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of miracles wrought, and other Divine manifestations; how much greater would have been the hold on men's minds made by such a superstition, had these legends been superseded by accounts not less marvellous, but more authentic!
The history of St. John, like that of the others, abounds with these legends. At one time, we are told, that he escaped unharmed from a cauldron of boiling oil; at another, he is described as the hero of a romantic adventure among a band of robbers, whose chieftain he reclaimed and led away triumphantly. As was before observed, would indeed be presumptuous to say of all these occurrences, or of any in particular, that they must be false, either because they are marvellous, or because they are not equally attested with the miracles of the Scriptures. Much of the marvellous must doubtless have occurred in the unsubstantiated ministry of the apostles; and the lesson to be learned from the removal of inspired testimony to those Divine interpositions, is not certainly that of universal and dogmatic disbelief. These events may be true. Our duty only is, not to mix them indiscriminately with those which bear the seal of the Spirit affixed; for whatever reason that mark of distinction may have been given. Let the reader of the lives of the apostles and their inspired contemporaries read such facts as the escape of St. John from the cauldron, not as in themselves improbable; but to be received or rejected as any other portion of history would be, according to the character of the historian, and the source of his information. At the same time, whatever degree of probability attaches to them, let him read their record with the full impression, that these the Holy Spirit has passed by without setting his seal thereon. Our Divine Guide meant not to make the same use of them, as of Scripture miracles. Whatever the facts were to those of old time, to us they are no objects of faith ; none of the appointed evidences of our religion ; subjects for curious and learned inquiry, perhaps, but not for holy meditation—they are not in the Bible, and must not be added thereto.
St. John's life, divested of these, affords his biographer but a two Epistles,
scanty supply of materials. He has left with the Church two
Epistles, and a book of Revelations, relating, as it would seem, to Revelations, the history of the Church, traced through its successive stages.
From these and from ecclesiastical history it appears, that the latter portion, at least, of his ministry, was employed in Asia Minor, especially in the famous seven cities. As both St. Peter's and St. Paul's course embraced this district, it was after their martyrdom, probably, that he undertook the superintendence of these celebrated Churches. With the destruction of Jerusalemn, and the dissolution of the Jewish polity, all distinction between the various classes of Christian converts ceased. There was henceforth no longer any peculiar law, or any peculiar apostle, for converts froin Jews, or
A.D. 69. and
proselytes, or idolaters. St. John would thenceforth as properly attach himself to the flock of St. Paul, as to that of St. Peter. Of his former ministry there is no trace, beyond the slight notices contained in the early part of the Acts. From this time, however, he appears to have been fixed in Asia Minor, and to have made Ephesus especially his place of residence. Over the seven Churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, bishops appear to have exercised authority; subject to that extraordinary and peculiar control, assumed by the apostles for the better foundation of the Church, but obviously designed to cease with the removal of the apostolic order. Hence the charge from the Lord Jesus, through his aged servant, to these bishops, is not as to men under authority, but as to those with whom the supreme government and chief responsibility was left,—a charge given when the last temporary prop of the holy edifice was about to be removed, and the building was now considered complete and stable.
The book of Revelations, which contains this charge, was written in the island of Patmos, whither John had been banished from Asia Minor in the persecution of Domitian. It was during his abode there, probably, that he also wrote his Epistles ; if indeed the first be not more properly a treatise or pastoral discourse. On Domitian's death he was restored to his residence at Ephesus, and died there at the advanced age of ninety-six. Few historical pictures are more pleasing than that of the old man in his latter days joining the Christian assemblies, in despite of age and feebleness, and always leaving behind him the same brief and simple precept, “ Little children, love one another.”
It was during the latter part of his life, either whilst he was in His Gospel, Patmos, or after his recall from banishment, that he composed his A.D. 97. Gospel. He had at that time seen and approved the narratives of Matthew, Mark, and Luke ; 116 and his testimony to these at that advanced period of the Church's growth, is doubtless one cause of thankfulness from all ages, to Him who permitted him to tarry John xxi. 22. thus long. His reasons for adding yet another Gospel are said to have been, first, to supply the omissions of the former Evangelists on some points of our Lord's history; next, to counteract the heretical opinions that were now springing up concerning Christ's nature. What those opinions were, and whence their origin, will be considered in the sequel.
As to the Gospel itself, it has been universally received by the Church in all ages; although the stubborn testimony it contains to the divine character of Jesus, has naturally made it an object of cavil and of misrepresentation to many. Of the authenticity of the Revelations and of the Second and Third Epistles, some doubts
116 Eusebii Hist. Lib. III, C. 24.
were once entertained; which, as in the case of other Scriptures in our Canon, labouring under the same imputation, were removed, when the communication between the different parts of the Christian world became such as to enable these doubts to be sifted and duly estimated. 117
The first were
PHILIP THE DEACON, TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND OTHER COADJUTORS
OF THE APOSTLES. Besides the two Evangelists, Mark and Luke, there are others whose names are recorded, as having received gifts through the apostles, or as being otherwise divinely appointed to be their fellow
labourers. Of these, few can be traced beyond the scenes in which Philip the they are briefly introduced in the sacred writings. Philip the
deacon's history has been much confounded with that of the apostle
of the same name; and contains nothing which merits the labour of Timothy unravelling the entangled materials. Timothy and Titus deserve
more notice; but only on account of the appointment with which we
find them invested by St. Paul, and in which they continued to be Timothy. recognised by all the early authorities of the Church. Timothy was
made by the apostle bishop of Ephesus, and Titus, bishop of Crete.
In St. Paul's Epistles to them, some light is accidentally thrown Bishops.
on two important and interesting questions relating to their office, now the highest in the Church: the first, By what authority were these bishops (the first of their order as far as we can learn) created ? the second, What was the form observed ?
