Page images
[ocr errors]

constant business and delight; he seems as wore on his head evinced his priesthood, it were to have lived upon it, and continu wbich was rather from Melchizedec than ally to have had his conversation in heaven; Aaron; so he never shaved bis bead, or and he who has told us, that the prayer of a using any ointments, his habit and diet, and righteous man availeth much, found it so the great severity of his life shewed him to by his own experience, heaven lending a belong to the Nazarite institution, to whom more immediate ear to his petitions; so that he was consecrated even from bis mother's in a time of remarkable drought, on bis womb. In short, he was a man of so divine praying for rain, the clouds melted into a temper, that he was at once the wonder fruitful showers.

of his age; and from the reputation of his

holy and religious life, was styled James Nor was bis charity towards men less than the Just. his piety towards God; he did good to all, watched over the souls of men, and studied He wrote only one epistle, probably not to advance their eternal welfare. He was long before his martyrdom, as appears from of a remarkable meek and humble ten, per, some passages in it, relating to the near honouring what was excellent in others, and approach of the destruction of the Jews. concealing what was valuable in himself. He directed it to the Jewish converts, disNeither the eminence of his relation to the persed up and down those Eastern counblessed Jesus, nor the dignity of the place tries, to comfort them under their sufferhe so worthily filled, could induce him to ings, and confirm them against error. He entertain lofty thoughts of himself above the saw a great degeneracy and declension of rest of his brethren; on the contrary, he manners coming on; and that the purity of strove to conceal whatever might place him the christian faith began to be undermined in a higher rank than the other disciples of by the doctrines and practices of the Gnosthe Lord of glory. Though he was a rela. tics, who, under pretence of zeal for the tive to the Redeemer of mankind, he styles legal rites, generally mixed themselves with himself only the servant of our Lord Jesus the Jews. He beheld libertinism flowing in Christ, not so much as mentioning his be apace, and the way to heaven made soft ing an apostle.

and easy, men declaiming against good

works as useless and unnecessary, and His temperance was admirable, wholly wresting the scriptures to subserve the purabstaining from flesh, drinking neither wine pose of their lust and corrupt affections; our nor strong drink, and never using the bath. Apostle therefore recommends that faith He lived indeed after the strictest rules of which works by love, purifies the heart, and the Nazarite order: and as the mitre he brings forth obedience to the will of God.

Saint Simon the Zealot.


T. Simon, in the catalogue of the apo sephus gives a large account of them, and

stles, is stiled. Simon The Canaanite, every where bewails them as the great whence some conjecture he was born in plague of the nation. Cana of Galilee, and others will have him to have been the bridegroom mentioned by Many attempts were made, especially by St. John, at whose marriage our blessed Annas the high priest, to reduce them to Saviour turned the water into wine. But order, and oblige them to observe the rules this word has no relation to his country, or of sobriety; but all were in vain. They the place of his nativity, being derived from continued their violent proceedings, and, the Hebrew word knah, which signifies zeal, joining with the Idumeans, committed every and denotes a warm and sprightily temper. kind of outrage. They broke into the sancWhat some of the Evangelists therefore call tuary, slew the priests themselves before Canaanite, others, from the Greek word, the altar, and filled the streets of Jerusalem stile Zealot : not from his great zeal, his with tumults, rapine, and blood. Nay, ardent affection to his master, and his desire when Jerusalem was closely besieged by the of advancing his religion in the world, but Roman army, they continued their detestfrom his warm active temper, and zealous able proceedings, creating fresh tumults and forwardness in some particular sect of reli factions, and were indeed the principal gion before his coming to our Saviour. cause of the ill success of the Jews in that

