« PreviousContinue »
were both beheaded on the same day, with the same sword. These events took place in the year of our Lord 44.
St. Philip was employed in several important commissions by Christ, and being deputed to preach in Upper Asia, laboured very diligently in his apostleship. He then travelled into Phrygia, and arriving at Heliopolis, found the inhabitants so sunk in idolatry as to worship a large serpent. St. Philip, however, was the means of converting many of them to Christianity, and even procured the death of the serpent. This so enraged the magistrates, that they committed him to prison, had him severely scourged, and afterwards hanged him up against a pillar till he died, A. D. 52.
Št. Matthew. This evangelist, apostle, and martyr, after our Saviour's ascension, travelled into Ethiopia and Parthia, where he preached the gospel with great
He suffered martyrdom in the city of Nadabar, being slain by a halberd, about A. D. 60.
St. Mark. After writing his gospel, he went to Egypt and founded a church. When Mark was preaching in his church at Alexandria, some of the idolatrous inhabitants broke in upon him, and dragged him by his feet through the streets, till his flesh was torn off his bones, and he expired under their hands; they afterwards burned his body.
St. James the Less suffered martyrdom at Jerusalem, in the ninety-fourth year of his age.
He was thrown headlong from the temple, stoned, and his brains dashed out by. a fuller's club.
St. Matthias, the apostle, who was appointed to supply the vacant place of Judas Iscariot, suffered martyrdom at Jerusalem, being first stoned, and then beheaded.
St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations. On arriving at Edessa, the governor of the country ordered him to be cru-. cified on a cross, two ends of which were transversely fixed in the ground; he lived two days after he was tied to the cross, preaching the most of the time to the people,
St. Peter was crucified at Rome, by order of the tyrant Nero; he was led up to the top of a mount, and was crucified with his head downwards (according to his request), thinking it too high an honour to die in the samne posture with his Lord and Master. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom on the same day. St. Paul, being a Roman citizen, was beheaded.
St. Jude went to Edessa, where many were converted to Christiànity by his preaching, which, stirring up the resentment of the people in power, he was crucified, A. D. 72.
St. Bartholomew translated St. Matthew's gospel in the Indian tongue, and propagated it in that country; but at length the idolaters, growing impatient with his doctrines, severely beat, crucified, and slew him, and then cut off his head.
St. Thomas preached the gospel in Parthia and India, where, displeasing the pagan priests, he was martyred, by being thrust through with a spear.
St. Luke. This apostle and evangelist had the advantage of a liberal education, and was by profession a physician. He travelled with St. Paul to Rome, and preached to many barbarous nations, till the priests of Greece hanged him on an olive-tree.
St. Simon was distinguished for his zeal by the name of Zelotes. He preached with great success in Africa, and it is asserted that he came into the island of Great Britain. He was crucified, A. D. 74.
St. John is said to be the only apostle who escaped a violent death, and lived the longest of any of them, being nearly one hundred years of age at the time of his death.
