صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[merged small][ocr errors]

CHAP. I.

The Transactions of St. Philip, from his liirth to, his being called to the Apostleship.

. , . •., , . t, . i • ,,.'

THIS apostle was a native of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter, He had the honour of being first called to be a disciple of the great Messiah, which happened in the following manner: Our blessed Saviour, soon after his return from tlie wilderness, where he had been tempted by the devil, met with Andrew and his brother Peter, and after some discourse parted from them. The next day, as he was passing through Galilee, he found Philip, whom he presently commanded to follow him, the constant form he made use of in calling his disciples, and those that inseparably attended him. So that the prerogative of being first called, evidently belongs to St. Philip, he being the first of our Lord's disciples; for though Andrew and St. John were the first that came and conversed with the Saviour of the world, yet they immediately returned io their occupation, and were not called till a whole yea r after.

Tf cannot be doubted, that notwithstanding St. Philip was a native of Galilee, yet he was excellently skilled in the law and the prophets. Metaphrastes assures us, that he had, from his childhood, been excellently educated : that he frequently read over the books of Moses, and attentively considered the prophecies relating to the Messiah.

Nor was our apostle idle after (he honour he had received of being called to attend the Saviour of the world; he imme

diately imparted the glad tidings of the Messiah's appearance to his brother Nathaniel, and conducted him to him.

After being called to the apostleship we have very little recorded of him by the evangelists. It was, however, to him that our Saviour proposed the question, where they should find bread sufficient to satisfy the hunger of so great a multitude? Philip answered, that it was not easy to procure so great a quantity; not considering that it was equally easy for Almighty power to feed double the number, when it should be his divine will. It was also to the same apostle that the Gentile proselj'tes, who came up to worship at Jerusalem, applied, when they were desirous to see the Saviour of the world. And it was with him our Lord had the discourse a little before the paschal supper.

The compassionate Jesus had been fortifying their minds with proper considerations against his departure from thom, and had told them that he was going to prepare for them a place in the mansions of the heavenly Canaan; that he was "the way, the truth, and the life; and that no man could come to the Father but by him."

Philip, not thoroughly understanding the force of his Master's reasonings, begged of him, that he would shew them the Father.

Our blessed Lord gently reproved his ignorance, that after attending so long to his instructions, he should not know that he was the image of his Father, the express character of his infinite wisdom, power, and goodness appearing in him ; that he said and did nothing but by his Father's appointment;

[blocks in formation]

THE ancients tell us, that in the distribution made by the apostles of the several regions of the world, the Upper Asia fell to his share, where he laboured with indefatigable diligence and industry; By the constancy and power of his preaching, and the efficacy of his miracles, he gained numerous converts, whom he baptized into. the Christian faith, curing at once their bodies of infirmities and distempers, and their souls of errors and idolatry, lie continued with them a considerable time in settling churches, and appointing them guides and ministers of religion.

Afterseveral years successfully exercising his apostolical office in all those parts, he came at last to Hieropolis, in Phrygia, a city remarkably rich and populous, but at the same time over-run with the most enormous idolatry.

St. Philip, being grieved to see the people so wretchedly enslaved by error and superstition, continua>ly offered his addresses to heaven, till, by his prayers, and otten

calling on the name of Christ, he procured the death, or, at least, the vanishing, of an enormous serpent, to which they paid adoration.

Having thus demolished their deity, he demonstrated to them how ridiculous and unjust it was for them to pay divine honours to such odious creatures ; shewed them that God alone was to be worshipped as the great parent of all the world, who, in the beginning made man after his glorious image, and when fallen from that innocent and happy state, sent his own Son into the world to redeem him : that in order to perform this glorious work', he died on the cross and rose again from the dead, and at the end of the world, will come again to raise all the sons of men from the chamber! of the dust, and sentence them to everlasting rewards or punishments. This discourse roused them from their lethargy, they were ashamed of their late idolatry, and great numbers embraced the doctrines of the gospel.

This provoked the great enemy of mankind,and he had recourse to his old methods, cruelty and persecution. The magistrates of the city seized the apostle, and, having thrown him into prison, caused him to be scourged. When this preparatory cruelty was over, he was led to execution, and, being bound, was hanged against a pillar: or, according to others, crucified. The apostle being dead, his body was taken down by St. Bartholomew, his fellow-labourer in the gospel, and Mariamne, St. Philip's sister, the constant companion of his travels, and decently buried; after which they confirmed the people in the faith of Christ, and departed from them.

St* Bartholomew.

[graphic]

| was no guile, not in an absolute but restricted sense; for perfection cannot be attached to human nature, but in the character of the blessed Jesus, of whom it is said, with peculiar propriety, that he was holy,harmless, undefined and separate from sinners; also that he knew no sin, neither was guile, that is, fraud, or deception, found in his tongue. Our Saviour knew that Bartholomew's doubt ofhisMessiahship arose from Philip's announcing him in the character of Jesus of Nazareth, a place stigmatized for the vices of its inhabitants; which on a similar occasion caused an interrogatory, which accords with Bartholomew's opinion; Can any good came out of Nazareth? Our Saviour therefore commends his frankness, by denominating him, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. In another sense he appeared to be a true Israelite, or one that wailed for redemption in Israel, which from the times mentioned in the scripture predictions, he kuew to be near at hand.

