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Sermons for the Christian Seasons.
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES.
CHRISTIANS CALLED TO BE FOLLOWERS OF THE APOSTLES.
1 COR. xi. 1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
WHEN our Lord, at the first, sent forth His apostles, we read, "And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two;" and the same also in the case of the seventy, "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come." It was the will of our blessed Saviour not to send forth His apostles one by one, solitary and alone, but two and two, with such stay and comfort as they would derive each from the presence of the other; and, as if in memory of this, the Church on this day
commemorates St. Philip and St. James; and again, on another holy day, St. Simon and St. Jude; having in memory two apostles on one and the same day, even as our Lord was pleased to join two together at the first, in one task and labour of love.
St. Philip was of Bethsaida of Galilee, the city of St. Andrew and St. Peter. The circumstances of his call are found in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. He was among the very first called of the disciples of our Lord, his call taking place on the very next day after our Lord's conversation with St. Andrew and St. Peter. And the call of our Lord was, it should seem, at once obeyed and not only so, but St. Philip, like a sincere and earnest-minded man, sought to lead others also to the same gracious Master, upon whose service he had himself entered. "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith
unto him, Come and see." In which there is this to be noted, that St. Philip, as it should seem, had read diligently the holy Scriptures of the law and of the prophets, and so had come to truer and juster notions of the Messiah; and was probably (with other "just and devout" persons, such as Simeon and Anna,) "waiting for the consolation of Israel," "looking for redemption in Jerusalem." And thus in him was fulfilled
the promise, "Unto him that hath shall be given," i. e. he that useth aright his present knowledge, and his present means of grace, shall have yet fuller knowledge, yet more perfect means of grace afforded to him.
St. Philip was, after some time, called by our Lord to be of the "glorious company of the apostles." And there are certain passages in the Gospels, which seem to shew that St. Philip was very near and dear to our Lord. In St. John vi. our Lord seems to put his faith to the trial. "When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would do." And here the faith of St. Philip appears not to have reached into our Lord's Godhead, and Almighty
Power. Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." Again, in c. xii. we read of certain persons applying to St. Philip, in order to be by him brought into the presence of our Lord. "And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the Feast. The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida, of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus, Philip cometh and telleth Andrew; and, again. Andrew and Philip tell Jesus." And, again, in c. xiv. in the course of our blessed Lord's conversation with His apostles in the night before He suffered, the request of St. Philip is made the occasion of our Saviour's setting forth in the fullest terms, the unity of substance between Himself and His Father. "Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father ?"
Thus much we learn about St. Philip from holy Scripture. What more we know is found in early Christian writers, from whose works we
gather what notices remain of the lives and deaths of the holy apostles.
The countries, where St. Philip is said to have preached the gospel, were those of Upper Asia, where he remained many years, and, at last, suffered martyrdom in the city of Hierapolis.
We have next to speak of St. James, (called "the Less," to distinguish him from the other St. James, the brother of St. John.) This St. James, the son of Alpheus, is also called in holy Scripture the brother of our Lord. Among the Jews the term 'brother' was frequently used to denote the relation of cousin and so, probably, in this case St. James was called our Lord's brother, as being the son of another Mary, the sister of the blessed Virgin.
In St. Matthew
xiii. 55, and in St. Mark vi. 3, mention is made of him as our Lord's brother, and the same term is used of Judas, (i. e. the apostle St. Jude,) Simon, (the same with Simeon who succeeded St. James as Bishop of Jerusalem,) and Joses. After our Lord's Ascension, and before their own dispersion, St. James was instituted by the apostles Bishop of Jerusalem, i. e. Bishop of the Mother Church of Christendom, in consequence, it has been believed, of some immediate intimation of our Lord's will. And so we find special
H. D., SERM. 13. NEW SERIES. o 2