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To him our Lord committed the care of his widowed mother after His own decease, while John stood with Mary under the dreadful cross. From these and other circumstances, the appellation which is frequently given to St. John, of "the disciple whom Jesus loved," is fully justified. After the resurrection, John was the first of the apostles who visited the sepulchre, and was present at every appearance of his Master during the forty days that preceded His ascension. And it scarcely needs to be mentioned that, after the resurrection of Christ, John was not behind his brethren in zeal, in labour, or
The principal scene of our apostle's personal labours was Asia Minor, where he propagated Christianity, founded churches, and watered them with the dew of his doctrine. At length, under Domitian's persecution, he was sent to Rome, and thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, from which he miraculously escaped without injury. After this he was banished to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote his book of the Revelation. After the death of Domitian he returned to Ephesus, where he wrote his gospel, and presided over the church till he was ninetyeight or ninety-nine years of age, and then died full of faith and of good works. Our limits will not permit us to relate the several instructive and credible anecdotes which ecclesiastical history has preserved concerning our apostle.
The doctrine of St. John, by which the church has been enlightened through its successive
* These may be found in Cave's Antiquitates Apostolicæ, or in Milner's History of the Church.
periods, and will be to the end of time, is contained in his Gospel, his three Epistles, and his Revelation.
The object of St. John's Gospel was a confutation of several damnable heresies which had crept into the church after the other gospels. were written. These chiefly related to the person of Christ, concerning which some horrid and absurd opinions were propagated. Hence John begins his history by asserting both the Divinity and humanity of Christ, both of which were denied by the heretics of the day. He moreover supplies what the other evangelists had omitted; for whereas they chiefly confine themselves to the last year of our Lord's life, St. John details the history of the two former years. If a summary of his doctrine, both in his gospel a and other writings, should be required, we may give it in his own words: “ These things are “ written that ye might believe that Jesus is the “ Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing,
ye might have life through His name." John XX. 31.
In his first epistle St. John had partly the same end in view as in his gospel, the detection and confutation of Antichristian seducers. I John ii. 26. With this intention he proves that Christ is the true God," and also that He is very man; that He is the promised Messiah, and that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, are three distinct, co-eternal, and coessential persons. But this epistle is not merely doctrinal, it is also of a practical nature. Therein he stirs up those who know God to cultivate communion with Him, to “ walk in “ the light," and to keep God's commandments. He provokes believers to constancy in the faith
and holiness of life, to brotherly love, and growth in grace. Particularly he labours to promote their assurance in the faith of Christ; with a view to which he lays down very numerous marks and evidences of a state of grace, from which the weakest believer may derive strong consolation.
The second and third Epistles of St. John aré short, and addressed to particular persons. His Revelation is chiefly of a prophetic nature, but is interspersed with doctrinal truths, and is calculated, as well as his gospel and epistles, to enlighten the church, that it may “ walk in the
light of Divine truth, till it attain at length “ to the light of everlasting life.”
The petition which we offer in relation to the catholic church, and to ourselves as members of it, is of a very important nature. To " walk in “ the light” (1 John i. 7.) is to maintain a behieving holy temper of mind. It is to follow Christ, according to the doctrine of St. John, by trusting in His merit and imitating His example. It implies orthodoxy of sentiment, soundness of experience, and holiness of conduct. A man who walks at noon-day, exercising the powers of vision, proceeds in the right way without stumbling; whereas “he who walks6 eth in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. It is the Christian's privilege to walk in the narrow way that leadeth to everlasting life, without turning to the right hand or to the left. “ merciful Lord" must grant.us continual supplies of His grace, that we may do this. He must not only shine on our path by the doctrine of His word, but he must also anoint our eyes with His eye-salve that we may see and underOur final object is that at length we and all the whole church " may attain to the light of
everlasting life.” Then our knowledge, our happiness, our holiness, the three blessings of which light is the emblem, will be complete. Then the life, which is here begun by the influence of the sun of righteousness, will be brought to perfection, and its functions be performed without impediment. “Now we see through a “ glass darkly, but then face to face. Now we “ know in part, but then we shall know, even “ as also we are known.” Now we begin to breathe, but the air is foggy, and our organs of respiration are diseased--we are oppressed with a spiritual asthma; but then we shall breathe freely. The atmosphere will be pure, and the soul in health. Now our spiritual nerves are benumbed. We feel, but complain that we feel not. Then these complaints will be made no more, but every fibre will be sensibly alive to the touch of Divine love, to the taste and relish of the heavenly manna, the harmony of angels, the beatific vision, and the odour of the tree of life. “ The city” to which we are bound, “ hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon " to shine in it; for the Lord God lightens it, “ and the Lamb is the light thereof." What “ the light of everlasting life” will be, we know not; but we may rest satisfied with the declaration of our Apostle, Behold, what manner of “ love the Father hath bestowed upon us that “ we should be called the sons of God: there« fore the world knoweth us not, because it - knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the « sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what “ we shall be: but this we know, that, when He “ shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we