THE PRESECE OF CHRIST I HIS CHURCH.

EDITED BY REV. HERY EWLAD,
St. John, xx. 21.
" Peace be unto you : as My Father hath sent J/e,
even so send I you"
THE Gospel of this day contains the fulfil
ment of the very singular, and, at the time
when it was first given, perfectly inexplicable
prophecy, which we find in the eighty-fourth
Psalm, that " Mercy and Truth are met toge
ther; and that Righteousness and Peace have
kissed each other." It was a prophecy
clearly, and it signified that, whenever it was
accomplished, God would have found a method
of reconciling two things, which to man must
have appeared absolutely irreconcilable the
truth of that God Who pronounced the sen
tence : " In the day that thou eatest thereof,
thou shalt surely die; and the Mercy of that
God, Who declared, " Whosesoever sins ye
remit, they are remitted unto them; the
236 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
righteousness, that is, the justice of God, pro
claiming that there is no peace for the wicked;
and the Voice of God, pronouncing on those
u who had sinned and come short of the glory
of God," " Peace be unto you."
And when He had said this, He showed
them the means by which these wonders had
been effected. a He showed them," says St.
John, " His Hands and His Side."
There is something of far more importance,
than at first meets the eye, in the words which
follow this revelation : " Then were the Apos
tles glad," we are told, u when they saw the
Lord." It signifies certainly the joy which men
feel when the friend, whom they imagined lost,
is restored to them ; but it signifies far more.
They were glad when their eyes were no longer
holden; they were glad when they saw, be
yond the possibility of doubt, Who their Lord
was, what was the real nature of His king
dom ; what, in good truth, was the Gospel, the
"glad tidings" which they had received, and
of which they were henceforth to be the
keepers and witnesses. All these privileges
had, no doubt, been already revealed to them ;
the principal object of the Lord s Ministry
here, on earth, was to prepare for their high
destiny those Stewards of His Mysteries, and
Ambassadors of His Royalty, whom He was
I HIS CHURCH. 237
about to place " on the Twelve Thrones, judg
ing the twelve tribes of His Spiritual Israel;"
but the Lord Himself, at the very time when
He revealed these things, told them plainly
that they could not understand them then,
but that they should understand them here
after.
That time was come; and the narrative,
which we have read in this day s Gospel, is
the first realisation of the promised Church,
the kingdom of Christ upon earth.
o doubt, when the Apostles called to mind
the Parable of the Householder, who, having
planted a vineyard, went into a far coun
try; of the man who, before setting out for a
far country, called his servants, and gave them
his goods to trade with; of the man distri
buting talents and departing, and on his
return, requiring his own with increase ; of the
man leaving his house, and taking a far jour
ney, and giving authority to his servants, and
to every man his work, and commanding the
porter to watch ; of the absent lord appointing
a faithful and wise steward as ruler over his
household, to give them their portion of meat
in due season ; and, lastly, of the master tak
ing account of his servants, and of the king
sitting on his throne of judgment, and first
forgiving debts, and afterwards, for subse-
238 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
quent offences recalling that forgiveness.
They must have had some faint idea of
Christ s kingdom on earth, something similar
to that which the prophets of old must have
had of their own prophecies at the time when
they delivered them, or which the early Israel
ites must have had when they pondered on
the hidden meaning of the types. They
must, at least, have understood that a fifth
kingdom was then about to commence, in
some respects similar to, and in some respects
different from the four which had preceded it ;
which kingdom, they must have known, from
the prophecies of Daniel, would " destroy and
break in pieces the kingdoms of the earth."
From the parables we have been just quoting,
they must have seen that its king would be
absent, though, in some mysterious manner,
still present; that he would still be exercising
his personal authority, though, at the same
time, in some way represented by others, who
were to distribute His meat, to work in His
vineyard, and to trade with His goods.
