صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

disposal of the lots, they were cast, " and the lot fell upon Matthias ; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."

All that we know of the apostle who thus closed up and made whole the sacred ring which had been so violently broken is related in the above account. We may say of Matthias, that he was one of those who had been interested from the beginning in the person and claims of Jesus, and had travelled from place to place with him and with his first twelve apostles, bearing his instructions, beholding his miracles, witnessing his holy life during his ministry on earth, and convinced by ocular demonstration of his resurrection from the dead. We may also be permitted to infer, from the selection which was made of him, that he was distinguished among the companions of the apostles and followers of Jesus for his mental and moral qualities, for his wisdom and his virtue.

Ecclesiastical history furnishes us with but poor and uncertain minutes of the apostolical labors of Matthias. An author of no great credit or antiquity asserts, “that he preached the Gospel in Macedonia; where the Gentiles, to make an experiment of his faith and integrity, gave him a poisonous and intoxicating potion, which he cheerfully drank off, in the name of Christ, without the least prejudice to himself; and, that when the same potion had deprived about two hundred and fifty of their sight, he, laying his hands upon them, restored them to their sight, - with a great deal more of the same stamp,” says Cave, “which I have neither faith enough to believe, nor leisure enough to relate." Cave goes on to observe, that the more probable account of the apostle is, that from Judæa, where he first labored, he travelled eastward and preached in Cappadocia, where he at last received the crown of martyrdom on the cross.

Even the probability of this latter account is, however, but slight. Let it suffice, that he was a follower of our Lord from the first; that he was a companion of the apostles before he was chosen to be one of them; that he was considered worthy to be joined to their band; and that he must have labored for Christ and the Church in a manner conformable to the trust which was posed 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

re

CONCLUDING REMARKS.

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.

We find, with respect to the circumstances of their external condition, — their country, their 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 liave 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 eleven, 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, Bæotian 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 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. They do not seem to be made for such a work. There is no fitness in them to be instructors 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 faith to the world, selected, or, as it would rather appear, took almost carelessly up, his associates and confidential coadjutors, from his own neighborhood, from his own kindred, from the shores of a lake, from the streets of a village, from before his own door-stone, instead of seeking out

« السابقةمتابعة »