« 上一頁繼續 »
Having taken three days to recover the fatigue of his journey, he called together the chief of the Jews who resided at Rome, and informed them of the cause of his imprisonment, and of the necessity he was reduced to of appealing unto Cæsar to prevent assassination; not (he said) that he had any accusation to bring against his countrymen, but he had called them together to in form them, that it was for the cause of the MESSIAH, the hope and expectation of Israel, that he now suffered imprisonment.
The Jews replied, that they knew nothing to his prejudice, but had heard the sect of the Christians greatly censured, and should be glad to have an account of their doctrine from him: he therefore appointed a day for them to attend him, at which time he explained the chief principles of the Christian faith, in a conference which lasted from morning to night; by which some of his auditors were converted, but others obstinately adhered to their former opinions : and so disagreeing, they broke up the assembly. Paul, as they departed, very properly applied to them Isaiah's prophecy, hearing they shall hear and not understand *, &c. and assured them that the salvation they rejected was sent to the Gentiles, who would accept it, and inherit these blessings which the Jews despised. After this Paul dwelt two years in his house, where he received all who came to him, and converted many of the Romans and others to Christianity; among whom was Onesimus, in whose favour Paul wrote his Epistle to Philemon, and afterwards employed him to carry his letter to the Colossians.
The Christians at Philippi and Macedonia hearing
* Isaiah vi.
of his imprisonment, made a large collection for him, and sent it by their Bishop Epaphroditus, by whom he sent his Epistle to the Philippians.
Shortly after this, he had the comfort to hear, that the Christians at Ephesus continued in faith and charity as he left them; but fearing they might be perverted by false teachers, he wrote an Epistle to establish them in the doctrine which he taught them.
At this period of St. Paul's imprisonment, it is supposed St. Luke wrote his Gospel, which he composed with the Apostle's assistance.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF PAUL AND THE
In the year of our Lord 63, as the learned compute, PAUL was restored to his liberty. Having converted many of the Romans, he travelled into other parts of the world; and before he passed out of Italy, is supposed to have written his Epistle to the Hebrews.
Leaving Italy, Paul sailed westward, and, as we are assured by one of the first Christian writers, preached the Gospel in Spain; and some learned authors say, that he planted a church in Great Britain; and after travelling to several other parts, went to Ephesus. From thence he passed into Macedonia, and visited the Philip pians. Here he staid a considerable time, and is thought, during this period, to have written his first Epistle to
Tim y, and also that to Titus. After this, Paul travelled again and went lo Corinth, and afterwards went into Asia, and at length returned to Rome. Nero
the emperor was gone into Greece, and had left a wicked man named Helius, sole governor of Rome in his ab
Paul having met with Peter in that city, joined with him in endeavouring to reform the immoralities of the people, and convert them to Christianity. Their Jabours were crowned with great success, but they met with oppression from some, amongst whom one Alexander, a copper-smith, distinguished himself. Great disturbances ensued, which ended in the Apostles being thrown into prison, where they continued to preach. In this confinement St. Paul wrote his second Epistle to Timothy, and was shortly after, by command of Helius, beheaded.
Thus died the illustrious Apostle, after having for above thirty years, with the most exemplary zeal and piety, served God, and preached the Gospel of CHRIST. It appears from his Epistles, that Paul having fought the good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, was desirous of being dissolved, that he might be with Christ; and receive the crown of righteousness, which the Lord had destined for thoss who should lay down their lives in testimony of his holy religion.
St. Paul's history suggests a high idea of his charac. ter. It rises upon us with additional lustre in reading his Epistles: but that must be a separate study.
It is agreed by ancient authors, that St. Peter went to Home; but how long he resided there, is uncertain. He is said to have travelled into Africa, and afterwards westward as far as Great Britain. He suffered martyr. dom by crucifixion at Rome the same day with St. Paul, in the year of our Lord 65. It is reported of him, that when he came to the cross, he requested to be crucified with his head downwards, thinking he should dishonour his LORD by suffering in the same posture as he did.
It is generally affimed by the ancients, that after our LORD's ascension, the Apostles agreed among themselves, perhaps by lot, but most probably by particular direction of the Holy SPIRIT, to divide, and to travel to different parts of the world. In consequence of this resolution, St. ANDREW went first into Scythia, and afterwards to many other parts, and at last sealed his doctrine with his blood at Patræ in Achaia. The oce casion of his death is thus related. Having made a number of converts at Patræ, he attempted to persuade Egeas, the Proconsul of Achaia, toturn Christian; Egear treated him with great indignity, and at last delivered him up
to be crucified. That his death might be more lingering, he was fastened to the cross with cords instead of nails. It is said, that as he was led to execution, he shewed a cheerful and composed mind; and that when in sight of the cross he declared, that he had long expected and desired that happy hour, Having prayed and exhorted the converts to keep the faith, he was fastened to the cross, on which he hung two days, preaching to the people all the time; and when he found great interest was used to save his life, he earnestly begged of the Lo ;D, that he might glorify him by his death, and quickly expired.
The history of St. JAMES THE GREAT (so called to distinguish him from another of the same name) is not related in any authentic history. The Spanish writers contend, that he preached in their nation. All we know for a certainty is, that he suffered martyrdom at Jerus salem, at the command of Herod Agrippa.
After many years spent in his ministry, St. John was at length accused to the emperor Domitian (who. persecuted the Christians towards the end of his reign) uot only as a disturber of the government, but a pro. moter of atheism, because he preached against those whom the Gentiles reputed Gods. By Domitian's command he was sent prisoner to Rome, where, it is said, the barbarous tyrant caused him to be cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, or rather oil set on fire'; but God, who delivered the three holy children from Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace, preserved the holy Apostle, so that the burning oil had no power over him. This was the
cup his Lord foretold he should drink of, and that baptism he should be bapized with ; and hence the ancients gave him the honour of martyrdom: for though the punishment had not its effect, yet by yielding up his body to that which, according to its nature, must have been his death, he offered his life for the glory of CHRIST. The merciless persecutor 'immediately after this banished him to a desolate island called Patmos, there to be employed in digging in the mines. Here it was that he wrote his Apocalypse, or book of Revelations. These prophetic visions were vouchsafed to St. John at a very seasonable time; he was in a great measure cut off from the society of men, but indulged with the more immediate communications of heaven:
St. John lived two years at Patmos, when Domitian being slain, Nerva succeeded to the Roman empire. He was of a very different disposition from his predecessor, and recalled all those who had in Domitian's reign been cruelly condemned to exile. St. John then returned to Ephesus, where he was made bishop in the room of Timothy, who had been lately martyred. Though he was now ninety years old, he took many journies to visit different churches, and also wrote his Epistle and his Gospel. When age and infirmity had disabled him from preaching, he used to be led to the church at Ephesus, where, instead of preaching, he only said these