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A. M. 4034, torical design, and, all along, expressed in a vein of purer and more refined language, than is to be found in the other writers of the sacred story.

&c. or 5439. Ann. Dom.

30, &c.

St John, though the last in order, yet first in quality among the evangelists, was by Vulg. Er. 28. birth a Galilean, the son of Zebedee and Salome, (one of those devout women who constantly attended our Lord in his ministry) and brother to James, who (to distinguish him from another apostle of the same name) is generally called James the Great. Before his adjoining himself to Christ, he seems to have been a disciple to John the Baptist, and is thought to have been that other disciple who (in the first chapter (a) of his gospel) is said to have been present with Andrew, when John declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God, and thereupon to have followed him to the place of his abode.

He was by much the youngest of the apostles, yet was he admitted into as great a share of his master's confidence as any. He was one of those to whom he communicated the most private passages of his life; one of those whom he took with him when he went and restored Jairus's daughter to life; one of those to whom he exhibited a specimen of his divinity in his transfiguration on the mount; one of those who were present at his conference with Moses and Elias, and heard that voice, which declared him "the beloved Son of God;" and one of those who were companions of his solitude, and most retired devotions and bitter agonies in the garden. Thus, of the three who were made the witnesses of their master's actions, which he saw convenient to conceal from the rest, St John had constantly the privilege to make one. Nay, even of these three, he seems, in some respects, to have the preference; to be known by the most desirable of all titles," the disciple whom Jesus loved;" to have the honour of † leaning upon his Lord's bosom at meat; to have the intimacy with him to ask him a question, viz. (who in the company was the traitor ?) which even St Peter himself had not courage to do; and (what is the highest instance of his affection) to have his mother, his sorrowful and disconsolate mother, with his last dying breath, committed to his care and comfort: (b) which peculiar tokens of his master's favour and esteem, some have ascribed to the apostle's eminent modesty, others to his unspotted chastity, others think it an indulgence due to his youth; but they seem to have the brightest notion who impute it to a nearness of relation, and a peculiar sweetness of disposition conspiring to recommend him. (c) Upon the division of the provinces, which the apostles made among themselves, Asia fell to St John's share, though he did not immediately enter upon his charge, but stayed at Jerusalem, at least till the death of the Blessed Virgin, which was about fifteen years after our Lord's ascension. After he was thus released from his trust, he took his journey into Asia, and industriously applied himself to propagate Christianity, preaching where the Gospel had not yet taken place, and confirming it where it had been already planted. Many churches of note and eminence were of his foundation; but the chief place of his residence was at Ephesus, where, though St Paul had many years before settled a church, and constituted Timothy bishop of it, yet considering that it was a city of exceeding great resort, both upon the account of its traffic, and the conveniency of its port, the apostle thought he could not be seated more commodiously than here for dispersing the knowledge of his doctrines to natives of several nations and quarters at once.

After several years (some say twenty-seven) spent here, he was accused to Domitian (who had then begun a severe persecution) as a great asserter of atheism and impiety, and a public subverter of the religion of the empire; so that, by his command, the proconsul of Asia sent him bound to Rome, where, as Tertullian relates (in a manner importing the fact abundantly notorious), he was plunged into a cauldron of oil set on

(a) Ver. 35. 40.

+ Among the eastern people the custom was not to sit on chairs, as it is with us, but to lie along at meals upon couches; so that the second lay with his head in the bosom of him that was before him. (6) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. i. (c) Cave's Life of St John.

Gospels to

Matth. ix. 8.

Mark ii. 23.

Luke vi. 1.

fire; but God, who had reserved him for farther services to the truth, restrained the From the beheat of it (as he did in the fiery furnace of old), and so preserved him from this seem- gining of the ingly unavoidable destruction. The emperor, however, unmoved with his miraculous deliverance, ordered him to be banished to Patmos, a small disconsolate island in the Archipelago, where he remained several years. instructing the inhabitants in the faith of Christ; and where he was vouchsafed those visions and prophetical representations which he then recorded in his book of Revelation, reaping this great advantage from his exile, that though he was cut off from the society of men, he was the more entertained with immediate converses of heaven.

