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Evils of the world.
I JOHN 11.
Many antichrists. write to you, which thing is true` in him and || and the desire of it: but he that doeth the in you: because the darkness is past, and the will of God abideth for ever. 9 true light now shineth. He who saith that he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is 10 in darkness even until now. He who loveth his brother, abideth in the light, and there 11 is no occasion of stumbling in him. But he who hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
My children, it is the last time: and as ye 18 have heard that antichrist will come, so even now there are many antichrists; by which we know that it is the last time. They went out 19 from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, 20 and know all things. I write not to you be- 21 cause ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no falsehood is from the truth. Who speaketh falsely, but he who denieth that 22 Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever 23 denieth the Son, hath not the Father: * but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." Let that therefore abide in you, 24 which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the 25 promise which he hath promised us, even everlasting life. These lasting life. These things I write to you con- 26 cerning those who would deceive you. But the 27 unction which ye have received from him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one
I write to you, children, because your sins 13 are forgiven you for his name's sake. [I write to you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, children, because 14 ye have known the Father.] I write to you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome 15 the Evil One. Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not 16 in him. For all that is in the world, (the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life,) is not of the Father, but 17 is of the world. And the world passeth away,
so loving one another as Christ loved you, John xili. 34. This is included in
12-17. I write to you, children. In the 12th, 13th, and 14th verses there is such a tautology as is not to be found in any other place. Doddridge omits the 13th verse, as do others; but Dr. Wall the 14th. Some mss omit one part and some another. I have followed Doddridge, including the 13th in a parenthesis.- -Your sins are, &c. Emblematically in your baptism. Acts xxii. 16.—Him that is, &c. As there is no variation in the mss. this text clearly refers to the eternal existence of our Lord. "From the beginning” being equivalent to eternity; for he who has existed from the beginning of time, or of creation, must necessarily exist prior to it. See note, Ch. i. 1, and Middleton. Young men, &c. By children, I suppose young converts to be meant; by young men, vigorous christians, who were strong in faith and active
in the support and propagation of the gospel; by fathers, old christians, who had long known Jesus and served him.-Love not the world. Place not your happiness in the things of it, much less in the vices of wicked men; for he who thus loves the world, &c.- -Desire of the flesh. Unlawful, sensual, indulgencies; "desire of the eyes," avarice, whose eye is rivetted on acquisi tion; "pride of life," undue splendour, pomp, &c. These desires are produced, not by the Father, but by the world operating on our depravity; but these objects pass away, and men who seek them only perish; but he that doeth the will of God, &c.
18. It is the last time, &c. The last dispensation.Antichrist. whom Paul has written, and others have preached; and even now the spirit of that great enemy worketh, and some bearing Christ's name are his enemies, and may be called antichrists.
19. They went out from, &c. Hence John means erroneous apostates from the christian church.- Were not of us. Never did in heart believe the truth, and feel its holy influence; for if they bad, they would have continued with us, &c.
20. An unction. Of the Spirit from Christ the Holy One of God; and taught by this ye know all things relating to christian doctrine and discipline,
21-23. No falsehood is from. No false sentiment propagated by these apostates is any part of the gospel, or taught by the Holy Spirit; and indeed
I JOHN III.
