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was composed after his gospel; and from the conclusion we may gather, that he finished it at the end of St. Paul's two years' imprisonment: though we may well take it for granted, that he committed to writing the several facts all along at the times when they happened, having himself been an eye-witness of them. In this history, he not only relates the actions, but also the sufferings, of some of the chief apostles, and of St. Paul especially; of whose trials and most intimate transactions, he was best able to give a true account, having been his constant attendant; and, among other things, he enlarges particularly upon the great miracles wrought by the apostles, as being the grand confirmation of the truth of Christ's resurrection.

It is most probable that he was converted by St. Paul, during his abode at Antioch; after which he became his inseparable companion and fellow-labourer in the ministry of the Gospel, especially after his going into Macedonia, from which time in recording the history of St. Paul's travels he always speaks of himself in his own person, Acts xvi, 10. He followed him in all his dangers, was with him at several arraignments at Jerusalem, accompanied him in his desperate voyage to Rome, where he still attended on him to serve his necessities, and supply those offices which the apostle's confinement would not suffer him to undertake, and especially in carrying messages to the churches wherein he had planted christianity. This infinitely endeared him to St. Paul, who owned him for his fellow-labourer, and calls him the beloved physician, and the brother whose praise is in the gospel, throughout all the churches.

St. Luke wrote two books for the use of the church; his gospel and history of the apostles' acts, both which he dedicated to Theophilus. The ancients differ much about this Theophilus, some supposing it to be a feigned name, denoting no more than a Lover of God, a title common to every real Christian, while others, with better reason, conclude it was the proper name of a particular person, especially since the style of Most Excellent is attributed to him, the usual form of address to princes and great men: but even they that agree in this,



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cannot determine positively who he was. probable he was some magistrate, whom St. Luke had converted and baptized, to whom he now dedicated these books, not only as a testimony of honourable respect, but as a means of giving him farther certainty and assurance of those things wherein he had been instructed by him. St. Jerome supposes his gospel to have been written in Achaia, during his travels with St. Paul in Greece, of whose help he is generally said to have made use in composing it. But whatever assistance St. Paul might contribute towards it, we are sure, as this evangelist himself informs us, That he derived his intelligence from those who from the beginning had been eye-witnesses of the facts, and ministers of the word, Luke i. 2. Nor does it in the least detract from the authority of his history, that he himself was not a spectator of all the events; for, if we consider who they were from whom he derived his information, he had a stock both of credit and intelligence sufficiently authentic to proceed upon, delivering nothing in his whole history, but what he had immediately received from persons present at, and concerned in the things which he has left upon record.,

The ancients are not very well agreed either about the time or manner of his death. Nazianzen and others expressly assert his martyrdom, of which Nicephorus gives a particular account; that coming into Greece he successfully preached the gospel, and baptized many converts into the Christian faith, till a party of infidels seizing upon him, drew him to execution, and for want of a cross whereon to dispatch him immediately, hanged him upon an olive tree, in the eightieth year of his age. His body afterwards, by the command of Constantine, or his son Constantius, was solemnly removed to Constantinople, and buried in the great Church erected to the memory of the apostles.

St. John, though the last in order, yet first in reputation, of the evangelists, was by birth a Galilean, the son of Zebedee and Salome, younger brother to St. James, with whom he was brought up in the business of fishing. The nobility of his family, which some attribute to him, seems not reconcileable with the meanness of his father's trade,

and the smallness of his fortunes. Before his coming to Christ, he seems for some time to have been a disciple to John the Baptist, being probably that other disciple that was with Andrew, when they left the Baptist to follow our Saviour; so particularly does he relate all circumstances of that transaction, though modestly, as in other parts of his gospel, concealing his own name. He was at the same time with his brother called by our Lord to be both disciple and apostle; and was by much the youngest of all the apostles, which his great age seems to evince, having lived near seventy years after our Saviour's ascension.

The sacred story says little more than what is recorded of him in conjunction with his brother James. He was peculiarly dear to his Lord and Master, being treated by him with more familiarity and indulgence than the rest; and he was not only one of the three, to whom our Saviour communicated the private passages of his life, but had some instances of a more particular kindness and favour conferred upon him. At the last supper he lay on our Lord's bosom, it being the custom of those early times to lie along at meals upon couches, so that the second lay with his head in the bosom of him that was before him; which honour was not given to any of the aged, but reserved for this young apostle. And besides other marks of distinction, during the ministry of our blessed Lord, he made him, when on the cross, guardian of his mother, the blessed Virgin, committing her to his particular care, John xix. 26, 27.

