Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

this person so regularly, as that of some others. For which reason it may not be amiss to take a summary view of what we have seen.

James, sometimes called the Less, the son of Alpheus, and called the Lord's brother, either as being the son of Joseph by a former wife, or a relation of his mother Mary, was one of Christ's apostles. We have no account of the time when he was called to the apostleship. Nor is there any thing said of him particularly in the history of our Saviour, which is in the gospels. But from the Acts, and St. Paul's epistles, we can perceive that after our Lord's ascension he was of note among the apostles. Soon after St. Stephen's death in the year 36, or thereabout, he seems to have been appointed president, or superintendant in the church of Jerusalem, where, and in Judea, he resided the remaining part of his life. Accordingly, he presided in the council of Jerusalem, held there in the year 49, or 50. He was in great repute among the Jewish people, both believers and unbelievers, and was surnamed the Just. Notwithstanding which he suffered martyrdom in a tumult at the temple: and, probably, in the former part of the year 62. He wrote one epistle, not long before his death, of which we shall speak presently.

CHAP. XVII.

THE EPISTLE OF ST. JAMES.

I. The Evidences of its Genuineness. II. When written. III. To whom.

HAVING now done all I am able for clearing up the history of this person, I come to consider the epistle ascribed to him.

Here I would observe the evidences of its genuineness and authority, the time when, and the people to whom it was written.

I. And for the first point. This epistle seems to be alluded, or referred to, by Clement bishop of Rome, Vol. ii. ch. ii. num. xxxvii.—xl. and by Hermas, ch. iv. num. xxviii.—xxxiv. It is not expressly quoted by Irenseus.

Nor are there in him any undisputed references to it, ch. xvii. num. v. 1, 2, 7. Nor do we perceive it to be quoted by Clement of Alexandria, ch. xxii. num. viii. nor by Tertullian, ch. xxvii. num. xi. 1. This epistle is quoted once or twice by Origen, but as of doubtful authority, or not received by all, ch. xxxviii. num. xi. We do not observe any notice to be taken of this epistle by Cyprian, Vol. iii. ch. xliv. num. vii. It seems to be referred to by Commodian, a Latin writer, about the year 270, ch. xlix. num. iii. 6. It is probable that it was received by the Manichees and Paulicians, ch. lxiii. sect. vi. num. iv. 9; sect. ix. nurn. ii. 5, 10—12. It seems to be referred to by Lactantius, ch. Ixv. num. vi. 5.

From a passage of Eusebius, cited in the" preceding chapter, it appears, that in his time, the beginnmg of the fourth century, all the seven epistles called catholic, were well known, and received by many. And he expressly says, that the epistle of James was the first of them. And to the like purpose again in another passage to be here taken notice of by us. Having given a particular account of the death of James, called the Just, and the brother of the Lord, and bishop of Jerusalem, he concludes the chapter in this manner. 'Thus far,' b says he,' concerning JameSj

* who is said to be the writer of the first of the epistles called 'catholic. But it ought to be observed, that it is spurious:

*[meaning, that it was a contradicted book of scripture, or

*at the utmost, that it was doubted of, or rejected by 'many :] forasmuch as there are not many of the ancient

*writers, who have quoted it: as neither that called Jude's,

*another of the seven epistles called catholic. However we * know that these also are commonly used [or publicly read]

*in most churches, together with the rest.

This passage is very satisfactory. For it assures us who was the writer of this epistle : namely, James, before spoken of, called the Lord's brother, surnamed the Just, who generally resided at Jerusalem. It also assures us, that though it had been doubted of by some, it was then generally received, and publicly read in the assemblies of christians. They who have leisure and are curious, may see what was farther observed by us formerly, relating to the opinion of Eusebius himself concerning this epistle, and the writer of it, Vol. iv. ch. Ixxii. num. ix. 17—24.

a See before, p. 160,161.

Toiavra icai ra Kara Tov IctKwfiov, ov rj Trpwr?; Tmv ovo^ia^,0{.i£viov KaQo\iKdJV eivai Xsycrat. I<zeov de Wq voQeverai. Ov TroXXoi ysv Twv irakaui)V avrrig euviinovevaav, d)Q 8fo Ttjg Xeyo/jfj/7/c Isda, fiiag Kcli avryjg &vtiq rWV \Ttra Xeyonevuv KaQoXiicwv. 'OfJ.(ag de urfiev Kcli ravrag /ifra rw»' Xoittwi/ ev •7rX«<=rat£ dedifjfjiOffLfvfisva^ eKK\rj<nai£. H. E. 1. 2. cap. 23. p. 66. Comp. Vol. iv. p. 104.

I only add here, that this epistle of St. James is one of the three catholic epistles received by the Syrian christians, and by Chrysostom and Theodoret. And that after the time of Eusebius, this, and the other six catholic epistles, were received by all Greeks and Latins in general: and are in the catalogues of canonical scripture composed by councils and learned authors : as was shown in a foregoing chapter. However, there might be still some few who doubted of its authority, especially in the east, as was observed, Vol. v. ch. clii. 7.

This epistle was received by Jerom, as was distinctly and largely shown in his article, Vol. iv. ch. cxiv. num. viii. 6. Who in one place says,' Thec apostles, James, Peter, John, 'Jude, wrote seven epistles, of few words, but full of sense.' It may nevertheless be worth the while to recollect here particularly what he says of it in his book of Illustrious Men, transcribed there at p. 125, «James, the Lord's

'brother, wrote but one epistle, which is among

'the seven catholic epistles. Which tood is said to have been published by another in his name. But gradually, in process of time, it has gained authority. This is he of whom Paul writes in his epistle to the Gala'tians. And he is often mentioned in the Acts of the 'Apostles.'

