon in its finishing stroke, affords matter for eternal thought, being such a subject as no other, how great soever, can equal; and whose lustre neither length of time nor frequent reviewing can ever diminish. For as by often beholding the sun, we do not find himn less glorious or luminous than before, so this benefit which we celebrate after so many ages, is as fresh and beautiful as ever, and will continue to be so, flourishing in the memories of all reasonable beings through the endless revolutions of eternity.
Eight days after his resurrection our Lord shewed him. self again to the eleven, while Thomas was with them. .6. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven, as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief, and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen."* It was Thomas whom Jesus now upbraided, as is evident from the more full' account which John has given us of this affair. For, con
• Risen. Mark xvi. 14.
descending to bear with the stubbornness of his unbeliev. ing apostles, he desired Thomas in particular to put his finger into the print of the nails, and to thrust his hand into his side, that he might convince himself by the only proofs which he had declared should convince him. Thus Jesus demonstrated, not only that he was risen, but that he was possessed of divine knowledge, being conscious of the thoughts and actions of men. Accordingly Thomas, exceedingly struck with the proof, cried out in great amazement, * “ My Lord, and my God!” Jesus said unto him, " Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed :” thou hast believed my resurrection, because thou hast had it confirmed to the by thee united testimony of all thy senses; they are persons of a better disposition, who, without the evidence of sense, are so candid as to yield to the proofs which the divine wisdom has thought sufficient for convincing the world.
Our Lord having, first by the angels, and then in person, ordered his disciples to go home to Galilee, with a promise that they should see him there, it is reasonable to think that they would depart as soon as possible. Wherefore, when they were come to their respective homes, they followed their occupations as usual ; and particularly the apostles, who pursued their old trade of fishing on the lake. Here, as they were plying their nets one morning early, Jesus shewed himself to them, but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus, for it was somewhat dark, and they were at a distance from him.f He
nugros us, xx · Secs us, “My Lord and my God." Though the nominative often occurs for the vocative, it is the former case that is used here, the words ou er being understood. To this the context agrees, for we are told that these words were addressed to Jesus. • Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” Wherefore they cannot be taken merely as an ex. clamation of surprise, which is the Socinian gloss; but their meaning is, Thou art really he whom I lately followed as my Lord, and I acknowledge thee to be possessed of infinite knowledge, and worship thee as my God.
+ Him. John xxi. 1, &c.