« PreviousContinue »
day of the Lord, when the elements shall melt, and the whole frame of nature be dis- from Acts i. solved, thereby to excite them to become circumspect and diligent, in order to be found * ***. of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” About the same time St Paul wrote his second epistle * to Timothy; “wherein he informs him of the near approach of his death, and desires him to come to him before winter, because most of his companions, upon one affair or other, were departed from him; wherein he exhorts him to discharge all the duties of a bishop and pastor, suitable to those excellent gifts he had received, and with a generous contempt of the world and worldly things; wherein he admonishes him, not to forget the doctrine which he had taught him, nor to be surprised or disturbed at the apostacy of some from the faith, but to preach the more zealously against such opposers, as heaped up to themselves teachers, and left the truth to turn unto fables; and wherein he acquainted him, how, at his first appearing before Helius, all his companions, for fear of being involved in his punishment, (a) forsook him, but that the Lord stood by him and strengthened him, to make his preaching more conspicuous and effectual to the Gentiles.” How long these two apostles lived under their confinement, we have no certain knowledge, but at last it being determined that they should both die, Peter, as a Jew and foreigner, was sentenced to be crucified, and Paul, ** as a Roman citizen, to be behead
and people, by the tragical expressions of “burning up the earth, and dissolving the heavens,” Isa. xiii. -9, &c. xxxiv. 3, &c.; but this solemn exhortation, “seeing then all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for, and hastening to, the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that we may be found of him without spot, and blame-less ** 2 Pet. iii. 11, 12.-This exhortation, I say, sounds too high for the destruction of Jerusalem, in - which they of Pontus and Galatia could not be much concerned; but is very proper for those who had the lively ideas of the conflagration of the world, and the tremendous judgment and perdition of ungodly men, then set before them. Whitby's Preface to the Second Epistle of St Peter. * That, at two different times, St Paul was a prisoner at Rome, is evident from the circumstances which himself relates. In his first confinement, he was permited to live in his hired house, and to receive all that came to him, Acts xxviii. 30, 31. but in his second, he was so closely shut up, that Onesiphorus was forced to enquire diligently after him before he found him, 2 Tim. i. 17. In the first, Timothy and Mark were both with him, and constantly attending him, Phil. i. 1. and Col. iv. 10. In the second, they were both absent in Asia, and knew nothing of what passed in Rome, 2 Tim. iv. 11. In the first, Demas had adjoined himself to him, and was become a fellow labourer in the Gospel. In the second, out of love to the things of this world, he had forsaken him, and departed to Thessalonica, 2 Tim. iv. 10. In the first, “many of the brethren, waxing confident by his bonds, were much more bold to speak the word without fear,” Phil. i. 14. But in the second, they were so intimidated, “that they all forsook him, and not one man stood with him,”, 2 Tim. iv. 16. And if it thus appears, that St Paul was twice in custody at Rome, himself gives us to understand, that this epistle was written under his latter confinement, and was
very probably the last that ever he wrote: For, “I
ed. *. On the 29th of June, (as it is generally supposed) St Peter being first scourged, according to the Roman custom, was led to the top of the Vatican Mount, near Tiber,
6s, o.o.o. where he desired the favour of the officers, that he might be crucified with his head *=downwards, “as thinking himself unworthy to suffer in the same posture wherein his
Lord and Master had suffered before him.” In this manner f he expired upon the
