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we were firm in this belief no misfortune could disturb us; for amid all suffering which may fall to our lot, we know that Christ liveth and that we shall live with Him. Why should the fact of our earthly sufferings distress us, when we are sure of eternal happiness in Christ; or why should we entertain enmity toward those who abuse us? We ought rather to pity them, since by their hatred and envy toward us they clearly show that they are not of this brotherhood and can have no part in the eternal inheritance. What good will their earthly possessions do them, their influence, their money, their goods and renown, which they only misuse unto sin and everlasting condemnation ?
If, therefore, we dearly loved this brotherhood in Christ, we would not be so eager after temporal things, but would care more for the eternal heritage which is secured to us in this brotherhood. St. Paul speaks very pertinently of this when, dwelling upon the resurrection of Christ, he says, Colossians 3. chapter: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections' on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” If we wish in truth to lay claim to this brotherhood ard to boast that we are children of God, we must also strive to do our Father's will and to be obedient children. We must, as St. Paul says, “mortily our members which are upon earth,” that is, we must restrain our evil desires and avoid evil deeds, and “put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one
another, and forgiving one another,” &c. We see, then, why sanctification was mentioned as a part of the heritage in Christ; it must surely follow, in faith and in life, as St. Paul also explains 1 Cor. 5: “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us : therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” And again : “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” These words may seem strange, but they entirely correspond with the words of St. Paul which we have considered, that "Christ was made unto us righteousness and sanctification.” If we believe that Christ paid for our sins, we have through such faith forgiveness of our sins and are justified, or as St. Paul calls it, "freed from the old leaven.” Nevertheless, our flesh and blood is not totally mortified, but full of the old leaven and evil Justs; these we ought to purge out and mortify, cherishing them no more, but strive after sanctification. To this end Christ gives us His Holy Spirit, that we may resist sin and do the will of God.
From this you observe, my beloved, what effects the resurrection of Christ should have in us, namely, the banishing of our fear, the recognition of Christ as our Brother, and the joyful acceptance of the heritage which He has prepared for us.
We ought also so to conduct ourselves that we may not, as undutiful children, lose this inheritance through our disobedience. In this manner will we rightly enjoy the glorious results of the resurrection and properly celebrate Easter.
Where this is not done, where people remain in sin and disobedience, or are too timid to lay hold upon this consolation in their woes and tribulations, there surely this resurrection and glorious heritage will be of no avail.
May God grant us His Holy Spirit, through Christ Jesus, that our hearts may be cheered by this resurrection, that our faith and confidence and hope therein may increase from day to day, and that through it we may finally be saved. Amen.
LUKE 24, 36–47. And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He saith unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts ? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and sie; for a spirit hath not fiesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a boneycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them. And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and saith unto them, Thus ii is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
he incidents of our text also occurred on SA Easter, when the two disciples had returned from Emmaus to Jerusalem, and had narrated to the others what had happened to them and told them that they had seen the Lord. They are in fact the same which John relates, and which form the text for next Sunday, making no mention, however, of Thomas and his experience, which occurred eight days later and is presented to our consideration by the lesson of the following Sunday. Our text, which contains much important matter, might be considered under various heads, but inasmuch as we have already dwelt upon the resurrection itself, we will now confine our discourse to two main
points presented by our lesson. First we notice the fact that the disciples, when Christ, the doors being locked, unexpectedly appeared before them, were terrified and supposed they saw a spirit.
From this we learn that the appearance of spirits is nothing new. The Lord Himself does not deny the possibility of such manifestaticns, but rather confirms the belief in them when He points out the difference between Himself and spirits. He says: “Why are ye troubled ? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones.”
From this we learn the important and salutary lesson that we are very much mistaken, when we think ourselves alone and the devil hundreds of miles removed from us. He is constantly about us, and sometimes assumes strange masks. I myself have seen him in the form of a pig, of a bundle of burning straw, and in similar disguises. One must know this, lest we become superstitious and think that the spirits which appear are the souls of dead men, as it has been formerly customary to believe. This superstitious belief has been of great advantage to the popish mass and has given it greater importance. Whenever the devil appeared, or made himself heard, people thought that the spirits of the dead were manifesting themselves, as is clearly seen from the writings of popish authors, and even from those of Gregory and other ancient teachers, who regarded such appearances not as spooks of the devil, but as manifestations of the spirits of the dead, even of those who died in faith. We all know, alas, but too well what deplorable, horrible errors and superstitions resulted from this fancy.