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mysteries. What secret, at all communicable to feeble human apprehension, can God refuse to the loving soul? And yet these hidden truths John clothes in the simplest form of human utterance. Why was this? Because these “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," "hidden from the wise and prudent,” were clearly revealed to one who, in his own esteem, was but a "babe.”! To his simple, child-like
1 soul, they seemed but as the heavenly alphabet. But there was another and more striking element of likeness between Paul and John than common depth of Christian knowledge. Paul's chief excellence was his “faith,” while St. John's highest virtue was his “love." How divine is the harmony which led the former to pronounce the noblest of all panegyrics upon the heavenly grace of love, exalting it above that in which he himself excelled; while John, on the other hand, breathing an atmosphere of love as the very element of his spiritual life, unceasingly points to faith as the fruitsul mother of all other graces, the hidden power which unites us to Christ here, and prepares us for the full fruition of that day when becoming "like him, we shall see him
as he is." 2
We have thus endeavored to trace the connection of John with his fellow-apostles, to note the points of resemblance between his character and theirs, and to ascertain the especial mission of the earlier Three in the establishment of Christianity. But it was only when they were called to rest from their labors, that the long period of his activity began. His apostolic life may be regarded as divided into two parts, to each of which belong its own sphere of work, the peculiar type of character adapted to it, and such writings as would naturally result from each. Until about the time of the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul,' he seems to have remained in Palestine, and labored for the conversion of his “kinsmen according to the flesh.” Then and there he was a Jew among Jews, retaining the national spirit, and to some extent, the national prejudices. Still, neither now nor at any time of life, does he seem to have been actuated by strong partisan feelings. Mention is nowhere made of a Johannean party, as of Petrine, Pauline, Jacobean; nor did he much concern himself with the dispute about the binding obligation to observe the Mosaic law.
About this time, under the Neronian persecution, he was banished to the lonely isle of Patmos. It was while exiled there "for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ,”amid the gloomy
4 desolations of its rocky solitudes, the hushed stillness of the Sabbath, and the peaceful calm of holy meditation, that he was rapt into a
1 Matthew xi. 25.
21 John iii. 2.
3 Lightfoot's Commentary on Galatians, 198.
4 Revelations i. 9.
divine ecstacy and "shewn the things which must come to pass hereafter.” A series of mysterious apocalyptic visions passed before him in grand succession. He saw the future conflicts of the church with the hosts of evil, and her complete and glorious triumph at the end. This wonderful book is thoroughly Jewish, both in form and spirit." Its imagery, general style, and the very groundwork of its conception, carry us back to the Lawgiver, bards and prophets of ancient Israel. It speaks with the thunderous voice of Sinai, rather than with the "still small voice" of Calvary. The terrors of the law denouncing wrathful retribution on “every soul that doeth evil,” seem almost to silence with their startling peals, the gospel utterances of pardon and peace through the Crucified One. Everywhere the Boanerges meets us, only at the end, the apostle of love. When released from captivity, he found the “City of the Great King," sacred alike to Jews and Christians above all other spots on earth, a shapeless mass of ruins. The mother-church of the world had perished, and its members were scattered far and wide in flight. The aged seer, perhaps the only survivor of the apostolic band, began to inquire from what centre he might most efficiently superintend the vast circle of churches now committed to his sole guidance.
Prompted by a divine impulse, he turned his steps to the metropolis of Western Asia, so long the scene of the missionary labors of Paul. Here he spent the last three decades of his life, and under his patient culture of the plants which another hand had planted, the spiritual “desert became like the garden of the Lord.” We have not space to follow him during the years of his latest apostolic ministry. Tradition loves to paint him amid the band of his affectionate disciples, calling them his "little children," and inciting them ever to a deeper brotherly affection. When asked why he dwelt continually on the fulfillment of this one duty, he answered, “ Because this is our Lord's command, and if you fulfill this, nothing else is needed.”
It was now that he wrote his Epistles, the embodiment and abiding memorial of his oral teachings, and designed to prove the safeguards of the soon-to-be-orphaned churches against the danger of Docetic heresy. These are not the work of a Boanerges, but of “the
a apostle of the heart of Christ.”
Freed at last from the Jewish bigotry and prejudice of earlier and middle life, his spirit grew ever more mellow and tender, until at last it encircled in its affectionate embrace every lover of his Bestbeloved. The last pledge of his unchanging affection for his disciples 1 Stanley, Sermons and Essays, 251, N; Lightfoot on Gal., 199; Schaff's Apostolic Ch., 422 ff
2 Stanley's Sermons and Essays, 262-3.
was given in his Gospel. Three narratives of the life and death of Christ were probably already in the possession of the Christians of the apostolic age. Bus the picture was not yet complete. Another aspect of that many-sided life and character must be presented before the perfection of its divine symmetry could be fully revealed. It was left for John to describe the mystery of the Eternal “Word made flesh." It would have seemed most natural that he who leaned upon the Saviour's bosom should have insisted chiefly on the human side of his two-fold nature; but instead of this, John fixes his most steadfast and adoring gaze upon his uncreated divinity. What a beautiful spectacle is presented to us! The apostle, trembling under the weight of years, but with faculties undimmed, grasps his pen to portray, in living outlines, the person of the Son of God, yet Son of Man, so simple in his humanity, and yet so mysterious in his shrouded divinity. As he tries to sketch it, “the Holy Ghost comes upon him and the power of the Highest overshadows him," until beneath his hand appears that face and form, ineffable in glory even in its estate of earthly humiliation. Well might weary human nature sink exhausted, after the completion of a task like this. And then the " beloved disciple" fell asleep. The Lord for whom he had so long tarried came at last. John did not; cannot die, but is immortal in his spirit and his works. And so there is a beautiful truth in the legend, drawn from the Saviour's misapprehended words—that he still lives, and is but quietly sleeping in his tomb where the earth, lightly covering his body, as if to keep within the vital heat, is gently moved by the noiseless heaving of his breast below.
Thus we have before us the life and work of John. We have watched the career of Peter, who, as has been said, “gave to Christianity its outward and historic form; of Paul, who secured to it
1 inward and spiritual freedom; and of John, who showed the divine end in which form and spirit harmonize.” We love to think of Peter as the apostle of action, Paul of wisdom, and John of feeling or goodness; Peter as the living embodiment of hope, Paul of faith, and John of heavenly love or charity.” “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.";
THEODORE W. HOPKINS.
ROCHESTER, N. Y.
1 Lightfoot on Galatians, 199. *Stanley, Sermons and Essays; Schaff's Apostolic Church, 411.
31 Corinthians xiii. 13.
THE APOSTLE PETER AND HIS RELATION TO
THE CHURCH OF ROME.
failure impartially to weigh facts, and hence to reach a just induction, because of some supposed result to which it was imagined the admission of the facts would lead as a conclusion. Thus in the physical sciences true theories in astronomy, chemistry, anatomy, and geology, were long rejected. Thus, too, mediæval Bible students rejected new and true views of Scripture interpretation suggested by advancing science; while Luther even denied for a time the historic facts as to the Epistle of James, because of a preconceived opinion that it contradicted Paul's doctrine of justification by faith.
There can be no question that extreme views have prevailed as to the facts in the history of the apostle Peter, and as to his relation to the Church of Rome. The early Christian writers, from the first to the fourth century, are all of accord in the statement as fact that Peter, as Paul, was twice at Rome; first under Claudius, and again under Nero. Later writers of the Roman Church hence drew the inference that he was the head not only of the Church of Rome, but through it, because of Christ's language to him, the head of the universal church. The Reformers, on the other hand, in order to disprove the conclusion denied the facts. The new discussions called out by the extreme dogma of Papal infallibility is calling the attention of scholarly men, both in the Roman and other churches of Europe, to review this question. It is timely that it be met in our country, where error is to be silenced only by sound reasoning.
To prepare the mind to survey with impartiality the statements of the inspired writers and the varied facts and opinions added by the early Christian writers, it is well to disabuse the judgment of prejudice by allowing it to consider calmly the legitimate conclusion which must be true if the facts are admitted instead of being denied. Let it be admitted, as all the early Christian writers affirm, that Peter was at Rome both under Claudius and under Nero. Then he was there as a preacher while Paul was just beginning his successful ministry at Antioch and in Asia Minor; and he was there again while Paul was laboring in Rome. Yet Peter's influence at Rome, great as it was at Antioch and elsewhere, was too slight to call even for the mention by Luke in his history, or by Paul in his epistle to the Romans or in any one of his six epistles written from Rome. Let the mind be held firmly to a consideration of this necessary conclusion to be derived from admitting to the extreme the fact, though not the Romanist's inference from it, that Peter did have a ministry of some duration at Rome. This bending of the bow in the opposite direction may prepare our minds to take a less prejudiced survey of the whole field of facts, and thus enable us to reach a balanced conclusion. The subtleties of Roman scholars in our country can only be met by a scholarship as thorough, and by reasoning at once logical and liberal.
The survey which must be taken covers, first, the whole field of New Testament statement; second, the facts and comments of the Christian writers before the era when the special supremacy of the Roman pontiff was accepted in southern and western Europe; and, third, the general drift of argument employed by writers of different views in this age of more thorough and liberal Christian scholarship.
The New Testament statements as to Peter, are found in the four gospel narratives of Christ's life, in Luke's history of apostolic acts, and in the allusions of both Paul and Peter in their Epistles. That a just and harmonious induction may be obtained, these allusions must be scanned and compared, so that a right interpretation as well as a complete view of the inspired teaching shall be reached.
In examining and comparing the statements of the four evangelists, it is well to recall that Matthew wrote from the Jewish point of view for his Hebrew countrymen ; Mark, under Peter's guidance, for the practical Romans; Luke, with impressions received from Paul's teachings, for the polished Greek; and finally, John, as the bosom friend of Peter, and as the quiet and impartial umpire in apostolic