תמונות בעמוד

mediately left all, to follow him: they did not stay to dispute his commands, or solicitously inquire into the minute consequences of the undertaking, the troubles and dangers that might attend this new employment; but readily delivered themselves up to perform whatever service he should call them to.

He was called soon after this from the station of an ordinary disciple, to the apostolical office, and even honoured with some particular favours beyond most of the apostles, being one of the three whom our Lord made choice of, as his companion in the more intimate transactions of his life, from which the rest were excluded. Thus, with Peter and his brother John, he attended his Master when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead; he was admitted to CHRIST'S glorious transfiguration on the mount, and heard the discourses that passed between him and the great ministers from the courts of heaven: and when the holy Jesus was to undergo his bitter agony in the garden, as preparatory sufferings to his passion, James was one of the three taken to be a spectator of them.

It is not easy to determine what reasons induced the Redeemer of mankind to admit those three apostles to peculiar acts of favour; though he doubtless did it for wise and proper ends. Whether he designed these three to be more solemn and peculiar witnesses of some remarkable transactions of his life than the other apostles; or that they would be more eminently useful and serviceable in some parts of the apostolic office; or to encourage them thereby to prepare for the sufferings that would attend them in the ministry; or whether he designed them for some more eminent kinds of martyrdom than the rest of his disciples.

It was not the least instance of particular honour that our Lord conferred on these apostles, when he called them to the apostolate, that he gave them a new name and title. · A thing not uncommon of old, for the Al.

mighty often imposed new names on persons, when he intended them for some great and peculiar services and employments; instances of this we have seen in Abraham and Jacob. Accordingly our Lord, at the election of these three apostles, gave them new names: Simon he called Peter, or a rock, and James and John, Boanerges, or the sons of thunder. What our Lord intended by their surnames is much easier to conjecture than determine; some think it was given them on arcount of their being present in the mount, when a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved son, &c. when the people heard the same voice at another time, they said " It thundered.” But this ob servation is in itself very inconsiderable, because it was equally applicable to Peter as to them. Others think that it was given them on account of their loud and bold speaking the gospel to the world, fearing no threatenings, despising all opposition, and going on thundering in the ears of a drowsy and sleepy world; rousing and awakening the consciences of men with the carnestness and vehemence of their preaching, which resembled thunder, as the voice of God powerfully shakes the natural world, and breaks in pieces the ce. dars of Lebanon. Others think it relates to the doc. trines they delivered, teaching the great mysteries of the gospel in a more profound and loftier strain than the rest.

How far the latter opinion might be true with regard to St. James, the scriptures are wholly silent; but it was certainly verified in his brother John, whose gospel is so full of the more sublime notions and mysteries of the gospel concerning the divinity, pre-existence, &c. of CHRIST, that he is generally affirmed by the ancients to thunder rather than speak. Perhaps the expressions may denote no more than that in general they were to be prime and eminent ministers, in this new state of things; the introducing the gospel or evangelical dispensation, being called “a voice shaking the heaven and the earth,” and therefore exactly correspondent te the native importance of the word, signifying an earth. quake, or a vehement commotion, that like thunder, makes an alarming noise.

Ilowever this be, our blessed Saviour doubtless by this term alluded to the furious and resolute dispositions of these two brothers, who seem to have been of a more fiery temper than the rest of the apostles, of which we have this memorable instance. When our Lord was determined on his journey to Jerusalem, he sent some of his disciples before him to make preparation for his coming; but, on their entering a village of Samaria, were rudely rejected, from the old grudge that subsisted between the Samaritans and the Jews, and because our Saviour, by going up to Jerusalem, seemed to slight their place of worship on mount Gara izim.

This piece of rudeness and inhumanity was so highly resented by St. James and his brother John, that they came to Jesus, desiring to know if he would not imi. tate Elias, by calling down fire from heaven to consume this barbarous, unhospitable people. So-apt are men for every trifling provocation to call upon heaven to revenge them on the aggressors, according to the extravagancies of their own unreasonable passions! But the holy JESUS soon convinced them of their mistake, by telling them, that he was come to save the lives of the children of men, and not to destroy them.

We have no account from sacred history, what became of St. James after the ascension of his great and beloved Master. Sophronius tells us, that he preached to the dispersed Jews, that is, to those converts who were dispersed after the death of Stephen. The Spanish writers will have it, that after preaching the gospel in several parts of Judea and Samaria, he visited Spain, where he planted Christianity, and appointed some select disciples to perfect what he had begun; but if we consider the shortness of St. James's life, and that the

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


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