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There are many who, like Thomas, are longing for some sensible assurance of the love of Christ, beyond the general declarations of the Bible. They want some inward token that they are born again, some sensible assurance of their acceptance, before they believe and commit their souls wholly to Jesus. They desire to be Christians, but want to know that they have been converted before they trust. This is precisely the error of Thomas. They want the evidence of sense, rather than of faith. They want some inward work in the heart, as a ground of faith, rather than the outward work of Christ, offered in the gospel. Such an assurance will not be given them. Their warrant to believe is in the word, and to give them any other warrant would be to dishonour that, and to thrust their hands into the Saviour's side before believing. They must go to Jesus, just as they are, cast themselves on his mercy, and believe that he will do as he has promised, pardon, purify, and save, and then the benediction shall descend upon them, " Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." They will soon need no other evidence that they have been born again, than the conscious operation of the new life that works within them. They will not so much inquire whether they are spiritually alive, as they will not think of doubting it. In the gradual unfolding of every filial affection, and the instinctive exercise of every filial feeling, the Spirit will witness with their spirits that they are the sons of God.
We have then in this scene with Thomas tho cause and cure of scepticism. Its cause is a cold and unbelieving heart, a heart that cannot warmly confide in what deserves its confidence. Under the influence of such a heart, a wrong standard of belief is set up, and the comforts of the gospel are rejected. The cure for it is to come as a little child, and obey and trust Jesus Christ, and thus make experiment of his word, as the balm of Gilead, the cure for the sin-sick soul. Goethe felt this dark longing of unbelief as he neared the close of life, and in one of his seasons of restless longing wrote a verse that may thus be translated :—
"Fairest among heaven's daughters,
These words, written in pencil, on coarse paper, chanced to come into the possession of a lady who understood the case. She, with exquisite propriety, wrote on the other side of the paper: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." —Jesus Christ. But the monarch of German literature was too proud to stoop to the yoke of the lowly Nazarene; and his yearnings, we have reason to fear, were ever unsatisfied. 11
THE SEVENTH APPEARANCE.—THE SHORE OF GALILEE.
How the third meeting. I. The circumstance*. The fishing party— The night of unsuccessful toil—The morning vision—The fire on the shore, and the food. II. The meaning of this scene. The picnic interpretation—Connection with the first miraculous draught of fishes—The meaning of the first miracle—" Toiling all night and taking nothing"—The inefficiency of the pulpit—The differences of the miracles, and their meaning—The second miracle shadows the final glory of the church—The repast on the shore, its meaning —Lessons to the church, now on the sea—Comfort to the individual christian.
"I heard the voice of Jesus say,
I am this dark world's light,
And all thy day be bright.
In him my star, my sun;
Till travelling days are done.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Fear not the vanquished grave;
Is mighty still to save.
Shrink not from death's dark vale;
When heart and flesh shall fail."
"After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disci, pies knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and yo shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the.other disciples came in a little ship, (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to laud full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three : and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead." John xxi. 1—14.
There seems to be a discrepancy between the statement of John that this was the third appearance of our Lord to his disciples, and the facts as recorded by the other evangelists. But the discrepancy is only apparent. It was really the seventh appearance, but only the third to the assembled disciples. The rest were to individuals, aud were purely personal in their design. This