Page images

all those who depend upon his providencc, in the diligent and faithful discharge of the duties of their station. The readiness with which St. Jamies forsook his father, to follow Christ, should teach us, that no worldly considerations, not even the ties of nature, should come in competition with the express commands of God. The rebuke which the intemperale zeal of the apostles received from our Saviour should teach us, that no difference of religion, nor pretence of zeal for God and Christ, can warrant and justify a fierce, vindictive, and exterminating spirit; but that we ought, on the contrary, to treat all who differ from us with mildness and affability, and while we steadfastly adhere to our principles, to cherish a spirit of mutual kindness and charity; and, finally, from the example of St. James and the other apostles and saints who laid down their life for Christ, we should learn to estimate the distinguished privilege and blessedness of those who, in the service of the Saviour, suffered martyrdom.

Q. What do you mean by a martyr ?

A. A martyr is one who bears witness to the truth with the sacrifice of his own life. Those who suffered imprisonment, the spoil of their goods, banishment, and severe tortures, if they escaped without dyin.e, were called Confessors. But it was necessary to “resist unto blood," to acquire the glorious privilege of a martyr; though those who died in prison, or during their sufferings by want, or in their banishment were killed by thieves or wild beasts, and even those who, administering to their fellow Christians, in the time of a plague, lost their life, were esteemed martyrs, and entitled to the privileges which were thought to belong to that state.

Q. What privileges were assigned to martyrs by the primitive Christians ?

1. Among various other privileges which the primitive Christians assigned to martyrs, they supposed that, upon their death, were admitted immediately to the beatific vision, while other souls waited for the day of judge ment before their happiness was completed; and the primitive Christians supposed that martyrdom supplied the grace conveyed both by baptism and the holy eucharist, and enitled men to the benefit of those sacraments, the remission of their sins.

Q. Is it not a duty, and should it not be considered as a privilege, to sacrifice life sooner than renounce the service of God?

A. We should consider it as a duty and a privilege to embrace martyrdom sooner than renounce our allegiance to God. In so doing, we prefer eternal happiness before the short-lived pleasures of the world; we evidence the highest love to our God and Saviour, and the most unbounded submission to his will ; and becoming thus conformed to our Master's sufferings, we acquire a title to a higher degree of glory than will be the portion of other Christians.9

Q. How did the primitive Christians generally embrace martyrdom?

A. The primitive Christians generally embraced martyrdom with great readiness and cheerfulness, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. And not only the clergy, but the laity, women as well as men, young and old, encountered death with great fortitude ; though it was armed with all the variety of torments that the malice and cruelty of their enemies could invent.

Q. To what causes may we attribute this great courage and resolution of the primitive Christians ?

A. Next to the plentiful effusion of supernatural grace, their great piety was a proper foundation for this Christian confidence. They mortified their sensual passions; they inured their bodies to severe hardships ; they never softened themselves with the pleasures and diversions of the age. They cherished a lively sense of the rewards of the next life, with which the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared. Their minds were inflamed with great love to their Lord and Master Jesus Christ, whose sufferings for them were fresh in their memories. And the inspiring grace of God gave them such a lively sense of the glories and blessings of heaven, that they endured, with triumph, the most exquisite tortures, which they considered as passports to eternal bliss.

9 Rev. viie 13, 14, &c.; Mati, 7. 10.





WHAT account does the sacred history give of St. Bartholomew ?

A. The evangelical history takes very little notice of this apostle, more than the bare mention of his name; though it is thought that he is the person called Nathanael, principally from the circumstance that St. John never mentions Bartholomew, while he often speaks of Nathanael; and the other evangelists, though they mention Bartholomew, never take notice of Nathanael. It is supposed, therefore, that the same person is designated by these two names.

Q. What character did our Saviour give of him?

A. When Philip brought him to Christ, our Saviour characterized him, as a man of true simplicity and integrity, an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile." Q. Wherein appears the honest simplicity of this apostle?

