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believing themselves absolved from all their sins, they have no remission nor absolution in the name of Jesus, as it should be, but only in the name of the holy Virgin, of the Apostles, or in the merits of the other saints. This is a sham absolution, an abomination to be shunned as the very devil himself. And yet, to increase this horror, people are forced to this practice, as if it were the most glorious service of God. The command of Christ is not thus; He says in our text, remission of sins shall be preached in the name of Jesus, and in none other. Not one of the saints died for our sins; what need then have we of their name to obtain remission of sins?
This doctrine we learn from the Gospel before us, that they who confess their sins and know that they are sinners shall obtain forgiveness in the name of Christ. This method of getting rid of our guilt seems very easy. To accomplish this it is not necessary to carry stones, to build churches, to read mass, but only to hear God's Word, and to praise Him when He has repentance preached unto us, confessing ourselves the guilty ones and then trusting implicitly in His mercy, relying fully upon the name of Jesus, in whom remission is preached. Where such faith exists, sin can do no harm; Jesus is, there with the power of His name, and that makes just. We are therefore secure, not because we have done no wrong, but because for Christ's sake we are accounted of God holy and justified. This we also confess in our Creed: I believe the forgiveness of sins. For such mercy we should be thankful to God, who has given us the Gospel and brought us into the kingdom of Christ; for this is
a kingdom of grace, in which all sins are remitted in the name of Jesus.
This doctrine of the remission of sins must be clearly understood and kept apart from that which concerns good works. We do not say that they who desire salvation shall not do good works; for this obligation has been imposed long ago in the law; but we do urge that such good works have nothing at all to do with the forgiveness of sins. Peter and Paul, and all the saints, may have been ever so upright in their daily walk, but this availed them nothing before God; they would not thereby have been justified; only their faith in Christ, that through His death they had forgiveness of sins and eternal life, availed them. We must do good works; but notwithstanding this we must believe the forgiveness of sins only in the name of Christ. Grant us this consummation, Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
(QUASIMODOGENITI.) John 20, 19–31. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted into them; nd whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, 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. 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. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto Him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book : but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name. 0 ur text recounts the same incident of which o mention is made in the previous sermon for Easter. It occurred after the return of the two disciples from Emmaus to Jerusalem, where they told their brethren that they had seen the Lord. In our text, however, we have a fuller account of this occurrence; for St. John differs in his descriptions from the other Evangelists in this, that he
not only narrates the incidents, but also adds the sayings, the words of Christ, which are indeed of chief importance. According to this his custom, he recounts in our text the words not found in the other Evangelists, which were spoken by the Lord after He had greeted His disciples and had shown them His hands and feet: “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
These are most precious words, by which Christ invests the disciples with the office of preaching, making arrangements for the application of the glorious results of His sufferings and resurrection. For if this great occurrence had not been preached in its various bearings, if it had remained a mere historical event, it would have been of no avail for us. This we learn from the condition of the Papists. They are acquainted with the event and its record as well as we, but they do not preach it as Christ directs; hence their mere historical knowledge of it benefits them no more than if it were the story of Dietrich of Bern, which one hears and learns; they have simply the recollection of the occurrence.
It is therefore absolutely necessary to make a proper use of the narrative of Christ's sufferings and resurrection.
How to do this we learn from the words of the Lord Himself when He says: “As my Father bath sent me, even so send I you." And how the Father sent Christ was described long ago by the prophet Isaiah in the 61. chapter, where it reads: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the
opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” With such instructions Christ was sent, and now declares that in no other way will He send His disciples. He entrusts to them the office of preaching, that it may remain in force even to the end of time, and He orders them to preach just as He preached while in the flesh. This command then, and this mission to preach, has reference only to the doctrine to be taught; the disciples are instructed to preach no other doctrine than that which Christ Himself proclaimed.
The character of this doctrine is clearly and beautifully expressed by the prophet Isaiah when he describes Christ as anointed, and sent to cheer the downcast and the timid, to comfort the brokenhearted. All other preaching is erroneous and surely not as Christ enjoined; it is Mosaic in its nature. Moses preached in such a style that the fearful, timorous hearts were yet more affrighted and became still more disconsolate; the preaching of Christ, however, aims to comfort the distressed. His teaching was new, as the works which He accomplished, the like of which the world had never witnessed before, were new, namely, that the Son of God suffered, died and arose again. Christ here fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah ; for thus we read in the words of our text: “He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
Here we have the right definition of the powers of the spiritual kingdom, which is as far removed from the nature of the governments of this world