Consider first, the wonders of God in these and in all the rest of the apostles, whom he raised up as it were from the earth and from the dunghill, and made princes of his people. 'The foolish things of the world hath God chosen,' saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. 1. 27, 28, 29, 'that he may confound the wise: and the weak things of the world hath God chosen that he may confound the strong; and the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible hath God chosen, that no flesh should glory in his sight.' The Apostles, when they were chosen by Christ, were poor and contemptible in the eyes of the world; they were ignorant and illiterate; they had no power, credit, or interest to recommend them; nor any one of those qualities which the world is fond of to make them shine in the eyes of men; and yet they are preferred by the wisdom of God before all the wise, rich, eloquent, learned, noble, or great ones of this world, as most fit to be his instruments in this great work of the conversion of the world, and best qualified, by their simplicity and humility, to show forth his glory. Adore here, my soul, the wonderful ways of God, and learn to prefer with him the things that this world despises, before all its false grandeur, deceitful appearances, and ostentation of wisdom.
Consider 2ndly, the eminent dignity to which the apostles were raised by our Lord: they were made his disciples, his individual companions, his familiar friends and confidants - yea, his brethren too, John xx. 17; they were made under him the chief priests of the New Testament, the first bishops and pastors of his church, the prime ministers of his kingdom, the stewards and dispensers of all his mysteries; his ambassadors to men; his vicegerents upon earth; the doctors and teachers of the whole world; and next after him, who is the chief corner-stone, the twelve foundations of his church, Eph. ii. 20 - yea, the twelve foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem, Apoc. xxi. 14. Reflect also on the distinguishing graces, and the excellency of power which our Lord conferred upon them, suitable to their great office and callings; such as the power of consecrating and of offering in sacrifice his sacred body and blood; of remitting sins; and of opening or shutting heaven's gates to men; the commission of feeding his flock, and of ruling and directing his church, with the promise of the Holy Ghost to assist them therein; the authority of publishing throughout the whole world his new law, the law of grace; and the covenant of salvation through him, & c.: besides the gifts of tongues, and prophecy, and other eminent graces of the Holy Ghost; and a power of working all kind of miracles, yea, even greater than those of Christ himself, St. John xiv. 12. Christians, bless your Saviour on the festivals of the apostles, for all these great things he has done for them, and through them for his church in general, and in some degree for every one of you in particular. For as they were, under Christ, the fathers and founders of the Christian religion, so from them, and through their ministry, the faith, the word, the sacraments, the graces of Christ, and all spiritual goods and treasures are derived down to your souls by the channel of their successors in the church of Christ.
Consider 3rdly, the eminent sanctity of the apostles; on account of which they have been so highly honoured by all succeeding generations in the Christian church. They received great graces, and they faithfully cooperated with these graces. At the first call they left all things else to follow Christ, and as he bears them witness, Luke xx. 28, they remained with him in his temptations. They were indefatigable in their labours for the propagation of his kingdom, and for the salvation of souls; their zeal and courage were invincible; their love for him was stronger than death; they were ready to meet death in every shape for his glory; they even rejoiced that they were esteemed worthy to suffer for his name. In a word, they were perfect in an eminent degree in all virtues. By their preaching and labours, by their doctrine and miracles, by their sufferings and death, they planted the faith and church of Christ throughout the world; but nothing contributed more to this great work than the sanctity of their lives: by the help of which, as well as by the fervour and efficacy of their prayers, they effectually established virtue religion, and Christian perfection in every place where they came, upon the ruins of infidelity and vice; and left behind them a succession of saints, as the fruits of their labours, which have been kept up ever since in the true church of Christ, according to that of their divine master, John xv. 16, 'I have appointed you that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain.'
Conclude to celebrate with a particular devotion the festivals of the apostles, as the most eminent amongst the favourites of God, and the fathers of the other saints. Glorify God, who is wonderful in all his saints, for the extraordinary wonders he has wrought in them and through them, and to that eternal glory to which he has raised them. But study also to learn the great lessons they perpetually taught, both by word and work, and to aim with all your power at an imitation of their virtues and sanctity.