Imágenes de páginas

13 The children of thy elect1 sister salute thee." Amen.

13 The children of thy excellent sister, who are now with me, desire me in their name to wish thee health and happiness in token of their love.


was so elected, unless the matter had been made known to him by a particular revelation, which is not alleged to have been the case, by any who so interpret election. But it signifies a person of an excellent character: such by the Hebrews being called elect persons, Ess. iv. 41.

2. Salute thee. Aswaтal σ. The salutations which the Christians in the first age gave to each other, were not of the same kind with the salutations of unbelievers, which were wishes of temporal health and felicity only: but they were wishes of health and happiness to their souls, and expressions of the most sincere love. See 3 John ver. 2.—The apostle sent this lady the salutation of the children of her excellent sister, to intimate to her that they were all Christians, and that they persevered in the true doctrine of the gospel. Probably they and their mother lived in the city, or place of the country, where the apostle had his residence.

from love to God, and from a regard to his will. So John hath told us, chap. v. 2. By this we know that we love the children of God in a right manner, when we love God, and from that principle, keep his commandments, particularly his commandment to love one another: Not however in word or in tongue only, but in truth and in deed, by doing them good according to our power. If so, our love to each other is to be judged of and measured, not so much by the warmth of our affection, for that depends on one's natural temper, as by our doing good to others from a regard to the commandment or will of God.-That true Christian love consists in beneficence, John hath taught us by telling us, that as the love of God to us consists in his doing us good continually, so our love to one another consisteth in doing them good, even to the laying down our lives for them, 1 Epist. iii. 16.According to this view of love, persons whose natural temper does not admit of great warmth of affection, but who from an habitual regard to the will of God do all the good they can to others, really possess a greater degree of the love which Christ hath enjoined, than those persons, who, having warmer affections, are moved to do acts of beneficence, merely from natural disposition, without any regard to the will of God.

If the love which Christ hath enjoined consists in beneficence, how fortunate are those to whom God hath given the means of doing good, not only to their own relations and friends, but to the poor and needy who apply to them; and how cogent are the obligations which God hath laid on the great, the powerful, and the rich, to be general benefactors to mankind, by doing good and communicating. Being thus imitators of God in his greatest attribute, they do what is more acceptable to him than sacrifice, according to the saying of the heathen poet Menander, translated in Adventurer, No. 105. "He that offers in sacrifice, O Pam“philus, a multitude of bulls and of goats, of golden vestments, "or purple garments, or figures of ivory, or precious gems, and "imagines by this to conciliate the favour of God, is grossly "mistaken, and has no solid understanding. For he that would "sacrifice with success, ought to be (xenoμov) beneficent, no cor66 rupter of virgins, no adulterer, no robber or murderer for the "sake of lucre. Covet not, O Pamphilus, even the thread of "another man's needle; for God, who is near thee, perpetually "beholds thy actions."

Temperance, and justice, and purity, are here inculcated in ⚫ the strongest manner, and upon the most powerful motive, the 'Omniscience of the Deity; at the same time, superstition and 'the idolatry of the heathen are artfully ridiculed. I know not ' among the ancients any passage that contains such exalted and 'spiritualized thoughts of religion.'

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Of the Authenticity of the Third Epistle of John.

For the proofs of the authenticity of this epistle, see Pref. 2 John Sect. 1. To which may be added, that in the third epistle, we find some sentiments and expressions which are used in the second. Compare ver. 4. with 2 epistle, ver. 4. and ver. 13, 14. with 2 epistle, ver. 12.


Of the Person to whom this Epistle was written.

This short letter is inscribed to a person named Gaius; or according to the Latin orthography, Caius; a common name, especially among the Romans.. In the history of the Acts, and in the epistles, we meet with five persons of this name.-1. There is a Caius who was with St. Paul in Ephesus, during the riot of Demetrius, and who is called A man of Macedonia, and Paul's companion in travel, Acts xix. 29.-2. A Caius is mentioned, Acts xx. 4. called Caius of Derbe, which was a city of Lycaonia or Isauria. Probably he was a person different from the Macedonian Caius, though like him he was Paul's assistant in preaching the gospel. Caius of Derbe accompanied Paul to Jerusalem with the collection for the saints. Probably, therefore, he was chosen by the churches of Lycaonia, their messenger for that effect.-3. Paul, writing from Corinth to the church of Rome, speaks of a Caius with whom he lodged, Rom. xvi. 23. who was a very benevolent person, and in opulent circumstances. For the apostle called him his host, and the

