THE LIFE OF S. JAMES the Less.
This Apostle being a Kinsman of our Lord and having Sate first Bishop of Hierusalem, was cost down from the top of the Temple and af¦ter killed with a Fullers club Barou May 10
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, & stonest them which are sent unto thee.
S. James the Less proved to be the same with him that was Bishop of Jerusalem. His Kindred and Relations. The Son of Joseph by a former Wife. The Brethren of our Lord, who. His Country what. Our Lord's appearance to him after his Resurrection. Invested in the See of Jerusalem by whom and why. His authority in the Synod at Jerusalem. His great diligence and fide∣lity in his Ministry. The conspiracy of his Enemies to take away his Life. His Discourse with the Scribes and Pharisees about the Messiah. His Mar∣tyrdom, and the manner of it. His Burial where. His Death resented by the Jews. His strictness in Religion. His Priesthood whence. His singular delight in Prayer, and efficacy in it. His great love and charity to Men. His admirable Humility. His Temperance according to the rules of the Naza∣rite-Order. The Love and respect of the People towards him. His Death an inlet to the destruction of the Jewish Nation. His Epistle when written. What the design and purpose of it. The Proto-evangelium ascribed to him.
Page 1901. BEFORE we can enter upon the Life of this Apostle, some diffi∣culty must be cleared, relating to his Person. Doubted it has been by some, whether this was the same with that S. James that was Bishop of Jerusalem, three of this Name being presented to us, S. James the Great, this S. James the Less (both Apostles) and a third sirnamed the Just, distinct (say they) from the former and Bishop of Jerusalem. But this (how∣ever pretending to some little countenance from antiquity) is a very great mistake, and built upon a sandy bottom. For besides that the Scripture mentions no more than two of this Name, and both Apostles, nothing can be plainer, than that that S. James the Apostle, whom S. Paul calls our Lord's Brother, and reckons with Peter and John one of the Pillars of the Church, was the same that presided among the Apostles (no doubt by vertue of his place, it being his Episcopal Chair) and determi∣ned in the Synod at Jerusalem. Nor do either Cle∣mens*Alexandrinus or Eusebius out of him men∣tion any more than two, S. James put to death by Herod, and S. James the Just, Bishop of Jerusalem, whom they expresly affirm to be the same with him whom S. Paul calls the Brother of our Lord. Once indeed ‖Eusebius makes our S. James one of the Seventy, though * elsewhere quoting a place of Clemens of Alexandria, he numbers him with the Chief of the Apostles, and expresly distinguishes him from the Seventy Dis∣ciples. Nay S. *Hierom, though when representing the Opinion of others he stiles him the Thirteenth Apostle, yet ‖ elsewhere when speaking his own sence, sufficiently proves that there were but two, James the Son of Zebedee, and the other the Son of Alphaeus, the one sirnamed the Greater, the other the Less. Besides that the main support of the other Opinion is built upon the authority of Clemens his Recognitions, a Book in doubtful cases of no esteem and value.
