« السابقةمتابعة »
hand to vex certain of the Church; and he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.” This Herod was Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born. He was a distinguished favorite of the Roman emperors, Caligula and his successor Claudius, though a strict and zealous observer of the Jewish law. On entering upon his government, he was desirous of doing something to please the Jewish populace, and for that end began to persecute the infant Christian Church, selecting for a principal victim James, the brother of John. We are informed by Clemens Alex. andrinus, that, as the apostle was led forth to the place of execution, the person who had accused him was so touched with the courage and constancy which he displayed, that he repented of what he had done, came and fell down at his feet, and earnestly begged pardon for what he had said against him. St. James tenderly raised him up, kissed him, and said to him, “ Peace be to thee, my son, and the pardon of thy faults." At this, his former accuser publicly professed himself a Christian, and so both were beheaded at the same time. Not long after this martyrdom, Herod suffered a miserable death, as is related in Acts xii. 23, and more at large by Josephus in the nineteenth book of his Antiquities. *
* The three Herods are connected in an unenviable manner
Though not the first Christian martyr, James was the first of the apostles who suffered martyrdom; the first among the twelve, who, in fulfilment of that solemn prediction, was called to drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism of their Master; the first who manifested to the world that it was beyond the power of death itself to shake their fidelity to him.* If he was not spared to labor much for the Church, he was soon permitted to edify it by his sufferings, and was called kindly and early to his reward in heaven.
He is the James who is called by the Spaniards St. James of Compostella, and honored as their patron saint. They receive with general faith a wild and singular legend, which gives an account of the manner in which they became possessed of his remains. According to this story, the apostles at Jerusalem sent the body in a ves
with the early history of Christianity, each as a shedder of innocent blood. The first, Herod the Great, murdered the Innocents of Bethlehem; the second, Herod Antipas, beheaded John the Baptist; and the third slew James, and intended to have slain Peter. These circumstances are commemorated in the following Latin couplet:
“Herodes Magnus pueros, Antipa Joannem,
Teque, Jacobe, Agrippa necat, Petrum et capit idem." * He is therefore called the Apostolic Protomartyr ; Stephen being the Protomartyr, or first martyr, of the whole Christian Church.
sel with Ctesiphon, whom they ordained bishop of Spain. The vessel went directly to a port in that kingdom, without the assistance of oars or pilot, guided only by its holy, though lifeless burden, which, on its arrival, was miraculously taken away and buried, and after a great many wonders, was at last translated to Compostella,* where it still abides, the object of constant pilgrimage, and the worker of countless miracles. Cave, after giving this legend rather more at length, observes : 66 This is the sum of the account, call it romance or history, which I do not desire to impose any further upon the reader's faith than he shall find himself disposed to believe it.” It is a pity that such stories as this should be connected with the names of the holy apostles. It would be more a pity, however, if it were more difficult to separate legends from history, and falsehood from truth.
Ferdinand II. of Spain instituted a military order in honor of this apostle. His festival is on the 26th of July.
* It is said by some, that this place was first called Ad Jacobum Apostolum ; then Giacomo Postolo; then, by contraction, Compostella.
We now come to John, the brother of James the elder, and the last named, though certainly not the last in merit, of those four friends and partners, the fishermen of Bethsaida. The particulars of his call to be an apostle of Christ have already been related, together with some other circumstances respecting him, in the lives of Peter and James. We have seen that he ardently loved his Master; that he was distinguished by that Master's peculiar regard; and that, although he was sometimes betrayed into unworthy expressions of ambition and anger, for which he was justly reprimanded, his disposition was remarkably amiable, gentle, and affectionate.
There is not much told of him, individually, until towards the closing scenes of our Saviour's ministry and life. At the last supper, which he and Peter had been sent to prepare, we are told that “there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples whom Jesus loved." This disciple was John himself; who was so fond of the distinction which his Master's attachment conferred on him, or, to speak more properly, was so gratefully sensible of the value of the attachment itself, that he continually speaks of himself, in his history, as the disciple whom Jesus loved, - a title which he surely would not have assumed unless it had been really conferred on him. His place at the supper is an evidence that he was high in the favor of Jesus. He was leaning or lying on his bosom; that is, he was the next below him, and, as it was the custom of the ancients to recline at their meals, his head was brought in contact with his Master's breast, a situation which used always to be reserved by the host at an entertainment for the person whom he most honored or esteemed. It was while he was thus leaning, that Simon Peter beckoned to him that he should ask of Jesus who it was who should betray him. John did as he was requested, and Jesus showed him who the traitor was by giving
All this seems to have been done in private, and apart from the knowledge of the other disciples, and proves the great measure of condescension and confidence which was exercised by the Master toward this his favorite follower.
After Jesus was betrayed and seized, John is supposed to have been that other disciple who went with Peter to the palace of the high priest,
Judas a sop.