Obrazy na stronie


and confidence : virtue will surely proceed from him to heal our souls.

What a life was that of Jesus! How unwearied his, benevolence, how incessant the exercise of his compassion! Truly does the apostle say of him, “ He went about doing good.” As we trace his history, one miracle of mercy succeeds to another. Scarcely has he dried the tears and removed the afflictions of one child of misery, before another sents himself, who is also sent away rejoicing. As the sun never pauses in his brilliant career, but continually sends forth beams to enlighten and warm, so our Sun of Righteousness never ceased to shed forth his benign and gracious influences. As he came from the ruler's house, two blind men followed him, beseeching him to restore them to sight. Unostentatious in the performance of his miracles, and desirous by a delay of his mercy to increase their faith and importunity, he did not notice them in the public street; but when they had followed him into the house in which he entered, he opened their eyes. Learn, Christians, the benefit of a holy perseverance. If the Lord appear not to hear your first supplications, yet do not desist. For reasons infinitely wise. he often defers for a season the bestowal of his blessings. But wait upon him with patience and faith, and you will in due time receive an answer of peace. Even when he seems to say to you as to the patriarch, “ Let me go," with him reply, “ I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

Jesus straitly charged them, saying, Let no man know it.But their gratitude was too great, their zeal for the honour of their Benefactor was too warm, to permit them to hold their peace, and they spread abroad his fame in all that country.” We mean not to excuse them : their duty certainly was to obey the injunction of the Saviour; but their error was the result of a feeling heart, and was allied to gratitude. Believers, “ who have been brought from darkness into marvellous light,” on whose souls “ the day-spring from on high has risen," you have received no such injanction. On the contrary, you are commanded “ to show forth the praises of him who hath called you.” Do you then, without hesitation, declare the excellences of Jesus; tell others of his compassion, his power, his glories, and strive to allure them to him.

These persons had scarcely departed, when a demoniac, who was dumb, and probably bereft of reason, was brought to him. Insensible of his own misery, and unable to apply for relief, he was brought to the Saviour by others. Happy they who have such charitable and pious friends, who thus pity them when they feel not their need of pity; when they know not their own wretchedness; who thus bear them to Jesus. Our Lord having healed him, he immediately spoke rationally and fluently, to the astonishment of all present; so that they extolled the author of so many miracles above all the prophets that had ever lived. They said, It was never so seen in Israel.” The pharisees, however, were filled with envy and malignant fury; but not being able to deny the reality of the miracles, they ascribed them to magic, and a confederacy with Beelzebub, the prince of devils. The absurdity and impiety of this declaration we shall hereafter be led to examine.

The calumnies of the pharisees could not, however, · cause Jesus to desist from his good offices to men; for he immediately after left Capernaum, and made another tour through Galilee, every where preaching the gospel of salvation, and confirming his doctrine by miraculous cures. In returning to Capernaum he beheld with compassion the vast multitudes who needed instruction, and ordered his disciples to pray

the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers," skilful and faithful ministers,“ into the harvest.” He himself, also, as we are informed by St. Luke, (vi. 13.) went up privately into a mountain, and spent the whole night in prayer. This was frequently his practice. Again I exclaim, What a life was that of Jesus! Every moment of it was consecrated to works of piety and charity. Can we fail to be moved, when we thus behold him passing his days in conferring the highest blessings upon men; in curing them of their ignorance and vices by his holy and affecting instructions, and of their maladies, by his miraculous power; and after this, spending his wakeful nights in communion with his Father, and in the exercises of devotion? “ And when it was day,” continues St. Luke," he called unto him his disciples; and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” “ He chose them,” says St. Mark, “ to be always with him.” He did not yet give them the power of working miracles, but kept them nigh his person, to learn the doctrine which they were afterwards to preach; to behold his excellences, and to be witnesses of those miracles by which his divine mission was confirmed. At the expiration of some months he sent them by two and two into the different parts of Judea, to announce the glad tidings of salvation. Hence they were called apostles, a word which signifies persons sent out. But their name was more peculiarly applicable, and their office carried to its perfection, after the ascension of Christ, when he gave

them the inspiration of the Spirit, and the power of working miracles, and sent them to preach the gospel to every creature.

The names of these highly honoured persons are given us by the Evangelist.

Simon Peter and Andrew are mentioned first, not because they were superior in dignity to the others, but because they became disciples of Christ before them. They were brethren, the children of Jonah. Originally they were fishermen, and resided at Bethsaida. They afterwards settled at Capernaum, where they dwelt when Christ chose them as apostles. With the disposition, the life, and the circumstances of the death of Peter, you are acquainted. Of Andrew we know less: he has left no writings which may enable us to judge of his spirit and endowments. Having preached some years in Jerusalem, after the ascension of the Saviour, he carried the gospel, according to ecclesiastical historians, to Scythia ; and at last wascrucified at the city of Patræ in Achaia. Thus these two brethren, who had been united during life in love and obedience to the Saviour, were in death united in conformity to his sufferings.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also fishermen, and dwelt in Capernaum. They received from Christ the sirname of Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; in allusion either to the vehemence of their temper, or to the force and success with which they should preach the gospel. James received the crown of martyrdom under Herod; and John, the beloved disciple, after having survived all the other apostles, died peaceably at Ephesus, at a very advanced age.

Philip was also of Bethsaida, and originally was a disciple of the Baptist. Having preached the gospel in Upper Asia, he died a martyr at Hierapolis.

Bartholomew is supposed to be the same with Nathaniel, whose conversion we have already considered. The history of Matthew has been exhibited to you. Of Thomas we know nothing before his conversion : he was also called Didymus, probably because he was a twin. James the less, (so called to distinguish him from the James who was killed by Herod.) Judas, who was also called Lebbeus and Thaddeus. And Simon Zelotes, as he is called by Luke, or as he is termed by Matthew, Simon the Canaanite, (which is a Hebrew sirname, denoting his zeal and fervour.) These three were brethren, the sons of Alpheus or Cleophas, and of Mary, the sister of the Holy Virgin. They are sometimes called in the gospels, Christ's brethren, an expression which the Jews used to signify any near relation. The epistles of James and Jude were written by the first two of these brethren. The list closes with the name of Judas the traitor. He was the son of one Simon, and received the sirname of Iscariot; the literal meaning of which word is, a man of Cariot, a town of the tribe of Judah, in which probably he was born.

Such were the persons chosen to establish the Church of Christ, to reform the world, and to overturn idolatry, superstition, and false religion. Had human prudence been to make choice of instruments for so grand an undertaking, doubtless such as were remarkable for deep science, strong reasoning, and prevailing eloquence, would have been selected; and these endowments, probably, would have been supported by the external advantages of wealth and

« PoprzedniaDalej »