« AnteriorContinuar »
it is because he does not, or dares not think. If he is right, and it is uncertain whether there is a revelation from God, a hereafter, a personal God, he cannot be happy, for he is a poor blind insect groping in the dark. He suffers now, and knows not that he will not hereafter, or that he will have any compensation for the toils and sorrows of the present. He knows not that he will ever see the face of his loved dead, or meet the lost of earth in the bliss of heaven. Can he then be happy ? Have not most of the great sceptics confessed at times the secret sorrows that gnawed within ? Have they not confessed the shadows that chilled their hearts, and longed for light ? Hence if they are right, it is a truth that we need not care to know, for its effect would only be to make us wretched without making us better. It would only be to take away the only light that gilds the vale of tears, the only comfort that often cheers the home of poverty and pain, the only staff that supports the feebleness of age, and the only brightness that rests on the grave. It would be to take away a hope that makes men better, and give them nothing in its place but a dreary despair. If the sceptic is right, the Christian will be as happy in the future as he will be, and will either never discover that he has been deluded, or discover that the delusion has never done him any harm. But if the sceptic is wrong, he is lost ! lost for ever! How fearful the difference! How appalling, then, the consequences of that unbelief! In either case, the consequence of scepticism is wretchedness in this life; in one case, it is wretchedness in the life to come. Can that which thus darkens in every case, and may destroy in one case, be the truth? Must it not be from beneath and not from above?
III. The removal of the scepticism of Thomas.
In this removal there are several stages that may be noted.
1. The awaking of his faith. His faith was awakened by the sight of Jesus. The Lord showed him his hands and his feet, and he saw in the ragged print of the nails the proof that he was the crucified Saviour, and that the same love that had led him to the cross, now led him to win back his erring disciple. Doubtless the unbelieving Thomas expected that Jesus would meet him with language of stern rebuke, for he felt that he deserved it. But instead of this merited reproof, it was with tones and words of tenderness that he even stooped to meet his unreasonable demand, and asked him to come and put his finger into the print of the nails, and his hand into the gash of the spear, and be not faithless but believing. There was a sublime tenderness in thus stooping to meet the very unreasonableness of his unbelief that overwhelmed the heart of Thomas at once, and swept away his scepticism in its flood of love.
Thus must faith be awakened now in the heart of the sceptic. Love is mightier than logic, because unbelief is not so much a disease of the head, as of the heart. If a sceptic is honest, and capable of discerning the truth, let that truth be spoken in love ; let him be led to where he shall see “one hanging on a tree, in agony and blood," and this sight will do more to awake his faith than a thousand arguments. “I am deeply concerned for your salvation,” said a pious man to a hardened sceptic, who had long foiled every effort to convince him of the truth of Christianity by argument. The words were simple, but they were spoken with a swimming eye and a quivering lip, for the good man had spent much time the previous night in prayer for the unbeliever. These words were the means of melting that proud and hard heart, and leading it to be concerned for its own salvation, a concern that never ceased until he found peace in believing. Living faith is a plant that needs not only the light of logic, but also the warmth of love, to enable it to grow, and bring forth fruit; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and the belief of the gospel is not merely the cold assent of the mind to a proposition, but the warm trust of the heart in a promise.
2. The confession of his faith. As soon as Thomas saw Jesus, his scepticism vanished in a moment. He forgot his former demand for unreasonable evidence, for he found that he did not need it. He was satisfied and more than satisfied, and cried out in the fulness of his faith, “My Lord, and my God!"
It is a striking proof that Thomas has his successors, to find the meaning of these plain words doubted. They so plainly call Christ God, and he so plainly receives the divine title, that there seems to be no escape from a conclusion thus asserted by the one and admitted by the other, that Jesus Christ was truly God. This conclusion is strengthened by the effort made to evade it, The only explanation offered is, that this was an exclamation of surprise, and that Thomas in his sudden amazement exclaimed, "My Lord, and my God !" But aside from the fact that a compound exclamation of surprise, connected by the conjunction "and,” would have been almost absurd, and completely at variance with that ejaculatory and abrupt form that characterizes such utterances, it would in that case have been profanity. It would have been taking God's name in vain, Jesus, who rebuked unbelief, would never have allowed profanity to pass unreproved. Moreover, it is said expressly in v. 28, that it was an expression addressed to Jesus, and not an exclamation of
surprise. "And Thomas answered and said unto him, (i. e. Jesus,) My Lord, and my God.” Hence it is a most striking proof-text of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
3. The personal character of his faith. Luther says that the beauty of the Bible lies in its pronouns. It is not that we can say that there is a God, but that we can say, “this God is our God, for ever and ever.” So it was with Thomas. Not content with saying as Nathanael did, “Thou art the Son of God,” he clasps him now with all the tenderness of a living faith, and cries out, “My Lord, and my God.” Tradition relates that from that hour the restored penitent never swerved in his career, but toiled in Asia, preaching to Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Ethiopians, until at last he laid down his life for Jesus on the distant plains of India. It was a noble atonement for the unbelief of a week.
Thus must it be with the sceptic. He must be led to the cross, must see Jesus, as his Saviour, must be enabled to cry out, My Lord and my God, and my Redeemer, or he is not beyond all danger of falling back into unbelief. A personal appropriating faith, that trusts the soul to Jesus as Lord, and clings to him as Saviour, is the only certain and radical cure for unbelief.
4. The benediction of Jesus. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."