‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ 1 Peter 1:8
Suggested Further Reading: John 20:19–31
Carnal people will imagine that if there could be something to touch or smell they should get on, but mere believing and loving are too hard for them. Yet such thought is not reasonable, and I can show you so. Occasionally one meets with an illiterate working man who will say to those whose occupation is mental, ‘I work hard for my living,’ insinuating that the mind-worker does not work at all. Yet I ask any man who is engaged in a mental pursuit, whether he does not know that mental work is quite as real work—and some of us think more so—as working with the hand or the arm. The thing is mental, but is none the less real. Just transfer that thought. Coming into contact with Christ by touch looks to most people to be most real; that is because their animal nature is uppermost; coming into contact with Jesus by the spirit seems to them to be unreal, only because they know nothing of spiritual things. Mere animal men will often say, ‘I can understand the headache, I can understand the pain of having a leg cut off;’ but the pain of injured affection, or of receiving ingratitude from a trusted friend, this is by the rough mind thought to be no pain at all. ‘Oh,’ says he, ‘I could put up with that.’ But I ask you who have minds, is there any pain more real than mental pain? Is it not the sharpest when the iron enters into the soul? Just so the mental operation—for it is a mental operation—of coming into contact with Christ by loving him and trusting him is the most real thing in all the world, and no one will think it unreal who has once exercised it.
For meditation: Unlike Thomas we cannot touch the Lord to bolster our faith (John 20:27–29). Claiming that unscriptural religious acts are not articles of faith but visual aids to faith is carnal, not spiritual, in both origin and outcome (John 3:6). Finding it ‘helpful’ to confess sins to a human ‘priest’ ignores the existence of the Great High Priest in heaven who makes such a go-between surplus to requirements (Hebrews 4:14,16; 8:1).
Sermon no. 698
1 July (1866)