תמונות בעמוד
[ocr errors]

them, and they immediately left the ship arid their father and followed him *." These were the men whom he selected for his companions and assistants. These fishermen of Galilee were to be, under him, the instruments of overthrowing the stupendous and magnificent system of paganism and idolatry throughout the world, and producing the greatest change, the most general and most important revolution in principles, in morals, and in religion, that ever. took place on this globe. For this astonishing work, these simple, illiterate, humble men were singled out by the Lord. He chose, as the apostle expresses it, “ the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty t'; that his religion might not be established by the enticing words of man's wisdom, but by demonstration of the spirit and of power; that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

Such -were the associates chosen by him, who was the delegate of heaven, and whose , * Matth. iv. 18-22. + 1 Cor. i. 27. Ii Cor. 11.4-5.


help was from above. We may expect therefore that an impostor, who meant to rely on human means for success, would take a directly contrary course. And this we find in fact to be the case. Who were the companions and assistants selected by the grand impostor Mahomet? They were mien of the most weight and authority, and rank and influence, among his countrymen. The reason is obvi. ous; he wanted such supports; Christ did not; and hence the marked difference of their conduct in this instance. It is the natural difference between truth and imposture. That the power of God and not of man was the foundation on which our Lord meant to erect his new system, very soon appeared; for the next thing we hear of him is, that he șs went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people *.” · Here then began that DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER, which was to be the grand basis of his new kingdom, the

* Matth. iv. 23.

Vol. I,


great evidence of his heavenly mission. It is indeed probable that the wisdom and the authority with which he spake, and the weight and importance of the doctrines he taught, would of themselves make a deep impression on the minds of his hearers, and produce him some followers. But had he stopt here, had he given his new disciples nothing but words; their zeal and attachment to him would soon have abated. For it was natural for these converts to say to him, “ You have called upon us to repent and to reform; you have commanded us to renounce our vices, to relinquish our favourite pleasures and pursuits, to give up the world and its enjoyments, and to take up our cross and follow you ; and in return for this you promise us distinguished happinėss and honour in your spiritual kingdom. You speak, it is true, most forcibly to our consciences and to our hearts; and we feel strongly disposed to obey your injunctions, and to credit your promises ; but still the sacrifice we are required to make is a great one, and the conflict we have to go through is a bitter one. We find it a most painful struggle to subdue confirmed habits, and to part at once with all our accustomed pleasures and indulgences. Before then we can entirely relinquish these, and make a complete change in the temper of our souls and the conduct of our lives, we must have some convincing proof that you have a right to require this compliance at our hands; that what you enjoin us is in reality the command of God himself; that you are actually sent from heaven, and commissioned by him to teach us his will, and to instruct us in our duty; that the kingdom you hold out to us in another world is something more than mere imagination: that you are in short what you pretend to be, the Son of God; and that you are able to make good the punishment you denounce against sin, and the rewards you promise to virtue." .

Our Lord well knew that this sort of reasoning must occur to every man's mind. He knew that it was highly proper and indispensably necessary to give some evidence of his divine commission, to do SOMETHING which should satisfy the world that he was the Son of God, and the delegate of heayen. And I %


how could he do this so effectually as by performing works which it utterly exceeded all the strength and ability of man to accomplish, and which nothing less than the hand of God himself could possibly bring to pass ? In other words, the proofs he gave of his mission were those astonishing miracles which are recorded in the Gospel, and which are here for the first time mentioned by St. Matthew in the 23d verse of this chapter: “ And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the


This then is the primary, the fundamental evidence of his divine authority, which our Lord was pleased to give to his followers. His - first application, as we have seen, was (like that

of his precursor John the Baptist) to their heurts, “ REPENT YE,” lay aside your vices and your prejudices. Till this was done, till these grand obstacles to the admission of truth were removed, he well knew that all he could say and all he could do would have no


« הקודםהמשך »