2. THIS doubt being removed, we proceed to the History of his Life. He was the Son (as we may probably conjecture) of Joseph (afterwards Hus∣band to the Blessed Virgin) and his first Wife, whom S. *Hierom from Tra∣dition stiles Escha, Hippolytus Bishop of Porto calls Salome; and further adds, ‖ that she was the Daughter of Aggi, Brother to Zacharias, Father to John the Baptist. Hence reputed our Lord's Brother, in the same sence that he was reputed the Son of Joseph. Indeed we find several spoken of in the Hi∣story of the Gospel, who were Christ's Brethren; but in what sence, was controverted of old. S. Hierom, Chrysostom, and some others will have them so called, because the Sons of Mary, Cousin-german, or according to the custome of the Hebrew Language, Sister to the Virgin Mary. But *Euse∣bius,‖Epiphanius, and the far greater part of the Ancients (from whom especially in matters of fact, we are not rashly to depart) make them the Children of Joseph, by a former Wife. And this seems most genuine and na∣tural, the Evangelists seeming very express and accurate in the account which they give of them: Is not this the Carpenter's Son? Is not his Mother called Mary? and his Brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Jude? and his Si∣sters (whose Names, says the foresaid Hippolytus, were Esther and Thamar) are they not all with us, whence then hath this man these things? By which it is plain, that the Jews understood these Persons not to be Christ's Kinsmen only, but his Brothers, the same Carpenter's Sons, having the same relation to him that Page 191 Christ himself had: though indeed they had more, Christ being but his re∣puted, they his natural Sons. Upon this account the Blessed Virgin is sometimes called the Mother of James and Joses; for so amongst the Women that attended at our Lord's Crucifixion, we find three eminently taken notice of, Mary Magdalen,*Mary the Mother of James and Joses,* and the Mother of Zebedees Children. Where by Mary the Mother of James and Joses, no other can be meant than the Virgin Mary: it not being reasonable to suppose that the Evangelists should omit the Blessed Virgin,* who was certainly there; and therefore S. John reckoning up the same Persons, expresly stiles her the Mother of Jesus. And though it is true she was but S. James his Mother-in-law, yet the Evange∣lists might chuse so to stile her, because commonly so called after Joseph's death;* and probably (as Gregory of Nyssa thinks) known by that Name all along, chusing that Title, that the Son of God, whom as a Virgin she had brought forth, might be better concealed, and less exposed to the malice of the envious Jews: nor is it any more wonder, that she should be esteemed and called the Mother of James, than that Joseph should be stiled and accoun∣ted the Father of Jesus. To which add, that ‖Josephus eminently skilful in matters of Genealogy and descent, expresly says that our S. James was the Brother of Jesus Christ. One thing there is that may seem to lye against it, that he is called the Son of Alphaeus. But this may probably mean no more, than either that Joseph was so called by another Name (it being frequent, yea almost constant among the Jews for the same Person to have two Names, Quis unquam prohibuerit duobus vel tribus nominibus, hominem unum vocari? as *S. Augustin speaks in a parallel case) or (as a learned ‖ Man conjectures) it may relate to his being a Disciple of some particular Sect or Synagogue among the Jews, called Alphaeans, from 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 denoting a Family or Society of devout and learned Men of some-what more eminency than the rest, there being, as he tells us, many such at this time among the Jews; and in this pro∣bably S. James had entred himself, the great reputation of his Piety and strictness, his Wisdom, Parts, and Learning rendring the conjecture above the censure of being trifling and contemptible.
3. OF the place of his Birth the Sacred story makes no mention. The Jewes in their *Talmud (for doubtless they intend the same Person) stile him more than once 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉a man of the Town of Sechania; though where that was, I am not able to conjecture. What was his particular way and course of life before his being called to the Discipleship and Apostolate, we find no intimations of in the History of the Gospel, nor any distinct ac∣count concerning him during our Saviour's life. After the Resurrection he was honoured with a particular Appearance of our Lord to him, which though silently passed over by the Evangelists, is recorded by S. Paul, next to the manifesting himself to the Five Hundred Brethren at once,*he was seen of James, which is by all understood of our Apostle. S. ‖Hierom out of the Hebrew Gospel of the Nazarens (wherein many passages are set down, omit∣ted by the Evangelical Historians) gives us a fuller relation of it, viz. that S. James had solemnly sworn that from the time that he had drank of the Cup at the Institution of the Supper, he would eat Bread no more, till he saw the Lord risen from the dead. Our Lord therefore being returned from the Grave, came and appeared to him, commanded Bread to be set before him, which he took, blessed, and brake, and gave to S. James, saying, Eat thy Bread, my Brother, for the Son of Man is truly risen from among them that sleep.Page 192 After Christ's Ascension (though I will not venture to determine the precise time) he was chosen Bishop of Jerusalem, preferred before all the rest, for his near relation unto Christ, for this we find to have been the reason why they chose *Symeon to be his immediate Successor in that See, because he was after him our Lord's next Kinsman. A consideration that made Peter and the two Sons of Zebedee, though they had been peculiarly honoured by our Saviour, not to contend for this high and honourable ‖ Place, but freely chuse James the Just to be Bishop of it. This dignity is by some of the * Ancients said to have been conferred on him by Christ himself, constituting him Bi∣shop at the time of his appearing to him. But it's safest with others to un∣derstand it of its being done by the Apostles, or possibly by some par∣ticular intimation concerning it, which our Lord might leave behind him.