that, when he shall appear, we may have contiedence, and not be ashamed before him, at his 29 coming. If ye know that he is righteous, be assured that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. 1. We learn that the real 1. We learn that the real saving knowledge of Christ is uniformly manifested by keeping his commands. By this only can we ascertain the nature of our knowledge, faith, and hope. If we profess his name, but practically disregard his precepts, our profesion is false and vain, and the truth is not in us. But if we bow to his will, and humbly strive to keep his word, though in many instances we fail, yet we may conclude that we are in him, belong to him, and are beloved for his sake. And how reasonable is it for such as abide in him, to endeavour to follow his holy example and walk as he also walked? The glorious light of the gospel having dispelled the darkness which covered the earth, and made manifest the way of pardon, peace, and reconciliation by Christ, and clearly described our duty, and enforced it by the strongest and most endearing motives, we ought to embrace the one, and practice the other. How unsuitable to a disciple of Jesus to live in malice, to indulge hatred, and delight in strife? Let such know that they are in darkness, in an awful state of guilt and sin, and, without repentance, will assuredly perish. He who loveth his brother, and shows it by his whole conduct, is in the light, is a child of light, and an heir of the world of light, love, and happiness:
2. In the household of faith there are babes and children, as well as young men and fathers; and each class needs the word of caution, direction, and exhortation. The lambs in Christ's flock have heard and know his voice; they have fled for refuge to his atoning blood and perfect righteousness; and though their faith and love may be feeble they are genuine and sincere. As the good Shepherd, he is gra ciously pledged to gather them, and carry them in his bosom, showing to them his love, and assuring them that their sins are forgiven for his name's sake. As to young men, persons who have attained to a deep knowledge of themselves, and of the system of divine truth, and who are strong in the grace of Christ, and have his word dwelling in them richly in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, by their faith they overcome the Evil One. The fathers and mothers in Israel have haps less fervour and apparent zeal, but more wisdom, stedfastness,
he who denieth Jesus to be the Christ, denieth the Father, who gave testimony to him as his Son; and he who doeth this hath no interest in the love of the Father; but he that acknowledgeth the Son, &c.
24, 25. then ye
Let that abide, &c. That doctrine which ye heard at first, and will abide in the fellowship of the Son and of the Father. Ch. i. 3. This is the promise, &c, See John xvii. 1, 2. Luke xii. 24.
26-28. Deceive you, &c. The false teachers, whom I have named antichrists, the real enemies of our Lord.- - Abideth in you, teaching you to discern between pretenders to spiritual gifts, and those who possess them;
A. D. 90. God's great love towards us in our adoption; we are bound to keep his commandments, and show brotherly love to each other.
humility, meekness, and spirituality, than either of the other classes, They have known, loved, and served their divine master, and can trust their all in his hand. O let all regard the admonition, “not to love the world, nor the things in it." For the world, as apostate, is opposed to God; and the things which the men of it seek, are only what satisfy their sensuality, covetousness, pride, and ambition. The pursuit of such things for such purposes is altogether inconsistent with the real love of God; and tends only to pollution and condemnation; and how soon will they pass away for ever? But how different is the portion of the believer, who does the will of God. His end is peace, his crown unfading, and his inheritance incorruptible.
3. Among the sincere, humble, believing followers of Christ, there will be found some almost christians, and some unsound and hypocritical pretenders to religion. These wil! one way or another corrupt the gospel and oppose the honour and cause of Christ; and on this account may justly be called antichrists. Some will deny that Jesus is the Christ; and by denying the Son, virtually deny the Father, who had borne and continued to bear, the most evident testimony to him. And let such know that they have no part in the love of the Father, or the redemption and salvation of the Son. Others will endeavour to model the gospel according to their reason and philosophy, and to render it palatable to the world, and consistent with the spirit and practices of it. These withdraw themselves from the self-denying disciples of Jesus; and by this show that they never in reality were true believers. O what a blessed privilege is it to have the unction of the Spirit, to teach us the truth as it is in Christ, and to preserve us from destructive errors and delusions. Taught to know our sinfulness, helplessness, and need of an all-sufficient Redeemer, we cannot but cleave to Jesus as such by faith; and under the influence of our feelings and convictions, we can resist the enticing errors which some propagate, of man's rectitude, the efficacy of repentance alone to obtain pardon, without any atoning sacrifice, the merit of good works, &c. Such opinions are directly contrary to the holy scriptures, to the work of the Holy Spirit, and the experience of all regenerate persons.
and as ye have this unction of the Spirit, grieve him not, but abide in him in Christ, by a stedfast faith; yea, abide in him, that when he shall appear, &c.
29. Every one that doeth, &c. That followeth his holy example is born of him. Newcome observes this is the only place where a christian is said to be born of Christ. Macknight applies it to the Father; but the close of the 28th verse clearly leads us to apply it to Christ.
