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years he preached the gospel in Judea, and then went to promulgate the faith of Christ among the Gentiles. He laboured to evangelize Ethiopia, Persia, and Parthia, and at length suffered martyrdom at Nadabbar, in Asiatic Ethiopia, being slain by a halbert, A. D. 62. His only writings are the evangelical history, which bears his
Mark, the evangelist, whose Hebrew name was John, was the son of a pious woman of Jerusalem, at whose house the apostles and first christians frequently met for prayer, Acts xii. 12. He is supposed to have been converted by the ministry of Peter, who calls him his son, 1 Pet. v. 13. Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas in their missionary labours through several countries, but, declining to attend them through their whole progress, he returned to the apostles at Jerusalem, Acts xiii. 5—13. We find him afterwards at Antioch, Acts xv. 37. whence he went with Barnabas to Cyprus. He subsequently accompanied Timothy to Rome, 2 Tim. iv. 11. from which, it is believed, he went into Asia, where he found Peter, with whom, it is thought, he again returned to Rome, Col. iv. 10. and wrote the gospel which is called by his name.
Mark is said to have been sent by Peter to advance the cause of Jesus Christ in Egypt. His ministry was eminently successful in Lybia, Marmorica, and Pentapolis. He returned to Alexandria, where he suffered various severe persecutions from the idolatrous rabble, at the time of celebrating one of the great festivals of Serapis, an Egyptian divinity, and died of the wounds his enemies inflicted as they were repeating their torments after a night of imprisonment.
Luke, the evangelist, was a native of Antioch, and by profession a physician. Some suppose he was one of the seventy disciples of Christ, but this appears incorrect from his own remarks at the beginning of his gospel.
He was the faithful and constant companion of Paul in his various travels, labours, and sufferings. He wrote his gospel in Achaia, about A. D. 63, and the Acts of the Apostles about A. D. 64. Both these books were dedicated particularly to a christian of distinction named Theophilus, as is supposed, an Egyptian. By some, Luke is said to have suffered martyrdom under the Roman emperor Nero; but others affirm that he was hanged upon an olive tree in Greece by a party of pagans.
John, the evangelist and apostle, was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Bethsaida, a town of Galilee. He and his brother James were called by Christ to be his apostles; and, on account of their powerful eloquence, they were surnamed by him, Boanerges, sons of thunder. John was pre-eminently beloved by his Lord; and to his affection he committed the care of his mother when on the cross. Leaving Judea before the destruction of Jerusalem, he laboured chiefly in Asia Minor, particularly at Ephesus. The churches in Pergamus, Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, are believed to have been founded by him. In the persecution under Domitian, the Roman emperor, John is said to have been put into a cauldron of boiling oil, in which he stood four hours unhurt. Being taken out, he was banished to the isle of Patmos, where he was favoured with the glorious visions of the exalted Saviour, and was inspired to write the book of the Revelation. From this island he returned the next year, and resided chiefly at Ephesus, until A. D. 100, when, beloved by all, and at the advanced age of about a hundred years, he died in peace among his fellow-christians. The three epistles, and the gospel, which bear the name of John, were written by this apostle.
Paul was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, and both of his parents were Hebrews. He was a native of Tarsus, in Cilicia, and by birth a free citizen of imperial Rome. Before his call to the apostleship, he was known
by his Hebrew name Saul; but he used Paul, his Roman name, among the Gentiles. His parents sent him early to Jerusalem, to study the Jewish law under the direction of Gamaliel, the most celebrated doctor of his nation. The improvement of the pupil corresponded with the fame of his master, and all his influence and talents were devoted to preserve the Jewish traditionary corruptions, to destroy the church of Christ, and to extirpate even the name of christian. But in the very midst of his murderous career, while " breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord," sovereign grace and mercy renewed his heart, and he consecrated all his powers to the service of Christ! Never, perhaps, was any man so entirely devoted to glorify God, and to promote the best interests of mankind; never, probably, did any disciple of the Saviour exhibit so eminent an example of christian virtues and benevolent labours, as this chosen vessel of the Lord. It has been said, that the consideration of the conversion and apostleship of Paul alone, must leave every infidel without excuse for his rejection of Christianity. After being the instrument of inestimable blessings to the church of God, by his preaching, example, and writings, he sealed the truth of the gospel with his blood, being beheaded at Rome, June 29, A. D. 66, by order of the emperor Nero. The fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul are a treasure of inestimable value to the church of Jesus Christ.
