« السابقةمتابعة »
among the ancient writers of the church, is, that the first part of it was composed expressly to explain those
passages of Paul's epistles which seem to slight good works, and make every thing of faith, or mere belief; and that the severe rebukes and warnings which are contained in the latter portion of it, were the chief occasion of the writer's being stoned to death by the Jewish · populace; as that event is supposed to have taken place a short time after the publication of the epistle.
That the encomium of James 'on good works was intended to explain some of those things in Paul's writings which were hard to be understood, is not improbable ; but that it is in direct opposition to them, as some have thought, is not only improbable but impossible. For it is impossible to read Paul's description of charity, in which he declares that it is greater than both faith and hope, and still to believe that he would so directly contradict himself as to reverse this order, and exalt faith above charity; or that he intended by what he calls works, and the works of the law, what we mean by good works and Christian morality or virtue. The world have been too long, and much too vehemently disputing about the relative superiority of faith and works, and arraying James against Paul, and Paul against himself. It was, perhaps, a strong bias toward one side of this controversy, or rather a bigoted and dogmatical attachment to it, quite as much as any doubts of the genuineness and antiquity of James's epistle, which induced Luther to call it, in contempt, “ an epistle of straw."* Despite, however, of this coarse epithet of the Reformer, it has maintained its authority in the Christian church ; an authority, which, if intrinsic excellence and internal evidence have any weight, it amply de
His day in the Calendar is May 1st, which is also dedicated to the apostle Philip.
*“ Epistola straminea,” a strawy epistle, is the phrase applied by Luther to the epistle of James. The boldness, and perhaps even the rudeness of the great Reformer, qualified him to carry through his enterprise as he did, under circumstances, and in an age, which demanded not only decision, but a rough, uncompromising, unfeeling decision. Granting this to be the case, still he is not to be regarded as a pattern of Christian m kness, forbearance, or. charity ; quali. ties which neither he, nor his contemporary Calvin, in any great degree possessed. Luther was more wild in his doctrine of faith than even Calvin; and he vented his. spleen against good works on the excellent epistle of James, in an expression of contempt, which would not be tolerated at the present day.
The apostle who stands the tenth on Matthew's list, and is there called “ Lebbeus whose surname yas Thaddeus," is called in Mark's catalogue, “ Thaddeus,” and in Luke's, “ Judas the brother of James." We cannot fail to remark, how carefully he is always distinguished from the other Judas. Matthew and Mark avoid naming him by the name which he held in common with the traitor ; and Luke takes care to distinguish him, by adding to that ill omened appellation, that he was the brother of James. Jude, Judas, and Judah are one and the same
Jude is merely an English abbreviation of Judas, and Judas is only a Greek pronunciation of the old Hebrew name of Judah. It means the praise of the Lord. Thaddeus is derived from the same root, and has a similar signification. Lebbeus appears to mean a man of heart, or courage, being derived from a word signifying the heart. These two last names were probably adopted to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot.
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 the Fathers, who, as is very evident from their contradictory stories, knew nothing about him. They generally preferred, 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."