fatal war. In order to understand this the better, it will be necessary to observe, that as there This is a true account of the sect of the were several sects and parties among the zealots; though whatever St. Simon was Jews, so there was one, either a distinct before, we have no reasou to suspect, but sect or at least a branch of the Pharisees, after his conversion be was very zealous for called the sect of the Zealots. This sect the honour of his master, and considered took upon them to execute punishments in all those who were enemies to Christ as extraordinary cases ; and that not only by enemies to himself, however near they might the connivance, but with the leave both of be to him in any natural relation. And as the rulers and the people, till, in process of he was very exact in all the practical duties time, their zeal degenerated into all kinds of of the christian religion, so he shewed a licentiousness and wild extravagance; and very serious and pious indignation towards they not only became the pests of the com those who professed religion, and a faith in monwealth at liome, but opened the door Christ with their mouths, but dishonoured for the Romans to break in upon them, to their sacred profession, by their irregular their final and irrevocable ruin. They were and vicious lives, as many of the first

pro• continually prompting the people to throw fessing Christians really did. off the Roman yoke, and assert their natural liberty, taking care when they had St. Simon continued in communion with thrown all things into confusion, to make the rest of the apostles and disciples at Jetheir own advantage of the tumult. Jo rusalem; and at the feast of Pentecost reNo. 23.

4 x

ceived the same miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost; so that he was qualified with the rest of his brethren for the apostolic office. In propagating the gospel of the Son of God, we cannot doubt of his exercising his gifts with the same zeal and fidelity, as his fellow apostles, though in what art of the world is uncertain ; some say he went into Egypt, Cyrene, and Africa, preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of those remote and barbarous countries; and others add

that after he had passed through those burning wastes, he took ship and visited the frozen regions of the north, preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of the western parts, and even in Britain ; where having converted great multitudes, apdsustained the greatest hardsbips and persecutions, he was at last crucified, and buried in some part of Great Britian, but the place where is unknown.

Saint Jude.

he does not tell us whether it was the CyreneTHIS apostle is mentioned by three seve

, an Lybia, which is thought to have received namely, Jude, or Judas Thaddeus, and the gospel from St. Mark, or the more Lebbeus.

southern parts of Africa. But however

that be, in his first setting out to preach the He was brother to St. James the Less,

gospel, he travelled up and down Judea and afterwards bishop of Jerusalem, being the

Galilee; then through Samaria into Idumea,

and to the cities of Arabia and the neighbourson of Joseph, the reputed father of Christ, by a former wife. It is not known when

ing countries, and afterwards to Syria and or by what means he became a disciple of Mesopotamia. Nicephorus adds, that he

came at last to Edessa, where Abagarus our blessed Saviour, nothing being said of him, till we find him in the catalogue of the

governed, and where Thaddeus, one of the twelve apostles ; nor afterwards till Christ's

seventy, had already sown the seeds of the Last Supper, when discoursing with them

gospel. Here he perfected what the other

had begun; and having, by his sermons and about his departure, and comforting them

iniracles established the religion of Jesus, with a promise, that he would return to

he died in peace; but others say that he them again, meaning after his resurrection, and that the world should see him no more

was slain in Berites, and honourably buried

there. The writers of the Latin church are though they should see him, our apostle

unanimous in declaring, that he travelled said to his master, Lord, how is it that

into Persia, where, after great success in thou will manifest thyself to us, and not

his apostolical ministry for many years, he unto the world?

was at last, for his free and open reproving

the superstitious rites and customs of the Paulinus tells us, that the province which Magi, cruelly put to death. fell to the share of St. Jude in the apostolic division of the provinces, was Lybia, but St. Jude left only one epistle, which is

the false teachers who laboured so indefatigably to corrupt it.

placed the last of those seven, stiled catholic, in the sacred canon. It hath no particular inscription as the other six have, but is thought to have been primarily intended for the christian Jews, in their several dispersions, as St. Peter's epistles were. In it he tells them, “that he first intended to write. to them in general of the common salvation, and establish and confirm them in it: but seeing the doctrine of Christ attacked on every side by heretics, he conceived it more necessary to spend his time in exhorting them to fight manfully in defence of the faith once delivered to the saints, and oppose

It was some time before this epistle was generally received in the church. The author indeed, like St. James, St. John, and sometimes St. Paul, does not call himself an apostle, stiling himself only the servant of Christ. But he has added what is equivalent, Jude the brother of James, a character that can belong to no one but our apostle. And surely the humility of a follower of Jesus should be no objection against his writings.

