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And yet it is one of these very men who stands forth, enshrined in the sin of unbelief, a warning to the church in all ages. A frozen pillar of impious incredulity. The Lot's wife of the New Testament.

The subject of his unbelief was the fact of the resurrection of Jesus; a fact so wonderful, so contrary to the course of nature, that perhaps some may feel disposed to say it ought not to be credited on any slender grounds; and that Thomas would have betrayed a credulous mind had he believed it on the mere report of others. There is some force in this; a right use of the understanding is, no doubt, a duty which we owe alike to God and to ourselves. A vain, idle credulity, a readiness to believe each marvellous tale, is not countenanced in the word of God. They neither understand the character of God nor comprehend the meaning of the Bible, who believe that religion can be served by a weak, wondering, and blind credulity.

The unbelief of Thomas, then, could not have been of this kind, or the reprobation he received would not have been deserved. But he had, or might have had, sufficient evidence; otherwise his unbelief would have been no sin, nor would it have provoked the Lord's displeasure. This will appear most clearly, if we inquire into the occasion of his doubts. They were evidently these: he did not believe the Scriptures, nor did he believe the word of Christ; and he had, sinfully no doubt, neglected the opportunities of having his unbelief removed.

He did not believe the Scriptures; perhaps he did not understand them. He seems to have been in the state which St. Paul describes in his epistle to the Corinthians; a natural man, who could not perceive the things of the Spirit of God, for they were foolishness unto him. (1 Cor. xi. 14.) Had he not read in all the prophets that Christ must suffer, and that he should rise from the dead the third day? Had he never read in the book of Psalms the Messiah's prophetic intimation of his resurrection,-"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore"?

But all this he might have read without perceiving that it applied to Christ. Had he read the Scriptures in the right way, this indeed could scarcely have been the case. Had he prayed for wisdom, had he dug as for hid treasures in these spiritual mines, it would not have been so. But this is the way in which God's word is often treated. We read it carelessly, with a mind preoccupied or prejudiced; and then we wonder, as if strange things had been brought to our ears, when the simple truths of the gospel are repeated to us; and we are ready to exclaim: "What new doctrine is this?"

But unbelief, if explained, is not to be thus excused. Such

ignorance is itself an aggravation of all the sins to which it leads; for what is it, in effect, but to plead that God has but mocked us with a revelation from heaven, which, after all, is so imperfect, or so obscure, that we cannot trace out His will therein? Besides, the apostle had enjoyed the privilege of hearing the Lord Jesus expound the Scriptures from day to day. And upon no point, certainly, had our Lord insisted so much or so often as on this: the Son of man must be put to death, and the third day he shall rise again. These very words had Thomas heard repeatedly; and afterwards to doubt the fact, was nothing else than to call in question the veracity of Jesus Christ.

And there lies the great sin of our own unbelief; it is the questioning of the veracity of God. We can measure the greatness of this crime upon the scale of human feelings. Can you offer a greater insult to your fellow man, than deliberately to call his veracity in question? And yet there is ground for your suspicion there; for the most veracious man living may have deceived, if not from contempt of truth and a love of falsehood, yet from levity, from ignorance, from a fickle mind. But Jehovah is unchangeable. "I, the Lord, change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." He must abide faithful to his word; he cannot deny himself. Add to this, that the declarations of God, and more especially his promises, are not extorted; they are freely made. God condescends to us, when he makes any revelation of his will to man; we can scarcely plead a right to the information which the Scriptures yield. This condescension is voluntary; how great, then, the guilt of calling his word in question!

Unbelief is not merely the offence of infidels who reject the Bible; or even of nominal Christians, who profess to believe in God but in works deny him, being disobedient. Alas! it is the sin of believers too. Or else what mean those constant lamentations, that weakness of our faith, our inability to credit the Divine testimony? What else those prayers we daily offer for an increase of faith, that is, of a greater readiness and a greater power to trust in the promises of God? Indeed, it is the greatness of God's love which staggers the weak capacity of man. We are accustomed to no such display of mercy; and the truth is, we need divine assistance to help us to believe it. Mercy for the chief of sinners, freely offered, without money and without price! It seems incredible. Exceeding great and precious promises-promises which begin to take effect in this life, but which reach through all eternity. And all these to be shared on the simple terms of believing and embracing them. So much love seems impossible: nay, too often it is foolishness unto us. If the mercy had been less, we could have believed it more readily. If the promises had been conditional, if they had required some fitness upon our part, this we could have comprehended. But even the Christian is slow of heart to believe that such great blessings are his-his at this moment, if he will accept them, purchased already in the blood of Christ.

Thomas, thus doubting, was confirmed in his unbelief by his neglect of those opportunities which would have at once removed every misgiving. On the first day of the previous week, that is, the first Christian sabbath that gladdened the world, the disciples had been assembled with closed doors for fear of the Jews, and Jesus suddenly stood in the midst, and said unto them, "Peace be unto you." "But Thomas was not with them" when Jesus came. Now, though it is not affirmed by the evangelist, we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that this absence was the result of fear; that it was the result of sin. That great danger was apprehended, is evident from the secrecy of their little meeting; the doors being shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews. Then, again, we can scarcely suppose that an apostle, one of the twelve, would have been left in ignorance by his brethren of their intention to assemble at such a time and place; nor can we readily admit that one who was set apart by the Lord for the work of the ministry, had other engagements which justified his absence. We have no intimation that he was sick; the inference seems to be that a cowardly fear, or a base despondency, had caused him to be absent from his brethren.