'Which likewise,' says Jerom, 'is said to have been 6 published by another in his name:' that is, even that one epistle is said by some to be spurious, and not really written by James, though it bears his name. But I do not believe there is reason to think that was ever said by any. And I am persuaded, that what Jerom says here is owing to a mistake of his, not rightly understanding Eusebius: who, as may be remembered, says,' This James is said to 6 be the author of the first of the epistles called catholic. 'Bute it ought to be observed that it is spurious.' By which Jerom understood Eusebius to say, that this epistle was falsely ascribed to James, and was not his: whereas Eusebius means no more than that it was a contradicted book, not received by all as of authority: or at the utmost, that it was doubted of, or rejected by many. This I sup c Vol. iv. ch. cxiv. num. v.

d QutE et ipsa ab alio quodam sub nomine ejus edita asseritur.

e i^ov de wg voQeverat per. H. E. 1. 2. cap. 23. p. 66. C.

pose to have been clearly shown before. See Vol. iv, eh. Ixxii. num. viii. 4—6; and also num. ix. 24.f The reason why this epistle was not received by all, I suppose to have been, that it was not certainly known that James, the writer of it, was an apostle. We have observed several ancient writers, who did not allow him to have that high character. There were two apostles of this name: James the son of Zebedee, and James the son of Alpheus. That the writer of this epistle was not James the son of Zebedee, must have been evident. Nor was it certain that he was the son of Alpheus. Another reason of doubting of his apostleship may have been that he was often called bishop of Jerusalem, and said by some to have been appointed to that office by the apostles. This also may have contributed to the doubt, whether he was one of the twelve apostles of Christ.

Other reasons have been assigned in late ages, why some might hesitate about receiving this epistle as a part of canonical scripture. But those reasons are not to be found in the most early antiquity: whereas we can plainly perceive, that not a few learned christians of the first ages were not satisfied the writer was an apostle; which must have occasioned a demur concerning the high authority of the epistle.

If this James was not one of the twelve apostles, he was nevertheless a person of great distinction, as he was the Lord's brother, and resided many years at Jerusalem after our Lord's ascension, as president, or superintendent of the church there, and of the Jewish believers in Judea in general. Accordingly, Eusebius, who did not think this James to be one of the twelve apostles, in his commentary upon Isaiah, reckons fourteen apostles, meaning Paul, and this James, though not equal to him. See Vol. iv. ch. Ixxii. num. ix. 23. And Jerom likewise, in one place, formerly taken notice of, reckons this James, brother of the Lord, an additional apostle with Paul, beside the twelve, Vol. iv. ch. cxiv. num. viii. 6.

But I think it manifest, that James the Lord's brother, who resided at Jerusalem, several times mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and in St. Paul's epistles, was an apostle, one of the twelve, and consequently the same with him who is called the son of Alpheus. And as this epistle has been all along ascribed to James, the Lord's brother, surnamed the Just, I receive it as a part of sacred scripture, and think it ought to be so received.

f I likewise refer to Dr. Leonard Twell's Examination of the late new text and version of the N. T. Part. 2. ch. 2. p. 82; who speaks to the like purpose.

II. Concerning the time of this epistle, there cannot be very different apprehensions.

Mills says it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, aud a year or two before his own death, about the year 60: which is also the opinion ofh Fabricius.

But that appears to me rather too soon. If St. James suffered martyrdom in the year 62, I should be inclined to think this epistle was written in the beginning of that year, or in 61, and but a short time before his death.

Eusebius says, * When1 Paul had appealed to Csesar,

* and had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, who had

*aimed at his death, being disappointed in that design, 'turned their rage against James, the Lord's brother, who

< had been appointed by the apostles bishop of Jerusalem.' In like manner Tillemont, adopting that thought, says,' St. 'Paul k having been sent to Rome near the end of the year '60, by Festus, governor of Judea, the Jews finding them6 selves not able to accomplish their design against him, 4 turned their rage against James. Nevertheless they did 'not show it till eighteen months after, when Festus being

< dead, and Albinus, who succeeded him, not being yet 'arrived, the province was without a governor.'

That the Jews were much vexed, when Paul was sent to Rome, and had thus escaped out of their hands, is very reasonably supposed. But that their vexation upon that account was the occasion of the death of James, is mere conjecture. Nor does any thing like it appear in the accounts of his death, which Eusebius has transcribed from Hegesippus, and Josephus.

If I likewise may be allowed to mention a conjecture, (which is at least as probable as that just taken notice of,) should say, I am apt to think, that the death of James was partly occasioned by the offence taken at his epistle: in which are not only sharp reprehensions of the unbelieving Jews for the crimes committed by them, but also affecting

% De tempore, quo scripta est, certum est in primis exaratam fuisse ante excidium Hierosolymitanum. De hoc enim, ut et generali Judaeorum calamitate veluti jam imminente, loquitur cap. v. 1. Jam vero Jacobus statim post Festi mortem martyrium obiit, teste Josepho, anno ferae vulgaris, ex rationibus Pearsonianis, quas libenter sequor, lxii. adeoque uno vel altero ante mortem, scriptam censuerim hanc epistolam, circa annum lx. Prol. num. 56.

h Bib. Gr. 1. 4. cap. v. n. ix. tom. III. p. 165.

1 H. E. 1.2. cap. 23. in.

k S. Jacque le Mineur, Art. vii. Mem. Tom. I,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »