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believed not them which had seen him after he was risen,” Mark xvi. 14. Luke adds, that to confirm their faith he called for food, and ate before them a piece of broiled fish and a honey.comb, ch. xxiv. 41-43.
Hence our Lord gave them full evidence to con. firm their faith. They were to be the authorized witnesses of his resurrection, and needed ample confirmation of it themselves. This he gave them by appealing to their senses of sight, by looking; of touch, by handling, and of hearing, by his words.
It is a remarkable fact that the very evidence that Rome refuses to admit in regard to "the body and blood" of Christ, the evidence of the senses, is the precise evidence to which he appealed on this occasion, in giving them the great fundamental fact of the Christian dispensation. He thus laid a sure foundation for their own faith in that fact, of which they were to be witnesses to all nations, the fact that he was risen from the dead, and thus de. clared to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, with power, Rom. i. 4.
3. Light cast on the objects of hope. The great. questions of this life are those that relate to the life to come. Among the most important of these is that of the resurrection of the body. Shall it rise? If so, how? Light is cast on these questions by the appearance of Christ and his challenge,
“ Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Several facts in regard to this great doctrine are thus established.
First, that the same body which went into the grave shall come out of it at the resurrection. In what respect it shall be the same, how far identity of particles is necessary to constitute identity of body, we know not. But as the same body that was buried arose in the case of Jesus, so will it be with all in the resurrection. Were it otherwise, it would not be a resurrection, a rising again, for this implies that what rises had been laid down. It would be a creation and not a rising again. All questions in regard to the possibility of this rising of the same body, are idle, for they are questions as to the power of Omnipotence, where confessedly there is no moral or even physical im. possibility, but only certain difficulties. In the resurrection of Christ, the same body that died rose again, and so will it be with all.
Secondly, that resurrection-body shall not have the same relations to matter, space, &c., that the present body has. We have already seen that the risen body of Christ was probably in its nature invisible, capable of passing from place to place without feeling the restrictions of doors, walls, and material barriers, as other bodies do; and yet really a body of flesh, blood, and bones, in a real and true sense. So we learn that the resurrection-body of the redeemed, whilst it will be material, will not be subject to the laws of matter as it is now, but like to that glorious body of Christ, that was visible or invisible at pleasure, and able to pass from place to place, and even from world to world, without effort or limitation, such as now chains us to the surface of the earth and the limits of the atmosphere.
Thirdly, that recognition will be possible in heaven. Christ appealed to the fact that they could recognize him as the same being who died. on the cross. If then he could be recognized in his resurrection-body, we may infer that this recognition will be possible in other cases, and therefore that we shall know our friends in heaven.
4. Errors corrected. “As my Father bath sent. me, even so send I you." As the word apostle means literally, one sent, these words intimate a renewal of their apostolic office. But they also intimate a correction of their errors in regard to the office itself. They thought that this office, as well as the kingdom with which it was connected, was to be a temporal and political power, with Christ as its visible head. This error he corrects in these words : “I am not to stay with you, as you suppose, but to leave you, and to send you forth as my representatives in the world, to finish the spiritual work that I have begun, and to raise
man from his degradation and sin." Hence we have the great fact that ministers go forth in Christ's stead, as his ambassadors, to finish the work for which he came into the world, from the Father.
5. The Holy Ghost given. He breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost." The four emblems of the Spirit, most common in scripture, are, the dove, with its gentleness and love; fire, with its fervour and consuming power; water, with its purifying action; and air, the vehicle of life, the agent that brings light to the eye, sound to the ear, fragrance to the nostril, and vitality to the lungs, and thus is the great life-bearer of our earth. Hence in breathing upon them, he presented the Holy Ghost under this expressive symbol, as the source of their life and strength, and said to them in effect, that as breath to the body, so was the Holy Ghost to the soul, the ever needful source of all spiritual vitality: He also declared to them that this divine person was sent by him as well as by the Father, was the Spirit of Christ as well as of God, and the great blessing of the New Testament dispensation.
It is true that the Holy Ghost, in its plenary bestowal, was not given until the day of pentecost, and could not be given until after the ascension. Hence the words “receive ye,” are to be understood mainly in the same sense with the words, "80 send I you." The sending was really not until after pentecost, and so also was the receiving of the Spirit. But as there was an official right to this future sending them actually given, so there was an official right to this future receiving, and also, we doubt not, an actual bestowal of the Holy Ghost, to such an extent as to be a pledge and promise of the future bestowal.
6. Their official power. “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."
This is that power to open and shut the kingdom of heaven, commonly called the power of the keys. It is not a judicial but a declarative power; not a power to acquit or condemn, as judges, but to declare, as ambassadors, the grounds of acquittal and condemnation. As connected with their extraordinary powers, it was a grant of authority to teach infallibly the grounds of pardon and condemnation, and to organize on these declared grounds a visible church. Hence it contained a grant of the powers of doctrine and discipline in the church,-to the apostles as extraordinary officers, in an extraordinary sense, and to those who succeed them, as ordinary ministers, these powers in an ordinary sense. They were to remit-sins as the priest cleansed the leper, not actually, but declaratively, by stating infallibly, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the terms