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plying us with instruction, on account of the light which it throws, not only on the character of the Apostles themselves, but likewise on the design and spirit of the New Testament.
I. In the first place, then, I observe, that the scantiness of the information which the New Testament gives us regarding the lives of the Apostles, is a fact which throws considerable light on the characters of the Apostles themselves.
It is so natural for every man to desire to live in the memory of his survivors, and especially it is so natural for men engaged in public and weighty transactions, to wish to secure to posterity a favourable representation of their conduct, that the mere fact of a number of men, who had all their lives been engaged in a new and extraordinary undertaking, in effecting the most extensive revolution which has ever been attempted in the moral and spiritual condition of mankind, manifesting such an utter disregard of posthumous reputation, cannot fail of attracting the attention of any one who feels the smallest interest in
the study of human nature. Why is it then that the Apostles have shown so little anxiety to preserve their memory among mankind? I answer,
1. First, because they believed the religion which they taught. How common, how lamentably common it is, to find men whose teaching breathes nothing but spirituality and unworldliness, who require from their hearers nothing short of a total renunciation of self, nothing short of an utter deadness to the world, and indifference to its censure and its applause, nothing short of an annihilation of all craving for distinction and publicity, proving by their conduct, that too many of their exhortations can have but little influence on their own principles and lives. And this, no doubt, is one cause of the small effect produced by our discourses from the pulpit. For it is not to be expected, that the piety of the people will rise much above the piety of their teacher, whatever be the elevation of tone which his instructions may have taken. The Apostles professed to be crucified to the world and its approbation, and
to glory in nothing but the cross of Jesus Christ their Lord. What they professed they felt. They really believed, that this world, compared with the eternal stabilities of the world to come, is a delusion; a momentary vision, swiftly passing away, and void of any thing deserving the devotion of an immortal spirit. They really believed, that by losing their life in this world, they should keep it unto life eternal; and that the only honour and applause worth their coveting, must be earned by a life of patient continuance in well-doing, and expected not before that day, when Christ will come to give glory, and honour, and immortality to His servants. They really believed what they taught. They sought not the praise of men. They sought not to leave behind them the record of their actions and their sufferings, or to receive, in the admiration of future generations, a just award for their benefits to mankind. They left no diaries ; no memoirs ; no private letters. The Letters of Cicero throw more light on his private history, than we possess concerning The Apostles believed that the only honour worth a thought, is the honour that cometh from God only. And they acted accordingly.
2. But further, this fact proves also the singleness of their purpose. An Apostle is an ambassador charged with a message, in the delivery of which his Master's interest and honour will engross his efforts, just as far as he is an honest man. They had a negotiation to conduct, and to this one object all their thoughts, actions, and writings were devoted. They lived for no other end but to speak the words which their Master had enjoined them. “ He,” saith Christ, " that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him ?.” Instantly occupied in the business to which their Master had called them, they devoted themselves, with generous loyalty, to the promotion of His honour, and left their own honour to be cared for and vindicated by Him. The whole world, sunk in ignorance and idolatry, lay before them. The image of His dying love was engraven on their hearts, constraining them to give themselves wholly to that transcendent work, to achieve which He had not refused to shed His precious blood. They had no time, absolutely no time, to bestow on meaner objects. They loved Him too well to bestow a thought on them, if they had. What the world counted gain, what they themselves bad once counted gain, they now counted loss ', -yea, loathsome and disgusting, compared with that one single unmixed object for which they lived, and for which they had resolved to die. And therefore they could not afford to abstract a moment of their consecrated existence (for their whole life was a consecration and a sacrifice) from their high and glorious employment, to waste on the preservation of their memory amongst mankind. If Christ was but established in the thoughts and affections of men, they had no de
1 John vii. 18.