A. He did not object against the Saviour, the meanness of his original, the low condition and poverty of his parents ; but only against the supposed place of his birth, which, according to the prophets, was to be Bethlehem, and not Nazareth, where he erroneously supposed Christ was born. But popular prejudice did not so far blind him as to prevent him from inquiring concerning Christ, and from acknowledging him to be the Messiah.t

Q. What further account is there of this apostle ?

Ä. Upon the dispersion, it is thought that this apostle preached the Gospel in Arabia Felix and the hither India, where, it is said by Eusebius, that St. Matthew's Gospel was found, left, as tradition reported, by St. Bartholomew. He afterwards travelled through the northern and western parts of Asia, through Lycaonia, and, at length, settled in Albanople, a city of the greater Armenia, where, endeavouring to reclaim the people from idolatry, he was seized by the governor; and after being feed alive,u was crucified with his kead downwards. This lingering and dreadful death he

[blocks in formation]

cheerfully sustained, comforting and encouraging his Christian converts to the last moment of his life.

Q. What instruction does this festival convey to us?

A. From this festival we should learn the value of that simplicity and sincerity of character which this apostle displayed, and without which all professions of religion, and every external appearance of it, are empty and vain.

Q. Explain the virtue of sincerity as it respects our duty to God.

A. As it respects our duty to God, sincerity requires that the outward acts of uniform piety and obedience be the result of our internal veneration for him, and of lively and genuine affection for him. It implies that our faith in his word be entire, our hope in his promises firm, and that it be our supreme desire to recommend ourselves to his favour.

Q. Explain the virtue of sincerity as it respects our intercourse with others.

A. As it respects our intercourse with others, this virtue implies a simplicity of mind and manners in our conversation and conduct. It leads us to speak as we think, to act as we profess, to perform what we promise, and really to be what we would appear to be.

Q. What are the best means of attaining this virtue of sincerity ?

A. A constant intercourse with God in the exercises of devotion is the most effectual means of exciting and preserving this virtue of sincerity. We should also cherish a constant sense of the presence and inspection of that Almighty Being, who will bring to light every secret thing; who requires the service of the heart; and who will detect, and expose to everlasting scorn and punishment, the vain pretences of the hypocrite.


St. MATTHEW, September 21.


2. W

[ocr errors]

HAT account is given of the apostle St. Matthew ? A. St. Matthew, who is also named Levi, was an Hebrew of the Hebrews; and was probably a Galilean. His occupation was that of a publican," or toll-gatherer to the Romans; an office which, though at first esteemed highly honourable, became, at last, highly odious, on account of the great extortion practised by those who held it.

Q. How did the Jews express their abhorrence of those who held the office of a publican?

A. The Jews accounted it unlawful to do the publicans any act of kindness. Money received from them could not be put to the rest of a man's estate, as it was supposed to be got by violence. They were not only deprived of all communion in divine worship, but shunned in all affairs of civil society; it being esteemed infamous and unlawful to marry into their families. Publicans and sinners were considered as synonimous terms.

Q. How was St. Matthew called to be a disciple?

A. As St. Matthew was sitting by the sea of Galilee, gathering the duties payable on merchandise and the tribute from the passengers, our Saviour happened to pass by, and, according to his usual manner of calling disciples, bade Si. Matthew to follow him.«

Q. Did St. Matthew readily obey the call?

A. St. Matthew, who could not entirely be a stranger to the character of Chirist, since he lived at Capernaum, the usual place of Christ's residence, where his miracles and sermons were frequent, immediately left his rich and gainful employment to encounter the poverty and hardships which would assail him in the service of Christ. To show his satisfaction in becoming the disciple of Christ, he went home and prepared a dinner to entertain our Saviour and his disciples; inviting all his friends, particularly those of his own profession, piously hoping that they might also be benefited by Christ's instructions and example.

Lake v. 9.

# Matt. x. 3.

* Matt. ix. 9.

« PreviousContinue »