« PreviousContinue »
How to try]
[the spirits. CHAP. IV.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of
God : Every spirit that confesseth BELOVED, believe not every spirit, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh
but try the spirits whether they is of God : are of God: because many false pro- 3 And every spirit that confesseth phets are gone out into the world. not that Jesus Christ is come in the
EXPOSITION. be changed into his image-we shall be But, 2, The late ingenious Mr. Fuller pure, as he is pure; for we“ know that he has remarked (and we have met with the was manifested to take away our sins; and suggestion in bim only), that the apostle in him is po sin."
had been before exhortiog Christians to This similitude will not, we confess, be abide in tbe truth, and to " walk as Christ complete in the present life: we must see also walked.” In the close of this Epistle, Christ even as he is, before we can be con- also, the apostle speaks of apostacy-that formed wholly to his image. There is, is, of complete and final apostacy-as“ a however, a partial resemblance, which sin unto death," or a fatal and soul-debecomes more and more complete as grace stroying sin : of this sin, therefore, Mr. prevails in us. In this state we“ koow Fulier conceives that the apostle here but in part,” and are sanctified but in part, treats, and which he describes as utterly inas the holiest and best of men admit, and consistent with true godliness. He that is as St. John himself assures us: “ If we say born of God, in this seuse," siopeth not,” that we bave no sio, we deceive ourselves, and “ cannot sin.” Mr. F. would, there and the truth is not in us." (Chap. i. 8.) fore, for the term sin, substitute apostacyThe same apostle, therefore, cannot mean meaning, inveterate and complete aposto be understood absolutely, when he says, tacy, and reads the text as follows :“ He that is born of God doth not commit Whoso abideth in him, apostatiseth not: sin ;" but it is yet a question bow the words whosoever apostatiseth bath not seen bim, can be best explained, in harmony with neither known him.--He that is guilty of other passages in this epistle, and of the apostacy is of the devil; for the devil hath Scriptures in general. We shall mention been an apostate from the beginning.two ways in which this has been attempted. Whosoever is born of God doth not aposta
1. It has been commonly understood, tise, for his seed remaineth in him; and thai by committing sin is bere meant the he cannot apostatise, because he is born of habitual practice thereof, as the heathen God." (Harmony of Script. p. 49.) practised idolatry, and the Jews their now Either of these expositions may be suffi. obsolete and superstitious ritual. It must, cient to reconcile our apostle to himself, however, be admitted, that every act of and to the general tenor of Scripture. Our in is as much forbidden as the habit; that readers will judge for themselves; we feel seither the law nor the gospel tolerate even too much of our frailty to dogmatize, where the thought of foolishness" (Prov.xxiv.9); wise and good men differ. et it is not every sinful thought, or even Mutual love among Christians is the ict, that proves a man hypocritical or in- burden of this Epistle; but that love must incere. Christians are bound to the prac- be connected with love to Christ, because ice of piety and good works; and yet, as we are commanded to love them as breit. James says (chap. iii. 2), “In many thren, that is, as fellow Christians; and hings we all offend;" and as St. John- to the extent (ver. 16), that we should be 'If any man sin," upon repentance and ready to “ lay down our lives" for them, umiliation, * " we have an advocate with if circumstances should require. Now this he Father, even Jesus Christ” himself; mutual love produces mutual fellowship
that, as we must not presume on this and communion, not with them only, but > encourage ourselves in sin, neither must also with God, our common Father, and e despair of pardun when we repent. And with Christ, our common Saviour, through his exposition is, we think, in perfect har- the medium of his Holy Spirit, which he jony with Scripture truth.
hath given to abide with us for ever.
NOTES. CHAP. IV. Ver. 2. Every spirit that confesselh Doddr, thinks these words not only may, but must at, &c._" Every spirit who confesseth Jesus be translated, hrist, who is come in the desb, is of God.” So Ver. 3. This is that spirit of Antichrist.-Roman
The test of]
(true doctrine. flesh is not of God: and this is that dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have in us. heard that it should come; and even 13 Hereby know we that we dwell now already is it in the world. in him, and he in us, because he bath
4 Ye are of God, little children, given us of his Spirit. and have overcome them : because 14 And we have seen and do testify greater is he that is in you, than he that the Father sent the Son to be the that is in the world.
Saviour of the world. 5 They are of the world : therefore 15 Whosoever shall confess that speak they of the world, and the world Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth heareth them.
in him, and he in God. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth 16 And we have known and beGod heareth us; he that is not of God lieved the love that God hath to us. heareth not us. Hereby know we the God is love ; and he that dwelleth spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. in love dwelleth in God, and God in
7 Beloved, let us love one another : him. fur love is of God; and every one that 17 Herein is our love made perfect
, loveth is born of God, and knoweth that we may have boldness in the day God.
of judgment : because as he is, sů are 8 He that loveth not knoweth not we in this world. God; for God is love.
