Imatges de pÓgina

cords, dragged him through the streets, and over the most craggy places, to the Bucelus, a precipice near the sea, leaving him there in a lonesome prison, for that night; but his great and beloved Master appeared to him in a vision, comforting and encouraging his soul, under the ruins of his shattered body. The next morning early the tragedy began afresh, for they dragged him about in the same cruel and barbarous manner, till he expired. But their malice did not end with his death: they burnt his mangled body after they had so inhumanly deprived it of life: but the christians, after the horrid tragedy was over, gathered up his bones and ashes, and decently interred them near the place where he used to preach. His remains were afterwards, with great pomp, removed from Alexandria to Venice, where they were religiously honoured, and he was adopted the titular saint and patron of that state.

He suffered martyrdom on the 25th of April, but the year is not absolutely known : the most probable opinion however is that it happened about the end of Nero's reign.

His gospel, the only writing he left behind him, was written at the entreaty and earnest desire of the converts at Rome, who not content with having heard St. Peter preach, pressed St. Mark, his fellow-disciple, to commit to writing an historical account of what he had delivered to them, which he performed with equal faithfulness and brevity, and being perused and approved of by St. Peter, it was commanded to be publicly read in their assemblies. It was frequently styled St. Peter's gospel, not because he dictated it to St. Mark, but because the latter composed it in the same manner as St. Peter usually delivered his discourses to the people. And this is probably the reason of what St. Chrysostom observes, that in his style of expression he delights to imitate St. Peter, representing a great deal in a few words. The remarkable impartiality he observes in all his relations is plain from hence, that so far from concealing the shameful lapse and denial of Peter, he describes it with more aggravating circumstances than any of the other evangelists.

Saint Luke.

HIS disciple of the blessed Jesus was

born at Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, a city celebrated by the greatest writers of those times for the pleasantness of its situation, the fertility of its soil, the riches of it commerce, the wisdom of its senate, and the civility and politeness of its inhabitants. It was eminent for schools of learning, which produced the most renowned masters in the arts and sciences. So No. 23.

that being born, as it were in the lap of the muses, he could not well fail of acquiring an ingenious and liberal education. But he was not contented with the learning of his own country; he travelled for improvement into several parts of Greece and Egypt, and became particularly skilled in physic, which he made his profession.

But those who would, from this particu4 Y

lar, infer the quality his birth and fortune, | which he preached; the whole preaching of forget that the healing art was in those early the apostles being styled the gospel. times generally practised by servants, and hence Grotius is of opinion, that St. Luke was carried to Rome, and lived there a servant to some noble family, in quality of physician; but after obtaining his freedom he returned into his own country, and probably continued his profession till his death, it being so highly consistent with, and in many cases subservient to, the care of souls.

He was also famous for his skill in another art, namely, painting, as appears from an ancient inscription found in a vault near the church of St. Maria de Via Lata, at

Rome, supposed to have been the place where St. Paul dwelt, which mentions a picture of the blessed Virgin. Una ex vii. ab Luca depictis, being one of the Seven painted by St. Luke.

St. Luke was a Jewish proselyte; but at what time he became a Christian is uncertain. It is the opinion of some, from the introduction to his gospel, that he had the facts from the reports of others, who were eye-witnesses, and suppose him to have been converted by St. Paul: and that he learned the history of his gospel from the conversation of that apostle, and wrote it under his direction; and that when St. Paul, in one of his epistles, says, according to my gospel, he means this of St. Luke, which he styled his, from the great share he had in the composition of it.

On the other hand, those who hold that he wrote his gospel from his own personal knowledge, observe, that he could not receive it from St. Paul, as an eye-witness of the matters contained in it, because all those matters were transacted before his conversion; and that he never saw our Lord before he appeared to him in his journey to Damascus, which was some time after he ascended into heaven. Consequently when St. Paul says, according to my gospel, he means no more than that gospel in general

But however this be, St. Luke became the inseparable companion of St. Paul in all his travels, and his constant fellow-labourer in the work of the ministry. This endeared him to that apostle, who seems delighted with owning him for his fellow-labourer, and in calling him, the beloved physician, and the brother whose praise is in the gospel.

