صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

sundry other articles in which they needed reprehension, particularly against shewing an undue respect to men's external circumstances, and resting satisfied in a partial observation of the divine precepts, especially where the royal law of charity or universal benevolence was in question. [chap. ii. 1..13.] After this, as several of the Jewish Christians discovered a disposition to rest in an external and empty profession of religion, probably, from an abuse of the doctrine of justification by faith, he largely descants on the inefficacy of a mere ineffective faith, and evinces, by most striking instances and illustrations, the utter insufficiency of it for our justification and eternal salvation. [verse 14 to the end.] And, as such a barren profession is apt to inspire men with conceited and vain-glorious sentiments of themselves, while they are destitute of every divine habit and attainment, he deems it expedient to subjoin a caution to the Jewish Christians against their being too forward in assuming the office and character of teachers and, as spiritual pride tends to inflame men's unbridled passions, and to set on fire their licentious tongues, he resumes and expatiates on a subject which he had before only slightly touched upou, recommending a strict government of the tongue as a matter, though of great difficulty, yet of the highest importance. [chap. iii. 1..12.] And, in close connection with such a topic, it was very natural to inculcate, as the apostle does, a candid benevolent disposition, guarding them against censoriousness and animosities, and that love of the world which tends to excite them, to restrain which, he recommends an humble application to God for divine influences [verse 14..iv. 10.]; suggesting particular cautions against evil speaking and vain confidence in the events of futurity, or in any worldly possessions, which often prove a temptation to luxury, and an occasion of ruin. And then, as to afflicted and oppressed Christians, he encourages and exhorts them to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord. [verse 11-v. 8.] And concludes the epistle with condemning profane and vain swearing, with recommending moderation, fortitude, and prayer, a ready acknowledgment of our faults, and a solicitous concern for the common salvation. [verse 9 to the end.]

Eusebius informs us, that after Paul had appealed to Cæsar, and been conveyed to' Rome, the Jews, having lost their opportunity of destroying him, directed all their batred against James, the brother of our Lord, and bishop of Jerusalem. Therefore, leading him forth into the midst of a large assembly, they required of him that there he would renounce his profession of the Lord Jesus Christ. They found, however, that all their expectations of overawing him were entirely vain; for he boldly confessed his faith in the Son of God, and declared to them that Jesus of Nazareth was the only true Messiab, a disappointment which so exceedingly irritated them, that they immediately proceeded to murder him, taking advantage, for this purpose, of a vacancy in the government. They are said to have cast him down headlong from the battlements of the temple, and to have beat him to death with a club. The same author recites a long story from Hegesippus, which, beside relating some additional and rather dubious circuinstances of his murder, asserts that he lived the life of a Nazarite, abstaining also from all animal food, and neither anointing his head nor using the bath. The mention which Josephus has made of this transaction will be noticed in the ensuing chapter.

[ocr errors]

None of the evangelists have said any thing of Judas after he became an apostle except John, who tells, that when our Lord spoke what is recorded John xiv. 21, Judas saith to him, [verse 22.] Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us and not unto the world? [23.] Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, be will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him; meaning that after his resurrection he would shew himself alive to his apostles; and that he and his Father, by the spiritual gifts bestowed on them,

would make their abode with them; that is, as Dr. Macknight interprets it, would shew that they were present with them in all their ministrations. Accordingly, Judas the apostle was one of those to whom Jesus appeared at different times after his resurrection. He was also one of the hundred and twenty upon whom the Holy Ghost descended in the visible shape of flames of fire on the memorable day of Pentecost. Being, therefore, an eye-witness, and endowed with the Holy Ghost, he, no doubt, as Lardner remarks, joined his brethren apostles in witnessing their Master's resurrection from the dead, and shared with them in the reproaches and sufferings which befel them on that account.