18 There is no fear in love ; bet 9 In this was manifested the love perfect love casteth out fear: because of God toward us, because that God fear bath torment. He that feareth is sent his only begotten Son into the not made perfect in love. world, that we might live through 19 We love him, because he first him.
loved ús. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved 20 If a man say, I love God, and God, but that he loved us, and sent hateth his brother, he is a liar : for be his Son to be the propitiation for our that loveth not his brother whom be sins.
hath seen, how can he love God whom 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we he hath not seen? ought also to love one another.
21 And this commandment have me 12 No man hath seen God at any from him, That he who loveth God love time. If we love one another, God his brother also. (E)
EXPOSITION. CHAP. IV. vine inspiration; many of whom, however
, (E) Ver. 1—21. Christians are warned were inspired by a spirit opposite to that not to believe every pretender to inspiration, of God and Christ. The great criterion but to try such by the word of God.-By the apostle proposes is, their regard and the spirits here named, it should seem respect for Jesus Christ. If they couless that we must understand those Christian him as their Lord and Master, then may teachers who, in that age, pretended to di. they be considered as actuated by his Spie
NOTES-Chap. IV. Con. Catholics plead, that the Pope cannot be Antichrist, in us.”_Because as he is, so are re:-By taket because he admits and maintains that Jesus Christ and communion with Christ, we became like me is “ come in the flesh :” but St. John tells us that and like him, in the world are neglecied and dethere are many Antichrists; that is, many who op
spised. pose Christ, and his trath, though in different ways. Ver. 18. There is no fear in love.-Fear is hem See Note on chap. ii. 18.
used in the sense of alarm and terror" fear (thai) Ver. 4. Greater is he that is in you, &c.- That is, hath torment.” God, who actuates the believer, is infinitely above Ver. 20, How can he love God whom he hath est that rallen spirit which actuates the world.
scen! - Intercourse and familiarity between friends 17. Herein is our love-Gr.“ love with us”- engenders love ; but it is by faith only in the reyeit made perfect.--Doddr. “ Herein is love perfected tion of his will, that we can love God.
[in heaven. overcometh the world : and this is the CHAP. V.
victory that overcometh the world,
even our faith. WHOSOEVER believeth that 5 Who is he that overcometh the
Jesus is the Christ is born of world, but he that believeth that Jesus God: and every one that loveth him is the Son of God? that begat loveth him also that is be- 6 This is he that came by water gotten of him.
and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by 2 By this we know that we love the water only, but by water and blood. children of God, when we love God, And it is the Spirit that beareth witand keep his commandments. ness, because the Spirit is truth.
3 For this is the love of God, that 7 For there are three that bear we keep his commandments: and his record in heaven, the Father, the commandments are not grievous. Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these
4 For whatsoever is born of God three are one.
EXPOSITION. it; if not, then most assuredly they must that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the re actuated by another spirit.' “ To con- propitiation for onr sips." And what are less Jesus Christ (says Dr. Doddridge), the natural tendencies and consequences eems to meao, not barely professiug some of this love ? 1. “ We love him, because kind of regard to him, but yielding a regu- he first loved us" (ver. 19); and, 2. “ If ar, consistent humage ; and, as it were, God so loved us, we ought also to love one harmonizing and falling in with his de- another." (ver. 11.). Thus should all our igo." To confess that Jesus Christ is love rise out of the infinite fulness of God's
come in the flesh," implies, 1. His pre- love ; for he is the ocean of beneficence, -ious existence before he came; 2. His and every thing in creatures which deserves ncarnation, that “ the word was made the name of love, springs up therefrom. lesh and dwelt amongst us." (John i. 14.) Another criterion of love to God is, that 5. That this incarnation was real, and not it hath“ no fear"-no terror-notornerely apparent ; for while some of the ment. Pagans, and unconverted Jews, ncient beretics considered our Lord Jesus might dread approaching into the presence $ man, and as man only, others thought of a dread Jehovah, or a terrific idol; but is incarnation was in appearance only, those who come to God through Christ, nd that himself, in reality, neither suf- will bave boldness in the day of judgment, red nor died. That spirit which denies for the Judge bimself is also their Friend - contradicts Christ, either in his person and Saviour.
mission, is undoubtedly " the spirit of uticbrist," as being opposed to him, and onsequently “the spirit of error" and of
"Ob! for a heart in thought renew'd, Isehood.
And fill'd with love divine ! The apostle now returns to his favourite Perfect, and right, and pure, and good eme of divine love (ver. 10): “ Herein is
A copy, Lord, of thine !"
