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the nature of the subject treated of, and the peculiar situation of the apostle, who was animated with the most sublime conceptions of that immortal world of happiness into which he was soon to enter.
The general design of the epistle is, to confirm the doctrines and instructions delivered in the former, "to excite the Christian converts to adorn and stedfastly adhere to their holy religion, as a religion proceeding from God, notwithstanding the artifices of false teachers, whose character is at large described, or the persecution of their bitter and inveterate enemies."
The apostle, with this view, having first congratulated the Christian converts en the happy condition into which they were brought by the gospel, exhorts them, in order to secure the blessings connected with their profession, to endeavour to improve in the most substantial graces and virtues. [chap. i. 1..11.] And that their attention might be more effectually engaged, he reminds them, both that he spoke to them in the near view of eternity, it being revealed to him that he should shortly put off his earthly tabernacle; aud that the subjects on which he discoursed were not cunningly devised fables, but attested by a miraculous voice from heaven, and by divinely inspired prophecies. [verse 12 to the end.] And, that this exhortation might not fail of producing the most genuine effects, he cautions them against the false teachers whose character he describes, reminding them of the judgments executed on the apostate angels, on the old world, and on Sodom; and, at the same time, of the deliverance of Noah and of Lot, as suggesting considerations which, on the one hand, should terrify such ungodly wretches, and, on the other, comfort and establish the hearts of upright and pious Christians. [chap. ii. 1..9.] He then further describes the character of these seducers; warning all true Christians of the danger of being perverted by them, and then of the dreadful destruction to which they exposed themselves, [verse 10 to the end.] And that the persons to whom he was writing might more effectually escape the artifices of those who lay in wait to deceive, they are directed to adhere steadily and closely to the sacred scriptures, and to consider the absolute certainty and awful manner of the final destruction of this world; and then the whole is concluded with several weighty and pertinent exhortations. [chap. iii. throughout.] Eusebius asserts that Peter's labours at Rome were eminently successful in opposing Simon Magus, who had procured to himself divine worship in that city. It is generally believed that he suffered martyrdom at Rome during the persecution of Nero, being crucified with his head downward near the gate of the Vatican. It is asserted by Eusebius, that, seeing his wife, as he was yet hanging upon the cross, going to her martyrdom, he was greatly rejoiced, and cried out to her with a loud voice that she should remember the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the antient heretics handed about a gospel, to which they gave the name of this apostle.
The accounts which antiquity affords us respecting Andrew are probably mixed with fable. He is said to have preached the gospel, during the reign of Vespasian, to the Scythians, the Sogdians, the Sacæ, and in a city called Augustia, which was inhabited by a nation who were called Ethiopians. His death is said to have happened at Patris, a city of Achaia, where, through his diligent preaching, many had been. converted to the faith of Christ. Egeas, the governor, being a very zealous pagan, resorted thither for the express purpose of inducing the Christians to renounce their profession, and sacrifice to those idols which were acknowledged in the country. Andrew, thinking it proper to resist this attempt, and confirm by his example the fortitude of the brethren, spoke to Egeas to the following purpose: It becomes you, who are the judge of men, first to know your judge, who dwelleth in heaven; and then to worship him, being thus known; and so, in worshipping the true God, te
JAMES THE ELDER, PHILIP, BARTHOLOMEW, &c.
recal your mind from false gods and blind idols. Egeas became very angry, and demanded of the apostle whether he were the same Andrew who did, by his teaching, overthrow the temples of the gods, and persuade men to embrace that superstition which the Romans had lately commanded to be abolished and rejected. Andrew, in answer, plainly affirmed that the princes of the Romans did not understand the truth; and that the Son of God, who came down from heaven for the sake of sinful men, had taught and declared how their idols, whom they honoured as gods, were indeed cruel devils, bitter enemies to mankind, teaching the people no other doctrine but that which offended God, and caused him to give them up to all manner of wickedness. The proconsul, upon this, determined to crucify Andrew after the example of Jesus. On being threatened with this punishment, Andrew firmly replied, that he would never have preached the honour and glory of the cross if he had feared the death of the cross. The sentence of condemnation was now passed, that Andrew, teaching pernicious doctrine, endeavouring to found a new sect, and taking away the honour of their gods, should be led forth to crucifixion. Coming to the place of execution, he was not at all disturbed at the sight of the cross, but spake forth with a fluency which much astonished the spectators. His words are said to have been, O! welcome and long looked for cross, willingly and joyfully do I come to thee, being the scholar of him who did hang upon thee. I have always loved thee, and desired to embrace thee. Thus, being crucified, he yielded up the ghost, and fell asleep. There was antiently attributed to him a spurious book, entitled the Acts of St. Andrew.
