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The exclamation of Thomas, quoted above, has held so conspicuous a place, and been so often brought forward in theological controversy, that I must necessarily dwell for a moment on the consideration of its import. By many, though by no means by all of those who hold the doctrine of the perfect equality of the Son with the Father, it has been adduced as a Scripture proof of that equality; as an acknowledgment by the apostle of the godhead and supreme divinity of Jesus Christ. To this interpretation of the passage, there seem to me to be insurmountable objections. In the first place, the question of the Deity of Christ has no concern with the event. not to be satisfied of the Deity, but of the resurrection of his Master, that Thomas required his appearance; and it was to convince him of that resurrection, that his Master condescended to
Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Believe what? What the disciples had just told him, certainly, that they had seen the Lord, that he was truly alive, not that he was truly God. Secondly, it is difficult to conceive how the appearance of Jesus in a human form, just as he had always appeared
appear to him.
before, and with bodily wounds, just as he had been taken from the cross, that is, as a man in all respects, could have convinced his disciple, and that disciple a Jew, that he was the eternal God. The miracle of the resurrection itself could not have had this effect, because Thomas had often witnessed the miracles of his Master, without once confessing that he was God; and no other evidence was at this time offered. Thirdly, if Jesus was on this occasion acknowledged to be God, it might be expected that the writer of the narrative should take some notice of the circumstance; but what are his words, immediately after relating this event? “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;" not God himself. Fourthly, the exclamation itself is abrupt, and without any connexion to determine precisely its meaning. It might not have been addressed to Jesus at all, but to God alone; or the first appellation might have been addressed to him, and the second to Heaven; it was an exclamation, in short, of wonder, of extatic wonder, of extatic gratitude, and just such a one as any of us would be likely to utter on witnessing a similar marvel; such, for instance as the resurrection of a dear friend from the grave. Fifthly, if the whole exclamation was
really addressed to Jesus, the term God might well have been applied, according to known Jewish usage, and in its lower sense, to one who now had manifested undeniably that he was the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, and the King of Israel. Lastly, the answer of Jesus himself excludes the supposition that he was addressed as the Supreme God. For he said unto his disciple, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Now this must mean,
“Because thou hast seen me here alive, after my crucifixion and burial, thou hast believed that I am raised from the dead; and it is well; but blessed are they who cannot have such evidence of the senses, and yet shall believe in the glorious truth, from your evidence, and that of your brethren." He could not have meant, that they were blessed, who, though they had not seen him, yet had believed that he was God; because there is no connexion between the propositions; because the fact of the resurrection of Jesus cannot, to the mind of any one, be of itself a proof of his Deity; and, because no one thinks of requiring to see God, in order to believe that he exists. In conclusion, it must be remembered, that these considerations are so obvious, that they
have been fully adopted by some of those who still have professed their belief, founded on other evidence, of the Deity of Christ,
It cannot be doubted that the decided and resolute character of Thomas, fitted him eminently for his apostolic duties. But the accounts which we have of his life and works after the ascension of his Master, though sufficiently copious, are too contradictory to claim our entire confidence. Some general facts, however, seem to be well established, and they are of an exceedingly interesting character. There is no good reason to doubt, that this apostle penetrated as far into the East with his heavenly mission, as to the Coromandel and Malabar Coasts of Indostan, and even to Taprobane, or Ceylon, visiting and preaching in other countries by the way. those coasts he made a great number of converts, the descendants of whom, still professing Christianity, exist in that part of India at the present day, and are called the St. Thomas Christians, according to the testimony of Dr. Buchanan, Bishop Heber, and other enlightened travellers. This is a remarkable confirmation of the general statements of early ecclesiastical writers; and is a proof that we may receive many of their principal facts, without relying on their minute details
or marvellous legends. These Christians of St. Thomas were known to the western world in early times, but appear to have been lost sight of afterwards, till they were again discovered by navigators at the commencement of the sixteenth century. The see of Rome endeavoured to bring them under its subjection, but with only partial
A part of them are now Roman Catholics, but the majority form a church entirely independent of the church of Rome. They possess the New Testament in the Syriac language.
The martyrdom of Thomas is stated to have taken place at Malipur or Meliapor, on the Coromandel coast, not far from the present city of Madras, where he had converted the king of the country, and many of his subjects, and had built a church.
The Brahmins were enraged at his success, and by one of them he was run through the body with a lance, while he was kneeling at his devotions before a tomb. He was buried in the church which he had built; but his bones are said to have been afterwards translated to Edessa in Mesopotamia.
The following narrative by Bishop Heber, touching these events in the life of St. Thomas, is taken from his Journal in India; vol. iii. pages 212-214.