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A. M. 4012, instigated Astyages, the king's brother, to get him into his hands, and to have him * ...” first flayed, and then either beheaded or crucified: Who tell us of f St Matthias, that 6s, so having for some time employed himself in the work of the ministry within the confines - of Judea, at length he betook himself to other countries, and travelling eastward, came at last to Ethiopia, (or Cappadocia rather) where, meeting with a people of a fierce and untractable temper, after all his labours and sufferings, and a numerous conversion to the Christian faith, from them he received the crown of martyrdom, but in what manner it was conferred # authors are not agreed: And who tell us of St Barnabas **, that after his separation from St Paul, having preached about Liguria, and settled a church at Milan, (whereof himself was constituted bishop) he returned at last to Cyprus, his native country, where, by the malice of the Jews, he was tumultuously assaulted, and stoned to death at Salamis, the principal city of the island. * Thus were all the apostles and first ministers of Christ appointed by God to lay down their lives in testimony of the truth of the Gospel, except the beloved evangelist +2 St John ; and yet, if we consider his stripes and imprisonment by the council of Jerusalem, his || banishment to the isle of Patmos for the word of God, and his being
* That excoriation was a punishment in use not pretended authority of this apostle. Cave's Lives of
only in Egypt, but among the Persians likewise, is
the Apostles, and Stanhope on the Epistles and Go-
east into a cauldron of flaming oil + by the order of Domitian, we can hardly deny him from Aets i. the honour of being a martyr, since he submitted himself freely to such sufferings as " " ". nothing but a miracle could rescue him from. Of this apostle the same ecclesiastical writers tell us, That (a) after the death of the blessed mother, (which happened about fifteen years after our Lord's ascension) by the special conduct of the Holy Ghost, he was carried into Asia, on purpose to oppose the heresies which in those parts began to spread and infest the church; that as he spared no pains in preaching the Gospel where it was wanted, and in confirming it where it had been settled, many churches of note and eminence, besides those mentioned in the beginning of his revelation, were of his foundation; that in the persecution raised by Domitian, the proconsul of Asia sent him bound to Rome, as an asserter of atheism, and a subverter of the religion of the empire, where he was treated with the utmost barbarity, and at length banished into a desolate island, there to be employed in digging in the mines; that in this disconsolate place, however, he was entertained with the more immediate converse of heaven, and by frequent visions and prophetic representations, had a clear prospect given him of the state of Christianity in the future periods and ages of the church *, which he has transmitted to us; that upon the death of Domitian, when Nerva had rescinded all his odious edicts, our apostle took the opportunity to return to Ephesus, and (as Timothy had lately
was Patmos, a little island in the Archipelago, now called Palmosa, mountainous, but moderately fruitful, especially in wheat and pulse, though defective in other commodities. The whole circumference of the island is about thirty miles, and on one of the mountains stands a town of the same name, having on the top of it a monastery of Greek monks; and on the north side of the town the inhabitants by tradition shew an house, in which the Apocalypse was written, and not far off the cave where it was revealed, both places of great esteem and veneration with the Greeks and Latins. Cave's Lives of the Apostles, and Wells's Geography of the New Testament. + This is a point of history that has of late been called in question: But since it is attested by Tertullian de Praescript. c. 36. a most learned and very Thonest man, and who lived near enough the time to be certified of the truth; since it is contradicted by no ecclesiatical writer that we know of, is no more incredible than St Paul’s taking up a viper unhurt, Acts xxviii. 3, &c. and is agreeable to the intimation given of St John, that he should not die a martyr, John xxi. 21, 22. there can be no reason for cawilling at this in those that admit of the possibility of any miracle. Collins's Grounds, &c. and Whiston’s Answer. (a) Cave's Life of St John, and Echard’s Ecclesiastical History, vol. ii. * The Apocalypse, or book of Revelation, as we call it, was of old not only condemned, by heretics, but controverted by many of the fathers likewise. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, tells us, that for his part he durst not reject it, being persuaded, that it contained many wise and admirable mysteries, though he could not comprehend them; and that though he owned the author to have been a Divinely inspired Person, yet he could not believe it to be St John, the