Anon. ve; not that we (first) loved God, but
NOTES CHAP. V. Ver. 1. He that loveth him that begat, ness. The probability is, that the passage was orireth him also, &c.-Love to a friend waturally en. ginally a marginal comment on the Spirit, the ders love towards his offspring.
water, and the blood;' and was introduced, by the Per. 6. This is he that came by water and blood- ignorance or the predilection of transcribers, into at is, he was baptised first by water, and then the text of the Vulgate Latin version. There is no blood, and in both cases did the Holy Spirit bear authority for it whatsoever in any manuscripts of the Iness. See Matt. ii. 17; xvii. 5; compare Note Greek original, except one, which is too modern to ver. 8, below. See also John xii. 28.
be of much value.... But it should be recollected, Per. 7, 8. There are three that bear record in that critical disquisition upon the authenticity of zten, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: any document, should be carried on with the most
these three are one." The evidence in favour of rigorous impartiality, and without either favour or genuineness of these words is so inferior to that disfavour to particular doctrines wbich the document the opposite side, that the great majority of per- might affect; that many who have denied the doc. s who have gone through the whole case (which trines of the Trinity and the dirine nature of the o trifling labour), are satisfied of their spurious- Saviour, have admiited the common reading of these NOTES-Chap. V. Con. texts ; and that many other persons who reject (thịs] Ver. 8. These three agree in one-i. e. in the se passage .... are fully convinced of the truth of
(on earth. 8 And there are three that bear 14 And this is the confidence that witness in earth, the spirit, and the we have in him, that, if we ask any water, and the blood : and these three thing according to his will, he hearagree in one.
eth us : 9 If we receive the witness of men, 15 And if we know that he hear ne, the witness of God is greater : for this whatsoever we ask, we know that we is the witness of God which he hath have the petitions that we desired of testified of his Son.
him. 10 He that believeth on the Son of 16 If any man see his brother sis a God hath the witness in himself: he sin which is not unto death, be sha) that believeth not God hath inade him ask, and he shall give him life fr a liar; because he believeth not the them that sin not unto death. Ther record that God gave of his Son. is a sin unto death: I do not
11 And this is the record, that God he shall pray for it. hath given to us eternal life, and this 17 All unrighteousness is sin : ax life is in his Son.
there is a sin not unto death. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; 18 We know that whosoever is ben and he that hath not the Son of God of God sinneth not; but he that hath not life.
begotten of God keepeth himself, and 13 These things have I written unto that wicked one toucheth him out. you that believe on the name of the 19 And we know that we are Son of God; that ye may know that God, and the whole world lieth in ye have eternal life, and that ye may wickedness. believe on the name of the Son of 20 And we know that the Son of God.
God is come, and hath givea us y
testimony; but what may be meant by these those doctrines, because they believe the general witnesses, is by no means clear. Dodanige ek tenor of Scripture and the declaration of particular plains them of the miraculous gists of the Spirit be passages, both numerous and forcible, to be in their baptismal water, and the sacramental blood; favour."-Dr. P. Smith's Answer to the Manifesto Mackn. But the expression might, perhaps, bet of the Christian Evidence Society," pp. 57, 58.- ferred to the scene of Christ's death, when the e Omitting the doubtful words, the passage reads thus: parting spiril of our Saviour, and the bolted “ There are three that bear record, the spirit, the water Howing from his side, bore a united sitare water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." to the reality of bis death. See John sin,3,..
In consequence of the above facts, the disputed The Holy Spirit also bare witness to tbe efficace words were omitted in several Protestant editions of Christ's death and atonement, by raisiog bis 12 the New Testament by Luther and Erasmus; and the dead. See 1 Tim. iii. 16; 1 Peter iii. 18. since, by Newcome, Griesbach, and others ; also in
Ver. 13. On the name-i. p. the person and be several editions of the English Bible, in the reigns of Henry viii., Edward vi., and Queen Elizabeth,
racter of the Son of God. Compare Matt. In they are either placed within brackets (as by Doda
19. And thut ye may believe with more assess
confidence. dridge), or printed in a smaller lypo, as of doubtful authority. `In some copies, also, the 8th verse is
Ver. 14. This is the confidence that we hørt placed before the 7th.
him -Marg." coucerning bim.* Doder. “ towned
him.” On the other hand, it is but justice to acknowledge, that the number of MSS. which have been
Ver. 18. Whosoever is born of God sixnetd alexamined and collated, makes but a small propor
See our Ex position of chap. iii. 1-24.- Tesco
him nol.-Mackn." Layeth not hold on bie;" /> tion of those existing, many of which are locked up in the libraries of the Catholic and Greek churches;
does not claim him as his own. so that it is yet possible, as the late Bishop Middle- Ver. 19. The whole world lieth in riched ton suggests, that some future inquiries may wate
Mackn.“ Under the wicked one." Not only rially change the state of the question.
the Pagan world sunk into universal idolatry, kur For farther satisfaction on this suspected passage,
also the Jews themselves were sunk into a spat! see Mr. Horne's Crit. Introd. vol. iv.; Analysis,
of infidelity, no less dreadtul and offensive. part 11. ch. iv. 5; and Dr. A. Clarke's Sacred Lit. Ver. 20. This is the traie God, and eterasi Ife.12mo. pp. 85–98.
