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The guilelessness, candor, and honesty of Nathanael, or Bartholomew, were indeed strikingly exhibited in all the circumstances of that interview. Impressed with the idea of his countrymen, that Nazareth could not furnish any celebrated prophet, and surely not the Messiah, as soon as Philip uttered the words, “ Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” he exclaimed, “ Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?” But when Philip, very wisely, instead of arguing the point, simply said, “Come and see,” he went at once, clearly perceiving the justice of the appeal, and determined to put his prejudice, or his opinion, to the only proper test of experiment. And when he had received a small, though to his mind sufficient proof of the superior knowledge of Jesus, he gave in his adhesion on the spot, saying
Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel.” Pleased with this readiness of conviction, the Saviour seems to have taken him from this moment into his confidence; for he promised him that he should "
see greater things than these;" stronger proofs than the one just given of the divinity of his mission; wonders and testimonies so mighty and divine, that heaven would appear, as it were, “ open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son
Let our prepossessions and prejudices vanish, as did those of Nathanael, as soon as they are touched by the beams of truth. Let us be sincere, simple, open-hearted, free from guile, as he was; “ without partiality and without hypocrisy." To such a character belongs by inheritance the promise given to Nathanael. He who possesses it will see greater things day by day; he will be continually receiving brighter manifestations of truth and heaven. “ The child-like faith, that asks not sight,
Waits not for wonder or for sign,
Shall see things greater, things divine.
And brightest angels to and fro
'Twixt God above, and Christ below.” Nothing is particularly related concerning this apostle, by the sacred writers, beside what has been already adduced. By early ecclesiastical historians, he is said to have carried the Gospel as far as India, by which must be meant, as Cave thinks, the hither India, which was the country bordering upon the Asian Ethiopia, or Chaldea. Pantænus, a Christian philosopher of the latter part of the second century, and preceptor of
Clemens of Alexandria, having travelled into Ethiopia, found there, as Eusebius relates, a copy of Matthew's Gospel in Hebrew, which had been left there by Bartholomew. Phrygia was also for a time the field of the apostle's labors, where he met with his former companion, Philip, and at the period of his martyrdom, narrowly escaped crucifixion himself. Lastly, he came to Albanopolis in the greater Armenia, where he was persecuted, and finally crucified, on account of his efforts to overthrow the idolatry of the place. Some accounts speak of his having been flayed alive, previous to his crucifixion.
Legends and martyrologies affirm, what we need not believe, that his body removed from place to place, till it came at last to Rome, where it rested, and where it is now deposited, as Roman Catholics suppose, in a porphyry monument, under the Church of St. Bartholomew.
August the 24th is consecrated to him by the Western Church.
The seventh of the twelve is Thomas. In the Gospel of John, he is styled “Thomas called Didymus," but every where else, simply Thomas. It is probable that Didymus is merely an interpretation into Greek of the Hebrew word Thomas, as they both mean a twin. And it may be, that he really was what his name designates him to have been.* But we have no certain accounts whatever of his early life, nor of the early period of his apostleship.
*“ It was customary,” says Cave,“ with the Jews, when travelling into foreign countries, or familiarly conversing with the Greeks and Romans, to assume to themselves a Greek or a Latin name, of great affinity, and sometimes of the very same signification with that of their own country. Thus our Lord was called Christ, answering to his Hebrew title, Mashiach, or the Anointed ; Simon styled Peter according to that of Cephas, which our Lord put upon him; Tabitha called Dorcas, both signifying a goat. Thus our St. Thomas, according to the Syriack importance of his name, had the title of Didymus, which signifies a Twin; Thomas, which is called Didymus."
The first mention which is made of him, is on a most interesting occasion, and when he appears in a most interesting light. Shortly after our Lord had escaped from the hands of the Jews, who were about to stone him, and had gone away beyond Jordan, the sisters of Lazarus, his friend, sent to him, informing him that their brother was sick. Jesus remained two days, after hearing this intelligence, in the place where he was; for it was his intention, not to rescue, but to restore Lazarus from death, that God might be the more glorified; and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go into Judea again." His disciples earnestly sought to dissuade him from this, as they thought it, rash determination, and said unto him, “ Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again ?” In answer to this expostulation, Jesus tells them, in figurative speech, that what he had to do must be done in its due season, and before the appropriated time was past; and then he adds, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” The disciples, understanding him literally, answer, that if Lazarus was sleeping, he would recover, and therefore it was unnecessary to incur danger, merely for the sake of seeing him. “ Then said Jesus unto them,