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glory. Jesus met with them, and by his gracious presence and the communications of his grace, made their hearts to glow within them with holy joy.
5. Let us all seek that we may be the living temples of the Spirit of Christ. In all his people Christ dwells by his Spirit, promoting in them the work of grace, till they are matured for heavenly glory. Their bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, and by his residence within them, a greater glory is conferred on them, than if they were allied with monarchs, and crowned with an earthly diadem. They are honoured as the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty,—the heirs of celestial glory. And yet great as it is, this honour have all his saints. Let us earnestly seek that it may be ours. And for our encouragement, let us remember, and plead his own promise:-“ Thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
CHRIST'S RECOGNITION OF HIS DISCIPLES AS HIS
By the REV. JAMES C. EWING, PARTICK.
JOHN xx. 17.
“ Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my
Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your
In our conversational intercourse with others, in the advices and instructions we may address to them, practical wisdom is shown, not only in what is said, but in the time, manner, and circumstances, in which it is said. The words of the wise are not only words well tried, they are also words well-timed. Half their effect, and often more, depends on their being spoken in season, suited to the circumstances in which they are uttered, adapted to the tempers and characters of those to whom they are addressed, good for the present need. It is then that they become as goads and as nails fastened in a sure place. On the other hand, those things which at once evince the foolishness of the speaker, and leave no doubt of it on the minds of the hearers, are usually not so much stark nonsense or absolute folly, as remarks that are ill-timed, inappropriate, and unseasonable, “ As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart." The songs may be pure
and praiseworthy in sentiment and expression; they may often have in times past innocently and agreeably amused an idle hour, or ministered to the cheerfulness of a mind at ease; but when thus sung to a heavy heart, they are a mockery of wo that manifests either the senselessness, or the want of feeling of those, who with such unseasonable impertinence intrude on the sacredness of sorrow. This attention to time and circumstances, to the general character, and present state of feeling of those who are addressed, is especially necessary in imparting such religious instruction as goes beyond the mere general statement of abstract doctrine, as includes a pointed and personal application of truth,-in imparting comfort, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. He will usually be most acceptable and most efficient in the discharge of such duty, who most quickly and clearly discerns the peculiarities of character and temper of those whom he is called to address, who most readily and exactly adapts himself to their state of mind and temper of feeling, and who in the selection of truth, and in the manner of urging it upon them, has a wise regard to the exigencies of their real condition.
In this as in every other point of excellence in religious teaching, our Saviour showed a perfection of wisdom that leaves human imitation at an immeasurable distance behind. In inspired prophecy he is introduced as saying, Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” And in perusing the narrative of the Evangelists, at every new scene of his life, we have presented to us fresh evidence of the fulfilment of this prediction, and have occasion to admire the seasonableness and the adaptation of his instructions to the necessities and to the character of his hearers.
This feature of excellence in the Saviour's conversations and instructions, is eminently displayed in his treatment of
his Apostles. The mixture of sincerity and weakness, of ignorance and honesty, of affection and hasty zeal, of piety and prejudice which their character displayed, was calculated to be eminently trying to their religious instructor and guide. Their limited knowledge, their confused ideas of the character of the Messias' kingdom, their honest but often misguided zeal, the tenacity of their educational prejudices, their jealousies of each other, their inconstancy and flightiness of character and feeling, all required the treatment of a skilful, a firm, and yet a gentle hand. And we cannot but admire the unembarassed accuracy and ease with which the Saviour applied his counsels to their necessities, with which he knew when and how to support their weakness, to correct their prejudices, to check and guide their zeal, to dissipate the illusions that had taken possession of their minds, and to speak a word in season to their weary souls. All exhibited the perfection of skill, tenderness, and affection.
This express and admirable adaptation of all he did and said to the character, spiritual necessities and state of feeling of his disciples, was strikingly evinced after he rose from the dead. The state of mind and feeling in which the disciples were, at, and immediately after, the time of the Saviour's Resurrection, was perhaps more peculiar than at any former period. It included a more anomalous mixture of incongruous elenients and conflicting feelings; it was more unintelligible to themselves ; it was one which it was more difficult exactly to define, or clearly to describe; and yet the very singularity of their state of mind and feeling, only afforded occasion for displaying more strikingly, how exactly Christ could adapt himself to the state of any mind, however peculiar or anomalous, of evincing that he knew what was in man, even when man knew it not himself, and that he could speak to the heart. Every thing he did and said was felt by his disciples to be well-timed, powerful, and appropriate. Nothing missed its aim, or failed of its effect. In every message he transmitted to them—in every expression that dropped from his lips, they felt the skilful and tender band of the Physician of souls, probing and yet soothing their bleeding hearts.
Perhaps it may be thought that considering the recent conduct of the disciples during their Lord's apprehension, trial, crucifixion, and death, after his Resurrection their case both demanded and deserved pointed and severe reproof. Yet, in all that fell from Jesus after his Resurrection, there was little that bore the aspect of direct reproof. We mean not certainly to extenuate the guilt and unworthiness of their conduct: yet the course Christ pursued tended as powerfully and as usefully to call their sins to remembrance as any other could have done. And perhaps the endearing appellations, the affectionateness of manner and of language, the comfort and encouragement with which be addressed them, would humble them more in their own eyes, would more touch and melt their hearts, than if he bad assailed them with the most cutting reproaches for their weakness and ingratitude. Like the father's expressions of kindness to the returning prodigal in the parable, they would only call up a deeper sense of their own unwortbiness.
Our text contains one of those messages of comfort and encouragement which our Saviour transmitted to the apostles, ere he appeared to the twelve. His object in it is twofold: to assure them that he still recognized them as his brethren, which he does directly, by calling them such, and indirectly, by speaking of God the Father, as their father as well as his ; and to announce to them his approaching ascension. These two points afford the natural division of our subject, and are the two sources of that comfort and encouragement which he sought to bring before the view of their minds.
Before proceeding to the illustration of these two points, we may briefly advert to the language with which he introduces this message, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended