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reposed in him, and the station which he was divinely allotted to fill.
The Greeks commemorate Matthias on the 9th of August, but the Western Churches on the 24th of February.
THE lives and characters of the twelve apostles of Christ have now been separately considered; but there are some general reflections upon them, regarded collectively, which naturally suggested themselves during the course that we have been through, and which may not prove uninteresting or uninstructive to those who have accompanied me in the way.
their country, their
We find, with respect to the circumstances of their external condition fortunes, their education - that they were such as most readily presented themselves to the search of Jesus, and yet not such, by any means, as we should suppose would have been effective in the accomplishment of his designs.
In the first place, the apostles were all Galileans; natives or inhabitants of the district of Galilee. Seven of them, Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip, Bartholomew, and Matthew, are expressly stated in the Gospels to have
belonged to the district of Galilee. The same is in the highest degree probable of all the rest, with the exception, perhaps, of Judas Iscariot. We find that the ven, after Jesus had ascended into heaven before their sight, were thus spoken to by the two angels; "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" And at the day of Pentecost, when they received the gift of tongues, the people who were present, exclaimed, Behold, are not all these who speak Galileans?" Indeed, so many of the first disciples of Christ were from Galilee, that they were all called Galileans at first, as we learn from contemporary historians.
This country constituted the northern portion of Palestine, and its people, though hardy and brave, were not much respected by the Jews of Jerusalem, who regarded them as illiterate and unpolished, and unworthy of producing a prophet. The Pharisees, reproving Nicodemus for the interest which he expressed in Jesus, said to him, "Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." The very speech of the Galileans was a provincial dialect, and betrayed their remoteness from the capital; as we have seen was the case with Peter in the palace of Caiaphas. In short they were looked
down upon by the more cultivated, and, if I may use the epithet, Attic part of the nation, as a rude, unenlightened, Baotian branch of the common Jewish family. Jesus, though born in Bethlehem, was brought up in Nazareth, which was the most despised town in this most despised province; and therefore in selecting Galileans to be his apostles, he selected those who were nearest to him, and with whom he was most familiar. And yet what materials were they for constructing and building up a new religion, which was to be the wonder, the beauty, and the glory of the earth! How little adapted they seem to be for their lofty destination! They are the last men, these poor Galileans, the very last men, as we should suppose, to confound the learned, to resist the mighty, to convert the world. seem to be made for such a work. fitness in them to be instructers and reformers. Their very birthplace forbids it. The choice of them, therefore, to be the intimate disciples of Christ, and the founders of a new religious system, appears to me to be a mark of the divine mission of Christ, and the divine character and origin of Christianity. To my ear the language of it is this; The person, who, undertaking to introduce a peculiar and original
They do not
faith to the world, selected, or, as it would rather appear, took almost carelessly up, his associates and confidential coadjutors, from his own neighbourhood, from his own kindred, from the shores of a lake, from the streets of a village, from before his own doorstone, instead of seeking out the learned and the powerful from among the Pharisees and chief men of the nation, must have set out in his work with the assurance that there was a Power and a Wisdom above, which could and would supply every deficiency among his followers; and the event proved that the deficiency was supplied from a divine, all sufficient, and only sufficient Source.
These Galileans were also poor. Four of them were certainly fishermen; and others of their number were probably of the same profession. One was a publican, and of the inferior order of publicans.* They not only belonged to an un
*It is a habit among many of the Fathers, and other writers on these subjects, to assert that Matthew was rich, in order to magnify the sacrifice which he made in leaving all to follow Jesus. But there is not the least ground in Scripture for supposing that he formed an exception to the general poverty, or at any rate, very moderate circumstances of the other apostles. He was able, to be sure, to give a supper, at which some Pharisees were present, who were not likely to honor with their presence the house of a poor man; but he might have done this, and yet not have been very rich.