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St. Matthew.--According to Rufinus, Socrates, and Abdias, he preached and died in Ethiopia. Heracleon makes him live a long time, and die a natural death. But Abdias says, that Hyrtacus, King of Ethiopia, brother to Eglypus, wishing to marry his niece Iphigenia, and finding that he could not obtain St. Matthew's permission, had his head struck off, and set fire to Iphigenia's house. He, to whom we owe the most circumstantial gospel that we possess, deserved a better historian than Abdias.
St. Simon the Canaanite, whose feast is commonly joined with that of St. Jude.-Of his life nothing is known. The modern Greeks say that he went to preach in Lybia, and thence into England. Others make him suffer martyrdom in Persia.
St. Thaddæu or Lybeus—the same with St. Jude, whom the Jews, in St. Matthew,* call brother to Jesus Christ, and who, according to Eusebius, was his first cousin. All these relations, for the most part vague and uncertain, throw no light on the lives of the Apostles. But if there is little to gratify our curiosity, there is much from which we may deriye instruction.
Two of the four gospels, chosen from among the fifty-four composed by the first Christians, were not written by apostles.
St. Paul was not one of the Twelve Apostles; yet he contributed more than any other to the establishment of Christianity. He was the only man of letters among them. He had studied under Gamaliel. Festus himself, the governor of Judea, reproaches him with being too learned ; and, unable to comprehend the sublimities of his doctrine, he says to him, “ Insanis, Paule, multæ te litteræ ad insaniam convertunt.”-Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.t
In his first epistle to the Corinthians, he calls himself sent.
“ Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I
* Matthew, chap. xiii. v. 55.
† Acts, chap. xxvi, v. 24.
not seen Jesus Christ our Lord ? Are not ye my.
y work in the Lord ? If I am not an apostle unto others, yet; doubtless, I am unto you,” &c.*
He might, indeed, have seen Jesus, while he was studying at Jerusalem under Gamaliel. Yet it
be said, that this was not a reason which could authorise his apostleship. He had not been one of the disciples of Jesus; on the contrary, he had persecuted them, and had been an accomplice in the death of St. Stephen. It is astonishing that he does not rather justify his voluntary apostleship by the miracle which Jesus Christ afterwards worked in his favour—by the light from heaven which appeared to him at mid-day and threw him from his horse, and by his being carried up to the third heaven.
St. Epiphanius* quotes Acts of the Apostles, be: lieved to have been composed by those Christians called Ebionites, or poor, and which were rejected by the church---acts very ancient, it is true, but full of abusé of St. Paul.
In them it is said that St. Paul was born at Tarsus of idolatrous parents—utroque parente gentili procreatus—that, having come to Jerusalem, where he remained some time, he wished to marry the daughter of Gamaliel; that, with this design, he became a Jewish proselyte, and got himself circumcised; but that, not obtaining this virgin (or not finding her a virgin) his vexation made him write against circumcision, against the sabbath, and against the whole law.
Quumque Hierosolymam accessisset, et ibidem aliquandiù mansisset, pontificis filiam ducere in animum induxisse, et eam ob rem proselytum factum, atque circumcisum esse; posted quòd virginem eam non accepisset, succensuisse, et adversus circumcisionem, ac sabbathum, totamque legem scripsisse."
These injurious words show, that these primitive Christians, under the name of the
poor, were still attached to the sabbath and to circumcision, resting this attachment on the circumcision of Jesus Christ and his ob
* 1. Corintbians chap. ix.
servance of the sabbath ; and that they were enemies to St. Paul, regarding him as an intruder who sought to overturn everything. In short, they were heretics; consequently, they strove to defame their enemies, an excess of which party spirit and superstition are too often guilty.
St. Paul, too, calls them “false apostles, deceitful workers,"* and loads them with abuse. In his Letter to the Philippians, he calls them dogs.t s. St. Jerome asserts that he was born at Gisceala, a town of Galilee, and not at Tarsus.I Others dispute his having been a Roman citizen; because at that time there were no Roman citizens at Tarsus, nor at Galgala, and Tarsus was not a Roman colony until about a hundred years after. But we must believe the Acts of the Apostles, which were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and therefore outweigh the testimony of St. Jerome, learned as he might be.
