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ST. BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE.
O Almighty and everlasting God, who didst sive to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace, truly to believe and to preach thy word; Grant, we beseech thee, unto thy church, to love that word which he preached, and both to preach and receive the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HE notice which is taken of St. Bartho
lomew in the sacred history, is still more 'concise than that which is taken of St. James ; unless indeed we concur with many learned men, both antients and moderns, * in supposing that Bartholomew was another name of Nathanael, of whom a most delightful and instructive account is to be found in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. The reasons on which this supposition is built are such as give it an air of high probability, though they do not amount to demonstration. It has been observed that as St. John in bis Gospel never mentions Bartholomew in the number of the Apostles, the other Evangelists take no notice of Nathanael; from which it is inferred that these are different names of the same person.
And it is further remarkable that, as in St. John's Gospel Philip and Nathanael are mentioned as having gone to Christ together, so in the other Evangelists Philip and Bartholomew are constantly placed together
* See Lightfoot's Horæ Hebr. Dr. Hammond; Poli
without a single variation. Having been called to the apostleship at the same time, they are joined together in the apostolic catalogue, as also they are afterwards in the writings of the church. But that which strengthens the supposition greatly is this, that we find Nathanael particularly mentioned with the other Apostles, to whom our Lord appeared at the sea of Tiberias after His resurrection; where were assembled together Simon Peter, and Thomas, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the two sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples, who probably were Andrew and Philip. Now that by disciples is here meant Apostles, is evident; partly from the names which are specified, and partly because it is said that this was “ third time that Jesus appeared to His disci“ples;" for it is plain that the two foregoing appearances were confined to the Apostles.
Had Nathanael been no more than an ordinary disciple, what reason can be given why, in filling up the vacancy in the Apostolic college made by the death of Judas, he, who appears from our Lord's commendation of his cha' racter to have been so well qualified for the office, should not have been proposed as well as either Barnabas or Matthias? The name Bartholomew moreover seems to be a patronymic, like Barjona, one of Peter's appellations, and to have referred to his relative capacity either as a son or scholar. Tholmai was a name not uncommon among the Jews.
Proceeding then on the supposition that our Apostle was the same person who is by St. John called Nathanael, we bave a most delightful account of his character and conduct, which will illustrate the assertion of our collect, that
“ grace" was given him “ truly to believe and
preach the word of God.” Like the rest of the Apostles, he was a Galilean, and an inhabitant of the town of Cana. The Scripture does not mention his occupation, but it is probable that he was a fisherman. He was first introduced to our Lord by St. Philip, who told him that the long expected Messiah, that illustrious and extraordinary character who had been so often foretold and described by Moses and the Prophets, had at length appeared, and that he had seen Him in the person of “ Jesus of Na- . “ zareth, the son of Joseph.” To this Natha- nael objected, his prejudice against the place being so great that he concluded Philip must be mistaken, and therefore said unto him, “ Can any good thing come out of” a place so mean and despicable as “Nazareth ?" To which Philip replied, “Come and see"---suffer not yourself to be the slave of prejudice, but judge for yourself. So soon as our Lord saw him, He pronounced this eulogy on his character, “ Be“ hold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no “guile”-a man of “ simplicity and Godly sin“ cerity"—one who is indeed numbered among the people of God, and is worthy of his descent from Jacob. (See Gen. xxv. 27. Compare Rev. iii. 9, and John viii. 39.) Nathanael was greatly surprised at this unexpected salutation, and such a testimony concerning his character borne by one whom he had never seen before; and under the influence of astonishment he asked, & Whence knowest thou me?" To which our Lord answered, “ Before that Philip called thee, s, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.”. VOL. III.
It is supposed that Nathanael had retired to the shade of a fig-tree for the purpose of devotion, when Philip interrupted him with the glad tidings which he brought him; (Comp. Zech. iii. 10) and perhaps his mind has been engaged in contemplation and prayer respecting the
redemption in Israel,” for which every awa. kened mind was then waiting. On this declaration made by Christ, Nathanael was so fully convinced of His Divinity, that he cried out, " Rabbi! Thou art the Son of God; thou art “ the King of Israel”-that Divine personage whom we have been taught to expect in these sublime and august characters—the promised Messiah. To which confession of faith Jesus replied “Dost thou believe me to be the Son of
God, merely because I told thee that I saw 5 thee under the fig-tree? Thou shalt see
greater things than these. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven
, open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the son of man."*
From this narrative it appears, if we identify Nathanael and Bartholomew, “ that God gave “.to His Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to 66. believe His word:” And no doubt can be entertained whether he faithfully preached that word which he thus received with so much candour and simplicity. In the inspired volume we have no account of his ministerial labours; and that which ecclesiastical history affords is
* If this declaration refer to the ascension and the vision of angels which accompanied it, it affords an additional proof that Nathanael is to be identified with St. Bartholomew; for no other person was present at the ascension, except the eleven Apostles,
very brief and imperfect. That he went as far as India (by which is meant the further India) or that part of it which lies next to Asia Minor, is owned by all. It is said that St. Matthew's Gospel was found in the Asian Ethiopia by a subsequent missionary, which tradition reported to have been brought thither by St. Bartholomew.
After .labouring in these parts of the world he returned to the more western and northern parts of Asia. We hear of him at Hierapolis in Phrygia, in company with St. Philip, instructing its inhabitants in the principles of Christianity, and convincing them of the folly of their blind idolatries. He appears to have suffered martyrdom by crucifixion at Albanople in the greater Armenia.
On the introductory notice which in our col. lect is taken of St. Bartholomew, we found a prayer to God, that " His church miay love the is truth which he preached, and both preach “ and receive the same, through Jesus Christ « our Lord.”
What the truth was which St. Bartholomew preached, we can be at no loss to determine from the sermons and letters of the other Apostles, though we have nothing to direct us from the pen of Bartholomew himself. For there was no dissonance in the doctrine of the Apostles. They all preached the doctrines of the fall, of redemption by the blood of Christ, and of sanctification by His Spirit. They all declared, that “there is no other name under hea“ ven given among men whereby we must be " saved, but the name of Jesus Christ." The necessity of “ repentance towards God, and of