CHAP. III. 1-3. What manner of love, &c. As the term oraz signifies both how great and what kind the apostle might have both senses in his mind. Love. Unspeakable and immense, and displayed in the most astonishing
it is not yet manifest what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him, 4 purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever doeth sin transgresseth the law also; for 5 sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away 6 our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth 7 hath not seen him, nor known him. My children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as Christ is 8 righteous. He that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinned from the beginning: for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he 10 cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God; nor he who loveth 11 not his brother. For this is the charge which ye heard from the beginning, that we love 12 one another. Not as Cain, who was of that Evil One, and slew his brother. And where
I. JOHN III.
manner towards sinners, and its effects on them, they being begotten by it to a new life, and by faith adopted and called the children of God our Saviour, Called signifies "to be, to become such;" and for applying the term 9, to the Saviour, see Tit. ii. 13. Doddridge applies it to him.--What we shall be. To what dignity, honour, and glory we shall be raised; but this we know, that at his coming, we shall be made like him, (Phil. iii. 21,) our bodies being mnade incorruptible, and our souls perfectly holy and happy, in seeing and enjoying him for ever. As he is pure. And the realizing hope of this has now a holy, purifying influence.
4, 5. Doeth sin. Practiseth it daily, as if his trade, transgresseth the law also, &c.; but ye know the great design of our Lord's manifestation in the flesh was, that he might take away our sins by suffering for them as the scape-goat did, and to save us from them by the influence of the gospel and the Spirit. John i. 29. Tit. ii. 14.
6,7. Abideth in him, &c. By faith and love sinneth not willingly.Not seen him, &c. Some think that the apostle may refer to one of the wicked apostles, who pretended to have seen and known Christ, to give more effect to his errors; but John observes that such as lived in sin had neither seen his true character, nor known him aright. Be not, my children, deceived, &c.
8. Is of the devil. He imitates him and complies with his suggestions. From the beginning. He introduced sin into the creation; and as he was the first offender, he continues to sin and to delight in it.-Destroy the works, c. Sin and the miseries flowing from it. 9, 10. Doth not sin, &c. See verse 4.- -His seed. The word of the gospel, (1 Pet. i. 23,) cordially believed and treasured up in the heart.— Cannot sin. Habitually, or at any time willingly, as the unregenerate do, and
Love of the brethren. fore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Won- 13a der not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto 14 life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Who- 15 soever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath everlasting life abiding in him. Hereby we know love, in 16 that Christ laid down his life for us: and we 1 ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath the good things of this world, 17 and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how abideth the love of God in him? My children, 18 let us not love in word, nor in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know 19 that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn 20 us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn 21 us not, then have we confidence towards God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, 22 because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should 23 believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,
11-15. The charge, &c. We delivered to you as what our Lord gave. John xiii. 34.; xv. 12.- Not as Cain, &c. Gen, iv. 1, &c. His own works were evil, and not being accepted as his brother's were, he envied, then hated, and at last slew him. Wonder not if such wicked men hate you.- We love the brethren. We are conscious from this, that we have passed from a staté in which we were subject to death and final misery, to one in which we enjoy spiritual life, and have the promise of everlasting life; for he that loveth not his brother abideth in death, is dow dead in sin and subject to destruction.— Is a murderer. His hatred may hurry him on to this great sin, and such a man cannot have any fitness for the enjoyment of everlasting life in heaven, where love is made perfect indeed.
16-18. We know love, &c. We know what it is, and what it effects and accomplishes; and we are to follow his example, and if necessary to lay down our life, &c. When the life and happiness of many are concerned, we ought to be willing to sacrifice our own. For if one only were to be rescued on such terms, the argument would fail, unless the life of that one were of such great importance, that in dying for him, we in fact died for many.Seeth his brother. His christian brother, how abideth, &c Love in word, se James ii. 14-16. Let us give real proofs of our love by our works.
19-21. Of the truth. By our brotherly love we know that we have received and obey the truth as it is in Christ; and are assured in our hearts that we shall be approved of God; but if our heart condemn us of hypocrieỷ,
1 JOHN IV.
How discovered. and love one another, as he hath given us || many false prophets are gone out into the 24 commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
world. Hereby ye know the Spirit of God: 2
A D. 90. He warneth them not to believe all teachers who pretended to have the Spirit, but to try them; by many reasons he urgeth brotherly love.
BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER III. 1. What abundant reason has every one born of God the Saviour to wonder and admire the love of God towards him. All such were in the same sinful polluted state as others, were devoted to the world and walked according to the course of it, in bold impiety and daring disobedience. Yet when in their sins and pollutions, he passed by and said, live; he wrought effectually upon their hearts, made them sensible of their perishing state, humbled them, and led them to believe on himself that they might be saved. Whether we consider the glorious majesty, holiness, and purity of God, or our vileness, guilt, and misery; or the nature, greatness, and infinite consequences of the blessing bestowed, we must be constrained to cry out, "What manner of love hath the Father bestowed upon us that we should be chosen to salvation, and called to be his children!" How free, distinguishing, immensely great and unspeakable is this love! Born from above we are no longer of the world, and no wonder if the world know us not, approve not of us, but despise and condemn us; for it knows not God, approves not his character, his law, or gospel. Let us not be discouraged, but having the spirit of adoption, cheerfully hope for the completion of the work of grace, in our perfect purity, holiness, and happiness.
2. The privilege of adoption is inseparably connected with the work of the Spirit and the exercise of faith, of genuine faith in Christ, and this is the spring and principle of new and holy obedience. The great design of Christ in coming into the world was to take away sin; first by his atoning sacrifice, and then by saving from the love, power, and practice of it. Those who love it, and habitually practice it, have, therefore, no ground to presume that they are the children of God; but on the contrary, that they are as yet the children of the Evil One. How can such have union with Christ, be branches in the true vine, while bringing forth only the grapes of Sodom? Habitual sin and wickedness show that a man is not born of God, for he that is cannot thus sin. Whatever men may pretend, as to their knowledge, change of heart, repentance, and faith, nothing can decisively prove either to
want of brotherly love &c., God is greater, &c.; but if our heart condemn us not, &c.
22-24. We usk, we receive. We ask agreeably to his will, we do and shall receive, because we keep his, &c.; especially by believing on his Sou Jesus Christ, and maintaiping brotherly love.--Abideth in him,&c. In God, in close fellowship; and God in him by his Spirit, &c. See John xiv. 23, and 1 John i. 3, 2, 6.
CHAP. IV. 1. Every spirit. Every person pretending to be inspired,
ourselves or others, that we are justified and adopted, but a love to whatever is holy, just, and good. The renewed mind aims at constant obedience to the will of God; and any offence, sin, or transgression is deeply lamented, and forgiveness sought with importunity. By this habitual love of holiness, the children of God are distinguished from the children of Satan. By their different spirit and fruits they may be known; and what a comfort is it to find that we are God's children, and that our right to the title and privilege is supported by our faith, love, and obedience.
3. True christian and brotherly love is another evidence of our calling and adoption. Not the hollow empty profession of it, saying to another, be thou clothed and fed, yet not giving them aught when it is in our power; but such a love as opens the lips to speak kindly, the hand to liberality, and excites to perseverance therein. Indeed the children of God love all men, so as to desire their happiness; even those whose crimes they detest, whose society they shun, and whose reproaches and injurious treatment they have often to endure. But it is their special duty to love the household of faith; and as they love him that begot they cannot but love those begotten by him, with the highest esteem and complacency. And such a love is a proof that we have passed from death to life; and the want of it shows that men are dead in sin. How opposed is the carnal mind to God and his people, and what bloody deeds and crimes has this occasioned in the world. This raised the arm of Cain against righteous Abel, and has in different periods shed rivers of righteous blood. Hatred is murder in the heart, and no such character can have spiritual life in him, nor the prospect of eternal life hereafter. While we should guard against envy and hatred, as believers in Christ, we should consider his love as the pattern we should strive to imitate. Bound by his command, and attracted by his free and matchless grace, we should love those whom he loves; and then may we have confidence towards God, of our acceptance and salvation; and be assured that nothing shall finally separate us from him.
God's love to us.
