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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

THE Jews, after Paul had appealed to Cæsar, and had been sent by Festus to Rome, frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares they had laid, turned themselves against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem was committed by the apostles. The following were their nefarious measures also against him. Conducting him into a public place, they demanded that he should renounce the faith of Christ before all the people; but contrary to the sentiments of all, with a firm voice, and much beyond their expectation, he declared himself fully before the whole multitude, and confessed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, our Saviour and Lord. Unable to bear any longer the testimony of the man, who, on account of his elevated virtue and piety was deemed the most just of men, they seized the opportunity of licentiousness afforded by the prevailing anarchy, and slew him. For as Festus died about this time in Judea, the province was without a governor and head. But, as to the manner of James’s death, it has been already stated in the words of Clement, that he was thrown from a wing of the temple, and beaten to death with a club. Hegesippus, also, who flourished nearest the days of the apostles, in the fifth book of his Commentaries gives the most accurate account of him, thus: “But James, the brother of the Lord, who, as there were many of this name, was surnamed the Just by all, from the days of our Lord until now, received the government of the church with the apostles. This apostle was consecrated from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came upon his head, he never anointed with oil, and never used a bath. He alone was allowed to enter the sanctuary. He never wore woollen, but linen garments. He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as camels’, in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God. And indeed, on account of his exceeding great piety, he was called the Just, and Oblias (or Zaddick and Ozleam), which signifies justice and protection of the people; as the prophets declare concerning him. Some of the seven sects, therefore, of the people, mentioned by me above in my Commentaries, asked him what was the door to Jesus? and he answered, ‘that he was the Saviour.’ From which some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the aforesaid sects did not believe either a resurrection, or that he was coming to give to every one according to his works; as many however, as did believe, did so on account of James. As there were many therefore of the rulers that believed, there arose a tumult among the Jews, Scribes, and Pharisees, saying that there was danger that the people would now expect Jesus as the Messiah. They came therefore together, and said to James, ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people, who are led astray after Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that are coming to the feast of the passover rightly concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we and all the people bear thee testimony that thou art just, and thou respectest not persons. Persuade therefore the people not to be led astray by Jesus, for we and all the people have great confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon a wing of the temple, that thou mayest be conspicuous on high, and thy words may be easily heard by all the people; for all the tribes have come together on account of the passover, with some of the Gentiles also.’ The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees, therefore, placed James upon a wing of the temple, and cried out to him, ‘O thou just man, whom we ought all to believe, since the people are led astray after Jesus that was crucified, declare to us what is the door to Jesus that was crucified.’ And he answered with a loud voice, ‘Why do ye ask me respecting Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens, on the right hand of great Power, and is about to come on the clouds of heaven.’ And as many were confirmed, and glorified in this testimony of James, and said, Hosanna to the son of David, these same priests and Pharisees said to one another, ‘We have done badly in affording such testimony to Jesus, but let us go up and cast him down, that they may dread to believe in him.’ And they cried out, ‘Oh, oh, Justus himself is deceived,’ and they fulfilled that which is written in Isaiah, ‘Let us take away the just, because he is offensive to us; wherefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings’ (Isaiah 3). Going up therefore, they cast down the just man, saying to one another, ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him, as he did not die immediately when cast down; but turning round, he knelt down saying, ‘I entreat thee, O Lord God and Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Thus they were stoning him, when one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, a son of the Rechabites, spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out saying, ‘Cease, what are you doing? Justus is praying for you.’ And one of them, a fuller, beat out the brains of Justus with the club that he used to beat out clothes. Thus he suffered martyrdom, and they buried him on the spot, where his tombstone is still remaining by the temple. He became a faithful witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is Christ. Immediately after this, Vespasian invaded and took Judea.” Such is the more ample testimony of Hegesippus, in which he fully coincides with Clement. So admirable a man indeed was James, and so celebrated among all for his justice, that even the wiser part of the Jews were of opinion that this was the cause of the immediate siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them for no other reason than the crime against him. Josephus also has not hesitated to superadd this testimony in his works. “These things,” says he, “happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was the brother of him that is called Christ, and whom the Jews had slain, notwithstanding his pre-eminent justice.” The same writer also relates his death, in the twentieth book of his Antiquities, in the following words: “But Cæsar having learned the death of Festus, sends Albinus as governor of Judea. But the younger Ananus, whom we mentioned before as obtaining the priesthood, was particularly rash and daring in his disposition. He was also of the sect of the Sadducees, which are the most unmerciful of all the Jews in the execution of judgment, as we have already shown. Ananus, therefore, being of this character, and supposing that he had a suitable opportunity, in consequence of the death of Festus, and Albinus being yet on the way, calls an assembly of the judges; and bringing thither the brother of Jesus who is called Christ, whose name was James, with some others, he presented an accusation against them, as if they had violated the law, and committed them to be stoned as criminals. But those of the city that seemed most moderate and most accurate in observing the law, were greatly offended at this, and secretly sent to the king, entreating him to send to Ananus with the request not to do these things, saying that he had not acted legally even before. Some also went out to meet him as he came from Alexandria, and inform him that it was not lawful for Ananus to summon the Sanhedrim without his knowledge. Albinus, induced by this account, writes to Ananus in a rage, and threatening that he would call him to an account. But king Agrippa, for the same reason, took from him the priesthood, after he had held it three months, and appointed Jesus the son of Dammæus his successor.” These accounts are given respecting James, who is said to have written the First of the epistles general (catholic); but it is to be observed that it is considered spurious. Not many indeed of the ancients have mentioned it, and not even that called the epistle of Jude, which is also one of the seven called catholic epistles. Nevertheless we know, that these, with the rest, are publicly used in most of the churches.








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