« EdellinenJatka »
apostles continued in a body at Jerusalem, even after the dispersion of the other Christians, we shall find it difficult to allow time sufficient for so tedious and difficult a voyage as that was in those early ages; and therefore it is safest to confine his ministry to Judea and the countries bordering upon it.
We learn from prophane history, that Herod Agrippa, son of Aristobulus and grand-son of Herod the Great, had been a great favourite both with the emperor Caligula and his successor Claudius, who conferred on him his grandfather's kingdoms, and sent him into Judea. Herod was noble and generous, prudent and politic, thoroughly versed in all the arts and intrigues of a court; he knew how to oblige his enemies, and mollify or avert the displeasure of the emperor. He was of a courteous and affable disposition; but at the same time a great zealot of the Jewish religion, and a very accurate observer of the Mosaic law. This prince, at his arrival in his new kingdom, thought there was no surer way of ingratiating himself into the favour of the
populace, than by persecuting the Christians, whom hc knew the Jews detested. Accordingly, he began a violent persecution; but the commonality being too mean a sacrifice to satisfy his own zeal, and favour his popu. lar designs, he laid hands on St. James, whose active temper and vigorous manner of contending for the truth and excellency of the Christian religion rendered him a proper victim at this time.
The same zeal which animated Herod to lay hands on St. James, also prompted him to pass sentence of death on him immediately. As he was led to the place of execution, the officer that guarded him to the tribunal, or rather his accuser, having been converted by that remarkable courage and constancy shewn by the apostle at the time of his trial, repented of what he had done, came and fell down at the apostle's feet, and heartily begged pardon for what he had said against him. The holy man, after recovering from the surprise, tenderly
embraced him. “ Peace, said he, “my son, peace be to thee, and the pardon of thy faults." Upon which the officer publicly declared himself a Christian, and both were beheaded at the same time. Thus fell the great apostle, James, the protomartyr of the apostles, and the first of that number that gained the crown, taking cheerfully that cup of which he had long since told his Lord he was ready to drink.
However, the divine vengeance, that never sleeps, would not suffer the death of this innocent and righteous man to pass long unrevenged; for shortly after the martyrdom of St. James, Herod removed to Cæsarea, in order to make war on the neighbouring Tyrians and Sidonians; and while he continued in this city, he pro. claimed solemn fights and festival entertainments to be held in honour of Cæsar to which there flocked a prodigious confluence of the principal inhabitants of the adjacent parts. Early in the morning of the second day, he came with great state into the theatre, to make an oration to the people; and being clothed in a robe curiously wrought with silver, the beams of the sun were reflected from it with such lustre, that the people cried out, that it was some deity they beheld; and that he who spoke to them must be something above the common standard of humanity.
This impious applause Herod received without the least token of dislike, or sense of the injury that was done by it to the Supreme Being. But a sudden accident changed the scene, and turned their mirth and rejoicing into melancholy and mourning; for Herod looking up, saw an owl perched upon a rope over his head, which he considered as the fatal minister of his death; on which an incurable melancholy seized his mind, and the most exquisite torments his bowels, occasioned by those worms St. Luke mentions; so that turning to the people, he cried out, “Behold the deity you admired, and yourselves evidently convinced of Hattery and falsehood: see me this moment condemned VOL. iii
by the laws of fate to die, whom just now you styled immortal.” He was removed into the palace, but his pains still increased upon him; and though the people fasted, and offered prayers for his life and health, yet his acute torments prevailed, and after five days put a period to his life.
