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JAMES THE LESS.
Next to his own name, Matthew writes that of “James, the son of Alpheus”; who is also called, in the Gospel of Mark, “ James the Less," or the younger, to distinguish him from the other apostle of the same name, James the brother of John, who was older than he; or it may be that he was of small stature, and therefore named 66 the less.”
His mother's name was Mary. She was one of the Marys who were present at the crucifixion of our Saviour; and appears to have been the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark she is called “ Mary, the mother of James the Less, and of Joses.” In a parallel passage of John's Gospel, she is mentioned as follows: “There stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” From these passages the inference is justly drawn, that James the Less was the first cousin of Jesus. He is expressly called the son of Alpheus and of Mary; and as Mary, who was the wife of Alpheus, which is only the Greek pronunciation of the Hebrew name Cleophas, is also termed in the same passage the sister of our Lord's mother, he is consequently our Lord's cousin.
He is the same person who is mentioned by Paul, when he says, in his Epistle to the Galatians, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother.” To account for this appellation, it must be observed that the Jews were accustomed to include all near relations under the general name of brethren. And we may also remark, that, though it appears strange that Mary should be the sister of Mary, it was not uncommon among the Jews, that two sisters of the same family should bear the same name. James is likewise enumerated among the Lord's brethren by the Jews, when they asked in astonishment, “Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?” Of these four sons, three were apostles of Jesus; and the other one, Joses, or Joseph, was probably a disciple; as was Cleophas too, or Alpheus, the father of this Christian family.
The exact relationship to Jesus of James the Less, and others who are called his brethren, was a matter of controversy in very early times, Respectable names appear on each side; and Cave says that a majority of the ancients were of opinion that these “ brethren ” were actually the sons of Joseph by a former wife. It has appeared to me that the other opinion is the most likely to be the true one, and I have therefore called James the cousin of Jesus. One of the strongest arguments for this view of the relationship is, that the father of James is called Alpheus, and not Joseph, and that Mary the wife of Cleophas is mentioned in the Gospel of John as a person entirely distinct from the mother of Jesus, and further appears to be the same who is called by Mark the mother of James the Less and of Joses. Now Alpheus and Cleophas being the same name, the chain of testimony is complete, — so complete, that I wonder any question should ever have been raised on the subject. It may be added, that Lardner inclines to the opinion that James was cousin to our Lord.
No particulars are related of James in the Gospels; but honorable mention is made of him in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. Perhaps his youth and his modesty, together with his near relationship to Jesus, operated upon him to be silent and inactive during the life of the Saviour, though afterwards his talents and worth made him conspicuous. He appears to have resided constantly at Jerusalem, and to have been president or bishop of the church there. tiquity affirms this, and Scripture gives it good
countenance. Thus we are told in the twelfth chapter of Acts, that when Peter had been miraculously delivered from the prison into which he had been thrown by Herod, who had just slain the other James, he went to the house of a believ ing family, and said to those who were there, “Go, show these things unto James, and the brethren.' James is evidently spoken of here as having a precedence among the brethren. Again, in the fifteenth chapter of the same book, he appears to have been the presiding member of the Council of Jerusalem, of which I have before had occasion to speak, and which decided that the Gentiles were to be received, on their conversion, into the full privileges of the Christian Church, without being obliged to undergo the ceremony of circumcision. It has been observed, that, though Peter spoke first on this occasion, James spoke last, and gave his opinion or “sentence” with regard to the most proper course to be pursued, and that the letter or result of the council was chiefly modelled upon his words. From these circumstances it has been concluded that he was the moderator or president of this first Christian council, and that this rank was probably conceded to him on account of his being the presiding apostle or bishop of Jerusalem, in which place the council was convened. Peter, as it may be remembered, agreed with James entirely in this case; but, though in some sense chief of the apostles, it is evident that when the Church came to be enlarged and settled, he did not possess any general supreme authority, but, as in the present council, was regarded, and regarded himself, as in subordination to the local authorities. The speech of James is replete with good sense, dignity, and a spirit of charity and forbearance, and sufficiently indicates the wisdom of his brethren in making him bishop or overseer of the Christian Church at Jerusalem.
In the twenty-first chapter of Acts there is also a particular mention of James, which corroborates the preceding proofs of his consequence in the Church. In an account there given of the journey of Paul and his company to Jerusalem, with the collections for the saints in Judæa, the writer says: " And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following, Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.” James could hardly have been singled out by name in this passage, for any other reason than because he was the chief person at this convocation of the elders.
To all this evidence of the standing of James and the high consideration in which he was held, the testimony of Paul himself is to be added. One passage has already been adduced from the first chapter of his Epistle to the Galatians. In