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rious proposal, coming from one of so sweet a disposition as St. John, is perfectly irreconcileable, except we acknowledge the corrupt ftate of human nature, even in the regenerate. Thus, also, it appears, that many of the saints of God, in certain circumstances of teinptation, have acted in direct opposition to those habits and tempers, for which they are most distinguished. When we read of intemperance in Noah, anger in Mofes, impatience in Job, cowardice in Peter; shall we wonder, that some sparks of resentment remained even in John? Let us beware for ourfelves, and consider by what principles we are influenced : “ He that trusteth in his own heart, is a
fool * "
We are obliged to take notice of another instance, in which the luftre of this eminent character was obscured. When our Lord was travelling to Jerusalem for the last time, and had just foretold his approaching passion, the Apostles James and John preferred a petition, through the mediation of their mother, that they might be appointed to the highest posts in hiskingdom +. The request arose from their carnal notions of the Messiah's erecting a temporal dominion, and evidently favoured of an ambitious spirit. It was particularly strange and preposterous, that they should lay their schemes for worldly advancement, when informed that their Mafter was about to suffer the ut. moft extremity. A reproof was neceffary; and accordingly the Saviour- reprehended them, though with peculiar mildness. “Ye know not,” said he, “ what ye ask.” Ah! how often do we come under this. condemnation! Through the prevalence of wrong affections “ we ask amils;" and God in great mercy refuses to grant our supplications.
Jesus enquired of them, “ Are ye able to drink of the cup, that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with
* Prov. xxviii. 26. Luke xviii. 31–34.
+ Matt. XX. 17--23. Mar. X.-32-40.
the baptism, that I am baptized with ?" Or in other words, “Can you take part with me in those tremendous afflictions, which I am going to endure?” They did not wish to decline the most painful service, but, perhaps with much ignorance and relf-confidence, they replied, “ We are able." He warned them to expect the severe conflict, and observed, that the disposal of future honours must be left to the sovereign pleasure of God. Agreeably to this prediction, they were honoured with a Thare in their Mafrer's luffera ings : John with bonds, stripes, imprisonment, and exile; and James with a speedy martyrdom. • Chriftians, you perceive from this example, that, though in the sincerity of your hearts you have relinquished all for the Gospel's fake, you may still be tempted to entertain improper thoughts and desires through covetoufness or ambition. Can you fo boast of your own strength, as to suppose yourselves incas pable of being actuated by any carna' motives? Rather, do you not feel such corrupt affections, as cover you with confufion, and almost overwhelm you with distress? This part of our history may afford you fome relief. We do not vindicate, what is in any measure opposite to a holy, spiritual frame of mind, But it may still encourage your hope to observe, that those, who were dear to God and eminent in his service, sometimes betrayed strange inconlistencies. Let the subject, however, produce real humiliation, and excite you to constant circumspection. Being apprized of your danger, you should implore' asiste ance. . There are those, who feem to exult in the failings of good men, as if they proved the whole system of religion to be a cheat and delusion. But how unfair, as well as impious, is fuch a conduct! We allow, that even the Apostles felt some degree of prejudice, ambition, and resentment: but does this concession den tract from the general excellence of their character ?
Rather, have they not evinced their integrity, by declaring their own defects ?
Will you maintain, that, becaufe the faints of God are not perfect, you, who resolutely persevere in the practice of sin, are as fafe as they? Is there not an essential difference? Their habitual aim and delight is to do the will of God; your's, to gratify your corrupt nature, in oppofition to Him. They are humbled and grieved for their failures in duty : you juftify a continual system of tranfgreffion, and imitate them only in those things, which they deeply lament, and consider as a disgrace to their profession. How totally diffimilar ! The comparison cannot flatter your pride: it shews the odiousnefs of your prevailing temper, and the danger, to which your so'ls are exposed.
