صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

that even disappointed avarice could report nothing against it. We see too in this fact, an instance of the truth, which is at once so obvious and so little regarded, that a variety of genius and disposition is in accordance with the designs of Providence in its most important operations with human instruments, as well as in the daily and social business of the world; and that a character is by no means to be despised because its qualities are not shining and striking. There are different parts to be performed, requiring different powers and capacities; and he who achieves his part, though it be a silent and undistinguished one, is a good servant.

We are told much, in the writings of the New Testament, of the words and actions of Simon Peter ; but little or nothing of those of Simon Zelotes and Bartholomew; and yet these latter may have accomplished tasks which were necessary to the progress of the great work, but which would not have suited the peculiar capacity of Peter. They may have reached minds which he could not touch; they may have performed duties, subordinate indeed, but still necessary, such as he was not gifted to perform. Each apostle takes his own place, and stands easily and naturally in it; neither stretching after what was above, nor

[ocr errors]

contemning what was below him. In this instance, as well as in others, we may derive a lesson from them.

In another point of view, the company of the apostles presents us with a spectacle, which, though it may not be a very instructive, is certainly a pleasing one. Within their common fraternity there were no less than three distinct bands of natural brethren. Peter and Andrew were brothers; John and James the Greater were brothers; and so also were James the Less, Jude or Thaddeus, and Simon Zelotes. With the ties of a common faith, of a common toil, and a common danger, were thus beautifully blended the ties of consanguinity and domestic affection ; and a texture of harmonious coloring was completed in this companionship, such as is seldom woven on earth.

The three brethren last named were also near relations of Jesus himself. The reflections which are readily suggested by this circumstance, are, that our Saviour was beloved at home as well as abroad; and that the familiarity of relationship did not impair the respect in which he was held as a master and teacher. also in this fact, another cause of his love for his disciples, and of their love for him; a cause which is far from diminishing our reverence for

We see

him, or our interest in them. They were not strangers to each other; they were not brought together merely by the attractions of sympathy, or the demands of a great work. They were not countrymen only; they were neighbours, partners, early acquaintances; - they were more, for they were kinsmen, with the mutual attachments of kindred; and they go about on their labors before us, a more social, united, confidential, and interesting group, than if there had been no family bonds to strengthen and adorn their union.

Let us next view the apostles as authors, and as subjects of history. I should wonder at the state of that man's affections who could read the Gospels, two of which were written by apostles, without being struck by the exceeding modesty and self-forgetfulness of the disciples, and their absorbing attention to one individual, their venerated and beloved Master. There are no vaunts in those sacred histories; no instances of open or disguised egotism. When the writer speaks of his fellow disciples, he relates with the utmost simplicity their faults, and prejudices, and want of faith, as well as the better parts of their characters. And he speaks of his Master, too, with equal simplicity, but with how much greater fre

[ocr errors]

quency and devotion! He brings every other person, every other thing, he brings himself under perfect subordination to this main subject of his narrative. He does this, not artfully and intentionally, but unavoidably; from feeling, from impulse, from the conviction that there is but one individual of whom he is giving an account; and if others are mentioned, they are mentioned because they are in some manner connected with that person.

If Jesus has occasion to praise one of his disciples, the evangelist records the fact without envy; if that disciple, or any other one is rebuked, he relates it without evasion or excuse. He keeps himself to the sayings and actions of his Master, as to his chief concern. He indulges in no inferences, no moral reflections, no expression of his own views or feelings; he writes pure history, simple narrative; and on all occasions he tells, without reserve and without suspicion, the plain truth; we see and feel that he does; there is an honesty about every relation which cannot be mistaken or suspected. And we see and feel, too, that the chief personage of the history is not brought out into such entire relief, into such a concentration of light, by any effort or design on the part of the writer, but only and wholly on account of the unapproached sublimity and intrinsic superiority of the character itself,

There is one other circumstance in the lives of the apostles, which I am bound to notice for the sake of its singularity and importance; and then I will leave them to the meditations and further inquiries of my readers. I have several times had occasion to speak of the national prejudices of these men, and the difficulty which they had to comprehend the entire spirituality of their Master's system and kingdom, and to admit into their associations with the Jewish Messiah and Saviour the ideas of poverty, lowliness, suffering, and death. Attached as they were to him by all the ties which we have enumerated, we see that when he was actually apprehended by his enemies, they all forsook him and fled; that they did not return to him; and that on the Mount where he was crucified, there was but one of them who appeared to witness the death of their Master and kinsman, and the extinction of all their hopes. The event was one for which they were wholly unprepared. It confounded them. Their preconceived opinions were so strong, that when Jesus had before spoken to them of his death, they shut up their ears and their eyes, they would not understand him. We do not find a single hint in the Gospels, that they ever did understand him. The event itself was

« السابقةمتابعة »