Lardner conjectures that Judas the apostle was an husbandman before he became Christ's disciple, founding his conjecture on a passage of the apostolical institutions, where the apostles are made to say, "Some of us are fishermen, others tent-makers, others husbandmen." He adds, "undoubtedly several of the apostles were fishermen ; but by the latter part of the sentence no more may be meant than that there was among them one tent-maker, even Paul; and one husbandman, intending, perhaps, St. Jude. For Hegesippus, as quoted by Eusebius, writes, "That when Domitian made inquiries after the posterity of David, some grandsons of Jude, called the Lord's brother, were brought before him. Being asked concerning their possessions and substance, they assured him that they had only so many acres of land, out of the improvement of which they both paid him tribute, and maintained themselves with their own hard labour. The truth of what they said was confirmed by the callousness of their hands, &c." On this passage Lardner's remarks are, "Hence some may argue that St. Jude himself had been an husbandman; and, from this account, if it may be relied upon, we learn that this apostle was married and had children." Lardner on the canon, vol. iii. chap. 21, p. 325. Much dispute has been excited in consequence of the mention which Jude has made in his epistle concerning the prophecy of Enoch. Some have supposed that he quoted from an apocryphal book, which is known to have existed early under the name of Enoch and others; that he referred only to a traditional account which had been preserved among the Jews, though not recorded in the Mosaic history. It is probable that the epistle of Jude was composed just before the death of that apostle, after that most other parts of the New Testament were written; and that its great design was to draw the attention of Christians from the various absurd speculations which were at that time indulged in, and to fix their thoughts more on the practical influences of apostolical religion. As Jude sustains an important part in the very doubtful story of Abgarus, king of Edessa, we shall submit to the reader the account at full length, as it is given us by Eusebius in the first book of his Ecclesiastical History.

A HISTORY Concerning the PRINCE of the EDESSENS.

"The divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," says Eusebius, "being every where talked of, by reason of his wonderful power in working miracles, it drew after him many people from other countries, and some very remote from Judea, who were filled with hopes of relief under all sorts of pains and sicknesses. For which reason, king Abgarus, who, with honour, governed the nations beyond the Euphrates, labouring under a grievous distemper, incurable by human skill, when he heard of the fame of Jesus, which was much celebrated, and his wonderful works attested by the unanimous testimony of all men, sent a letter to him by a messenger, entreating him to cure his distemper but he did not then comply with his request; yet he vouchsafed to write to him a letter, wherein he promised to send one of his disciples, who should cure his

distemper, and also bring salvation to him and to all with him, which promise was not long after fulfilled; for, after the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension to heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, moved by a divine impulse, sent Thaddeus, one of Christ's seventy disciples, to Edessa, to be a preacher and an evangelist of Christ's doctrine, by whom all things promised by our Saviour were fulfilled. The evidence of this we have from the records of the city of Edessa; for among the public records, wherein are entered the antiquities of the city, and the actions of Abgarus, these things are still found preserved unto this day. It will therefore be worth the while to attend to the letters as taken by us (or for us) from the archives, and translated word for word from the Syriac language."

The copy of the letter which was written by ABGARUS, the toparch, to JESUS, and sent to him at Jerusalem by the courier ANANIAS.


Abgarus, toparch (or prince) of Edessa, to Jesus, the good Savionr, who has appeared at Jerusalem, sendeth greeting. I have heard of thee, and of thy cures performed without herbs or other medicines for it is reported that thou makest the blind to see, and the lame to walk; that thou cleansest lepers, and castest out unclean spirits and demons, and healest those who are tormented with diseases of a long standing, and raisest the dead. Having heard of all these things concerning thee, I concluded in my mind one of these two things, either that thou art God come down from heaven to do these things, or else thou art the Son of God, and so performest them. Wherefore, I now write unto thee, entreating thee to come to me, and to heal my distemper. Moreover, I hear that the Jews murmur against thee, and plot to do thee mischief. I have a city, small indeed, but neat, which may suffice for us both." "Now let us attend," says Eusebius, "to the letter which Jesus returned by the same courier, short indeed, but very powerful. It is in these words.

