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seems to be denoted by the number 666 in the character of Antichrist (c. 17). But these internal reasons cannot possibly lead to a decisive judgment, because the interpretation of this mysterious book in general, and of those separate parts in particular, has always induced a strife of discordant opinions.' Besides, the persecution under Nero, which did not happen in the year 67, as computed by the erroneous chronology of Eusebius, but, according to the distinct testimony of Tacitus, in the year 64, continued but for a short time, and was, in all probability, on account of its occasion, namely a false charge upon the christians of having set fire to Rome, confined to Rome. At any rate down to the time of Orosius, who, however, deserves little attention because of his slavish adherence to Suetonius, we have no historical testimony to prove its extension to the provinces and to Asia Minor. Finally, we know not whether Nero punished christians with exile ; whilst Dio Cassius narrates in express language, that Domitian banished to Pandateria because of her atheism, that is, her faith in the christian system, his relative Flavia Domitilla, the wife of the above mentioned Clemens (according to Eusebius, she was his niece).”
In this conflict of opinions, we feel disposed to adopt the oldest and most generally received view concerning the time of John's banishment, and the composition of the book of Revelation, because Irenaeus had abundant opportunity to learn the truth in the case from the friend and pupil of John. Criticism only injures its character and detracts from its influence, when it stubbornly opposes the clear testimony of history, especially in the interpretation of a writing whose mysterious meaning imposes the duty of modesty and caution.
$. 4. The Return of John to Ephesus and the Close of
In the year 96, when this tyrant died, the Apostle, after having passed, as is most probable, more than a year in exile, again obtained his freedom. The successor of Domitian, the just and
Comp. Dr. Chr. R. Hofman's Prophecy and Fulfillment (1841) II, p. 301, and in detail the commentary of Hengstenberg and the introduction p. 27, &c.
* Dio. B. 67, 14, Comp. 63, 1, and Euseb. H. E, III, 18. Banishment was a common punishment with Domitian. Tacitus thinks Agricola happy in not having survived under the emperors tot consularium cædes, los nobilissimarum feminarum exilia et fugas, (vita Agr. c. 44).
philanthropic Nerva, recalled, according to the account given by Dio Cassius, those who had been banished, and abolished the trade of informers and courtly sycophants. John, having returned to Ephesus, recommenced his labors and ruled to the day of his death the Church in Asia. With the closing period of his life are connected two events, which have impressed upon them the unmistakeable marks of truth.
Clemens of the Alexandrine school, who flourished at the close of the second century, has given an account of one of them. It sets forth in beautiful portrait a picture of the tender, self denying love, that always characterised the pastoral visitations of the venerable Apostle. Clemens narrates that John on his return from Patmos to Ephesus, visited the adjacent countries with the intention of installing bishops and organising congregations. In a town at no great distance from Ephesus he met with a young man, whose extraordinary beauty and ardent zeal so engaged his affections, that he committed him to the special care of the bishop, who instructed him in the precepts of the Gospel and received him into the bosom of the Church by holy Baptism. The bishop however, now relaxed his vigilance, and the young man, who was thus early deprived of parental care, was seduced by evil companions and became the leader of a robber band. His wickedness became proverbial ; in acts of violence and bloody ferocity bis associates acknowledged his superior proficiency. In no long time John again visited that town, and eargerly inquired for the young man. “Come," said he to the Bishop, "give back to us the pledge which I and the Saviour entrusted to your care in presence of the congregation.” The bishop sighed and answered: “ The young man has fallen away from his allegiance to God and become a robber. Instead of being in the Church he now dwells with his companions within a mountain.” With loud cries the Apostle tore bis garments, struck his head, and exclaimed : “O what a guardian I
'Clemens Alex. and Euseb. III, 20, 23. The somewhat singular remark of Polycrates by Eusebins that John wore the “ petalon," the tiara of the high priest, may be referred to his oversight of the Church in Asia Minor.
• Other trails must be remanded to the region of fables, e. g., that John destroyed the celebrated temple of Diana (Nicephorus, H E. II, 42) and that, shortly before his death, he drank without injury a cup of poison (first in Augustine's soliloquies). This last is referred by Papias (Euseb. III, 39) to Joses Barnabas, and may have its foundation in Mark 16: 13 and Matth. 20: 23.
3 Quis dives salv. c. 42, and in Euseb. III, 23. Herder has given this beautiful legend a poetical form under the caption “The rescued Youth."
placed over the soul of my brother!” He hastily mounted a borse, and in company with a guide proceeded to the retreat where dwelt the robber-band. Though seized by the guard, he never attempted to escape, but besought them to conduct him to the leader, who, on recognizing John, fled for shame. The apostle, forgetful of his age, pursued him with might and main, crying: “ Wherefore fleest thou me, O child ! ihy father, an unarmed old man? Pity me, O child! be not afraid! Thou hast still hope of life. I will give account to Christ on your behalf. I will lay down my life for you. Stop! believe, Christ has sent me." These words, like so many swords, pierced the very soul of the unfortunate man. He halted, threw down the weapons of his murderous warfare, trembled, and cried bitterly. The venerable apostle having approached him, the young man clung to his knees, prayed with strong lamentations for pardon, and with tears of repentance submitted as it were to a second baptism. The Apostle declared that he had obtained forgiveness for him, fell upon his knees and kissed his hand. He then leu bim back to the congregation, in which he prayed earnestly with him, and labored with him in fasting, and admonished him in conversations, until he was able to return him to the Church as an example of thorough conversion.