apostle and evangelist, because the style, matter, and
A. M. 1102, been dead) at the request of the bishops of the province, entered upon the administra‘....” tion of that Metropolitan See, and therein continued till the reign of Trajan; that in ...'..." the time of his ruling this church, he wrote three several epistles; wherof the first is =called Catholic, calculated, as it were, for all times and places, “in which he excites his little children (as he calls all Christians) to love and charity, to holiness and purity of manners; cautions them against resting in a naked and empty profession of religion, against being led away by the crafty insinuations of seducers; antidotes them against the poison of the Gnostic principles and practices; and gives them most excellent rules for the conduct of the Christian life.” [The apostle's principal object appears to have been to confute the errors, not of Jews and heathens, but of Christian heretics; for he says expressly, that the persons whom he opposed, had but lately appeared in the world, and had gone out from the true church of Christ. These persons were Cerinthus and the Docetae, of whom the former taught that Jesus was a mere man, the son of Joseph and Mary, on whom the AEon, or super-angelic Being, Christ, descended at his baptism, but left him before his death; whilst the latter, on the other hand, maintained that Jesus was an incorporeal phantom, in which the AEon Christ, or the Divine nature, presented itself to mankind. Cerinthus, and indeed the whole sect of Gnostics in general, asserted likewise, that the apostles did not deliver the doctrine of Jesus as they received it, especially in the commandments, which were termed legal, whereas they themselves (the Gnostics) retained the genuine and uncorrupted mystery. All these errors are opposed by the very first words of the apostle's epistle. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have iooked upon—iBiasaoz —contemplated, looked upon often and intently, and our hands have handled of the word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” Here St John, in opposition both to Cerinthus and the Docetae, asserts, that he declared that which was from the beginning, which he himself had seen and heard; that he taught the doctrine of Christ as it was originally delivered, and as he had heard it from Christ's own mouth, whose person could be no incorporeal phantom, since he had both seen and felt it; and that he made no addition of his own, but only reported as a faithful witness. As the Gnostics taught likewise that faith in Christ set men free from the laws of morality, and that a man, though he sinned, might still be righteous in respect to his spiritual soul, because sin proceeded only from the material body, St John said to those, for whose instruction he wrote, “Let no man deceive you, he that doth righteousness, is righteous.” This, considered by itself, appears to be an identical proposition, hardly worthy of an apostle; and the same thing may be said of that other assertion—“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law ;” but both these propositions, when considered as opposed to the doctrine of the Gnostics, are far from being superfluous, because evident as the truths which they express appear to be, these truths were virtually denied by those heretics, as they are by the Antinomians of the present day (a)] The other two epistles are but short, and directed to particular persons; the one to a lady of honourable quality, “encouraging her and her children to charity, to perseverance in good works, and to shew no countenance to false teachers and deceivers; the other to the charitable and hospitable Gaius, so kind a friend, so courteous an entertainer of all indigent Christians. The same authors tell us, that in his Archi-episcopal capacity, he took great care of the flock of Christ, and, notwithstanding his advanced age, went many journeys into the neighbouring provinces, to ordain bishops, to settle and confirm churches; and was
(a) See Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv. ch. 30,
induced at last, by the request and importunity of several of his disciples, (even when from Act, he was 97 years of age) to compose his Gospel, f for a defence against the heresies 10 to the end ~4.
then brooding, and for a supply of what the other evangelists had omitted : For as we cannot but suppose, that, in the course of the many years which he lived, he had seen the writings of all the rest of the apostles and evangelists, and signified his approbation of them; so we can hardly imagine any thing more worthy, his care, or more necessary in itself, than for him to ascertain the authority of those writings, and to finish and settle the canon of Scripture, that it might be the rule of faith and practice, and the church's preservative against to such heresies, as were very numerous even in those
days, and very likely to give much trouble and scandel in future ages.