[blocks in formation]

host of the whole church of Corinth. Wherefore as the Caius, to whom John wrote his 3d epistle, was in like manner a very benevolent person, and in good circumstances, Bede, and after him Lightfoot, conjectured that he was the Caius, who in Paul's epistle to the Romans sent his salutation to the church at Rome. -4. The same apostle mentions his having baptized one of the name of Caius at Corinth, 1 Cor. i. 14. Probably he was the person whom in his epistle to the Romans, which was written from Corinth, Paul calls his host, and the host of the church.— 5. There was a Caius to whom John wrote this third epistle. Ilim Estius and Heuman thought a different person from all those above mentioned, because the apostle by numbering him among his children, ver. 4. hath insinuated that he was his convert, which they suppose he could not say of any of the Caius's mentioned above.

In the ancient history of the church, we meet with three persons of the name of Caius. One of them a bishop of Ephesus, another of Thessalonica, and a third of Pergamos; all about this time.-Whiston and Mill have said, that the bishop of Pergamos was the Caius to whom John wrote his third epistle. But as Lardner observes, they said this on the testimony of the pretended apostolical constitutions, which in the present affair are of no authority at all. Besides, from the epistle itself it is evident, that Caius, to whom it was written, was at that time a person in a private station.

Lardner's account of Caius is, that "he was an eminent "Christian, who lived in some city of Asia not far from Ephe

sus, where St. John chiefly resided after his leaving Judea. "For ver. 14. The apostle speaks of shortly coming to him: "which he could not well have done if Caius lived at Corinth, ❝or any other remote place." Canon, vol. iii. p. 293.

Caius being neither a bishop nor a deacon, but a private member of some church, of which the apostle took the inspection, his hospitality to the brethren, and to the strangers who came to him, is a proof that he possessed some substance, and that he was of a very benevolent disposition.-Grotius thought Caius a good Christian, who lived in one of the churches or cities mentioned in the Revciation. However, as John hath not suggested any circumstance, by which we can distinguish his Caius from others of the same name, it is impossible to say with any certainty who he was, or where he lived.


Of the Apostle's Design in writing his Third Epistle, and of the Persons who are mentioned in it by Name.

It doth not seem to have been John's design in writing to Caius, either to guard him against the attempts of the heretical teachers who were gone abroad, or to condemn the errors which they were at great pains to propagate: But only, in the first place, to praise Caius for having shewed kindness to some brethren and strangers, who, in journeying among the Gentiles, had come to the place where Caius resided; and to encourage him to shew them the like kindness, when they should come to him again in the course of their second journey. In the next place, he wrote this letter for the purpose of rebuking and restraining one Diotrephes, who had arrogantly assumed to himself the chief direction of the affairs of the church, of which Caius was a member: and, who had refused to assist the brethren and strangers above mentioned; and even had hindered those, from receiving and entertaining them, who were desirous to do it.In the third place, the apostle wrote this letter to commend an excellent person named Demetrius, who, in disposition and behaviour, being the reverse of Diotrephes, the apostle proposed him as a pattern, whom Caius and the rest were to imitate.

Commentators are not agreed in their accounts of the brethren and the strangers, to whom Caius shewed kindness, as they pas. sed through his city.-Grotius aud Lampe thought these stran. gers were believing Jews, who had been driven out of Palestine by their unbelieving brethren, or, who had been forced away by the calamities brought on that country during the Jewish war; and had come into Asia, in hopes of obtaining assistance from the Christians in that province; or perhaps of obtaining a settlement among them.-Grotius supposes Diotrephes would not receive these strangers, nor even the brethren, that is, the Christians who were of his acqaintance, because they joined the rites of the law with the gospel. This, likewise, was the opinion of Le Clerc and Beausobre. Wherefore, according to these authors, Diotrephes was a Gentile convert, and zealous for the freedom of the Gentiles from the yoke of the law. But Mosheim rejects their opinion, as having no foundation in antiquity. Others think these strangers were Gentile converts, whom Diotrephes, a Jew zealous of the law, would not receive, because they did not observe the rites of Moses. That

« AnteriorContinuar »