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IT may very reasonably be expected, that this volume should furnish a more particular account of the apostles of our Lord, than is given in the Gospels or Acts. Of Matthew and John, two of the apostles, all the ivformation to be depended on, which has been preserved in the Christian church, may be found in the prefatory remarks to their respective gospels. The history of the others, stript of legend and conjecture, is as follows :
Peter, who was also called Simon, is said to have been the eldest of the apostles, and of the age of forty, when first called by Christ. This may be the reason, for which he is usually first named. For John certainly possessed, in a peculiar degree, the confidence and affection of our blessed Lord. We learn from the evangelical bistory, that Peter was sincere, ardent and intrepid. Of his activity and zeal in the cause of Christianity, we have abundant testimony from the Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke. It is unnecessary to repeat the account there given of him. From ecclesiastical history, we learn that he visited Rome, and there made many proselytes to the Christian faith. On a second visit to that city, after he had preached the gospel in various parts of Asia, he was crucified by order of the emperor Nero, in the year 65. The apostle ANDREW was a brother of Peter.
He was one of the Baptist's disciples before he attached himself to Christ : and it was in consequence of the explicit testimony of John in favor of Jesus, as the expected Messiah, that he became a disciple and follower of the great prophet of Nazareth, He is said to have preached the gospel to the Scythians, and to others in the north of Greece ; and
to have suffered martyrdom in a city of Achaia in the northern part of Peloponnesus.
James was the brother of John, and son of Zebedee (commonly called James the Great, co distinguish him from James, the son of Alpheus.) With Peter and John, he was admitted to particular interviews with Christ, when the other apostles were not present. We have no certain account that he ever was out of Judea. He was considered. a very holy and just man; of great firmness and zeal in defending the doctrines of the gospel. He was the first apostle who suffered martyrdom ; having been put to death by Herod, about fifteen years after the ascension of Christ.
Philip, like the other apostles, spent several years in preaching the gospel in Judea, Galilee and Samaria ; after which he travelled into other countries. He was some time in Phrygia, then a province of the Roman empire, which is comprehended in what is now called Turkey in Asia. And in this part of Asia he suffered death on account of his religion ; but in what year of the Christian æra, is not precisely known.
BARTHOLOMEW (who is supposed to be the same as Nathaniel) according to the most correct accounts, carried the gospel into Parthia, and Media ; and probably into the western part of India.
Afterward he passed through Phrygia in company with Philip, and then into Armenia, where he was put to death for preaching Christ, and opposing the idolatry and vices of the pagan inhabitants.
The apostle THOMAS also went eastward, after passing several years in Judea ; and preached to the Persians, Medes, Bactrians, and other nations bordering on India. He also suffered martyrdom by the hands of pagans for his efforts to persuade men to embrace the gospel of Christ.
James, the son of Alpheus, or Cleopas, nephew of the holy virgin, is said by ecclesiastical writers to have exercised the office of bishop, or pastor, to the Christians in Jerusalem. He was stoned to death about the year 66. An epistle written by him to the dispersed Jews, who believed in Christ, makes a part of the sacred canon.
Jude, the brother of James, last mentioned, and who was called Thaddeus or Libbeus, is supposed to have written the epistle, which bears his name. It is believed, that he
preached in Mesopotamia, and other countries north and east of Judea ; and afterwards suffered martyrdom in some part of Persia.
Simon Zelotes, or the Canaanite, was a brother, or near relative of James and Jade. It is related of him, that he lived to a great age ; that he preached the gospel in Egypt and Lybia ; and after the death of James was bishop of Jerusalem.
We have not a very full and particular account of the labors of all the apostles to the close of their lives. But the early Christian writers unite in giving testiinony to their zeal and perseverance in executing the commission they received from Christ, to declare his gospel to and make disciples among all nations. They promulgated the gospel to all civilized people; and were entirely devoted to the great work of instructing and reforming the world. They sowed the good seed of the word of life in all countries then known and civilized; the fruits of which have continued to bless mankind down to the present day. They confirmed the doctrines they taught, by exhibiting supernatural power, by speaking various languages without previous learning, and by prophecies, some of which were soon fulfilled. These powers are called gifts of the Holy Spirit ; and they were granted them for a testimony and sanction to the truth of their heavenly mission. And by this consideration only can we rationally account for the rapid and extensive prevalence of Christianity, when oppos. ed by such numerous and powerful enemies; by ignorant and bigotted pagans, by conceited and self-sufficient philosophers, by interested priests, and by still more interested civil rulers and princes of the earth. Christianity having become known and established, the necessity for miracles no longer existed. And we learn, that they ceased after the days of the immediate successors of the holy apostles. But piety and charity never fail. They will ever be the duty and the ornament of Christians.
BRADFORD & READ,
No. 58, CORNHILL, BOSTON,
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