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calls Nathanael by the other name of Bartholomew is no proof that he had no other name; for Matthew, though his other name was Levi, never calls himself by that name, throughout the whole of his own Gospel. And finally, we are led naturally to the presumption that Nathanael must have been an apostle, not only by the circumstance of his being named in the midst of four apostles, but by the tenor of the conversation which Jesus held with him, and the probability that he was one of the very earliest disciples.
If we are convinced by these considerations that Bartholomew was the same person with Nathanael, we of course know something of his character and history. We view him as an inhabitant of Cana, in Galilee, where was performed the first miracle of his Lord, soon after his interview with him; as probably called to be an apostle on the same day with Philip, by whom he was introduced to Jesus; and as one who was characterized by the Saviour, and therefore deservedly, as an “ Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile."
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 of man.”
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.
“Heaven on that gaze shall open wide,
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 everywhere 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.
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
* “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 Syriac importance of his name, had the title of Didymus, which signifies a twin; Thomas, which is called Didymus."