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SERMON VI. St. John's Test of knowing Christ, and
being born of bim.
Preached against the Methodifs.
I JOHN ü. 3.
keep his Commandments.
HESE Words (together with great SER M.
Part of the Epistle from whence they
are taken) are levelled by the Apostle against the Sect of the Nicolaitans, whose Deeds and Doctrines Christ, (in the Epistles which he orders the same Apostle to write to the Churches of Ephesus and Pergamus, Rev. č. 6, 15.) declares that he hates. A Sect which (from whomsoever they received their Name) were certainly a most filthy and abominable one. They boasted, it seems, of I don't know what Knowledge and Love they had, beyond other Men, of God and of
Christ: And in this Knowledge they placed S ERM. the whole of Religion, without bearing any Regard or Esteem to a holy, religious or moral Life. But arrogantly confiding in their fupposed profound Knowledge of Mysteries and Secrets, which they pretended were revealed peculiarly to them; they assumed the Title of GOD's Eleet, his Favourites and Sons; and looking upon themselves as above all Law, and exempt from all Rules, they called their Lewdnesses and Debaucheries Holy Communions; and whatever Lasciviousness or Impurities they should commit, they were sure nothing would be imputed to them as Sin *.
To prevent such hellish Doctrines and Practices from spreading in the Church, the Apostle sets himself through this whole Epistle to represent God in his true Nature. And after a short Introduction, thus he begins ; This is the Mesage (or this is the Declaration) which we have beard of him, (i.e. from Christ) and declare (again) unto you, that GOD is Light (i.e. pure as the Light) and in bimis no Darkness (no Impurity) at all, Ch.i. 5. If we say that we have Fellowship with
* Clem. Alex. Strom. 2. p. 401. and Strom. 3. p. 436. and Epiphar. Hæres. 35. O 3
SERM. him, and walk in Darkness [or Uncleanness) VI.
we lie and do not the Truth, ver. 6. If we say that we have no Sin, we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us, ver. 8. He that Saith, I know him, and keepeth not bis Commandments, is a Liar himself, Ch. ii. 4. and maketh GOD a Liar too, Ch. i. 10. i. e, he directly giveth God the Lie. For be that committeth Sin, is not of GOD, but of the Devil, Ch.iii. 8. And therefore whatever Knowledge such a one may vaunt of Christ, it is evident that he really knows him not. For whosoever finneth, bath not seen him, neither known him, ver. 6. Hereby (faith he) i.e. Hereby onlr we do know that we know him, if we keep bis Commandments. By this we may be asured that we indeed know Christ, and that he does and will know us: We are sure that we have bis Spirit to assist us here, Ch. iv. 12, 13. and we are sure that he will receive us to himself hereafter, John xiv. 3.
But that we may fully understand the Words, and duly improve them, I shall explain and discourse of them in the Manner following.
1. First, I shall shew what the Apostle intends by knowing Chrift,
II. SECONDLY, I shall enquire, what SERM. Means he directs to, for the attaining such Knowledge.
I. FIRST, I must shew what the Apostle intends by knowing Christ. For there are various and different Manners of knowing him mentioned in Scripture. There is a Knowledge of him, which even the Devils have : I know thee who thou art (faith one of them) the Holy One of GOD, Luke iv. 34. Others also came out of many which they had polelled, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of ; GOD, ver.41. But our Saviour rebuked them, and would not suffer them to speak, because they knew be was Christ. They knew him not as a Saviour, but as a Judge ; and therefore our Lord would receive none of their Confeffion, because it proceeded not from Choice but Necessity. Instead of reviving their Hopes, his Appearance amongst them but increased their Despair : They had nothing to expect from him but Indignation and Wrath: And therefore their knowing him could not but throw them into Horror and Confusion.
A dismal Consequence this of knowing him! Though the Knowledge, which Men that are wicked have of bim, is attended with no bet
And therefore their knowledge also is very far different from that intended in my Text : For the Knowledge Saint John speaks of, he mentions as desirable : Hereby (faith he) We DO KNOW that we know bim: --He speaks of it, you see, as of a Knowledge, which they were very glad to attain. And with good Reason might he do so, as we shall perceive, if we look back
the two Verses preceding my Text. My little Children, these things write I unto you, that ye fin not, i. e. that
ye do not, like these Boasters, live in any Habit of Sin ; or wilfully commit any one fingle Axt of Sin : But if any Man fin through Inadvertency or Surprize, or for any Time past has lived in Sin, but now sincerely repents and amends his Life; we bave an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous i And he (in such Cases) is the Propitiation for our Sins; and nat for ours only, but also for the Sins of the whole World : i. e. of all that lay hold on him by Faith and Repentance. And then immediately follows my Text way And bereby we do KNOW that we know him, i. e, we don't vainly and impioully boast, but we ASSUREDLY know that he is an Advocate for us, a Propitiation for our past Sins, and not only fo, bụt also for our future