Commentators are much divided, whether to set Ver. 7. These three are one.-The witnessing of tence refers to Christ only, as both the type God sa: the Father and the Holy Spirit to the mission of eternal life (so Doddr.); or whether the feet Christ, as also his own witness to the truth, are member of the sentence refer to the Father, as clearly and repeatedly referred to in the New Testa- true
God," and the latter to the Son, as Herta! ment; and their union is to less inculcated in Matt. life." So Mackn. xxviii, 19, and other Scriptures,
(against idolatry. understanding, that we may know him This is the true God, and eternal life. that is true, and we are in him that 21 Little children, keep yourselves is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. from idols. Amen. (F)
miraculous gifts, and the inspiration of (F) Ver. 1—21. The evidences of rege- the sacred writings: and the second series neration, and the witnesses to Christianity of witnesses, however their evidences may
- The proposition, “ Whosoever believeth be explained, are certainly to the same that Jesus Christ is born of God," seems to effect. “And this is the record, that God require some elucidation. Certainly, it is hath given to us eternal life, and that life not a man saying that he believes, without is in his Son." his faith be evinced by good works. It is Now he that believeth in the Son of God faith that worketh hy love, as St. James “ hath the witness in himself"- not an has abundantly proved, which alone can imaginary conceit--not an unfounded pereither justify or sanctify the believer. Faith suasion, but an evidence in his own heart is evidenced by love, and by good works; from the work of God's Holy Spirit, who resisting the snares and temptations of the has created therein a love to holiness in all world; “ and this is the victory that over- its branches. "The gospel of Christ (says cometh the world, even our faith.” So that the amiable Dr. Watts) is like a seal or true faith, genuine love, and good works, signet of such inimitable and divine enare inseparably connected.
graving, that no created power can counIt may seem that St. John was guilty of terseit it; and wben the Spirit of God has great tautology (if we may so express it), stamped this gospel on the soul, there are in karping on this bis favourite string- so many holy and bappy lines drawn or love to God and to the brethren. So wholly impressed thereby—so many sacred signawas bis heart engrossed with this topic, as tures and divine features stamped on the tradition reports, that when he was much mind, that give certain evidence both of a in years, and unable to preach, be used to heavenly siguet and a heavenly operator." be led to the church at Ephesus, and to ad- (Watts's Sermons, vol. 1. Serm. 3; and dress them in these simple words—“ Little compare our Exposition of 2 Cor. iii. 1–18.) children, love one another."
Bit “ There is a sin unto deatli,” and We now come to a passage relative to this forms an awful and important subject the Holy Trinity, the authenticity of which of inquiry. The nature of it is thus stated has been inuch disputed, and has been by Dr. Doddridge :-" There is .... such given up by some of the ablest advocates an apustacy from Christianity, as is atof that doctrine, as will be seen in our tended with blaspheming the operations of Notes. To us it appears, that the internal the Spirit of God, and ascribing them to evidence arising from the context is in fa- Satan ;'- '-an apostacy like that mentioned vour of the passage; but the external, by St. Paul as irrecoverable(Heb. vi. 4–6), arising from the collation of nearly 130 and attended with the horrid aggravation manuscripts, the ancient versions, &c. is of ascribing the operations of God's Holy decidedly agaiost it. One thing, however, Spirit to the devil. (Matt. xii. 31, 32.) “Í is certain, that, in the words disputed, no- say not,'' says St. John, who probably witthing is stated but what may be proved nessed the awful denunciation of Christfrom other passages of Scripture ; nor is “I say not that he (or any man) shab there reason to believe, that either the in- pray for it;" and yet he does not absosertion or omissiou was made with any de- lutely forbid it. For we may not be able sign to corrupt the Scriptures. The for- absolutely to ascertain the fact, nor inust mer might be done by way of explanatory we attempt to restrain the divine mercy. note, or the latter through inadvertence. The concluding adunonition of this Epis
The testimony bere borne is to the truth tle, “ Little children, keep yourselves from of Christianity, in whatever way it may be idols," has been supposed by some to prove explained. The Father bare witness to the it was addressed to Gentiles, the Jews. Son, by the works which the latter per- having long since given up idolatry. But formed in his name, and by a miraculous are there no idols but images of metal, voice from heaven ; the Son (or Word) wood, or stone? Are there no iduls of bore witness to himself, by the miracles flesh and blood? Or is Mammon, the God which he wrought in his own name; and of this world, no longer worshipped? May the Holy Spirit also bare wituess in his God preserve us all from idols!