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embraced the doctrines of the gospel with earnestness and sincerity
The great enemy of mankind, being provoked at this success 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 severely scourged. When this preparatory cru. elty was over, he was led to execution, and, being bound, was hanged against a pillar; or, according to others, crucified: but Omnipotence did not behold this scene of cruelty without testifying his anger; for when this indefatigable apostle was expiring, the earth began suddenly to quake, and the ground whereon the people stood to sink under them; but, on their considering it as a mark of the divine vengeance, and imploring pardon for their crime, it suddenly stopt, and returned to its former position. 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 companions of his travels, and decently buried; after which they confirmed the people in the faith of Christ, and departed from those parts.
The ancient writers unanimously agree that he was a married man; and Clemens of Alexandria, that he had daughters, whom he disposed of in marriage: but he, not carefully distinguishing between Philip the deacon, who lived at Cæsarea with his three virgin daughters, as mentioned in the acts of the apostles, has caused some confusion amongst the ancient authors: nay, some
; have concluded, that they were one and the same person; though the one was called to the apostleship, by our Lord himself, and the other only a deacon chosen by the apostles at Jerusalem, after the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them.
It does not appear that St. Philip left any writings behind him, being fully employed in ministeries more immediately useful to the happiness of mankind as an dpostle.
ST. SIMON, THE APOSTLE,
Surnamed the Zealot.
This apostle was, as some think, one of the four brothers of our Saviour, sons of Joseph by his former marriage; though the only proof of it is, that one of these was called Simon, too weak an argument to found any on, except a bare conjecture. In the catalogue of the apostles, he is styled Şimon the Canaanite, whence some conjecture he was born at Cana of Galilee, and others will have him to have been the bridegroom mentioned by St. John, at whose marriage our blessed Şaviour turned the water into wine; but this word has no relation to his country, or the place of his nativity, being derived from the Hebrew word knah, which signifies zeal; and denotes a warm and sprightly temper, What some of the evangelists call Canaanite, others, rendering the Hebrew by the Greek word, style Zealot; not from his great zeal, his ardent affection to his Master, and a desire of advancing his religion in the world, but from his warm, active temper, and zealous forwardness in some particular sect of religion, before our Saviour called him to be a disciple.
That we may understand this the better it will be ne. cessary to observe, that as there were several sects and parties amongst the Jews, so there was one, either a dis. tinct sect, or at least, a branch of the Pharisees, called the sect of the Zealots: they were remarkable assert. ers of the honour of the law, and of the strictness and purity of religion, assuming a liberty to themselves of questioning notorious offenders, without staying for the ordinary formalities of law; nay, they did not scruple, when they thought it necessary, to inflict capital punishments upon them: thus, when a blasphemer cursed God by the name of an idol, the Zealot who first met him
had the liberty of killing him, without carrying him before the Sanhedrim. They considered themselves as the successors of Phineas, who in defence of the honour of God, inflicted death on Zimri and Cozbi: an act which was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for ever more ; and God was so well pleased with it, that he made with him, and his seed after him the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for Israel.
Whatever St. Simon was before, we can have no reason tc suspect, but that after his conversion he was ve. ry zealous for the honour of his master, and considered all those who were encmies to CHRIST, as enemies to himself, how near soever they might be to him in any natural relation : and he was very exact in all the practical duties of the Christian religion, so he shewed a very serious and pious indignation towards those who professed religion, and a faith in CHRIST, with their mouths, but dishonoured their sacred profession, by their irregular and vicious lives, as many of the first Christians really did, and became heretics and apostatcs.
We are told by Theodoret, that St. Simon the Zeal. ot was of the tribe of Zebulon or Naphthali, and that by this particular he was distinguished from St. Simon, a relation of our blessed Saviour, and after St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, who was of the tribe of Judah; but there are stronger reasons to prove this difference, the authority of Eusebius, who never calls Simon bishop of Jerusalem, an apostle, but says expressly, that the apostolic age ended with his death, who died before Simon, bishop of Jerusalem.
It appears that St. Simon continued in communion with the rest of the apostles and disciples at Jerusalem; and at the feast of Pentecost, received the same mira. culous gift of the Holy Ghost : so that he was qualified
with the rest of his brethren for the apostolic office, in propagating the gospel of the son of God; and we cannot doubt of his exercising his gifts with the same zeal and fidelity, though in what part of the world, is uncertain, some say he went into Egypt, Cyrene, and Africa, preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of those remote and barbarous countries : and others add, that after he had just passed through those burning wastes, he took ship, and visited the frozen regions of the North, preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of the western parts, and even in Britain itself, where having converted great multitudes, and sustained the greatest hardships and persecutions, he was at length crucified, and buried in some part of Great Britain, but the particular spot cannot be ascertained.
AN ACCOUNT OF ST MATTHIAS,
The Apostle. ST. MATTHIAS not being an apostle of the first election, immediately called and chosen by the Son of God himself, it cannot be expected that any account of him can be found in the evangelical history. He was one of our Lord's disciples, probably one of the seventy, that had attended on him the whole time of his public ministry, and after his death was elected into the apostolate, to supply the place of Judas, who, after betraying his great Lord and Master, laid violent hands on himself.
As the defection of Judas had made a vacancy in the apostolic college, the first thing the disciples did, after their return from Mount Olivet, when their great Master ascended to the throne of glory, was to fill up this vacancy with a proper person. Accordingly, Peter acquainted them that Judas, according to the prophetical prediction, being fallen from his ministry, it was neces
sary that another should be substituted in his room, and at the same time requisite, that the person elected should have been a constant attendant on the blessed Jesus, that he might be the better qualified for bearing witness to his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession.
St. Peter having thus addressed the assembly, two persons were proposed, namely, Joseph called Barsabas, and Matthias, both of whom were duly qualified for that important office. The method of election was by lots, a way common both amongst the Jews and Gentiles for determining doubtful and difficult cases, especially in choosing judges or magistrates; and this course seems to have been taken by the apostles, because the Holy Ghost was not yet given, by whose immediate dictates and inspirations they were afterwards chiefly guided.
That the business might proceed with the greater alacrity and success, they first solemnly made their addresses to heaven, that the omniscient Being, who gov. erned the world, and perfectly understood the tempers and dispositions of men, would immediately guide and direct the choice, and shew them which of the two he would appoint to take that part of the apostolic charge, from which Judas had so lately fallen. The prayer being ended, the lots were drawn, by which it appeared that Matthias was the person, and he was numbered amongst the twelve apostles accordingly.
Soon after this election, the promised powers of the Holy Ghost were conferred upon the apostles, to qualify them for that great and arduous employment upon which they were sent, the establishing the holy religion of the Son of God amongst the children of inen, in various parts of the world,
The first years of the ministry of St. Matthias, were spent in Judea, where he reaped a very considerable