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1 John ir. 3.
Rom. .. 12.
CHAP. and confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh :
this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world. Whereby we know that it is the last time Satan shall ever take the advantage of a revelation from heaven, to corrupt and supplant the work of God, as these hypocrites are doing. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.
4. Froin this it is evident, that Antichrist was not a particular man, but a spirit, which assumed the name and authority of Christ, and made its way into many deceitful and false-hearted men, who pretended to be the followers of Christ, while their practice was pointedly against him : and from the very nature of the work of Christ in that day, it seems that such impositions were unavoidable.
5. According to the commission of the apostles, the gospel was to be preached to every creature, and no distinction made between the Jew and the Greek, the learned and the unlearned ; and as it was received, at least in word, by all characters ; so none were prohibited from teaching to others, what they them. selves had learned.
6. Hence many false teachers took occasion, to modify the doctrines of Christ according to their own carnal taste, or that of others, and to explain them in such a manner, as to avoid those persecutions, to which the honest and faithful were exposed. In par. ticular, many of the Jews, whose rites and ceremonies had become honourable in the world, continued to practise those superstitious rites which had no further connexion with the faith or practice of the gospel
7. Thus, by putting, as it were, a piece of new cloth upon the old garment, they claimed their relation to the Church, and at the same time retained the friendship of the world. Hence St. Paul observe Some As many as desire to make a fair shew in the fesh, They constrain you to be circumcised; only lest They should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
8. Many also of the profligate Pagans, who were Convicted of the truth of the gospel, and constrained
Gel. Vi 12.
to seek some measure of union to the followers of CHAY. Christ, early took the same deceitful liberty of perverting the truth, and mixing it with their carnal reasonings, and even introducing, under the christian name, their licentious doctrines, and inpious festivals, and cominitting such abominations as were not so much as named among other Gentiles.
9. Hence it is justy remarked by Osterwald, that, *** in the days of the apostles, there were carnal men, ca. Thos who, under the pretext of grace, and christian lib. p. 331. erty, introduced licentiousness, refused to suffer persecutions, and who gave theinselves over to carnal 6 lusts. These were in a spirited manner opposed by
James, Jude, Peter, in his second cpistle, and John,
for his kingdom, by teaching his followers to deny ungodliness and worldl.; lusts ; so on the other hand, Ant christ began his work, by false teachers, and false doctrines. Such were the first means employed in corrupting and weakening the truth ; and such have had a principal hand in establishing that kingdom, which is Christ's in nume, but Antichrist's in its very nature.
11. It was not only foreseen and testified by Christ, that such deceitful workers would come ; but the apostles, who were anointed from heaven as witnesses of the truth, testified that they had already appeared in their day : which may be seen from the slightest examination of their writings.
12. The words of Jesus are plain : « Beware of Matt. van false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, 15, 16. but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know
niv. 4, 8. them by their fruits. Take lieed that no man deceive you ; for many shall coine in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
13. The same thing was predicted by St. Peter, 2 Pet. A saying, “ There shall be false teachers among you,
1-18 who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves switt destruction. And many shall fol. low their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.-Sporting them
CHAP. selves with their own deceivings.—Having eyes full
of üdultery, and that cannot cease from sin ; beguiling unstable souls.-For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they alhure through the lusts of the Resh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.”
14. These same false teachers, according to the testimony of St. Jude, had aiready made their appearance in his day. Thus says he, “ It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you, that ye
should earnestly contend for the iuith which was once Jade 3, 4. delivered unto the saints. For there are certain mien
crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained (described*) to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.“
15. This plainly implies that these deceivers were neither professed Jews nor Pagans, but some among the professed followers of Christ, who in fact denied both God and Christ, by new-modelling that precious faith and testimony of Jesus, which had been delivered, once for all, to the apostles, not to be mended or expounded by human wisdom, but to be punctually obeyed.
16. Again : St Paul, in his last address to the El.
ders at Ephesus, delivers this plain prediction : “I 29, 30.
know this, that after my departing, shall grievous wolves come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
17. This same apostle warns the Romans against Rom. vi. 17, 18, 10.
some, who caused divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which they had learned. And what had they learned, but to take up their cross and follow the apostle, as he followed Christ? To this plain doctrine these false teachers were contrary. Therefore he adds, “ They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words * By the expression in the original (palai wogegrammenei) may he understood those who were fn merly described, or printed ou by the spirit of prophecy, through which the iniquities of the latur tunes bad ixen forviold, together with the judgineat and condemnation that would fall upon those who lived in such tings:
and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. CHAP. For your obedience hath come abroad.”
18. Here the difference is visibly marked between those who served the Lord Jesus Christ, and were obedient, and those who corrupted the pure precepts Phil. ö of the gospel from their original meaning, that they might take the liberty of serving their own beastly bellies.
19. Again : To the Corinthians, he speaks of many which corrupi the cord of God who were, false ? Cor. A apostles, deceitful workers, transfirining themselves zí 13, 15. into the apostles of Ck ist;
-ministırs of Satan, transforrned as the ministers of righteousness ; whose end (says the apostle) shall be according to their works.
20. The same kind of deceivers he describes to Timothy, as, having a form of godliness, but de- 2 Tim. iio nying the power thereof: from such (says he) turn
5,6,7. away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
21. And to Titus, he observes," There are many Tit. j. 10. unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they 11,& 16. of the circumcision : whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Can there be a plainer description of an Antichrist?
22. It would be almost an endless work to enume. rate the marks which were given to distinguish these perverters of the truth : they were justly called Trai. , Tim.fil. tors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures, more than lovers of God.- Incontinent, fierce, destisers of those that are good.-Proud, knooving nothing, in re- 1 Th. vi. ality, but doting about questions, and strifes of words-- 45. perverse disputers-men of corrupt minds, and desli. tute of the truth.
23. Such were the enemies of the cross of Christ, the liars, the evil beasts, the slow bellies, who were Til i 12 reproved sharply by the faithful ; but whose progress was not stopped by all the authority even of the apostles themselves,
34. John, who outlived all the other apostles, and had the greatest opportunity of seeing the increase and fruits of these false teachers, is also very particular in his testimony concerning them. His three episties, which were written near the close of the first century, appear to have been written for the purpose of distinguishing between the followers of Christ, and Antichrist.
25. Hence, so much is said in the first epistle, to
establish that fundamental truth, that the followers of 1 John i. Christ do not commit sin. “Little children, let no
man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not : whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. He that committeth sin is of the Devil.--Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil : whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.-He that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him, and he in him.”
26. The whole of this epistle plainly shows that Christ was in his true followers, and they in him ; not by imputing, or imagining it to be so, but by a vital and substantial union ; which was manifest by comparing their fruits, with the first fruits of the spirit in Jesus : and consequently, that the only true God and eternal life, was manifested in the flesh, as visible and real in them, as formerly in Jesus the first begotten from the dead. • · 27. While on the other hand, these false teachers, denied Christ's being in the flesh, and put him at a distance : instead of denying self, they denied both the Father and the Son; and therefore still continued in their former wicked works, which proved that they
were yet of the Devil, and not even begotten of God, 1 John v. for, “ He that is begotten of God keepeth (gr. tmper,
strictly watcheth] himself and that wicked one touch-, eth him not."
28. This is the testimony of St. John ; and we know that his testimony is true, because he had the Spirit of truth, from both the Father and the Son, abiding in him.