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harvest of souls, and then travelled into different parts of the world, to publish the glad-tidings of salvation to the people who had never yet heard of our Saviour: but the particular parts he visited, are not certainly known. The Greeks suppose, that he travelled eastward; St. Jerom, says, his principal residence was near the influx of the river Apsus, into the haven of Hyscus in Cappadocia: but the people were remarkably rough and uncivilized, so that it is no wonder that he at last fell a victim to their ferocity; though this did not happen till after he had long indefatigably laboured in the vineyard of his great Master, and brought over vast numbers to an acknowledgment and reception of the truth.
We are not told by what kind of death this apostle left the regions of mortality, and sealed the truth of the gospel, he had so assidiously preached, with his blood. Dorotheus says, he finished his course at Sebastople, and was buried there near the temple of the sun. An ancient martyrologist reports him to have been seized by the Jews, and as a blasphemer, to have been stoned, and then beheaded: but the Greek offices, supported herein by several ancient breviaries, tell us, that he was crucified. His body is by some pretended to be now at Rome, where some relics of it are shewn with great veneration; while others contend, that it is at Triers in Germany. Bollandus is of opinion, that the body of Matthias, now at Rome, is that of Matthias, who was bishop of Jerusalem in the year 120, and whose history they have confounded with that of the apostle St. Matthias ; but Popish legends and traditions are in no instance to be relied on.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE VIRGIN MARY,
Mother of Jesus. WE are taught by the predictions of the prophets, , that a virgin was to be the mother of the promised Messiah, and we are also assured by the unanimous concurrence of the evangelists, that this virgin's name was Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Anne, of the tribe of Judah, and married to Joseph of the same tribe. The Scripture indeed tells us no more of the blessed virgin's parents, than that she was of the family of David, and of the town of Bethlehem; not so much as their names being mentioned, unless by Heli, in St. Luke's genealogy we understand Joachim the virgin's father. All that is said concerning the birth of Mary and her parents, is to be found only in some apocry. phal writings; and which however are very ancient. St. John says that Mary the wife of Cleopas, who was the mother of those which the gospel styles our Lord's brethren, was the virgin's sister. Mary then was of the
, royal race of David; she was allied likewise to the family of Aaron, since Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias, and mother of John the Baptist, was the cousin of Mary.
In conformity to the Greek church, the Latins have for some centuries past honoured St. Joachim as the father of St. Anne, the mother of the blessed virgin; and though God hath not been pleased to acquaint us with the particulars of her birth; yet the Roman church, from a grateful sense of the infinite blessings conveyed to us by the blessed JESUS, hath long celebrated her conception on the eighth of December in the West, and on the ninth in the East, and her nativity on the eighth of September. An anniversary festival of her representation in the temple is kept likewise on the twentyfirst of November; and it is commonly belived, that
she was consecrated to God at three years of age: but not to build upon uncertainties, thus much we are assured by the testimony of an angel, that she was happy above all other women in the divine favour; that she was full of grace ; and that the Lord was in a peculiar manner with her.
Whether the holy virgin immediately after the annunciation, went up to the passover at Jerusalem (as some have imagined, this being the season of the year for it) or not, we have no account from the evangelist St. Luke: but this he assures us that a little while after she set out for Hebron, a city in the mountains of Judah in order to visit her cousin Elizabeth, to congratulate her upon her pregnancy, which she had learned from the angel, at an age when such a blessing was not usually to be expected.
No sooner had Mary entered the house, and began to speak, than, upon Elizabeth's hearing the voice of her cousin's salutation, her child, young John the Baptist, transported with supernatural emotions of joy, lcaped in her womb: whereupon she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and being by divine inspiration acquainted with the mystery of the incarnation, she re-saluted Mary, and cried out, Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me ? For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine cars the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed : for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. Then Mary, filled with acknowledgments and supernatural light, praised God, saying, Aly soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour, &c.
Mary having continued here about three months, till Elizabeth was delivered, as St. Ambrose thinks, that she might see him on whose account she principally VOL. ii.
made that visit, returned afterwards to her own house at Nazareth, waiting for the time of her delivery : but when she was ready to be delivered, an edict was published by Cæsar Augustus, in the year of the world 4000, the first of Christ, and the third before the vulgar Æra ; which decreed that all the subjects of the Roman empire should go to the respective cities and places; there to have their names registered according to their families. Thus Joseph and Mary, who were both of the lineage of David, repaired to their city of Bethlehem, the original and native place of their family: but while they were in this city, the time being fulfilled in which Mary was to be delivered, she brought forth her first-born son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger of the stable whither they had retired; for they could find no place in the public inns, because of the great concourse of people that were then at Bethlehem on the same occasion; or they were forced to withdraw into the stable of the inn, not being able to get a more convenient place for her to be delivered in.
The angels made the birth of Christ known to the shepherds who were at this time in the fields near Bethlehem, and who came in the night to see Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger, in order to pay him their tribute of adoration. Mary took notice of all these things, and laid them up in her heart. Some time after came the Magi, or wise men from the East, and brought to Jesus the mysterious presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, having been directed thither by a star which led the way before them to the very house where the babe lay. After this, being warned by an angel that appeared to them in a dream, they returned into their own country by a way different from that by which they came, without giving Herod the intelligence he wanted ; which he pretended was in order to come and worship the babe, though his real design was to cut him off, from a jealousy of his rivalling that artful monarch in his sovereignty over the Jews.
The time of Mary's purification being now come, that is, forty days after the birth of Jesus, she went to Jerusalem, to present her son in the temple ; and there to offer the sacrifice appointed by the law, for the purification of women after child-birth. At that time there was at Jerusalem an old man named Simeon, who was full of the Holy Ghost ; and had received a secret assurance, that he should not die till he had seen Christ the Lord: Accordingly, he came into the temple by the impulse of the Spirit of God, and taking the child Jesus in his arms, blessed the Lord; and then addressing himself to Mary, said, This child is sent for the raising and falling of many in Israel ; and for a sign which shall be spoken against ; even so far as that thy own soul shall be pierced as with a sword, that the secret thoughts in the hearts of many may be discovered and laid open.
When Joseph and Mary were preparing afterwards to return to their own country of Nazareth the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, bidding him to retire into Egypt with Mary and the child, because Herod had a design to destroy Jesus. Joseph obeyed the admonition, and continued in Egypt till after the death of Herod; when both he and Mary returned to Nazareth, not daring to go to Bethlehem, because it was in the jurisdiction of Archelaus, the son and successor of Herod the Great who was a cruel prince.
Now it being the constant practice of Joseph and Mary to go every year to Jerusalem, to the feast of the passover; and when Jesus was twelve years of age, they brought him with them to the capital. When the days of the festival were ended they set out on their return home; but the child Jesus continued at Jerusalem, without their perceiving it, and thinking that he might be with some of the company, they went on a day's journey; when not finding him amongst their 4cquaintance, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for