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All that is said of him in the sacred histories, is, that at the last supper he asked Jesus why he was to manifest himself to his disciples, and not to the world. He was moved to put this question by the views, which, in common with the other disciples, he entertained of the coming of the Messiah; who, as he thought, was to declare himself at last, with great pomp and external power. It was a mystery to him, therefore, how this victorious display was to be made to the small number of his disciples alone, and not to the whole admiring world. The answer of Jesus was not then, in all probability, understood. The meaning and substance of it was, that he and his father would manifest themselves to those alone, and dwell in those alone, who loved him with that holy love, the fruits of which were righteousness and peace. This strong and beautiful declaration of the spirituality of the Messiah's kingdom, is to be added to those which I have already noticed. The circumstance is related by John in the fourteenth chapter of his Gospel, who designates the apostle as Judas, not Iscariot.". No light is any where thrown upon his character; and all that we know of his condition, is, that he was the brother of James the Less, and consequently a cousin of our Lord.
Other accounts of this apostle are so various and contradictory, that it would be wasting time to quote any
of them. It is not known with certainty where he preached, or where he died, or whether he died a natural death, or suffered martyrdom. Most of the Latin writers say, that he travelled into Persia, where his labors were very successful; but where, having irritated the Magi by reproving them for their superstitious practices, he was put to a violent death. Some of the Greeks affirm that he died quietly at Berytus; and the Armenians contend that in their country he was martyred.*
There is a passage from the ancient writer Hegesippus, as quoted by Eusebius, from which it appears, that Jude was perhaps an husbandman before he was an apostle, and that he had descendants. The passage is thus given by Lard
* It is in vain to endeavour to learn any thing of this apostle from the writings of the Fathers, who, as is very evident from their contradictory stories, knew nothing about him. They generally prefer red, however, to record the most groundless legend, rather than to confess their ignorance. “ The men themselves," says Dr. Jortin, speaking of the Fathers, in his Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, “ usually deserve much respect, and their writings are highly useful on several accounts; but it is better to defer too little than too much to their decisions, and to the authority of antiquity, that handmaid to Scripture, as she is called. She is like Briareus, and has a hundred hands, and these hands often clash, and beat one another.”
“When Domitian made inquiries after the posterity of David, some grandsons of Jude, called the Lord's brother, were brought before him. Being asked concerning their possessions and substance, they assured him, that they had only so many acres of land, out of the improve ment of which they both paid him tribute, and maintained themselves with their own hard labor. The truth of what they said was confirmed by the callousness of their hands. Being asked concerning Christ, and his kingdom, of what kind it was, and when it would appear, they answered, that it was not worldly and earthly, but heavenly and angelical; that it would be manifested at the end of the world, when, coming in great glory, he would judge the living and the dead, and render to every man according to his works. The men being mean, and their principles harmless, they were dismissed.”
If the above passage be taken in connexion with another from the old but doubtful book of the Apostolical Constitutions, in which the apostles are made to say, “ Some of us are fishermen, others tent-makers, others husbandmen,” the probability that Jude was a tiller of the soil, is strengthened. At any rate, if the account of Hegesippus is to be relied on, he was married, and had descendants.
One epistle has been so generally ascribed to Judas, or Jude, that it has been admitted into the canon of the New Testament. There is hardly another book, however, in that canon, which has been so much disputed. And yet there is no solid reason for rejecting the early tradition, which gives it to this apostle. It was known in the first century, and there is no internal evidence against its apostolic origin. It was expressly quoted by Clement of Alexandria, who flourished about the year 194, and after him, by succeeding fathers. Lardner supposes it to have been written at some time between the years 64 and 66, that is, a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem.
October 28th is sacred, in the Western Calendar, to the memory of the apostle Jude.
The next apostle in order is another Simon, who, in the catalogues of Matthew and Mark, is surnamed “ the Canaanite," and in that of Luke's Gospel, and the book of Acts, “ Zelotes.” Some have thought that the surname, Canaanite, de noted the birthplace of the apostle; but others, with more probability, suppose that Canaanite is merely a Hebrew word, having the same signification with Zelotes, the Greek word used by Luke, and which means a zealot, or one who is extremely zealous.
Simon may have received this appellation on account of his having once belonged to a sect or faction among the Jews, who were called Zealots, or only on account of the warmth of his disposition, or the ardor with which he espoused and maintained the cause of Jesus.*
*" This word,” says Cave,“ has no relation to his country, or the place from whence he borrowed his original, as plainly descending from a Hebrew word which signifies zeal, and denotes a hot and