« הקודםהמשך »
tecting his country, is a most valuable and respectable member of society; and if he conducts himself with valour, fidelity, and humanity, and amidst the horrors of war cultivates the gentle manners of peace, and the virtues of a devout and holy life, he most amply deserves, and will assuredly receive, the esteem, the admiration, and the applause of his grateful country, and, what is of still greater importance, the approbation of his God. t
INOW proceed to the, consideration of the 10th Chapter of St. Matthew. In the preceding chapter we find our Saviour working a great variety of miracles. He healed the man that was sick of the palsy, and forgave his sins; a plain proof of his divinity, because none but God has the power and the prerogative of forgiving sins; and therefore the Jews accused him of blasphemy for pretending to this power. He also cured the woman who touched the hem of his garment. He raised to life the deceased daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. He restored to sight the two blind men that followed him; and he cast out from a dumb man the devil with which he was possessed, and restored him to his speech. These miracles are particularly recorded: corded: but besides these, there must have been a prodigious number wrought by him, of which no distinct mention is made; for we are informed in the 35th verse that he went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
These continued miracles must necessarily have produced a great number of converts. And accordingly we find, the multitude of his followers was now so great, that he found it necessary to appoint some coadjutors to himself in this great work. "The harvest truly is plenteous, says he to his disciples, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest*."
These labourers he now determined to send forth; and in pursuance of this resolution, we find him in the beginning of this chapter calling together his disciples, out of whom he selected twelve, called by St. Matthew apostles, or messengers; whom he sent forth to preach the Gospel, and furnished them with * Matth. ix. 37, 38.
ample ample powers for that purpose; powers such as nothing less than Omnipotence could bestow. The names of these apostles were as follow: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, another James, Thaddeus or Jude, Simon, Judas Iscariot. These twelve persons, St. Matthew tells us, Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any cities of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand*." This was the business which they were sent to accomplish; they were to go about the country of Judaea, and to preach to the Jews in the first place the holy religion which their divine Master had just began to teach. Then follow their powers; "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."
After this come their instructions, and a variety of directions how to conduct themselves in the discharge of their arduous and important mission, of which I shall take notice hereafter; but must first offer to your consi* Matth. x. a—3.
deration deration a few remarks on this extraordinary designation of the apostles to their important office.
And in the first place, who were the men singled out by our blessed Lord for the purpose of diffusing his religion through the world; that is, for the very singular purpose of persuading men to relinquish the religion of their ancestors, the principles they had imbibed from their infancy, the customs, the prejudices, the habits, the ways of thinking, which they had for a long course of years indulged, and to adopt in their room a system of thinking and acting in many respects directly opposite to them; a religion exposing them to many present hardships and severe trials, and referring them for their reward to distant period of time, and an invisible world? Was it to be expected that such a change as this, such a sudden and violent re
ovolution in the minds of men, could be brought about by common and ordinary instruments? Would it not require agents of a very superior order, of considerable influence from their birth and wealth and situation in life, men of the profoundest erudition, of the