St. Luke wrote two books for the use of the church, his Gospel and the Acts of the philius, which many of the ancients supposed Apostles; both which he dedicated to Theoto be a feigned name, denoting a lover of God, a title common to all sincere christians. But others think it was a real person, because the title of most excellent is attributed to him; the usual title and form of address in those times to princes and great


His gospel contains the principal transactions of our Lord's life; and the particulars omitted by him are in general of less importance than those of the other evangelists.

With regard to the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke, the work was, no doubt, performed at Rome, about the time of St. Paul's residing there, with which he concludes his history. It contains the actions, and sometimes the sufferings of the principal apostles, especially St. Paul, whose activity in the cause of Christ made him bear a great part in the labours of his Master and St. Luke being his constant attendant, an eye-witness of the whole carriage of his life, and privy to his most intimate transactions, was consequently capable of giving a more full and satisfactory account of them. Among other things, he enumerates the great miracles the apostles did in confirmation of their doctrine.

In both these treaties his manner of writing is exact and accurate; his style noble and elegant, sublime and lofty, and yet clear and perspicuous, flowing with an easy and natural grace and sweetness, admirably adapted to an historical design. In short, as an historian, he was faithful in his rela

tions, and elegant in his writings; as a minister, careful and diligent for the good of souls; as a Christiau, devout and pious: and to crown all the rest, laid down his life in testimony of the gospel he had both preached and published to the world.

Saint Barnabas.

T. Barnabas was at first called Joses,

ST. Baer 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, from his being ever ready to administer to the afflicted, both by word and action.

He 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 own country. His parents finding him of a promising genius and disposition, placed him in one of the schools of Jerusalem, under the tuition of Gamaliel, St. Paul's master; an incident which, in all probability, laid the first foundation for that intimacy that afterwards subsisted between these two eminent servants of the blessed Jesus..

The first mention we find of St. Barnabas in the holy scripture, is the record of that great and worthy service he did the church of Christ, by succouring it with the sale of his patrimony in Cyprus, the whole price of which he laid at the apostles' feet, to be put into the common stock, and disposed of as they should think fit among the indigent fol

lowers 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 land 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.

And now St. Barnabas 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, addressed himself to Barnabas, a leading man among 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 a miraculous manner it was brought about. This recommendation carried so much weight with it that Paul was not only received into the communion of the apostles, but taken into Peter's' house, and abode with him fifteen days, Gal.i. 18,

About four or five years after this, the agreeable news was brought to Jerusalem, 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 the new plantation. 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 considerable additions were made to the Christian church. But there being too large a field for one labourer, he went to fetch Saul from Tarsus, who came back with him to Antioch, and assisted him a whole year in establishing that church. Their labours prospered; their assembles were crowded, and the disciples, who before this were called among themselves, brethren believers, elect, and by their enemies Nazarenes, and Galileans, were now called Christians first

at Antioch.

When the apostles had fulfilled their charitable embassy, and stayed some time at Jerusalem to see its good effects, they returned again to Antioch, bringing with them John, whose surname was Mark, the son of Mary, sister to Barnabas, at whose house the disciples found both security for their persons, and conveniency for the solemnities of their worship. But soon after the apostles returned to Antioch, an express relation was made to the church, by the mouth of one of the prophets who ministered there, that Barnabas and Saul 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; 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 among latter writers of the church, but with St. Paul himself, as we find in the history of the Acts of the Apostles.

Paul and Barnabas being thus consecrated the apostles of the Gentiles, entered upon their province, taking with them John Mark for their minister or deacon, who assisted them in many ecclesiastical offices, particularly in taking care of the poor.

