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the distance of a mile. The mention of this rate turally suggests a reflection of great moment.
The Jews even in the worst of times, were particularly scrupulous in their observance of the sabbath : and were so cautious of undertaking journies of pleasure or business on that day, that a sabbathday's journey became proverbial. It is true they did not always practice this duty, any more than many others from a right principle : so that we find our Saviour frequently reproving that false rigour, with which they adhered to the letter of the law, and suffered its spirit to cvaporate. Under the sanction of his precept and example, we are permitted to do works of necessity, and enjoined works of charity on his holy day. But while he thus lightens the burden, he is far from taking off all obligation ; on the contrary, we may be assured that the reasonable and appropriate duties of the day, will be the more strictly required of us; and that all deliberate violations of it will be punished. Now of all those which are not in their nature most flagrantly sinful and immoral, none is more inexcusable, than to profane the sabbath-day by long and laborious journeyings, or even by excursions of amusement : because in so doing, we not only neglect the duties of piety for which it is set apart, but rob the most useful and deserving part: of the brute creation of that rest, to which they arc entitled by the positive command of God. The
day appointed by him for the general repose of the animal world becomes, through the barbarous usage of men, their most galling yoke and bitter scourge; thus perverting a gracious and merciful dispensation into punishment and a curse ; and making that very provision, which by divine authority was designed for comfort and refreshment, the means of increasing their burden and torture. A good man, it is justly observed, is merciful to his beast whence it follows, that cruelty toward those unhappy creatures is no less inconsistent with the charac.. ter of true humanity, than with à just reverence for God's laws. But I will pursue this subject no farther, than to warn you of the great danger of committing two atrocious offences in the same act; a contemptuous breach of the sabbath, in neglecting its reasonable service ; and the exercise of a wanton tyranny over inferior animals, contrary to the most clear and express command of that merciful Being, who is the Maker of us all, and who will not suffer any part of his works to be caprici, ously and savagely treated by the rest.
The Apostles having now returned to Jerusalem, 6ó went up into an upper room,” where they abode or remained for some time. It was a custom among the devout Jews to consecrate a chamber in the upper part of their houses to religious uses ; that, if at the stated hours of prayer they could not attend the temple or synagogue service, they might retire
thither. In such a room Cornelius was praying at the ninth hour, or time of evening sacrifice, when the Angel appeared to him: and in such an one Paul preached at Troas, when Eutychus fell from the window in the third loft. Here the eleven « continued with one accord in prayer and supplication." Such was the preparation for their ministry made by these holy men. Feeling their insufficiency of themselves to discharge the great trust committed to them, their first step was to implore divine aid, without which neither that nor any other undertaking can succeed. For how could the work of God prosper in their hands, unless he was first in their thoughts? Or how could they expect his.grace upon their endeavours, which like the dew from heaven was to vivify and nourish and bring to perfection the seed of the Gospel sown by his blessed Son, if they did not lift up their hearts and voices to call down a blessing from above ? Even heathens, whose conceptions of the Deity were mixed with a thousand gross errors derogatory to his wisdom and goodness, seldom began an enterprise of the least moment without first paying their homage by auspices and sacrifice. How infinitely more incumbent are the duties of piety and religion upon the disciples of Christ, to whom the most sublime and glorious attributes of the divine nature have been revealed, who are invited to ask, and they shall receive strength and grace from the common Father of mankind !
We come now to the passage where St. Peter exhorts his brethren to fill up the place of Apostle vacated by the trajtor Judas. The proposal appears to come from him with great propriety, not only as suitable to the forward zeal of his character, þut because our Lord seems to have distinguished him in a particular manner above the rest after his resurrection, as appears from the tender appeal made to him three several times in almost the same words : 66 Josus saith to Simon Peter, Simon lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee, He saith unto him, feed my lambs.”* But before he begins his ad
* Some Commentators suppose a rebuke to have been conveyed in this passage : and I am willing to admit, that such meaning may be fairly implied, the repetition of the words probably alluding to St Peter's denial of his Lord three several times. Yet I cannot help thinking the plain, obvious, and primary intention, to be what is stated above. The words appear to me similar to those addressed by our Saviour to the same Apostle, on another occasion, viz. “ Thou art Peter; and upon this rock will I build my Church.” But that nothing in either case denotes an authority superior to the other Apostles is plain, from commissions of exactly the same nature with the present being indiscriminately given to them all elsewhere ; from their contending with Peter about associating with persons uncircumcised ; and from the severe rebuke which St. Paul gave him, for his mean dissembling about Gentile communion. All these indicate an entire equality: neither can any thing be inferred from those other forms of expression, except mere priority of office, for which the ardent mind, and active zeal of St. Peter, so well fitted him. As to the reason assigned for considering the words as spoken in reproof, viz. for the purpose
dress, the historian incidentally mentions a circumstance deserving your attention; “ the number of the names of the disciples) together were about an hundred and twenty.” From so small and weak beginnings (for they were not only thus few in number but without all power and authority) did the religion of Christ now set out, and in a few years spread with a rapid progress through the world: hereby fulfilling the prophecy of our Lord, who compared it to a grain of mustard seed, “ which is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown becometh a tree;" and in its wonderful propagation bearing with it incontestible evidence of its divine origin. It may be thought very extraordinary to find so small a number of disciples after the miraculous and public ministry of Christ. But beside that these were not probably all, who professed the faith of Christ, (for we are told that after he had risen from the dead, he was seen of five hundred brethren at once) and meant only those who were in Judea, nigh to Jerusalem ; the innumerable obstacles his religion had to encounter in the vices, passions, prejudices, evil babits and spiritual darkness of the people, joined to the mean and
of restraining an excessive admiration of this Apostle, there are too many striking proofs of his fallibility and weakness to make this necessary. Where such direct evidence fails, we can hope for little effect from arguments of remote inference, which are all the present