and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Him.
I. THE RELATION BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS SERVANTS WAS DELIBERATELY ENTERED UPON AND VOLUNTARY IN ITS NATURE.
1. It was formally commenced in retirement. We may suppose a season of devotion. The absence of public excitement or external interference was evidently desired.
2. The utmost freedom existed on both sides. He called "whom he himself would: and they went unto him? There was no coercion. The highest principles and emotions were addressed. On the one hand, the teaching and the work of the Master were not dominated by the influence now associated with him; nor, on the other, was their service other than the fret of enthusiasm, intelligent conviction, and willing sympathy.
II. REPUTATION WAS RECEIVED FROM CHRIST BY HIS SERVANTS, NOT CONFERRED BY THEM. The names are all of men in humble life, with no previous distinction of shy kind. They were names common enough in Palestine. But their connection with Christ has immortalized them. How many have come to the Saviour in similar circumstances, and have received the reflected renown of his name! He makes the best out of the poor materials of human nature, and bestows what human nature in its greatest circumstances and moods could never of itself have produced. Men are honored in being made the servants of Christ.
III. THE APOSTLES WERE TO BE REPRESENTATIVE IN OFFICE AND CHARACTER FOR ALL TIME. As his first disciples, and because of the marked variety and force of their individual natures as influenced by the gospel and developed in Christ's service; their names have wrought themselves into the very texture of the gospel, and we have received it with the impress of their varied natures and habits of thought. "He sent them forth to preach, and to have authority to cast out devils" - a fundamental work. Therefore are they called "the foundation of the apostles and prophets," of whom Jesus is the Corner-stone. In serving Christ they laid the world and the ages under inestimable obligation. - M.
And He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.
(M. F. Sadler.)I. WE WILL CONSIDER SOME THINGS IN CHRISTIANITY THAT ARE ADAPTED TO GIVE GENTLENESS TO THE CHARACTER.
1. The view which it gives a person of himself. This, you know, is anything but flattering. Christian humility certainly tends to promote gentleness.
2. I mention next the view Christianity gives of God and of eternity. Not only is a person who has felt "the powers of the world to come" apt to feel that the paltry interests of time are not worth contending for, but habitual contemplation of eternal realities, and of Him who "inhabiteth eternity," will so awe and elevate the spirit, that it will have the utmost disrelish for contention. Would it not be strange if two persons should quarrel while gazing together at the cataract of Niagara, listening to its solemn roar, and feeling its solemn tremor? Is it possible to retain anger when you stand at a window, watching the coming up of a storm; or at the foot of cliffs, that lift themselves ruggedly up to the sky; or on the shore of the ocean, stretching away beyond the utmost reach of vision, endlessly rolling in its waves, and ceaselessly lifting up its voice! Christianity, studied, believed, embraced, experienced, causes the soul to dwell habitually in the presence of sublimer objects than these, and under the influence of nobler contemplations.
3. The character of Christ, as it is delineated in the Scriptures, and as the Christian contemplates it, is calculated to promote gentleness. He is exhibited as "the Lamb of God," — not only a spotless victim, fit for the sacrifice, but dumb and unresisting when led to slaughter.
II. SOME THINGS IN CHRISTIANITY THAT ARE ADAPTED TO GIVE ENERGY TO THE CHARACTER.
1. Look at the objects of effort which if presents — all that is involved in one's own eternal salvation, and all that tends to the well-being of mankind and the glory of God.
2. Look at the motives to effort which Christianity supplies.
3. Consider the examples which Christianity exhibits. I hope you see that the energy which Christianity inspires does not mar the gentleness which is so beautiful an ornament of character; and that the gentleness which Christianity cultivates does not soften and enervate the soul. The two elements do most harmoniously blend, balancing and tempering, not at all hindering each other. In all our efforts at self-culture, let us seek for the attainment of both these elements in scriptural proportions and in scriptural combination.
(H. A. Nelson, D. D.)
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