« AnteriorContinuar »
do." Eusebius adds that some of the most intelligent of the Jews believed that the destruction of Jerusalem took place soon after because of his cruel murder.
The apocryphal gospel to the Hebrews mentions this appearance of our Lord to James, but mingles it with evident fable. It states that, "After Jesus had given the shroud to the servant of the high priest, he went to James. James had made a vow, after partaking of the bread given by Christ at the last supper, that he would eat no more until he had seen Jesus risen from the dead Jesus coming to him, had a table with bread brought out, blessed the bread, and gave it to James, with the words, 'Eat thy bread now, my brother, since the Son of Man has risen from the dead."" This is evidently fabulous, for it makes our Lord appear to an unbeliever, and appear very soon after his resurrection to James ; whereas 'the gospels never allude to any appearance made to an unbeliever, and Paul directly asserts that the appearance to James was after that to the five hundred, and hence after the first eight appearances, which carries us onward near the close of the forty days. But it shows the early conviction of the church that it was to this James that the appearance was made, and that it was with a purpose of kindness to him that it was done.
Looking at all these facts, we are able to gather a very distinct notion of this austere and saintly man—of his history and character, of his place in the apostolic church, and of the reason why our Lord afforded to him, as he did to Peter and Thomas, a special interview.
It is not necessary to discuss the question whether James was the son of Joseph by a former marriage, or the son of Mary, and the full brother of our Lord. It would seem that he was dedicated from the womb by a Nazaritic vow. Perhaps the peculiar circumstances connected with the birth of Jesus, and John the Baptist, led to this solemn dedication of James. Being thus devoted to God, his education was peculiarly Jewish, and he grew up with an intense devotion to the Mosaic law. This rigid Judaism made the peculiar doctrines of Jesus distasteful to him, and prevented him from believing that Jesus was the Christ. He could not at first see how the man who ate with publicans and sinners, could be the holy one of God; or how one whom he had known in childhood and youth, and even in manhood, as the humble, lowly son of the carpenter, could be the illustrious Son of David, and the glorious King, who was expected to deliver the people of Israel. How long this state of disbelief continued, we are unable to determine. Indeed we do not know that he became fully a disciple of the Lord, until after this interview, or that this was not the means employed by our Lord to cause his conversion. But as all the other persons to whom Jesus appeared after the resurrection were believers, and as the general belief of the early Christian writers is in favour of an earlier conversion, the probability is that he believed in the claims of our Lord before the crucifixion, and only needed such confirmation of his faith, and such correction of his views, as would be afforded by this interview.
After the day of pentecost, he occupied a most important position in the Christian church, and one for which his previous history peculiarly fitted him. He was the representative of the extreme Jewish element in the church. This appears from the fact that the judaizing disciples in Antioch, who caused Peter to dissemble, (Gal. ii. '12, 13,) are called “certain that came from James." That they pushed his principles too far, is almost certain, but the fact that they claimed James as their leader shows his position in this matter. As Paul represented the extreme Gentile ground, Peter an intermediate one, so James seems to have been the representative of the extreme Jewish ground, and thus to have been qualified to act as a mediator between Jews and Christians. His strict observance of the Jewish law, and his almost ascetic purity of life, commanded for him the full confidence of the most bigoted Jews, whilst he had already that of the Christians. It was perhaps for
this reason that he acted as the chief spokesman in the first synod, which declared that the observance of the Mosaic law was not obligatory on the Gentiles. His opinion would be of decisive weight with the judaizing part of the church. And it was in the same wise spirit of compromise that he advised Paul (Acts xxi. 20–25) to purify himself according to the law in the case of vows, in order that he might not offend the prejudices of the Jewish multitude. He was thus a transition link between the two dispensations, and presented to the Jews the best possible form of the Christian faith for their acceptance and approval. It was in special kindness to them that such a type of Christianity was presented to them, for by it their introduction to the truth in Jesus was made peculiarly easy. In James they saw that the most blameless reverence for Moses was no barrier to the reception of Christ, and if unable with such a type of Old Testament piety to receive New · Testament truth, there remained no further possible means. Hence James did not itinerate, like the other apostles, as far as we can learn, but remained in Jerusalem, where he could most readily have access to the Jews. When he had laboured in person for some time, he sent forth the epistle that bears his name,“ to the twelve tribes scattered abroad,” (James i. 1,) thus confirming the fact that his mission was one mainly to the Jews. Nor did
his life continue beyond the period when this mission could be fulfilled. He is alleged to have been martyred nearly forty years after the erection of the Christian church, and shortly before the downfall of Jerusalem, after which event the Jews became generally so hostile to Christianity that but few conversions took place among them. Hence his great work seems to have been to gather the elect remnant of the Jewish church into the Christian, and thus bring in "the children of the kingdom," and for this work it is plain that he was specially fitted in every respect.
It is here that we may find the meaning of this appearance. If James were then a disciple at all, it is probable that his faith before this time was clouded with Jewish prejudices. He did not see clearly the truth as it was in Jesus. It was therefore needful that our Lord should appear to him, and by confirming his faith in the most immovable manner, by enlarging his knowledge of the great plan of salvation, and by giving him such visions of the future as he needed, prepare him for the great work he was to do in the christian church, and the self-denials and sufferings that were necessarily connected with that work. As the representative of the religion of Christ to the Jews, as the first pastor of the church in Jerusalem, the Moderator of the first General Synod of the church, the adviser and guide of Paul, and the