his age, to have been buried in the Via Appia, about two miles from Rome, and by Constantine the Great, to have had a stately church built over his grave. It was adorned with an hundred of the best marble columns, and beautified with the most exquisite workmanship ; but as it was afterwards thought to be too narrow and little for the honour of so great an apostle, Valentinian, or rather Theodosius the emperor, (the one but finishing what the other begun) by a rescript directed to Salustius prefect of the city, caused it to be taken down, and a larger and more noble one to be built in its room. Cave's Lives of the apostles. * Many of the ancients positively affirm, that both these apostles suffered on the same day and year, but others, though allowing the same day, tell us, that St Paul did not suffer till a year after St Peter, and some interpose the distance of several years. Cave, ibid. + His body being taken from the cross, was embalmed after the Jewish manner by Marcellinus, the presbyter, and so buried in the Vatican, near the Triumphal Way. Over his grave a small church was soon after erected ; but when it was destroyed by Heliogabalus, his body was removed to the cemetry in the Appian Way, two miles distant from Rome. Here it continued till, in the time of Pope Cornelius, it was reconveyed to the Vatican, where it abode in some obscurity until Constantine the Great, out of the profound reverence he had for the Christian religion, having rebuilt and enlarged the Vatican to the honour of St Peter, enriched it with gifts and ornaments, which in every age increased in splendor and beauty, till it is become one of the wonders of the world at this day. Cave, ibid. * Before we part with these two apostles, it may not be amiss to take a short survey of their persons and tempers. St Peter (if we may believe the description which Nicephorus gives us of him) was of a middle size, but somewhat slender, and inclining to tallness: His complexion was very pale; his hair thick
though, in some cases, his fear prevailed, and destroyed the succours which reason offered. His humility and lowliness of mind were singular; his affeetion and zeal for his Master wonderful; his love for the souls of men ardent; his diligence in his ministerial office indefatigable; and his rule and conduct in his episcopal capacity highly prudent and engaging. St Paul (if we may believe the same Nicephorus) was of a low and small stature, somewhat stooping; his complexion was fair; his countenance grave; his head small : his eyes sparkling; his nose high and bending; and his hair thick and dark, but mixed with grey. His constitution was weak, and often subject to distempers : but his mind was strong, and endued with a solid judgment, quick invention, and prompt memory, which were all improved by art, and the advantages of a liberal education: His humility and self-abasement were wonderful : his sobriety and temperance singularly strict; his contempt of the world great and generous ; his charity to the poor extensive; his love for mens souls universal, his labours in the execution. of his ministry incessant: his constancy in the profession of religion invincible; and his style and manner of writing, to inculcate it, even by the confession of his enemies, “weighty and powerful,” 2. Cor. x. 10. Besides the epistles, which are owned to be genuine, several other writings are falsely ascribed to him, as an epistle to the Laodiceans, a third to the Thessalonians, a third to the Corinthians, a second to the Ephesians, his letter to Seneca, his Acts, his Revelation, his voyage to Thecla, and his Sermous: As the like has been done to St Peter, viz.his Acts, Gospel, Revelation, Preaching Judgment, and Liturgy. Cave, ibid to The book of Apostolical Constitutions says, that Linus, the son of Herculaneus, a Tuscan by birth, was ordained bishop of Rome by St Paul, long before the death of St Peter; and Ruffinus asserts, that he and Anacletus, having governed that church while the apostles Peter and Paul were living, but then absent, Peter, a little before his death, chose at last Clement to succeed him in the See of Rome; but, Clement. (according to Epiphanius) out of modesty refused to exercise that office, till after the death of Linus and Anacletus. Calmet's Dict, and Cave's Disputat. Apost. the first or second year of Titus.