When, moreover, they remembered that it
had been distinctly announced to " the little
flock," " that it was their Father s good plea
sure to give the kingdom to them ;" and that,
to those who had followed the Lord, it had
been openly promised that, " in the regenera-
I HIS CHURCH. 239
*,
tion, they should sit on Twelve Thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel," they could
not but have seen that, whatever might have
been the nature of that kingdom, they them
selves were destined to play a prominent part
in it. But they did not see the meaning of their
Lord s announcement, that the u Kingdom of
God cometh not with observation ;" they ex
pected to see the process of its establishment ;
and, at the Resurrection, they were astonished
to find that it had already come, not only
without the observation of mankind in general,
but even without their own observation ; that
it was already established, that it had already
grown up within them, though they knew it
not.
In fact, it was during the four years ministry
of their Lord on earth that this kingdom had
been prepared; every particular concerning it
had been already laid down to those who were
to be the stewards of the absent Master, the
ministers of the Invisible King. But all this
had been done under a veil, as it were, which
veil the Resurrection at once removed ; so that
when, during these forty days, the Lord
"spoke to them of the things pertaining to
the kingdom of God," it was like light let in
upon a dark place; there was nothing new, it
was but a manifestation of that which was al-
240 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
ready in being, and they found that the Steward
of God had been long since instructed in the
mysteries of the kingdom, and the ambassador
of Christ fully informed of His Sovereign s
message, though, till the very moment of the
revelation, they had never understood the
treasures which had been committed to their
keeping.*
The Gospel of the day contains the revela
tion of two of those doctrines which had thus
been fully and completely laid down to the
Apostles, but which, till this moment, had
never been understood; they knew, for their
Lord had told them in so many words, that
" He must needs go away," that their Head
must be removed from their sight; but He
had told them also that " He would not leave
them comfortless," ( />0ai/ovs) but that u He
* This is the explanation of that type, once well known in
our own Church, and still common to every Church in
Christendom except ours the Easter Eggs. Travellers have
imagined them to be a type of the Resurrection, which took
place at Easter. This evidently is an error ; the chrysalis, and
the butterfly, is a type of the Resurrection ; not so the bird in
the egg, which never had enjoyed a previous state of existence.
Under cover of a shell, which had concealed it from the sight, it
had been formed, animated, gradually perfected in secret, till
that which had hitherto concealed it from sight having been
removed, the living being, young and tender perhaps, but per
fect also and complete in all its parts, is discovered already in
existence, an emblem of the Church at the Resurrection of its
Head.
I HIS CHURCH. 241
would come unto them ;" that, " though the
world would see Him no more, they would see
Him;" nay, more, that at some future time
they would know that He was then in the
Father and they in Him, and He in them ; that
absent as He was, and must be, He would
manifest Himself to them who kept His com
mandments, and, by keeping them, proved
that they loved Him; and, lastly, that "where
two or three were gathered together in His
ame, there was He in the midst of them ;"
not future, you observe, but present ; not that
He would be in the midst of them, but that,
from the fact of their being gathered in His
ame, He was in the midst of them already.
The solution of these seeming contradictions
was now given, and the doctrine revealed. It
is the doctrine of Christ s perpetual presence
in His Church.
That Church, a Church already, though they
knew it not, was assembled in the upper room
where the Sacrament of their Lord s Presence
had so lately been instituted it was met in
council, on the first and greatest of the Chris
tian doctrines, the Resurrection from the dead.
The doors are shut, as St. John expressly
notices, but the conditions are now fulfilled ;
the " two or three are gathered together in His
ame," and the absent Lord, according to His
242 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
promise, is in the midst of them. He did not
come, He was there already; " there I am in
the midst of you." u There standeth One
among you Whom ye know not," said the
Baptist, long before. This was a prophecy as
well as an announcement as if he would say,
there always standeth and here it was ful
filled; He stood among them. As St. Leo
remarks, " He began, in some inexplicable
manner, to be more present with them in His
Divine rmture when He had been farther re
moved from them in His human nature."
" When the affections of the disciples were
raised for the perception of Christ," says St.
Chrysostom, "He is desired, and He cometh;
and while they are seeking and expecting, He
is revealed, and offers Himself manifestly to
view." " Blessed are the servants whom the
Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching."
