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“Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief corner-stone."
1.-THE MAN. The central point of history is the manifestation of the Son of God in the flesh. His brief sojourn on earth exhibits a perfect love, combined with perfect truth and righteousness, which men had not even imaged to themselves as possible. He is the faultless Type of humanity; the Express Image,” in our nature, of the invisible God; the Revealer of heavenly things; the Redeemer from evil; the Founder and King of a new creation; the Life from whom all life flows. It is a mighty step taken when I exchange my barren abstraction of “Deity” for the I AM of the Old Testament; a still mightier step when I see the I Am livingly in Jesus Christ. During His brief and lowly transit through mortal life, glorifying the Father and bearing the burden of our salvation, comparatively few eyes were drawn to Him; and even of these few, many“ seeing, saw not;" the place He occupied was that of a stranger whom the world did not know. That all the ends of the earth might have tidings of Him, He chose certain followers, and received them into the inner circle of communion, who should hear His words, see His works, witness the disclosures of His glory, become penetrated with His light, receive the impress of His personality; and who in turn should declare, with human lips, what they had seen and heard, and show, in human life, the Eternal Life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto them: an infinitely more gracious thing, more suited to the needs both of our intellect and heart, than if He had left behind Him some stereotyped book setting forth in naked abstractness what we must believe and do.
Because He Himself was so truly and deeply the Wonderful, it was necessary that His witnesses, who were also to be the future organs of His Spirit, should be men of broadly varied nature--not copies one of another, like images of clay cast in kindred mould, but differing in mental constitution, experience, spiritual affinities, and faculty of vision. No single man could take in His full image, or apprehend, in
its completeness and unity and infinite reaches of application, the truth revealed in Him; and therefore the “chosen witnesses” were many and many-natured. Thus only could an adequate representation be given of the Word made flesh.” The fact of inspiration does not render their testimony one whit the less an accurate expression of their personal knowledge and experience.
Taking the apostolic band as a whole, we find in them (speaking reverently) great breadth of fitness for the Lord's purposes. He who chooseth the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, ever chooseth in a wisdom that is heavenly and perfect. Certain elements of fitness they had in common. They were all drawn from the ranks of practical life; not dreamers or visionaries, but men accustomed to the use of their senses and reason in every-day affairs. They were “ unlearned and ignorant,” not in the sense of being uneducatedparticularly in spiritual things—but in the sense of being untrained in Rabbinic discipline and lore. As witnesses of the Divine manifestation in Christ Jesus, this was no loss to them, but rather gain; for there is a wisdom that blinds and causes to stumble. Their want of “ learning" left them more free and unsophisticated; in a healthier condition of mind; with no ingenious theories to which facts must adapt themselves; with simpler and clearer eyesight. The very nature of the employment which most of them had pursued—that of fishermen -tended to make them at once observant, cautious, and patient. They were also removed to a considerable extent, both by place and manner of life, from Pharisaic and Sadducean influences ; and to that extent were better prepared to welcome the Consolation of Israel. Humanly speaking, no class in the land could have furnished men with larger fitness for being the companions and witnesses of the Son of God.
Besides what they had in common, there were also among them the strongest and most distinctly-marked peculiarities, fitting them to discern different aspects and elements of the Lord's manifestation of Himself, and to fulfil different forms of service; just as in the church we see various graces which together present a fuller image of the Lord than is found in any single saint, or as we hear various notes which together make up a full chord. I need but name Peter--rapid, sanguine, practical, penetrated with the flame of zeal and love ; James and John, the sons of thunder; the other James, surnamed “the Just,"' to whom the helm of the Church in Jerusalem was first committed, with his bold ethical nature, judicial intellect, and faculty of government; Thomas, cautious and scrutinizing, slow to take things on trust, demanding the full satisfaction of his reason, the very last man to be imposed upon by his likings; Matthew the publican, the writer of the Gospel that bears his name, sublimely content to be hidden behind his Lord; Nathanael, the Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile; Judas, the brother of James-whose Epistle startles like an alarum-bell rung at midnight; and even Judas Iscariot, with his plausible face and keen, calculating eye, ready to detect fault in Jesus