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Fathers of the Church, he is in the Acts of the Apostles. The Greeks and the rest reply, that he was not the first bishop; and the dispute will endure as long as the churches.
St. James, this first bishop of Jerusalem, always continued to observe the Mosaic law. He was a Recabite; he walked barefoot, and never shaved; went and prostrated himself in the Jewish temple twice a day, and was surnamed by the Jews Oblia, signifying the just. They at length applied to him to know who Jesus Christ was;* and, having answered that Jesus was the son of man, who sat on the right hand of God, and that he should come in the clouds, he was beaten to death. This was St. James the Less.
St. James the Greater was his uncle, brother to St. John the Evangelist, and son of Zebedee and Salome.t It is asserted that Agrippa, king of the Jews, had him beheaded at Jerusalem.
St. John remained in Asia, and governed the church of Ephesus, where, it is said, he was buried.
St. Andrew, brother to St. Peter, quitted the school of St. John for that of Jesus Christ. It is not agreed whether he preached among the Tartars or in Argos; but, to get rid of the difficulty, we are told that it was in Epirus. No one knows where he suffered martyrdom, nor even whether he suffered it at all. The Acts of his martyrdom are more than suspected by the learned. Painters have always represented him on a saltier-cross, to which his name has been given. This custom has prevailed without its origin being known.
St. Peter preached to the Jews dispersed in Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia, at Antioch, and at Babylon. The Acts of the Apostles do not speak of his journey to Rome, nor does St. Paul himself make any mention of it in the letters which he wrote from that capital. St. Justin is the first accredited author who speaks of this journey, about which the learned are not agreed. St. Irenæus, after St Justin, expressly says, that St. Peter
* Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Clement of Alexandria. + Eusebius, book iii. Eusebius, book iii.
and St. Paul came to Rome, and that they entrusted its government to St. Linus. But here is another difficulty if they made St. Linus inspector of the rising Christian society at Rome, it must be inferred that they themselves did not superintend it, nor remain in that city.
Criticism has cast upon this matter a thousand uncertainties. The opinion that St. Peter came to Rome in Nero's reign, and filled the pontifical chair there for twenty-five years, is untenable, for Nero reigned. only thirteen years. The wooden chair, so splendidly inlaid, in the Church at Rome, can hardly have belonged to St. Peter: wood does not last so long; nor is it likely that St. Peter delivered his lessons from this chair as in a school thoroughly formed, since it is averred that the Jews of Rome were violent enemies to the disciples of Jesus Christ.
The greatest difficulty perhaps is, that St. Paul, in his epistle written to the Colossians from Rome, positively says that he was assisted only by Aristarchus, Marcus, and another bearing the name of Jesus.* This objection has, to men of the greatest learning, appeared to be insurmountable.
In his letter to the Galatians, he says that he obliged James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, to acknowledge himself and Barnabas as pillars also. If he placed James before Cephas, then Cephas was not the chief. Happily, these disputes affect not the foundation of our holy religion. Whether St. Peter ever was at Rome or not, Jesus Christ is no less the son of God and the Virgin Mary; he did not the less rise again; nor did he the less recommend humility and poverty,—which are neglected it is true, but about which there is no dispute.
Callistus Nicephorus, a writer of the fourteenth century, says, that "Peter was tall, straight, and slender, his face long and pale, his beard and hair short, curly, and neglected, his eyes black, his nose long, and rather flat than pointed." So Calmet translates the passage.‡
Chap. iv. v. 10, 11.
+ Chap. ii. v. 9.
St. Bartholomew, a word corrupted from Bar. Ptolomaios, son of Ptolemy.-The Acts of the Apostles inform us that he was a Galilean. Eusebius asserts that he went to preach in India, Arabia Felix, Persia, and Abyssinia. He is believed to have been the same with Nathanaël. There is a gospel attributed to him but all that has been said of his life and of his death is very uncertain. It has been asserted that Astyages, brother to Polemon king of Armenia, had him flayed alive; but all good writers regard this story as fabulous.
St. Philip.-According to the apocryphal legends, he lived eighty-seven years, and died in peace, in the reign of Trajan.
St. Thomas Didymus.-Origen, quoted by Eusebius, says that he went and preached to the Medes, the Persians, the Caramanians, the Baskerians, and the Magi, as if the Magi had been a people. It is added, that he baptized one of the Magi, who had come to Bethlehem. The Manichees assert that a man who had stricken Thomas, was devoured by a lion. Some Portuguese writers assure us that he suffered martyrdom at Meliapour, in the peninsula of India. The Greek church believes that he preached in India, and that from thence his body was carried to Edessa. Some monks are further induced to believe that he went to India, by the circumstance, that, about the end of the fifteenth century, there were found, near the coast of Ormuz, some families of Nestorians, who had been established there by a merchant of Mossoul, named Thomas. The legend sets forth that he built a magnificent palace for an Indian king, named Gondaser: but all these stories are rejected by the learned.
St. Matthias. No particulars are known of him. His life was not found until the twelfth century, by a monk of the abbey of St. Matthias of Treves. He said, he had it from a Jew, who translated it for him from Hebrew into Latin.
* A Hebrew-Greek name, which is somewhat singular, and has caused it to be thought that the whole was written by the Hellenian Jews, far from Jerusalem.
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. Thaddaeu 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 derive 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.†
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 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 may 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 asto nishing 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 abuse 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.―
"Quùmque Hierosolymam accessisset, et ibidem aliquandiù mansisset, pontificis filiam ducere in animum induxisse, et eam ob rem proselytum factum, atque circumcisum esse; posteà quòd virginem eam non accepisset, succensuisse, et adversús 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
* I. Corinthians chap. ix.