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JESUS CHRIST, the Saviour and Teacher sent from God, soon after he commenced his ministry, selected twelve men to be his immediate followers and confidential disciples. "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; the first, SIMON who is called PETER, and ANDREW his brother; JAMES the son of ZEBEDEE, and JoHN his brother; PHILIP, and BARTHOLOMEW; THOMAS, and MATTHEW the Publican; JAMES the son of ALPHEUS, and LEBBEUS, whose surname was THADDEUS; SIMON the Canaanite, and JUDAS ISCARIOT, who also betrayed him." This list of the apostles is taken from the Gospel of Matthew, who was himself one of them. We are also
presented with a similar catalogue in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and in the book of Acts.*
Why the exact number of twelve was appointed, it is more difficult than important to determine. Perhaps it was done in compliance with the attachment of the Jews to that number. Perhaps it was with a more particular reference to the number of the sons of Jacob, and the tribes of which they were the progenitors and founders ;
ye also," says Jesus, "shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Under the new dispensation, ye twelve, whom I have chosen, shall exercise the same spiritual authority and rule, as did the twelve patriarchs under the old dispensation. Ye shall be regarded
* Matthew's list is from Chap. x. 2, 3, 4. For facility of reference, the three remaining lists of the twelve are here subjoined. "And Simon he surnamed Peter; and James the son of Zebedee ; and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The Sons of Thunder; and Andrew; and Philip; and Bartholomew; and Matthew; and Thomas; and James the son of Alpheus; and Thaddeus; and Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him." Mark, iii. 16, 17, 18, 19.
"Simon, whom he also named Peter; and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas James the son of Alpheus, and Simon called Zelotes; and Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who also was the traitor." Luke, vi. 14, 15, 16.
"Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James." Acts, i. 13.
with the same religious respect. Ye shall give laws and ordinances to my people.
The motives which induced the Master to call to himself a select company of disciples, seem to be more obvious. It was proper and even necessary, that he should have some followers in whom he might particularly confide, and who should be always near him and about him.
It was needful, in the first place, that he should be thus attended, in order that the wonders, which he worked in confirmation of the divinity of his mission, should be nearly inspected and credibly attested. I deem it one of the strongest evidences of the truth of our Saviour's miracles, that they were performed, not only in sight of the multitude, but of a select company, who were too familiar with him to be deceived themselves, and too honest to join with him in deceiving others. Being brought into the midst of his operations, they were qualified to judge of their reality and integrity, and therefore qualified to report them to the world with all the warmth of conviction, and all the directness, particularity, and authority of constant experience and repeated vision. A changing crowd, never composed perhaps on any two occasions of the same materials, might have been mistaken; but a band of twelve
companions could not have been. They were fitted, as in no other way they could have been so well, for the purpose of declaring to men the power from above with which their Master was invested; and that they might be thus prepared, was one of his designs in choosing them. "Ye are witnesses of these things," said he to the eleven, after his resurrection from the dead. He evinced a consciousness of innocence and sincerity, by admitting so many partakers of his secret counsels and his daily deeds; and he manifested his wisdom, by securing such an irrefragable testimony to the reality of those signs from Heaven, which pointed him out as truly the Son of God.
The apostles were selected, in the second place, in order that, by reiterated instruction, they might become well acquainted with the religion which their Master was about to establish on the earth. "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus addressed himself to all who had ears to hear, but more particularly to those twelve, who were to preach in his name when he should be lifted up; because, through them, mankind were to receive the tidings of his salvation. He chose them, that he might teach them, so that they in
turn might teach. His doctrine was so new, so different from what men had been used to dignify with the title of religion, that occasional lessons to the multitude, uttered in a confined sphere and by a single individual, would hardly have served the purpose of rendering it familiar, and making it well understood. On this account it was more minutely, clearly, and repeatedly explained to a select class of pupils, who were thus prepared to become instructers themselves, and, by penetrating into different and distant countries, to disseminate among the nations of the earth a religious system, which was at first promulgated to the Jewish people, and limited to their small inheritance alone. They were called apostles, because they were sent out into the world. Before they were sent, they were instructed in the purposes and powers of their mission. And how slow they were to comprehend, after all the pains which had been bestowed on them, the true nature of the Messiah's kingdom and laws, may be read in their own confessions of ignorance. It was late, and not till after supernatural illumination, that they were thoroughly initiated in the true meaning of the religion,
* From the Greek aлоσтɛλλw, (apostello,) I send.'