Paul's disciples, of whom he makes mention in his second epistle to Timothy (a), and From Acts i. who, after twelve years presiding therein, is said to have suffered martyrdom either in
One of St Paul’s predictions was, that in the Christian church (b) heresies should arise, for the manifestation of such as were sound in the faith; which prediction began now to be verified: For, besides the immediate followers of Simon Magus, * those of Menander, Ebion, and Cerinthus, as well as others, who are styled (c) ** Nicolaitans, appearing eager advocates for such principles as sapped the very foundations of the Christian religion, obliged f St Jude to write his epistle (in the same manner as St
(a) Chap. iv. 21. (b) 1 Cor. xi. 19. - * Menander was a Samaritan, and, like Simon, a notorious impostor and magician; but abounding with more monstrous illusions than he. He gave it out, that he was a Saviour sent from above for the resto. ration of mankind, and that whoever was instructed in his occult knowledge, and initiated in his baptism, should enjoy a perpetual immortality, and continue always young and vigorous, even in this world. With these, and several other of his Master Simon's opi
nions, he seduced many in Antioch; and though the
extravagancy of his notions made them less infectious, yet they were continued in the second century, particularly by Basilides and Saturninus. Ebion, so called for his affected poverty, was born at Cocaba, a village in Palestine, and spread his heresy in Trachonitis, and among the Christians, who, before the siege of Jerusalem, had retired to Pella. He denied the Divinity of our Saviour; and, though he acknowledged him for an excellent person, believed him to be no more than the son of Joseph and Mary. He enjoined the observation of the law of Moses as necessary to salvation; received all the writings of the Old Testament, but none of the New except St Matthew's Gospel; and particularly condemned St Paul as an apostate, for proving the dissolution of the Jewish law. Cerinthus spread his heresy in Ephesus and other parts of Asia Minor; and, in his denial of our Lord's divinity, his acknowledgment of St Matthew's Gospel, and asserting the obligation of the Mosaic law, agreed exactly with Ebion; as he did with the Gnostics, in as'serting the creation of the world by angels. To insinuate himself with the vulgar, he boasted much of his illuminations and revelations, and, to make the mystery of our Lord's passion more familiar, distinguished between Jesus and Christ, and accordingly taught, that Jesus was but a mere man; that Christ descended upon him in the likeness of a dove, and continued with him during the time of his ministry; but that, as Christ was incapable of suffering, he forsook Jesus when he came to be crucified, and left him to die: But his kingdom afterwards he affirmed should be terrestrial, in the city of Jerusalem, where men should enjoy all kinds of carnal pleasures for a thousand years.
(c) Rev. ii. 15.
* The Nicolaitans are supposed to derive their original from Nicolas, one of the deacons mentioned in the vi. of Acts; and (as Clemens Alexandrius relates the story) not improbably on this occasion, This Nicolas had a beautiful wife, of whom he was said to
be jealous; but, to shew the apostles how far he was from that, he brought her forth one day, and gave any person leave to marry her. Himself was a sober and temperate man, who never knew any woman but his own wife, by whom he had one son and several daughters, who lived all unmarried, and shewed that their father was no encourager of lewdness; but so it was, that, being accustomed to make use of an expression which bore an equivocal meaning, viz. “That we ought to abuse the flesh,” meaning, that we ought to mortify and keep it under; by this saying of his, and what he had done in offering his wife, he unhappily gave an umbrage to his disciples and followers to throw off all restraint, and to give themselves over to the grossest impurities, allowing of the most pernicious mixtures, and making corporal pleasure the ultimate end of man. Echard's and Lamy's Ecclesiastical Histories. + This Jude, who, in the History of the Gospel, is styled our Lord's brother, as being the son of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin, was undoubtedly the brother of James the Less, bishop of Jerusalem, Matth. xiii. 55. and “it may be (as Dr Lightfoot expresses himself) that St Jude stands up in the charge of his brother James among the circumcision of Judea, and directs his epistle to all such as were sanctified and preserved in those apostatizing times, as his brother had done to all the twelve tribes in general.” Between this and St Peter's second epistle there is certainly a great resemblance. The end aimed at in both, viz. to expose in their true light the corrupt principles and practices of the Gnostics, is evidently the same ; and the arguments and expressions in many cases so much alike, that it has been disputed whether St Jude has here abridged that of St Peter, or St Peter enlarged upon this of St Jude, though most fire of the former opinion. And indeed, when we find St Jude quoting expressly this epistle of St Peter (Jude, ver, 17. compared with 2 Pet. iii. 1, 2.), alluding to St Paul's second epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. iii. 1. compared with Jude, ver. 18.), and speaking of the apostles as persons who had been some time dead, we cannot but conclude, that this epistle was not written till after the death of the apo. stles St Peter and St Paul, but how long after we cannot tell. [It has been objected to the authority of the epistle of St Jude, that the author quotes from two apocryphal books—the one in Greek, entitled The Assumption of Moses, which Origen saw and thought a true history, and the other a Jewish for. gery, entitled The Prophecies of Enoch. But to this
10. to the end. -
o M. ; Peter did his) to the Jewish converts, in their several dispersions; “Wherein he informs ... ... them, that his primary intention was to have wrote to them in general of the common salvation, in order to confirm them in it; yet, seeing the doctrine of Christ attacked on
every side by heretics, he thought it more necessary to exhort them to stand up manfully for the defence of the “faith once delivered to the saints,” and to oppose those false teachers who so earnestly laboured to corrupt them ; and that they might know these the better, he describes them in their proper colours, and foretels their future, if not impending destruction; but exhorts them, at the same time, to endeavour, by all
gentle methods, to save them, and to take folly had cast them.”
