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in the body, by palpable evidence that he possessed a material body, and that he exercised all the faculties of one existing in the body. They were now prepared for this conclusive demonstration; and they received it."Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit." But their master removed all these apprehensions, by removing every doubt which could occasion them; for he gave them the complete and joyful assurance that he had truly risen.
Why are ye troubled? said he to them. 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 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 a honey comb. And he took it, and did eat before them."
We must not here omit to notice that there was an appeal made by our Lord on this occasion, to the understandings, as well as to the senses of the disciples. He not only gave them evidence
John xvi. 17, &c; xxix. 30.
John xx. 26-28.
of the reality of his bodily presence, and of his identity, but also invited their attention to the circumstances which proved it, with an express and pointed reference to those secret fears and surmises of their minds, which they had neither time nor inclination to state in words. By thus alluding to "the thoughts which arose in their hearts," and directly answering them, he in another way identified himself. For he thereby shewed that he was the same Jesus who had often, during his ministry, displayed his knowledge of the hearts of all men. Their feelings, therefore, must now have been the same, as when they exclaimed on a similar occasion, "Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee; by this we believe that thou camest forth from God"."
The same union of both these proofs is also observable, in the method by which, eight days afterwards, our Lord convinced Thomas, who on this occasion was absent. Jesus did not in the intermediate time continue his intercourse with the disciples; but he entered among them, on the eighth day, in the same miraculous manner as before. Introducing himself with the same benedictory salutation, he shewed that he was perfectly aware of the resolute perseverance of Thomas
a John xvi. 30.
in disbelieving the report of his brethren. For immediately he said to him, "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." Unable any longer to resist a conviction of the truth, for which he had been prepared by the testimony of others, and of which he himself now had such perceptible and varied demonstration, he answered in faith and with joy, "My Lord and My God.”
II. We have reviewed the circumstances, and the declarations of Jesus, which preceded the delivery of the words of our text. They were addressed to those, who by a series of clear and satisfactory proofs, had ascertained the certainty, not only of the death, but also of the resurrection of their Master. His body was not found in the sepulchre. The women who first discovered this, saw a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. The disciples ascertained the absence of the body; Peter and John found the sepulchre in such an orderly state, as indicated the probability that the body had not been surreptitiously removed. Peter saw Jesus. Mary Magdalene, and the other women also saw him. The two disciples going to Emmaus for some time conversed with him. He then appeared to the eleven, and proved to them that he was risen in the body, and in the same body in which he had died. This complete identity
was also still further evinced by his celebration of his recently appointed ordinance, by the subject, and comprehensiveness, and impressiveness of his instructions, by his supernatural knowledge of the human heart, and by his miraculous disappearance and re-appearance. And, in the words of the text, spoken at his interview with the eleven, he takes occasion from the full demonstration given of his resurrection, and from the conviction which his disciples had attained of its reality, to re-establish and advance them in the knowledge and belief of his divine mission and Messiahship, as fully and decisively proved by this event. And he also announced to them the purposes which were now accomplished, the blessings which were from that time to be published to the world, and the means through which their publication was to commence, with sufficient evidence to convince mankind. We can do little more than call your attention to the several considerations which Jesus proposed to the disciples at this interesting crisis. But such a brief notice as we can take, will bring to a close our review of the evidences of Christianity, as stated and defended in the discourses of its founder.
The first argument upon which Jesus entered on this occasion was that derived from his own prophecies; and though some of them were wholly original, yet they were more generally an ap
plication of the ancient prophecies to himself, and to the events in which he would be the principal agent or sufferer. He cited and applied those predictions in such a manner, as to shew that he was previously aware of the true interpretation of them; and described in literal terms the events, which, at an earlier period, had been described in figurative language. He specified many additional particulars, announced the speedy fulfilment of them in his own person, and even limited the precise day for their accomplishment. His prophetic character was shewn not only by the exact accomplishment of these numerous predictions, but by the peculiar nature of those unexpected incidents, which so rapidly fulfilled his anticipations. The events themselves had now become familiar to the minds of his disciples. The predictions had perplexed and distressed them at the time of delivery; the fulfilment was more deeply and sensibly afflictive. But from considering both in connection, from remembering his words before the events occurred, and from observing that none of those words had failed, they might derive consolation and conviction. We may well, therefore, conceive what entire satisfaction would possess their minds, when Jesus directing them to these considerations, said unto them, "These are the words which I spake unto while I was yet with you, that all things must