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well as on those that are still unconverted, to the production of a more plentiful and joyful harvest than has yet perhaps been seen. " For if the fall of " them were the riches of the world, and the dimi.
nishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how “ much more their fulness? If the casting away of “ them were the reconciling of the world, what shall “ the receiving of them be, but life from the dead'?” -the resurrection of Christianity, in all the splendor of truth, and the beauty of holiness !-Nor let us be staggered by the contrary appearances of things in the world. These cannot be more contrary than they were at the conversion of the Gentiles. From the Jewish church, when in its lowest and most unpromising state, went forth those who brought the nations to the faith; from the Gentile church, when in a condition equally low and unpromising, may go forth those who shall cause Israel to return to itBlessed times! Delightful prospect !-We see it, but not now; we behold it, but, perhaps, not near. We live, and probably, like the ancient patriarchs, we may die, not having received the promises. But a generation to be born shall receive them, and shall praise the Lord, who thus, at different periods, “hath shut up all in unbelief, that he may” finally “ have mercy upon all.”—Happy, in the mean season, shall we be, if, while we are preparing ourselves, we may, in any the least degree, by our prayers and our endeavours, contribute towards the preparation of our elder brethren, the
once beloved and highly favoured seed of Abraham, for the approach of that awful and important day, when their and our Messiah, who, as at this time, came in humility to abase the proud, shall return in glory, to exalt the humble.
THE BELOVED DISCIPLE.
JOHN, XXI. 7.
That disciple whom Jesus loved.
No writings are better calculated to improve mankind, than those which relate the history of the lives of such persons as have been famous, in their generations, for wisdom and virtue. We are apt to be terrified by the strictness and severity of holiness, while it ineets us only in precept; but when we behold it realized in the example of one made of the same flesh and blood, living in the same world, and exposed to the same temptations with ourselves, we are fired, at the sight, with a noble emulation, and are ashamed of any longer fancying ourselves not able to do what so many others have done before us. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, describing the conflicts he endured with temptation in his younger years, tells us how greatly he was strengthened and animated to the fight, by imagining he saw virtue standing, in a visible form before his eyes, and pointing to the noble company of those who had been conspicuous examples of purity; with which consideration she gently reproached him in these words—“ Why canst not thou do what these “ have done?" From the fair light of one good example, innumerable others may catch the heavenly flame, until the whole church become illuminated and adorned with bright and shining patterns of every thing that is lovely and praise-worthy.
Biography hath also another advantage, namely, that it is sure to entertain, because it gratifies that natural curiosity men have to be acquainted with the history of others; which curiosity is then directed to its proper end, when it incites us to make the wisdom and experience of past ages our own, in order to become proficients in the mystery of godliness, and to practise every art of virtuous living.
But what chiefly recommends this kind of writing to Christians is, the use made of it in the Holy Scrip. tures, which are, for the most part, historical, the wisdom of God having thought it better to set before us the duties of our calling, as they present themselves in the life of Christ and those of his saints, than to give us any regular and exact system of them. The church, by the appointment of her festivals, has con. trived to turn our thoughts from tiine to time upon these lives ; that so, neglect and forgetfulness may not deprive us of the many benefits resulting from a due contemplation of them.
The saint of this day is John the apostle and evangelist. And where will heraldry, among all her boasted titles of honour, find one that can stand in competition with that which was conferred upon him: "The disciple whom Jesus loved !" beloved of Him who was himself the beloved of his father! Could we suppose a prince to reign universal monarch over all the kingdoms of the world, the sole fountain of every kind of earthly honour to every individual man under the whole heavens, how gladly, at the hour of death, would he resign all, to be the beloved disciple of such a Master. And if nothing be esteemed too high a price for the favour of an earthly sovereign, a man, whose breath is in his nostrils, what shall we not give to obtain the love of him who abideth for ever, and will make us partakers of his own immortality? We are all the disciples of Christ, and candidates for his favour. Let us, therefore, take a view of the life and character of the person who enjoyed so large a share of it, as to be styled eminentlyế" that disciple whom Jesus loved;” since, to be like him, is the way to be loved of our Master as
St. John was the son of Zebedee and Salome; the same Salome whose pious care had provided spices to embalm the body of our Lord, when Mary Magdalen and she, coming early to the sepulchre, found bim risen from the dead. The place of his birth was one of the sea-towns in Galilee, probably either Bethsaida or Capernaum ; where, with his father Zebedee, and his elder brother James, afterwards distinguished from another of that name by the title of St. James the Great, he followed the fishing trade. Youth is no obstacle in the way of obtaining the favour of Christ. The disciple whom he loved was the youngest of all the apostles. And certain it is, that religion never appears to greater advantage, than in the persons of