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pands into a complete record of his own and the disciples’
sentiments; what they felt he makes Jesus speak. The remembrance of their companion and master he represents as imparted to them by himself-the peace given, not as the world giveth; and the whole of the recollections, suggestions, and influences, derived directly or indirectly from Jesus, which since his departure had formed the solace of the disciples and the main-stay of their faith, he identifies with the operation of the Holy Spirit, and embodies into the Comforter deputed by Jesus to represent him in his absence. To resolve all that he has felt into the operation of his own mind, would appear very strange and cold metaphysics to one of the school of Galilee; Jesus himself is to come to them and be seen by them in the Paraclete. xiv. 18, 19. Looking rigidly at the merit of this Gospel in point of morality, it is perhaps as inferior to Matthew in this respect as it is superior in depth of feeling and pathos. There are few, if any, of those weighty moral lessons of universal acceptation which we find Jesus so frequently delivering elsewhere. To exalt and deify Jesus may be an office highly congenial to the feelings of a follower and friend; but it does not take the same rank with the inculcation of mercy and justice. This Gospel, if alone, would leave the impression that belief in Jesus as the Christ, and the recognition of the high offices which the writer labours to attribute to him, is the chief obligation laid upon man. The commandment to love one another is certainly enforced with much strength and pathos; but the commandment partakes too much of an exclusive spirit; it is for the Christian sect alone; it is not the language of wide philanthropy, “love all men;” but, “I pray not for the world, but for these whom thou hast given me out of the world.” To establish the pre-eminence and dignity of his master,
is the chief object of the writer. But he labours also to prove that the authority of Jesus was bequeathed by him to his apostles. “I have given them thy words, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” xvii. 14. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world,” 18. The spiritual powers to be wielded by them, after the departure of the first Shepherd, were to be of the most ample kind. “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing: verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” xvi. 23. “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained,” xx. 23. There is some evidence that in the case of John as well as of Paul, this bold assertion of authority was not unneeded. The disciple was not above his master; and as Jesus had met with neglect or opposition in his life-time, so was John prevented by a Diotrephes, a Cerinthus, and the Nicolaitans, from enjoying, during his personal ministry in the church, that submissive homage so readily conceded to him when he had become no more than a venerable name. It has been seen, that if John be admitted to be the author of this Gospel, whilst the hypothesis of real miracles be rejected, it becomes inevitable to charge the apostle with wilful fiction; or at least with allowing his imagination to take the place of his memory to such a degree as is nearly equivalent to it. And the degree and kind of moral excellence which we recognize in the work itself, by no means disagree with such a conclusion. On the contrary, zeal and affection for Jesus, combined with a tendency to sublime mysticism, were likely rather than otherwise to produce a habit of pious fraud in discoursing concerning him to others; which kind of discourse, by length of time, would become hardly distinguishable in the mind of the individual from more homest narration. There does not appear in this Gospel any of that high-toned morality which cultivates the love of abstract truth, apart from interest and feeling. This is to be sought for chiefly amongst the most philosophic as well as benevolent minds; and even amongst such it is perhaps not very common. But in an uneducated Galilean disciple—apparently of moderate intellect, deep feeling, and vivid imagination, a partizan among opponents, of a nation with whom religious fables and legends formed a favourite and important part of their literature—such a moral attainment must have excited our surprise; the absence of it can leave none. The character of Jesus in this Gospel, with the exception of the parts where simple realities seem to break through, is perhaps on the whole less within the reach of our sympathies than in the preceding ones. In order to fulfil the objects of the writer, he is made to move and speak as a mystical and sublime personage, condescending to make a temporary sojourn in, rather than belonging to, this world. He seldom opens his mouth without conveying an intimation or direct assertion of his own high offices and nature. The perpetual and authoritative claim of adoration may be thought in this Gospel to overpower the spontaneous and pleasing homage which his character and precepts must more or less excite. This however was naturally regarded as an excellence rather than a defect by the church; and the Gospel of John has been, since the time of Origen, regarded with peculiar favour, as showing forth the divinity, whilst the others taught only the humanity, of the Christ.
Since writing the above, I have read Bretschneider's Probabilia, which, as Credner says, comprises all that can be said against the authenticity of the Gospel of John. It is undoubtedly of great weight; and can only be
met by the o that the apostle had become in a great measure
The chief objections of Bretschneider are:—The unsuitableness of the
Part of these objections, it is obvious, might be answered at the expense of the evangelist's historical fidelity. With respect to Judaisms, it will perhaps be thought by the students of Lightfoot and Schoettgen that there are more of these latent than Bretschneider admits; at any rate that the writer exhibits many remarkable resemblances to the writers in the Talmud, although there might be in him a larger proportion of Hellenisms and Alexandrianisms. The similar passages in the Fathers do generally, considering the peculiar style of the fourth Gospel, and of the first Epistle of John, bear the appearance of quotations or recollections from these scriptures, and thus prove at least so much, that they were writings of authority from nearly the beginning of the second century. See especially Polycarp, iii. 1–3; Hermas, Simil. ix. v. 117; Comm. iii. 2; Ignatius to Magnes. iii.2. The geographical and historical objections are difficult to dispose of, except by supposing that the Gospel, as we have it, was not written by the o: e §. but is rather a collection of his discourses or writings made by some follower, disciple, or some member of his church, who in endeavour-. ing to connect and embellish, has made mistakes.
But the many o realities, not borrowed from the other three, yet agreeing with the history preserved in them (which part of the subject is not considered by Bretschneider), form perhaps the most important reason for concluding that this Gospel originated in great part from, if not actually written by, the apostle.
CHAPTER VII. ON THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST.
I. PETER and the other apostles were dismayed for a time by the death of Jesus; but having become persuaded that he was the Messiah, and having abandoned all for his cause, they comforted themselves with the belief that he was taken up into heaven like Moses and Elias, and would soon appear again to fulfil his promises and restore the throne of Israel. They determined then to maintain their society; and having assembled in an upper chamber those of the disciples who had not yet dispersed themselves, they agreed to preach that their Master was risen from the dead. “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”—Acts i. 21, 22. | The resurrection of the dead was a stirring question at that time, and was part of the creeds of both the Pharisees and Essenes. The doctrine, therefore, that Jesus had risen from the dead, in a spiritual sense at least, would easily be admitted by the mass of the people, and, indeed, cannot be disputed by persons of any age believing in the immortality of the soul. It seems probable that the original belief among the apostles was merely that Christ had been raised from the dead in an invisible or spiritual manner; for where we can arrive at Peter's own words, viz., in his Epistle, he speaks of Christ as being “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in