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692

PROBABLE TRAVELS OF ST. JOHN-CHAP. XV.

Jalian Pe. riod, 4799. Vulgar Æra,

his Divinity was only adventitious, and therefore separat- Asia Minor ed from him at his Passion (chap. ii. 22.) and against

96.

little remaining evidence which can enable us to come to any
decision on a point so obscure. The apostles were commanded
to preach throughout the world; and they would probably have
adopted that plan, which they are said to have done, that each
should take bis peculiar district, and to that direct his atten-
tion. As part at least of Asia Minor had been placed under the
care of Timothy, it is not unlikely that St. John would have
travelled to other parts of the East before he came to Ephesus,
to reside there. The course of his travels might have been
from the east of Judea to Parthia, and round from thence to
India, and returning by Arabia to Asia, be there preached, and
founded the Churches of Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis,
Philadelphia, Laodicea, and others. These he might have
established at the conclusion of his route. In Parthia, India,
and Arabia, he would not have required the Greek language, and
during the short period which elapsed between his arrival in Asia,
and his bapisbment at the latter end of the reign of Domitian,
he would have been more likely to have acquired that kind of
language which we find in the Apocalypse, than the more po-
lished style of the Epistles and the Gospel. The former shews
less acquaintance with the language than the latter ; and the
fact is fully accounted for, if we suppose that the apostle, when
he wrote the Apocalypse, had not had so frequent intercourse
with the people, as at a subsequent period: and this course of
his travels explains the causes of tbis fact.
· If we may thus decide respecting the travels of St. John after
the destruction of Jerusalem, we reconcile many of the various
traditions of antiquity, and account for the difference between
the language of the Apocalypse and the other writings of the
apostle. I have taken no notice of the journey which Eusebius
tells us he took again to Palestine, after the destruction of Je-
rusalem.

Lampe considers it as very uncertain, and there is no corro-
borating authority to support it. Neither can we venture to
assert the truth of the story, that the apostle went to Rome to-
wards the end of the reign of Domitian, and was there cast into
a caldron of boiling oil. That be was sent to the island of Pat-
mos, and there wrote the Apocalypse, cannot be doubted; and
the arguments of Lampe confirm the general opinion, that he
was banished to that island in the fifteenth year of the reign of
Domitian, and not of Claudius, and was recalled soon after in
the reign of Nerva.

The uniform tradition of antiquity assures us that the apostle returned to Ephesus after the termination of his banishment to Patmos, and continued there till bis death, in the third year of Trajan, and probably in the bundredth year of his own 'age. After his return from Patmos, he resided constantly at Ephesus, and spoke, as we may justly conclude, the Greek language only. This practice would have given him a fluency and kpowledge of tbat tongue to a greater degree than when he was at Jerusalem, or associating with the people of various countries; and it will sufficiently explain the reasons why the style of the Epistles should so much resemble that of the Gospel of St. John, which was undoubtedly the last of the inspired books, which was added to the capon of Scripture. Thus in bis Gospel St. Joho does not content himself with simply affirming or denying a thing, but denies its contrary to strengthen bis affirmation ; and in like manner, to strengthen his denial of a thing, he

by Julian Pe

the Nicolaitans (Rev. ii. 15.) or Gnostics, who taught Asia Minor. riod, 4799. Vulgar Æra,

that the Knowledge of God and Christ was sufficient for 96.

affirms its contrary. (See John i. 20. iji. 36. v. 24. vi. 22.) The
same manner of expressing things strongly occurs in this Epis-
tle. (See chap. ii. 4. 27. and iv. 2, 3.) Iu bis Gospel also, St.
John frequently uses the pronoun or outos, avtn, Touro, this, in
order to express things emphatically. (See chap. i. 19. iii. 19.
vi. 29. 40. 50. and xvii. 3.) In the Epistle the same emphatical
mode of expression obtains. (Compare chap. j. 5. ii. 25. iii. 23.
v. 3, 4. 6. and 14.)

It does not therefore appear to me improbable, that those
Epistles were written as late as the year 95 or 96, towards the
very close of the apostolic age.

As this opinion is by no means generally adopted, it will be
necessary to take some notice of the arguments by wbich Dr.
Hales, Mr. Horne, and other learned divines, would assign an
earlier date to this Epistle.