James the Elder appears to have been one of the most zealous of the disciples, and was therefore singled out by Herod as the first object of his persecuting fury. His martyrdom is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the sixteenth chapter of the present work.
Philip, the apostle, is said, by late writers, after having preached among the bar. barous nations, to have been crucified and stoned to death at Hierapolis, a city of Phrygia.
Bartholomew is said to have preached the gospel to the Indians, and to have translated into their language the gospel of Matthew, as well as to have wrought many miracles for the confirmation of their faith. At last, in Albania, a city of the Grester Armenia, he is said to have suffered a most cruel death, being first beaten down with stones, then crucified, then flayed alive, and lastly beheaded.
Thomas is said, by Eusebius, to have preached the gospel in Parthia; he is also mentioned, by the same author, as having a hand in the very questionable affair of Abgurus. He is said to have suffered martyrdom at Calamina, a city of Judea, being slain with a dart. There was a spurious gospel attributed to him.
James the Less, the son of Alpheus, being not only the Lord's near relation, but an apostle, whom, as is generally supposed, he honoured in a particular manner, by appearing to him alone after his resurrection. [1 Cor. xv. 7.] These circumstances, together with his own personal merit, rendered him of such note among the apostles, that they are supposed to have appointed him to reside in Jerusalem, and to superintend the church there. This appointment, Lardner says, was made soon after the martyrdom of Stephen; and, in support of his opinion, he observes, "that Peter always speaks first, as president among the apostles, until after the choice of the seven deacons. Every thing said of James after that, implies his presiding in the church of Jerusalem.” Canon, vol. iii. p. 28. For example: when the apostles and elders came together to consider whether it was needful to circumcise the Gentiles, after there had been much disputing, Peter spake [Acts xv. 7.]; then Barnabas and Paul [verse 12.]; and, when they had ended, James summed up the arguments, and proposed the terms ou
which the Gentiles were to be received into the church, [verse 19, 20, 21.] to which the whole assembly agreed, and wrote letters to the Gentiles conformably to the opinion of James. [verse 22.129.] From this it is inferred that James presided in the council of Jerusalem, because he was president of the church in that city. Chrysostom, in his homily on Acts xv. says, "James was bishop "James was bishop of Jerusalem, and therefore spake last."
In the time of this council, Paul communicated the gospel which he preached among the Gentiles to three of the apostles, whom he calls pillars; and tells us, that when they perceived the inspiration and miraculous powers which he possessed, they gave him the right hands of fellowship, mentioning James first. [Gal. ii. 9.] And knowing the grace that was bestowed on me, James, Cephas, and John, who were pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship. This is supposed to imply, that James, whom, in the first chapter, he had called the Lord's brother, was not only an apostle, but the presiding apostle in the church of Jerusalem. In the same chapter, Paul, giving an account of what happened after the council, says, [verse 11, 12.] When Peter was come to Antioch, before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision. This is considered as shewing that James resided at Jerusalem, and presided in the church there, and was greatly respected by the Jewish believers. The same circumstance appears from Acts xxi. 17; where, giving an account of Paul's journey to Jerusalem, with the collections for the saints in Judea, Luke says, [verse 18.] Paul went with us to James, and all the elders were present. Farther, the respect in which James was held by the apostles appears from two facts recorded by Luke. The first is, when Paul came to Jerusalem three years after his conversion, Barnabas took him, and brought him to Peter and James, as the chief apostles. [compare Acts ix. 27, with Gal. i. 19.] The second fact is, after Peter was miraculously delivered out of prison, about the time of the passover, in the year forty-four, he came to the house of Mary, where many were gathered together praying. [Acts xii. 12.] And when he had declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of prison, he said, Go shew these things to James and to the brethren. [verse 17.] These particulars are mentioned by Lardner, and, before him, by Whitby and Cave, to shew that James, the Lord's brother, was really an apostle in the strict acceptation of the word; consequently, that Eusebius was mistaken when he placed him among the seventy disciples. E. H. lib. i. c. 12.