Every particular relative to St. Peter and St. Paul is interesting. If Nicephorus has given us a portrait of the one, the Acts of St. Thecla, which, though not canonical, are of the first century, have furnished us with a portrait of the other. He was, say these Acts, short in stature, his head was bald, his thighs were crooked, his legs thick, his nose aquiline, his eyebrows joined, and he was full of the grace of God.-Statura brevi, &c.
These Acts of St. Paul and St. Thecla were, according to Tertullian, composed by an Asiatic, one of Paul's own disciples, who at first put them forth under the Apostle's name; for which he was called to account and displaced,--that is, excluded from the assembly; for, the hierarchy not being then established, no one eould, properly speaking, be displaced.
Under what Discipline did the Apostles and Primitive
Disciples live? It appears that they were all equal. Equality was * II. Corinthians, chap. xi. v. 13. + Cbap. iii. v. 2.
St. Jerome-Epistle to Philemon. VOL. I.
the great principle of the Essenians, the Recabites, the Therapeutæ, the disciples of John, and especially those of Jesus Christ, who inculcated it more than once.
St. Barnabas, who was not one of the Twelve Apostles, gave his voice along with theirs. St. Paul, who was still less a chosen apostle during the life of Jesus, not only was equal to them, but had a sort of ascendancy; he rudely rebukes St. Peter.
When they are assembled together, we find among them no superior. There was no presiding, not even in turn. They did not at first call themselves bishops. St. Peter gives the name of bishop, or the equivalent epithet, only to Jesus Christ, whom he calls the inspector of souls.* This name of inspector or bishop was afterwards given to the ancients, whom we call priests; but with no ceremony, no dignity, no distinctive mark of preeminence.
It was the office of the ancients or elders to distribute the alms. The younger of them were chosen by a plurality of voices, to serve the tables, and were seven in number; all which clearly verifies the reports in common.
Of jurisdiction, of power, of command, not the least trace is to be found.
It is true that Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for not giving all their money to St. Peter, but retaining a small part for their own immediate wants, without confessing it—for corrupting, by a trifling falsehood, the sanctity of their gifts; but it is not St. Peter who condemns them. It is true that he divines Ananias's fault; he reproaches him with it, and tells him that he has lied to the Holy Ghost; § after which Ananias falls down dead. Then comes Sapphira; and Peter, instead of warning, interrogates her, which seems to be the action of a judge. He makes her fall into the snare by saying, “ Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much.” The wife made the same answer as her husband. It is astonishing that she did not, on reaching the place, learn her husband's death—that no
* Epistle i. chap. ii. + Acts, chap. vi, v. 2. § Acis, chap. v.
one had informed her of it-that she did not observe the terror and tumult which such a death must have occasioned, and, above all, the mortal fear lest the officers of justice should take cognizance of it as of a murder. It is strange that this woman should not have filled the house with her cries, but have been quietly interrogated, as in a court of justice, where silence is rigidly enforced. It is still more extraordinary that Peter should have said to her, “Behold the feet of them which have carried thy husband out at the door, and shall carry thee out,' -on which the sentence was instantly executed. Nothing can more resemble a criminal hearing before a despotie judge.
But it must be considered that St. Peter is here only the orgán of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost; that it is to them that Ananias and his wife have lied, and it is they who punish them with sudden death ;—that, indeed, this miracle was worked for the purpose of terrifying all such as, while giving their goods to the Church, and saying that they have given all, keep something back for profane uses. The judicious Calmet shows us how the fathers and the commentators differ about the salvation of these two primitive Christians, whose sin consisted in simple though culpable reticence.
Be this as it may, it is certain that the apostles had no jurisdiction, no power, no authority, but that of persuasion, which is the first of all, and upon which every other is founded.
Besides, it appears from this very story that the Christians lived in common.
When two or three of them were gathered together, Jesus Christ was in the midst of them. They could all alike receive the Spirit. Jesus was their true, their only superior; he had said to them
• Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon earth; for one is your father, which is in heaven. Neither be
called masters; for one is your master, even Christ."*
* Matthew, chap. xxiii.