ON ST. JOHN THE APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST
Consider first, upon how many accounts we ought to honour St. John, the beloved disciple of the Son of God; and to glorify God in him, for the extraordinary gifts and graces bestowed upon him. He was called in his youth, whilst he was as yet innocent and pure, to follow our Lord Jesus; and he readily obeyed the call, and left both his parents and all things else for the sake of Christ. His zeal and fortitude in the cause of his master procured him the name of Boanerges, or a son of thunder. The purity of his soul and body made him a special favourite of his Lord; who therefore admitted him to lean upon his bosom at his last supper, and to draw from that sacred fountain of life the heavenly waters of grace and truth; and on the following day, when he was dying upon the cross, he recommended his virgin mother to his care, that she might be his mother, and he might be her son. O blessed saint, great favourite both of Jesus and Mary, introduce us also, by the interest thou hast now in heaven, into some share in their favour, by procuring for us, by thy prayers, the grace to imitate thy purity.
Consider 2ndly, to what a height St. John was raised by divine grace. He was made an apostle, and one of the chiefest of the apostles; even one of the three that were chosen by our Lord to be witness both of his glory on Mount Thabor, and of is anguish and agony on Mount Oliver. he was also an Evangelist or writer of the gospel, (which none of the other apostles were, except St. Matthew,) and amongst the four Evangelists is compared to the eagle, (which flies high, and looks upon the sun with a steadfast eye,) because of his sublime beginning, by taking his first flight up to the eternal Word, by whom all things were made; and his following throughout his whole gospel the same sublime course, with his eye still fixed on this great sun of justice, and the immense light of his divinity. St. John was also a martyr, by drinking of the chalice of his Lord, (as he had foretold him,) by a long course of sufferings; and by being at length sentenced to death by the tyrant Domitian, and cast into a vessel of boiling oil, from whence he was delivered by an evident miracle. In fine, he was a prophet, to whom our Lord revealed an infinity of heavenly secrets and mysteries relating to latter times, which we find recorded in his Apocalypse, written during his banishment in the isle of Patmos. See then, my soul how many titles this great saint has to our veneration. But remember, at the same time, that the veneration which will please him best, will be a love and imitation of his virtues.
Consider 3rdly, that the writings of St. John recommend nothing so much as charity and verity, love and truth, These they continually inculcate: charity, because God is charity; he is all love, he has died for love; ‘Let us therefore love God,’ saith he, ‘because God first hath loved us.’ ‘But then this,’ saith he, ‘is the love of God, this is the Charity we owe him, to keep his commandments. and this commandment we have from God, (the favourite commandment indeed of the Son of God,) that we should love one another.’ This love for one another all his epistles are full of; they all breathe this sweet odour; with this they join verity or truth; loving in truth, walking in truth, for the sake of truth, which abideth in us, and shall be with us for ever. And what is this truth, and the life? Such was always the doctrine of St. John: this he perpetually preached, both by word and writing: such was the spirit of this disciple of love.
Conclude to embrace, with all thy soul, this charity and verity, this love and truth so much recommended by St. John, or rather by the spirit of God, through him. Keep close to this charity and verity here, and it will abide with thee for ever hereafter, and will make thee happy for endless ages.