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Sermons for the Christian Seasons.
MISSIONS OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
Ps. xix. 4. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
THESE words of David (wherein he would seem to speak, in the first place, of the witness which the whole creation, the works of God, bear to their Creator: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world”) are by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, ch. x., applied to the preaching of the gospel by the apostles; and therefore was this Psalm, the xixth, from early times, set apart for the festivaldays of the holy apostles; even as the early fathers of the Church, who had learnt in all
things to trace Christ and His Church, were used to expound it of their preaching, and of their witness to the gospel. And thus the words of the text may preface what I have to say concerning the life and labours of St. Bartholomew.
Now that St. Bartholomew was of the number of the twelve, was one of " the glorious company of the apostles," we have the express witness of holy Scripture; and that, (as one of the twelve,) he "continued" with our Lord “in His temptations; waited on His ministry; heard His discourses; saw His miracles; was a witness to His resurrection and ascension; received His commission to preach His gospel, to baptize in His name, to consecrate and offer up the holy Eucharist, to absolve, to confirm, to ordain; we have the express witness of holy Scripture, that St. Bartholomew had, and exercised, all these. But it is not so certain that we have in holy Scripture express and separate mention of St. Bartholomew; although, on a comparison of passages, it would seem in the highest degree probable; and, as such, has been received by nearly all Christian writers.
It has been generally believed that St. Bartholomew is the same as Nathaniel, of whom we read in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel;
Nor need the differ
and this for many reasons. ence of name cause any difficulty. For Bartholomew is not, strictly speaking, a proper name, but a name taken from the father, Bar, in the Hebrew tongue, meaning, 'a son of;' and so Bartholomew will mean son of Tholomew or Tholmai, even as Bartimæus means son of Timæus, and Bar-Jonah means son of Jonah. And so, there will be no more difficulty in this apostle being called, at once, Nathaniel and Bartholomew, i. e., Nathaniel son of Tholomew, than there is in another apostle, Peter, being called at once, Simon and Barjonah, i. e. Simon, son of Jonah. Setting aside then this apparent difference of names, as really no difficulty, we will consider the reasons which exist for thinking St. Bartholomew and Nathaniel to be one and the same person.
They are as follows:-The three evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, make express mention of St. Bartholomew, as one of the twelve apostles, but they make no mention whatever of Nathaniel. Again, the other evangelist, St. John, makes mention, more than once, of Nathaniel, but makes no mention at all of St. Bartholomew. Then again, the three evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, (and, after them,
the early Christian writers,) join together St. Philip and St. Bartholomew; even as St. John, in his first chapter, makes St. Philip to be the person who first brought Nathaniel into the presence of Christ. "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 Nathaniel, 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 Nathaniel said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile ! Nathaniel saith unto him, Whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee. Nathaniel answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel. answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the
angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." Thus (if we are right in taking St. Bartholomew and Nathaniel to be one and the same person), we have, in this place, our Lord's own witness to the holy apostle, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile;" a true and single-hearted son of Israel, of him who was "a plain man;”—and we have the example of that ready faith, that simple trust in God, which are among the blessed fruits of a guileless spirit. They who have a single eye, best see God; they who have a single mind, best follow God: deceit, hypocrisy, worldly thoughts and cares, worldly wisdom, these are the things which shut out God, and make men averse to see, and to follow, God's leading.
And there is, further, another passage in St. John's Gospel, c. xxi., which would seem to mark Nathaniel as an apostle, and so as the same, probably, with St. Bartholomew. When "Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias, . . . there were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathaniel of Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples." Now, as we know that all (beside Nathaniel) whose names are given, were apostles, Simon Peter, Thomas, the sons