« PreviousContinue »
29. Again : In his epistle to the elect lady and her “A”. children, he draws the same line of distinction. “This is love, that we walk after his command- 2 John a ments :” as if he had said, God is love—and this ** is God, that we walk after his commandments. “This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” 30. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your [gr. • *tavl family (or communion,) neither bid him [gr. xaspol rejoice.” 31. “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” Who walk not after his commandments, but after their own lusts; who own the doctrine of Christ to be from heaven, but transgress it, and keep it not : and whosoever he be that answers to this character, mark it well; Pro This is a deceiver and an Antichrist. 2 John 7. 32. In his third and last epistle, the beloved apostle makes the distinction, if possible, more plain and simple ; in which the spirit of Christ, and of Antichrist, are manifested in their respective followers, Gaius, and Diot reflher. 33. To Gaius he saith, “Beloved—I rejoiced great- s John 3, ly when the brethren came, and testified of the truth ** that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers.” 34. Thus it is evident, that, by walking in the truth, and faithfully doing the commandments of Christ, Gaius was accepted ; and particularly, in observing that saying of Christ which was from the beginning : Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it *. unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 35. But how manifest is the contrary character 2 “I wrote unto the church : but Diot refines, who lov- 3 John ”. eth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth”,” us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remcmber his
chor deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words; and not content there with ; neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” 36. “He that doeth good is of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” This is the touchstone, and by this, Diotref hes is proved to be an Antichrist in perfect shape. He loved to have the preeminence ; not willing to be the least of all, and servant of all—to humble himself, and esteem others better than himself, according to the gospel. 37. Again : He received not those whom John had sent; of course he received not John, neither him that had sent him, nor him that was from the beginning. Thus, he at once rejected Christ, and subverted the whole order of the gospel; and having neither the Father nor the Son, what could he have but the spirit of Antichrist 2 38. The reason why this deceiver did not receive the brethren, is particularly noticed by the apostle : Because that in the name of God they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. Those faithful ministers of Christ, would neither take any part of the gentile superstitions, where with to corrupt the gospel, and accommodate it to the taste of the wicked ; nor would they take any hire for their labours in the gospel; either of which was sufficient to stir up DiotreAhes against them. 39. For Antichrist never could endure sound doctrine, nor bear the testimony of Jesus, as delivered in his name, without any mixture or false covering ; neither could he ever support his dignity, without a revenue from his subjects. Thus we see, at so early a period, not only the distinction, but the division, between Christ and vintichrist. 40. For if Diot reshes cast those out of the church, that would receive John and the brethren, what kind of a church must have remained : Must it not, upon the plainest principles of the doctrine of Christ, have been a united body of firofessed Christians, who would neither receive the Father, nor the Son, nor even hold in fellowship, any one, who would receive either? 41. So far, then, did the work of Antichrist ad
vance in the first century, that he had a body, in which he could live, and by which he could work, according to his own deceitful plan, for the undermining, and supplanting the true spirit and power of the gospel. 42. And it further appears, from the revelation . to John, in the isle of Patmos, that, in all the Gentile churches scattered abroad, Antichrist had more or less of his subjects, at this period, who, Diotrefines-like, were striving for the pre-eminence. This will reasonably appear to have been the case, from a view of the situation of the seven churches of Asia. 43. The angel of the church of Eshesus, had to contend with those that said they were apostles, and were not, but were liars; and also with the JWicolaitans, who held a community of wives. At Smyrna, were similar blasphemers, who said they were Jews, and were not ; but in reality, were of the synagogue of Satan. 44. In Pergamos, where Satan had his seat, they had those who held the doctrine of Balaam—who taught to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication ; and also those who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. At Thyatira, that lying Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess, was suffered to seduce the professed servants of Christ, to commit fornication, and adultery, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 45. There were but a few names in Sardis, which had not defiled their garments. Philadelphia had but a little strength; and Laodicea was lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, for which cause, says Christ, “I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Yet amidst all the deceitful working of lying apostles, filthy, debauched and lukewarm professors, there remained still a few, who had ears to hear what the Shirit said unto the churches.
Rev. ii. 2, 9-20.
chap. iii. 4,8,16.
1 Cor. i. 2ty.
eb. Theo p. 332.
N the beginning, God chose the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise, and weak things of the world to confound the mighty ; and not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called. 2. But in process of time, when false teachers had perverted the truth from its original simplicity, and modifica the doctrines of Christ to suit the taste of the wicked ; then the gospel, as it was called, in this corrupted state, began to be advocated by many among the wise and prudent of the world; and in proportion as their number and influence increased, the order of things was changed, and the wisdom of man was introduced as the soundation of faith, instead of the flower of God. 3. The true order of God required living witnesses; who were united to Christ, by a perfect obedience to his example, and none could stand in that order, as Jesus testified, but such as denied themselves, and took up their cross against every carnal lust, and walked even as he walked. 4. But Osterovaldo well observcs, “ Carnal men * could not endure the cross, nor divest themselves ‘ of the love of wealth and pleasures, and by these ‘means corrupted the pure doctrine of the gospel.” 5. It was impossible for carnal men, who lived in wealth and pleasures, to have the Spirit of Christ, the true power of the gospel, abiding in them. And as their pride and presumption prompted them to stand at the head of affairs, they wickedly contrived means of getting a false power ; which was effected by substituting the letter in the room of the Shirit, and assuming the authority of expounding the writings of the apostles by the rules of a blind philosophy, which carnal men like themselves had invented. 6. Hence says Osterwald : “From the time that “ the tenets and methods of philosophers were blen‘ ded with the christian religion, which is very sim‘ple, all things began to degenerate.”
7. As early, at least, as the second century, this change in the fundamental principles of the gospel was introduced, that, instead of receiving and treating those that were sent in the order of God, as angels of the Lord, even as Christ Jesus, the whole of the scriptures, both the old and new testament, so called, were adopted as the basis of truth, and publicly read and expounded by the wicked and wise of the world, as the great rule of faith and manners.
8. Those vain men gradually effaced the beautiful simplicity of the gospel, by the laborious efforts of human learning, and the dark subtilties of imaginary science ; and the tenets of a chimerical fihilosophy were incorporated into the Christian system : for, as Mosheim says, “they thought it a very fine accom“plishment, to be able to express the precepts of * Christ, in the language of sihilosofthers, civilians, * and rabbing.”
9. From this it is easy to see what kind of a gospel was established, when the whole of the Jewish scriptures, which the scribes and Pharisees themselves could not understand, together with the writings of the apostles, were explained by carnal men, whose education and manners rendered them as widely disferent from the apostles, as Belial is different from
Christ. Surely such a revolution could effect nothing
short of a total ship-wreck of the living faith of the Son of God.
10. This change was gradually introduced; and the means by which it was effected, are particularly worthy of notice ; which according to the history of those times, consisted in substituting human learning in the place of the illuminating influence of the Holy Ghost: and this was done, not by any council from the apostles, or any that stood in the order of God; but by the cunning craftiness of men, who were destitute of the truth.
I 1. “ The first, and the most fatal of all events to • the primitive religion, (says Robinson, ) was the • setting up of a christian academy at .4/earandria, in • Egypt. Christians had been reproached with illit• eracy, and this seemed a plausible method to get a rid of the scandal.”