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ST. MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE,
Q. WHAT is meant by an apostle ?
A. An apostle singnifies in general a messenger. This name was applied by our Saviour to those select persons whom he chose to be the witnesses of bis life, his miracles, his sufferings, and resurrection; and, under the direction of the Holy Ghost, to proclaim the Gospel to the world, and to found the Church, and provide for its government.
Q. Why did Christ choose the precise number of twelve apostles ?
A. Our Saviour chose twelve apostles, probably in allusion to the twelve patriarchs, as the founders of their several tribes, or to the twelve chief heads or rulers of the tribes of Israel.
Q. How were the apostles, who were obscure and illiterate persons, enabled to proclaim and to establish the Gospel throughout the world?
A. The apostles were competent judges of the facts they attested, having been eye-witnesses of them; and in regard to doctrine, it was impossible they could err, being iminediately directed by the divine and unerring Spirit of truth. By the miraculous powers with which they were invested they were enabled to establish the Gospel, in opposition to the prejudices, passions, and power that assailed it.
Q. Was St. Matthias one of the twelve apostles originally chosen by our Saviour ?
A. St. Matthias was not among the twelve apostles first chosen ; but when Judas, one of the twelve penetrated with remorse for having basely betrayed his Master, killed him sell, Matthias was chosen in his room.
Q. What is the design of the epistle and gospel ?
A. The epistle records the fall of Judas, and the election of Matthias; and the gospel, by representing the blessings of salvation as hid from the great men of the world, and revealed to the humble and contemned apostles, excites us to
p Mat xix. 28
come unto Christ with those meek and lowly dispositions which are always a sure pussport to his favour.
Q. Had Judas the authority and gifts of an apostle ?
A. Though Judas was a person of base and corrupt designs, yet having been numbered by Christ among the apostles, he obtained part of their ministry, and was equally empowered with the rest to preach and work miracles.
Q. What may we learn from this fact?
A. Hence we may learn, that the wickedness of a minister does not invalidate his commission, or render useless or ineffectual his office; and that the efficacy of a sacred ordinance does not depend upon the personal virtues of him who administers it, but upon the divine institution and blessing.
Q. How was St. Matthias chosen to be an apostle ?
A. St. Peter having recommended the filling up of the vacancy occasioned by the apostacy of Judas, the Christians assembled at Jeruaslem, and appointed two, Joseph, called Barnabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias; and having solemnly prayed to God, who knew the hearts of all men, that he would be pleased to show which of these two he would choose, they gave forth lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. This mode of determining doubtful and difficult cases, and of electing judges and magistrates by lot, was in use both among Jews and Gentiles.
Q. How was St. Matthias qualified for the apostleship? A. Having been a constant attendant upon our Saviour all the time of his ministry, probably as one of the seventy disciples; having been a witness of our Saviour's resurrection, and of the principal events of his life, he was fully qualified to proclaim abroad those facts concerning the Saviour, of which he had equal knowledge with the rest of the apostles.
Where did St. Matthias preach the Gospel ? A. After the Holy Ghost was conferred upon him with the rest of the apostles, he devoted his ministerial labours, in the first instance, to Judea ; and afterwards, according to St. Jerome, travelled to the countries eastward, where, after many labours and sufferings, he obtained the crown of martyrdom.
Q. What instruction does this festival convey?
& Acts i 24 &C
to the apostleship, should lead all who are concerned in selecting persons for the ministry, to use the greatest caution, and solemnly to invoke the divine guidance and blessing; and should teach all who are candidates for the ministry, seriously to examine their own hearts, whether they possess that sincere zeal for the glory of God, and the good of souls, which only will authorize them in trusting that they are called by the Holy Ghost to the office of the ministry. Since the wickedness of Judas did not invalidate his commission, we may learn that we shall not be justified in withdrawing from the ordinances of God, because he who administers them is a bad man. The lamentable fall of Judas, and the remorse which he discovered, should teach us carefully to avoid the sin of covetousness, which was the cause of his fall; to preserve our consciences free from guilt, which will rob us of our repose and
peace ; and diligently to watch over our hearts and ways, lest we be betrayed into sin, and ultimately be led into apostacy from God.