The first city they visited after their de parture from Antioch 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 synagogues of the Jews; and from thence travelled to Paphos, the capital of the island, and famous for a temple dedicated to Venus, the titular goddess of Cyprus. Here their preaching was attended with remarkable success; Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, being, among others, converted to the chris

tian faith.

Leaving 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, either tired with continual travels, or discouraged at the unavoidable dangers and difficulties, which experience had sufficiently informed him would constantly attend the preachers of the gospel, from hardened Jews and idolatrous Gentiles.

Soon after their arrival at Lystra, Paul cured a man who had been lame from his mother's womb, which so astonished the inhabitants, that they believed them to be gods, who had visited the world in the forms of men. Barnabas they treated as Jupiter, as their sovereign deity, either because of his age, or the gravity and comeliness of his person; for all the writers of antiquity repre

sent him as a person of a venerable aspect, and a majestic presence. But the apostles, with the greatest humility, declared themselves to be but mortals: and the inconstant populace soon satisfied themselves of the truth of what they had asserted; for at the persuasion of their indefatigable persecutors, who followed them thither also, they made an assault upon them, and stoned Paul, till they left him for dead. But, supported by an invisible power from on high, he soon recovered his spirits and strength, and the apostles immediately departed for Derbe. Soon after their arrival, they again applied themselves to the work of the ministry, and converted many to the religion of the blessed Jesus.

From Derbe they returned back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, in Pisidia, "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith; and that we must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God." Acts xiv. 22. After a short stay they again visited the churches of Pamphylia, Perga, and Attalia, where they took ship, and sailed to Antioch in Syria, the place from whence they first set out. Soon after their arrival, they called the church of this city together, and gave them an account of their travels, and the great success with which their preaching in the Gentile world had been attended.

But they had not long continued in this city, before their assistance was required to compose a difference in the church, occasioned by some of the Jewish converts, who endeavoured to persuade the Gentiles, that they were bound to observe the law of Moses as well as that of Christ; and be circumcised as well as baptized. Barnabas endeavoured to dissuade the zealots from pressing such unnecessary observances; but all his endeavours proving ineffectual, he was deputed with St. Paul and others, to the church at Jerusalem, to submit the question to be determined there in a full assembly. During their stay at Jerusalem, Mark, in all No. 23.

probability reconciled himself to Barnabas, and returned with him and St. Paul to Antioch, after they had succeeded in their business in Jerusalem, and obtained a decree from the synod there, that the Gentile converts should not have circumcision and other Mosaic rites imposed upon them.

This determination generally comforted and quieted the minds of the Gentiles, but it did not prevent the bigotted Jews from keeping up a separation from them; and that with so much obstinacy, that when St. Peter, some time after, came to Antioch, he, for fear of offending them, deviated from his former practice and late speech and vote in the synod of Jerusalem, by refraining from all kind of communion with the Gentiles; and Barnabas himself, though so great and good a man, was induced by the authority of his example, to commit the same error but doubtless on being reproved by St. Paul, they both took more courage, and walked according to the true liberty and freedom of the gospel.

Some days after this last occurrence, Paul made a proposal to Barnabas, that they should repeat their late travels among the Gentiles, and see how the churches they had planted increased in their numbers, and improved in the doctrines they had taught them. Barnabas very readily complied with the motion; but desired they might take with them his reconciled nephew, John Mark. This Paul absolutely refused, because, in their former voyage, Mark had not shewn the constancy of a faithful minister of Christ, but consulted bis own ease at a dangerous juncture; departed from them without leave at Pamphilia, and returned to Jerusalem. Barnabas still insisted on taking him; and the other continuing as resolute to oppose it, a short debate arose, which terminated in a separation; whereby these two holy men, who had for several years been companions in the ministry, and with united endeavours propagated the gospel of the Son of God, now took different provinces. Barnabas, with his kinsman,

4 z

« AnteriorContinua »