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his Divinity was only adventitious, and therefore separat- Asia Min ed from him at his Passion (chap. ii. 22.) and against
little remaining evidence which can enable us to come to any
If we may thus decide respecting the travels of St. John after
Lampe considers it as very uncertain, and there is no corroborating authority to support it. Neither can we venture to assert the truth of the story, that the apostle went to Rome towards the end of the reign of Domitian, and was there cast into a caldron of boiling oil. That he was sent to the island of Patmos, 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 his death, in the third year of Trajan, and probably in the hundredth 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 knowledge of that 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 canon of Scripture. Thus in his Gospel St. John does not content himself with simply affirming or denying a thing, but denies its contrary to strengthen his affirmation; and in like manner, to strengthen his denial of a thing, he
Julian Period, 4799. Vulgar Era, 96.
ON THE DATE OF ST. JOHN'S EPISTLES-CHAP. XV.
the Nicolaitans (Rev. ii. 15.) or Gnostics, who taught Asia Minor. that the Knowledge of God and Christ was sufficient for
affirms its contrary. (See John i. 20. iii. 36. v. 24. vi. 22) The
It does not therefore appear to me improbable, that these
As this opinion is by no means generally adopted, it will be necessary to take some notice of the arguments by which 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 hour," 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 wo 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 age. 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 have 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 Ephesus. 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 apostles 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,"
Julian Period, 4799. ValgarÆra, 96.
Salvation; that being justified by Faith, and freed from Asia Miner. the Restraints of the Law, they might indulge in Sin with
the greatest surety of the mother church, the most highly gifted
2. Nothing could tend so strongly to establish the faith of
3. The parallel testimony in the Gospel (John xix. 35–37.) bears witness also to the priority of the Epistle, in the expres sion, “He that saw hath testified” (μɛμaprvoŋkɛ), intimating 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 tense, μαρτυρεί, testifieth." And this is strongly confirmed by the apostle's same expression, after giving his evidence in the Epistle, "This is the testimony of God, which He hath testified (μεμаprvρnкε) concerning his 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 has 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-nor to the faithful of any particular region, like St. Peter's first Epistle "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia"-nor to any principal branch of the Christian church, like St. Paul's to the Hebrews-nor to the Christian church in general, like the second of St. Peter's, "to them that had obtained like precious faith with him," and like St. Jude's "to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." It bears no such inscription: it begins 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 writings 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 hath 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
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LOVE THE PRINCIPAL CHRISTIAN VIRTUE.
impunity-He cautions Christians from being seduced by Asia Minor.
§ 1. 1 JOHN i. 1-4.
The Apostle begins by asserting, in opposition to the false
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have
into the same volume with the didactic writings of the apostles,
Admirable as these observations of Bishop Horsley are, this
Julian Pe- heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have Asia Miner. riod, 4799. looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word Vulgar Era,
2 (For the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal Life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us ;)
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 may be full.
§ 2. 1 JOHN i. 5, to the end.
To confute the Doctrines of those who perverted the Grace
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