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St. John continued to the end of his days propagating at all temporal hazards those eternal truths of which he was the last of the original depositaries, and substantiating them by the assertion of facts in which he could not be deceived: first, as to the doctrines—“ These 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 • ;” and next, as to the external, sensible, and infallible proofs of the miraculous character of him who first taught them—“ That which we have heard, “ which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked
and our hands have “ handled of the word of life ;... that which
we have seen and heard, declare we'unto “ you .” Such was the importance of the doctrines which St. John taught and recorded, and such was his irresistible conviction of their truth.
St. John was, like our Saviour, a native of Galilee, and, as is generally supposed, of the
c St. John xx. 31.
city of Bethsaida. The account which the Scripture gives us of the first calling of St. John informs us that he was a fisherman, the brother of James the less, and the son of Zebedee. “ And going on from thence Jesus
saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them; and they immediately left the ship and their father, and
followed Him." His mother was one of those pious women that came with superfluous care to embalm the body of Jesus after his execution '.
You will immediately recollect the striking manner in which our Saviour, when on the cross, recommended his own mother after his decease to the care of this his beloved disciple, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to the disciple, “ Behold thy mother !" and the fidelity with which the disciple performed the filial duties, “ from that “ hour he took her unto his own home.”
e St. Matthew iv. 21, 22.
St. Matthew xxvi. 56. St. Mark xxvi. 1. & St. John xix. 26, 27.
St. John is said to have continued at Jerusalem for some time after the crucifixion of his Master, labouring in the conversion of the Jews; but Mary dying also, as it is generally said by the early ecclesiastical writers, about fifteen years after her son, the beloved disciple removed from thence into Asia Minor, where he planted, taught, and governed those seven churches to which his book of Revelations is addressed, residing chiefly at Ephesus. These his pious labours were interrupted by an imperial decree of banishment to Patmos; whether to work in the metallic mines, or not, is undecided ; but the composition of his mysterious work in that island would seem to indicate a person at liberty, and a mind at ease. under Domitian that he had been banished, and as the first act of Nerva's reign was to remit the decree of banishment passed by his predecessor, and then in the course of execution, St. John returned to the continent of Asia ", and there resumed his
apostolic duties, and continued them to the end of a long life.
h Euseb. Eccl. Hist. Lib. iii. c. 20.
Such is the account of St. John, the beloved disciple of his Master, together with those reflections which have seemed to spring naturally from his personal history, and the peculiarity of his fate, in being the last of the disciples. Let us turn now to the Gospel which he has left behind him. St. John died about the close of the first century from our Saviour's birth.
A writer of the fourth century, excellently acquainted with the antecedent church history', states that St. John having first read the Gospels of the other evangelists, composed his own as a supplement, in order to supply some facts omitted by them, the knowledge of which could not indeed be wanting to the Church while there were living witnesses to declare them, but of which it was expedient that the last of those witnesses should, before his departure, compose and consign to posterity some imperishable record'. In conformity to this statement we find that the work of St. John, besides throwing a strong light upon the state of Christianity at the close of the apostolic times, does in truth relate certain incidents in the life of our Saviour but slightly sketched or wholly omitted by the other evangelists. It is from one of these accessorial parts that I shall draw a fresh proof of the truth of our religion, and the divine character of its author. In his conference with the woman of Samaria, and in reply to one of her questions respecting the pre-eminence of Mount Sion or Mount Gerizim as a place of worship, our Saviour is represented as saying: “Woman, believe
1 “Ο των παρ' ημίν αρχαίων παραδίδωσι λόγος *, is the authority which he gives for the banishment of St. John and his return to the continent.
* Euseb. Eccl. Hist. Lib, iji. c. 20.
me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. ... The hour “ cometh and now is, when the true wor
shippers shall worship the Father in spirit “ and in truth; for the Father seeketh such “ to worship him. God is a spirit, and
they that worship him must worship him
j Euseb. Eccl. Hist. Lib. iii. c. 24.