« PreviousContinue »
cant. And this was his constant practice to consequence to a wise man what is said, the very hour of his dissolution ; for when than he who says it. It appears from St. age and the decays of nature bad rendered Augustine, that this epistle was anciently inhim so weak that he was unable to preach to scribed to the Parthians, because, in all prothe people any longer, he was constantly bability, St. John preached the gospel in led, at every public meeting, to the church Parthia. The other two epistles are but of Ephesus, and always repeated to them short, and directed to particular persons; the the same precept, Little children, love one one to a lady of great quality, the other to another. And when bis hearers, wearied the charitable and hospitable Gaïus, the with the constant repetition of the same kindest friend and most courteous enterthing, asked him why he never varied his tainer of all indigent Christians. discourse, he answered, Because to love one another was the command of our blessed Before he undertook the task of writing Saviour, and, consequently, one grand the gospel, be caused a general fast to be guide of our conduct through life. It is kept by all the Asiatic churches, to implore further added, that this apostle when strick the blessing of heaven on so great and moeh in years, would confine bis discourses of mentous an undertaking. When this was ten to these words, “ Little children, love done he set about the work, and conipleted one another."
it in so excellent and sublinie a manner, that
the ancients generally compared bim to an The greatest instance of our apostle's care eagle soaring aloft among the clouds, whifor the souls of men is in the writings he ther the weak eye of man was not able to left to posterity; the first of which in time, follow him. “ Among all the evangelical though placed last in the sacred canon, is writers (says St. Basil) vone are like St. his. Apocalypse, or Book of Revelations, John, the son of thunder, for the sublimity wbich he wrote during bis banishment at of his speech, and the beight of his discourPatmos.
ses, which are beyond any man's capacity
fully to reach and comprehend.” “St. John, Next to the Apocalypse, in order of time, as a true son of thunder (says Epiphanius) by are his three epistles; the first of which is a loftiness of speech, peculiar to bimself, catholic, calculated for all times and places, acquaints us, as it were out of the clouds containing the most excellent rules for the and dark recesses of wisdom, with the din conduct of a Christian life, pressing to holi vine doctrine of the Son of God." ness and pureness of manners, and not to be satisfied with a naked and empty profession
Such is the character given of the writings of religion ; not to be led away with the of this great apostle and evangelist, who crafty insinuations of seducers, and cau was honoured with the endearing title of betioning men against the poisonous princi ing the beloved disciple of the Son of God; ples and practices of the Gnostics. The a writer so profound as to deserve, by way apostle here, according to bis usual modes of eminence, the character of St. John the ty, conceals his name ; it being of more Dirine.