LIFE OF ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE,
Surnamed the Less. BEFORE we enter upon the life of this apostle, it will be necessary to remove some difficulties relating to his person. It has been doubted by some whether this was the same with that St. James, who was afterwards bishop of Jerusalem, two of his name being mentioned in the sacred writings, namely, St. James the Great and St. James the Less, both apostles; the ancients mention a third, sarnamed the Just, which they will have to be distinct from the former, and bishop of Jerusalem ; but this opinion is built on a sandy foundation; for nothing is plainer, than that St. James the apostle, whom St. Paul calls our Lord's brother, and reckons with Peter and John, one of the pillars of the church, was the same who presided among the apostles, doubtless by virtue of his episcopal office, and determined the causes in the synod of Jerusalem. Nor do either Clemens, Alexandrinus, or Eusebius, mention any more than two, St. James slain by Herod, and St. James the Just, bishop of Jerusalem, whom they expressly affirm to be the same with him who is called the brother of our Lord by St. Paul.
The difficulties with regard to this person being thus removed, we shall proceed to the history of his life. It is reasonable to think that he was the son of Joseph,
afterwards the husband of Mary, by his first wife, whom St. Jerom styles Escha, and adds, that she was the daughter of Aggi, brother to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist: hence he was reputed our Lord's brother.' We find indeed several mentioned as the bre. thren of our Saviour, in the evangelical history; but in what sense, was greatly controverted by the ancients. St. Jerom, St. Chrysostom, and some others, will have them to have been so called from their being the sons of Mary, cousin-german, or according to the Hebrew idiom, sister to the Virgin Mary: but Eusebius, Epiphanius, and many others tell us, they were the children of Joseph by a former wife; and this seems most natural, and best agrees with what the evangelist says of them, when he enumerates the questions of the Jews: Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simeon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then has this man these things? By which it is plain that the Jews understood these persons not to be Christ's kinsmen only, but his brethren; the same Carpenter's sons having the same relation to him, that Jesus himself had: indeed they had more, Christ being only his reputed, they his real sons. Upon this account the blessed Virgin is sometimes called the mother of James and Joses; and by this name we frequently find her mentioned by the evangelişts in relating our Lord's crucifixion: and though she was only mother-in-law to St. James, yet the evangelists might choose to style her so, because she was commonly called his mother after the death of Joseph: perhaps she herself chose that title, that the Son of God, whom as a virgin she had brought into the world, might be the better concealed, and less exposed to the envious malice of the Jews. To this it may be added, that Josephus, who was eminently skilled in matters of genealogy and descent, expressly says, that St. James was the brother of Jesus Christ. . There is indeed, one objection against this, namely, that he is called the son of Alpheus: but this may mean no more, than either that Joseph was called
by another name, a thing very common among the Jews, or that James himself was a disciple of some particular sect or synagogue called Alpheans, there being many such sects about this time amongst the Jews.
The sacred history is silent with regard to the place of his birth: the Jews, in their Talmud, call him a man of the town of Sechania; but where that place was situated is uncertain; nor is it known what his particular way or course of life was before he was called to the apostleship: the sacred writers having been silent with regard to this particular, mentioning nothing concerning him during the life of our Saviour,
St. James was honoured, after the resurrection, with a particular appearance of our Lord to him, which though passed over in silence by the evangelists, is recorded by St. Paul and St. Jerom, from the Hebrew gospel of the Nazarenes, which contain several particulars omitted by the evangelical historians, gives the following relation of his appearance to this apostle. St. James had solemnly sworn, that from the time he had drank of the cup at the institution of the supper, he would eat bread no more, till he saw the Lord risen from the dead; our Lord, therefore, being returned from the grave, came and appeared to him, and commanded bread to be set before him, which he took, blessed, and brake, and gave to St. James, saying, “ Eat thy bread, my brother, for the Son of man is truly risen from amongst them that sleep.”
After the resurrection of our Saviour, he was cho. sen bishop of Jerusalem, being preferred before all the rest, for his near relation to CHRIST; and for the same reason, we find Simeon chosen to be his immediate successor in that see, because, after St. James, he was our Lord's next kinsman; a consideration that made Pe. ter and the two sons of Zebedee, though they had been peculiarly honoured by our Saviour, not to contend for this high and honourable station, but freely chose James