This was the
last service he had to do for the church of Christ, which, when he had accomplished, he then finished his course, and in a * good old age to dying peaceably at Ephesus,
+ The ancients assign two reasons, especially for the writing of this Gospel. The first is, that he might obviate the early heresies of those times, especially of Ebion and Cerinthus, and the rest of that party who began openly to deny Christ's Divinity, and that he had any existence before his incarnation. The other is, that he might supply those passages of the evangelical history, which the rest of the sacred writers had omitted ; and therefore, collecting the other three evangelists, he first set to them his seal, ratifying the truth of them with his approbation, and then added his own Gospel to the rest; wherein he chiefly insists upon the acts of Christ, from the first commencement of his ministry to the death of John the Baptist, in which the others were most defective; and wherein he largely recerds his discourses, because some of them were passed by, but takes not so much notice of his miracles, because they were sufficiently related by the rest. Cave, ibid. +* The heresies that then were springing up, and not long after overspread the church in diverse places, were those of Menander, Cerinthus, and Ebion ; whereof we shall give our reader this short account. Menander was a Samaritan, a great disciple of Si. mon Magus, (of whose tenets and doctrines we have spoken before, (p. 459 of this volume) and a notorious impostor and magician, as well as he. He maintained, that the world was made by angels, denied the reality of Christ's manhood, and affirmed, that himself was the true Saviour of the world, sent from above for the restoration of mankind; that without being initiated into his magical knowledge, and baptized in his name, none could be saved: that his baptism was the true resurrection, which, to those that were partakers of it, would not fail to convey, even in this life, youth, vigour, and perpetual immortality. These were some of the illusions wherewith he seduced many in Antioch, the place where he chiefly resided, and though their extravagance made them less infectious, yet they were continued in the second century by Basilides and Saturninus. Cerinthus was a Jew by birth, and spread his notions principally in Ephesus, and other parts of Asia Minor. He maintained, that the world was not made by God, but by a certain power distinct, and very different from the Supreme Being : That the old law and precepts of Moses were to be observed in con
junction with those of Jesus Christ: That Jesus was no more than a mere man, born of Joseph and Mary, but that at his baptism Christ descended upon him like a dove; that at his crucifixion, Christ forsook him, and returning into heaven, left him to suffer alone; and lastly, that after the general resurrection, Christ's kingdom should be terrestrial in the city of Jerusalem, where men should enjoy all sorts of carnal pleasures, and pass their time in the celebration of marriagefeasts, and banquets for a thousand years. Ebion, so called from his affected poverty, was born in a village of Palestiue, and spread his heresy in Trachonitis. He agreed with Cerinthus in denying the divinity of our Saviour, and enjoining the obser. vation of the law of Moses as necessary to salvation. He asserted, that God had given the dominion of all things to Christ and the devil; and that as the latter had the ascendancy in this world, so the for. mer should have a much greater superiority in the next. All the prophets, after the time of Joshua, and all the New Testament, except the Gospel of st Miatthew, he rejected ; and, as for the writings of St Paul, these he utterly condemned, as the product of a wicked and vile apostate, because he endeavoured to prove the dissolution of the Mosiac law. Fleury and Echard's Ecclesiastical Histories, and Tillemont's Hist, des Empereurs. ". The general opinion is, that he was ninety-eight or ninety-nine years of age when he died, which was in the third year of Trajan's reign; St Chrysostom, however, is very positive, that he was an hundred years old when he wrote his Gospel; and Dorotheus affirms, that in the whole he lived an hundred and twenty. But all this is highly improbable: for, according to this account, he must be fisty years of age when he first became acquainted with our Lord; a thing di. rectly contrary to the testimony of all antiquity, which makes him very young at the time of his being called to the apostolic office. Cave, ibid. to But, contrary to this, some have peremptorily denied that he ever died at all, upon no better foun. dation than our Saviour's words to St Peter concerning him, “If I will, that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” though St John, who records these words, inserts a caution, that “Jesus did not say he should not die, but only, what if I will, that he tar till I come 2" John xxi, 22, 23, which doubtless he
A. M. 4012, was buried || in that city, where several of the fathers observe, that his tomb, in their *:::::: time, was remaining in a church which was built to his honour, and called by his name. 'ss, &c." Thus we are come to the conclusion of the apostolic age, and so have brought our his
=tory to its intended period.
... BUT pity it is that an history of so much consequence to the Christian world should
apostles at first mistook our Saviour's meaning, and
of Jesus Christ, he solemnly took his leave, and went down into the grave; that he strictly charged them to put on the grave-stone, and to make it fast, which accordingly they did; but coming next day, as he had enjoined them, when they opened the sepulchre they found nothing there but the grave-clothes, which he had left behind him. But this is far from agreeing with what another author, much of the same stamp, (the Arabic writer of his life) reports, viz. that there was none present at this apostle's burial but his disciple Phogsir, (he means very probably Prochorus, one of the seven deacons that constantly attended him) whom he required strictly never to discover his sepulchre to any : for the same reason, very likely, that the body of Moses is thought to have been concealed to prevent the idolatrous worshipping of his reliques. Cave, ibid.
(a) Cave's Life of St Andrew.
(b) Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, part ii. p. 87. (c) Acts vii. (d) Ibid. ver, 4.