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Intelligence of these cruelties being brought to Paul while at Crete, and, thinking his presence might be useful in comforting the minds of his brethren, he set out for Italy, and probably arrived at Rome in the beginning of the year 65, where he was apprehended, as being a chief man among this obnoxious sect. He appears to have been twice brought before the emperor or his prefect, whence it is presumed that he had been confined at least a year before he was condemned.
We may easily conceive how perilous it must have been for any of Paul's friends to avow an open attachment to him, under existing circumstances; and indeed it appears from the second epistle to Timothy, which he wrote while waiting his execution, that most of them fled the city. Of the conduct of Onesiphorus, however, he makes the most honourable mention. (2 Tim. i. 16–18.) During the apostle's stay at Ephesus, he had been extremely kind to him. But having occasion to visit Rome, while Paul was in confinement, Onesiphorus “sought him out very diligently and found him.” He was not ashamed of the apostle because he was immured in a jail and loaded with a chain ; on the contrary, he bestowed upon him the most kind and tender assiduities, and cheerfully ministered to his temporal necessities. Paul could not reflect upon this affectionate behaviour of his friend, without having all the sensibilities of his soul excited; and he gave vent to it, by offering up his prayer to God that he would “grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus in the great day of account;" repeating his supplication, “the Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.” But Onesiphorus had now returned to Ephesus: Luke alone was with him; and even he appears to have been so intimidated, that, at the apostle's first examination, he was afraid to stand by him. In this state of things, “about to be
offered up, and viewing the hour of his departure at hand,” he urged Timothy to hasten to him to receive his last instructions, and assist him in the ministry during the short time he had to live. And thus, according to the most credible records, he was condemned and put to death in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, answering to the sixty-sixth of the Christian æra. Two years after that, Nero put an end to his own life, and to this terrible persecution, which had raged during a period of four years, and swept off a prodigious number of the disciples of Christ.
THE SUBJECT CONTINUED.
From the period of the death of Paul, A. D. 66, to the
close of the first century.
It has been pertinently remarked by one of the ancients, that the writer of the Acts of the Apostles leaves the reader thirsting for more. But concise as his narrative is, it ought to be regarded by us as an invaluable part of the sacred writings; and for this reason among others, because it shews us in what sense the apostles understood the commission which their Lord had given them, previous to his ascension into heaven. From their discourses, recorded in that book, we learn what were the doctrines they preached; what the laws and institutions they enforced upon the disciples; and the manner in which they set up his kingdom in the world.
In at tempting a sketch of this interesting subject, we have hitherto p.osecuted our journey under the light of divine
revelation; but, henceforward, we must be content to explore our way under more uncertain guides.
A mind accustomed to reflection, naturally inquires, how were the other apostles of Christ occupied during the period that Paul was engaged in conveying the glad tidings of salvation throughout the Gentile countries. But the volume of revelation does not give such ample information upon this subject as we might wish. It may however, be remarked, that, as Jerusalem was the place from whence, according to ancient prophecy, “the word of the Lord was to go forth, and the law to proceed out of Zion," so we may see special reasons why the Lord appointed them their stations for a season in that church. It seems evident, that at the first they not only discharged the apostolic office, in giving forth the new testament revelation of doctrine, and delivering to the churches the ordinances of public worship, but they also acted as bishops, elders, pastors, or ministers of the word, and also as deacons, having the care of the poor. In process of time, however, we find other persons appointed to fulfil the two last mentioned offices, * and that, even while some of the apostles still remained with the church at Jerusalem. We may also inter, that though the twelve were stationed there by the head of the church, they, nevertheless, made occasional excursions into different parts of Judea and Samaria, to propagate the knowledge of Christ, and gather his disciples into churches, as we see Peter doing (Acts ix. 32.); and that when it became no longer necessary for them to remain with that church, they proceeded to carry into effect the commission which the Lord Jesus had given them, to “go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 4
Compare Acts vi. 5. with xi. 30. and xv. 6, 99, 23.
+ Mark xvi. 15.
It appears from credible records, that the gospel was preached in Idumea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, by Jude; in Egypt, Mamorica, Mauritania, and other parts of Africa, by Mark, Simeon, and Jude; in Ethiopia by the Eunuch and Matthias; in Pontus, Galatia, and the neighbouring parts of Asia, by Peter; in the territories of the seven Asiatic churches by John; in Parthia by Matthew; in Scythia by Philip and Andrew ; in the northern and western parts of Asia by Bartholomew; in Persia by Simeon and Jude; in Media, Carmania, &c. by Thomas; from Jerusalem and round about Illyricum by Paul, who also published it in Italy, and probably in Spain, Gaul, and Britain.*
James, the brother of the apostle John, and son of Zebedee, as we have formerly noticed, had been put to death by Herod; and, if we may credit Jerome, Peter also was put to death in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, about the same time that Paul finished his course and was taken to receive the crown of righteousness which his divine master had promised to bestow upon him. By this time, also, James, the Lord's brother, had sealed his testimony with his blood. The following account of his death is given us by Josephus the Jewish historian. “Ananus, who had seized the office of high priest, was a man bold in his temper, and very insolent. He was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who surpass all the other Jews in their rigid manner of judging offenders; and he thought he now had a proper opportunity of exercising his authority. Festus was dead, and Albinus, who had been sent into Judea to succeed him, was upon his journey thither. So he assembled the Sanhedrim of judges, and brought before him the brother of Jesus
Young's History of Idolatrous Corruptions in Religion, vol. ii. p. 216 -940. See also a Sermon by Dr. Geo. Campbell, entitled " The Success ef the Gospel a Proof of its Truth."
who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others of his companions, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.” * Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, gives a somewhat different account of the death of James, and thinks he was killed, not in consequence of a judicial trial, but in a popular tumult, the occasion of which he thus explains. “When Paul had appealed unto Cæsar, and had been sent to Rome by Pastus, the Jews who had aimed at his death, turned their rage against James, the Lord's brother, who bad been appointed by the apostles, bishop of Jerusalem.”+ These different accounts are certainly not irreconcileable, and the fact itself is unquestionable, that he was put to death by the Jews, about the year 64, and only a short time after the writing of that excellent epistle which forms a part of the sacred canon.
The divine long-suffering was, however, now fast drawing towards a close with the devoted city and people of Jerusalem. The measure of their iniquities was at length filled up. To all their former crimes they had now added these, that “they had both killed the Lord Jesus, and persecuted his servants the apostles" even unto death; and the wrath of Heaven was about to come upon them to the uttermost. Christ himself, during his personal ministry, had foretold their doom, and bewailed it in the most pathetic strains. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thon that killest the prophets and stonest those that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would pot: behold your house is left unto you desolate." For “ the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every
• Aptiq. b. 20. ch. 9. * Eccles. Hist. b. 2. ch. 23. ;Lake xxii. 34.