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SAINT JUDE, the Apostle, surnamed Thaddeus, and Lebbeus, or the Zealot, Zelotes, was the son of Alpheus, and brother to Saint James the Less, bishop of Jerusalem ; and likewise to Joses and Symeon. . Saint Jude therefore was also a brother, or cousin-german, to our Lord. Jude, and Judas, and Judah, are the same name, differently spelled. Saint Jude then, it seems, had a good namesake, the patriarch Judah, out of whose loins came lineally the Messiah; and a bad namesake, Judas of Cariot or Kerioth, his contemporary in the Apostleship, and the traitor to the Messiah. But the same names may be common to the best, and the worst persons. Saint Jude is supposed to have been originally a husbandman. He was married, and had children ; for two of his grandsons are mentioned as martyrs. Saint Jude is said by some to have suffered martyrdom, by being shot to death with arrows, near mount Ararat, in Armenia ; but the most probable account is, that he died a peaceable, natural death, at Berytus, in Syria, at a good old age.
There is no particular record of the time and manner, in which Saint Jude became a disciple of our Lord. None of the Evangelists have said any thing of Saint Jude, after he became an apostle, except Saint John ; and that is the mention of one unimportant question, which he asked our Lord, at the last supper. Saint Jude was one of those, to whom Jesus appeared, at different times, after his resurrection. He was also one of the hundred and twenty, upon whom the Holy Spirit descended, in the visible shape of flames of fire, like cloven tongues, which rested on their heads, on the memorable day of Pentecost. Saint Jude, like the prophet Obadiah, wrote only One Chapter. But even this is more than can be said of more than half of the Apostles, who wrote nothing at all. They were preachers, not writers. As Saint Jude wrote but little, perhaps, though not much is said about it, he preached and laboured the more. Probably, he went on missions, and wrought miracles, in different countries. This Epistle is supposed to have been written in the latter part of the apostolical age, and not long before the death of Saint Jude. It is placed last in order of the Apostolic Epistles in the New Testament.
For a time, some hesitation as to the authenticity of this Epistle prevailed; but now, both from the internal evidence, and the general current of antiquity, the book of Jude is conceded to be canonical. The Epistle was doubted, because Saint Jude is thought to have quoted Apocryphal books ; to wit, the book called the Assumption of Moses ; and the book called the Prophecy of Enoch. But Saint Paul quoted from the Heathen poets; to wit, from Epimenides, Aratus, and even from the iambics of the comic Menander. He adduced what was true in them to good purpose, without at all sanctioning the fables they contained. The first uncanonical allusion of Saint Jude relates to Saint Michael, the Archangel. As Michael was the head of all the angelic orders, so Satan was the head of all the diabolic orders. It is supposed, that these two chiefs, who, with their angels, fight against each other, disputed about the restoration of the Jewish Church. The other allusion is to the patriarch Enoch. The prophecy of Enoch to the Antediluvians was not committed to writing by Moses, but is preserved only by tradition. If Enoch was so good, as to be translated without death to heaven, there is little doubt that he prophesied. In this prophecy, even so soon after the Creation, Enoch foresaw the coming of our Lord to Judgment.
But Saint Jude, even in his one little chapter, has another difficulty to overcome. He is charged with being
a plagiarist from Saint Peter. It is true, that there is a great similarity, both of sentiment and phraseology, between the epistle of Saint Jude, and the second chapter of the second epistle of Saint Peter. Some think, that Peter and Jude both quoted from some Ancient Book, or Records, now lost. It is more likely, however, that as Saint Jude wrote upon the same topic, and against the same men whom Peter had opposed ; in order to give more effect to his own, he adopted and imitated many of Saint Peter's thoughts and expressions.
