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JOHN xx. 19, 20. 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.
This appearance of our Lord is reckoned by St. John among the “signs” which Jesus did after His Resurrection. There was, then, something miraculous in it. And, if we examine it closely, the only miraculous particular in the narrative, as given by him, is the suddenness of His appearing in the midst of them, “ the doors being shut.” To say, then, that our Lord entered by opening the doors, is to do away with the miraculous feature of the occurrence, and contradict the Apostle's description of it, as one of the “ signs which Jesus did."
Our Lord came, and was suddenly made manifest, standing in the midst of the assembled company; the doors all the while being fast closed. And He came in the reality of His risen human nature. For we read the same thing thus in St. Luke: “ 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 said 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 see; for a spirit hath not flesh 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
meat ? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them.”
But it is urged, that He may have come in along with the two from Emmaus, who, St. Luke says, were speaking, when He suddenly appeared in the midst. He may have come in with them unperceived; or at any rate invisibly, as He made Himself invisible on other occasions, even before His Passion. This, indeed, does not do away with the miracle altogether, but it does do away with it as a special “ sign” of the Resurrection, as which St. John (we have heard) enumerates it. For the same kind of miracle was wrought before He suffered. And again, allowing this explanation of this occasion, it will not account for St. John's emphatic mention of the same particular, “ the doors being shut,” when, eight days afterwards, He stood again in the midst of them to convince St. Thomas.
• Luke xxiv. 36-42.
The denial of our Lord's having entered in His risen human nature, though the room was close shut, was not heard of, till the followers of Calvin sought thus to meet the Roman Catholic use of the fact in support of their doctrine of transubstantiation, alleging, as they do to that end, that in this occurrence we have proof of the possibility of our Lord's human nature pervading another substance. One need not deny the miracle, in order to deny or refute that gloss upon
it. suffice to reply to them, that, as the miracle was never denied until the followers of Calvin denied it, so neither was it ever thought to prove the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation until after they had invented this. The Lutherans firmly assert the miracle against the Calvinists, yet we do not therefore feel forced to admit their tenets of consubstantiation, and of the ubiquity of Christ's human nature.
Will any one hereupon persist, and ask, Well then; how was it that our Lord entered, and stood in the midst, the doors being closed? If one could tell then how, the miracle would be gone; and we, so, should still find ourselves at variance with St.John, who reckons this among the “signs” in proof of the Resurrection.
Yet may we further meet the infirmity which moots the question, and remind those who ask it, that “there is a spiritual body.” “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body,” saith St. Paul; and,“ It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body,” is his answer to the question, “ How are the dead raised, and with what body do they come b?” Now, we have our notions of what spirit is, and of what body is. We have our notions, be they what they may; (for whether they are true ones, who shall prove?) but, have we any capacity to form an idea of what a spiritual body is? Except, indeed, it be from what we read touching our Lord's Body after His Resurrection ? And shall we, then, presume to except this particular
b 1 Cor. xv.