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Effay VIII. On the right interpretation of the language of
A History of the Life of the Apostle Paul, by whom the Gen-
FIRST EPISTLE OF THE APOSTLE
SECT. I. The Hiftory of John the Apostle.
OHN the writer of this epiftle and of the gospel which bears his name, was the fon of Zebedee a fisher who had a boat, and nets, and hired fervants, Mark i. 20, and followed his occupation on the fea of Galilee.-From Matt. xxvii. 55. compared with Mark xv. 40. it appears that the name of Zebedee's wife was Salomè; for in the former of these paffages, the is called the mother of Zebedee's children, who in the latter is named Salome.-Zebedee had another fon whofe name was James, and who seems to have been elder than John. Both of them were fifhers like their father, and affifted him in his bufinefs, till they were called to follow Jefus.-They feem all to have lived in one family in the town of Bethfaida, which being fituated near the fea of Galilee, was a convenient ftation for fifhers.
Because the mother of Zebedee's children, is mentioned among the women who followed Jefus from Galilee to the last paffover, miniftring to him, as related, Matt. xxvii. 56. Lardner conjectures, that Zebedee was then dead, and that the two brothers lived in feparate houfes. For when our Lord, upon the cross, recommended his mother to John, it is said, John xix. 27. From that hour that difciple took her unto his own home. Perhaps John and his mother Salome lived together.-Theophylact was of opinion that John's mother was related to our Lord: And Lardner, whom I have generally followed in giving John's hiftory, fuppofes that that relation encouraged her to ask the two chief places in Chrift's kingdom for her fons; and that it was the occasion of our Lord's committing the care of his mother to John. But there is no evidence in scripture of Zébedee's children being related to our Lord by their mother.
John had not the advantage of a learned education. For we are told, Acts iv. 13. that the Council perceived Peter and John were unlearned men. Nevertheless, like the generality of the Jewish common people of that age, they may have been well acquainted with the fcriptures; having often heard them read in the fynagogues. And as with the reft of their countrymen, they expected the coming of the Meffiah about that time, they lent a willing ear to the Baptift, when he published, that Messiah was actually come, though the people did not know him, John i. 26.-Afterward when the Baptift pointed out Jefus to his difciples, ver. 29. as the lamb of God who taketh away the fin of the world, he said to them, ver. 33. I knew him not to be Meffiah, but he who fent me to baptize with water the fame faid to me, upon whom thou shalt fee the Spirit defcending and remaining on him, the fame is he who baptizeth with the Holy Ghoft, 34. And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God. If the fons of Zebedee were of the number of those to whom John testified that Jefus was the Son of God, we may believe they attached themselves early to him, and were among those who are called his difciples, and to whom he manifefted his glory at the marriage in Cana, by turning water into wine, John ii. 11.
After the miracle in Cana, the fons of Zebedee seem to have followed their ordinary occupation, till Jefus called them to attend
tend on him conftantly, as mentioned, Matt. iv. For the evangelift having related the calling of Peter and Andrew, adds, ver. 21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the fon of Zebedee, aad John his brother, in a fhip with Zebedee their father mending their nets; and he called them, 22, and they immediately left the hip and their father, and followed him; namely, when he went about all Galilee, teaching in their fynagogues, and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing all manner of fickness, and all manner of disease among the people.
Some time after this, Jefus chofe twelve of his difciples to be with him always, that they might be eye and ear-witnesses of all he did and faid, and be qualified to teftify the fame to the world; and in particular, qualified to bear witness to his refurrection from the dead. These chosen persons Jefus named apostles; and the fons of Zebedee being of that number, he firnamed them Boanerges, or fons of thunder, to mark the courage with which they would afterwards preach him to the world, as Chrift the fon of God.-How well James fulfilled his Master's prediction, may be known from his being put to death by Herod Agrippa, not long after our Lord's afcenfion, on account of his boldly testifying the refurrection of Jefus from the dead; fo that he became the first martyr among the apoftles.-Cave in his life of James, fays the fons of Zebedee had the firname of Boanerges given them, on account of the impetuofity of their tempers. And it must be acknowledged that they fhewed too much anger, in their propofal to have the Samaritans destroyed by fire from heaven, because they refused to receive Jefus, as he was going up to Jerufalem to worship, Luke ix. 54. Lord wilt thou, that we command fire to come down from heaven, and confume them, even as Elijah did?
But although James and John fhewed improper zeal on the occasion mentioned, they were highly esteemed by their Master, for their other good qualities; as appears from this, that of all the apostles they only, with Peter, were admitted by him to be the witnesses of the refurrection of Jairus's daughter, and of our Lord's transfiguration, and of his agony in the garden. John more especially was so much beloved of Jefus, that he was called the difciple whom he loved.-His benevolent difpofition John manifested
manifefted in this his firft epiftle, by the frequency and earneftnefs with which he recommended mutual love to the difciples of Christ. With benevolence, John joined great fortitude and conftancy in his attachment to his Mafter. For he only of the twelve, attended him during his crucifixion; and faw the blood and water iffue from his fide, when the foldier pierced it with a fpear; and, I doubt not, was present when his body was laid in the fepulchre; and faw the fepulchre closed with a ftone. He with Peter, ran to the fepulchre, when Mary Magdalen brought word that the Lord's body was taken away.-He was prefent alfo when Jefus fhewed himself to his apostles, on the evening of the day of his refurrection; and on the eighth day thereafter. He with his brother James, was prefent when Jefus fhewed himself to his disciples at the fea of Tiberias; and to the five hundred on the mountain in Galilee, mentioned Matt. xxviii. 16.-Moreover, he was prefent with the rest of the apostles, when our Lord afcended into heaven from the mount of Olives. So that, with the greatest propriety and truth, he could begin his first epistie with faying, That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have feen, &c. we declare unto you; referring to his gofpel, in which he hath narrated the crucifixion, miracles, fufferings, death, and resurrection of the living Word; his appearances to his difciples after his refurrection; and last of all, his afcenfion into heaven.-To conclude, John was one of the one hundred and twenty upon whom the Holy Ghost defcended, on the day of Pentecost which immediately followed our Lord's afcenfion.
After the effufion of the Holy Spirit, John displayed the greatest boldness in maintaining his master's caufe, when with Peter he was brought before the council, and was strictly charged not to teach in the name of Jefus. For on that occafion, he made the noble answer recorded, Act iv. 19. Whether it be right in the fight of God to hearken unto you›ather than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have heard and feen.
We are told, Acts viii. 14. That when the apofties who were at Jerufalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they fent to them Peter and John, that they might receive the Holy Ghoft. It feems none could confer that gift but apostles.