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splendour, than before. He is described, as continua ing in holy fellowship with his brethren, resolutely adhering to the cause of his Master, amidst formidable dangers, boldly and vigorously pursuing the grand ob-, jects of his facred function. On the day of Pentecost, he, together with the other Apostles, received the miraculous effufion of the Spirit, and was employed in gathering in the remarkable harvest, when three thouland fouls were converted. He is exhibited to our notice, as the companion of St. Peter in many of his labours and perfecutions. They two were going up to worship at the temple, when the lame man attracted their benevolent regard, and experienced their power of healing * They were preaching to the people, when the priests and rulers apprehended them, and cast them into prisont. With undaunted courage they stood together before the council, despised their threatenings, and expressed a firm determination to obey God rather than men.” Again they were thrust into a dungeon, and rescued by an Angel I. Being Scourged and menaced, they rejoiced in the honour, to which they were called, “and daily in the temple and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Chrift."
St. John, likewise, was commiffioned as the affociate of Peter, to go down from Jerusalem to confirm the young converts in Samaria g. There they imparted fpiritual gifts, and declared the tidings of peace and falvation through the Redeemer's name, in many towns and villages.
The chief residence of our Apostle was at Jerusalem, where St. Paul distinguished him as one of the main pillars of the Church. But after some time he removed to Ephesus, and thence took his circuits for the promulgation of the Gospel in Asia,“ labouring in word and doctrine,” and esta
blishing many Christian societies *. At length, when the Ronan Emperor Domitian raised a violent persecution, it is said that John was sent to Rome, that he might be put to death, and, being plunged into a caldron of boiling oil, came out unhurt. Whether or no that tradition be well founded, he was banished to Patmos, a small island in the Egean sea, to which he was condemned, as he himself affirms, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ 7." In that dreary situation he continued for nearly two years, and then, upon Domitian's decease, returned to his charge at Ephesus, where he long remained a blefling to the Church, a faithful witness and strenuous advocate for the truth of the Gospel.
It is recorded, that at a very advanced age, being unable to walk or preach, he was constantly carried to the public assemblies, and there exhorted the people by that short sentence, fo expressive of his general Ipirit, “ My little children, let us love one another." At last he died in peace, having been a martyr in his life, and wonderfully preserved from violence, for the benefit of others, till he had attained almost a hundred years.
Let us admire and praise the grace of God, exhibited in this eminent Apostle, and consider our obligations to imitate his example. There are those, perhaps, who plead, that they are not called to the fame high function. But do you, therefore, juftify your carnal affections and pursuits ? Or do you think it allowable, in a private situation, to be proud, selfish, indolent, and revengeful? If you profess Christianity, you ought to be followers of St. John, fo far as to manifest fimilar dispositions. In your place, and according to your measure, you should be kind and gentle, bold and active, faithful and persevering in the service of Christ. But if the corrupt desires of the flesh predominate in
See Cave's Lives of the Apostles.
+ Rev. i. 9. ,
your minds, if you love the world and the things of the world, if you are ashamed of, or averse to, the exercises of devotion, your pretences to religion are vain. : Our Apostle lived to see the Gospel propagated to a large extent, yea, through the greater part of the known world. But he beheld, also, the corruption, as well as the increase, of the Christian Church. Many pernicious errors were, even in that early age, broached and disleminated, relating to the person of the Redeemer : among others, there were those, who denied the doctrine of his Divinity. An opinion so dangerous could not but excite the notice and the grief of this venerable preacher of the faith : accordingly, he fet himself in firm oppofition.
* This," said he, « is that spirit of Antichrift, whereof you have heard, that it should come, and even now already is it in the world *.” Ought we not to lament, that ancient herefies are revived in the present day, and threaten to deluge our land? Or shall we be indifferent about the consequence? Is it of no importance, in what light the Saviour is regarded? Whether he be worshipped and adored as God over all, or degraded into a mere man like ourselves? Ah! where is our zeal for the truth?
We blefs God for the writings of the Apostle, which will enable us to resist and confute the erroneous and destructive representations of perverse and ungodly men. He was honcured in being employed as one of the sacred authors of the New Testament: and, while we confess that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God," and claims our regard, we perceive a peculiar sweetness, spirituality, and sublimity in St. John's compositions.
Probably for the
i John iv. 3. See Dr. Horsiey’s Charge and Letters, in which it is proved, that St. John's affertions were expressly levelled againıt those who denied the Deity of Christ, as well as against them, who allowed not his humanity. Vol. IV.
clear and comprehensive revelations, with which he was favoured, the profound mysteries, which he has delivered, and the heavenly manner, in which he has treated them, he has been called the Divine.
His Gospel was published after all the others, not only for the purpose of recording many things, which they had omitted, but with an especial view to oppose the herefies of the Gnoftics, and to affert the Godhead of Christ. He introduces the history with an elevated preface, in which he has explicitly declared the excellency and Deity of bis Matter; and he reJates many of those wonderful discourses, which prove and display the supreme perfe&tions of Jesus. He bears a decided testimony, even towards the close of life, not only that the Word, which was made flesh, originally was with God and was God, but also that he himself “ beheld his glory," and " received of his fulness *." Let us pray for more enlarged conceptions of is the great mystery of godliness;" and, as we advance in the knowiedge and love of Christ, these authentic memorials will become more and more precious in our estimation.
The Epistles of St. John discover the distinguishing part of his character. Must not every reader acknowJedge, that the inspired author breathed nothing but Jove ? And is not this allowed to be the peculiar badge. of our profeffion? Yet alas ! we lament that contrary difpofitions prevail in the Chriftian world. What confusion is produced among us by envy, strife, and revenge? We would, therefore, enforce the exhortations of the Apostle: « Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God: He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love t." According to this decision, but few have attained the right
John i. 1.--16.
t : John iv. 7, 8.
knowledge of the Gospel, and those, who have made the greatest progress,, have yet much more to learn.
The sublime and mysterious book of the Revelations was written by St. John during nis banishment in the isle of Patmos. The Lord God vouchsafed to favour him with singular visions and discoveries, and to place him, as it were, in the verge of heaven, when excluded from society. The counsels of Jehovah, respecting future ages, were declared to him: and these he has faithfully recorded. ilere, then, is exhibited & series of prophecy, which unfolds the grand schemes of Providence, even to the end of the world. May we read and contemplate with holy reverence and admiration!
The glories of the celestial state were, in some measure, disclosed to the Apostle's view. He saw the throne of God, and heard the high praises of the Redeemer, which are continually chanted by innumerable myriads of saints and Angels. No other part of the Bible contains such exalted defcriptions of God and his kingdom, as this inspired book. Do they not excite wonder, love, and joy? Do we not exult in the prospect of that felicity, which is here brought before us? Or does the earth yield os full satisfaction? Ram ther, are we not wearied and disgusted with its best pofleffions? And do we not long to join “ the glorious company of the Apostles,” who are now admitted into the beatific presence of God? We say not, who out of this number is accounted first in dignity: but we presume, that He, who by way of eminence was Atyled “ the disciple whoin Jesus loved,” is placed near to his adorable Lord.
However bright the views of St. John in this life, they were comparatively faint and obscure. He" faw through a glass darkly; but now face to face *.” Now he is favoured with clearer and larger discoveries of