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with the rest of his brethren for the apostolic office, in propagating the gospel of the son of God; and we cannot doubt of his exercising his gifts with the same zeal and fidelity, though in what part of the world, is uncertain, some say he went into Egypt, Cyrene, and Africa, preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of those remote and barbarous countries : and others add, that after he had just passed through those burning wastes, he took ship, and visited the frozen regions of the North, preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of the western parts, and even in Britain itself, where having converted great multitudes, and sustained the greatest hardships and persecutions, he was at length crucified, and buried in some part of Great Britain, but the particular spot cannot be ascertained.
AN ACCOUNT OF ST MATTHIAS,
The Apostle. ST. MATTHIAS not being an apostle of the first election, immediately called and chosen by the Son of God himself, it cannot be expected that any account of him can be found in the evangelical history. He was one of our Lord's disciples, probably one of the seventy, that had attended on him the whole time of his public ministry, and after his death was elected into the apostolate, to supply the place of Judas, who, after betraying his great Lord and Master, laid violent hands on himself.
As the defection of Judas had made a vacancy in the apostolic college, the first thing the disciples did, after their return from Mount Olivet, when their great Master ascended to the throne of glory, was to fill up this vacancy with a proper person. Accordingly, Peter acquainted them that Judas, according to the prophetical prediction, being fallen from his ministry, it was neces
that another should be substituted in his room, and at the same time requisite, that the person elected should have been a constant attendant on the blessed Jesus, that he might be the better qualified for bearing witness to his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession.
St. Peter having thus addressed the assembly, two persons were proposed, namely, Joseph called Barsabas, and Matthias, both of whom were duly qualified for that important office. The method of election was by lots, a way common both amongst the Jews and Gentiles for determining doubtful and difficult cases, especially in choosing judges or magistrates; and this course seems to have been taken by the apostles, because the Holy Ghost was not yet given, by whose immediate dictates and inspirations they were afterwards chiefly guided.
That the business might proceed with the greater alacrity and success, they first solemnly made their addresses to heaven, that the omniscient Being, who gov. erned the world, and perfectly understood the tempers and dispositions of men, would immediately guide and direct the choice, and shew them which of the two he would appoint to take that part of the apostolic charge, from which Judas had so lately fallen. The prayer being ended, the lots were drawn, by which it appeared that Matthias was the person, and he was numbered amongst the twelve apostles accordingly.
Soon after this election, the promised powers of the Holy Ghost were conferred upon the apostles, to qualify them for that great and arduous employment upon which they were sent, the establishing the holy religion of the Son of God amongst the children of men, in various parts of the world.
The first years of the ministry of St. Matthias, were spent in Judea, where he reaped a very considerable
harvest of souls, and then travelled into different parts of the world, to publish the glad tidings of salvation to the people who had never yet heard of our Saviour: but the particular parts he visited, are not certainly known. The Greeks suppose, that he travelled eastward; St. Jerom, says, his principal residence was near the influx of the river Apsus, into the haven of Hyscus in Cappadocia: but the people were remarkably rough and uncivilized, so that it is no wonder that he at last fell a victim to their ferocity; though this did not happen till after he had long indefatigably laboured in the vineyard of his great Master, and brought over vast numbers to an acknowledgment and reception of the truth.
We are not told by what kind of death this apostle left the regions of mortality, and sealed the truth of the gospel, he had so assidiously preached, with his blood. Dorotheus says, he finished his course at Sebastople, and was buried there near the temple of the sun. An ancient martyrologist reports him to have been seized by the Jews, and as a blasphemer, to have been stoned, and then beheaded : but the Greek offices, supported herein by several ancient breviaries, tell us, that he was crucified. His body is by some pretended to be now at Rome, where some relics of it are shewn with great veneration; while others contend, that it is at Triers in. Germany. Bollandus is of opinion, that the body of Matthias, now at Rome, is that of Matthias, who was bishop of Jerusalem in the year 120, and whose history they have confounded with that of the apostle St. Matthias; but Popish legends and traditions are in no instance to be relied on,
AN ACCOUNT OF THE VIRGIN MARY,
Mother of Jesus. WE are taught by the predictions of the prophets, that a virgin was to be the mother of the promised Messiah, and we are also assured by the unanimous concurrence of the evangelists, that this virgin's name was Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Anne, of the tribe of Judah, and married to Joseph of the same tribe. The Scripture indeed tells us no more of the blessed virgin's parents, than that she was of the family of David, and of the town of Bethlehem; not so much as their names being mentioned, unless by Heli, in St. Luke's genealogy we understand Joachim the virgin's father. All that is said concerning the birth of Mary and her parents, is to be found only in some apocryphal writings; and which however are very ancient. St. John says that Mary the wife of Cleopas, who was the mother of those which the gospel styles our Lord's brethren, was the virgin's sister. Mary then was of the royal race of David; she was allied likewise to the family of Aaron, since Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias, and mother of John the Baptist, was the cousin of Mary.
In conformity to the Greek church, the Latins have for some centuries past honoured St. Joachim as the father of St. Anne, the mother of the blessed virgin; and though God hath not been pleased to acquaint us with the particulars of her birth; yet the Roman church, from a grateful sense of the infinite blessings conveyed to us by the blessed JESUS, hath long celebrated her conception on the eighth of December in the West, and on the ninth in the East, and her nativity on the eighth of September. An anniversary festival of her representation in the temple is kept likewise on the twentyfirst of November; and it is commonly belived, that.
she was consecrated to God at three
but not to build upon uncertainties, thus much we are assured by the testimony of an angel, that she was happy above all other women in the divine favour ; that she was full of grace ; and that the Lord was in a peculiar manner with her. ·
Whether the holy virgin immediately after the annunciation, went up to the passover at Jerusalem (as some have imagined, this being the season of the year for it) or not, we have no account from the evangelist St. Luke: but this he assures us that a little while after she set out for Hebron, a city in the mountains of Judah in order to visit her cousin Elizabeth, to congratulate her upon her pregnancy, which she had learned from the angel, at an age when such a blessing was not usually to be expected.
No sooner had Mary entered the house, and began to speak, than, upon Elizabeth's hearing the voice of her cousin's salutation, her child, young John the Baptist, transported with supernatural emotions of joy, Icaped in her womb : whereupon she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and being by divine inspiration acquainted with the mystery of the incarnation, she re-saluted Mary, and cried out, Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me ? For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine cars the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed : for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. Then Mary, filled with acknowledgments and supernatural light, praised God, saying, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour, &c.
Mary having continued here about three months, till Elizabeth was delivered, as St. Ambrose thinks, that she might see him on whose account she principally