Jerome, one of the Church fathers, in his interpretation of the Epistle to the Galatians, inakes mention of another incident equally pathetic. In the closing period of his life, John was too weak to walk to the Church, and had to be carried thith
He was not able to deliver long discourses, but simply said : “ Little children, love one another.” On being asked why he continually repeated this exhortation, he answered: “ Because this is the command of the Lord, and because enough is done if this holy duty be performed.” A most true saying ; sor as God is himself love, love to Him and to the brethren is the substance of religion and morality, the fulfilment of the law and of the prophets, and the bond of perfection.
All the ancient accounts agree in affirming, that John lived to the reign of the emperor Trajan, who ascended the throne in the year 98 A. D., and that he died a natural death at Ephesus about the ninetieth year of his age. While the majority of the other Apostles were baptised in the bloody baptism of martyrdom, he
· Thus Irenaeus, Eusebius, Jerome, &c. The last mentioned says de vir. ill. c. 9, of John: sub Nerva principe redit Ephesum, ibique usque ad Trajanum principem perseverans totas Asiæ fundavit rexitque ecclesias, et confectus senio anno sexagesimo octaro post passionem Domini (i. e. a. 100, VOL. 11.-NO. VI.
passed through the sufferings of the primitive Church in the enjoyment of heavenly peace, and calmly breathed his last, reclining on the bosom of love." From a misunderstanding of the puzzling language of Jesus, Jobo 21 : 22: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” arose the report that John did not really die, but only fell into a state of slumber, and was moving by his breathing the mound over his tomb until the final coming of the Lord.* In his writings, it is true, he lives eternally, the full understanding of which seems to stand in special connection with the future perfection of the Church, and her preparation for the welcome of the heavenly bridegroom. For they close with the significant assurance and prayer (Rev. 22: 20): “ Yea, I come quickly. Amen. Yea, come, Lord Jesus !"
§ 5. The Character of Jolin. Let us now endeavor to form a proper estimate of the genius and religious character of Jobn, from the testimony of history, and mainly from his own writings. The theoretic and practical abilities which God bestows upon men as a natural dowry, are not destroyed by the action of regenerating faith, but cleansed from the base alloy of sin, sanctified unto the service of Christ, and carried forward io the point of their fullest growih. John undoubledly belongs to that class of persons, whose native richness abounds in a spirit of nice sensibility and quiet meditation, in feelings of impressive tenderness and lively action, in an imagination of fiery energy and in a disposition of surpassing loveliness. Yet, every order of talent and trait of character is vitiated by a certain species of original sin, which cleaves to it and is
since this Church father places the death of Christ in the year 32) mortuus juxta eandem urhem sepultus est.
"When the Ephesian bishop Polycrates in Euseb. H. E, XII. 31, V, 25 calls John a martyr, reference is had either to his labors in preaching or (because didáokados immediately follows) to his banishment to Patmos. In order to reconcile the above tradition with the prophecy of the Lord touching the fate of the sons of Zebedee Matth. 20 : 23, Jerome ad Matth. 20 : 23 adopts the legend of Tertullian, which affirms that John was plunged into heated oil without experiencing any injury, and, in this way, proved himself posessed of the spirit of a martyr and drank the calix confessionis.
Augustin, Tract. 124 in Evang. Joan. According to a legend of later date (by Pseudo-Hippolytus de consummatione mundi, comp. Lampe Comment. in. Ev. Jo. I. p. 98), John was taken alive to heaven as Enoch and Elias and will appear with these saints of the Old Testament as heralds of the visible coming of Chrish, as John the Baptist prepared the way for the first coming of Christ.
in danger of particular abuse. His tendency towards meditation, under the influence of evil principles, might easily have led him to adopt a system of phantastic, pantheistic speculation, destroying the distinction that separates the world from God. A believing sight, however, of the Word made flesh converted this gift into a boly wisdom. By means of intercourse with the living truth he became the leader of Christian philosophers, the representative of knowledge inspired with devotion to God, the “ Theologos” in a most emphatic sense. He had the power of setting forth in the simplest style the most profound thoughts, which furnish the ripest thinker with an inexhaustible quantity of food for reflection. The Church has set forth his character under the expressive symbol of an eagle, which flies with eager joy to the highest regions; on this account, the genial Raphaël has represented him as resting on the wings of an eagle, and gazing with keen eye into the heights of heaven. In this significant way the Church designed to convey an idea of the acute prophetic talent, the elevated thought and noble, imposing greatness of John.'
As respects his religious character, in spite of the good natural tendencies that adorned it, he was not free from sin. Such tender-hearted, loving souls are invariably inclined to suspicion and envy, to refined self-love and vanity. A revengeful spirit seems to have given rise to the account recorded in Luke 9: 49, 50 and Mark 9: 38, 40, and a spirit of unlawful ambition to his petition to the Lord for the first honor in the kingdom of the Messiah (Mark 10: 35). Of special importance is the fact which Luke 9: 51, 56 narrates. The inhabitants of a town in Samaria having refused to receive Jesus, both the disciples John and James gave vent to their feelings in the angry words: “Lord, if thou wilt, we will call fire from heaven to devour them, as Elias did.” Here is evidently displayed a hasty, carnal zeal, an impure spirit of revenge, which confounded the nature of the Old Testament with that of the New, and forgot that the Son of
"Jerome, Comment. ad Matth. Proæm. remarks: Quarta aquilæ (facies, comp. Ezek. 1: 10) Joannem (significat), quia sumtis pennis aqui. læ et ad altiora festinans de verbo Dei disputat.-An old Epigram says of John: More volans aquilæ verbo petit astra Joannes, and a hymn from the Middle Ages sings of him :
Volat avis sine meta,