« הקודםהמשך »
ciple of our blessed Saviour, nothing being said of him, till we find him in the catalogue of the twelve apostles; nor afterwards till Christ's last supper, when discoursing with them about his departure, and comfort. ing them with a promise, that he would return to them again, meaning after his resurrection, and that the world should see him no more, though they should see him; our apostle said to his Master, Lord, how is it that thou wilt munifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? It seems, from this question, that St. Jude expected that the Messiah would establish a secular kingdom; and, therefore, could not reconcile the solemnity and grandeur of it, with the private manifestations of Christ to his disciples only.
It is affirmed by Jerom, that Thomas sent Jude the apostle soon after our Lord's ascension, to Edessa, to heal Abagarus; but this is a mistake, it being Thaddeus, one of the seventy disciples, and not Judas Thaddeus the apostle, who was sent to Abagarus.
We are told by Paulinus, that the province which fell to the share of St. Jude in the apostolic division, of the provinces, was Lybia; but he does not tell us, whether it was the Cyrenean Lybia, which is thought to have received the gospel from St. Mark, or the more southern part of Africa: but however that be, in his first setting out to preach the gospel, he travelled up and down Judea and Galilee; then through Samaria into Idumea, and to the cities of Arabia, and the neighbouring countries, and afterwards to Syria and Mesopotamia. Nicephorus, adds, that he came at last to Edessa, where Abaragus governed, and where Thaddeus, one of the seventy, had already sown the seeds of the gospel. Here he perfected what the other had begun ; and having by his sermons and miracles established the religion of Jesus, he died in peace; but others say that he was slain at Berytes, and honourably buried there.
The writers of the Latin church are unanimous in declaring, that St. Jude travelled into Persia, where, after great success in his apostolical ministry for many years, he was at last, for his free and open reproving the superstitious rites and customs of the Magi, cruelly put to death by the enemics of the gospel.
We do not find that St. Jude left more than one epistle, which is placed the last of those seven, styled catholic, in the sacred canon. It hath no particular inscription, as the other six have, but is thought to have been primarily intended for the Christian Jews, in their several dispersions, as St. Peter's epistles were. In it he he tells them, “ That he at first intended to write to them in general of the common salvation, and establish and confirm them in it: but seeing the doctrine of CHRIST attacked on every side by Hereticks, he conceived it more necessary to spend his time in exhorting them to fight manfully in defence of the faith once delivered to the saints, and oppose the false teachers who laboured so indefatigably to corrupt the truth.”
It is generally understood, the Heretics mcant in this cpistle, were the Nicolatans, the Gnostics, the followers of Simon Magus and others of the same kind whose morals were as corrupt as their doctrine, trusting to a faith without works, as sufficient to their salvation : so that the subject of St. Jude's epistle is nearly the same with that of the second of St. Peter, whose sense he generally follows, and often uses the very same expressions : only as the infection had spread itself further, and had gotten more ground, he seems to oppose those Heretics with more zeal and sharpness than Peter had done : but because true Christian charity, though it be zealous, yet is without bitterness and hatred, he exhorts the Christians to use gentle methods with those deluded people, and to pluck them as brands out of the fire; meaning by fire, their impious principles and practices, which if continued in, would certainly consume them. He seems expressly to cite St. Peter's second
epistle, and to intimate plainly that most of the apostles were dead; so that his epistle seems not to have been written till after Nero's reign and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
This epistle was not at first generally received in the church; the author indeed, like James, John, and sometimes Paul himself, does not call himself an apostle, styling himself only the servant of Christ ; but he has added what is equivalent, Jude the brother of James, a character that can belong to none but our apostie: and surely the humility of a follower of JESUS should be no objection against his writings, but rather a recommendation of them.
One great objection against this epistle, was the apostle's mentioning the tradition of Michael the archangel contending with the Devil about the body of Moses, but he has done no more than St. Paul in naming Jannes and Jambres ; namely, alleging a story which was then current and acknowledged by the Jews, though nothing of it was inserted in the sacred writings, so that St. Jude reasons with the Jews from their own authors and concessions, the more easily to convince and confute them.
We have now, we trust, obviated the difficulties that have arisen, concerning the epistle of St. Jude; and Eusebius tells us, that in his time most churches read it publicly: it is indeed evident, that before the close of the fourth age, it was acknowledged as canonical Scripture, in the councils of Laodicea and Carthage by general consent.
AN ACCOUNT OF ST. THOMAS
The Apostle. THE
HE Jews, when they travelled into foreign countries, or familiarly conversed with the Greeks and Ro. mans, were wont to assume a Latin name of the same signification, or at least that bore some affinity with that by which they were known in their own country. Thus our blessed Saviour was called CHRIST, answer. ing to his Hebrew title Messiah, the anointed : Simon who was called Cephas in Hebrew, was styled Petros in Greek, both signifying a rock: Tabitha, was called Dorcas, both signifying a goat: and thus Thomas, according to the Syriac import of his name, was called Dydimus, a twin, which is the meaning of both appellations.
There is no mention in the evangelical history either of the country or kindred of St. Thomas : it is hoir, cver certain that he was a Jew, and in all probability a Galilean. Metaphrastes tells us, that he was decender! from very mean parents, who brought him up to the trade of fishing ; but at the same time, took care to give him a more useful education, instructing him in the knowledge of the Scripture, whereby he learned wisely to regulate his conduct.
This apostle was, together with the rest, called to the apostleship and not long after gave an eminent instance of his being ready to undergo the most melancholy fate that might attend him : for when the rest of the apostles were dissuading their Master from going into Judea at the time of Lazarus's death, because the Jews lately endeavoured to stone him, Thomas desired them not to hinder his journey thither, though it might cost them all their lives : Let us go, said he, that we may die with him : concluding that instead of Lazarus being raised
from the dead, they should all, like him, be placed in the chambers of the dust.
The holy Jesus, a little before his suffering, had been speaking to them of the joys of heaven, and had told them, that he was going to prepare mansions for them, that they might follow him, and that they knew both the place whither he was going, and the way thither; on hearing this, ou! apostle replied, that they knew not whither he was going, much less the way that would lead them thither. To which our Lord returned this short but satisfactory answer, I am the way; I am the person whom the Father hath sent into the world to shew mankind the paths that lead to eternal life, and therefore you cannot miss the way if you follow my example, and obey my precepts.
The minds of the disciples, who had seen their great Master expire on the cross, were distracted by hopes and fears concerning his resurrection, about which they were not then fully satisfied which engaged him the sooner to hasten his appearance, that by the sensible manifestations of himself he might put the matter be. vond all possibility of dispute. Accordingly, the very day on which he arose from the dead, he came into the house where they were assembled, while, for fear of the Jews, the doors were close shut,and gave them sufficient assurance, that he was risen from the dead. Thomas was 1!0t present at this meeting, having probably never rejoined their company since their dispersion in the garden, when every one's fears prompted him to consult his own safety. At his return, they told him, that the Lord had appeared to them, but he obstinately refused to give credit to what they said, or to believe that it was really he, presuming it rather a spectre or apparition, unless he might see the very print of the nails, and feel the wounds in his hands and side: a strong piece of infidelity! Was it any thing more than what Moses and the prophets had long since foretold ? Had not our Lord frequently declared in plain terms, that ho