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CHAPTER III.

The CONDUCT of the apostles, Shewn to be inconsistent

with the supposition of their having been entbu. fiafts,

SECTION E.

The general conduct of the apostles in their private

çapacity, inconsistent with enthusiasm.

In the first chapter we examined the strength of that evidence, by which the apostles had been them, selves assured of their divine miflion; and in the second, the clearness of the proofs which they adduced to convince their profelytes; and it has, I trust, appeared, that these first teachers of our holy faith cannot justly be charged, either with that rash credulity, which is itself the easy dupe of delusion, or that presumptuous dogmatism, which imposes its delusions on others, both which seem to be primary and efsential characters of genuine fanaticism. Let us in the next place compare the conduct of the

apostles apostles with that which enthusiasm would naturally produce.

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Now, we ever find that, so far as this prevails, reason and judgment are proportionably laid aside; the mode in which this weakness displays itself, will necessarily vary with the peculiar temper and character of him who labours under it; but in every tem. . per and character extravagance and folly will appear. Is the enthusiast naturally gloomy and despondent? we shall find him overpowered by religious melancholy and abstraction, devoted to excessive mortifica. tion and fantastic penances. Is he fanguine and vio.. lent? we shall see him rush forward in the hot pursuit, to which he conceives himself driven by a divine impulse, without any regard to reason or difcretion, perpetually trampling on the restraints of order and decency-not only ready to sustain, but impatient to search out and .court persecution, danger and death. In both cases he is alienated from and unfitted for the relations and offices of common life; such men will not labour, it is unworthy their fanctity; they will despise all human distinctions as beneath their notice : thus, though the end pursued may be religious and praise-worthy, the means employed to attain it will be found, in some respect or other, extravagant and absurd. Now the conduct of the apostles, as it is incidentally disclosed to us by the artless historian, who has described the first establish

ment

ment of Christianity, appears entirely free from these various weaknesses.

We discover in their mode of life no melancholy, no abstraction from society, no aversion to labour; in the interval between the resurrection of their Lord and the commencement of their own public ministry, we find they had returned to the calm and humble pursuit of that laborious industry which had originally formed their fole occupation. They were employed in fishing on the lake Tiberias, when our Lord appeared to them, and by the miraculous fuccess, which at his word they obtained, convinced them he still retained the fame divine power which they had seen exercised on a similar occafion in the commencement of his ministry. Such a situation and employment were as remote from enthusiasm as can be imagined.

They were commanded by their Lord to wait at Jerusalem, before they published his " resurrection, “ till they should receive power from on high,” and they waited patiently for forty days; enthusiasm is violent and sudden—their faith was rational, and therefore their conduct deliberate. But even after they received this promised power, and in consequence of the sacred commission dedicated their whole lives to preaching the gospel of Christ, they

John xxi.

u Luke xxiv. 49.

yet

yet were not * elevated above the common relations ; they did not undervalue the common duties of life. The very reverse they frequently recalled men to observe, but never'encouraged them to neglect such duties, to abandon business or industry, and to retire to the cave or the defart, for the purpose of indulging indolence or spiritual pride beneath the mask of devotion, and thus becoming a burthen to others for their support, without contributing any thing to the general good.

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We observe in their conduct no unnecessary austerities, no self-inflicted sufferings, no habitual melancholy, not even in St. Paul, whose conduct is more particularly detailed, and whose remorse for having perfecuted the church of Christ, had made the deepest impression on his soul ; even he did not attempt to atone for his offence by solitude and penance, but by indefatigable activity in the service of that Christ whom he had persecuted :—this was sincerity, not enthusiasm.

* The following passages shew that the apostles both in their practice and precepts attended to the natural relations of life.“ Have we not power, says St. Paul, 1 Cor. ix. 5. to lead “ about a fifter, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the “ brethren of the Lord and Cephas ;'--and i Tim. iii. 2 and 4. “ A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, “ vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to “ teach-one that ruleth well his own house, having his chil"s dren in subjection with all gravity; for if a man know not " how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the s church of God.”

Addressing Addressing himself to the Theffalonians he has this remarkable appeal.—“ 'For yourselves know “ how ye ought to follow us ; for we behaved not “ ourselves disorderly among you, neither did we eat « any man's bread for nought, but wrought with “ labour and travel, night and day, that we might “ not be chargeable to any of you ; not because “ we have not power, but to make ourselves « an example to you to follow us. For even “ when we were with you, this we commanded you, 66 that if any would not work, neither should he " eat; for we hear that there are some which walk « among you disorderly, working not at all, but are 6 busy-bodies : now them that are such we com6 mand, and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, “ that with quietness they work, and eat their own « bread.” How totally remote this from the selfinterest of imposture, or the wildness of enthusiasm.

What St. Paul asserts of himself and his immediate companions (Silvanus and Timotheus) he in another place declares of all the apostles. Addressing the Corinthians, he tells them I think God has set « forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed « unto death?_even unto this present hour we “ both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are “ buffeted, having no certain dwelling-place, and

Y 2 Thes. iii. 7--12.

-? 1 Cor. iv. 9-12.'.

66 labouri

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