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Christ, and sent, in Christ's name, to preach His gospel, as truly as others; he too cast out devils, and wrought miracles in Christ's name, as truly as others; and, (although he himself fell away at the last, denied the faith, betrayed his Lord, and perished body and soul,) yet he had preached unto others; and the word which he preached may have assisted to the salvation of those who heard him, although he, who preached it, was himself lost. He shewed the way to others, but did not enter in himself. Nor may we think that they who received Judas, so long as he was an apostle of Christ, in the name of an apostle, failed, through the sin of Judas, of that reward which Christ promised, "He that receiveth you (My apostle), receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me."
Thus much of the lessons which we are to learn from the instance of Judas,-to distrust ourselves, and to watch our hearts narrowly, lest there be found in us the same evil temper, the seeds of the same sin, which we condemn and abhor in him; to learn from this instance, that evil men may be ministers of God's word and sacraments, even as Judas was an apostle; and that the blessing of the word of God is not taken away by the sin of them who preach it; still less the
grace of Christ's sacraments, from any who receive them with a true and faithful heart. For the blessing of the word, and the grace of the sacraments is not of man, but of God.
Into the place of Judas was chosen, as we have this day read, St. Matthias. It is usually thought by learned men, and was so believed by the early Christians, that St. Matthias was one of the seventy disciples, whom, as well as the apostles, our Lord sent out "two and two, before His face, into every city and place, whither He Himself would come." At any rate it is certain, from the words of St. Peter, that he, who was chosen to be a witness with the apostles, of the resurrection of Christ; to take part of the ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, was of the number of the men "which had companied with the apostles, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the same day that He was taken up from them." At the first, two were appointed, St. Matthias, and Barnabas, surnamed Justus; and the choice between them was solemnly referred by prayer unto Almighty God, the searcher of hearts. And they prayed and said, "Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two
Thou hast chosen." And after this solemn prayer to God, they appear to have had recourse to the casting of lots, a means of learning God's will, which God Himself had allowed and approved of more than once, in the Old Testament. "And they gave forth their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven. apostles." And here we should remember that, in their casting lots, the apostles and disciples did a solemn act, and one wherein we may not doubt that they had the warrant of God's Holy Spirit.
There is little known of the life and labours of St. Matthias; he is said to have preached the gospel at first in Judæa; and afterwards in the east, among a rude and barbarous people, from whom he endured many sufferings, and at the last was martyred. But though we know so little of his life, there is yet supplied to us one saying of St. Matthias, recorded by an early Christian writer, (St. Clement of Alexandria,) which may be of great use in the Christian life at all times, and especially at such seasons as that of Lent, which is so soon coming. The saying is this, "That we ought to mortify and subdue the flesh, and maintain a continual opposition to it, by granting it nothing whereby its irregular and sensual desires may be gratified; but that we should on the contrary,
promote and strengthen our souls with faith and divine knowledge."
May we have grace to lay to heart this lesson of the holy apostle. May we endeavour, in some degree, to conform our habits of life to the rule of the Church of Christ; to endure hardness, to practise (after our measure) the self-denial and abstinence unto which Lent calls us, as it has called all Christians from the first. And surely, Christian brethren, there is need that we set ourselves to practise that which all God's saints have practised. We cannot safely leave it undone, as if there were no command of Christ or of His Church to bind us. Only consider in how much greater danger we are than were the early Christians, of taking up with this world as our home. They had to suffer much loss, pain, death itself, for the name of Jesus Christ. And this would go far, one would think, to wean them from the world. Yet they did not count all this enough. They fasted, they denied themselves, they lived strict lives, they endured hardness. And can we, safely, do less? Are we not in much greater danger of resting in this world as our home? Consider how the comforts, the pleasures of life have increased all around us; and are not these hindrances to us, when we would wean our hearts
from this present evil world? May it not be our wisdom, may it not be our safety, at some seasons, to give up the pleasures, to be sparing in our use of the comforts of life? May not such wise and religious self-denial go to prevent these from gaining too great power over us, so as to become real hindrances in our religious life, and in our course heavenward? And what season more suited than that of Lent, when we are called to meditate both upon our own sins, and upon the Cross of Christ? If we are truly moved to repentance, if we truly cared for our sins, and for the bitter Cross and Passion of our blessed Saviour, how shall we not seek to exercise some self-denial, to deny ourselves some pleasure, some comforts of our station, to strengthen our repentance, and our deep sense of unworthiness.
As the days come round, which we keep holy in memory of the apostles, they may well remind us both of our state of grace and privilege, and of our duty; of our state of grace and privilege as members of the one catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ; and of our duty, not only, with God's help, to hold fast the apostolic faith, and to cleave to the apostolic communion; but also, so far as we may, to conform our hearts, our habits, our daily lives to the apostolic pattern;