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had fault existed,—the devil's representative beside the Holy One, bearing testimony of the utmost value to the “Innocent Blood,” albeit the testimony of despair. * Some of the twelve indeed are names to us, and nothing more; but judging from those of them whom we know, we are justified in regarding the apostolic band as embracing a wide variety (even to antithesis) of constitutional character, each man from his peculiar standing-point, sympathies, and spiritual affinities, finding in Jesus something different from what the others found, and expressing it in his testimony and life.
Of this band the Apostle John was one of the earliest and most notable members. His individuality is as strongly marked as that of any. This individuality, sanctified and unfolded by Divine grace, fitted him to be a witness of certain aspects of the Lord's life, to receive and treasure up a certain class of His sayings, and to elucidate certain special truths, of the profoundest order, beyond any of his fellowdisciples. In this brief series of papers, I propose to speak of him as a Man, as a Companion of Jesus, as an Apostle, as a Writer, as an abiding Power in the Christian Church now and to the end of the age.
We must endeavour, in the outset, to know the Man. In calling him to be a follower, and in making him an organ of His Spirit, the Lord did not destroy or suppress his individuality, but used it; as, if you should send a message by a lisping child, the lisp will be heard in the delivery of your message; or as, when Moses' face shone, or Stephen wore as it had been the face of an angel, the men were still themselves. This is the Lord's way with His own. While they are all taken up with Him into heavenly places, there is no dead monotony of character produced; each wears a grace peculiarly his own; each is Christ-like after his own order. So it is with this man. It is indeed no longer he that lives, but Christ that liveth in him; the Christ-life pours through all the channels and works all the machinery of his being. But he has not ceased to be John. The original texture of his nature abides. He has lost nothing; rather he is become more simply, characteristically, profoundly, essentially, himself-himself, purified and exalted. The record he gives us of the Word of Life, being the record of what entered the most deeply into his own heart, will be correspondingly different from that given by any other.
His form will stand out more distinctly to our eye if we call up the outward circumstances. When we first meet him, he is young; perhaps not far beyond his twentieth year. He belongs to the fishing village of Bethsaida, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, near where the swift and turbid Jordan enters. The whole region wears a fine;
* In reference to the apostleship of Judas, it is to be noted (1) that he attached himself to Jesus as a disciple before he was made an apostle ; and for his profession of discipleship he is himself responsible; (2) that, being a professed disciple, Jesus appointed him to be one of the twelve ; (3) that Jesus knew what manner of man he was from the first; and (4) that his testimony in favour of Jesus, in its own place and within its own limits, is as valuable as that of any.
+ There is no evidence whatever that there was a second Bethsaida on the western side of the lake.
quiet beauty of its own, and must have been still more charming in the New Testament days. The sea itself-twelve full miles in length by nearly seven in breadth, formed by the widening of the river, and lying seven hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean—is a beautiful expanse of clear, shining water, transparent to its utmost depths. The beach is in parts pebbly,* in parts sandy, and of pearly whiteness, owing to the presence of innumerable fine shells. The shore behind, stretching out here and there into small, irregular plains, is fringed with a jungle of oleanders and other shrubs and bushes, and contains some rich corn lands. On the eastern side the treeless hills, scarred with ravines, have a desolate and mournful look. Those on the west swell up pleasantly from the shore; and if they are not bold and romantic, neither are they tame. Orange, citron, myrtle, and date trees are still to be found. Birds of brilliant plumage frequent the shores, and over the waters of the lake many sea-fowl dip the wing. The sunrise and sunset tints, golden and purple, are
very are the contrasts of light and deep shadow. God,” said the rabbins, “ loved that sea beyond all other seas. All around there now broods a mournful and solitary silence. But in New Testament days the stir of busy life was everywhere. Villages nestled in the green valleys, perched upon the heights, lay scattered along the shores; everywhere
great multitudes of people” might be gathered together. Îhough mingled with lower and impurer elements, a “deathless trust” in the Invisible and the Future still survived in this secluded region, at least in some lowly, God-taught hearts; and great spiritual ideas struggled amidst narrowness and darkness. It was here that the youth of the Apostle John was spent. His father, Zebedee, was a fisherman, with boats of his own, employing hired servants. His mother, Salome, was one of the Galilean women who followed Jesus, and ministered to Him of their substance. The family lived in comfort, if not in comparative wealth; having something to spare, but neither poor nor rich. There is ground for surmising some bond of connection-possibly some tie of blood—with the holy family; it may be that Salome was Mary's sister.f I picture to myself a pious and happy Hebrew home, a dwelling of the righteous, wherein was daily heard the melody of joy and health-the inmates united both by natural affection and holy bonds of spirit. The ·lads are employed with their father on the sea. A fisherman's life is somewhat silent, fitted to nurture habits of thoughtfulness, independence, and patience; and such a life they are inured to from their boyhood.
* Flint, jasper, chalcedony, and agate.
+ It is not by express statement, but by a comparison of passages, that Salome is known as the wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John. By a similar comparison of passages it is inferred as not improbable that Salome was the sister of Mary. The Evangelists Matthew and Mark show us Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, standing near the cross Jesus. John gives us Mary the mother of Jesus, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Had Mary the mother of Jesus a sister also called Mary? If not, who is this unnamed woman, “his mother's sister”? Is it not
Every year, from the age of twelve, they go up to Jerusalem for the great festivals, before and after harvest and after the vintage, carrying offerings with them to present before the Lord, and bringing back thoughts, and yearnings, and perplexities, and musings, kindled by what they heard and saw on their visits. The law, the history of Israel, the prophecies, the wondrous Psalms of David, form the literature in which their minds are steeped. It is a time of strange and wistful expectation, with powerful and deep-reaching though mysterious influences for all “men of desires ;” for the Desire of all nations is at hand, and the God-inspired yearnings of ages are about to be met.
To most of us- for long, if not all our lives—the Apostle John dwells apart, in a dim, solemn region of mystery; and his figure looms forth faint and indistinct, as through a haze. He seems to look out upon us with gentle, dreamy eyes-a man of meditative calmness and repose, intensely intuitional, speaking in words of childlike, mystic simpleness, whose drift and scope baffle our logical methods to apprehend. With a kind of vague intention we are content to call him “the Apostle of Love," while his meaning floats before us in twilight and distance. As our life in God deepens, we begin to perceive that, while the image of the Lord mirrors itself in his soul, as the sky mirrors itself in the depths of the Galilean sea, he is no mere passive and idle recipient of light, no mere cold reflecting surface, but a great, loving, deeply-spiritual soul, all a-glow with adoration, and enthusiasm, and delight, and ever-living wonder, absorbed with the Lord, and resting in the calm assurance of His favour. As when one gazes with speculative eye into the star-lit heavens, piercing far into their deep immensity, so (spiritually) does this man gaze into the depths of Christ, with the gaze of love. He exhibits no signs of doubt and conflict and struggle, of suspicion or cloudings of fear; these (if they ever were) lie behind him; the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. His language is extremely simple. He does not dispute or reason; he “testifies,
,” declares what he has seen and heard.” There is nothing obscure in his thoughts ; while fathomlessly deep, they are always crystal-clear and untroubled. It is their clear depth that baffles us. "Like all men of true, powerful, and loving nature-yea, like the Lamb Himself-he is capable of vehement and burning anger. This characteristic shows itself—very mistakenly indeed, and so as to need rebuke—in his proposal to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritan village that would not receive Jesus : and also very largely throughout his writings. Nowhere else, save from the lips of Incarnate Mercy, do we find such awful words launched against sin; all the more terrible that they are so very calm, and so evidently proceed from a tender and loving heart.* Because he speaks so much of love, he has frequently been pictured as one of
Anger is one of the sinews of the soul; he that wants it hath a maimed mind, and, with Jacob, sinew-shrunk in the hollow of his thigh, must needs halt.”—Thomas Fuller.
those shrinking and yielding natures, deficient in nerve and stamina, unfit for the battle-strife, that are left at home to comfort the women and children ; whereas, in reality, though gentle as a child, he carries in his bosom the germ of all strength and heroism. Nowhere does he exhibit trace or taint of that false “liberality" which bids truth and lie shake hands and be friends,* or judicially binds them over to keep the peace; far less, of that “philosophic breadth " which places Jesus Christ, Cakya-Mouni, Mahomet (and by-and-by Joseph Smith), in the same Pantheon: he is full of the grand intolerance of love; incapable of compromise or truce with falsehood, however mighty or loftily throned. If a man come and bring not the doctrine of Christ, whosoever biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds. He never puts himself forward in the sight of others, but yet is ever found by his Master's side in the hour of danger, quietly, and as of course; one of those who willingly offered themselves and who did not turn back in the day of battle. Thus, on the night of the betrayal, he closely follows Jesus from the garden, goes in along with Him to the place of trial and judgment, and never for a moment falls away from Him. Peter, too, follows, but afar off, and takes his place with the officers and servants, as if he belonged to their company; and there lay his weakness and danger. John goes in with Jesus, quietly, and as a simple matter of course; and in this very cleaving to the Lord lay his safety. Again, at the crucifixion, he held his station near the cross of his Master all day, a witness of His dreadful sufferings ; exhibiting that rarest form of courage, which so few even of strong men are capable of—the courage to stand still and look upon the sufferings of a beloved friend, protracted and intensifying from hour to hour, which we can do nothing whatever to relieve. Ah, it takes courage of the loftiest order for that !
In order to a full knowledge of the man, it will still be necessary to examine the name which Jesus gave him,-"a son of thunder,”—and also the name which he calls himself by in his Gospel,—“The disciple whom Jesus loved." This examination must be reserved for another number.
* “Modern virtue resolves itself into toleration,” says one who believes what he writes.
" The vague, cloudy men are always talking against intolerance. Why, our very calling is to be intolerant; intolerant of proved error and known sin. The evil is, that we are not intolerant enough; though, at the same time, we are not benevolent enough. A man, however, must have a clear eye and a large heart, before he has a right to be intolerant, either towards concrete error or concrete sin.”-- Colloquia Peripatetica : Dr. John Duncan.
THE OLD SAILOR'S STORY. The circumstances under which I sea altogether, when I was sent for became a sailor were peculiar. The by the owners of a vessel lying in captain who took me under his charge the Downs, waiting for a fair wind was a remarkably kind and con- to proceed on her voyage to India. siderate man, and a Christian. It I had tried for a berth in her while was this that made my parents wil- freighting, but, as I thought, unsucling to yield to my wishes; for they cessfully. You may judge of my were Christians.
The captain was delight then, when I was told that I under some obligations to my father, was appointed third mate of the Burwhich he was glad of an opportunity hampooter; and that, to make sure of returning in double kindness to of the appointment, I was to be at me. He always treated me as a son. Portsmouth on a certain day, to wait Nevertheless, there were hardships her calling there for final orders, to be borne, and work to be done, on when she would take me on board. which I had little calculated; and I was not long reaching home that though our ship was a marvel of regu- afternoon, to report what I called my larity and sobriety compared with good fortune, and to make preparamany others, there was much to tions for my departure. drive away from a young
mind like My parents were pleased too, mine the serious impressions which, though my dear mother shed a few by God's blessing, had been made tears at the thought of parting again, upon it in childhood and early youth, so that I almost reproached myself by my parents' instructions, ex- for being so elated at what gave
her amples, and prayers.
some pain. And yet it was not that I was becoming careless. Who I wished to be separated from my can tell what the end would have mother or father : we understood been, if God, in His mercy, had not each other there I think; and that interposed, and, in saving my life was a comfort. from destruction, brought me also to For a day or two, I was busy in determine that my father's God making preparations for my voyage, should be mine, and my guide even and packing up; and then the last unto death!
evening came. I had been on several voyages, George,” said my father, as we when my old friend, the captain, sat round the fire-my father, and
and other changes were made mother, sister Lucy, brother Charles, in consequence, which induced me and myself—it was getting late; but to relinquish my berth. The ship it was my last evening at home, and sailed again without me; and I was none of us seemed to like to break for some time unemployed. This was up the small party—“George,” said a great disappointment and vexation; my father, “it would be unspeakable for though sailors are glad enough happiness to us all if we could feel to see land after a long voyage, they assured that you, my dear boy, had soon tire of life on shore. So, at given your heart to the Saviour. any rate, it was with me. And We could part with you then, not besides this, having chosen my pro- without regret, but without the fession, I had to live by it; and I weight of anxiety your mother and I was losing both time and interest,
now feel.” and was at an age when, if I did I do not remember what reply I not get on perhaps I never might. made to this. I fear it was someI was at home many months
with- thing light and evasive, to the effect out finding anything to do, and was that I could not make myself better beginning to think of giving up the than I was; for my father looked