Upon the death of Domitian, and the succession of Nerva, who rescinded all the odious acts of his predecessor, and, by public edict, recalled those whom the other's fury had banished. St John took the opportunity to return into Asia, and fixed his seat at Ephesus; the rather because the people of that place had lately martyred their bishop Timothy. Here, with the assistance of seven other bishops, he took upon him the government of the large diocese of Asia Minor, erected oratories, and disposed of the clergy in the best manner that the circumstances of those times would permit; and having spent his time in an indefatigable execution of his charge, travelling from east to west to instruct the world in the principles of the holy religion which he was sent to propagate; and shunning no difficulties or dangers, to redeem mens minds from vice, error, or idolatry, he finished his course, in the beginning of Trajan's reign, in a good old age, and, in the ninety-ninth-year of his life, died a natural death, and was buried near Ephesus; a wonderful pattern of holiness and charity, and a writer so profound, as to deserve (by way of eminence) the character of St John the Divine.

The first in time, though placed last, is his Apocalypse, or book of Revelation, which he wrote in his confinement at Patmos. After the preface, and admonition given to the bishops of the seven churches in Asia, 'it contains the persecutions which the faithful suffered from the Jews, heretics, and Roman emperors, down as far as Julian the Apostate. After this we have a view of that vengeance which God has exercised against the persons of persecutors, against the Roman empire, and the city of Rome, which is described under the name of Babylon, the great prostitute, seated upon seven hills; then we have a description of the peaceable and flourishing state of the church for a thousand years, and, after some molestation from the Turk (as is supposed), the happiness of the church triumphant, set off with all the imaginable beauties of rhetoric; and, at last, we come to a formal conclusion of the whole matter, and a severe commination to all those who shall presume either to add or diminish any thing from this prophecy

(a) That St John the evangelist was the author of the book of Revelation, all the most ancient ecclesiastical writers were agreed, until Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria,

Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 23.) gives us a very remarkable instance of this.-In his visitation of the churches near Ephesus, he was much taken with a beautiful young man, whom he took, and, with a special charge, committed him to the education and instruction of the bishop of the place, who undertook the charge, instructed and baptized him. After this he thought he might a little relax the reins of discipline, but the youth made a bad use of his liberty, and, being debauched by evil company, made himself captain of a gang of highwaymen, the most loose, cruel, and profligate wretches of the country. St John, at his return, understanding this, and having sharply reproved the negligence of his tutor, resolved to find him out; and without any consideration of what danger he entered upon, in VOL. III.

venturing himself among men of desperate fortunes
and abandoned consciences, he went to the moun-
tains, where their usual haunt was; and being there
taken by the centinel, he desired to be brought be-
fore their commander, who no sooner espied him co-
ming towards him, but he immediately fled. The aged
apostle followed after; but being not able to overtake
him, he passionately entreated him to stay, promising
to undertake with God for his peace and pardon. He
did so, and both melted into tears; and the apostle
having prayed with and for him, returned him a true
penitent and convert to the church. Cave's Life of
St John. [This story may be true; but St John's
extreme age, and various other circumstances, render
it very improbable.]

(a) Beausobre's Pref. sur l'Apocalypse.


Ann. Dom.

30, &c.

A. M. 4034, (in his answer to one Nepos, another Egyptian bishop, who had revived the gross no&c. or 5439. tion of Cerinthus concerning the millenium, in order to evade the use which this Nepos had made of the Apocalypse), called in question its authority, by asserting, "that Vulg. Er. 28. Several of the ancients had disowned this book to have been wrote by any apostolic man; that Cerinthus had prefixed John's name to it, to give the better countenance to his dream of Christ's reign upon earth; and that (though it might be the work of some inspired person) it could not possibly be St John's, because its style, matter, and method, did by no means agree with his other writings." Now, whoever looks into the ancient writers of the church, will find that Polycarp, bishop of Smyrma, who (according to (a) Irenæus) had seen St John; Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who (according to (b) St Chrysostom) was conversant with the apostles; Justin Martyr, (c) Irenæus, (d) Clemens (e) of Alexandria, and Tertullian, (f) authors all of the second century, are unanimous in their ascribing this work to the same hand from whence the Gospel and Epistles did proceed; and that therefore the opinion of one private doctor should not prevail against the authority of so many writers, who were either contemporary, or nearly subsequent to the apostles. For, be it allowed that there is a diversity of style, yet does not every able writer vary that according to the nature of the subject he is upon? In history, the style should be simple; in epistles, familiar; and in prophecies, majestic and sublime; and therefore what wonder is it, if, in arguments so vastly different, the same person did not always observe the same tenor and way of writing? Nothing can be more different in their method and diction than the book of Proverbs and the book of Canticles, and yet few have doubted but that Solomon was the writer of both But now, that Cerinthus should be the author of a book which contains doctrines directly opposite to the errors which he broached, is a thing incredible. For, whereas Cerinthus did not believe that God made the world, or that Christ died and rose again; the author of the Revelation (g) ascribes to God the work of the creation, and calls our Blessed Saviour (h) the first-begotten of the dead; and whereas Cerinthus made Jesus merely the son of Joseph, and a being different from that of Christ, the author of the revelation calls him expressly (i) the Son of God, and makes him (k) one and the same person with Christ. Though therefore there may be some similitude between St John's expressions and the notions of Cerinthus, in regard to Christ's reign of a thousand years, yet it had been much more prudent in Dionysius, to have given a spiritual sense and interpretation of these expressions, than to ascribe to a wicked and sensual man (as Cerinthus was) a book which breathes nothing but piety and holiness, an awful dread of God, and a devotion such as the angels perform in heaven.

The truth is, all circumstances concur to intitle our apostle to be the author of this book: his name frequently expressed in it; his writing it in the island of Patmos, whither none but he was banished; his directing particular epistles to the seven churches of Asia, which had either been planted or cultivated by him; and his styling himself "their brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" these, and many more circumstances that might be mentioned, added to the doctrine contained in it, which is highly suitable to the apostohc spirit and temper, do evidently bear witness that this book was the work of St John, and consequently of Divine and canonical authority *.

(a) Iren. lib. iii. c. 3. -
(b) Hom. in Ignatium.
(c) Dial. cum Tryph.
(e) Strom. 1.
(g) Chap. x. 6.
(4) Chap. ii. 18.

(d) Lib. iv. c. 37.
(f) De Resurrect. c. 58.
(h) Rev. i. 5.
(k) Chap. i. 5.
[That the evangelist St John was the author of
the Apocalypse has been lately proved, in a very sa-

tisfactory manner, against Michaelis, in ten letters addressed to Dr Marsh, and published in 1802, under the title of The Evidence for the authenticity and Divine Inspiration of the Apocalypse, siated; and vindicated from the objections of the late Professor J. D. Michaelis. I believe a second and much improved edition of those letters with their author's name has since been published; but I have seen only the first

Gospels to

(a) Next to the apocalypse, in order of time, are the three epistles which St John From the be wrote. The first of these is catholic, calulated for all times and places, and contains ginning of the most excellent rules for the conduct of the Christian life, and for preservation against the Matt. ix. 8. crafty insinuations of seducers. The other two are but short, and directed to particular Mar 23 persons the one to a lady of honourable quality; and the other to the charitable and hospitable Gaius, so kind a friend, and so courteous an entertainer of all indigent Christians.

(b) Eusebius, and after him St Jerom, informs us, that St John having perused the other three gospels, approved and confirmed them by his authority; but observing withal, that these evangelists had omitted several of our Saviour's actions, such especially as were done before the Baptist's imprisonment, he wrote his gospel in order to supply what was wanting in them: And because, at this time, there were several heretics (such as Cerinthus, Ebion, and their followers) sprung up in the church, who denied the Divine nature of Jesus Christ, another end of his writing was, to antidote the world against the poison of these heresies, by making it appear that our blessed Saviour was God from all eternity, and before his incarnation; (c) and that, as other evangelists had written the series of his generation according to the flesh, he might write a spiritual gospel, beginning from the Divinity of Christ: which was a subject reserved for him (as the most excellent person) by the Holy Ghost.

When therefore the bishops of Asia, and several ambassadors from other churches, had been for some time soliciting him, he caused them to proclaim a general fast, to seek the blessing of heaven on so great and momentous an undertaking; and when this was done, he set about the work, and † compleated it in so excellent and sublime a manner, that the ancients generally resembled him to an eagle soaring aloft within the clouds, whither the weak eye of man was not able to follow him: For "as the evangelical writings (says (d) St Basil) transcend all the other parts of the Holy Scriptures, because in other parts God speaks to us by his servants the prophets; but in the gospels, our Lord, WHO IS GOD blessed for evermore, speaks to us himself: so among all the evangelcal preachers none is like St John, the son of thunder, for the sublimity of his discourses, beyond any man's capacity duly to reach and comprehend.

edition, which was to me perfectly conclusive, though
I had my doubts of the authenticity of the Apocalypse
before I read it, and even before I had seen the work
of Michealis. I have now no doubt of either the au-
thenticity or the inspiration of that work; though I
confess that I have no great confidence in some of its
late interpreters even of great name.]
(a) Cave's Life of St John.
(b) Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 24.

