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to which they owe their hopes of immortality, the principle of action established by their fellowbelievers was this, to leave all to follow Christ. His call was sufficient, when they as yet knew but little of his divine nature, to draw them from worldly pursuits; and few were the lessons they had received from his lips, when they proved themselves willing to endure the many hardships and insults which could not fail to be their lot. 'Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life,' was the affectionate exclamation of Peter, when the Lord questioned their fidelity. 'Let us also go, that we may die with him,' was the equally ready expression of Thomas, when he thought him in danger: and in all his perilous and wearisome journeys, in his stern encounters with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and when he reproved the multitude with his heart-searching questions, they were at his side, nor shrunk from the danger in which he thereby seemed to place both himself and them. And still were they with him when the dark hour of agony arrived. True it is, they could not sustain the burden they had then to bear; but the Lord himself apologized for them: The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak and, they were heavy with sorrow,' are the words of the evangelist-with sorrow for the troubles that were coming upon their Master. The terrors of the judgment-hall, of the preparation for
the crucifixion, of Calvary and Golgotha, were too great for their faith or their fortitude; but their minds no sooner recovered from the first awful surprise, than they again assembled together, to await, though in the midst of enemies, the will of their Lord. And when Christ did again manifest himself to them, what were their expressions of love and joy! What readiness did they not show to receive his commands, and become the ministers of his gospel! There was no drawing back, no hesitation as to what they should do; but joyfully hearkening to his promises, they professed themselves willing to abide the fulfilment of his designs. Then the Holy Spirit was poured upon them; and how did they receive it? As those who had looked and prayed for it with intense earnestness of desire. It prompted no sentiment which they did not utter; it made no motion in their consciences, but it was at once apparent in their language: wherever it inclined to lead them, they obeyed and went, though it led them into the presence of their fiercest and most powerful enemies : and when afflictions came, they still spoke as before in the same tone of confidence and rejoicing. 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?' was the fond and triumphant exclamation of one and all. Nor was this sentiment confined to those who were especially chosen by the Lord to be his apostles and ministers. Even before his glory was
manifested by his rising from the dead, he had followers from among the people, ready in all things to obey his will. Witness the conduct of Zacchæus, and of the woman who broke the alabaster box of precious ointment, and of both the sisters of Lazarus, and of Lazarus himself. They were none of them apostles, but were persons left in the ordinary circumstances of life; and were only induced to love Christ by the power of his wisdom on their hearts. And this was the case in after times. It was not the apostles, or first seventy disciples only, who received the gift of the Holy Ghost, but a mighty multitude, even three thousand souls were on one day converted; and the character of these new converts, as described by St. Luke in the Acts, plainly shows how entirely they yielded themselves up to the guidance of the blessed Spirit. They continued steadfastly,' says he, in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart; praising God, and having favour with all the people.' On turning to the Apostolic epistles, we find what was the character of Christians at a somewhat later
period. Read, for example, the introduction to the first epistle to the Corinthians: what does St. Paul say to that people? I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.' In the second epistle to the same people, even though he had had cause to reprove some instances of sin among them, he speaks of them as a people ready in all things to obey the word of the Spirit: 'We were comforted in your comfort,' says he. To the Ephesians he says, that he had heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints; and he describes them as 'builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.' To the Philippians he says, that they had always obeyed, not as in his presence only, but much more in his absence.' And thus throughout his epistles we see running a train of affectionate congratulations, respecting the growing influence of the gospel on the minds of those who received it; every expression that is made use of tending to prove that the obedience rendered was that of the heart and spirit; that the precepts of Christ and his apostles were taken as forming the grand rule of universal conduct; and that the hopes and expectations which
result from the Christian faith, were sufficient to support them under all the discouragements which they experienced from the world without, or the weakness and doubtings of their own spirits within. Nor did this deep, experimental acknowledgment of the power of the gospel, and of the Holy Ghost, cease with the departure of the apostles and first preachers of the truth to the scene of their reward. The same grace being given, the same obedience, the same love and zeal were evinced; and thousands, during several ages after the words were uttered by St. Paul, went to the stake triumphantly exclaiming, 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?, Churches rose in the strength of the faith thus nobly proved; their discipline was founded on the principles it dictated; the words and actions of Christians, in all the ordinary walks and trials of life, were in strict conformity with the same rule and simplicity of manners, purity of sentiment, devotion and love to God, were every where the known characteristics of the followers of Jesus.
And what was it which enabled, or induced these our forerunners to follow their Saviour with such untiring perseverance? To encounter so many dangers without shrinking, and bear so many trials with a fortitude so serene, so noble, and so cheerful? It was this: they had weighed well