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brightest talents, of the most consummate knowledge of the world and the human heart, of the most insinuating manners, of the most commanding and fascinating eloquence? Were then the apostles of this description? Quite the contrary. They were plain, humble, unpretending men, of low birth and low occupations, without learning, without education, without any extraordinary endowments, natural or acquired, without any thing, in short, to recommend them but their simplicity, integrity, and purity of manners. With what hopes of success could men such as these set about the most difficult of all enterprizes, the reformation of a corrupt world, and the conversion of it to a new faith? Yet we all know that they actually did accomplish these two most arduous things, and that on the foundations they laid, the whole superstructure of the Christian church has been raised, and the divine truths of the Gospel spread through all parts of the civilized world. How then is this to be accounted for? It is utterly impossible to account for it in any way but that which Christ himself points out, in this very charge to his apostles: "Heal the sick,'
says he to them in the 8th verse, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils." Here is the explanation of the whole mystery. It was the powers with which they were invested, the miracles they were enabled to perform, which procured such multitudes of converts. The people saw that God was with them, and that therefore every thing they taught must be true. Here is at once a sufficient cause assigned for the effect produced by agents, apparently so unequal to the production of it. We challenge all the infidels in the world to assign any other adequate cause. They have never yet done it; and we assert with confidence that they never can.
These then were the powers the Apostles carried along with them; and where shall we find the sovereign that could ever furnish his ambassadors with such qualifications as these? If they were asked with what authority they were invested, and what proofs they could give that they were actually commissioned to instruct mankind in the principles of true religion, by that great personage the Son of God, whose servants and ministers they pre
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tended to be, their answer was short and decisive; bring us your sick, and we will heal them; show us your lepers, and we will cleanse them; produce your dead, and we will restore them to life. It would not be very easy to dispute the authenticity of such credentials as these.
It is further to be observed on this head, that the circumstance of our Saviour not only working miracles himself, but also enabling others to perform them, is an instance of divine power, to which no other prophet or teaeher before him, true or false, ever pretended. In this, as in many other respects, he stands unrivalled and alone. After this follow some directions, no less singular and new. "Provide neither gold nor silver, nor brass in your purses; nor scrip for your journey; neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves*/'
That is, they wyre to take a long journey, without making any other provision for it than the staff* iu their hand, and the clothes they had on; for, says Jesus, the workman is worthy of his meat; an intimation that the * Mattb- x. 9, Jo.
providence providence of God would watch over and supply their wants. This required some confidence in their Master; and unless they had good grounds for thinking that it was in his power to engage Providence on their side (or in other words, that he was actually the Son of God) they would scarce have run the risk of so unpromising an expedition. But this conclusion grows infinitely stronger when we come to the declaration in the next and following verses: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils; and they will scourge you in the synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my name's sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles; and the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death; and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake*."
What now shall we say to this extraordinary and unexampled declaration?
When a sovereign sends his ambassadors to a foreign country, he makes an ample provision for their journey, he assigns them a liberal allowance for their support, and generally holds out at the same time the prospect of a future reward for their labours and their services to their country on their return from their embassy. And without this, few men would be disposed to undertake the commission.
But here every thing is the reverse; instead of support, they were to meet with persecution; instead of an honourable reception, they were to experience universal hatred and detestation; instead of reward, they were to be exposed to certain ruin and destruction, and to be let loose like so many sheep among wolves.
Can we now conceive it possible that any men in their sense* should, without some very powerful and extraordinary motive, voluntarily undertake such a commission as this, in which their only recompense was to be affliction, misery, pain, and death; in which, all