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II. His kind address, and endearing appellation of Brethren, tended also to the same end, bespeaking the same affection for them which he ever had.
It would show that his first and great concern, after the living powers were restored to him again, was to raise their drooping spirits, and
prevent the bad consequences of their late shameful fall; and, moreover, would teach them, that his present exalted state would not put a period to his former familiar friendly intercourse with them, but would establish and perpetuate it, if they now persevered in virtue, and continued faithful unto the end as he had done.
Observe, I pray you, here, that he calls his apostles Brethren, thereby owning himself to be a man, one of the same nature with them, as they were brethren of the same nature with each other.
Such he considered them then, and such he doubtless will consider them, and all his true followers, when we meet him in the next world.
Now he that is, and whom we must always consider as, our brother, cannot be God; for VOL. II. 26
to call God brother, would be most degrading and impious. Our Lord, therefore, in thus characterizing himself, assures us, that he was the furthest possible from the thought of assuming to himself to be God, or to be any other than one of the human race, high in the favour of God, and beloved by him!
What a mighty honour is this that is done to us ; that our great Lord after his resurrection, and consequently now he is in heaven, should own himself of our nature, once a partaker of flesh and blood, as we are ; should acknowledge us as his nearest kindred ; and this with a kind view, that, by following him in virtue and holiness, we may
partakers of that immortal nature and happiness to which he is now raised!
There is but one road to this, without which our earthly relation to him will be of no service, and which he once, on a certain occasion, pointed at in a beautiful manner; (Matth. xii. 50.) “ Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” To be thus doubly related to Christ is an
honour and advantage infinitely superior to all that the wealth, and rank, and titles of this world can bestow; those shadowy short-lived distinctions, too often only a cover to the want of real worth and virtue, which men not seldom sacrifice to obtain them. Under the pressure
real distress or calamity they can afford little relief, and must all be dropped at the grave, when we return to our mother earth, from whence we were taken. But this relation and kindred to Christ, founded on real virtue and obedience to the divine will, shall outlive the grave, and qualify its wearer for an endless felicity with him and with all good beings.
Our Lord's message to his disciples is this : " I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and
God.” These words of our heavenly teacher and master, Jesus, are so plain that no explication can add to them.
He therein declares that he had the same God and Father that his apostles had, and, consequently, that there is but one God, who 2 G 2
is the common God and Father of him, and of us all.
All reflections upon this I would leave to yourselves; but would only add, that hence we may gather, that if there be any passage of scripture in which Christ is supposed to be called Almighty God, it must be misunderstood ; because Christ declares there is but one God, and that this God is his God and Father no less than ours.
And therefore when soon after, in this very chapter, the apostle Thomas, after touching Christ's body and being convinced thereby that he was alive again, immediately said, 'My Lord, and my God;" he did not intend thereby to address Christ, for his being raised to life was not a proof of his being God; but it was an expression of his wonder and devout adoration of God, who had brought his Lord and Master, Jesus, to life again.
The more our holy religion approaches the purity of its first institution, and the more exactly we follow the directions and example of the blessed Jesus in the worship of God, the more worthy of acceptance will the gospel appear.
And whilst every one must take care not to hold the truth in unrighteousness and deceit, and to worship him alone whom he believes to be God, and able to hear and to help him,
We should all remember, that religion is not nice and accurate speculation and opinion, but, according to the wise and brief summary of the apostle James, (i. 27.) “Pure religion, and undefiled before God, even the Father, is this; To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
It would be blameable and contrary to our duty and custom, which is, to hold
what is excellent to view and imitation, to pass by here without notice the piety and fortitude which Mary Magdalene, and the other women that accompanied her, showed upon the occasion of our Lord's death.
Their attachment and veneration for him, who was so holy, and so good to them and to all, led them forth ere it was light to visit his sepulchre, and pay their last melancholy duty to his dead corpse, whom they never more ex