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theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” So far am I from promising you temporal prosperity as the portion of the subjects of your expected kingdom of the Messiah, that I forewarn you, that instead of triumphing, you shall be persecuted; but your highest happiness shall grow out of it. Unexpected and astonishing to you as it may seem, I pronounce to you, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is
your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Such were some of the first discourses of Christ, so admirably calculated for those to whom they were then addressed, as well as to instruct the world in all ages. The Jews, while all their worldly hopes were withered as he proceeded, could not but feel their consciences touched and their moral nature enlightened; and the impression left upon them was astonishment, not unmingled with awe. They felt that his words carried conviction to their minds, for “he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.”
This figure of the kingdom, Christ maintained to the last. It was thus in almost all the parables : “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which when it is sown, is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it becometh a tree, so that the fowls of heaven come and lodge in its branches.”
"The kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened.” “ The kingdom of heaven is like a wedding, from which the guests who arrived too late were altogether excluded.” But the most powerful and affecting use of this figure is in the scene descriptive of the general judgment, that final discrimination that must at length take place between those who have obeyed, and those who have disobeyed the Gospel, a discrimination which it wants no outward judgment to make, but every man's conscience makes it for himself. This scene, though awfully and sublimely true, is merely a figure conformed to the Jewish idea of the kingdom of Messiah, and though most calculated to strike their fancies, conveys to all men in all ages a tremendous truth, which could not perhaps, be better shadowed forth in any conceivable language. “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he set upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and
ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; sick, and ye vis
I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on his left hand, Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall these go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."
THE APOSTLES CHRIST'S WITNESSES.
LUKE 6: 12.-And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom he also named Apostles.
The new religion, which Jesus was sent to teach, was not only to be preached by himself to that generation, but to be perpetuated to all time. His own ministry he knew was to be short, and to have a tragical end. It could be perpetuated in no other way than by choosing assistants while he lived, and training them to take up the work where he laid it down, to receive the Gospel from his lips, proclaim it to the world, and when their days should be numbered, commit it to others, who should be prepared in their turn, to instruct a new generation, and thus send it down to all future times. Had there been no organization of this kind, had Jesus chosen no Apostles, Christianity would have perished on the very threshold of its existence. Accordingly, not long
after the commencement of his mission, after a night of prayer to God, doubtless for Divine guidance and direction, he chose twelve men of his more immediate followers, and ordained them as his assistants and successors in the propagation of the new faith. To them he explained more fully the principles of his religion, which to the multitude, for fear of popular commotion, he veiled under the dress of parable and allegory. He sent them during his own ministry as heralds of his approach, to prepare the minds of the people by their instructions for his own more perfect teaching
These twelve Apostles were men from the lower orders of society, of but slender literary and intellectual cultivation, without wealth or influential connexions. They brought no accession of strength or respectability to his cause. It may seem at first sight utterly unaccountable on any principle of human policy, that he should have made such a selection, and quite as unaccountable that he himself should have chosen to pass through his ministry under an exterior so exceedingly humble; that he should, in the language of the Apostle, have made himself of no reputation, and to all external appearances, taken the form of a slave. But when we reflect upon it, we find that it was dictated by the highest wisdom. His external humility only puts in stronger contrast his moral and spiritual glory. He was really so great, that nothing