The short Circular Letter of Saint Jude is strictly Catholic, or General; being addressed, not to one particular Church, but to all Christians throughout the world. It contains a Salutation, an Exhortation, and a Doxology. Its warning Title is, Contend earnestly for the Faith, and Beware of False Teachers. Particularly, and circumstantially, he contends against the false teachers, the Gnostics, Nicolaitans, and Simonians; who corrupted the doctrine, and disturbed the peace of the Church.'' These men had glided into the infant church, like serpents. The danger of listening to these men, is argued from the tremendous judgments of God brought upon the old sinners, in the first ages. The whole Epistle is designed to warn against abducers, and their abductions; and to inspire a love to truth and holiness. It likewise teaches, how to act towards the erroneous, and the scandalous. Though it was not immediately addressed to any one person, or family, or church ; but to the universal society of new converts, whether from Judaism, or Paganism; it will be of general use to all Christians, to the end of time. The style of Saint Jude is manly and nervous. His description of the false teachers is bold, happy, and energetic; the exhortation and apostolic farewell are both forcible and affectionate; and the doxology is peculiarly reverential and sublime.
We will now proceed with an explanatory Paraphrase of the Epistle.
He begins with a Salutation. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ — he might have claimed kindred to his Lord according to the flesh, but he waives that, and rather glories in being his servant; and brother of James James is mentioned, because he was an eminent person in the church; to them that are sanctified by God the Father separated from the idolatrous world, and consecrated by faith to the true God; and preserved in Jesus Christ from the corrupt practices of idolaters, and the errors of false teachers; preserved from the gates of hell, to the glory of heaven; and called called out from the world, from vanity to seriousness, from uncleanness to holiness; unto you, may mercy
for the best need mercy; and peace peace with God, and your own consciences; and love — both to and from God, and to and from man; be increased and abound.
He then, having heard of the pernicious doctrines beginning to prevail, hastens to remind them of the salvation, common for both Jews and Gentiles; and to exhort them earnestly to contend for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints; to the holy prophets and apostles, and by them published to the world. For this faith, he exhorts them to contend, not furiously, but earnestly. To be open and bold in their profession, especially in times of notorious opposition. Not to contend for the discriminating badges of this or that sect; nor for any thing of later date than the inspired writings of the apostles and evangelists ; but for that, which is really the Christian faith. And this is the reason of his exhortation. For, says he, there are certain men crept into the church unawares, under specious pretences; who were before of old ordained to a condemnation, similar to that about to be mentioned. Ungodly men; such as raise scruples, start questions, cause divisions, widen breaches, merely to advance or promote their own selfish, ambitious, or covetous ends. This has been the plague of the church in all ages. Lascivious men; taking encouragement to sin more boldly, because the grace of God had often so wonderfully
abounded; pretending that God was so good, he would not punish sinners. And infidel men; denying not only all revealed, but also all natural religion.
Saint Jude then warns the christian converts of the danger to those who wavered, or did not stand steadfast in the faith ; and for this purpose, he puts them in remembrance, though they once knew this, of certain special judgments upon apostates. He first refers them to the Israelites, who were led out of the land of Egypt by a series of amazing miracles, and yet were left to perish by thousands in the Wilderness, by reason of unbelief.
He then alludes to the angels, who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation. These angels were not pleased with the station, which the Supreme Monarch had assigned for them ; but thought, like discontented men in our age, that they deserved a better. Thus pride was the immediate cause of their fall. These angels must have been in a state of probation, capable of standing or falling, as Adam was in Paradise. Thus they are reserved under darkness, unto the judgment of the Great Day. He next points them to the Cities of the Plain, Sodom, Gomorrha, Admah, and Zeboim, which are now covered by the Dead Sea. For going after strange flesh, the wicked inhabitants were set forth for an example, suffering, the cities literally, and the people figuratively, the vengeance of eternal fire. There was but one little Zoar spared, at the prayer of righteous Lot, for a refuge to him, and his family. Others must take heed, therefore, not to imitate their sins, lest the like plagues overtake them.
Saint Jude then reverts to the false teachers, and calls them filthy dreamers. They are as disobedient as the Israelites, rebellious as the fallen angels, and impure as the Sodomites. Being cast into a deep sleep of intoxication, through sin, they not only defile the flesh, but they despise dominion, are of a disturbed, seditious spirit, despising all law, and wishing to live as they list; and they speak evil of dignities, treating governors and government with contempt, and ridiculing all civil and divine institutions. Yet Michael the archangel, he says, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of