4. TO him we find S. Paul making his Address after his Conversion, by whom he was honoured with the right hand of fellowship:* to him Peter sent the news of his miraculous deliverance out of Prison,*Go shew these things unto James, and to the Brethren, that is, to the whole Church, and especi∣ally S. James the Bishop and Pastor of it. But he was principally active in the Synod at Jerusalem in the great controversie about the Mosaick Rites: for the case being opened by Peter,* and further debated by Paul and Barnabas, at last stood up S. James to pass the final and decretory sentence, that the Gen∣tile-Converts were not to be troubled with the bondage of the Jewish Yoke, only that for a present accommodation some few indifferent Rites should be observed; ushering in the expedient with this positive conclusion, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I thus judge or decide the matter, this is my sentence and determina∣tion. A circumstance the more considerable, because spoken at the same time when Peter was in Council,* who produced no such intimation of his Authority. Had the Champions of the Church of Rome but such a passage for Peter's judiciary Authority and Power, it would no doubt have made a louder noise in the World, than, Thou art Peter, or, Feed my sheep.
5. HE administred his Province with all possible care and industry, omit∣ting no part of a diligent and faithful Guide of Souls; strengthning the weak, informing the ignorant, reducing the erroneous, reproving the obstinate, and by the constancy of his Preaching conquering the stubbornness of that per∣verse and refractory Generation that he had to deal with, many of the nobler and the better sort being brought over to a compliance with the Christian Faith.* So careful, so successful in his charge, that he awakened the spite and malice of his Enemies to conspire his ruine: a sort of Men, of whom the Apostle has given too true a character, that they please not God, and are contrary to all men.* Vexed they were to see that S. Paul by appealing to Caesar had escaped their hands: Malice is as greedy and insatiable as Hell it self, and therefore now turn their revenge upon S. James, which not being able to effect under Festus his Government, they more effectually attempted under the Procuratorship of Albinus his Successor, Ananus the Younger, then High-Priest, and of the Sect of the Sadducees, (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, says *Josephus, speaking of this very passage, of all others the most merciless and implacable Justicers) resolving to dispatch him before the new Governor could arrive. To this end a Council is hastily summoned, and the Apostle with some others arraigned and condemned as Page 193 Violators of the Law. But that the thing might be carried in a more plau∣sible and popular way, they set the Scribes and Pharisees (Crafts-masters in the arts of dissimulation) at work to ensnare him: who coming to him,* began by flattering insinuations to set upon him. They tell him, that they all had a mighty confidence in him, and that the whole Nation as well as they gave him the testimony of a most just man, and one that was no re∣specter of Persons; that therefore they desired he would correct the error and false Opinion which the People had of Jesus, whom they looked upon as the Messiah, and would take this opportunity of the universal confluence to the Paschal solemnity, to set them right in their notions about these things, and would to that end go up with them to the top of the Temple; where he might be seen and heard by all. Being advantageously placed upon a Pin∣nacle or Wing of the Temple, they made this address to him. Tell us, O Ju∣stus, whom we have all the reason in the World to believe, that seeing the People are thus generally led away with the Doctrine of Jesus that was crucified, tell us, What is this Institution of the crucified Jesus? To which the Apostle answered with an audible Voice; Why do ye enquire of Jesus the Son of man? he sits in Heaven on the right hand of the Majesty on high, and will come again in the Clouds of Heaven. The People below hearing it, glorified the blessed Jesus, and openly proclaimed Hosanna to the Son of David. The Scribes and Phari∣sees perceived now that they had over-shot themselves, and that instead of reclaiming, they had confirmed the People in their Error; that there was no way left, but presently to dispatch him, that by his sad fate others might be warned not to believe him. Whereupon suddenly crying out, that Justus himself was seduced and become