« FöregåendeFortsätt »
• maus; two artisans, if one may judge from their ap
pearance. One is Cleopas, probably the brother-inlaw of the Virgin Mary; the name of the other is not mentioned. What if he were Nathanael, the Israelite without guile? It is uncertain though very possible. They belong to the followers of the Nazarene; not to the twelve, but most probably to the seventy ; at any rate to the persecuted brethren. The sequel of the history proves that they were not even men in Christ, but children after the Spirit ; nay, perhaps not even yet regenerated. We must on no account imagine that the followers of our Saviour, generally speaking, were heroes of the faith, or masters in Israel ; on the contrary, they did little else than try the patience and exercise the long-suffering of their Lord on every occasion. For example, one petitioned to sit at his right hand when he should ascend the throne of David ; another, following the blind dictates of his affection, attempted to prevent him accomplishing the work of reconciliation, and strove to hinder him going to Jerusalem to fill the office of our great high-priest. On another occasion they run towards him, transported with joy, like simple children who have learned some new feat of dexterity, because they can now drive out evil spirits, and perform miracles. Again, they are impatient for the day when their Master should expel his enemies from the land, and when they, filling the highest offices and inhabiting the most splendid dwellings, should become partakers of his majesty and glory. Nay, at times such childish acts and follies come to light, which have been committed by the disciples, as might almost make us believe they had not been at the time converted and regenerated. But whether this were the case or not, their names at present have long stood recorded in the book of life, and they themselves have long enjoyed the sunshine of their Saviour's love.
The two disciples, journeying towards Emmaus, seem indeed to have been but children in the faith, and do not appear to have looked deeply into the mysteries of the cross.
In wisdom and knowledge they are poor, but they love the Lord Jesus from their hearts; and fire is there, although as yet it may not have burst forth into light.
One can gather from their appearance that some calamity has newly happened. Alas! they are indeed very sorrowful. Their minds are disquieted with questions and doubts, while their hearts are heavy with grief and vexation. True, they are walking on & pleasant mountain path, surrounded on all sides by the blossoms and verdure of spring, while the birds are singing, some in the air, and some among the branches; but the joyfulness of nature harmonizes ill with their feelings. Their brightest hopes, their most cherished projects, and their sweetest dreams, have been buried in the grave with Jesus. What is their Christianity now, and on whom can they pour out their love, since they have no Christ? Their Lord is dead. Did he even lie in the grave, they would know where all their hopes and joys were buried ; but alas ! they have been in Jerusalem, and found the tomb desolate and empty! What then has become of the beloved corpse? To how many conjectures may
not the circumstance of its disappearance give rise ! The women who spake with the angels that were sitting in the tomb, related strange things which they had said. But what angels? Hope and love are apt to imagine many things, and therefore the women prove nothing. Why did Peter see no angel when he visited the grave ? And why did John, the beloved disciple, who lay on the bosom of Jesus,
--why did he behold nothing? Alas! we need no longer hope ; all is -over with our cause, and there is nothing more to expeet! Yet,"
says the one to the other, "might we not hope a little longer ? can we ? dare we? Cleopas, suppose for a moment that the women had actually beheld angels, and that they said he was alive! If this were the case !-Cleopas ! If-if-but" Alas, this but occurs again; they are afraid of deceiving themselves, those poor disciples ; and therefore they embrace the doubt more firmly than the hope. They now proceed on their way: thought after thought crowds into their minds, producing a wild confusion ; yet they cannot come to any certain conclusion. Now fear and now hope predominates; then they are terrified at their own presumption, and resign themselves to grief anew. How earnestly do those two pilgrims converse ! even at a distance one can hear of whom they are speaking. Verily, the cause of their Lord and Master is dear unto their souls; and whatever faint-heartedness and unbelief they may be accused of, God will assist them in his own good time, and the good seed which has been sown in their hearts shall certainly come to light.
Our Lord does not always approach his people, when
he is about to convert them, in the same manner in which he approached the two disciples. Suddenly, and like an armed man, he comes to many; arresting them in the midst of their godless life, while surrounded by the temptations and allurements of the world, and softening in one instant their cold and hardened. hearts ; the first symptom of their conversion being a cry for pardon and mercy, and an earnest desire to be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. With others, our Saviour acts in a more silent and secret manner, employing gradual manifestations and long preparation. As, when winter is just past, we derive more delight, if possible, from the unfolding of the leaves, the budding of the flowers, and all the sights and sounds of early spring, than from the warmth of May and the luxuriance of summer; so the eye of an experienced Christian derives a similar pleasure from contemplating the first symptoms of divine grace in fallen man ; for he regards them as blossoms, which promise a future harvest of rich and beautiful fruit. Yet the commencement of this work of grace is often to all appearance trifling and unimportant, and we frequently see nothing which can be termed repentance or contrition ; nevertheless, there is a secret disquietude in these souls, and a feeling that the great thing requisite to their happiness is awanting. Although there may be no supplication for grace and mercy, there may be a heartfelt longing for a glorious treasure which they know not how to name ;-no bold acknowledgmentą
Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!" and yet an earnest inquiry after their Redeemer, and the
things of his kingdom ;,no solemn oath of allegiance to the banner of Zion, no decisive step towards joining the people of God; and yet a devout attention, when the gospel is spoken of, an earnest endeavour to walk in the right path, a longing to attain certainty in their religious views, and an unwearied search after truth and peace. You must not expect, however, that a man of this description will join with you, as you would wish, in lauding and magnifying the Saviour, and praising the miracles of his grace and mercy. It is quite possible that he may feel uncomfortable in the midst of you, and be silent and dumb in your society; and this, not from enmity to your holy cause, but because he is secretly grieved that he cannot express himself like you, and that while you mount on eagles' wings almost farther than his eye can reach, he is forced to remain grovelling upon earth. Nay, you must not even be astonished though he should gainsay your opiniops, and exclaim with Nathanael, “ Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?" For probably the same honest desire to find out the truth may lurk in his soul, and the next day he may cry out with the same fervour, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel!" And were he to enter an assemblage of mockers and blasphemers, I can answer for it, that though he might previously have withstood you, on this occasion he would take the part of the gospel, and doudly and unreservedly confess that Lord whom he
himself has not yet found : nay, he will even confess ; more than he actually believes and is conscious of, for his heart whispers, though it may be but faintly, that