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the testimony of several women who knew Jesus well : he felt that it was a momentous question, and he must be perfectly satisfied; and he was.
We see, then, that he was not a likely person to be imposed on; and what satisfied him, having been so unbelieving, so doubtful about the truth of a dead man having risen to life again, is fitted to satisfy us. Jesus was really there with the print of the nails in his hands, with the mark of the wound in his side ; and Thomas could not disbelieve any longer; and John has recorded the facts which he himself witnessed. These are the two important circumstances here,—Thomas's complete conviction, and John's record of that perfect faith after the former unbelief. All the apostles were interested spectators of the scene; and the evidence given is very conclusive. If John has given a true account of what he and the other apostles saw in this scene between Jesus and Thomas, then the resurrection is a fact. And it is not at all likely there could be any mistake about it in the written record, that anything would be forgotten or misunderstood, the spectacle having been so impressive, strange and solemn.
Of course in receiving the evidence of any person, it is of great importance what character he bears, to feel assured that he is an honest and competent witness. There is no reason to be thought of for doubting the honesty of either John or Thomas. Who can impeach such testimony? They showed their honesty by their sufferings for the sake of the testimony they had borne to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. They were ready to act upon their convictions and declarations even to death. Think, then, what must have been the strength of the faith of the once incredulous Thomas. His faith was as firm when once settled, as his doubt and hardness of belief had before been great.
The apostles were certainly sincere in their belief that their Lord had risen. Their lives prove that they were thoroughly convinced of the truth of what they affirmed. Their character for integrity is unimpeachable ; and the fact itself was one which did not admit of a possibility of mistake. Their belief did not rest on hearsay, but on the evidence of their own senses. They were eye-witnesses of the fact to which they bore testimony. They saw the body alive which had been laid dead in the tomb of Joseph. They had no motives to deception. For their firmness in stating what they believed to be the truth, they were subjected to persecutions. There are no motives we can think of for their conduct but a sincere belief and an earnest desire to spread the truth. They held fast to the same testimony through all events, through all their fiery trials. This testimony, on which the fundamental fact of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, reposes, is as solid and satisfactory as evidence can be.
We have not seen Christ either before or after the resurrection, but we can believe, and we are blessed in the belief. Though we have not seen him, yet we can love him; and believing in him, we can rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. “Thomas,” said Jesus, “ because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
And we, my Christian brethren, believe, and are thankful to God for the proof of a future life which has been given by the resurrection of Jesus. It is now no faint conjecture about immortality, no speculation, no feeble hope, no imperfect intimations from nature's appearances, and the mind's progress, and the heart's affections, but plain positive proof, and strong deep faith. “I am the resurrection and the life,” said our Saviour; "he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
A sure sign from heaven has been mercifully given. As disciples of Christ we have a firm, undoubting assurance of conviction ; and how thankful should we be to our merciful Heavenly Father, who through his Son Jesus Christ has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light ! Thank God for his goodness in the mission of Christ! The future life is a glorious certainty now.
THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVEN TO THEM THAT ASK IT.
BY REV. EDWARD HIGGINSON.
LUKE xi. 13 :
“If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children :
how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him!”
Our Saviour exhorts to earnest prayer to the Father of mercies, by an appeal to the readiness of earthly parents to fulfil, according to their best wisdom and power, the wants and wishes of their children. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Every one that does ask, receives ; he that does seek, finds; and to him that does knock, it is opened. If a child ask for bread, what father will give him a stone ? Or, if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? Or, if he ask an egg, will give him a scorpion ? If ye then (the argument appeals to us irresistibly), weak, erring and sinful men as ye are,-if ye know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him !
The same beautiful passage is preserved by Matthew almost word for word, as having occurred in our Lord's Sermon on the Mount (Matt. vii. 11), where it is given, however, with one remarkable variation. St. Matthew reports our Saviour as having said, “How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him ;” while St. Luke in our text, you observe, has it, "give the Holy Spirit (or "give a holy spirit") to them that ask Him.”
Comparing the two reports together, in order to see what is common to both, and therefore most probably representative of our Lord's actual words and actual idea, we may observe that the most unquestionably good things that we can ask God to give us are the things of the soul. A holy spirit is the highest blessing any of us can seek, or seeking find. We must observe, too, that whereas, in the Scriptures, the phrase “holy spirit” is often used to denote the supernatural divine influences of miracle and inspiration which distinguished the New Testament age in the persons of Jesus Christ and his immediate followers, yet it has by no means always this special meaning. There is a wider and more abiding sense in which the Holy Spirit of our Heavenly Father has constant access to our spirits, awakening or cherishing in us a holy soul, not of miracle or prophecy, but of faith, obedience, duty and love. The natural doctrine of prayer, and of divine influences thence ensuing upon the human mind and character, is that which our Saviour's words bring before us, when he promises that a holy spirit shall come from the Father of love at the earnest intreaty of his children, as surely as the children of loving earthly parents have reason to expect the best things that their parents have the knowledge and power to give. And whatever difficulties may attend the theory or the practice of prayer in the case of those petitions which have reference to temporal and physical blessings-beyond the evident and all-important influence of devotion upon the petitioner's own efforts to obtain, and his own state of mind in obtaining, or in resigning, his wishes—that part at least of the doctrine of prayer and divine influences which refers to the pursuit of spiritual graces, is free from all the difficulties which beset the question of prayer for specific outward gifts.