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Bible. Let us now ask it with respect to the writings of S. John. There are three portions of the New Testament which have come down to us with the authority of his great name ; the Revelation, written at Patmos, the Gospel, and the three Epistles, probably written at Ephesus. Each of these has its own peculiar lesson. Let us take them in order.
I. The Book of the Revelation. Most of this book is very difficult, and for most of us, unnecessary to read. But there are parts which are most edifying: Chapters i. ii. iii. (the Epistles to the Seven Churches, amidst which we are now moving); Chapters iv. v. vii. xiv. xix. xx. xxi. and xxii. (the judgement of the world, the blessedness of the good, the misery of the wicked). And there is through the whole of the book this great truth, that this life and the next life run into each other; that what we are in the life to come depends on what we are in this life. St. John, in the Revelation, saw the Eternal World revealed in the events of this world. In the trials of the Christian Churches in these islands, and on these shores, he saw the mercy and severity of God leading them on to better things, if only they would obey the call. In the happiness of those who triumphed over temptation and persecution here, he saw the happiness which awaits all good men beyond the grave; in the judgements which befell or which were likely to befall the wicked Roman Empire under which he was living, he saw the likeness of those judgements which will sooner or later fall upon oppression, injustice, impurity, everywhere. This is the first portion of God's truth which we learn from S. John.
Always in this life bear about the remembrance of the next. Every event, public or private, that befalls us may be turned, by our own care or our own neglect, to our salvation or our ruin. blessing, for every sorrow, for every responsibility which we have had, God will at last call us to account. The more we can be raised above the petty vexations and pleasures of this world into the Eternal Life to come, the more shall we be prepared to enter into that Eternal Life whenever God shall please to call
II. The Gospel of S. John.-In many respects this Gospel is the same as the other three. But, in one respect especially, it impresses upon us a truth which in the other Gospels we do not see so clearly. It tells us not only how Christ was the Example of man -the likeness of what we ought to be — but it also tells us how He was the Likeness of God - the
expression to us of what the Mind of God is in its fullest perfection. In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God." No man hath seen God at any time; but the only be
gotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.' The Word was made flesh and
dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace 6 and truth.'2 This is what is called the doctrine of the Incarnation and of our Lord's Divinity. But it is no mere doctrine of theology. It concerns us all. . We all wish to learn what God is like - we all find
1 John i. 1.
2 John i. 14.
it difficult to figure to our minds any idea of the invisible, eternal, omnipresent Father. The old heathens tried to make out His likeness in beautiful statues, or to see it in the works of nature. In the Old Testament we get a truer idea of Him—that there is but One God, perfectly just and pure. But it is only in the New Testament that we have the fullest revelation of what He is. Read in the Gospelsread especially in St. John's Gospel — what Christ was ; fix His character in your minds ; see how He dealt with sin and with sinners; how He dealt with the religious world, with the irreligious world; observe His lovingkindness, His wisdom, His firmness, His gentleness: this is the nearest approach that has ever been made to bring down the mind of God within the comprehension and the devotion and the worship of
If you wish to learn how God regards your happiness and cheerfulness, read St. John's account of the marriage feast at Cana. If
wish to learn how He looks upon your sorrows, your trials, your bereavements, look at the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of S. John's Gospel, and see how Christ spoke to His sorrowing disciples. If you wish to learn how He regards your sins, look at the union of compassion and disgust with which He speaks to the sinners who come before Him, and with which we ourselves regard those who brought Him to His end.
This is the main object of S. John's Gospel. It fixes our ideas about God. It tells us that goodness, and justice, and truth, such as we see in Jesus Christ, are the conceptions we ought to have of God. If we are like Christ, we are like God. If Christ is pleased with
us, then God is pleased with us. If we know that Christ could not be pleased with us, then we know that God is not pleased with us.
III. The Epistles of S. John. — They are three in number, and they contain many precepts and many doctrines.
But there is one doctrine and one precept which they contain more than any other, and which, according to tradition, he repeated over and over again in the market-place of Ephesus, when he was so old that he could say nothing else, and that is, “Little children, love one another.' "This,' he said to those who complained of hearing nothing else — this is the substance of the Gospel. If you
do this, I have nothing further to teach you. Love one another. What he meant was, that this is the paramount and crowning duty of the Christian believer. He did not say, as many Christians have said since, ' Agree with one another in doctrine.' He did not say, as many Christians have said, Hate one
another and kill one another.' He did not say, 'Flatter one another, indulge one another.' He did not even say, “Teach one another, inform one another.' What he did urge was, that difficult, but necessary, grace, 'Love one another.'
That is, Love one another in spite of your differences, in
your faults; do what you can to serve each other, to lighten each other's trials, and inconveniences, and burdens: above all, if we may turn the precept into its most practical form, Make the best of one another.
• Make the best of one another,' he said to the Churches of his own time, and he would say to
the Churches of our time, and to those who, like us, are travelling through many Churches and many nations — Make the most of what there is 'good.' It is very easy to do the reverse, and to make the most of what there is evil, absurd, erro
By so doing we shall have no difficulty in rendering bitterness more bitter, and estrangements between nations and nations and Christians and Christians more wide, and hatreds and strifes more abundant, and errors more extreme. But we shall not be fulfilling the command of Christ, nor of His beloved disciple. No doubt, justice and truth require that we should express our abhorrence of folly, and error, and sin. But still, by making the most of what there is good, that which is bad will be most likely to disappear. Nothing drives out darkness so much as light — nothing overcomes evil so much as good. No weapon of controversy, or argument, or opposition, is so effectual as when our adversary sees that we see and admire what there is in him that is good, and just, and right, and true.
Make the best of one another.' So also he said to the old, and middle-aged, and young, who crowded round him as he was sinking into his grave under the experience of a hundred eventful years; and so also he still says to us as individuals, in all the relations of life. Here again we may, if we choose, make the worst of one another. Everyone has his weak point - everyone has his faults; we may make the worst
of these ; we may fix our attention constantly upon these. It is a very easy task; and by so doing we shall make the burden of life unendurable, and