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It is probable, though not certain, that he is the same Simon who is mentioned as one of the brethren or cousins of our Lord. Of the history of his life nothing whatever is known; although the later writers and martyrologists of the church, pretend, as usual, to be intimately acquainted with it, and give us our choice of a sufficient number of contradictory legends. By some of them he is said to have labored in Egypt and Persia, and to have been martyred in the last named country. By others, he is made to penetrate as far as Britain, and there to be crucified.
« Nor could the coldness of the climate benumb his zeal,” exclaims the honest Cave, or hinder him from shipping himself and the Christian doctrine over to the western islands, yea, even to Britain itself. Here he preached, and wrought many miracles, and after infinite troubles and difficulties which he underwent, suffered martyrdom for the faith of Christ, as is not only affirmed by Nicephorus and Dorotheus, but expressly owned in the Greek Menologies, where we are told that he went at last into Britain, and having enlightened the minds of many with the doctrine
sprightly temper. Therefore what some of the Evangelists call Canaanite, others, rendering the Hebrew by the Greek word, style Simon Zelotes, or the Zealot."
of the gospel, was crucified by the infidels, and buried there."
The two apostles, Simon and Jude, are commemorated on the same day, October 28th.
The last, always the last, on the lists of the apostles, is Judas Iscariot. He is always branded, too, by those fearful and thrilling words, “ who also betrayed him.” And it is sad, that we must close the roll which we have been examining of this glorious apostolic company, with the name of a traitor.
His surname of Iscariot, probably designates his birthplace; as it signifies “the man of Carioth or Kerioth,” which was a town in the tribe of Judah. But this is hardly more than conjecture. There is a solemn obscurity hanging over the life of this man, shrouding every thing in silent and immovable shadow; except one deed of gigantic enormity, which raises its high and desert head, and frowns in gloomy solitude over the surrounding waste of darkness and clouds. He is called the son of Simon. Who is Simon ? Search the Scriptures for him. The search will be vain. He is only known, as has been forcibly
said, only known by the misfortune of having such a son.
The early dispositions of Judas must have been bad, or he would not have proved himself the wretch that he did, so soon after joining himself to such a Master; and a circumstance recorded in the Gospel of John, plainly intimates to us what the chief vice of his character was.
We are informed, that on a visit which Jesus made to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom a little while before he had raised from the dead, a supper was made for him there; that Lazarus, with not one trace of death on his countenance, though but just now brought up from the grave, sat at table; and that Martha, with her usual assiduity, served. “ Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment." This offering, though it may not have been useful, was certainly grateful and generous, and was beside in conformity with the custom of the country, and deserved, therefore, an approving comment from the friends and followers of Jesus. But what was the sequel ? “ Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who was to betray him, Why was
not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor ?" From an honest and really charitable man this remark would have been but a cold one, at such a season; but Judas was neither; and he said this, proceeds the historian, “not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare off what was put therein.”* Thus it appears, that the root of all this traitor's wickedness was avarice, and that it had already borne the deadly fruits of fraud and theft. He had the bag. He had been the treasurer of the fraternity; and so strong was his odious passion, and so weak was his principle, that he was unable to resist the temptation which the trust afforded him, of purloining whatever he could from the common stock, which of necessity must have been a scanty one; and on this occasion he was grievously disappointed, that he could not have the handling of the large sum of three hundred Roman denarii, under the pretence of distributing it to the poor. It is to be presumed that his peculiarities were not known to the apostles at that time, but that they came to light afterwards. If they had then
* In our English bible it is, “ and bare what was put therein ;" a translation which does not seem to give the true meaning of the passage, though the Greek verb admits of both senses.