James was called the Less, to distinguish him from James the brother of John, who was put to death by Herod, Acts xii. He was the son of Alpheus Cleopbas, and he is called the Lord's brother, because he was of the kindred of the virgin Mary. On account of the admirable holiness of his life, he was surnamed the Just. He is mentioned as having been the first bishop of the christian church at Jerusalem, where he was venerated even by the Jews for his sanctity. However, Ananias the high-priest, with the scribes and pharisees, called him, at the passover, to stand upon the porch of the
temple, to satisfy the doubting minds of the people concerning the faith of Christ; but being enraged that his doctrine was received by many, they threw him down from the battlements; and, while he was praying for his barbarous murderers, some of them beat him on the head with a fuller's club, and killed him on the spot. Thus he was martyred by the lawless Jews, while the Roman governor was absent from Jerusalem, A. D. 62. This apostle wrote the epistle which bears the name of James. 7. PETER.
Peter, son of Jonas, and brother of Andrew the apostle, was a native of Bethsaida. His original name was Simon, but Jesus called him Cephas, or, as it is interpreted, Peter, both words having the like signification denoting a stone or rock, and intimating the great necessity of stability in faith and duty. Peter was among the most faithful and zealous of the disciples of Christ: but his zeal, on some occasions, led him even to precipitancy and rashness, which occasioned his dreadful fall and criminal denial of his Lord, and brought a foul blot upon his memory. His repentance, however, was equally remarkable, and his subsequent life and labours prove him to have been one of the most eminent of the disciples, and most useful of the apostles of Jesus Christ. Very little is known for certain of this distinguished minister of the gospel, besides what is mentioned in the New Testament, until the admission of the Gentiles into the church of Christ, Acts xv. The Roman catholics assert that he was bishop of Rome for twenty-five years; but we have no evidence, beyond contradictory tradition, that he ever was at Rome, much less that he was bishop of the christian church in that city. Tradition reports that he came to Rome during the persecution under Nero; and that he was apprehended and put to death about three miles from the city. It is also said, that being sentenced to be crucified, and remembering his shameful denial of his Saviour, he requested that he might be allowed to suffer with his head downwards, as unworthy to die in the same position as his Mascer, which was the manner
of his punishment, A. D. 66. We possess two epistles written by this devoted apostle.
Jude, or Lebbeus, the apostle, surnamed Thaddeus, was the brother of James the Less, and the writer of the epistle which bears his name. At the commencement of his ministry, he preached the gospel in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and Idumnea, and afterwards in Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, confirming his doctrine with miracles. We have no certain information as to the place where he terminated his ministry, though it is related by some that the magi put him to death in Persia.
CH. III.-ANALYSIS OF THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TES
MATTHEW Wrote his gospel for the use of the Hebrew believers, and, as is supposed by some, in their own language, about five years after the ascension of Christ. This book is the only part of the New Testament which is believed to have been written in Hebrew: but as it existed very early both in Hebrew and Greek, it is concluded by judicious critics that it was translated into Greek while Matthew was living, either by himself, or under his own direction, about A. D. 60.
Matthew is divided into twenty-eight chapters, containing five principal sections.
Section I. Contains two chapters, which relate the genealogy of Christ from Abraham, and some particulars of his birth and infancy. In this section two things are remarkable.
1. The coming of the wise men to worship the child Jesus, and to offer gifts to him as the promised Messiah.
2. The special providence of God in frustrating the wicked designs of King Herod, while seeking to destroy the infant King and Saviour, ch. ii.