Q. Explain the duty of watchfulness.
A. The duty of watchfulness consists in wisely foreseeing the dangers which threaten our souls, and then in diligently endeavouring to escape or overcome them.
Q. How may we foresee the dangers that threaten us?
A. We should diligently endeavour to find out what are the temptations to which, from natural constitution, from professional pursuits, or from the company with which we associate, we are most exposed; that thus we may discover the first beginnings of evil, and be on our guard against the first approaches of our spiritual enemy.
Q. How may we preserve our piety against the assaults of temptation ?
A. Our safety will generally consist in avoiding temptation whenever it is in our power: but when called to encounter it, we should "put on the whole armour of God.” In order to overcome the temptation to increase our property by unlawful means, we should impress ourselves with a lively belief of the constant presence of God with us, and of the solemn account we must render at his tribunal. In order to overcome the seducing temptations of pleasure, we should live under the lively hope of enjoying those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore : we should gird ourselves with truth, that no profit may prevail upon us to be insincere or faithless in our words and promises : we should guard ourselves with righteousness, and keep our consciences roid of offence: and then we may resolutely sustain the trials and persecutions to which we may be called. By the sword of the spirit, by lively confidence in the animating promises of the word of God, and by earnest prayer to him for the succours of his grace; we shall be enabled to overcome the assaults of temptation, and to put to flight all the enemies of our salvation.
Q. Is not watchfulness an important and necessary duty ?
À. Possessing a frail and depraved nature, surrounded by ins numerable temptations, and exposed to the secret, but artful and powerful assaults of the great adversary, by diligent watchfulness alone shall we be able to perservere in the service of God, and to avoid that remorse and misery which will for ever overwhelm us, should we finally become the victims of temptation.
The AnnuNCIATION of the blessed Virgin MARY,
Q. WHAT is meant by the annunciation of the blessed Virgin, which the Church this day celebrates ?
Å. By the annunciation of the blessed Virgin is meant, the declaration which the angel Gabriel made to the blessed Mary,' that she should be the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ; that this her Son should be great, and called the Son of the Highest; that the Lord God should give unto him the throne of his father David ; that he should reign över the house of Jacob for ever, and that of his kingdom there shall be no end. On him should be settled a spirita ual kingdom, of which the temporal one of David was a type ; be should be vested with the absolute government of the Church, the spiritual house of Jacob. The kingdom of David was to come to an end, but the spiritual kingdom of the Mes. siah was to last for ever.
Q. What have you to observe in regard to the epistle and gospel for the day?
8 Isa. is. 6; 7o.
Luke 1: 30.
A. The epistle contains the prophecy in Isaiah concerning the miraculous birth of Christ ; and the gospel recites the fulfilment of this prediction.
Q. What was the salutation of the angel to the blessed Virgin ?
Ă. The angel addressed the blessed Virgin with the salutation-" Hail, thou that art highly favoured; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” The address was suited to the glorious tidings that were to follow, and led the Virgin to expect, that, as a reward for her humble, holy, and pious graces, some distinguished honour was to be conferred upon her.
Q. What were the circumstances that followed this salutation of the angel?
A. Judging herself unworthy of this distinguished honours Mary was troubled at the saying of the angel; and penetrated with profound amazement at the assurance, that of her should be born the promised Messiah, “the Son of the Highest,” she inquires --" How can this be?" The angel then reveals the miraculous conception of the Saviour by the power of the Holy Ghost; and to confirm hér faith, declares to her the display of the power of God in the case of her cousin Elizabeth. Mary, yielding full faith to the celestial messenger, humbly and piously exclaimed—“ Behold the handraid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.” Afterwards, on a visit to Elizabeth, she burst forth in a thankful expression of the distinguishing goodness of God to her, celebrating his love and mercy in that sublime hymn styled the Magnificati'
Q. What does the Church direct us to believe concerning she incarnation of the Son of God, which took place immediately on this annunciation of the engel to the blessed Virgin ?
A. “ The Son, who is the word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God; of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man; who truly suffered, was crucified, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
u Articles of Religion, Art. 2.
t Luke i. 46.