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mysterious, upon which Account he is generally by the Ancients resembled to an Eagle soaring Cyr. Hier. aloft; and particularly honoured by the Title of Catec, 12.
$ 1. Divine, as due to him in an eminent and extraordinary Manner.
Q. To whom did St. John address his Epsitles ?
A. The first is Catholic, calculated for all Times and Places, as well as Persons: containing most excellent Rules for the Conduct of the Christian Life: with a particular Regard to Christian Charity; the principal Vein that runs through all his Writings, and was the last Subject he recommended to his Hearers : For when Age and Weakness disabled him from preaching, yet at every public Meeting in the Church, he exhorted them with these Words, Little Children, love one another. His Auditors, wearied Hieron. with the constant Repetition of the same Thing, enquiring the Reason of it, received from him this Answer: This is what our Lord hath commanded, and if we can do this, we need do nothing else. This Epistle, which was universally received, and never questioned, is moreover an excellent Antidote against the Poison of Gnostic Principles and Practices. The other two are directed to particular Persons; and Euseb, though it hath been doubted whether they were 1.3.c. 25. Canonical, yet, by the most part of the Ancients they are attributed to St. John; and the Doctrine, Phrase and Design of them sufficiently challenge our Apostle for their Author.
Q. When did he write his Revelation ?
4. While he was confined in the Island of Patmos. And though this Book was doubted of by some, yet it was entertained by the far greater Part of the Ancients, as the genuine Work of St. John the Evangelist. All Circumstances concur to make our Apostle the Author of it. His Name frequently expressed, it being written in the Island of Patmos; the particular Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, all planted, or at least cultivated, by him; the Doce trine in it suitable to the Apostolical Spirit and Tem
Heathens, Behold how these Christians love one another. And all this enforced upon us by the Example of the Son of God, whose whole Life and Death was one continued Proof of bis Love to Mankind. And he instituted the blessed Sacrament to be a lively Remembrance of that his great Charity, and to be a perpetual Bond of Love and Union among his Followers. .
Q. By what Rules ought we to govern our Love to our Neighbour?
A. It ought to be universal, because we desire every Body should love us; and the Reasons upon „which this Duty is founded, extend it to all Mankind. It ought to be sincere, since the Love of ourselves is made the Measure of it. Upon which Account we should be as careful to conceal our Neighbour's Defects, and to compassionate his Misfortunes, as we are very apt to do when the Case is our own. It ought to be solid and substantial, and to express itself in Things of the greatest Consequence; we should love our Neighbours as Christ
this should make us concerned for the Salvation of their Souls, and put us upon using all proper Means to recover them from a State of Sin and Infidelity.
bright Beams of Light upon thy Church; that it rance in being enlightened by the Doctrine of thy blessed
Apostle and Evangelist St. John, may so walk in the Light of thy
Truth, that it may at length attain to the Light of everlasting Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
excellent Gift of Charity, the very Bond of Peace and of all Virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's Sake. Amen,
III. SUFFER me not; O God, to be tossed about with For Stedcarious Winds of Doctrine, nor to be imposed upon Christian. by the false Reasonings of cunning and subtle Men; ity. but grant that, trusting to the Holy Scriptures, as the certain Rule and Guide of my faith, and to thy blessed Apostles, as the Planters and Propagators of it, Jesus Christ himself being the chief CornerStone, I may rejoice in the Light they afford, and constantly believe those Truths which are there revealed. That I may always adore that Divinity that was Incarnate, and worship Jesus, who is God as well as Man. Let no heretical Interpretations corrupt the Purity of my faith, nor Pretences to greater Illumination ever weaken my Stedfastness. Thou didst graciously establish thy Church with the Gospel of thy Evangelist St. John, when pernicious Errors and Heresies were started to corrupt it. Let the same watchful Eye of Providence still be its Guard and Defence; that all Christians constantly adhering to the Doctrine he taught, and firmly believing those Divine Mysteries which he plainly made known to the World, may be preserved from all damnable Heresies; from those fatal and evil Consequences which attend them in this World; and from those Punishments prepared for them in the next. Grant this through the Merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
