Page images

disciples which are not written in the books of any of the Evangelists. But what we have were “written, that we might believe that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through His name.”

Seeing then that St. John's Gospel properly concludes with our Lord's answer to Thomas's confession, it is not surely fancy, if we connect this end of the Gospel with the beginning of it, and observe how St. John brings round his account of our Lord to the very point from which he began it. His Gospel opens with declaring who Christ was from the beginning; the Lord and Maker of all things. He then relates how the Lord of all things became flesh and dwelt among us; or, in the language of St. Paul, how He who was before in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man. Whilst He was on earth, His Divine nature was veiled from the eyes of His disciples, but now that He was risen to die no more, it was declared to them fully; and thus we find Thomas, immediately on being convinced that his Lord was truly risen, acknowledging Him to be his Lord and his God. So that St. John ends at that very point where the statement of Christ's nature made at the beginning of his Gospel was justified as it were by the event; he had told how Christ had come forth from His Father and was come into the world;


and he ends his Gospel with showing how He left the world and returned to His Father; and how His true nature was at last manifested and acknowledged.

His true nature manifested and acknowledged! Yes, in one sense certainly, acknowledged in all our forms of worship, repeated in our creeds from one end of the world to the other. But not so acknowledged as St. John meant, when he said, as we heard in the Epistle this morning, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?" If this and this only be in St. John's sense an acknowledgment of Christ's true nature, then I fear that He is not yet acknowledged; not fully acknowledged, but I hope acknowledged in part, and becoming acknowledged more and more. I do trust that your faith is not in vain, that you do many of you know what it is to gain a victory through faith over the world and over yourselves. I do trust that to many of you Christ is risen indeed. May He be more perfectly acknowledged by them and by us all.


April 2nd, 1837.



Acts, ii. 46, 47.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and

breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people.

It has always seemed to me one of the great advantages of the course of study generally pursued in our English schools, that it draws our minds so continually to dwell upon the past. Every day we are engaged in studying the languages, the history, and the thoughts of men who lived nearly or more than two thousand years ago; if we have to inquire about laws or customs, about works of art or science, they are the laws, customs, arts, and sciences, not of existing nations, but of those whose course has been long since ended. And the very difficulty which is often found in realizing the

things of which we read, the difficulty of representing to ourselves times so remote, and so unlike in many respects to our own, shows how much the mind requires such a discipline, and how naturally it rests contented with the scenes immediately around it. On the other hand, there are some who study the books which relate to past times very diligently, but who have no real understanding of the times themselves, because they do not know or understand their own. What they raise up to themselves being drawn wholly from books, is a dead and imperfect image; and when they would set up this image as a model by which to fashion the present state of things, the folly of the proceeding is almost ridiculous. Nay, of the two, he is a wiser man and a safer guide, who, knowing nothing of the past, has yet had a large experience of the present, and has observed it carefully, rather than the other, who is blind to the very world in which he lives, and therefore is perfectly incapable, with all his reading, of understanding a world in which he does not live.

Again, in studying the past as a guide for the present, it is of importance that we study it widely and fully. In this respect our classical reading, though not without its imperfections, is on the whole conducted wisely. That is to say, although we are led to study some periods of ancient history more than others, yet in the maiŋ we are led to an

acquaintance with all its periods, we study it in its beginning, middle, and end. Where this is not done, the knowledge gained will be often delusive; we see things taken just at the moment when they were going on well or ill, and we are shut out from that farther prospect which would have taught us how that seeming good was full of the seeds of centuries of after mischief; or how that seeming evil was but the short and cheap price paid for a long futurity of good. To study one single period of history, is to take a passage apart from its context, and thus to lose its real sense and purport. We cannot judge of what history has to teach us, if we only stop to listen to her for a short time, and go away before she has concluded her instruction.

These thoughts present themselves when we are led to consider that important subject, the study of Christian antiquity. Important it is, and indeed indispensable to a thorough understanding of the Church in its actual condition, of its good and of its evil. But it is not to be understood itself without a lively sense of what the Church is actually; so that from what we do know and see, the varieties of human character and their connexion with particular lines of opinion, we may be able to fill up and to comprehend the scanty information which the actual writings of the early Church can furnish, and image to ourselves truly the picture

« PreviousContinue »