But whatever his case might be, we know that such is the nature of unbelief. It does not court instruction, it avoids it. It does not seek conviction, it endeavours to escape from it. Is the professed infidel a man who has carefully read the Bible, with prayer, and with an honest mind? We more than doubt if one solitary case like this was ever known. His business has been not to read, but to object, perhaps to scoff. Is the nominal Christian, who tells you that the gospel merely regulates the conduct, but does not change the heart, a man deeply read in Holy Scripture? Does he love to turn especially to the epistles of the New Testament, in which the nature of the work of grace upon the soul is more fully delineated than in other parts of Scripture? On the contrary, he tells you the epistles are hard to be understood; are very mystical; are of local interest; are, in fact, of little moment compared with other parts of Scripture. "He will not come unto the light."

It

And even in the real Christian, when unbelief takes possession of the soul, the symptoms, in their measure, are the same. does not prepare him to receive instruction. It prepares him to resist it. It does not lead him to pray for the removal of his "heart of stone;" it only leads him to believe that he labours beneath a disease without a remedy. Unbelief is a blight; and wherever it falls, the spiritual husbandry of God withers away.

It is usual to palliate unbelief as at the worst a mental infirmity; we shall do well to observe that the Scriptures never speak of it in this light, but always as a sin, a grievous sin. It excluded the Jews from the land of promise; it hindered their descendants from recognising Christ when he walked in their streets and taught in the temple; and we are solemnly warned in the epistle to the

Hebrews, that it will shut men, in every age, whether Jew or Gentile, out of that rest that remaineth for the people of God. If men reply, that they would believe and cannot, we invite them to try the power of prayer; we read of one who cried, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." The same importunity will be attended with the same effects. Or is the case of the objector that of one whose speculative mind has led him to doubt and question, until evidence of only one kind seems to satisfy his reason; whose mind, in fact, is cramped, and not expanded-for this is no uncommon case-by intellectual exertions unwisely prosecuted, and of a character too exclusive? Let him learn to receive the kingdom of God as a little child. Let him remember the special province of the Spirit of God to illuminate the soul, and seek his help; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Or is it the case of the true Christian, who is tempted to doubt either the truth of any part of Scripture, or his own share in the promises of God? This is not properly unbelief. The treatment of it belongs to another subject, the dangers and trials of the Christian warfare. Still the remedy is in effect the same: to wait humbly at the foot of the cross, to pray much for a humble spirit, to repress an idly curious state of mind, and to ask, in short, for an increase of faith and a deepening work of the Spirit of God upon the soul.

UNIVERSITY SERMONS.

1. Working for God, and other Sermons. By the Rev. Francis Morse, M.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge, Incumbent of St. John's, Ladywood, Birmingham. Macmillan and Co. 1859. 2. Four Sermons preached in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge. By the Rev. W. G. Clark, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, and Public Orator in the University of Cambridge. Macmillan and Co. 1860.

3. Three Plain Sermons, preached in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, in the course of the Year 1859. By the Rev. E. W. Blore, Fellow and Assistant Tutor. Deighton and Co. 1860. THE importance of adapting sermons to the particular circumstances and wants of those who are to hear them, is now recognised on all hands. In our public schools this principle has been more and more acted upon, since the time when Dr. Arnold set the example at Rugby. The published volumes of school sermons are now many in number, and constitute a respectable class by them

selves. They naturally vary much in their tone and character, in accordance with the minds of their authors; and are more or less defective or excellent in their aim, and in their method of attaining it. But it may be said of all of them, that their general intention has been admirable, namely, to give the school-boy religious instruction and counsel of the kind most suitable to his situation and period of life, and to do it in the way which appears most likely to secure his attention and sympathy. They are distinguished by their special treatment of boy-life, in its various phases. They are not theological disquisitions, or arguments on obscure and debateable subjects; but they take up the tone, habits, temptations, duties, principles, and wants of those to whom they are addressed-how the school-boy should behave towards his fellows, his masters, his work, his recreations, his home, and so forth,what should be his inner and what his outer life,-the most profitable way of reading the Holy Scriptures, and the explanation and application of their truths,-the relation in which each boy present stands towards the church of Christ, and the obligations consequent thereupon,-these, and the like, are avowedly the matters to which the preachers of such sermons apply themselves. It may be fairly questioned whether in some of these sermons sufficiently high ground be taken; whether the appeal be made distinctly enough to the most exalted Christian motives; and the readers of our recent Numbers may easily understand how much we tremble at the prospect of what may be preached from a school-chapel pulpit. But we regard the design of the schoolsermon system as wise and commendable, and such as only needs to be conducted by the faithful and the true-hearted, in order to its producing the best results; and we pray that grace may be given to all who preach in such places, to enable them to use their opportunity with a single eye to the advancement of God's truth and glory, and that their efforts may be crowned with success.

But follow the youth from the public school to the university. Or follow those youths who have been educated in a private school, or by a tutor, or under their father's roof. These all may be assumed to have attended their several parish churches, hearing in them, indeed, sermons not specially appropriate to themselves, but suitable to them in common with the rest of the congregation,directed, we may hope, to the purpose of promoting the conversion of sinners, and the edification of Christ's true people, by aid derived from the fertile mine of God's holy word.

Follow these youths of 17, 18, or 19 years of age, from their several places of education, to the last scene of it, the university. They are placed in a situation of peculiar trial, surrounded by temptations and dangers, and with little external aid or guidance. They enjoy a liberty of action hitherto unknown to them, including a liberty to be idle, such as even the lowest order of schools would never have allowed them. They have at command the means

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