5. SIGNS AND APPEARANCES PRECEDING THE DESTRUC
TION OF JERUSALEM. AFTER our Lord had foretold the ruin and desolation coming upon the Jewish people, their city and temple, his disciples came to him privately, saying, tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign
of thy coming ? &c. Our Lord then informs them of five signs which shall precede the destruction of Jeru salem. The first sign is false Christs; "for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” The second, wars and commotions ; “ nation shall rise against nation.” The third, pestilence and famine; "there shall be famines and pestilences.” The fourth is “ earthquakes in divers places.”. All of these events took place according to our Lord's prediction, as may be fully seen in the history of the Jews, by Josephus (the Jewish historian), and also by other writers who lived at the time. The fifth sign is, “there shall be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. (Luke chapter xxi. 11.) Josephus, in his preface to the Jewish war, enumerates these~lst. A star hung over the city like a sword; and a comet continued a whole year. 2d. The people being assembled at the feast of unleavened bread, at the ninth hour of the night, a great light shone about the altar and the temple, and this continued for half an hour. 3d. At the same feast, a cow, led to the sacrifice, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple ! 4th. The eastern gate of the teniple, which was of solid brass, and very heavy, and could hardly be shut by twenty men, and was fastened by strong bars and bolts, was seen, at the sixth hour of the night, to open of its own accord ! 5th. Before sun-setting, there was seen, all over the country, chariots and armies fig' ting în the clouds, and besieging cities. 6th. At the feast of Pentecost, when the priests were going into the inner temple by night, to attend their service, they heard first a motion and noise, and then a voice as of a multitude, saying, LET US DEPART HENCE. 7th. What Josephus reckons one of the most terrible signs of all was, that one Jesus, a country fellow, four years before the war began, and when the city was in peace and plenty, came to the feast of tabernactes, and ran up and down the streets day and night, crying, “A voice from the east! a voice from the west! a voice from the four winds! a voice against Jerusalem and the
temple ! a voice against the bridegrooms and brides ! and a voice against all the people !" Though the magistrates endeavoured by stripes and tortures to restrain him, yet he still cried with a mournful voice, “ Wo, wo to Jerusalem !” and this he continued to do for several years together, going about the walls and crying with a loud voice, “Wo, wo to the city, and to the people, and to the temple;” and as he added, “wo, wo to myself!" a stone, sent by the Romans from. some sling or engine, struck him dead upon the spot! It is worthy of remark, that Josephus appeals to the testimony of others, who saw and heard these fearful things. Tacitus, a Roman historian, gives nearly the same account with that of Josephus.—Clarke's Commentary
6. DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. The siege and destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the whole political constitution of the Jews, is one of the most striking incidents of the divine vengeančė on a wicked people, that we have recorded in history. Our Lorů, who foresaw the desolation and calamities coming upon the city, wept over it, declaring his willingness to gather them * under his protection: but they would not accept of his salvation ; therefore destruction came upon them, and their “ house was left unto them desolate."
About forty years after our Lord had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, the Roman government sent an · army under Cestius Gallius against the Jews, in order to quell their rebellious and factious spirit. Gallius Came and invested Jerusalem with a powerful army. Our Lord declared to his disciples, that “when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." And then, in order that his followers might be preserved in safety, he adds, " Then let them that are in Judea flee to the mountains ; and let them that are the midst of it depart out,” &c. This counsel was remembered and
wisely followed by the Christians, and it is mentioned as a remarkable fact by Eusebius and other ancient historians, that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though many of them were there when Gallius invested the city ; and had he persevered in the siege, he would have soon rendered himself master of it; but when he unexpectedly and unaccountably raised the siege, all who believed in Christ · took that opportunity and fled to Pella, and other places beyond Jordan.
Vespasian was appointed to succeed Gallius in prosecuting the war against the Jews; he accordingly subdued the country, and prepared to besiege Jerusalem, but being appointed emperor, he returned to Rome, and gave the command of his forces to his son Titus. Titus, having made several assaults without success, resolved to surround the city (which was nearly four English miles in circumference) with a wall ; which was, with incredible speed, completed in three days! The wall was strengthened with forts at proper distances, so that all hope of safety was cut off; none could make his escape from the city, and no provisions could be brought into it; thus fulfilling our Lord's words, 6 thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and coinpass thee round, and keep thee in on every side.” Titus now prosecuted the siege with vigour. In addition to this, the Jews were divided into factions among themselves, murdered each other with a blind fury, and burnt their provisions. No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews; rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within, fire and sword, and all the horrors of war without. While the famine prevailed, the house of a Jewish lady named Miriam, was repeatedly plundered of provisions. Her sufferings became so extreme, that she entreated, and sometimes attempted to provoke those who plundered her, to put an end to her miserable life.
At length, frantic with despair, she snatched her infant son' from her breast, cut its throat, and boiled it; and having satisfied present hunger, concealed the remainder. The