« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
There is no contradiction in these blessings: for there is a wide difference between requiring sight as the ground of faith, which Thomas did: and obtaining it as the completion of faith, which those who saw the coming and kingdom of the Messiah did. The one was a species of unbelief; the other was faith terminating in vision.
John v. 31. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is
John viii. 14. Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true.
OUR Lord, in the first of these passages, expresses what was to be admitted as truth in the account of men; in the last, what his testimony was in itself. Admitting their laws or rules of evidence, his testimony should not have been credible; and therefore in the verses following he appeals to that of John the Baptist and the works which he had wrought in his Father's name, and which amounted to a testimony from the Father. But though he in a manner gave up his own testimony, yielding himself to be tried even by their forms of evidence, yet would he not so far concede as to dishonor his character. He was in fact, whatever they might judge of him, the Amen, the faithful and the true Witness; and as such he taught many things, prefacing what he delivered with that peculiar and expressive phrase, Verily, verily, I say unto you!
John xx. 17. Jesus saith unto Mary, Touch me not! for I am not yet ascended to my Father. John xx. 27. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.
Ir is manifest from these and other passages; that the reason why Mary was forbidden to touch her risen Savior was not because the thing itself was impossible. Indeed, if it had been so, the prohibition had been unnecessary: for we need not be forbidden to do that which cannot be done. There might, however be an impropriety in her using the same freedoms with him in his immortal state, as she had been wont to do in his mortal state. It might be proper to touch him at his own invitation, and to answer an important end, (see Luke xxiv. 39.) and yet improper to do so without it. By comparing the passage with Matt. xxviii. 9, 10, it appears that Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary who was with her, did touch him; for they are there said to have "held him by the feet, and worshipped him." There is reason to think therefore, that the words, touch me not, in John, were used merely to induce her to desist from what she was doing; and that on account of his having more important employment for her; Go, tell my brethren! This agrees with the reason given in John; Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father, &c. This was as much as if he had said, 'You need not be so unwilling to let go my feet, as though you should see me no more: I am not yet ascended,
nor shall I ascend at present. Yet do not imagine that I am raised to a mere mortal life, or am going to set up a temporal kingdom in this world. . . . No.... I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and unto my God, and your God.'
Heb. xi. 33.
Who through faith obtained promises.
THE promises, which were obtained by faith, refer to those which were fulfilled during the Old Testament dispensation. It was promised to Abraham that he should have a son; to Israel, that they should possess the land of Canaan for an inheritance; to David, that he should sit upon the throne; to Judah, that they should return from the Babylonish captivity, &c. and by faith each of them in due time obtained the promise.
But there was one promise which was of greater importance than all the rest; namely, the coming of the Messiah. In the faith of this the fathers lived and died; but they saw not its accomplishment. To see this was reserved for another generation. Hence the words of our Savior to his disciples: Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them,
It is thus that God has wisely balanced the advantages of different ages. The fathers obtained much; but not all. In respect of the blessings of Messiah's kingdom, they sowed, and we reap; they labored, and we enter into their labors. Thus it is ordered, that they without us should not be made perfect. The fulfilments of our times must come in to answer the faith, and complete the hopes of those who have gone before us.
Rom. ii. 14. The Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law. Ephes. ii. 3. Among whom we all had our conversation in times past.....and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
THE term "nature" in these two passages is of very different signification. In the first it stands opposed to the written law of God, or the light of revelation. In the latter it is opposed to custom, education, or any thing merely accidental. In the one case it is expressive of their want of external means: in the other of the inward disposition of their minds. The phrase "by nature" in the former, refers to the rule of action; but in the latter to the cause of it. All arguments therefore against the total depravity of human nature, or in favor of a natural disposition to virtue, drawn from the first of these passages, are entirely unfounded.
Rom. xiv. 5. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Gal. iv. 10, 11. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.
THE key to this apparent difficulty will be found in attending to the persons addressed. The Roman and Galatian churches were each composed of both Jews and gentiles; but they are not addressed promiscuously; neither are they the same description of people who are addressed in both passages. Those who "regarded days" among the Romans were the converted Jews, who having from their youth observed them as Divine appointments, were with difficulty brought to lay them aside. And as their attachment had its origin in a tender regard to Divine authority, they were considered as "keeping the day unto the Lord;" and great tenderness was enjoined upon the gentile converts towards them in that matter.
Those, on the other hand, who among the Galatians "observed days, and months, and times," were converted gentiles, as is manifest from the context, which deseribes them as having, in their unconverted state, “done service to them which by nature were no gods." (verse 8.) These being perverted by certain judaising teachcrs, were, contrary to the apostolic decision, (Acts xv.) circumcised, and subjected themselves to the yoke of Jewish ceremonies. Nor was this all: they were brought to consider these things as necessary to justification and salvation, which was subversive of the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ. Acts xv. i. Gal. v. 4.