an Impostor, they threw him down from the Place where he stood. Though bruised, he was not killed by the fall, but recovered so much strength, as to get upon his Knees, and Pray to Heaven for them. Malice is of too bad a nature either to be pacified with kindness, or sa∣tisfied with cruelty: Jealousie is not more the rage of a Man, than Malice is the rage of the Devil, the very soul and spirit of the Apostate nature. Little portions of revenge do but inflame it, and serve to flesh it up into a fiercer violence. Vexed that they had not done his work, they fall afresh upon the poor remainders of his life; and while he was yet at Prayer, and that a Re∣chabite who stood by (which, says *Epiphanius, was Symeon, his Kinsman and Successor) stept in and entreated them to spare him, a just and a righte∣ous Man, and who was then praying for them, they began to load him with a showre of stones, till one more mercifully cruel than the rest with a Fullers Club beat out his Brains. Thus died this good Man in the XCVI. Year of his Age, and about XXIV.* Years after Christ's Ascension into Heaven, (as Epiphanius tells us;) being taken away to the great grief and regret of all good Men, yea of all sober and just Persons even amongst the Jews them∣selves; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as *Josephus himself confesses, speaking of this matter. He was buried (says ‖Gregory Bishop of Tours) upon Mount Olivet, in a Tomb which he had built for himself, and wherein he had buried Zacharias, and old Simeon: which I am rather inclinable to be∣lieve, than what *Hegesippus reports, that he was buried near the Temple in the place of his Martyrdom, and that a Monument was there erected for him, which remained a long time after. For the Jews were not ordinarily wont to bury within the City, much less so near the Temple, and least of all would they suffer him, whom as a Blasphemer and Impostor they had so late∣ly put to death.
Page 1946. HE was a Man of exemplary and extraordinary Piety and Devotion, educated under the strictest Rules and Institutions of Religion, a Priest (as we may probably guess) of the ancient Order of the Rechabites, or rather, as *Epiphanius conjectures, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to the most ancient order and form of Priesthood, when the Sacerdotal Office was the Prerogative of the first-born: and such was S. James the Eldest Son of Joseph, and thereby sanctified and set apart for it. Though whether this way of Priesthood at any time held under the Mosaick dispensation, we have no inti∣mations in the holy story. But however he came by it, upon some such ac∣count it must be, that he had a priviledge (which the ‖ Ancients say was peculiar to him, probably, because more frequently made use of by him than by any others) to enter 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not into the Sancta Sanctorum, or most holy of all, but the Sanctuary, or holy place, whither the Priests of the Aaronical Order might come. Prayer was his constant business and delight, he seemed to live upon it, and to trade in nothing but the fre∣quent returns of converse with Heaven: and was therefore wont to retire alone into the Temple to pray, which he always performed kneeling and with the greatest reverence, till by his daily Devotions his knees were be∣come as hard and brawny as a Camels. And he who has told us, that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,* himself found it true by his own experience,* Heaven lending a more immediate Ear to his Petitions, so that when in a time of great drought he prayed for Rain, the Heavens presently melted into fruitful showres. Nor was his Charity to∣wards Men less than his Piety towards God, he did good to all, watched over Mens souls, and studied to advance their eternal interests; his daily errand into the Temple was to pray for the happiness of the People, and that God would not severely reckon with them: he could forgive his fier∣cest enemies, and overcome evil with good: when thrown from the top of the Temple, he made use of all the breath he had left in him, only to send up this Petition to Heaven for the pardon of his Murderers, I beseech thee, O Lord God, Heavenly Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
