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and tender to us. And this penitence will be generated only by looking to Jesus. We must turn our eyes where Peter turned his, to the face of the divine Sufferer. Thus and thus only shall we obtain that godly sorrow, that worketh a repentance that need not be repented of. Then let the backslider look to Jesus, for penitence.
If this penitence is genuine, it will involve a return to the paths of obedience, and in these paths there will be found a message of hope. "Eeturn unto me, ye backsliding children, and I will return unto yoa," is found only in the paths of duty, and is a message of cheer to the returning wanderer.
If the backslider returns thus to these paths of holy obedience, and continues to walk in them, "looking unto Jesus," then he may expect to have such a sight of a forgiving Saviour, and a reconciled God, as shall breathe into his heart the assurance of hope. As Peter was met by Jesus, doubtless at a time and place that he looked not for him, and yet as undoubtedly in the discharge of duty, so will it be with every returning penitent. In an hour when he thinks not, the Saviour will reveal himself to him, and he will feel that his sins are forgiven, and his inheritance sure, through the blood of atonement.
Then let the backslider look to Jesus, as Peter, and not from him, as Judas. Let him remember that it is just this that makes the difference between a genuine and a spurious repentance, between the repentance of Peter, the backslider, and that of Judas, the apostate.
THE FOURTH APPEARANCE.—THE PERPLEXED DOUBTERS.
The gradation. I. The circumstances. The sad disciples—The love of Jesus—The sin of unbelief—The Key of the Old Testament— The burning of heart—Christ made known in breaking of bread. II. The lessons to the doubter. (1) Honest doubts in regard to the divine origin of Christianity—" It speaks to my heart." (2) Doubts concerning doctrines. (3) Doubts in regard to personal experience. (4) Doubts in regard to the providential dealings of God—" Abide with us."
Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Reveal thyself before my closing eyes,
"And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering, said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before Ood and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers dolivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. Bat we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre : and when they found not his body, they came, saying, That they also had seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, 0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went: and be made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.—Luke xxiv. 18—35.
We again see that gradation before noted in the appearances of our Lord, after his resurrection. The first, to Mary Magdalene, was a tribute to love; the second, to the women, a reward of obedience; the third, to Peter, an approval of penitence; whilst the fourth, to the troubled men of Emmaus, was a condescension to the perplexity of an honest doubter. Each one, therefore, had its special significance, and the order of the appearances is precisely the order of excellence in the states of mind thus signalized. First, stands love; second, obedience; third, penitence; and fourth, doubt, with an honest desire for light, which deserves a removal of its darkness and perplexity.
There are two points that present themselves here; first, the circumstances of this appearance; second, its lessons to the doubter.
I. The circumstances of this appearance.
There were two disciples of Christ, who lived at Emmaus, a small village about seven miles from Jerusalem, whose precise position is now unknown. They were present, it would seem, during the passover, the arrest, the crucifixion, and the scattering of the disciples. They knew that the body was buried on Friday evening, and guarded in its grave during the Sabbath. That Sabbath, was spent in anxious doubts. They could not believe Jesus to be a deceiver, and yet they could not reconcile the overwhelming difficulties that attended the doctrine that he was the Christ. The morning of the first day of the week found them still doubting. As the day wore on, there were whisperings that Christ had risen and appeared to the women, but as they were doubtless afraid to be seen on the streets, whilst the city was so much excited, it was impossible to verify these reports,