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What infinite mischief would such a one as Simon Magus have done, had he been received (as he desired) into any sacred office in the church! What slaughter would he have made of the flock, bringing in damnable heresies, backing them with signs and lying wonders, appearing all the while as one divinely inspired, and like an angel of light, who was indeed one of the worst emissaries of the spirits of darkness! We know how that man of sin prevailed, to the ruin of innumerable souls and the great disturbance of the church, even after the apostles had found out what he was, and publicly rebuked and rejected him : what then would he not have done, had he been shrouded under a fair disguise, and passed without discovery! To prevent this danger, which might have proved almost fatal to a rising church, it was necessary the holy apostles should be endowed in some measure with that truly divine power of searching the very secrets of the heart. As they were,

Secondly, with the deepest, clearest knowledge in the mysteries of the gospel, and an ability of interpreting prophecies and other obscure places of scripture, those especially that had any relation to the Messias.

This is called, 1 Cor. xii. 8, the word of knowledge, and ch. xiii. 2. the gift of prophecy; and it is what our Lord promised them a little before he left the world, namely, that the Holy Ghost should teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had said unto them. And John xvi. 13. the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of truth, and him that should guide them into all truth.

Thus we find St. Peter, who before was so ignorant in the secrets of the gospel, and so slow of apprehension when our Lord discoursed of the great things of his kingdom, (as is evident from several passages in the Evangelists,) that the meek Jesus gave him this sharp rebuke, Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savourest not the things that be of God; we find this backward scholar, immediately upon the descent of the Holy Ghost, become able to instruct the whole world in the deepest points of faith; to bring light to dark prophecies, and demonstrate from them that God had made the crucified Jesus both Lord and Christ; as we may see in that discourse of his, Acts ii, and elsewhere in divers places.

Now it was absolutely necessary that the minds of the apostles should be thus greatly enlightened, and thoroughly instructed in every part of the mystery of godliness, and endowed with a full and clear understanding of the scriptures; because what they writ and taught was to be the standing doctrine of the Christian religion for ever; and any ignorance or mistakes in them would have entailed error and imperfection upon all future ages: which to have suffered in the first preachers of the gospel would not have been consistent with the wisdom and goodness of our great Lawgiver.

Besides, they were to encounter with all the learning of the Jewish nation; they were to dispute with the doctors of their law, the scribes and Pharisees, men obstinately resolved against Christianity, and cunning to oppose it. They were to convince these men out of their own scriptures, that Jesus was the Christ; which could not be done to

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any purpose without their thorough understanding of them, and great readiness in solving difficulties, and confounding whatever objections should be raised from them. For but any one thing weakly urged and maintained would presently have been catched at, and made an argument of the falsity of the whole; and any the least ground gained upon the apostles would immediately have been cried up as a total rout: and therefore it was but needful that their speech and preaching should be in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

Thirdly, they were endowed with the greatest prudence and conduct in the management of this great affair, and enabled to give unpremeditated and convictive answers to such of the heathen and Jewish governors as should question and oppose them; according to that of our Lord, Ye shall be brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake ; but settle it in your minds not to premeditate what

ye shall answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resistt: for, as it is, Matth. X. 20, It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you. And he tells his apostles, that the Spirit should shew them things to comeu; that is, not only enable them to foresee and foretell, but be their director and guide in the future exigencies of the church.

Now the necessity of their having such extraordinary prudence and conduct is evident in that they were to break down the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, and enclose them in one fold, and unite them in one religion, under the discipline t Luke xxi. 12.

u John xvi. 13.

and government of Jesus Christ. Now, who that considers what inveterate hatred there was on both sides one against the other, and how they both joined in hating and opposing Christianity, but must think it a thing of the greatest difficulty, and that required the wisdom and conduct of an angel, nay of God himself, so effectually to accommodate matters between them, as to make them of one heart and of one mind, and to love as brethren, to be of one faith, submit to one baptism, and acknowledge one and the same great Lord, even him who not long before suffered as a malefactor upon a cross without the gates of Jerusalem.

And as for their wonderful quickness in returning such answers as should stop the mouths of their heathen as well as Jewish opposers, without the least hesitancy, and perfectly ex tempore, without any preparation beforehand; considering how they were to be set upon, unlearned as they were, by all the Grecian and Roman wits, and pumped and sifted, and asked ensnaring questions, by the disputers of this world, as St. Paul calls them, and their subtle oppositions of philosophy and science; they had need of a divine prompter to furnish them with prudent and unexceptionable answers, since one baffle or nonplus on the apostles' side would have been of unspeakable ill consequence at that time, and a shock scarce ever to be recovered.

In the last place, the apostles were endowed with undaunted boldness, constancy, and courage, in the discharge of their sacred ministry. For so we read of St. Peter and St. John, who in our Lord's lifetime were so extremely timorous, that one of them, though his bosoin favourite, left him in his greatest necessity, and with great consternation fled when Judas had betrayed him, and the soldiers seized on him; and the other, three times, with horrid oaths and imprecations, denied that ever he knew him. We read of these once basely fainthearted disciples, that after they were endowed with power from on high, nothing could affright them, or discourage them from promoting the interest of the gospel.

How undauntedly did they answer the Jewish sanhedrim, or chief council, when they questioned them about healing the impotent man, Acts iv, so that their enemies could not but wonder at them! How constantly did they persist against all opposition, even to the last extremity! the one being crucified for the name and testimony of Jesus, the other thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, and being miraculously preserved from perishing in that torment, afterwards, for the same blessed cause, ended his days in banishment. And as these, so the rest of the apostles, after constant preaching the religion of their great Master with great pains and diligence up and down the world, zealously exhorting all men to embrace it, to the evident hazard and loss of all that could be dear to them here below; at last sealed the truth of their doctrine with their blood. They had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, of bonds and imprisonments: they were stoned, sawn in sunder, slain with the sword, destitute, afflicted, tormenteds, and to all outward appearance were of all men the most miserable ; but yet bore all with the noblest and unshaken constancy and courage. The heroic bravery of St. Paul is particularly remarkable, and the latter half of the Acts

x Hebr. xi. 36, 37.

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