It is very observable of this apostle, that the evangelists commonly call him, not Jude, but either * Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus, out of a particular dislike, no doubt, to the name of Judas, ever since the treacherous and bloody Iscariot betrayed and sold his Master; but then the Sacred Records are so very short in their accounts of him, as well as of
the other remaining apostles, that we must, tical writers; who tell us of this St Jude, having for some time preached about Judea
and then in Syria and Mesopotamia, he travelled at last into Persia, where, at the instigation of the magi, provoked by his open rebukes of their idolatrous worship of the sun, and other superstitions, he was assaulted by the common people, and, after other previous cruelties, crucified: Who tell us of f St Simon, that, upon the dispersion of the apostles, having preached in Egypt, Cyrene, Africa, Mauritania, and other remote countries thereunto adjoining, at length bent his course westward, and || came into Britain, where, after many miracles wrought, and great hardships undergone, he was From Acts i. at last put to death, for the testimony of the truth, by the then rude and barbarous in- " " "*** habitants of that island: Who tell us of f St Thomas, that having preached in Media, Persia, Hyrcania, Bactriana, &c. he was at length encouraged by a Divine vision to travel into India, where, coming into the country of the Brachmans, by the miracles which he wrought, he converted so many (and among others Sagamo, the prince of the country), that the priests, fearing the downfal of their religion, fell upon him while he was intent at prayer, with stones and darts, and at last one of them coming nearer, ran him through with a lance: Who tell of * St Philip, that after his having made many converts in the Upper Asia, Colchis, and some parts of Scythia, he came at length to Hierapolis, a noted city in Phrygia, where the inhabitants at that time paid their adorations to a +* dragon, which when the apostle by his prayers and invocation of the name of Christ, either quite destroyed or caused to disappear, the magistrates of the place were so exasperated against him, that they threw him into prison, and, after a severe scourging, ordered him either to be hanged or crucified : Who tell us of #3 St Bartholomew (generally supposed to be the same with Nathaniel), that having with great success propagated Christianity in the Higher India (whither he carried St. Matthew's gospel), he thence removed into Lycaonia, and came at last to Albinople, a city of the Greater Armenia, at this time miserably over-run with idolatry, where, having converted their king Polymius and his wife, and by their example prevailed with multitudes to relinquish their idols, he so far enraged the priests against him, that they
it is sufficient to reply, that though St Jude might consider the whole story of the devil's contention with Michael about the body of Moses as a mere fable, he might yet quote it as an instructive fable, illustrative of the doctrine which it was his object to inculcate, namely, that we ought not to speak evil of dignities; just as other fables are quoted or invented to illustrate different doctrines both in the Old and in the New Testament. It is not indeed conceivable that any prophecies written by Enoch could be extant in the days of Jude ; but the apostle does not say that there were, or that he quoted from any written book. He says only, that “ Enoch the seventh from Adam prophesied,” &c.; and as this is certainly not improbable in itself, such prophecies, or what was supposed to be such prophecies, might have been preserved by tradition among the Jews of his time; and though not enrolled in the canon of Scripture, have, like other traditions obtained from that poople, a very considerable degree of credit, which made a reference to them sufficient for his purpose.] Whitby's Preface to the Epistle of Jude, Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv. Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv. and Lardner's Supplement, &c. * The superstitious veneration which the Jews had for the sacred name of Jehovah, would not suffer them to pronounce it in common conversation; and hence it was, that when any man had a name, wherein occurred the major part of this ineffable title (as it did in Jehuda, or Juda), they chose rather to change it in common speech for another of the like importance, but different characters; for which reason Judas, which denotes Praise, was changed into Thaddaeus, a word of the same signification. Concerning
