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bourers are few, it will be a greater honour to those who are employed: if they meet with many adversaries, who endeavour to oppose their benevolent designs, it is no more than the first labourers in this field, than Christ and his apostles, experienced; it is no more than what has happened to every other teacher, who has succeeded them in the same work of enlightening and reforming mankind.
Matthew x. l-.--15.
1. And, when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against,
s over,” unclean spirits, to cast them out; and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease.
Christ, having beheld the multitude with compassion, because they were ignorant, and destitute of proper instructors, immediately adopts a method for removing this evil, by sending forth his disciples to preach. The persons whom he chose for this purpose, were such as had been more familiar with him than the rest, and who had been his daily companions. In order that they might excite attention to their doctrine, and be able to prove their divine mission, Christ endowed them with the power of working miracles.
In this communication, the dignity and authority of Christ appear eminently conspicuous. Many of the other prophets worked miracles; but they could not, at pleasure, grant the power of miracles to others; not even Moses to Joshua, nor Elijah to Elisha. One of the miracles which they are authorized to perform is that of casting out unclean spirits. They were the spirits of wicked men, who, after their death, were supposed to torment the living. “ These are called evil and unclean; but it is not certain whether these epithets were given them to express their personai dispositions, or only those effects which they were supposed to produce. The word evil might be applied to a dæmon, on account of the pain and misery which he was thought to create; and it is possible that dæmons might be called unclean, because persons under that melancholy and maniacal disorder, of which they were the reputed authors, avoided the society of men, and were continually desiling themselves with objects esteemed by the Jews unclean. This was the case of the man who lived amongst the tombs, by which he contracted the greatest pollution*.”
2. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these:
The first, Simon, who is called Peter,
Simon is first mentioned because he was called first: the surname of Peter was given him by Christ.
And Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; these were all fishermen.
3. Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, who was also called Didymus, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphæus, and Lebbæus, whose surname was Thaddæus.
This last is the name which is called by Luke, (vi. 16.) Judas; and the difference probably arose from nothing more than some peculiarity in the pronunciation.
4. Simon the Canaanite, It is probable that this Simon derived his name from the place of his residence, Cana in Galilee, where Christ wrought his first miracle, by turning water into wine,
Farmer on Dæmoniacs, p. 61.
and that it was originally written the Canaite, and not the Canaanite.
And Judas Iscariot, i. e. a man born in Cærioth or Kerioth, who also betrayed him.
It was of considerable importance that the names of these persons should be known, by whose concurring testimony the truth was to be established; especially, as there were not wanting persons who falsely assumed the name of apostles.
5. These twelve Jesus sent forth,
Christ, being about to establish a spiritual kingdom, borrows a model from the Jewish republic, in order that it might more clearly appear that the promises which had been made to the Jews of an eternal kingdom, were substantially fulfilled in him: for, as there were twelve tribes, so, there were twelve heads of tribes, of extraordinary dignity, to which the words of Christ refer, Matt, xix. 26. “ Verily I say unto you, that
which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” These twelve persons were called A POSTLES, because they were sent out to preach; apostle signifying a person that is sent.----They were also called disciples, because they were taught by Christ.
And commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, i. e. Go not towards the Gentiles : and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
Christ does not prohibit the apostles from going into the country of Samaria, because it lay in the way of those who went from Galilee to Jerusalem; but he forbids them to enter their towns, as well as the country of the Gentiles, lest it should appear that this embassy was instituted for the sake of the Samaritans, and hereby give offence to the Jews, between whom and the Samaritans there was an irreconcileable hatred. It was likewise an illustrious proof of the precedence which he allowed to the Jews, that he made it his first care to instruct them; a practice which was also strictly followed by his apostles, after his resurrection.
6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
It is to them that Christ professes that he was particularly sent: Matt. xv. 24. he said to the woman of Canaan," I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Paul likewise tells us, Rom. xv. 8. “now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision, for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers;" that is, that there might appear to be a full confidence in the promises which God made to the ancestors of the Jews. Jesus Christ conferred no benefits upon foreigners, except occasionally; waiting patiently the conversion of the Jews, that other nations might afterwards be converted by their
7. And, as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
It is observable that the twelve apostles, upon this mission, were not to declare Jesus to be the Messiah, probably for fear of giving alarm to the Jews; but the subject of their proclamation was to be that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, which, if it be compared with the same language from John the Baptist, and from Jesus Christ when he first entered upon his ministry, will be found to be nothing more than an exhortation to a better life, that they might be prepared for this new kingdom that was about to be established, and be disposed to receive Jesus as the Messiah, whenever he should appear,
8. Heal the sick; cleanse the lepers; raise the dead; cast out dæmons : freely ye have received, freely give.
Physicians acquire the knowledge of diseases, and of the means of curing then, after much expence of time and money;
have received this power of healing disorders, in one moment, without any expence of yours: therefore exercise this healing power towards others, without stipulating for any money or reward. Christ here shews that what he required was no grievous or unjust thing, that these acts of power should be performed without reward; which he does, by reminding the apostles in what manner the powers were bestowed. Nevertheless, to receive voluntary gifts for these acts has nothing in it naturally base: those who consulted the prophets were accustomed to reward them with small presents; yet they did not always receive them, but judged what was proper to be done by the circumstances of the persons and the case. Thus Elisha says to his servant, when he took a present from Naaman the Syrian, “was this a time for receiving silver or garments?" and Daniel (v. 17.) refused to receive any reward from king Belshazzar. Christ, who saw that it would detract much from the authority of the gospel, and expose his disciples to many calumnies, if they received rewards for those performances which were only intended to attest the truth and divine origin of particular doctrines, prohibited not only all disgraceful contracts from being made, for the exercise of these extraordinary powers; but all kind of gain from being sought from things of this nature, and even from the work of teaching others. This rule was religiously observed by the true apostles, and their immediate suc
At the same time, however, both Christ and his apostles, by precept and example, taught that it was just that those who neglected all their worldly affairs, in order that they might be at leisure to administer to the salvation of others, should be honourably maintained by them in their turn. Yet the apostles, and particularly Paul, yielded up this right, labouring