The expression in chap. ii. 18. “ It is the last bour,” is said to be more applicable to the last hour of time of the duration of the Jewish state than to any later period, especially as the apostle adds" And as ye have heard that Antichrist is coming, even so now there have been many Antichrists; whence we know that it is the last hour:" in which passage the apostle evidently alludes to our Lord's prediction concerning the springing up of false Christs, false teachers, and false prophets, before the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matt. xxiv. 5—25). The expression, however, the “last time" may allude, not to the destruction of that city, but to the close of the apostolic ago. Michaelis would support this argument for the early date of this Epistle, by observing that St. John's Gospel was opposed to heretics, who maintained the same opinions as are opposed in this Epistle ; which tenets he has confuted by argument in his Gospel, whereas in the Epistle he expresses only his disapprobation. Michaelis therefore concludes, that the Epistle was written before the Gospel ; because if St. John had already given a complete confutation when he wrote this Epistle, he would bave thought it unnecessary to have again declared the falsehood of such opinions. This opinion of Michaelis appears to be correct, but the date of the Epistle is not ascertained, by its having been written before the Gospel.

Again, the expression (chap. ii. 13, 14.) “ Ye have known him from the beginning," applies it is said better to the disciples, immediately before Jerusalem was destroyed, than to the few who might have been alive at the late date which some critics assign to this Epistle. In the verses just cited, the fathers or elders are twice distinguished from the "young men" and the “children,” by this circumstance, that they had seen him during his ministry, or after his resurrection. Thirty-five years after our Lord's resurrection and ascension, when Jerusalem was destroyed, many such persons might have been alive; whereas in 98, or even in 92, there could not have been many persons alive of that description.-In reply to this argument we may observe, that some of those who had seen the miracles of our Lord, might have taken refuge with St. John at Epbesus.

To these two arguments for the early date of St. John's first Epistle, Dr. Hales has added the three following, which have not been noticed by any other biblical critic.

1. As the other áposiles James, Jude, Paul, and Peter, had written Catholic Epistles to the Hebrew Christians especially, it is likely, that one of the principal “ pillars of the church,"

694

ON THE DATE OF ST. JOHN'S EPISTLES-CHAP. XV.

Julian Pe. Salvation; that being justified by Faith, and freed from Asia Minor. riod, 4799.

the Restraints of the Law, they might indulge in Sin with
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the greatest surety of the mother church, the most bigbly gifted
and illuminated of all the apostles of the circumcision, and the
beloved disciple, would not be deficient likewise in this labour
of love.-This is true; but the labours of these apostles might
kave been the very cause why St. John should delay writing

2. Nothing could tend so strongly to establisb the faith of
the early Jewish converts as the remarkable circumstances of
our Lord's crucifixion, exbibiting the aecomplishment of the
ancient types and propbecies of the Old Testament respecting
Christ's passion, or sufferings in the flesh. These St. Jobn
alone could record, as he was the only eye-witness of tbat last
solemn scene among the apostles. To these, therefore, bo al-
Judes in the exordium, as well as to the circumstances of our
Lord's appearances after the resurrection ; and to these he
again recals their attention in that remarkable reference to
“ the water" at his baptism ; to “ the water and blood" at bis
passion, and to the dismissal of“ his spirit” when he com-
mended it to his Father, and expired. (Chap. v.5-9). This
argument really appears to be but of little weight. The early
converts had the other Gospels in their hands; and there does
not seem to have been any necessity for St. John's writing ten
or twenty years earlier.

3. The parallel testimony in the Gospel (Joba xix. 85–37.) bears witness also to the priority of the Epistle, in the express sion, “ He that saw hath testitied" (repaprupnke), iotimating that he had delivered this testimony to the world already ; for if now, for the first time, it should rather be expressed by the present tenso, paptypel,

“ testifieth.” And this is strongly confirmed by the apostle's same expression, after giving bis evidence in the Epistle, “ This is the testimony of God, which Ho bath testificd (je papruprke) concerning bis Son” (ver. 9.), referring to the past transaction, as fulfilling prophecy. - It is acknowledged that the Epistle was written first : but this does not settle the date.

Though this composition is called an Epistle, nothing is to be found in it, as Bishop Horsley bas observed, of the epistolary form. It is not inscribed to any individual, like St. Paul's to Timothy and Titus, or the second of the two which follow it, “to the well-beloved Gaius”-nor to any particular church, like St. Paul's to the churches of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and others por to the faithful of any particular region, like St. Peter's first Epistle “ to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithyoia"-nor to any principal branch of the Christian church, like St. Paal's to the Hebrews-nor to the Christian church in general, like the second of St. Peter's, "to them that had obtained like procious faith with bim," and like St. Jude's “ to them that are sabetified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” It bears no such inscription : it hegins without salutation, and ends without benediction. It is true, the writer sometimes speaks, but without naming himself in the first person--and addresses his reader without naming him in the second. But this colloquial style is very common in all writ. ings of a plain familiar cast : instances of it occur in St. John's Gospel : and it is by no means a distinguishing character of epistolary composition. It should seem that this book bath for no other reason acquired the title of an epistle, but that in the first formation of the canon of the New Testament it was put

Julian Pe. impunity-He cautions Christians from being seduced by Asia Minor, riod, 4799. Valgar Æra,

these Doctrines and Practices, by condemning them in the 96.

strongest TermsHe contrasts them with the Truths and
Doctrines of the Gospel, in which they had been instruct
ed, and in which they are exhorted to continue.

§ 1. 1 John i. 1-4.
The Apostle begins by asserting, in opposition to the false

Teachers, that Jesus Christ, who was from Eternity, had
as Man a real Bodyin Proof of which he declares they
had heard him speakthey had looked on him, and
handled him after his Resurrection, and were convinced
by the Testimony of their Senses of the identity of his
PersonThe Fountain of Life the Son, or Word of
God, was made manifest in the Flesh to all, and was seen
by the Apostles, who bear witness of the elernal Life pos-
sessed by Him with the Father, which was made lenown to
them at his Baptism and TransfigurationThe Apostles
declare the Miracles and Doctrines they had seen and
heard ; that all who believe their Testimony, may enter
with them into Communion with God and Christ-which
Union with the divine Nature should make their Joy
complete.
i That which was from the beginning, which we have

into the same volume with the didactic writings of the apostles,
which, with this single exception, are all in the epistolary form.
It is indeed a didactic discourse upon the principles of Chris-
tianity, both in doctrine and practice: and whether we consi-
der the sublimity of its opening with the fundamental topics of
God's perfections, man's depravity, and Christ's propitiation-
the perspicuity with which it propounds the deepest mysteries
of our holy faith, and the evidence of the proof which it brings
to confirm them ; whether we consider the sanctity of its pre-
cepts, and the energy of argument with which they are due
forced--the dignified simplicity of language in which both
doctrine and precept are delivered; whether we regard the
importance of the matter, the propriety of the style, or the
general spirit of ardent piety and warm benevolence, united
with a fervid zeal, wbich breathes throughout the whole compo-
sition-we shall find it in every respect worthy of the boly au-
thor to whom the constant tradition of the church ascribes it,
“ the disciple whom Jesus loved."

Admirable as these observations of Bishop Horsley are, this
eminent theologian has omitted to observe that the solemn and
yet affectionate charges it contains to mutual love and charity,
seem more especially to constitute this composition, what it is
generally called, a Catholic epistle. It may be considered as the
last advice of the surviving apostle, enforcing the dying injunc-
tions of his and our divine Master. It is limited to no nation-
it is equally addressed, and is equally suitable to all mankind,
that they love one another. It is the precept wbicb, if observ-
ed, will ever be the criterion by which the true Christian will
be distinguished, without which, faith, and hope, and profession
and practice, wisi be incomplete and unavailing.

696

WILFUL SIN HAS NO COMMUNION WITH GOD.

Julian Pe- heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have Asia Minor.
Tjod, 4799, looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word
Vulgar ,
96. of life;

2 (For the Life was manifested, and we have seen it,
and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal Life,
which was

vith the Father, and was manifested unto ;)

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4 And these things write we unto you, that our joy

us

may be full.

§ 2. 1 JOHN i. 5, to the end.
To confute the Doctrines of those who perverted the Grace

of God to Licentiousness, St. John declares that God is
perfect Light, therefore perfect Knowledge and unspotted
Holiness, without the least Imperfection or Ignorance-

Those therefore who profess having a Communication
with God, and lead a sinful Life, act as contrary to
his holy Nature as Darkness is to Lightthose who
walk after the Light received from him, who is essentially
and perfectly pure and holy, have communion with God,
and the atoning Blood of Christ will cleanse them from
Sin--Those who say they have no Sin, and therefore have
no need of a Saviour, have no Knowledge of their own
Hearts, or of the great Truth of the Gospel, the Fall and
Recovery of ManBut those who from a deep sense of
Guilt confess their Sins to God, who is faithful to his
Promises of Mercy (Ps. xxxii. 5. Prov. xxviii. 13.)
and just to his own Perfections, Christ having made an
Atonement to the divine Justice, will have their Sins for.
given, and their Hearts cleansed by the sanctifying In-
fluences of the Holy Spirit-Those who assert they have
not sinned, make God a Liar, and can have no Knowledge
of his Word, which has declared throughout Revelation,
that all Mankind are in a degenerate State under Guilt
and Condemnation.

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth :

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to for

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