This, also, is now fulfilled, for His first words
are, " Peace be unto you ;" the very echo of
those words which He had so lately uttered as
a prophecy, "Peace I leave with you; My
peace I give unto you." There was no peace,
no actual peace at the time when He spoke
these words, at the time when He was going
away in order to prepare a place for them, for
the natural man is at enmity to God ; but be
fore He again appeared among them, He had
I HIS CHURCH. 243
already blotted out the handwriting of ordi
nances that was against them, and had taken
it away, nailing it to His Cross ; and now He
announces as a fact, that which before was a
prophecy and a promise u Peace be unto
you; peace on earth, good-will towards men."
" By this declaration of peace," says St. Chry-
sostom, " the Lord showed the efficacy of His
Cross, through which He has taken away all
sorrows, and bestowed all good gifts. And
this is peace."
But it was not only that this " peace of God
which passeth all understanding" was upon
those faithful servants who through much
tribulation had entered the kingdom of Hea
ven. It was upon them, but there was some
thing more ; they were now Christians, as they
were afterwards called. The Lord, according
to His promise, had "lift up His countenance
upon them, and had given them peace, and
had permitted them to put His ame upon
them, and had blessed them." (umb. vi.
27.) But there was another promise yet un
filled, and that is, " I give unto him My cove
nant of peace, that is, the power of transmitting
peace to others, and he shall have it, and his
seed after him, even the covenant of an ever
lasting Priesthood ;" (umb, xxviii. 12.) or, to
repeat it in our Lord s own words, " Into what-
244 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
soever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this
house ; and if the Son of peace be there, your
peace shall rest upon it, that is, the peace
which you have received the power of convey
ing." He, therefore, "breathed upon them."
He repeated the act, whereby, at the creation,
man had become a " living soul," in token that
though in that Adam they all died, yet in
Him they had all been made alive; and then
He says, "As My Father hath sent Me, even
so send I you; as I, sent by the Father, have
again breathed into your nostrils the breath of
new life, even so do ye breathe new life into
those to whom I send you."
They were now about to become the " peace
makers;" uprjvoTTwiot those whose office it was
to spread around that " peace which passeth
all understanding," and to beseech their
brethren, " be ye reconciled with God ;" and in
virtue of a promise of very long standing, as
long back as the Sermon on the Mount, they
had become entitled to see Him, and to see
Him u as He is," not man only, but God and
Man.
This was no new thing to them. At that
moment they must have called to mind the
words that they had heard before, " He that
receiveth you receiveth Me. It is not ye that
speak, but your Father which speaketh in
I HIS CHURCH. 245
you," and were prepared to receive the trea
sures of mercy which were then committed to
their keeping by the words of their com
mission, " Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are
remitted unto them ; and whosesoever sins ye
retain, they are retained."
either were these very words new to them,
though it may well be that their minds might
now have been for the first time opened to
receive their deep meaning. Before it was a
promise; the Lord had promised this power,
first to Peter, (Matt. xvi. 19.) "Whatsoever
thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in
Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on
earth shall be loosed in Heaven ;" and again
to the Apostles in general, as Bishops of His
Church, u If he neglect to hear the Church,
(which, when He spoke these words, was not
as yet visible) let him be to thee as a heathen
man and a publican. Verily I say unto you,
whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be
bound in Heaven ; and whatsoever ye shall
loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven."
ow the promise is performed, and the power
is given ; the ransom had been paid, the bond
of death had been broken, and immediately
the " gifts for men," which had been received,
were imparted ; life, and life-giving powers, were
breathed into the ambassadors of Christ, and
246 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
it is no longer u shall remit, and they shall be
remitted;" and "shall retain, and they shall be
retained;" but remit, and they are remitted;
retain, and they are retained. When Job
asked, u Who can bring a clean thing out of
an unclean? not one," he spoke the truth.
When the Scribes asked, u Who can forgive
sins but God only?" they were right; but a
change had come over the world since those
times, for the Lord, as man, had triumphed.