Both these questions may be resolved by that single verse of the 1 Tim. iv. 14. Epistle to Timothy, in which Paul exhorts him, “ Neglect not the
gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the
laying on of the hands of the presbytery." Divinely From these words the appointment may certainly be inferred to appointed.
have taken place in consequence of some extraordinary Divine command. It was by prophecy;” or, as it is elsewhere expressed,
according to the prophecies which went before on thee. As the Holy Ghost bade the Church of Antioch separate Paul and Barnabas for their apostolic appointment, so, it is implied, that Timothy was separated by Divine command for the episcopal appointment.
That even in the appointment of presbyters such an express revelation of the Divine choice may have taken place, is not impro
bable, from St. Paul's remark on the Ephesian presbyters, that Acts xx. 28. “ the Holy Ghost had made them overseers. In the case of the
bishops, at all events, it can scarcely admit of a doubt. The sacred testimony requires no support; but it gives us some additional assurance that we are not mistaking its meaning, when we find the
117 Of those who in modern times have dence, in reply to the objections of the questioned the authenticity and inspira- latter, should be carefully examined by tion of the book of Revelations, Less and all.who wish to have a satisfactory view Michælis are the most distinguished. of the question. See Woodhouse's AnDean Woodhouse's Review of the Evi- notations on the Apocalypse.
1 Tim. i. 18.
earliest Christian documents of the uninspired Church speaking in the same strain. Clement of Rome, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, states it as the custom of the apostles “ to make trial by the Spirit, that is, by the “ power of discerning,” in order to determine who were to be overseers and deacons in the several Churches they planted. Clement of Alexandria speaks particularly of the Churches in the neighbourhood of Ephesus, the overseers of which he understood to have been marked out for ordination, by a revelation of the Holy Ghost to St. John.
At the same time, although the episcopal ordination rested on authority similar to that on which the apostles themselves were invested with their office, yet there is ample evidence that this new class of ministers was distinct from the apostolical. Throughout the Epistles to Timothy and Titus all their information and instruction are said to be derived from the apostles. They had themselves, and by virtue of their office, no revelations.
Their heavenly gift (xéplopece) was doubtless of the same character and import as that communicated to all believers at baptism,communicated in like manner, and for the same purpose. It was to testify to the ordained, and to all others, that the appointment was Divine—that the bishop was duly ordained—was an official minister of the Holy Ghost; and that his official acts would therefore be valid and effectual.
The next question relates to the form. The only ceremony By laying on recorded is that which was used in many solemn acts, viz. the of hands. laying on of hands. It was the form whereby the apostles gave the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; and as these extraordinary gifts were not only ministerial instruments, as, e.g. the gift of interpretation, but also signs of some invisible agency or sanction, these forms are still observed, although the sign of confirmation is no longer granted by the Divine Dispenser.
But then, the ceremony of laying on of hands is here said to have been performed by the presbyters, while in the Second Epistle to Timothy Paul asserts it to have been performed by himself. From which the conclusion is clear, that although the “gift” which testified the appointment might have depended on the efficacy of the apostles joining in the ceremony, yet that the ceremony had a further intent; else why should the whole presbytery join? It was then the act of the Church, with whom was vested the ordination of bishops; in like manner as the Church was before made formally to ordain the two extraordinary apostles to the Gentiles. By the Church, as was before explained, is meant the representatives of the Church; whether, as in the case of the ordination of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, these were presbyters alone, or, as in that of Timothy, there was one superior to the presbyters also. Accordingly, in tracing back the annals of episcopacy, we find the custom scrupulously observed, and the bishop and the presbyters uniting in
the laying on of hands. Occasional mention is made of the ceremony being performed by the bishop alone, probably considered as the president of the presbyterian body; but never of the presbytery without their head.
It is quite clear, then, that the ordination of ministers rests with the Church as one of its rights; we should rather say, one of its duties; for these are not matters of endowment, but of obedience. But then, with whom was the appointment left? The Holy Ghost was here, as it would seem, in all instances the sole guide. For, although Timothy was left with power to ordain, yet he had a special gift attending his appointment; and what more appropriate than the gift of discerning spirits, which in its application would be nearly equivalent to a Divine revelation of the Holy Ghost's choice? This, then, was probably the last kind of extraordinary assistance which was withdrawn from the Church; and, when withdrawn, the mode in which the other aids had been gradually and successively supplied by human means, became an obvious rule in this case also. For revelation, they had a record; human eloquence and learning continued what inspired wisdom and knowledge and utterance had commenced; the attested account of signs and wonders was operating in like manner as had the miracles themselves. Each extraordinary support had served not only as a substitute, but also as temporary shelter and protection for some natural power, which was allowed to grow up under its shade, and to attain proper maturity, before the occasional fence was removed. To the Church the Holy Ghost was wont to specify his appointments; and when that voice was no longer given, the Church felt sure that it was called on to act, just as individuals in office had been, who no longer found themselves prompted by the gift of wisdom, or knowledge, or eloquence. It employed all its natural powers in choosing those on whom it thought the inspired choice would have fallen. Its officeits duty—remained, although all miraculous aid was withdrawn; just as the duty of those individuals who filled any office in the Church, continued, although no extraordinary help was perpetuated together with the office. The other substitutes of inspiration had proved effectual, and the exercise of natural judgment could not but be expected to prove so in this case also. When the preacher or the interpreter used his natural learning or eloquence, his success assured him that God had sanctioned this new mode of ministry ; and, by analogy, the Church, when left to itself, knew that its appointments, if made according to the best human judgment, would be sanctioned and approved by Heaven.