5 They are of the world: therefore they speak of the world, and the world heareth them. 6.We are of God. He that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is from God; and every one that loveth is 8 born of God; and knoweth God. He that loveth not, hath not known God; for. God 9 is love. Herein the love of God was manifested towards us, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live 10 through him. Herein is love; not that we not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent 11 his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Be
loved, if God so loved us, we ought also to 12 love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abideth in us, and the love of him is perfected 13 in us. Hereby we know that we abide in him,
I JOHN IV.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER IV. 1. In our time very few pretend to be divinely inspired so as to make known new truths; yet some imagine that they are so favoured with the Spirit, that they only understand the holy oracles aright. Others confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, but they deny that he came for any other purpose than to be a moral teacher, and an example of moral righteousness. His office of High-priest is vacated, or twittered away, to praying for his
that a mere man came into the world like other men, would be a proof of nothing respecting the inspiration or spirit by which persons taught.
4. Of God. Born and taught by him, and have exposed and overcome the suares and arts of these false prophets.--Greater is he, &c. Is God who dwells in you by his Spirit, than the Evil One who dwells in and impels these men of the world.
Jesus is the Christ.
and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the 14 Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus 15 is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and i he in God. And we have known and believed, 16 the love which God hath to us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God in him. Hereby is our love made 17 perfect, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but 18 perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he 19 first loved us. If a man say, "I love God," 20 and hate his brother, he speaketh falsely: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And we have this commandment from 21 him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
5, 6. Of the world. They belong to the wicked world, and speak and teach what is agreeable to it; and hence it heareth them; but we belong to God, and he that knoweth God, &c. -Know the spirit, &c. The true Spirit of God from that evil spirit by which they are animated.
1. Love is from God. Is derived from his influence, and promoted by his example; for every one that loveth his christian brother is born of him, &c.; but he that is destitute of love, hath not known God aright, for God is love. He is essentially benevolent; and his other attributes are exerted and modified by love. He commands this by his law, produces and cherishes it by his Spirit, and is the great pattern of it.
9-11. God sent his, &c. Macknight appears to have thought the article emphatic before μatoyin, as he renders, “His Son, the only-begotten;" but that the common is the proper version, see Middleton.--Herein is Love. It is herein manifested in a manner the most wonderful, and the most free, that he should send his only begotten Son to be a propitiation for our sins, that being pardoned, we might live through him; and if he has thus truly loved us we should love one another. Chap. iii. 16, &c.
12, 13. No man hath seen, &c. John i. 18. Though no man hath seen God, yet his only-begotten Son hath revealed him, and from this we know that VOL. III. PART XXIV. 3 M
followers while here on earth; his bearing our sins on the cross, making atonement by the shedding of his blood, and his reigning to control and subdue all his enemies, and preserve and save his people, are stoutly denied. Let us try all doctrines by the plain unforced sense of scripture; and we shall soon find such as the above to be unfounded, and the mere errors of men. Those who possess the spirit of Christ, will soon perceive, that such opinions however approved by the
if we love each other he abideth in us by his Spirit, and the love of him is perfected and shows itself by its fruits.
14-17. Saviour of the world. Of all that have, do, or shall believe in him; and whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, sent in the flesh to be a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, and who saves us, God abideth in him by his truth and Spirit, and he in God by his faith and love; and hereby is our love made perfect, that we may have confidence in the great day, because as God is in the world showing bis kindness, so are we exercising good-will and love to each other as christians, and doing good to all as far as it is in our power.
18, 19. No fear in love. No slavish fear of the judgment, as perfect love to God and to man, in the most effectual manner casteth it out, because such fear occasions torment, which a person who is made perfect in love cannot suffer. He that feareth theu is not, &c. Though we love him in the highest degree, let us remember that it is because he first loved us, by forming us capable of such love as his creatures, aud by giving for us his Son, and by renewing us sinners, and enabling us to exercise it.
20, 21. I love God, &c. If any one profess love to God, and yet hate his brother man, or christian, he is a deceiver; for if he love not one who partakes of his own nature, whose good qualities and whose trials and distresses he daily sees, how can he love God whose excellencies are not the object of his senses, but of his reason and mental contemplation? And that he asserts a falsehood is also evident, because no one that loves God will violate his commands. Now we have this command, that he, &c. See John xiii. 14; xv. 12, and 1 John iii. 11.