In the history of the Acts, there are some circumstances which, as learned men have remarked, lead us to conclude that the apostles, by common agreement, allotted to each other the offices and duties which they were to perform. Thus, Acts viii. 14, When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John. [Acts xi. 22.] Then tidings of these things (namely, that a number of the Hellenist Jews in Antioch had received the word; came to the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch. [Gal. ii. 9.] When James, Cephas, and John, perceived the grace which was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision, Wherefore, if James, the Lord's brother, was really president in the church of Jerusalem, as was formerly mentioned, and as the antients universally affirm, he was, in all probability, placed in that station by the appointment or with the approbation of the other apostles, as an antient tradition, preserved by Eusebius and Jerome, informs us. But Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Vecumenius, and Photius, think he was raised to that office by our Lord himself. That one of the apostles should reside constantly in
JAMES THE LESS.
Jerusalem, to whom the faithful might apply for advice in any difficult case, was very proper; because circumstances might make it necessary for the greatest part of the apostles to leave Jerusalem, and go to other countries. Wherefore, as James, the Lord's brother, was a person of singular prudence and great authority, as well as an apostle, he was well qualified for that important station, and may have been appointed to it by common consent. And as every apostle, by virtue of his superior character and illumination, had a right to direct the affairs of the church where he happened to reside, the apostle James, by constantly residing in Jerusalem, became the perpetual president and director of the church there, on which account the antients called him the bishop of Jerusalem.
Lardner's character of James deserves a place here. "Though we do not allow ourselves to enlarge of every thing said of him in the history of the council of Jerusalem, and his reception of Paul when he came up to Jerusalem, and was imprisoned; yet I suppose that every one may have discerned marks of an excellent character, and of his admirably uniting zeal and discretion, a love of truth and condescension to weak brethren. His epistle confirms that character. I think, likewise, that the preservation of his life in such a station as his, to the time when he is mentioned last by Luke, may induce us to believe that he was careful to be inoffensive in his behaviour to the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation, and that he was had in reverence by many of them." Can. vol. iii. p. 20.
James, the Lord s brother, was surnamed the Less, [John xix. 25.] either because he was younger than James, the son of Zebedee, or because he was a person of small stature, which is the literal meaning of the original term. James was likewise surnamed the Just, not indeed in the New Testament, but by the antients, who gave him that appellation on account of his singular virtue. Some, indeed, have supposed James the Just to be a different persou from James 'the son of Alpheus, and have ascribed the epistle to him, but Dr. Macknight thinks without foundation. For as there are only two persons of the name of James mentioned in scripture as apostles, and as the most antient Christian writers have given James, our Lord's brother, the surname of the Just, there is no reason to believe that there was any third person of the name of James who was surnamed the Just, and who was the writer of the epistle. See Euseb. E. H. lib. ii. c. 1, Lardner, Can. vol. iii. p. 26.
The occasion of his writing the epistle which bears his name is said to have been, that a very pernicious opinion prevailed in the latter part of the apostle's time, arising from a misinterpretation of Paul's writings, namely, that there subsisted a kind of faith sufficient for the salvation of the soul, without effecting a complete change on the heart and life. The apostle enters on his subject by endeavouring to fortify their minds under those trials wherewith they would be exercised, by suitable representations of the benefit of these trials, of the readiness of God to communicate all necessary supplies of wisdom and grace in answer to the fervent prayer of faith, and exposing the vanity of all worldly enjoyments, which often prove the means of ensnaring and ruining the possessors. [chap. i. 1.. 16.] And then, as a means of their stedfastness, notwithstanding the most powerful temptations to apostacy, he exhorts them to remember and acknowledge the manifold goodness of God in the various blessings bestowed upon them, more especially in that of his regenerating grace, which should constrain them to, the exercise of every virtue, especially to an ingenuous and candid reception of his word, and a concern resolutely and constantly to adhere to its directions, particularly by bridling their tongues, and succouring such as were afflicted. [verse 17 to the end.] And then the apostle, by an easy transition, having glanced at some of their particular failings, takes the occasion of introducing cautions on
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 upon, 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, be 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 te 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 hatred 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 be 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 Messiah, 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 circumstances 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.
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 u43 and not unto the world?  Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he 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,