[ocr errors]

The rescript of JESUS to the toparch ABGARUS, sent by the courier ANANIAS.

Abgarus, thou art happy, forasmuch as thou hast believed in me, though thou hast not seen me. [John xx. 29.] For it is written concerning me, that they who have not seen me might believe and live. As for what thou hast written to me, desiring me to come to thee, it is necessary that all those things for which I am sent should be fulfilled by me here; and that after fulfilling them, I should be received up to him that sent me. When, therefore, I shall be received up, I will send to thee some one of my disciples, that he may heal thy distemper, and give life to thee and to those who are with thee."

"To these epistles," as Eusebius goes on to say, "are subjoined the following things, and in the Syriac language-That after Jesus had been taken up (or after his ascension) Judas, called also Thomas, sent the apostle Thaddeus, one of the seventy, who, when he came to Edessa, took up his abode with Tobias, son of Tobias. When his arrival was rumoured abroad, and he had begun to be known by the miracles which he wrought, it was told to Abgarus that an apostle was sent to him by Jesus, according to his promise. Thaddeus, therefore, by the power of God, healed all sorts of maladies, so that all wondered. But when Abgarus heard of the great and wonderful works which he did, and how he healed men in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ, he was induced to suspect that he was the person about whom Jesus had written to him, saying, "When I am taken up, I will send to thee some one of my disciples, who shall heal thy distemper. Sending, therefore, for Tobias, at whose

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

house he was, he said to him, "I hear that a man endowed with great power, and come from Jerusalem, is at thy house, and that he works many cures in the name of Jesus." To which Tobias answered, "Yes, Sir, there is a stranger with me who performs many miracles." Abgarus then said, Bring him hither to me." Tobias coming to Thaddeus, said to him, "The prince Abgarus has bid me bring thee to him, that thou mayest heal his distemper." Whereupon Thaddeus said, "I go; for it is upon his account chiefly that I am sent hither." The next day, early in the morning, Tobias, taking Thaddeus, came to Abgarus. As he came in, the nobles being present, there appeared to Abgarus somewhat extraordinary in the countenance of Thaddeus, which when Abgarus saw, he worshipped Thaddeus, which appeared strange to all present; for they did not see that brightness which was discerned by Abgarus only. He then asked Thaddeus if he were indeed the disciple of Jesus, the Son of God, who had said to him, "I will send to thee some one of my disciples, who shall heal thy distemper, and give life to all with thee." Thaddeus answered, "Forasmuch as thou hast great faith in the Lord Jesus, therefore am I sent unto thee; and if thou shalt increase in faith in him, all the desires of thy heart will be fulfilled according to thy faith." Then Abgarus said to him, "I have so believed in him, that I would go with an army to extirpate the Jews who crucified him, if I were not apprehensive of the Roman power." Then Thaddeus said, "Our Lord and God Jesus Christ has fulfilled the will of his Father; and, having fulfilled it, he has been taken up to his Father." Abgarus then said, "I have believed in him and in his Father." And thereupon said Thaddeus, "Therefore I put my hand upon thee in the name of the Lord Jesus." And upon so doing, Abgarus was healed of his distemper. And Abgarus wondered that as it had been reported concerning Jesus, so it had been done by his disciple and apostle Thaddeus, insomuch as he had healed him without herbs or other medicines. Nor did he heal him alone; but also Abdus, son of Abdus, who had the gout for he came to him, and fell down upon his knees before him; and, by the laying on of his hands with prayer, he was healed. The same apostle healed many other citizens of the same place, and wrought many and great miracles as he preached the word. After which, Abgarus spoke to this purpose: "Thou, Thaddeus, doest these things by the power of God, and we admire thee; but I beseech thee to inform me about the coming of Jesus, how it was, and of his power, and by what power he did all those things we have heard of." To which Thaddeus answered, "Now I forbear, though I am sent to preach the word; but to-morrow gather together all the citizens, and then, in their hearing, I will preach the word, and sow in them the word of life; and will inform them of the coming of Christ, how it was; and concerning his mission, and for what cause he was sent by the Father; and concerning the power of his works, and the mysteries which he spoke in the world; and by what power he did these things; aud concerning his new doctrine; and about the meanness and despicableness of his outward appearance; and how he humbled himself, and died, and lessened his deity; how many things he suffered from the Jews; and how he was crucified, and descended into bell, and rent asunder the inclosure never before separated, and arose, and raised up the dead who had been buried many ages; and how he descended alone, but ascended to his Father with a great multitude; and how he is set down on the right hand of the Father with glory in the heavens; and how he will come again with glory and with power to judge the living and the dead." Abgarus, therefore, issued out orders that all the citizens should come together early the next morning, to hear the preaching of Thaddeus. And, after that, he commanded that gold and silver should be given to him; but he did not receive it, saying, "When we have left our own things, how should we receive those which belong to others?"