(c) Whitby's Preface to St John's Gospel.

His Gospel was originally wrote in Greek, but in Greek that abounds with Hebraisms, as do the other evangelists. His words are peculiar to himself, and his phrases used in an uncommon sense, which may possibly make his way of writing not so grateful to some nice masters of eloquence. In citing places from the Old Testament, though he sometimes makes use of the Septuagint, yet he usually translates from the Hebrew original, and generally renders them word for word: For being an Hebrew of the Hebrews,


and admirably skilled in the language of his country,
this probably made him less exact in his Greek com.
posures, wherein he had no advantage besides what
was immediately communicated from above.
what he wanted in the politeness of his style, was
abundantly made up in the excellence and sublimity
of his matter. Cave's Life of St John [According
to Michaelis, "St John's style is better and more
fluent than that of the other evangelists; and it seems
as if he had acquired a facility and taste in the Greek
language from his long residence at Ephesus. His
narrative is very perspicuous; and in order to promote
perspicuity, the same word is sometimes repeated,
though perhaps the advanced age, in which St John
wrote, had some influence, since he is always inclined
to repetitions." According to the same critic," he
is more plain and perspicuous in his narrative, than
any other writer either of the Old or of the New
Testament." Marsh's Michaelis, chap. 7. sect. 6. 8.]
(d) Hom. xvi. Tom. i.

L 2

ii. 23. Luke vi. 1.

&c. or 5439.

30, &c.

Vulg. Er. 28.


A. M. 4034, [SINCE the period at which our Author published his History of the Bible, many Ann. Dom. questions, which were not then perhaps thought of, have been keenly and even acrimoniously agitated, about the origin of the three first gospels, the inspiration of the second and third, and the order in which they were published. This last question would indeed be of very little importance, were it not combined in some degree with the other two. If all the three were written under the superintendance of the Spirit of God, it can be of no consequence to the pious Christian which was written first-whether St Matthew wrote before St Mark and St Luke, or St Luke before St Matthew and St Mark; but if the evidence of the inspiration of St Luke, which has lately been controverted by divines of some eminence both in England and in Germany, be thought to depend in any degree on the resolution of that question, the question itself changes its nature, and becomes indeed of the greatest importance.

The most prevalent opinion perhaps is that which our author maintained, viz. that St Matthew wrote his Gospel for the use of the Jewish converts many years before St Mark and St Luke wrote their gospels; and this opinion is made to rest on the order in which the four Gospels have been generally published when collected together in one volume, and upon the concurring testimony of the earliest fathers of the Christian church, who mention the subject.

The concurring testimony of the fathers to the truth of any fact which fell under their own immediate observation, is entitled to the highest credit; but the order in which the Gospels have been generally arranged in the same volume, furnishes no proof whatever of the order of time in which they were respectively written, and separately published among the faithful. We know not indeed when or by whom they were first collected into one volume. If this was done by St John, he might be induced to place St Matthew's first on account of the dignity of its author in the church; and his own last, both from a principle of modesty, for which he is known to have been remarkable, and because his Gospel is so obviously supplemental to the other three, that without the previous perusal of some one of them-indeed I think without the previous perusal of St Matthew's or St Luke's-no man could, by reading St John's Gospel, acquire an adequate knowledge of "all that Jesus taught and did on earth till he was taken up into heaven."

If the different Gospels were not collected into one volume till after the death of St John, and this is at least possible, he or they who undertook the task of arranging them, may have been guided by the same principles, which I have supposed likely to direct the arrangement of the apostle himself; and this is the more probable, that we know the arrangement of St Paul's epistles to have been directed by such principles, without regard to the order in which they were written. "The epistles which were sent to whole bodies of Christians have been generally placed before those which were sent to individuals; and of the former, the epistle to the Romans has had the first rank, because Rome was the capital of the empire. Next in order come the two epistles to the Corinthians, because Corinth was then the principal city of that part of Greece in which Christianity had made any progress; and the epistle to the Galatians is placed in the third rank, because it was addressed to a people inhabiting a country, which, though considered as less important than the cities of Rome and Corinth with

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