The Christian Doubter.


And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him : but some doubted. S. MATT, xxviii. 17. THAT book which writes on its pages, But some doubted, is a truthful book. It is not patching up, or propping up, some cunningly devised fable ; if it were, it would say that so overwhelming was the proof that not one person to whom it was presented could for an instant doubt it. That book itself seems to feel for us. It is as though it would say this to us : A great demand is here made upon 69

EASTER DAY your faith. The matter presented to you is above nature ; flesh and blood cannot receive it. Be not surprised if you stagger at its strangeness ; so did some of those to whom it first came, some of those to whose senses the proof appealed, some of those who became afterwards its messengers and its witnesses. Be not ashamed, be not terrified, if at first you receive the record with hesitation or amidst misgivings ; of those to whom it first came, some doubted. I. These persons were not doubters from any disposition to cavil. They did not think it an ingenious thing to find out difficulties in believing. Their minds were open to conviction should sufficient evidence be vouchsafed to them. There was a difficulty in accepting the truth, and God had not yet given them all the proof which He designed for them. The evidences of Christ s Resurrection were not yet complete. He who does nothing in vain designed for them some further light ; and, till that light was given, it can scarcely be said with perfect reverence that doubt was excluded. II. These persons were not doubters from its being their interest to disbelieve. They were not persons who had dark places in heart or in life which they wished to keep dark. They were not cherishing bosom sins, and they were not treading underfoot known duties. If they had been in this condition, of course a holy Saviour could not have been welcome to them. Well might they have hoped that the Master and the Judge of man, once laid in His grave, might stay there and see corruption. Are we quite sure, that in our doubts

there is no lingering motive of this nature ? At least I am persuaded that no source of doubt is so fruitful as a careless, inconsistent, godless, sinful life; that no man is so likely to be beset with misgivings about the truth of Christ s Resurrection or the authority of God s Word, as he who has kept himself through early years out of the reach of Christ s inward voice ; and that no retribution is more certain in its coming, or more just in its infliction, than that which visits a long neglect of duty with a judicial incapacity for believing. III. These persons did not make doubt a reason for not obeying or for not worshipping. They came at Christ s call into Galilee to meet Him ; and when they saw Him there, they worshipped. There are degrees in doubt as there are degrees in faith. Every doubt is not an adverse judgment. A man may obey though he doubts, and a man may worship though he doubts. IV. A last word remains. These persons, as they did not allow doubt to drive them from Christ s service or from Christ s worship, so were turned from doubters into resolute believers by a nearer access to Christ, and by the revelation of His risen power. While they stood afar off, while they paid Him only the distant homage of a 70

OUTLI ES O VARIOUS PASSAGES doubting reverence, so long the very sight of Him was not conclusive : they must have seen that it was He Himself, long their Companion, their Friend, their Guide, their Master, but they allowed the thought of the difficulty, the thought of the Cross, and the thought of the death, and the thought of the grave to overbear that conviction of the senses ; they fancied it almost less improbable that some one else should wear that loved form and personate that gracious Master, than that a victory so marvellous, so beyond former experience, should have been won over that last enemy before whom rank and wealth, before whom strength and sovereignty alike bow down to rise up no more. But now when He drew nigh and spake to them ; when they heard once again the gracious words that proceeded out of His lips ; when they heard Him tell of the mystery of His kingdom, and bestow upon them with the living voice the commission of His representatives below ; when He gave them a certain form of initia tion into the membership of His Church, and promised His own Divine Presence to be with them till time should be no more, then at last they felt that to doubt on would be less a sin than a madness:

He who thus spake could be none other than the Son of God Most High. Before proof it was right to doubt, but after proof it would be impiety and blasphemy : and thus the understanding which had been in suspense was decided and satisfied, and the homage of a longing heart was fulfilled in the devotion of a life and of a death. The Christian doubter will derive guidance as well as hope from the example now before us. And that in three points. 1. He will seek nearer access to Christ. 2. He will especially hail any sign of Christ s willingness to employ him. 3. But last, and above all, the Christian doubter must seek the illumination of the Holy Ghost. DEA VAUGHA .

God s Acre. And entering into the sepukhre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment ; and they were affrighted. S. MARK xvi. 5. I. T Hindoo mythology there is one power the eternal foe of J. the whole human race relentless, terrible, at whose name men fear and quake, and whose unceasing wrath they strive hope lessly to appease Shiva, the Destroyer. And are not we accustomed to look upon death very much as a Shiva a power apart from God and independent of God ? Death, which indeed formed no part of 71

EASTER DAY the Almighty s original design for man, death, which is terrible enough to humanity, of course but death which is nevertheless one of God s own angels, executing the decrees of the Almighty, working out His Will. And more than this, death which is robbed of its very sting because of the glad Easter tidings which announce that Christ the Royal Master 1 has overcome death and conquered hell. But then, the Easter tidings (although the evidence that supports

these tidings is overwhelming so clear, that one infidel, Gilbert West, attacking Christianity on this point, becomes convinced as proof accumulates, and renounces unbelief) these tidings, I say, if they are to mean anything to us, presuppose faith on our part. And we love to walk by sight we regard things, and are affected by them, as they appear to us ; and so we go on, looking upon death as our terrible enemy an implacable unconquered foe, and one that can take from us, at any moment, all that makes life glad. To us the grave is but a charnel-house ; connected in our minds only with the shroud and the worm and the silence and helplessness of those whom death has claimed. And thus, if asked to point out the saddest, gloomiest, and most sombre place in the parish, I suppose we should point to the churchyard. II. And yet we love to call it by the beautiful name, God s Acre ! And when we sadly bear our loved ones thither, to leave them sleeping till there breaks the last, the brightest Easter morn, 1 the words which greet us on its very threshold are words that speak of life, and not of death : * I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord ! Up to this hour death had been a strange, sad mystery to the angels of God. But now all is changed. Man s redemption is accomplished. The Son of God, who humbled Himself and yielded Himself to death now comes forth from the grave, Victor over death. And so, even as the representatives of an earthly Sovereign plant their national standard, and take possession in the monarch s name, of some piece of territory where despotism and horrible cruelties have been the rule, and then peace and safety enter in and dwell there ; so the Angel of the Resurrection, as the representative of the King of kings, claims as subject to his Master the very stronghold of death, and declares its character henceforth altered : * Come, see the place where the Lord lay. In ancient mythology we read of Medea, the enchantress, casting the limbs of old men into her caldron that they might come forth young again. * And sleep, in its own way, does all this. We are old enough in weariness often after hours of thought and labour, but we sleep, and wake refreshed as though beginning a new life. . . * Such, too, is the effect of the body s visit to its grave. Put away 72


all weary and worn, such they will not rise : they go there with furrowea brow, hollow cheek, wrinkled skin, they shall wake up in beauty and glory. So He giveth His beloved sleep/ The thought of the angel in the sepulchre should be to us the pledge of our own resurrection and final bliss. * Why not the bodies in the grave to be in heaven oae day, as well as the angels of heaven to be in the grave this day ? J. B. C. MURPHY.



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