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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 infer, that thongh 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 bis 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.”+
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
Compare Acts vi. 5. with xi. 30, and xv. 6, 22, 23.
Mark xvi. 15.
SECT. vi.] Spread of the Gospel.
107 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 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 his
* Young's History of Idolatrous Corruptions in Religion, vol. ii. p. 216 -240. See also a Sermon by Dr. Geo. Campbell, entitled “ The Success of the Gospel a proof of its truth.”
† Antiq. b. 20. cb, 9.
torian, 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 Festus, the Jews who had aimed at his death, turned their rage against James, the Lord's brother, who had 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 lengilr 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, thou that killest the prophets and stonest those that are sent unto thce, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under ber wings, and ye would not: 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 side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave in ihee one stone upon another.”† As the accomplishment of these predictions ended in the utter abolition of the Jewisb church
in Eccles. Hist, b. 2. ch. 73.
+ Luke xxiii. 34.
ch. xix. 43.
SECT. vi.] Destruction of Jerusatem foretold. 109 and state, a constitution which was originally founded in divine appointment, and had existed during a period of fifteen hundred years; and, as it was unquestionably the most awful revolution in all the religious dispensations of God, and which, moreover, in various ways, contributed greatly to the success of the gospel, it seems to merit a. more detailed account than is generally to be found of it in the histories of the Christian church.
NERO, the Roman emperor, whose death has been already adverted to, left the empire in a state of extreme confusion, and Judea partook of it in a remarkable degree. To him succeeded Galba, who reigned froin June the 9ih, 68, to the 15th January 69, when he was followed by Otho, who scarcely swayed the imperial sceptre three months. Then came Viteilius, who reigned no longer than to the 21st December of the same year-there having been, 'if we include Nero who preceded, and Vespasian who followed, no less than five different emperors in the short space of eighteen months; during which the empire was a scene of confusion, desolation and misery. It has been remarked that Christianity at first derived some advantages from the abandoned characters of the Roman emperors, who at this time swayed the sceptre. They had other crimes and other mischiefs in view, which left thein little leisure to harrass a sect so contemptible, when compared with Paganism, as was that of the Christians. Accordingly, from the death of Christ to that of Vespasian, for about the space of thirty-seven years, the Romans paid little regard to the progress of the gospel. They were ruled by weak, frantic, or vicious emperors; the magistrates and senators, and every worthy man of any note, stood in continual fear for their own lives. Nero indeed had destroyed many of the Christians at Rome'; but it was for'a supposed crime, of which all the world knew them to be innocent; so that this cruel treat
ment raised compassion, and rather did service than harm to the Christian cause, and the persecution was soon
After the death of king Herod Agrippa, the particulara of which the reader will find recorded Acts xii., Judea again became a province of the Roman empire, and Cuspius Fadus was sent to be its governor. Upon his arrival he found the country infested with banditti, which were grown both numerous and powerful, whom he was compelled to suppress, and also to quell an insurrection which the Jews had raised against the inhabitants of Philadelphia, formerly the city of Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites. During the government of Fadus, there arose a notable impostor, named Theudas, who drew great numbers of the deluded Jews after him inviting them to follow him beyond Jordan, and promising them that he would divide the waters of that river, as Joshua had done by his single word. Fadus sent some military troops against him and his followers, who killed some and took others prisoners, and among the latter Theudas himself, whom he caused to be beheaded, and his head brought to Jerusalem.* Fadus was soon afterwards succeeded by Tiberius ALEXANDER, an apostate Jew, who very shortly gave way to make room for
Ventidius CUMANUS, during whose government of Judea, those troubles began which ended in the ruin of the Jewish nation. The great concourse of people which their festival brought to Jerusalem, obliged the Romans at such times to keep a guard before the gate of the temple to prevent tumults. It was now the passover, when one of the Roman soldiers upon duty, had the impudence, probably intending an insult to the Jews, by shewing that he was not of the circumcision, to expose his nakedness, This indignity roused the resentment of the Jews to suck
* Joseph. Antiq. b. 20. ch. 1. and 5.