7. HE was of a most meek humble temper, honouring what was excel∣lent in others, concealing what was valuable in himself: the eminency of his relation, and the dignity of his place did not exalt him in lofty thoughts above the measures of his Brethren, industriously hiding whatever might set him up above the rest. Though he was our Lord's Brother, yet in the In∣scription of his Epistle he stiles himself but the Servant of the Lord Jesus, not so much as giving himself the Title of an Apostle. His temperance was ad∣mirable, he wholly abstained from Flesh, and drank neither Wine nor strong Drink, nor ever used the Bath. His holy and mortified mind was content with the meanest accommodations, he went bare-foot, and never wore other than Linnen garments. Indeed he lived after the strictest rules of the Na∣zarite-Order, and as the Miter, or Sacerdotal Plate (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the * Anci∣ents call it) which he wore upon his Head, evinced his Priesthood, which was rather after Melchisedeck's, or the Priesthood of the first-born, than the Aaronical Order, so his never shaving his Head, nor using Unguents, his Habit and Diet, and the great severity of his Life, shewed him to ap∣pertain to the Nazarite-Institution, to which he was holy (says Hegesippus) or consecrated from his Mother's Womb. A Man of that Divine temper, that he was the love and wonder of his Age, and for the reputation of his holy and religious Life was universally stiled, James the Just. In∣deed Page 195 the safety and happiness of the Nation was reckoned to depend upon his Prayers and interest in Heaven,* which gained him the honourable Title of Oblias or Ozliam, the defence and fortress of the People; as if when he was gone, their Garrisons would be dismantled, and their strength laid level with the ground. And so we find it was, when some few Years after his Death the Roman Army broke in upon them, and turned all into bloud and ruine. As what wonder if the judgments of God like a Flood come rowling in upon a Nation, when the Sluces are plucked up, and the Moses taken away that before stood in the Gap to keep them out? Elisha died,*and a Band of the Moabites invaded the Land. In short, he was the delight of all good Men, in so much favour and estimation with the People, that they used to flock after * him, and strive who should touch, though it were but the hem of his Garment; his very Episcopal Chair, wherein he used to sit, being (as ‖Eusebius informs us) carefully preserved, and having a kind of veneration paid to it, even unto his time: loved and honoured not by his friends only, but by his enemies, the *Jews in their Talmud mentioning James as a worker of Miracles in the Name of Jesus his Master; yea the ‖ wisest of them looked upon his Martyrdom as the inlet to all those miseries and calamities that soon after flowed in upon them. Sure I am that *Josephus particularly reckons the Death of this S. James, as that which more immediately alarm'd the Di∣vine vengeance, and hastned the universal ruine and destruction of that Nation.
8. HE wrote only one Epistle, probably not long before his Martyrdom, as appears by some passages in it relating to the near approaching ruine of the Jewish Nation. He directed it to the Jewish Converts, dispersed up and down those Eastern Countries, to comfort them under sufferings, and con∣firm them against Error. He saw a great degeneracy and declension of man∣ners coming on, and that the purity of the Christian Faith began to be under∣mined by the loose doctrines and practices of the Gnosticks, who under a pre∣tence of zeal for the legal rites generally mixed themselves with the Jewes: he beheld Libertinism marching on a-pace, and the way to Heaven made soft and easie, Men declaiming against good works as useless and unnecessary, and asserting a naked belief of the Christian doctrine to be sufficient to salvation. Against these the Apostle opposes himself, presses Purity, Patience, and Cha∣rity, and all the Vertues of a good Life, and by undeniable Arguments evin∣ces that that faith only that carries along with it obedience and an holy life can justifie us before God, and intitle us to eternal Life. Besides this Epistle, there is a kind of preparatory Gospel ascribed to him, published under the Name of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, (still extant at this Day) containing the descent, birth and first Originals of Christ, and the Virgin Mary; at the end whereof the Author pretends to have written it at a time, when Herod having raised a great tumult in Jerusalem, he was forced to retire into the Wilderness. But though in many things consistent enough with the History of the Gospels, yet has it ever been rejected as spurious and Apochryphal, for∣ged in that licentious Age, when Men took the boldness to stamp any Wri∣ting with the Name of an Apostle.