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cularly to this doubting disciple: Thomas, said he, since thou wilt not be contented to rely on the testimony of others, but must be convinced by the experience of thy own senses, behold the wounds in my hands, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side, and doubt no longer of the reality of my resurrection from the tomb.
The incredulous disciple immediately obeyed the kind invitation of his Master; and being fully satisfied according to his own desire, he cried out, I am abundantly convinced thou art indeed my Lord, the very same that was crucified; and I acknowledge thy almighty power, in having triumphed over death, and worship thee as my God and Saviour.
The blessed Jesus replied, Because thou hast both seen and felt me, Thomas, thou hast believed that I am really risen from the dead. Blessed are they who without such evidence of the senses, shall, upon credible testimony, be willing to believe and embrace a doctrine, which tends so greatly to the glory of God, and the salvation of mankind.
The blessed JEsus appeared, according to St. John, on several other occasions to his disciples after his resurrection; and by many infallible proofs, not mentioned by the evangelists, fully convinced them, that he was alive after his passion: but that those which are mentioned, are abundantly sufficient to induce men to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, the great Messiah so often foretold by the ancient prophets; and that by means of that belief, they may ob. tain everlasting life, in the happy regions of the heavenly Canaan, and there adore and praise him for
Jesus having first by the angels, and afterwards in person, ordered his disciples to repair to their respective habitations in Galilee, it is reasonable to think they would leave Jerusalem as soon as possible. This they accordingly did, and on their arrival at their respective places of abode, applied themselves to their usual occupations; and the apostles returned to their old trade of fishing on the lake of Tiberius. Here they were toiling with their nets very early in the morning, and saw Jesus standing on the shore, but did not then know him to be their Naster, as it was something dark, and they at a considerable distance from him. He, however, called to them, and asked if they had taken any fish; to which they answered, they had caught nothing: he then desired them to let down their nets on the right side of the boat, and they should not be disappointed. The disciples imagining that he might be acquainted with the places proper for fishing, did as he had directed them, and enclosed in their net so vast a multitude of fishes, that they were not able to draw it into the boat, but were forced to drag it after them in the water towards the land.
They had toiled, it seems, all the preceding night to no purpose; and therefore such remarkable success could not fail of causing various conjectures amongst them, with regard to a stranger on the shore, who had given them such happy advice. Some of the disciples declared they could not imagine who he was; but others were persuaded, that this person was no other than their great and beloved Master. John was fully convinced of his being the Lord, and accordingly told his thoughts to Simon Peter; who making no doubt of it, girt on his fisher's coat, and leaped into the sea, in order to get ashore sooner than the boat could be brought to land, dragging after it a net full of such large fishes as were almost ready to sink it.
The disciples, when they came ashore, found a fire kindled, and on it a fish broiling, and near it some bread: but neither being sufficient for the company, Jesus bid them bring some of the fish they had now caught, and invited them to eat with him.' Thus did
the blessed JEsus prove again to his disciples the reality of his resurrection, not only by eating with them, but by working a miracle, like that which, at the beginning of his ministry, had made such an impression upon them, as disposed them to be his constant followers. This was the third time that Jesus appeared putlicly to a great number of his disciples in a body, besides his shewing himself to particular persons, upon special occasions and at divers times.
After they had eaten, Jesus reminded Peter how diligent, and zealous he ought to be, in order to wipe off the stain of his denying him, when he was carried before the high-priest: Simon, son of Jonas, said our blessed Saviour to him, art thou more zealous and affectionate in thy love towards me than the rest of my disciples ? To which Peter answered, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He was taught modesty and diffidence by his late fall; and therefore, would not compare himself with others, but humbly appealed to his Master's omniscience for the sincerity of his
regard to him. Jesus answered, Express then thy love towards me by the care of my flock committed to thy charge: Feed my lambs, feed my sheep. I well know indeed, continued the blessed Jesus, that thou wilt continue my faithful shepherd even until death: for the time will come, when thou, who now girdest on thy fishers' coat voluntarily, and stretchest out thy hands to come to me, shalt in thine old age be girt by others, and forced to stretch out thy hands against thy will, in a very different manner, for the sake of thy constant profession of my religion.
Jesus, by these last words, signified the manner of Peter's death, and that he should finally suffer martyrdom for the glory of God, and the testimony of the truth of the Christian religion, which he had been instrumental in propagating to the world.
The disciples being now about to meet their great
Lord and Master, according to the message he had sent them by the women, and having, in all probability, appointed this meeting at some former appearance, not mentioned by the evangelists, the brethren set out for the mountain in Galilee, perhaps that on which he was transfigured. Here five hundred of them were gathered together, waiting the joyful sight of their great master, after he had triumphed over death and the grave; some of them not having yet seen him after his resurrection from the dead.
The disciples did not wait long before Jesus appeared, on which they were seized with rapture; and with hearts overflowing with gladness, they approached their kind, their benevolent Master, and worshipped him. Some few, indeed, doubted, it being a thing agreeable to nature for men to be afraid to believe what they vehemently wish, lest they should indulge themselves in false joys, which vanish like the morning cloud. But Jesus afterwards appeared frequently to them, and gave
all of them full satisfaction, and instructed them in many things relating to their preaching the gospel, establishing the church, and spreading it through the known world.
Our blessed Saviour, either at his appearance on the mountain, or some subsequent appearance, not mentioned by the evangelists, probably ordered them to return to Jerusalem, as he proposed to ascend visibly into heaven from the top of the mount of Olives,
Jesus ascends into Heaven : The principal Arguments
of the Deists against our blessed Saviour's Resurrection considered and refuted: Reflections on the
Life and Doctrine of our great Redeemer. ABOUT twelve days before the feast of Pentecost, called in the law the feast of weeks, and nearly forty days after our blessed Saviour arose from the dead, the disciples repaired to Jerusalem, probably in conformity to a command given them by their great Master at one of his appearances; unless we suppose they went up to that city, in order to purify and prepare themselves for the solemnity now approaching.
However that may be, the blessed Jesus made his last appearance here to his apostles: and, after instruct.. ing them in many particulars concerning the kingdom of God, and the manner they were to behave themselves in propagating the doctrine of the gospel, he put them in mind that, during his abode with them in Galilee, he had often told them, that'all things written in the law, the prophets, and the Psalms concerning him, were to be exactly accomplished. At the same time, he opened their understandings, that is, he removed their prejudices by the operation of his spirit, cleared their doubts, improved their memories, strengthened their judgments, and enabled them to discern the true meaning of the Scriptures respecting his divine mission.
Being thus qualified by him for receiving the truth, he again assured them both that Moses and the prophets had foretold that the Messiah was to suffer in the very manner he had suffered, that he was to rise frora the dead on the third day, as he had done, and that repentance and remission of sins was to be preached in the Mes