« السابقةمتابعة »
plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless, let us go unto him." It is at this crisis, when the apostles seem to be hesitating between the sense of imminent danger, and the feeling of duty to their Master, the one holding them back, and the other urging them forward, that Thomas advances, faithful, bold, and with a mind made up to abide by Jesus at all hazards, and says unto his fellow disciples, “ Let us also go, that we may die with him.” His intrepidity in this case had its effect, no doubt, on his brethren; for they all went to Bethany, the village of Lazarus, which was only about two miles from Jerusalem, and the result was one of the most remarkable and important miracles of our Lord; which was soon followed indeed, as the disciples had feared, and as he had foreseen, by his own violent death.
Thomas is again introduced as one of the speakers on the night of the last supper. As Jesus was discoursing to his disciples, endeavouring to prepare them for his approaching departure, and to lead them to the sublime and consoling truths of immortality, he said to them, “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." Thomas, who, no more than the rest, could be:
lieve, that the Messiah was to die, and to be taken from the world, before he had achieved his expected glories, and the deliverance of Israel, said to him,
Lord, we know not whither thou goest ; and how can we know the way?” His thoughts had not accompanied his Master's thoughts; they were yet on the earth, groping about there after a destination and a path, though Jesus was pointing so plainly to the mansions of another world, and the true and spiritual way which led to them. And it was immediately afterwards that Philip, too, uttered those words of ignorance, which we have just now considered, and which show how much that light was needed, which was soon to break in upon them all.
Once more we hear of Thomas, in a manner which marks his character with some strong lines, and particularly distinguishes his life. On the evening of the resurrection, our Saviour came and stood in the midst of the disciples, and showed them the wounds in his hands and side, and satisfied them that he was indeed risen from the dead. But Thomas was not then with them, and when they told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied, that unless he not only should see those wounds, but be allowed also to touch them and put his hand in them, he would not believe.
There is a boldness and even obstinacy in this resolution, which at first is apt to offend us; but on reflection we may find that it was neither harsh nor unreasonable. He could not have refused his belief as he did, through a want of respect or affection for his Master; because he had but a short time before expressed his readiness to die with him. Neither did he hold in too slight regard the testimony of his brethren, considering the circumstances; for it was no common matter to which they testified; in almost any other case he would have believed their report, or the report of a gle ne of their number, but now, the event which they related was too marvellous in itself, and too momentous in its consequences, to be received on the witness of men who might not wish to deceive, but who nevertheless might themselves be deceived or mistaken; and he would trust to nothing but his own senses to bring him decisive evidence of an occurrence on which the direction of his whole future life depended.
He thought too, no doubt, that he ought to be satisfied of this wonderful fact as well as the rest of the disciples, and in the same way; and he was unquestionably right in so thinking. If he was hereafter to journey through the world,
teaching and asserting, with all his powers, and in the face of every peril, the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, it was needful that he should possess a deep conviction of the reality of that event, such a conviction as, in the capacity of a companion, friend, pupil, and apostle of Jesus, he ought to have, and such a conviction as the world would surely require of him. The miracle had just occurred, as his brethren told him; if so, why should not he, standing in the same situation as they did, and to whom its truth was as important as to them, why should not he have the saine evidence as they did; nay, why should he not have more? Why should he not, not only on his own account, but as their representative, demand the opportunity of clearing away every shadow of doubt which might rest on so splendid a truth, both by seeing his risen Lord as they had, and touching him with his hands as they had not ?
If we regard the incredulity of Thomas in this light, we shall see nothing improper in it, and shall be disposed to grant, that it was no greater than, in his situation, was natural and justifiable. In this conclusion we are countenanced by the conduct of our Saviour himself, who neither refuses to show himself to his doubting disciple,
nor manifests any displeasure at his freedom or his unbelief; for the narration of the occurrence is thus continued by St. John : “ And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 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." Startled, doubtless, by the sudden appearance of his Master, and affected too by the kind and assuring manner in which he is bid to satisfy his doubts completely, Thomas broke out into the exclamation of wonder and acknowledgment, “ My Lord and my God!” His doubts were entirely overcome, his faith was now as ardent and lively as before his distrust had been cold; and his testimony to the reality of the resurrection is perhaps more valuable than any other single testimony, because it was rendered under such peculiar circumstances, and by one so honest and so sturdy in avowing his scruples, and so candid in resigning them. “ By touching, in Christ," says one of the fathers, “ the wounds of the flesh, he has healed, in us, the wounds of unbelief."