Jesus reproved the improper desires of his beloved disciple, but did not withdraw his kindness. John ftill remained his constant attendant, and most intimate friend. He was sent in company with Peter to prepare the paffover *; and during the last folem celebration of that festival, it is remarked, that John leaned on the bosom of his dear Lord: that is, according to their pofture at table, he fat the nearest t. In that place, which was granted him as a token of peculiar affection, he could propofe questions, unperceived by the rest : and accordingly, having asked, who was the traitor, he first received the intimation, that Judas was the man.
St. John was admitted into the garden of Gethsemane, where the Saviour retired for fecret prayer, and at the time when he endured his tremendous agony I. There also, like Peter and James, this favoured Apostle betrayed a very sinful remiffness, and fpent in fleep the precious moments, which ought to have been improved in holy watchfulnefs and fervent devotion. It is acknowledged, too, that, when his * Luke xxii. 8. t John xiiii 23–26. Matt. xxvi. 36-46.
Lord was apprehended, he, as well as the other disci. ples, forsook him and Aed, in violation of the most solemn promises * Yet, being soon recovered, he followed him to the place of trial, and stood there as a filent witness of the contempt and cruelty, with which he was treated.
When Jesus was nailed to the cross, exposed to all the insults and outrage of the people, John had the fortitude to continue by him, even to the last, and, probably, was the only Apostle, who did so it. His conftancy and fidelity were well compensated. His dying Master looked on him and gave him a signal token of regard. He requested his dear mother to consider this beloved disciple as her own son, and commended her also, in her disconfolate state, to the care of John, who, accordingly, received her to his houfe, and treated her with all filial tenderness and respect. Shall not we, likewise, learn to maintain a firm attachment to the Saviour, be mindful of his folemn injunctions, and esteem ourselves honoured in fulfilling them? Though we can shew no personal kindness to him or his parent, yet he has constituted the poor as his representatives, and intrusted them
Let none of his people refuse or neglect the charge.
When Christ was risen from the dead, our Apostle, accompanied by Peter, ran with eager hatte to examine the fepulchre, upon the report of Mary Magdalene. It hould seem, that from his view of the place, and of the orderly disposition of the burial clothes, he was the first who believed the important fact of the resursection f. On the evening of the same day, he was one of the assembly, to whom Jesus appeared : but, probably, he was not favoured with any separate vifion of him ; nor could that be needful, if, as we sup
* Matt. xxvi. 56. it John xix. 26, 27 See Weft on the Refurre&tion.
1 John XX. 1-10.
pose, pose, his faith was fufficiently confirmed. When fishing with certain disciples on the sea of Tiberias, he first recollected the person of his Lord, who called to them from the thore *.' A remarkable interview ensued, at the close of which we are ftruck with one circumstance, which evinced his humility, love, and zeal. When Peter received an injunction to attend the Saviour, John waited not for any fuch express direction, but instantly rose up, as if eager to thew his attachment, and with silent meekness followed t. Let us examine, whether we possess a readiness of this kind, to go after Christ, wherever he shall lead the way. When he is pleased to intimate his will, are there no hesitations, no delays, or misgivings? Our conduct, more than our profeffions, Inould declare our desire to enter on his service.
The curiosity of Peter, respecting John's future destination, was immediately checked by that fingular reply; "If I will, that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” It was concluded from this expreffion, that the Apostle should not die : but the opinion arose from a mistaken interpretation. It seemed, however, to be implied, that he was designed to be [pared in the Church, till the coming of Christ for the destruction of Jerusalem. The event, at least, was such : he was one of those, who did not taste of death, till the kingdom of God, in that awful dispensation, was accomplished I. Whatever changes may await us,
let us leave ourselves and all our concerns to our Lord's disposal. Only let us follow him without reserve, as did this man of God, and endeavour to employ our time usefully, and honcurably, whether a longer or a shorter space may yet remain.
Ăfter the ascension of Christ, St. John' appeared more conspicuous, and, probably, shone with greater
* John xxi. I, &c.*
+ See Doddr. Expof. vol. ii. Sect. 201. I Matt. xvi. 28.