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THE BREVITY OF THE APOSTOLICAL HISTORY.
DANIEL xii. 3. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.”
The omissions in the New Testament are not less remarkable than its contents. Upon many and various topics, where it might naturally have been expected to have supplied information, the sacred volume preserves an impenetrable silence. Of these omissions, not the least extraordinary is the scantiness of the information which it affords, concerning the actions and sufferings of the founders of the Christian Church. Of by far the greater number of the twelve Apostles, we have scarcely any account in the inspired history. The circumstances recorded of St. Peter and St. Paul alone, are more numerous, and occupy a larger space than the account of all the rest put together. We have, indeed, scattered through the Gospels, a few incidental observations and inquiries made by some of the Apostles in their intercourse with our Saviour before His ascension. But if you except these, (and they are both few and brief,) almost all the information we derive from the New Testament is contained in the catalogues of their names, and the general statements of their mission, their labours, and their sufferings. This is remarkably the case in the instance of the two Apostles whose festival is this day celebrated by the Church of Christ?
Of St. Simon it is recorded by some of the ancient ecclesiastical historians, that he preached the Gospel in Africa ; by others, that he attempted the conversion
* This Sermon was preached on the Festival of St. Simon and St. Jude, 1838.
of Britain, and that he was crucified by the idolatrous natives. All we know of him from the New Testament, beside his name, is his surname of Cananite or Zelotes ?, from which it is gathered, with much apparent probability, that he had originally belonged to the Jewish sect of Zealots, who, by their turbulence and intemperance, brought such terrible calamities on their unhappy country. Perhaps, too, we may not be wrong in concluding, that he was the brother of St. Jude, and of St. James the first bishop of Jerusalem, who is so frequently mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of St. Paul. If this be true, it will follow, that he was the kinsman of our blessed Saviour, and the person spoken of in the Gospel of St. Matthew, where the people of Nazareth enumerate the family of Christ: “Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother
See Cave, Lives of the Apostles, p. 202, 203. Lond. 1684, folio.
* See Schleusner, under the words Kavavirns and Zniwrns, and Cave, in his Life of St. Simon, p. 201.
called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas'?"
St. Jude is said, by ancient writers, to have preached the Gospel in Persia ? But on this point the New Testament is silent. It contains, indeed, the short epistle, part of which you have heard read this day, in which he styles himself “the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” But of his history we have no memorial, except the account of a brief inquiry addressed to our blessed Redeemer, in the course of that conversation which He held with His Apostles before His passion. Our Saviour had just made a declaration which St. Jude was unable to comprehend. “He,” saith Christ, “that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” The Apostle, unable to understand in what manner Christ would manifest Himself exclusively to those who loved Him,
applied to his ever-gracious Master for the resolution of his doubts. “ Judas saith unto him (not Iscariot), Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world ? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him ?."
Such is the sum of all the information which the Holy Spirit has given us of the lives or deaths of two of those illustrious men, to whom the human race is more indebted for all that is truly valuable, than to all the philosophers and heroes that have ever existed.
It is this fact to which I wish to call your attention in the present discourse. No feature in the construction of the Holy Scripture can be unworthy of our attentive consideration. But the fact to which I have referred, the brevity of the notices which it has furnished of the history of the blessed Apostles, cannot fail of sup