« PreviousContinue »
Witness the power which Abraham must have acquired over Isaac, when you see him yield to his father on the top of Mount Moriah, for I have no idea that any
violence was used. Witness the influence of this son over Jacob, when called upon to discover the object of his highest veneration by solemn oath. Then you hear him swear " by the Fear of his Father Isaac.” See him also on the way to Egypt, yet afraid to go down, and, as soon as he arrives at Beersheba, the border of Canaan, lest he should plant his foot on forbidden ground, see him solemnly recognize his connection with Isaac. There he offers sacrifices to the God of his Father Isaac, and the Almighty as strikingly adverts to this. He replied in a vision of the night, “I am God, the God of thy Father : I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up; and Joseph shall put his hand on thine eyes.”_Dead or alive, as though the Lord had said, it matters not, for my promise of blessing extends to thee and thine beyond the grave : still “ I will bring thee up.” So Joseph, under God, was the instrument employed closing his father's eyes in death, and bringing up his body into the land of promise. Witness the influence of Jacob on Joseph. One day, when yet only a lad, Jacob had said to him, “What is this dream that thou hast dreamed ? Shall I, and thy mother, and thy brethren, indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth ?" Yet Joseph lived to show the old man how all this might be true, and how he could still retain for him the highest regard and affection. See him, though “ Lord of all Egypt," bowing before his venerable parent, and venerating and cherishing him, bringing even his children to receive their old grandfather's blessing; and see him afterwards, in company with his brethren, and in exact compliance with his father's request, carrying the bones of the patriarch up into Canaan with so much respect.
Witness the influence of his parents on Moses. Here was education too—that powerful engine-standing in the way, and which, so far as it went, must have chained him down to Egypt: but all is as nothing before the influence of his nursing mother and father. The choice of Moses is ascribed, indeed, to faith, for nothing else could account for it; but “faith cometh by hearing ;” and in the court of Pharaoh, or from Pharaoh's daughter, what had he heard, if his parents had not instilled into his mind their own principles ?
But I need not here multiply examples, with which the Sacred Scriptures abound; otherwise one might dwell on the influence and power of many parents : the influence of such a mother as Hannah over such a son as Samuel ; the influence of the grandmother of Timothy on his mother, and of his mother on him, the man of whom even Paul said, afterwards, “ I have no man like-minded," or so dear to me.
THE APOSTLES.There is, however, one illustrious group of examples, which must not be so passed over : they will be seen standing in the closest connection with our blessed Saviour himself, who, in laying the foundation of his own imperishable kingdom, availed himself to such an extent of the power of parental influence and natural attachment. The principle on which he proceeded in the selection of his particular friends and apostles, if it is discoverable, is certainly a subject of great interest and laudable curiosity ; it has, therefore, often afforded matter of speculation. Observe, however, the following facts, and then say, whether it does not actually seem as though, by his procedure, he had intended to commend the subject now before us to the most serious attention of Christians individually, and the Christian church in all ages.
Of the twelve men whom he selected for apostles, while,
not one of them belonged to Jerusalem, and not one of them, as far as we know, was taken from the tribe of Levi, more than the half were under previous natural connections among themselves. The natural relationship, however, of these apostles to each other, as well as their connection with the parents who gave them birth, like nany other subjects, is not apparent at first view, nor does any single passage, in so many words, inform us of either. The sacred penmen pursue their own high purpose or end, while they write so as to invite search; and numerous are the discoveries which result from cautious induction, and a careful comparison of incidental expressions. As far as the Apostles and their Parents are noticed, in a variety of places, the following may be taken as the result :
CHILDREN. Jonas and
Peter and Andrew. ZEBEDEE and SALOME,
James and John. CLEOPAS or ALPIEUS
James and Jude,* and Mary, Cleopas and Mary had indeed yet another son, called Joses, or Joseph ; so Mary is said, in one place, to be the mother of James, and Joses, and Simeon, and Judas; and, as she was also nearly related to the mother of our Lord, these, her children, in the large acceptation of the Jewish phraseology, were called “his brethren,” while, by the same passage, it also appears that Mary had several daughters.
Thus, of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, eight of them were brothers, chosen out of three families; and nothing, by the way, could be more lovely, than these brothers going out, two and two, as they afterwards did, by the
* Or Judas, not Iscariot, or Lebbeus, or Thaddeus.
direction of their Saviour. On the eminence of these men I need not dwell, nor on their importance in establishing Christianity. They include the only individuals in the apostleship who wrote any part of the New Testament; nay, five out of the eight are writers in Scripture ; ten of its books they are inspired to compose, including two lives of the Saviour himself, seven epistles, and the book of Revelation ; one of them opens the door of faith to the nations of the world, and, from attachment to their Master, one is the first, and another the last, who suffered for his sake.
It is, however, on account of their Parents, and in connection with them, that they have been here introduced. Of these pa ents the brief notices in Scripture are tremely interesting, and, when they are all united, it is presumed the inference will be clear and striking, that to them their children must have been signally indebted.
Of the parents of the two first mentioned, Peter and Andrew, we know least. Of their mother indeed nothing is said, so that probably she was gone to a better world; and of their father, though but little is recorded, that little seems honorable to his character. When a man is introduced in Scripture as the son of such a one, it will be found generally to denote something either good or bad, honorable or the opposite, in the parent's character, though most frequently it denotes that his character was exemplary, and worthy of being handed down to posterity on the sacred page. Now, immediately on Peter being called, you hear him thus addressed, “ Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas ;” and at a later period, “ Blessed art thou, Simon, Bar Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father, who is in heaven.” As though he had said, Here is one thing of which your own father never did, and never could inforın you. But it was on one of the most memorable and affecting occasions
in his future existence that he was reminded of this connection, with an emphasis which, I doubt not, went with him to the grave.
“Simon," said Jesus, “ son of Jonas, lovest thou me !" Surely there must have been design in this mode of address, repeated as it was not less than three times. Was there not something under it, and more meant than met the ear? Was it not saying in effect,Oh, Simon! only act in character, and be a son worthy of such a Father, as well as an apostle worthy of your Lord and Master? Thus, at the calling, the congratulation, and the reproof of Peter, equally intended for the formation of his character, the name of his Father is never omitted.
Another son of this venerable parent was Andrew. He was one of the two first who, by the direction of the Baptist, found the Messiah, and who not only evinced the strongest attachment, but exulted that he had found the key to a book with which he had been well acquainted. He instantly seeks for his own brother, Simon, saying, « We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” He it was, too, who without loss of time enjoyed the felicity of first introducing Peter to his Lord and Saviour.
By the time that these two individuals were called to a constant attendance on Jesus, the old man, Jonas, is generally supposed to have been dead, no mention being made of him, as there is of Zebedee, when his two sons were called. * If so, this accounts for the slender notice of him in the Evangelical history. His name, however, is intro
* By this time also Peter had taken James and John, the sons of Zebedee, into partnership in business with im,-a proof, by the way, of subsisting friendship, and of the closest previous intimacy. That their attachment to Christ may have contributed to cement their union in one business is not improbable, as for some time Peter at least had known him; but, whether or not, the Saviour broke up