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every one that
them as assessors and advisers when they siç in council or in judgment; or more probably the Jewish sanhedrim, in which the high priest sat surrounded by the principal rulers, chief priests, and doctors of the law, and it was meant only to express, in these figurative terms, that the apostles should in the kingt dom of heaven have a distinguished pre-eminence of glory and reward, and a place of honour assigned them near the person of our Lord himself.
Jesus then goes on to say, hath forsaken houses, or brethrén, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” It is plain, both from the construction of this verse, and from the express words of St. Mark in the parallel passage, that the reward here promised to the apostles, whatever it might be, was to be bestowed in the present world; besides which they were to inherit everlasting life.
What then, it may be asked, is this recompence, which was to take place in the present life, and was to be a hundred fold? It cer
tainly cannot be a hundred fold of those worldly advantages which are supposed to be relinquished for the sake of Christ and his religion; for a multiplication of several of these things, instead of a reward, would have been an incumbrance. And we know in fact the
apostles never did abound in worldly possessions, but were for the most part destitute and poor. The recompence then here promised must have been of a very different nature; it is that internal content and satisfaction of mind, that
of God which passeth all understanding, those delights of a pure conscience and an upright heart, that affectionate support of all good men, those consolations of the Holy Spirit, that trust and confidence in God, that consciousness of the divine favour and approbation, those reviving hopes of everlasting glory, which every good man and sincere Christian never fails to experience in the discharge of his duty. These are the things which will cheer his heart and sustain his spirits, amidst all the discouragements he meets with, under the pressure of want, of poverty, of affliction, of calumny, of ridicure of persecution, and even under the terrors of death itself, which will recompence him a
hundred fold for all the sacrifices he has made to Christ and his religion, and impart to him a degree of comfort and tranquillity and happiness, far beyond any thing that all the wealth and splendour of this world can bestow. That this is not a mere ideal representation, we may see in the example of those very persons to whom this discourse of our Saviour was addressed. We may see a picture of the felicity here described, drawn by the masterly hand of St. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. “We are, says he, (speaking of himself and his fellow-labourers in the Gospel,) we are approving ourselves in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour; by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed ;
as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” We have here a portrait, not merely of patience and fortitude, but of cheerfulness and joy under the acutest sufferings, which is no where to be met with in the writings of the most celebrated heathen philosophers. The utmost that they pretended to was a contempt of pain, a determination not to be subdued by it, and not even to acknowledge that it was an evil. But we never hear them expressing that cheerfulness and joy under suffering, which we here see in the apostles and first disciples of Christ. Indeed it was impossible that they should rise to these extraordinary exertions of the human mind, since they wanted all those supports which bore up the apostles under the severest calamities, and raised them above all the common weaknesses and infirmities of their nature; namely, the consciousness of being embarked in the greatest and noblest undertaking that ever engaged the mind of man, an unbounded trust and confidence in the protection of Heaven, a large participation of the divine influences and consolations of the
Holy Spirit, and a firm and well grounded hope of an eternal reward in another life, which will infinitely overpay all their labour and their sorrows in this. These were the sources of that content and cheerfulness, that vigour and vivacity of mind, under the severest afflictions, which nothing could depress, and which nothing but Christian philosophy could produce.
Here then we have a full explanation of our Lord's promise in the passage before us, that every one who had forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for his name's sake, should receive a hundred fold, should receive abundant recompence in the comfort of their own minds, as described in the corresponding passage of St. Paul, just cited; which may be considered not only as an admirable comment on our Lord's declaration, but as an exact fulfilment of the prediction contained in it. For that declaration is plainly prophetic; it foretells the persecution his disciples would meet 'with in the discharge of their duty; and foretells also, that in the midst of these persecutions they would be indaunted and joyful. And