« ElőzőTovább »
he should have far greater arguments to confirm his faith; for that he should hereafter behold the heavens opened to receive him, and the angels visibly appearing to attend his triumphant entrance into the heaven of heavens.
After the visible descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles, St. Bartholomew visited different parts of the world to preach the gospel, and penetrated as far as the hither India. Having spent a considerable time there, and in the eastern extremities of Asia, he returned to the northern and western parts: and we find him at Hierapolis in Phrygia, labouring in concert with St. Philip, to plant Christianity in those parts, and to convince the blind idolaters of the evil of their ways, and direct them in the paths that lead to the regions of felicity. This enraged the bigotted magis. trates, and he was, together with St. Philip, designed for Martyrdom; and in order to this fastened to a cross: but a sudden trembling and motion of the earth convinced the idolaters that the justice of Omnipotence would revenge their deaths; so that they took him immediately down from the cross and dismissed him.
St. Bartholomew passed from hence into Lycaonia, and St. Chrysostom assures us, that he instructed and trained up the inhabitants in the Christian discipline. His last remove was to Adrianople in great Armenia, a place miserably over-run with idolatry, from which he laboured to reclaim the people: but his endeavours to turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, were so far from having the desired effect, that it provoked the magistrates, who prevailed on the governor to put him to death, which he cheerfully underwent, sealing with his blood the truth of the doctrine he had preached.
We are told by some of the ancients, that he was crucified with his head downwards; and by others, that he was flayed alive. Perhaps he suffered both;
for Plutarch records a particular instance of Mesobates the Persian eunuch, who was first flayed alive, and then crucified; and the inhabitants of Adrianople might easily borrow this barbarous and inhuman cruelty from the Persians, who were remarkably severe in their punishments.
AN ACCOUNT OF ST. BARNABAS,
The Apostle. This apostle was at first called Joses, a softer termination generally given by the Greeks to Joseph ; his fellow disciples added the name of Barnabas, as significant of some extraordinary property in him. St. Luke interprets it, the son of consolation, which he was ever ready to administer to the afflicted, both by word and action; as his comfortable discourses, his selling his own estate, and collecting the benevolence of others, for the relief of the poor indigent Christians, abundantly testify. St. Jerom observes that his name also denotes the son of a prophet: and in this respect likewise it was well suited to our apostle, as being eminent for his endowments and prophetic gifts.
St. Barnabas was a descendant of the tribe of Levi, of a family removed out of Judea, and settled in the isle of Cyprus, where they had purchased an estate, as the Levites might do out of their country: Ilis parents finding their son of a promising genius and disposition, placed him in one of the schools of Jerusalem, under the tuition of Gamaliel, St. Paul's master; a circumstance which, in all probability, laid the first foundation for that intimacy which afterwards subsisted between these two eminent servants of JESUS CHRIST.
St. Barnabas is first mentioned in the Holy Scripture, in record of that great and worthy service, he did
the church of Christ, by securing it with the sale of his patrimony in Cyprus, the whole price of which he laid at the apostle's feet, to be put into the common stock, and disposed of as they should think fit, amongst the indigent followers of the Holy Jesus. This worthy example was followed by those who were blessed with the goods of fortune: none kept their plenty to themselves, but turned their houses and lands into money, and devoted it to the common use of the church. St. Barnabas is indeed mentioned as selling the most valuable estate on this occasion; or being the most forward and ready to begin a common stock and set others a laudable pattern of charity and benevolence to the brethren.
Our apostle now became considerable in the ministry and government of the church; for we find that St. Paul coming to Jerusalem three years after his conversion, and not readily procuring admittance into the church, because he had been so grievous a persecutor of it, and might still be suspected of a design to betray it, he addressed himself to Barnabas as a leading man amongst the Christians, and one that had personal knowledge of him. He accordingly introduced him to Peter and James and satisfied them of the sincerity of his conversion, and in what miraculous manner it was brought about.
The agreeable news was brought to Jerusalem, about four or five years afterwards that several of their body who had been driven out of Judea by the persecutions raised about St. Stephen, had preached at Antioch with such success, that a great number, both of Jews and proselytes embraced Christianity, and were desirous that some of the superior order would come down and confirm them. This request was immediately granted; and Barnabas was deputed to settle this new plantation. Upon his arrival, he rejoiced extremely, to see what progress the gospel had made ainongst shem; and earnestly exhorted them to continue im
moveable in their profession of Christ Jesus. And being himself a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost; and of faith, his charitable deeds accompanying his discourses, and his 'pious life exemplifying his sound doctrine, the people were greatly influenced by him, and very large additions were made to the Christian church: but there being too large a field for one labourer, he went to fetch Paul from Tarsus, who came back with him to Antioch, and assisted him a whole year in establishing that church. Their labours prospered, their assemblies were crowded, and the disciples, who before this were called amongst themselves brethren, believers, elect, and by their enemies, Nazarenes, and Galileans, were now called Christians first in this city.
While these apostles preached at Antioch, Agabus, a prophet, gave the church notice, that there would shortly be a great famine throughout the Roman empire; especially in Judea. On hearing this prophecy, the Christians of Antioch considering the number and necessities of their brethren at Jerusalem, and how generously the rich amongst them had exhausted their estates in maintaining the poor, determined to send them assistance against the ensuing scarcity, which they raised by contributions according to every man's abilities, and sent it to the heads of the church at Jerusalem, by the hands of Barnabas and Paul. This famine lay heavy on Judea, during the four years government of Caspius Fadus, and Tiberias Alexander, who, under the emperor Claudius, were presidents of that province.
After the apostles had fulfilled their charitable embassy, and staid some time at Jerusalem to see the good effect of it, they returned again to Antioch, bringing with them John, whose surname was Mark, the son of Mary, sister to Barnabas; and at whose house the disciples found both security for their persons, and conyeniency for the solemnity of their worship. But soon
after the apostles' return to Antioch, an express reveJation was made to the church, by the mouth of one of the prophets who ministered there, that Barnabas and Paul should be set apart for an extraordinary work, unto which the Holy Ghost had appointed them. Upon this declaration the church set apart a day for a solemn mission, and after devout prayer and fasting, they laid their hands upon them, and ordained them to their office; which was to travel over certain countries, and preach the gospel to the Gentiles: from this joint commission, Barnabas obtained the name of an apostle, not only amongst later writers of the church, but with St. Paul himself, and with St. Luke, in the history of the acts of the apostles written by him.
Being thus consecrated the apostles of the Gentiles, they entered upon their ministry, taking with them John Mark for their minister or deacon, who assisted them in many ecclesiastical offices, particularly in taking care of the poor and receiving contributions for them.
After their departure from Antioch, the first city they visited was Selucia, a city of Syria, adjoining to the sea; from whence they sailed for the island of Cyprus, the native place of St. Barnabas, and arrived at Salamis, a port formerly remarkable for its trade. Here they boldly preached the doctrines of the gospel, in the synagogue of the Jews; and from thence travelled to Paphos, the capital of the island. Here their preaching was attended with remarkable success; Servius Paulus, the proconsul, being, amongst others, converted to the faith of the gospel.
Having quitted Cyprus, they crossed the sea to preach in Pamphylia, where their deacon John, to the great grief of his uncle Barnabas, left them, and returned to Jerusalem. The apostles afterwards went to Perga, where they did not continue long, but travelled seventy or eighty miles northward to Antioch in Pisidia,