them out of the fire into which their own
in this case, be beholden to other ecclesiasthat, after our Lord's ascent into heaven, and Galilee, next in Samaria and Idumea,
the other name of Lebbaeus, conjectures have been various. Some deriving it from an Hebrew word which signifies the heart, will have it to intimate the extraordinary wisdom and courage of this apostle; while others draw it from a root, which imports a lion, and think it an allusion to that prophecy of Jacob, which compares his son Judah to an old lion, and a lion's whelp, Gen. xlix. 9. though all this etymology might be spared, if we can but (with Dr Lightfoot) suppose, that this name was taken from Lebba, a town in Galilee, where he conceives that this apostle was born. Cave's Lives of the Apostles, and Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels. + This apostle (to distinguish him, I suppose, from that other Simon sirnamed Peter) is styled Simon Zelotes, or Simon the Canaanite ; but the latter name, we must observe, does not relate to his country or kindred, but is indeed the same in sense with Zelotes, and derived from an Hebrew, as that is from a Greek word, signifying Zeal; but whether this title was given him, in regard of any personal warmth, or vigour remarkable in him, or whether to denote him one of that sect who were called Zealots among the Jews, we cannot tell; only we may observe, that if it was upon the latter account, his conversion was more signal, since nothing could be more opposite to the meekness and gentleness of Christianity, than the irregularity and fierceness of that spirit by which this sect was actuated. Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels. | Others say, that after his preaching the Gospel in Egypt, he came into Mesopotamia, and there meeting with St Jude, went with him into Persia, where they both received the crown of martyrdom;
for which reason perhaps it is that the church com-
Apostles, Stanhope on the Episties and Gospels, and,
Buchanan's Christian Researches.
Kulasi, from the rocks about it, which are white like
cotton) and there to have suffered martyrdom, by being fastened to a cross and stoned to death. Cave's Lives of the Apostles, and Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
+* This doubtless was done in memory of that infamous act of Jupiter, who, in the shape of a dragon, insinuated himself into the embraces of Proserpine, his own daughter, begot of Ceres, and whom the Phrygians chiefly worshipped, as Clemens of Alexandria informs us. Cave, ibid.
to That Nathaniel and Bartholomew were only two names for one and the same person, the one his proper, and the other his relative name, appears from several passages in the Gospels compared together; but then the question is, upon what account it was that he had his relative name conferred on him : That several sects in the Jewish church denominated themselves from some famous person of that nation (as the Essenes did from Enosh, and the Sadducees from Sadoc) cannot be denied ; and therefore, if we may suppose that there were others who called themselves Tholmaeans, from Tholmai, scholar to Heber, the ancient master of the Hebrews, who flourished in Debir and Hebron, it will be no hard matter to make Nathaniel of this order and institution, and thereupon to give him the name of Bartholomew, i. e. a scholar of the Tholmaeans, and so create him (as he is said to have been) a doctor of the Jewish law. But an easier account of this matter is, That as the first syllable of this name signifies a son, the word Bartholomew will import no more than the son of Tholomew or Tholmai, which was no uncommon name among the Jews. And that it was an usual thing among them for the son thus to derive his name, is evident from the instance of Bar-timaeus, which is interpreted the “ son of Timaeus,” Mark x. 46, and that of Barjona, Matth. xvi. 17. which St John makes the same with Simon, son of Jonas, John xxi. 15, Cave's Lives of the Apostles, and Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels,