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once beloved and highly favoured seed of Abraham, for the approach of that awful and important day, when their and our Messiah, who, as at this time, came in humility to abase the proud, shall return in glory, to exalt the humble.
THE BELOVED DISCIPLE.
JOHN, XXI. 7.
That disciple whom Jesus loved.
No writings are better calculated to improve mankind, than those which relate the history of the lives of such persons as have been famous, in their generations, for wisdom and virtue. We are apt to be terrified by the strictness and severity of holiness, while it meets us only in precept; but when we behold it realized in the example of one made of the same flesh and blood, living in the same world, and exposed to the same temptations with ourselves, wè are fired, at the sight, with a noble emulation, and are ashamed of any longer fancying ourselves not able to do what so many others have done before us. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, describing the conflicts he endured with temptation in his younger years, tells us how greatly he was strengthened and animated to the fight, by imagining he saw virtue standing, in a visible form before his eyes, and pointing to the noble company of those who had been conspicuous examples of purity; with
which consideration she gently reproached him in these words" Why canst not thou do what these "have done?" From the fair light of one good example, innumerable others may catch the heavenly flame, until the whole church become illuminated and adorned with bright and shining patterns of every thing that is lovely and praise-worthy.
Biography hath also another advantage, namely, that it is sure to entertain, because it gratifies that natural curiosity men have to be acquainted with the history of others; which curiosity is then directed to its proper end, when it incites us to make the wisdom and experience of past ages our own, in order to become proficients in the mystery of godliness, and to practise every art of virtuous living.
But what chiefly recommends this kind of writing to Christians is, the use made of it in the Holy Scriptures, which are, for the most part, historical, the wisdom of God having thought it better to set before us the duties of our calling, as they present themselves in the life of Christ and those of his saints, than to give us any regular and exact system of them. The church, by the appointment of her festivals, has contrived to turn our thoughts from time to time upon these lives; that so, neglect and forgetfulness may not deprive us of the many benefits resulting from a due contemplation of them.
The saint of this day is John the apostle and evangelist. And where will heraldry, among all her boasted titles of honour, find one that can stand in competition with that which was conferred upon him "The disciple whom Jesus loved!" beloved of
Him who was himself the beloved of his Father! Could we suppose a prince to reign universal monarch over all the kingdoms of the world, the sole fountain of every kind of earthly honour to every individual man under the whole heavens, how gladly, at the hour of death, would he resign all, to be the beloved disciple of such a Master. And if nothing be esteemed too high a price for the favour of an earthly sovereign, a man, whose breath is in his nostrils, what shall we not give to obtain the love of him who abideth for ever, and will make us partakers of his own immortality? We are all the disciples of Christ, and candidates for his favour. Let us, therefore, take a view of the life and character of the person who enjoyed so large a share of it, as to be styled eminently-" that disciple whom Jesus loved;" since, to be like him, is the way to be loved of our Master as he was.
St. John was the son of Zebedee and Salome; the same Salome whose pious care had provided spices to embalm the body of our Lord, when Mary Magdalen and she, coming early to the sepulchre, found him risen from the dead. The place of his birth was one of the sea-towns in Galilee, probably either Bethsaida or Capernaum; where, with his father Zebedee, and his elder brother James, afterwards distinguished from another of that name by the title of St. James the Great, he followed the fishing trade. Youth is no obstacle in the way of obtaining the favour of Christ. The disciple whom he loved was the youngest of all the apostles. And certain it is, that religion never appears to greater advantage, than in the persons of
those who "remember their Creator in the days of "their youth," and are admitted early into the number of the disciples of the holy Jesus. It is then like a diamond set in gold. There is something more noble in renouncing the world for the love of Christ, when the relish for sensible enjoyments is at the highest, than there can be in doing it when the evil days come, in which there is no farther pleasure or satisfaction to be had in earthly things. He surely is not so likely to accomplish his journey, who begins it when the sun is going down, as he is who sets out at the hour of its rising. Youth, like the morning, is the proper season for every task that requires time and pains. Then all the powers of the body and soul are fresh and vigorous, as those of one awaked from a sound and kindly sleep. Then is the golden opportunity, the sweet hour of prime; and the day is before us. "The night cometh, when no man can work." "have written unto you, young men," saith John himself, "because ye are strong, and the word of "God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the "wicked one." Rejoice then, O young man, in thy youth, not because thou art able to riot in excess and wantonness, as the Heathen who know not God, but because thou hast it in thy power to become, like the youthful John, the beloved of thy Master, who seeketh such to worship him.
Nor let him of low degree neglect to take comfort in the consideration, that the beloved disciple of Christ was a common fisherman. The distinctions of high
* 1 John, ii. 14.