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Acts 1.24. A. The Congregation of Christians made a
folemn Address to God, that he would condefcend to direct the Choice, and that he who knew the Hearts of all Men, would be pleased to shew which of these two he saw best qualified for so facred a Function.
Q. What may be learned from this Manner of Proceeding?
4. It may serve as a Direction to all those that are Candidates for Holy Orders, seriously to examine themselves whether they are moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them that Office and Ministration ; for though they may impofe upon Man, yet God seeth their Hearts, and all those various Motives by which they are infuenced in so great a Concern. This Precedent is also ferviceable to the Governours of the Church, who after all their Care to admit Persons duly qualified, must beg God Almighty's Guidance and Direction, that they may wisely make Choice of fit Labourers to work in his Vineyard; and all Christians ought to offer up the same Prayers, since the Welfare of the Church depends so much upon the Piety and Capacity of those that are ordained.
Q. How was St. Matthias qualified for the
Apostleship? Aēts1.21. A. He had been a continual Attendant upon
our Saviour all the Time of his Ministry, from
his being baptized by John, till his Assumption Ver. 21, into Heaven, which is intimated by St. Peter.
He was probably one of the Seventy Disciples; and had been a Witness of our Saviour's Refurrection, and of the most considerable Passages of his Life ; so that he was fit to proclaim abroad those Matters of Fact concerning his Master, of which he had an equal Evidence with the rest of the Apostles.
Q. Where did St. Matthias preach the Gofpel ?
A. He continued at Jerusalem till the Powers of the Holy Ghost were conferred upon the Apostles, to enable them to discharge their difficult Employment; and then he is thought to have spent the first Fruits of his Ministry in Judæa, with great Success. He afterwards very probably travelled Eastward, his Residence being principally, according to St. Jerome, near the Irrup-Hieron. tion of the River Apsarus, and the Haven Hyljus. de Scrip. He was by these barbarous People treated with Eccl. great Rudeness and Inhumanity, and after many Labours and Sufferings in converting great numbers to Christianity, he obtained the Crown of Martyrdom.
Q. What was the Manner of his Death?
A. It is very uncertain : Soine report that he was seized by the Jews; and as a Blafphemer was first stoned and then beheaded. Others that he was crucified, and that as Judas was hanged upon a Tree, so Matthias suffered upon 2 Cross.
Q. What Works have we of this Apostle ?
A. None. The Gospel and Traditions published under his Name are rejected by learned Men as fpurious, though Clemens Alexandrinus Clem. relates a Saying of his, of great use in the Life Strom. of a Christian : That we ought to mortify and subdue the Flesh, and maintain a continual Opposition to it, by granting it nolbing whereby its irregular and fenfual Desires may be gratified; but that we should on the contrary nourish and fortify our Souls with Faith and Divine Knowledge.
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival?
A. In all difficult Cases to address ourselves to Heaven for Direction. To use our best Diligence, if we are Patrons of Churches, in providing Perfons duly qualified for the great Trust we commit to them; and not to suffer any worldly Consideration to bias us in a Choice, of which we must one Day give a strict Account. To beware of Covetousness, the Root of all Evil, which ruined the Traitor Judas, and will all those that embrace that sacred Function with a Regard more to the Revenues than the Duties of their Profession. serve our Minds free from Guilt, because it makes us restless and uneasy, and robs us of all that Repose and Quiet which the most profperous Condition can promise us. Constantly to attend God's Ordinances, though he who is called to administer may be a bad Man. To work out our Salvation with Fear and Trembling, and to be watchful and upon our Guard, because, if an Apostle fell, who had all the Advantages of our Saviour's Conversation, what Security can we promise ourselves ?
Q. What is implied in the Duty of Watchfulnefs ?
A. A constant Care of our Lives and Actions, that we be always upon our Guard, that we refist the first Beginnings of Evil, and discover the first Approaches of our spiritual Enemy; that we may neither be surprized by his Snares and Allurements, nor unprepared to encounter him whenever he attacks us. In short, it consists in wisely foreseeing the Dangers that threaten our Souls, and then in diligently avoiding them.
Q. How does Watchfulness foresee Dangers ?
A. By discovering the Plots and Contrivances of our spiritual Adversary, by making us sensible of those Temptations we are exposed to, by reason of our Constitution, or that Profession we are engaged in, or that Company we converse with ; that our Guard may be set in the right Place, where we are most alarmed with Danger, and where Surprize would be most fatal. For so great is the Power of Passion and Custom to give fair Colours to very great Disorders, so mischievous is the Complaisance of Friends and Flatterers to fortify these wrong Notions that except we are very watchful, we shall unavoidably be made a Prey.
Q. How does Watchfulness avoid Dangers ?
1. By making Use of the fittest and properest Means to defeat those Designs of the Enemy of our Salvation, which we have happily discovered. For Temptations must be reliited differently, according to their different kinds. To this End God hath provided several Sorts of Grace, the Ufe whereof is of great Importance to us. When Temptations Aatter our corrupt Nature, our Victory consists in Flight; when they would discourage us with Difficulties and Dangers, we can never be Conquerors without looking them in the Face, and encountering them with Resolution. Without this Caution the best Disposition of Mind will hardly preserve us from falling.
Q. How does Watchfulness prepare us to encounter Dangers ?
4. By putting on the whole Armour of God, Eph.6.11. and fortifying those weak Places, in which we are most likely to be attacked. If we would not
facrifice our Conscience to establish our Fortune, we must have impressed upon our Minds a strong Belief of another World, where Virtue will
prevail more than Riches and Honour. If we would not be overcome by the Pleasures of Senfe, we
should live under a lively Hope of enjoying thofe Eph.6.14. Pleasures which are at God's right Hand for
evermore. We should gird ourselves with Truth, and then no Profit would prevail upon us to perjure ourselves, and to be insincere in our Words and Promises, but we should be firm and steady in all our Actions. We should guard our Minds with Righteousness, and keep a Conscience void of Offence, if ever we intend to overcome the Persecutions and Sufferings we may be exposed
to, upon the Account of our Faith. We should Ver. 17. put on the Sword of the Spirit, encounter all
Temptations with those stronger Motives which the Word of God offers to engage our Obedience, and then they would lose their Force, and appear contemptible.
Q. Whence årises tbe Necessity of this Duty of Watchfulness?
A. From the Nature of our Condition in this World, which is surrounded with Variety of Temptations, so that there is no Circumstance of Life which is entirely free from fome Sort of Affault or other ; all our Ways being strewed with Snares. From the Power and Strength of our Adversáry, who is Prince of the Air, and wants neither Skill nor Industry to work our Ruin. From our own Frailty and Weakness, whereby we have no Power of ourselves to help ourselves ; and from the Danger of our Overthrow, whereby we become liable to the Miferies of a lad Eternity.