When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted.
I. THERE MUST BE MUCH MYSTERY IN RELIGION. It reaches out beyond our everyday experience, and deals with things of God and the unseen world, and therefore we should be prepared to see the clouds gathering over many of its difficult regions. If we look for a mathematical demonstration or a scientific verification of the facts and doctrines of our faith, we shall often be disappointed. At present, in this world of partial lights, such things are not always to be had on demand. Religion belongs to the region of practical life. If we have enough evidence for a reasonable conviction, this is all that we really need. Absolute freedom from all questions we cannot have; nor do we need it; we are disciplined by our mental difficulties.
II. THERE ARE DIFFICULTIES WHICH OUR OWN IGNORANCE WILL ACCOUNT FOR. We do not know why "some doubted." Was our Lord's appearance greatly altered? We cannot for a moment imagine that some one else was personating the dead Christ. The very fact that some who saw him doubted about him shows that even the more sceptical Christians did see the risen Christ. But how mysterious are these vague Hints! They just show that we have not yet full light. In the twilight there are many obscurities.
III. IT IS OUR DUTY TO EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION. Too often doubt feeds on itself. Some people devour sceptical books, but they have not patience to examine the other side. They give a large welcome to doubts of all kinds, thinking his conduct fair and generous and liberal-minded; but they are very grudging of receiving what is urged in favour of Christian truth. Then there are those who are too careless to think at all seriously. They catch the floating doubts and play with them indolently - no more. Others are earnest in the pursuit of truth. These people would to well to consider the cumulative evidence for the resurrection of Christ.
1. There is the alternative - What became of his body if he did not rise?
2. How could men who had despaired suddenly wake up to a great confidence if no resurrection had occurred to revive their faith?
3. If one or two hysterical fanatics might have fancied they had seen a flitting ghost in the twilight, is that a reason for believing that a dozen men could have had a similar hallucination - not to mention the five hundred to whom St. Paul refers - many of whom he knew to be alive in his own day? St. Paul's undoubted Epistle to the Corinthians sums up the evidence with great force.
IV. FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION IS LARGELY DEPENDENT ON OUR IDEA OF CHRIST. This is not merely a question of an historical fact. The resurrection of Christ is not to be compared with the fabled resurrection of Nero. We have first to learn who Christ was. The unique nature of Christ, seen in his earthly life, prepares us to believe in his resurrection. It is not merely a resurrection; it is the resurrection of Christ that we are to see, as the crowning of his wonderful life on earth. - W.F.A.
But some doubted.I. PHILOSOPHIC doubts. All men are not philosophers, and cannot reason as Descartes did from self to all outside. We must accept some axioms without proof.
II. RATIONALISTIC doubts. The withholding faith in spite of evidence. They mistake the use of reason in matters of faith. Men act upon three propositions in determining what is right.
1. That is right which we think to be right.
2. There is no telling what right is.
3. That there is a final arbiter.The objections of the rationalists are based on foregone conclusions.
1. It is declared a priori that the Infinite cannot be a person.
2. That nature is uniform. These are urged against the Bible. But miracles have been wrought. Will a man stand on the wharf as the steamboat is departing and declare that steam is an absurdity?
III. SPIRITUAL doubts. Such are pestered with fears of a different kind.
1. They believe that death is a crisis.
2. That the soul is guilty. Are we pardoned?
3. Some are troubled by the doctrine of election.
(F. L. Patton, D. D.)1. There is a sense in which Christianity is accountable for the doubts with which it is often assailed. It fosters the spirit of thoughtfulness, inquiry, of mental activity. There are bodily states — of liver and stomach — that may contribute to affect us with temporary gloom of doubt. There are states of the social atmosphere that may contribute to affect us in the same way; when the general air is charged with doubt, we can hardly help being affected by it. Some doubts are the sign of mental quickening. But we must be careful to distinguish these from those resulting from moral deterioration and decline. What used to be a beautiful certainty has paled away in the mist, not, though, under research, but through too much business care; it has come upon him like a change of weather in the night. Sometimes, again, it is a deeper understanding, or a more vivid perception of one particular link, that renders us doubtful in relation to other things. We must be careful in yielding too readily to the apparent inevitable destructiveness of a truth that has burst upon us with new and fascinating power. The contradiction may be a temporary illusion. Again, men often come to doubt what they have ceased to require so urgently as they did; wanting it less, they believe it less.
(S. A. Tipple.)I. FROM WHENCE ARISE THOSE DOUBTS AND FEARS SO DISTRESSING TO MANY? Many fruitful sources from whence they spring.
1. Sin is often the cause. Inward foes, etc.
2. Carelessness will often lead to uncertainty and doubt.
3. Disobedience, neglected duty, etc.
4. Worldliness necessarily produces them.
5. Seasons of temptation are often seasons of doubt. "Satan worries whom he cannot devour with a malicious joy."
6. Ignorance is perhaps the most fruitful source. Ignorance of what is written was evidently the cause of doubt here. How many appear not to understand (Psalm 103:12; Romans 8:1; John 10:28, etc.). Salvation is a present certain reality (Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:14). It may be ignorance as to the work of the Holy Spirit. Losing sight of Christ, many become taken up with feelings and self.
II. THEIR BANEFUL INFLUENCE. They by no means prove a state of high spirituality.
1. Doubts dishonour God; rob Him of the praise that is due to Him.
2. Mar our comfort.
3. Weaken our strength for service, conflict, and devotion.
4. They chill our affection.
5. They stunt our spiritual growth.
6. Unfit us to witness for Christ.
7. Influence others unfavourably.
III. THEIR REMEDY. As faith is a fruit of the ever-blessed Spirit, no assurance can be obtained but from the same Divine source.
1. Look and get away from self.
2. Study the sacred word more.
3. Live nearer the Lord.
4. Seek to have a more simple, child-like faith — faith that takes God at His word; that raises no cavilling questions; that lives above circumstances, appearances, and feelings, even upon "Thus saith the Lord."
(G. Cobb.)I. DOUBTING IN MATTERS OF RELIGION. Doubt which arises from ignorance. Doubts which mark the course of inquiry. Doubts which indicate moral perversity. Doubts about our personal religion.
II. THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF DOUBTING IN MATTERS OF RELIGION. It is no apology for indifference. It ought to stimulate inquiry. It contains an element of belief — doubt, not denial. It may be an ultimate benefit.
1. Christianity is not doubtful because it has been doubted.
2. Its truths are so great that occasional doubting is not wonderful.
3. All classes of doubters should not be treated with indiscriminate harshness.
4. There are broad marks of distinction between the doubts of the saint and of the sinner.
(D. Young, D. D.)
(T. Lynch.)We must not let go manifest truths because we cannot answer all questions about them.
(J. Collier.)1. You hesitate because you are measuring by human standards and taking your level from nature.
2. You want more proof than God is pleased to give.
3. You judge that God should do something extraordinary.
4. Your faith depends upon what is rare and accidental.
5. Perhaps an interval of carelessness has dimmed the moral eye.
6. There was some temptation to doubt.
7. To God it is no little thing to be doubted by His child.
8. I feel sure that some who have doubted are now in heaven.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(H. H. Dobney.)
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