He that liveth, and was dead, and is alive for
evermore, had obtained the keys of hell and
of death ; He had gone and received for Him
self a kingdom ; in another sense than that in
which the Prophet Daniel had used the words,
the kingdom of the earth had become the
Lord s, and now He was giving it to whom
soever He willed. " The Apostles did then,"
says St. Chrysostom, "receive some power
of spiritual grace, not for raising the dead and
working miracles, (that had been given before,)
but for forgiving sins ; for the gifts of the Spirit
are manifold ; therefore He adds, having
breathed upon them, Whosesoever sins ye
remit, they are remitted/
This is the Spiritual Life which the Lord
God, through the mediation of Christ, has
breathed into His Church. God, born of
a woman, had overcome the world, and, in
I HIS CHURCH. 247
Him, whatever, is born of God, overcometh
the world.
Man had never yet possessed the power of
overcoming the world until this moment
when it was given to him; but from hence
forth, the man who is in Christ, says St. Paul,
(2 Cor. v. 17,) is a new creation: old things
are passed; behold, all things are become
new; and behold, all things are of God;
nothing of ourselves; for, says St. Chrysos-
tom, remission of sins, and unspeakable glory,
are given us by Him. Behold, a new soul,
(for it was cleansed,) and a new body, and a
new worship, and promises new, and covenant,
and life, and table, and dress, and all things
new absolutely. For, instead of the Jerusa-
salem below, we have received that mother
city, (the Church,) which is above; instead
of a material temple, we have a spiritual
temple; instead of tables of stone, fleshly
tables of the heart; instead of circumcision,
baptism; instead of the manna, the Lord s
Body; instead of water from the rock,
Blood from His Side ; instead of Aaron s rod
that budded, the cross, and the fruits of the
cross; instead of the Promised Land, the
kingdom of Heaven; instead of a thousand
priests, one High Priest; instead of a Lamb
without reason, a Spiritual Lamb. With
248 THE PRESECE OF CHRIST
these, and such like things in his thoughts,
the apostle says, " All things are new. But
all these things are of God by Christ, and His
free gift," "Wherefore also/ he added,
" Who has reconciled us to Himself by Christ
Jesus, and hath given to us, [that is, us, His
ambassadors, us, the stewards of His myste
ries,] the ministry of reconciliation, and hath
committed to us the word of reconciliation."
And the word of reconciliation is that which
we shall find in this day s Epistle, that God
has given to us eternal life, and that he that
hath the Son, hath life. ow now that this
is revealed, we, to whom this power is given
as ambassadors of Christ, " as though God
did beseech you by us," " pray you in
Christ s stead," that is, as Christ used to pray
you, when He was on earth, to do it in per
son, as He would do it in person were He
now on earth, " be ye reconciled to God."
" ot by His Son only doth He beseech
you," says St. Chrysostom, " but by us who
have succeeded to the office of His Son.
Think not, therefore, that by us you are
entreated; Christ Himself, the Father Him
self, beseeches you by us. We had no power
to beseech you before the keys had been com
mitted to our keeping; it would have been
useless to do so before it had been revealed
I HIS CHURCH. 249
that you were members of Christ, children of
God, and inheritors of the kingdom of Hea
ven; but now we, who are commissioned to
speak, speak to you who are born of God,
and we call upon you to overcome the world,
as the Captain of your salvation overcame it.
We call upon you for no more than you are
able to perform; for whatsoever is born of
God, overcometh the world ; and you are born
of God. We show you the means of over
coming it, the armour on the right hand and
on the left; for this is the victory which over
cometh the world, even our faith; and you
have faith. And since, when we call upon
you to do this, we know that it is hard to
flesh and blood to perform it, we point to the
reward, we declare that to him that overcom
eth, the great Captain of his salvation will
grant to sit down with Him in His throne,
even as He overcame, and is set down with
His Father in His throne. And when we
declare this, we call upon all who have ears
to hear, for we announce to them that this is
what the Spirit says to the Churches."
1. 68 FREE BOOKS
http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITIGS
http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful