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him as a person worthy to be blamed for his gross prevarication. He reasoned and severely expostulated with him, that he who was himselt a Jew, and consequently under a more immediate obligation of observing the Mosaic law, should throw off the yoke himself, and at the same time endeavour to impose it on the Gentiles, who were never under the necessity of ob. serving the ceremonies of the Israelites; a severe, though an impartial charge.
Thus far we have had an infallible guide to direct us in writing the life of this great apostle ; but here the sacred historian hath left us, and therefore we must have recourse to the ancients for materials in the further prosecution of his history.
Before this contest at Antioch, St. Peter had preached the gospel in various parts of the world, enlarged the kingdom of his great Master, and spreading the glad-tidings of salvation amongst the inhabitants of various countries : and, amongst the resi, those of Rome, then the mistress of the world. In that capital he is said to have continued several years, till the emperor Claudius taking advantage of some seditious tumults raised by the Jews, published an edict, whereby they were banished from Rome, and amongst the rest St. Peter, who returned to Jerusalem, and was present at the synod already mentioned; but how long he continued in the capital of Judea is uncertain ; for we have no account of his transactions for many years. This however is certain, that he was not idle in the service of his great Master; and Eusebius tells us, from Metaphrastes, that he visited several of the western parts, and particularly the island of Great-Britain, where he continued several years, spreading the glad tidings of salvation in these remote parts, and converting the several nations to the faith of the gospel.
However this be, whether St. Peter was or was not in England, it is certain, that towards the latter end of Nero's reign he returned to Rome, where he found the minds of the people strongly bewitched, and hardened against the doctrines of the gospel by the sorceries of Simon Magus, who, as I have already observed, was chastised by Peter for his wickedness at Samaria. This Monster of impiety not only opposed the preaching of the apostles, but also did all in his power to render them and their doctrines odious to the emperor. St. Peter foreseeing that the calumnies of Simon and his adherents would hasten his death, took the greater pains, and was still more assiduous to confirm those he had been any ways instrumental in converting in the sublime truths they had received.
In order to this, the apostle strongly opposed the great deceiver of mankind; for in the last year of his life, he seems to have written his two epistles to the dispersed Jews in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bythinia ; and, in an appointed encounter with Simon, discovered his magical impostures, and through the power and the assistance of the Almighty, brought him to an exemplary and miserable death.
The account of the miserable end of this unhappy man no sooner reached the emperor's ears, than he vowed revenge, both for the death of his favourite, and the endeavours used by the apostles to turn mankind from darkness unto light, and from the porter of Satan unto God. Accordingly, he issued orders for apprehending St. Peter, together with his companion St. Paul. St. Ambrose tells us, that when the people perceived the danger to which St. Peter was now exposed, they prayed him to quit Rome, and repair for a while to some secure retreat, that his life might be preserved for the benefit of the church. Peter, with great reluctance, yielded to their entreaties, and made his escape by night: but as he passed the gate, he was met by a person in the form of his great and beloved Master, and on Peter's asking him, whither he was going, answered, “ To Rome to be crucified a second
time:" which Peter taking for a reproof of his cowardice, returned again into the city, was soon after appreherded, and cast, together with St. Paul, into the Ma. mertine prison. Here they were confined eight or nine months, but spent their time in the exercise of religion, especially in preaching to the prisoners, and those who resorted to them: and during this confinement, it is generally thought St. Peter wrote his second epistle to the dispersed Jews; wherein he endeavours to confirm them in the belief and practice of Christianity, and to fortify them against those poisonous and pernicious principles and actions, which began to break in upon the church, then in its infancy.
At length, Nero returning from Achia, entered Rome in triumph; and soon after his arrival, resolved that the apostles should fall as victims and sacrifices to his cruelty and revenge. While the fatal stroke was daily expected, the Christians in Rome were continually offering up their prayers to heaven to protect those two holy persons: but the Almighty was now willing to put an end to their sorrows; and after sealing the truth they had preached with their own blood, to receive them into the regions of eternal bliss and happiness, and exchange their crowns of martyrdom for crowns of glory. Ac. cordingly, they were both condemned by the cruel emperor of Rome; and St. Peter having taken his farewell of the brethren, especially St. Paul, was taken from the prison, and led to the top of the Vatican mount, near the Tiber, where he was sentenced to surrender up his life by crucifixion.
Coming to the place of execution, he begged the fayour of the officers, that he might not be crucified in the common manner, but with his head downwards, affirming, that he was unworthy to suffer in the same posture in which his Lord had suffered before him. This request was accordingly complied with, and the great apostle St. Peter surrendered up his soul into the hands of his great and beneficent Master, who came down VOL. ii.
froin heaven to ransom mankind from destruction, and to open the gates of the heavenly Canaan to all believers.
The body of Peter being taken down from the cross, is said to have been embalmed by Mercellinus the presbyter, after the manner of the Jews, and then buried in the Vatican, near the Appian-way, two miles from Rome. Here it remained till the time of pope Cornelius, who conveyed it to the Vatican at Rome, where it rested in an obscure place, till the reign of Constantine, who, from the great reverence he entertained for the Christian religion, erected many churches at Rome, and rebuilt and vastly enlarged the Vatican in honour of St. Peter.
If we consider St. Peter as a man, there will seem to have been a natural eagerness predominant in his temper, which animated his soul to the most bold and generous undertakings: but if we consider him as a disciple of the blessed Jesus, we shall find him exemplary in the great duties of religion. To conclude: if we consider him as an apostle, as a pastor, or a shepherd of the souls of men, we shall find him faithful and diligent in his office, zealously endeavouring to instruct the ignorant, reduce the erroneous, strengthen the weak, confirm the strong, reclaim the vicious, and turn the children of men into the paths of righteousness. He never omitted any opportunity of preaching to the people and spreading the glad-tidings of the gospel amongst ihe human race: and so powerful were his discourses, ihat he converted many thousands at one time. How many painful journies and dangerous voyages did hc undertake! With what unconquerable patience did he endure the greatest trials, surmount every difficulty, and remove every obstacle, that he might plant the gospel of his beloved Master! Never refusing even to lay down his life to promote it: nor was he only assidious to perform these duties himself; he was also careful to animate others to do the like, earnestly pressing and pcrsuading the pastors and governors of the church to feed the flock of God, to labour freely for the good of the souls of men, and not undertake those offices to acquire advantages to themselves; beseeching them to treat the flock committed to their care, with lenity and gentleness, and to be themselves shining examples of piety and religion, the surest method of rendering their ministry successful: and, because it was impossible for him to be always present, to teach and warn the chil. dren of men, he endeavoured by letters to imprint in their minds the practice of what they had been taught: a method, he tells us, he was resolved to pursue, as long as he continued an inhabitant of this world; think, ing it meet, while he was in this tabernacle, to stir up the professors of the gospel, by putting them in mind of these things; that so they might be able after his. decease to have them always in remembrance, and not let them slip out of their minds.
ST. JUDE, THE APOSTLE. ST. JUDE is mentioned by three several names in the evangelical history, namely, Jude or Judas, Thaddeus, and Lebbeus. The first he had in common with the other Jews, and in honour of one of the twelve patriarchs; the other two might be added to the former, partly to distinguish him from Judas the traitor, who had rendered the name odious to the Christians, and partiy as a commendation of his wisdom and zeal: for Lebbeus, according to St. Jerom, signifies a man of understanding, and Thaddeus imports divine favour; and hence some of the fathers called him Zelotes, or Zealous.
This apostle was brother to St. James the Less, af terwards bishop of Jerusalem, being the son of Joseph the reputed father of Christ, by a former wife. It is not known when, or by what means, he became a dis.