This was done in the four hundred and thirtieth year. These things, translated from the Syriac language word for word, we have placed here, as we think, not improperly."

Dr. Macknight observes, that if Judas the apostle was the same person with Judas the author of the epistle, of which opinion he entertains no doubt, he lived to a great age. And his life being thus prolonged, we may suppose that, after preaching the gospel, and confirming it by miracles, he went into other countries for the same purpose. Lardner tells us that some have said that Jude preached in Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, and that he suffered martyrdom in the last-mentioned country. But these things are not supported by any well attested history. With respect to his being a martyr it may be doubted; because none of the antients have mentioned his having suffered martyrdom. It is therefore generally believed that he died a natural death.

Various and contradictory accounts are delivered concerning Simon Zelotes, or the Canaanite; some asserting that he was bishop of Jerusalem after James, and was crucified in Egypt; others, that he was slain in a tumult in Persia; and others again, that after having preached in several parts of Africa, he came over into Britain, and was there crucified.

It is reported of Matthias, that after having preached the gospel to the Jews, he 'was, at length, stoned and beheaded. He is also said to have insisted much upon the abusing, that is, the mortifying of the flesh. There is attributed to him a spurious gospel.

It may, perhaps, be not unentertaining to remark, that the several apostles are usually distinguished in paintings by the following badges or attributes: Peter is represented with the keys; Paul with a sword; Andrew, with a cross in the form of a Roman X; James the Less, with a fuller's pole; John, with a cup, and a winged serpent flying out of it; Bartholomew, with a knife; Philip, with a long staff, whose upper end is formed into a cross; Thomas, with a lance; Matthew, with a hatchet; Matthias, with a battle-axe; James the Elder, with a pilgrim's staff, and a gourd bottle; Simon, with a saw; and Jude, with a club.

The seven deacons who were chosen by the church at Jerusalem, were, as the reader may recollect, Stephen, Philip, Procoras, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas. Of several of these some brief account may be given. The excellent character of Stephen, his noble defence, his cruel death, and the persecution which followed it, have been already treated of in the sixteenth chapter of this work.

Concerning Philip the Deacon, Eusebius has collected several accounts, in which he is confounded with Philip the apostle. His daughters, who are said to have remained single to their death, are reported to have died in extreme old age, and to have been buried at Hierapolis, a city of Asia, where also their father died a natural death. One of them, however, is reported to have been buried at Ephesus.

Nicanor is asserted by Dorotheus to have suffered with a thousand other believers on the same day with Stephen, a story utterly incredible.

Timon is said, by the same author, to have been bishop of Bestrum in Arabia, and 'there to have been buried.

Parmenas is also said to have died a martyr.

A foolish story is told concerning Nicholas; that, being suspected of entertaining an improper jealousy over his wife, he gave her leave to marry whom she would. It is added, that he taught much concerning abusing, that is, mortifying the flesh, which his disciples interpreted in a bad sense, and thus laid the foundation of an impious heresy.

« السابقةمتابعة »