Saint Matthias.


S Matthias was not an apostle of the duly qualified for the important office. The

first election, immediately called and method of eiection was by lots, a way comchosen of the Son of God himself, it can mon both among the Jews and Gentiles for not be expected that any account of him determining doubtful and difficult cases, can be found in the evangelical history. He especially in chusing judges or magistrates. was one of our Lord's disciples, probably one And this course seems to have been taken of the seventy that attended on him the whole by the apostles, because the Holy Ghost was. time of his public ministry, and after his not yet given, by whose immediate dictates death was elected to the apostleship, to sup and inspirations they were afterwards chiefly ply the place of Judas, who, after betraying guided. The prayer being ended, the lots his great Lord and Master, laid violent hands were drawn, by which it appeared that Maton himself.

thias was the person, and he was according.

ly numbered among the twelve apostles. The defection of Judas having made a vacancy in the apostolic college, the first thing Not long after this election the promised they did after their return from mount Oli powers to the Holy Ghost were conferred vet, when their great Master ascended to upon the apostles, to qualify them for that the throne of his glory, was to fill up this great and difficult employment upon which vacancy with a proper person.

they were sent, the establishing the holy

religion of the Son of God among the chil Accordingly two persons were proposed, dren of men, Joseph called Barsabas, and Matthias, both

St. Matthias spent the first year of his sealed the truth of the gospel he had so assiministry in Judea, where he reaped a very duously preached with his blood. Dorotheus considerable barvest of souls, and then tra says he finished his course at Sebastople, velled into different parts of the world, to and was buried there near the temple of the publish the glad tidings of salvation to peo

An ancient Martyrology reports him ple who had never yet heard of a Saviour: to bave been seized by the Jews, and as a but the particular parts he visited are not blasphemer to have been stoned and then certainly known.

beheaded. But the Greek officers, support. It is likewise uncertain by wlmat kind of ed herein by several ancient breviaries, tell death he left the regions of mortality, and us that he was crucified.


Saint Mark.

HIS a postle was descended from Jewish T.

St. Mark did not confine himself to Alexparents, and of the tribe of Levi. Nor andria, and the oriental parts of Egypt, but was it uncommon among the Jews to change removed westward to Lybia, passing through their names on some remarkable revolution the countries of Marmacia, Pentapolis, and or accident of life, or when they intended others adjacent, where, though the people to travel into any of the European provinces were both barba rous in their manners, and of the Roman empire.

idolatrous in their worship, yet by his

preaching and miracles he prevailed on them The ancients generally considered him as to embrace the tenets of the gospel ; nor one of the seventy disciples; and Epiphanius did he leave them till he had confirmed them expressly tells us, that he was one of those, in the faith. who taking exception at our Lord's discourse of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, went back, and walked no more After this long tour he returned to Ales. with him. But there appears no manner of andria, where he preached with the greatfoundation for these opinions, nor likewise est freedom, ordered and disposed of the for that of Nicephorus, who will have him affairs of the church, and wisely provided to be the son of St. Peter's sister.

for a succession, , by constituting governors and pastors of it. But the restless enemy

of Eusebius tells us, that St. Mark was sent the souls of men would not suffer our apointo Egypt by St. Peter to preach the gospel,., stle to continue in peace and quietness, for and accordingly planted a church at Alexan while he was assiduously labouring in the dria the metropolis of it: and his success vineyard of bis Master, the idolatrous inhawas so very remarkable, that he converted bitants, about the time of Easter, when multitudes both of men and women ; per they were celebrating the solemnities of suading them not only to embrace the Chris. Serapis, tumultuously entered the church, tian religion, but also a life of more than forced St. Mark, then performing divine serordinary strictness.

vice, from thence; and binding his feet with

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »