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“ Jesus said not unto him, He shall not
die; but, If I will, that he tarry till I
come, what is that to thee ?” And accordingly St. John did outlive the destruction of Jerusalem, the apt prototype of the world's dissolution. He witnessed the fulfilment of that terrific prophecy which the other evangelists had only left upon record, but upon record which could neither be altered nor defaced, that Jerusalem should utterly perish, that the nation itself should cease to exist in a substantive character, and that of their boasted temple not one stone should be left
another. And here I cannot help pointing out to your attention, how peculiarly the future fortunes of the Jews, after the destruction of their city, are intimated by our Saviour. He does not say, “ Linger in the confines “ of the beloved spot : and when the enemy “ is departed repair the ruins, and as well
as you may re-establish your homes.” This would have been the most natural proceeding also on the part of any people, and more especially of those who knew from their own scriptures that the Lord had
“ chosen Sion,” that 6 he had desired it “ for his habitation,” that he had even longed for it. But no: the divine prophet knew better the eternal decree of God: when the Roman standard is once set up in the holy place, flight and dispersion are the measures which he counsels, and foretels to his guilty countrymen. The impulses of patriotism and the sympathies of nature must yield to overwhelming power.
“ Let them “ which be in Judea flee into the moun“ tains ; let him which is on the housetop “ not come down to take any thing out of “ his house,” but only to escape with all imaginable speed : “neither let him which “ is in the field return back to take his “ clothes :... but pray ye that your flight be
not in the winter. From the fulfilment of this prediction the present condition of the Jews takes its date. The hive, with all its contents, was destroyed; and the bees which could escape from its precincts, or straggled in the contiguous fields, for ever took their flight from the devoted spot.
a Ps. cxxxii. 13.
b St. Matthew xxiv. 16-20.
But to revert to the more immediate subject of this discourse. The longevity of St. John the Evangelist was a circumstance pregnant with the greatest advantages to the diffusion of Christianity, and with the strongest corroborative evidence of its truth: for had the disciples of our Saviour conspired to impose upon mankind a cunninglydevised tale, it may be conceived that, so long as the whole or the greater part of their body existed, they might be held together by the common bonds of such union, by the shame of defection, and the fear of reproach from those of their own party; but the survivor of them all could have no such apprehension. Having seen his colleagues either sink by the decay of nature, or suffer in the cause, his most natural course would then at least have been to seek obscurity and elude detection. How could such a man, when bereft of all his companions, and more especially when labouring under the weight of years, be supposed to be more in love with a dangerous falsehood than with what remained to him of life here and his eternal salvation hereafter ? But St. John continued to the end of his days propagating at all temporal hazards those eternal truths of which he was the last of the original depositaries, and substantiating them by the assertion of facts in which he could not be deceived: first, as to the doctrines—“ These are written that ye might “ believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son “ of God, and that believing ye might have
life through his name <;" and next, as to the external, sensible, and infallible proofs of the miraculous character of him who first taught them—“ That which we have heard, “ which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked
and our hands have handled of the word of life ;... that which
we have seen and heard, declare we'unto “ you d.” Such was the importance of the doctrines which St. John taught and recorded, and such was his irresistible conviction of their truth.
St. John was, like our Saviour, a native of Galilee, and, as is generally supposed, of the
c St. John xx. 31. d St. John's Epistle i. 1-3.
city of Bethsaida. The account which the Scripture gives us of the first calling of St. John informs us that he was a fisherman, the brother of James the less, and the son of Zebedee.“ And going on from thence Jesus
saw two other brethren, James the son of
Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship “ with Zebedee their father, mending their
nets; and He called them; and they imme
diately left the ship and their father, and “ followed Him." His mother was one of those pious women that came with superfluous care to embalm the body of Jesus after his execution'.
You will immediately recollect the striking manner in which our Saviour, when on the cross, recommended his own mother after his decease to the care of this his beloved disciple, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to the disciple, “Behold thy mother!" and the fidelity with which the disciple performed the filial duties, “ from that “ hour he took her unto his own home 8.
e St. Matthew iv. 21, 22. + St. Matthew xxvi. 56. St. Mark xxvi. 1. & St. John xix. 26, 27.