Upon the division of provinces, which the apostles made among themselves, Asia fell to St. John, though it is not probable that he immediately entered upon his charge, but dwelt in his own house at Jerusalem, at least till the death of the blessed Virgin, which was about fifteen years after our Lord's ascension. Some time after her death he took his journey into Asia, and industriously applied himself to propagate Christianity, preaching where the gospel had not yet been introduced, and confirming it where it was already planted; St. Paul having before made several journeys into, and resided in those parts. Many churches of note were of his founding, Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and others; but his

chief place of residence was Ephesus, where St. Paul had many years before settled a church, and constituted Timothy its first Pastor.

After several years spent in this employment, he was at length 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 reli gion of the empire. By his command the proconsul of Asia sent him bound to Rome, where, it is said, he was cast into a caldron of oil set on fire. But Divine Providence preserved him from this seemingly unavoidable destruction. The cruel emperor not convinced or satisfied, ordered him to be banished to Patmos, a desolate island in the Archipelago, where he remained several years, and there wrote his book of the Revelations.

Domitian, whose prodigious wickedness had rendered him burdensome to the world, being taken out of the way, Cocceius Nerva succeeded to the empire, a prudent man, and of a mild and sedate temper. He rescinded the odious acts of his predecessor, and by a public edict recalled those whom the fury of Domitian had banished. St. John taking advantage of this general indulgence, left Patmos, and returned to his ancient charge in Asia, but chiefly fixed his seat at Ephesus, the care and presidency of which (Timothy their bishop having been lately martyred by the people) he took upon him, and by the assistance of seven bishops he regulated that large diocese, erecting oratories (not large and splendid churches) and ordering and disposing their affairs as circumstances required. He lived till the time of Trajan, about the beginning of whose reign he departed this life, very aged, being in the ninety-eighth or ninety-ninth year of his life. There are many improbable opinions and conjectures about the manner of his death, most of which, relating to his dying a violent death, are very frivolous and trifling: the most probable is, that he died a natural death, in a good old age,

He was indefatigable in the discharge of his important duty, which he expressed in his care to the souls of men, unwearicdly spending himself in the service of the gospel, travelling from east to west to instruct the world in the principles of that holy religion which he was sent to pro

pagate, shunning no difficulties or dangers to convert mankind from error and idolatry, and save them from a vicious life. He was a vigilant and courageous champion against heretics, countermining their artifices, and confirming Christians against their poisonous errors.

St. John wrote his gospel after his return from Patmos to Ephesus, and, as it is said, at the intreaty and solicitation of the Asian bishops, and ambassadors from several churches. In order to which he caused them to proclaim a fast, to seek the blessing of heaven on so great and solemn an undertaking; which being done he commenced the work. Two things chiefly occasioned its being written; the one was to obviate the heresies of those times, especially those of Ebion and Cerinthus, who denied Christ's divinity; the other, that he might supply those passages of the Evangelical History which the rest of the sacred writers had omitted. Besides these he wrote three epistles; the first of which is catholic, or general, calculated for all times and places, containing most excellent rules for the conduct of Christian life, pressing to holiness and purity of manners, and arming men against the insinuations of seducers, especially the Gnosticks, to whom St. John had a particular respect in this epistle. It was universally received, and never questioned by any. The other two epistles are but short, and directed to particular persons; the one to a lady of honourable quality; the other to the charitable and hospitable Gaius, the kind friend and courteous entertainer of indigent Christians. These epistles were not of old admitted into the canon, nor are they owned by the church in Syria to this day, being by many ascribed to the younger John, disciple to our apostle. But there is no just cause to question who was the author, since both the doctrine, phrase, and design of them sufficiently challenge our apostle for their author.

St. John wrote his works in Greek: but his Gospel was afterwards translated into Hebrew, and kept by the Jews among their secret archives and records in their treasury at Tiberias, where a copy of it was found by one Joseph a Jew, afterwards converted, and whom Constantine the Great advanced to the honour of a count of the empire; who breaking open the treasury, though he missed of money, found books

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