Imágenes de páginas

chance, a man who had, or said he had a withered hand. The sight of the diseased, who was probably some noted mendicant and knave, and the presence of the physcian, excited the attention of the doctors. They watched Jesus closely—“Let us see, (said they, one to another) if he will dare to heal this man on the sabbath day.” But observing that Jesus remained inactive, they questioned him on the head of the sabbath, of which, on so many occasions, he had appeared to make but little account. It was apparently one of the principal points of his reform. He was perhaps sensible, like us, of the utility of abrogating a great number of festivals. Be that as it may, the doctors asked him, “ Master, is it lawful to heal on this day ?" Christ was frequently in the habit of answering one question by another : Logic was not the science in which the Jews were most conversant. Jesus replied to them, “Is it law. ful to do good on the sabbath day, or to do evil?

-to save life, or to take it away ?” This question, according to St. Mark, confounded the doctors. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe, unless we suppose the Jews to have been a hundred times more stupid than they really were, that this question was very ill timed. They were prohibited from applying to servile occupations only, but must have been permitted to discharge the most pressing obligations of morality even on the sabbath day. It is to be presumed, that a midwife, for example, lept her ministry on that day, as on every other. *

* See in chap. xii. a note taken from the Talmud, proving that it was permitted to anoint the sick with oil on the Sabbath day for their relief. The Esseniaus observed the Sabbath with so much rigour, that they did not allow themselves on that day to satisfy the most pressing wants of life. This perhaps gave occasion to the reproaches with which the Jews loaded Jesus on that head, who had reformed this ridiculous custom by bis own authority.

Jesus continued his questions, and asked them, if when a sheep fell into a ditch on the sabbath day, they would not draw it out? From hence, without waiting for an answer, he very justly concluded that it was permitted to do good on the sabbath. To prove it, he said to the sick, whom he bad perhaps suborned to play this scene in the synagogue, “ Arise, stand up, and stretch forth your hand ;” and immediately his hand became as the other. But Jesus, remarking that this prodigy operated no change in their minds, darted a furious look on the assembly, and, boil. ling with a holy choler, instantly forsook the detestable place.*

He acted wisely; for these daughty doctors went inmediately, and took counsel with the officers of Herod,“ how they might destroy him.” Jesus, who was informed of every thing by his adherents, gained the sea shore, where it was always easy for him to effect his escape. His disciples, several of whom understood navigation, followed him thither. . A multitude of people, inore credulous than the doctors, repaired to hiin on the noise of his marvels. There came to hiin hearers from Galilee, from Jerusalem, from Idumea, froin the other side Jordan, and even from Tyre and Sidon. This multitude furnished him with a pretext for giving directions to his disciples to hold a bark in readiness, that he might not be too much thronged, but in truth to escape, in case it should be attempted to pursue him.

On this shore, favourable to his designs, Jesus performed a great number of miracles, and cured an infi

St. Matt. xii. St. Mark vi. and xii.

nity of people unknown; we must piously believe it on the word of St. Matthew and St. Mark. All these wonders were performed on the sick, and especially on the possessed. The latter, at whatever distance they perceived the Saviour, prostrated themselves before him, rendered homage to his glory, and proclaimed him the Christ; whilst he; always full of mo. desty, commanded them with threats not to reveal him; the whole to accomplish a prophecy, wbich said of him, He shall not dispute nor cry, nor make his coice be heard in the streets ,*-a prophecy, which however was frequently contradicted by his continual disputes with the doctors and Pharisees, and by the uproar he frequently occasioned in the temple, the streets of Jerusalem, and the synagogues in the neighbourhood.

Nothing is more astonishing than the obstinacy of the devil, in acknowledging Jesus, and confessing his divinity, and the stubbornness of the doctors in not recognizing him, in spite of his cares to make the orie silent to convince the other. It is evident, that the son of God has come with the sole intent of preventing the Jews from profiting by his coming, and acknowledging the titles of his mission; it may be said that he has shewn himself merely to receive the homage of the devil; at least we perceive only Satan and his disa ciples proclaining aloud the quality of Jesus.

When Christ had preached much, cured much, and exorcised much, he wished to be alone for some time, to reflect on the situation of his affairs. With a view to enjoy more liberty, he went up into a mountain, where he spent the whole night. The result of his solitary reflections and prayers was, that he stood in

# St. Matt. xii. St. Mark iii. St. Luke vi. 4 Isaiah xliii 2.

need of assistants; but that he could no longer, without giving umbraye to the government, continue marching up and down with a company so numerous as that of the idlers which he dragged after him in his suite.

When day appeared, he called his disciples, at least those among them whom he judged most worthy of confidence, and selected twelve to remain near his person.* This is what St. Luke says ; but St. Mark insinuates that he chose his twelve apostles on purpose to send them on a mission. As Jesus himself however assures us, that he chose them to be near him, and as the apostles, content with begging and making provision for themselves and their master, did not perform any mission during the life of Jesus, at least out of Judea, we will adhere to the first opinion.

The names of these apostles were as follow :- -Simon Peter, Andrew, Matthew, Simon-Zelotes, James, Philip, Thomas, Jude, John, Bartholomew, another James, and Judas Iscariot the treasurer.

Jesus had not money to give such of his disciples as he was about to send on missions; he told them no doubt to go and push their fortune.-He, however, took care to impart to them his secrets, teach them the art of mi. racles, and give them receipts to cure diseases and cast out devils ; in short, he communicated to them the power of remitting sins, to bind and to unbind in the name of Heaven; prerogatives, which, if they did not enrich the apostles, have been worth immense treasures to their successors.- To the latter, the roughest staff has become a crosier, a staff of command, making its power felt by the most puissant sovereigns of the

St, Lake vi. 13. St. Mark iši. 13.

earth. The bag or wallet of the apostles has been converted into treasures, benefices, principalities, and revenues; permission to beg has become a right to exact tenths, devour nations, fatten on the substance of the wretched, and enjoy, by divine right, the privi. lege of pillaging society, and disturbing it with im. punity. In fine, the successors of these first missionaries sent by Jesus Christ, became mendicants, who enjoyed the prerogative of knocking down all those who refused to bestow charities on them, or to obey their commands. Many people have imagined, that Jesus never concerned himself about the subsistence of the ministers of the church; but if we examine attentively the gospel, and especially the Acts of the Apostles, we shall there find the basis of the riches, grandeur, and even despotism of the clergy. * It is

The independence of the Christian clergy is founded upon the principles of their religion. Of this circumstance they bave taken care to profit; and impressed with this idea, they, after being enriched by the generosity of kings, have always proved ungrateful to the true sources of their own opulence and privileges.--What this body had gained through surprise or impudence, it was found impossible to recover from their hands. They foresaw that future generations, breaking loose from the fetters of prejudice, might tear from them the donations they had gained by extortions of terror, and the evils of imposture; they therefore persuaded mankind, that they held from God alone what had been given thein by their fellow mortals ; and by a miracle of credulity they were believed on their word. Thus the interests of the clergy became separated from those of society. Men devoted to God, and chosen to be his ministers, were no longer confounded with the profane laws, and civil tribunals renounced all power over them. They could be judged only by members of their own bodya Hence the greatest excesses were often committed by their

« AnteriorContinuar »