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and low, rich and poor, noble and vulgar, obtain in this world, and in this world only. In the kingdom of God they cease, and are no more. There virtue only gives precedence, and the meanest mechanic takes place of the nobles and kings of the earth, if he were a better Christian than they were. nity and folly of those whose confidence is placed in titles and pedigrees, will then appear in its proper light, when the supposed carpenter's son shall be seen on his throne of glory, and the fisherman seated at his right hand.
The account of John being called, by our blessed Lord, from his employment of fishing, to that of preaching the Gospel, is thus given us, Matt. iv. 21. "And Jesus, going on from thence," that is, from the place where he had just before called Peter and Andrew, "saw other two 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 immediately left the ship, "and their father, and followed him." Their minds had been prepared for the advent of the Messiah by the sermons of the Baptist, who indeed had pointed him out to Andrew, and another disciple, not improbably John himself, for the Lamb of God. Upon his appearance and call, therefore, they readily received and obeyed him, laying the foundation of the Christian building in the renunciation of the world, And here it always must be laid by every one who is desirous of being "the disciple whom Jesus loveth." All are not called to forsake their occupations and to commence preachers, as the apostles were; Christ
having appointed in his church a regular way of entering into the ministry; and at this door, when duly prepared for it by a suitable education, all are now to enter, who find themselves inclined and disposed by the good Spirit of God to undertake that blessed work. But every one is called to be ready, in heart and mind, to quit all that comes in competition with duty, and to follow the Saviour in the path of holy living. It is necessary for us all to leave those companies and engagements, and ways of living, which ensnare our souls, and entangle our affections in the toils of sin. And when duty to God requires it, we must forsake our friends and relations, rather than reject the salvation of Christ. Whoever is in error or in sin, will, by the good providence of God, be often called to come out of it in the course of his life. He shall, perhaps, hear a sermon, that shows him to himself, and awakens him; or some kind and charitable friend shall admonish him; or the Holy Spirit shall cause his own conscience to be his reprover. Then, O sinner, it is, that Jesus calleth thee. Obey him instantly; leave all that, whatever it be, whereby thou offendest, though near and dear to thee; join thyself to him, as thy master and director in all things; and thou, as well as St. John, shalt be beloved of him.
When our Lord gave his apostles their commission to preach the Gospel, he surnamed our evangelist and his brother James, Boanerges, that is, in our language, Sons of thunder. Thereby he intimated the powerful effects of their preaching that word, which is frequently compared to thunder; be
ing, like that, the voice of God speaking from heaven, mighty in its operation. If the one shake the earth, throw down lofty trees and towers, and, by the lightning which accompanieth it, dissolve the hardest substances, the other shaketh the empire of sin, casteth down every thing which exalted itself against heaven, blasting and consuming the corruption of the heart. Such are the effects of the word when preached with power; and happy are they who experience them, in reading and hearing the Gospels, and more especially that of St. John, who, on the wings of contemplation and faith, soaring aloft, like his own eagle, bears the thunder of the word, and causes its glorious voice to be heard under the whole heaven.
In the course of the evangelical history, we find St. John, in conjunction with St. Peter and St. James, admitted to the knowledge and view of some more private miracles and transactions, when the other apostles had not that honour. These were the three who attended their Master, when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. "He suffered no man "to go in, save Peter, and James, and John." And this is, in some sense, the happy lot of every disciple whom Jesus loveth. For although he no more "know Christ after the flesh," or see him working his miracles in person, as St. John did; yet, by faith, the wonders of divine love and mercy are manifested unto him, and he beholds accomplished in himself and others that great work which the miracles of Christ were designed to represent, the work of conversion and salvation. This work Jesus only
can effect; and none but his beloved disciples know and understand it. This secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he showeth to them the glory of his power in raising a soul from sin to righteousness, no less than he showed it to the apostles in raising the maid from death to life.
The same three disciples accompanied their Lord, exclusive of all the rest, at the two most remarkable scenes of his exaltation and humiliation; that is to say, when he was transfigured upon mount Tabor, and when he was in an agony in the garden of Gethsemane. With regard to the former we read, that "he took Peter, and James, and John, up into a
high mountain, apart, and was transfigured before "them." There they beheld his mortal body suddenly clothed with light, as with a garment; they beheld his glory, as the glory of the only begotten; they saw the Sun of Righteousness shining in his strength; they saw Moses and Elias glorified with him, as the law and the prophets always appear, when seen in company with Jesus; and they heard the voice from heaven declaring him to be the beloved of the Father. Again, at his passion, "he taketh with him Peter, "and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, " and began to be sore amazed, and very heavy.” Then they beheld him encompassed with the infirmities of a man, and beset by the powers of darkness; they beheld him humbled under the load of our sins; they saw the sun overcast with a cloud; and heard the same Divine Person praying in a bitter agony, as one smitten of God in his anger, and afflicted unto death. And happy is every disciple,
whom Jesus so loveth, as to admit him, by faith, to behold and dwell upon the contemplation of his blessed Master, in these, his two states of exaltation and humiliation; the glory of his divine, and the sufferings of his human nature. These are subjects on which a man can never meditate, but with infinite profit and advantage. By ascending the holy mount, and there viewing, in the transfiguration of Jesus, the glory of his person, and an ensample of that glory which he shall bestow on his saints at the resurrection, he is armed against the pain and shame of the cross, and strengthened to undergo his portion of sufferings in the world. By attending his Redeemer in the garden, during his agony, he learns the intolerable punishments due to sin, and the amazing love of him who would descend from Tabor to Gethsemane, to bear them for sinners; he is prepared to take up his cross, and to be conformed to Christ in sufferings, from thence looking back to the glory which the Son of God left for a time, that he might bestow it on his beloved disciples for ever. Whosoever hath so digested in his heart these two subjects, as to be able to reduce the considerations on them to practice, hath attended his Master, with St. John, on the mount and in the garden.
Three times we hear in the Gospels the beloved disciple reproved by his Master, to show us that whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and purgeth, till, like the branch of a well-dressed vine, he bring forth more and better fruit. Once, a spark of ambition, lighting upon the spirits of the two brothers, James