IV. GRACIOUS God! who art good, and dost good, For the who extendest thy Loving-kindness to all Man-Love of
our Neighkind, thy Creatures, the Work of thy Hands, thy bour. Image capable of loving thee, and enjoying thee eternally, suffer me to exclude none, O Lord, from my
Charity, who are the Objects of thy Mercy and Tenderness, but let me treat all my Neighbours with that Love and Good-will which is due to thy Servants and to thy Children. Thou hast required this Mark of our Love to thee: O! jet no Temptation expose me to Ingratitude, or make me forfeit thy Loving-kindness, which is better than Life itself; but grant that I may assist all my Brethren with Prayers and good Wishes where I cannot reach them by actual Services. Make me ready to embrace all Occasions that may administer to their Happiness; by assisting the Needy, protecting the Oppressed, instructing the Ignorant, reproving the Wicked and Profane. Grant that I may look upon the Defects and Frailties of my Neighbour as if they were my own, that I may conceal them; that making thy Love to me, o blessed Jesus, the Pattern of my Love to them, I may above all Things endeavour to promote their eternal Welfare. Thou thoughtest Nothing too dear to part with to rescue me from eternal Misery : Oh! let me think Nothing too dear to part with to set forward the everlasting Good of my Fellow Christians. They are Members of thy Body, therefore I will cherish them; thou hast redeemed them with an inestimable Price, therefore will I endeavour to recover them from a State of Destruction ; that thus adorning thy Holy Gospel, by doing good according to my Power and Capacity, I may at last be received into the Endearments of thy eternal Love, and sing everlasting Praises to the Lamb that was slain, and sitteth upon the Throne. Amen, Amen.
CHAP. VIII. THE HOLY INNOCENTS.- DECEMBER 28. Q. WHAT Festival doth the Church celebrate this
Day? A. The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents, which is mentioned by Origen as what was by the Holy
Fathers, according to the Will of God, commanded Hom. 3. to be for ever celebrated in the Church. Q. In what Sense were they Martyrs ?
A. In that they suffered for Christ, and glorified God by their Deaths. It bath been observed, that there are three Sorts of Martyrdoms: The first in Will and Deed; which was the Case of most of the Apostles : The second in Will, but not in Deed; which was the Case of St. John the Evangelist; the Ancients upon this Account giving him the Title of Martyr, Ætas nec that he yielded his Body to Torments, and was willing is ad puga to die for Christ; the third in Deed, but not in nam, ido. Will; which was the Case of the Holy Innocents. It mea extitit having been the Sense of the Church, that they died nam. the Death of Martyrs, though incapable of making Iren. lib. the Choice; God having supplied the Defects of 3. c. 18. their Will, by his own Acceptation of the Thing.
Q. What was the Occasion of the Death of these Infants?
A. Herod being alarmed with the Enquiry of the wise Men from the East, and apprehending his own Mat. ii. .. Kingdom in Danger from him that was born King of the Jews, endeavours first by crafty Policy to Ver. 8. destroy our Saviour, under a Pretence of worshipping him ; but the wise Men being warned by Godver
. 12. in a Dream, returned into their own Country another Way. This Disappointment enraged Herod, and put him upon the Use of open Force; he sent forth and slew all the Children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the Coasts thereof from two Years old and Ver. 16. under, hoping to involve the young King in the cruel Execution, and thereby soon to determine his Reign. This Slaughter of the Bethlehemite Children Lib. 2. c. 4. under two Years old, is mentioned by Macrobius, with a Reflection made upon Herod on that Occasion by the Emperor Augustus.
Q. How did our blessed Saviour escape this bloody Design of Herod :
A. God made known to Joseph the wicked Purpose of Herod, by the Ministration of an Angel, who Ver. 13, 14.