He was greatly surprised at our Lord's salutations, wondering how he could know him at first sight, as imagining he had never before seen his race. But he was answered, that he had seen him while he was yet under the fig-tree, even before Philip called him. Convinced by this instance of our Lord's divinity, he presently made hi* confession that he was now sure that Jesus was the promised Messiah, that Son of God whom he had appointed to govern the church. Our blessed Saviour told him, that if from this instance he could believe him to be the Messiah, he should have far greater arguments to confirm his faith; for that he should hereafter behold the heavens opened to receive him, and the angels visibly appearing joyful at his entrance into the heavenly Canaan.

CHAP. II.

The Transactions of St. Bartholomew, from the Ascension of Christ to his Martyrdom.

OUR apostle having his peculiar spot allotted him, for the promulgation of the gospel of his blessed Master, who had now ascended into heaven, and dispersed his Holy Spirit to fit and qualify his disciples for the important work, visited different parts of the world to preach the gospel, and penetrated as far as the higher India.

After spending considerable time in India, and the eastern extremities of Asia, he returned to the northern and western parts, and we find him at Hieropolis, in Phrygia, labouring in consort with St. Philip to plant Christianity in those parts; and toconviuce

the blind idolaters of the evil of their ways, and direct them in the paths that lead to

eternal salvation. This enraged the bi

gotted magistrates, and he was, together with St. Philip, designed for martyrdom, and in order to this, fastened to a cross; but their consciences pricking them for a time, they took St. Bartholomew down from the cross and set bim at liberty.

From hence he retired to Lycaonia, and St. Chrysostom assures us that he instructed and trained up the inhabitants in the Christian discipline. His last remove was to Albanople, in Great Armenia, a place miserably overrun with idolatry, from which he laboured to reclaim the people. But his endeavours to turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, were so far from having the desired effect, that it provoked the magistrates, who prevailed on the governor to put him to death, which he cheerfully underwent, sealing the truth of the doctrine he preached with his blood.

Saint Matthew.

CHAP. I.

The Transactions of St. Matthew, from his Birth to the Ascension of Christ.

ST. Matthew, called also Levi, though a Roman officer, was a true Hebrew, and probably a Galilean. His trade was that of a publican, or tax-gatherer to the Romans, an office detested by the generality of the . .Jfo. 22. .

Jews on two accounts; first, because havin<* farmed the custom of the Romans, they used every method of oppression to pay their rents to the Romans; secondly, because they demanded of the Jews, who considered themselves as a free people, having received that privilege from God himself. And hence they had a common proverb among them, "Take not a wife out of that family in which there is a publican, for they are all publicans." That is, they aro. 4 T

s

all thieves, robbers, and notorious sinners. And to this proverbial custom our blessed Saviour alludes, when speaking of an hardened sinner, on whom neither private reproofs, nor the public censures and admonitions of the church, can prevail. Let him be to thee as an Heathen man and a publican.

Our blessed Saviour having cured a person long afflicted with the palsy, retired out of Capernaum, to walk by the sea-side, where he taught the people that flocked after him.

Here he saw Matthew sitting in his office, and called him to follow him. The man was rich, had a large and profitable employment, was a wise and prudent person, and doubtless understood what would be his loss to comply with the call of Jesus. He was not ignorant that he must exchange wealth for poverty, a custom-house for a prison, and rich and powerful masters for a naked and despised Saviour. But he overlooked all these considerations, left all his interest and relations to become our Lord's disciple, and to embrace a more spiritual way of life.

The Pharisees, who sought all opportunities of raising objections against the doctrines of the blessed Jesus, took this opportunity of suggesting to his disciples, that it was highly unbecoming so pure and holy a person as their Master appeared to be, to converse so familiarly with the worst of men; with publicans and sinners, persons infamous to a proverb. But lie presently replied to them, that these were the sick, and therefore needed the physician; that his company was of most consequence where the souls of men most required it; that God himself preferred works of mercy and charity, especially in doing good to the souls of men, infinitely above all ritual observances; and that the principal design of his coming into the world was not to call the righteous, or those who, like themselves, vainly pretended to be so, but sinners,

humble self-convinced shiners, to repentance.

After St. Matthew's election to the apostleahip, he continued with the rest till the ascension of his great and beloved Master; but the evangelical writers have recorded nothing particular concerning him, during that period.

. • ..v • ' ".

CHAP. II.

The Transactions of St. Matthew,from the Ascension of Christ to his Martyrdom.

AFTER our blessed Saviour's ascension into heaven, St. Matthew, for the first eight years at least, preached in different parts of Judea; but afterwards he left the country of Palestine to convert the Gentile world. Before his departure he was intreated by the Jewish converts to write the history of the life and actions of the blessed Jesus, and leave it among them as a standing monument of what be had so often delivered to them in his sermons. This he readily complied with, as we shall more particularly mention in giving an account of his gospel.

After his leaving Judea, he travelled into several parts, especially Ethiopia, but the particular places he visited are not known with any certainty.

However, after labouring indefatigably in the vineyard of his Master, he suffered martyrdom at a city of Ethiopia, called Naddabar; but by what kind of death is not absolutely known, though the general opinion is, that he was slain with an halbert.

St. Matthew was a remarkable instance of the power of religion, in bringing men to a better temper of mind. If we reflect upon his circumstances while he continued

« السابقةمتابعة »