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cause he did not continue his acts of the apostles any further, which it is natural to think he would have done had he lived any considerable time after St. Paul's departure. His body was afterwards, by the command of Constantine, or his son Constantius, removed with great solemnity to Constantinople, and buried in the great church, erected to the memory of the apostles, in
His gospel, and the acts of the apostles, were written by him for the use of the church ; both which he dedicated to Theophilus, which many of the ancients supposed to be a feigned name, denoting a lover of God, title common to all sincere Christians : but others think it was a real person, because the title of “ most excellent,” is attributed to him, the usual title and form of address in those times to princes and great mcn. Probably he was some magistrate, whom St. Luke had converted and baptized, and to whom he dedicated these books, not only as a testimony of honourable respect, but also as a means of giving him further certainty and assurance of those things wherein he had instructed him, and which it was requisite he should be informed of.
The principal transactions of our Lord's life are contained in his gospel ; and the particulars omitted by him, are, in general, of less importance than those the other evangelists forbear to mention.
The acts of the apostles written by St. Luke were no doubt penned at Rome, about the time of St. Paul's imprisonment there, with which he concludes his history. It contains the actions, and sometimes the sufferings of the principal apostles, especially St. Paul, whose activity in the cause of CHRIST made him bear a greater part in the labours of his master: and St. Luke being his constant attendant, an eye witness of the whole carriage of his life, and privy to his most intimate transactions was consequently capable of giving a more full and satisfactory account of them. Amongst other things he enumerates the great miracles the apostles did in confirmation of the doctrine they advanced.
His manner of writing, in both these treatises, is exact and accurate; his style noble and elegant, sublime and lofty, and yet clear and perspicuous, flowing with an easy and natural grace and sweetness, admirably adapted to an historical design. In short, as an historian, he was faithful in his relations, and elegant in his writing; as a minister, careful and diligent for the good of souls; as a Christian, devout and pious; and to crown all the rest, laid down his life in testimony of that gospel he had both preached and published to the world, by the command of his Lord.
THE LIFE OF ST. JOHN,
The Apostle and Evangelist; commonly called the Divine, This beloved disciple of our Lord was a native of Galilee, the son of Zebedee and Salome, one of those devout women that constantly attended on our Lord in his ministry, and brother of James the Great. Before his becoming a disciple of the blessed Jesus, he was, in all probability, a follower of John the Baptist, and is thought to be that other disciple, who, in the first chapter of his gospel, is said to have been present with Andrew when John had declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God, and thereupon to have followed him to the place of his residence.
Though St. John was by much the youngest of the apostles, he was nevertheless admitted into as great a share of his Master's confidence as any of them. He was one of those to whom he communicated the most
private transactions of his life : one of those whom he took with him when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead; 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 confer. ence with Moses and Elias, and heard that voice which declared him the beloved Son of God; and one of those who were companions in his solitude, most retired devotions, and bitter agonies in the garden. Thus of the three who were made the witnesses of their Master's actions, which it was convenient to conceal from the world, St. John constantly enjoyed the privilege of being one : nay, even of these three he seems to have had, in some respects, the preference : witness his lying on his master's bosom at the paschal supper : and even when Peter was desirous of knowing who was the person that should betray their Master, and durst not himself ask the question, he made use of St. John to propose it to their Lord, as the person most likely to succeed in obtaining an answer.
Our apostle endeavoured, in some measure, to an: swer these instances of particular favour, by returns of particular kindness and constancy; for though he had at first deserted his Master on his apprehension, yet he soon recovered himself, and came to seek his saviour, confidently entered the high-priest's hall, followed our Lord through the several particulars of his trial, and at last waited on him at his execution, owning him, as well as being owned by him, in the midst of armed soldiers, and in the thickest crowds of his most inveterate enemies. Here it was that our great Redeemer committed to his care his sorrowful and disconsolate mother with his dying breath. And certainly the holy Jesus could not have given a more honourable testimony of his particular respect and kindness to St. John, than by leaving his own mother to his trust and care, and substituting him to supply that duty he himself paid her, while he resided in this vale of sorrow amongst men,
St. John no sooner heard of our Lord's being risen from the chambers of the dust, than he, in company with Peter, hastened to the sepulchre. There seems indeed to have been a peculiar intimacy between these two disciples; it was Peter that St. John introduced into the palace of the high-priest; it was Peter to whom he gave notice of Christ's appearing when he came to them at the sea of Tiberias, in the habit of a stran. ger; and it was for St. John that Peter was so solici. tously inquisitive to know what was determined concerning him when our Saviour expressed himself somewhat ambiguously respecting that disciple.
After the ascension of the Saviour of the world, when the apostles made a division of the provinces amongst themselves, that of Asia fell to the share of St. John, though he did not immediately enter upon his charge, but continued at Jerusalem till the death of the blessed Virgin, which happened about fifteen years after our Lord's ascension: being released from the trust committed to his care by his dying Master, he retired into Asia, and industriously applied himself to the propagating of Christianity, preaching where the gospel had not yet been known, and confirming it where it was already planted. Many churches of note and emnience were of his founding, particularly those of Symrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and others; but his chief place of residence was at Ephesus, where St. Paul had many years before founded a church, and constituted Timothy bishop of it. Nor can we suppose that he confined his ministry entirely to Asia Minor; it is highly reasonable to think that he preached in other parts of the East, probably to the Parthians, his first epistle being anciently di. rected to them; and the Jesuits assure us that the inhabitants of the kingdom of Bassora in India, affirm, that, according to a tradition handed down from their ancestors, St. John planted the Christian faith in their country, where the Christians are called by his name.
Having spent several years at Ephesus, he was accused to Domitian, who had begun a persecution against the Christians as an eminent asserter of Atheism and impiety, and a public subverter of the religion of the empire; so that by his command, the proconsul sent him bound to Rome, where he met with the treatment that might have been expected from so barbarous a prince, being thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil: but the Almighty, who reserved him for further services in the vineyard of his Son, restrained the heat, as he did in the fiery furnace of old, and delivered him from this seeming unavoidable destruction.
And surely one would have thought that so miraculous a deliverance would have been sufficient to have persuaded any rational man that the religion he taught was from God, and that he was protected from danger by the hand of Omnipotence; but miracles themselves were not sufficient to convince this cruel emperor, or abate his fury: he ordered St. John to be transported to a disconsolate island in the Archipelago, called Patmos, where he continued several years instructing the poor inhabitants in the knowledge of the Christian faith; and here, about the end of Domitian's reign, he wrote his book of Revelation, exhibiting, by visions and prophetical representations, the state and condition of Christianity in the future periods and ages of the church, till the final consummation of all things.
After the death of Domitian, and on the succession of Nerva, who repealed all the odious acts of his predecessor, and by public edicts recalled those whom the fury of Domitian had banished, St. John returned to Asia and fixed his seat again at Ephesus; and rather, because the people of that city had lately martyred Timothy their bishop. Here, with the assistance of seven other bishops, he took upon himself 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, spending his time in an indefatigable execution of his