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the weighty observations contained in the “ Prefatory Address" by the Author, to the Reader; in which will be found, a plain, yet luminous introductory description and statement of the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit on the soul, in enlightening to know, and believe on Christ; with the fruits thereof in all that pertains to establishing grace and vital manifest godliness-subjects forming so essential a part of this work.
That the whole may redound to the Glory of the Triune Jehovah; and the benefit of the Church of God, is the prayer of
their's to serve, in all love,
in the Gospel of Christ,
Islington, January, 1835.
[It is a duty which the son of the sainted writer of the above “ Introduction" considers as devolving on him to perform, with a view to the glory of the God of all grace, as also in reference to the courteous reader, and the memory of his beloved and respected parent, to state the remarkable circumstance as viewed in relation to this Work, of his dear Father's decease.
With much labour, but with much strength from the Lord, he had read twice, in the original manuscript, the whole of the Sermons contained in this ExPOSITION, and superintended the Work in its progress through the press; the whole of it was in type-the above “ Introduction” very recently written, and the printer's last proof-sheet lying for typographical correction (of which this " Introduction” formed a part)—when it pleased the Lord to remove His servant from this state of sorrow to His bosom on high: leaving his family to joy in the midst of the deepest affliction in Him who caused their dear relative to exult in his dying moments in the faithfulness of his Covenant-keeping Goddeparting as though falling asleep, with an inexpressible smile of glory beaming on his countenance. His greatest delight on earth was the service of his Lord, and now above, divested of mortality, he serves Him without ceasing, day and night.]
Clarendon Place, Edgware Road.
I am this day, June 23, 1817, entered on the seventy
of my age; and am as disposed to preach, and write concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, his Person, Love, Incarnation, Righteousness, Sacrifice, and Salvation, as ever I was in the days of my spiritual youth. In the month of November last, being at the house of a friend, and joining with him in family prayer, a thought occurred to me, whilst he was in worship, that I would attempt to renew a lectureship at Shoe Lane, and go through in the course of it, The First Epistle of John. Accordingly, I soon after set forward; and have, through the good hand of my God upon me, continued, so as to have delivered Thirty Sermons on the first and second chapters. I have conceived in my mind, a design to write these out. And under the apprehension, I may, if industrious, live to complete the whole Epistle, I have this morning begun the work, hoping it may be for the Lord's glory, and his Church's benefit. May the Lord be with me, and guide my mind, heart, and affections, so that all may contribute to his praise : even so be it, O Lord.
It may not be amiss to give an outline of the whole Epistle; and the division of it: the casting the same into method and order, may make it the more easy and agreeable to the reader.
The true knowledge of Christ, is the one only key, whereby all the treasures contained in this Epistle can be opened : for this contains a spiritual treatise on communion with Christ, and with the Father in Him; through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. We can have no communion with the Three in Jehovah, but as we have a distinct, scriptural knowledge of the revelation given concerning them in the Sacred record. No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. This Epistle written by John, in which he asserts the Eternity of Christ's Person, His distinct Personality from the Father, and by consequence from the Spirit: also, sets forth the real fellowship which the apostles, and saints in that age had with the Holy Trinity, and what all saints in all succeeding ages are to expect and enjoy, in their measure and degree, until the same is consummated with the Eternal Three, in the state of eternal glory. As this Epistle begins with this most sublime subject, so it is pursued throughout the whole of it: in shewing the fruits and effects, which the true knowledge of, and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, produce in the minds, lives, and conversations of such as know Him, and have free and frequent accesses unto Him. Also, how such as were but professors of the same glorious gospel, fell off from the very Truth itself: even into antichristian doctrine, and worship. If the Reader attend to this in his reading the Epistle, it will preserve him from many mistakes : and he will by that means, read the whole, with more real advantage to himself.
I conceive, the whole Epistle may be divided in the following manner. The parts of it may be considered Three; and the chapters containing these three distinct parts are, as follows: the first, and second chapters contain the First part: the Second distinctive part, begins with the third chapter : the Third part, begins with the fourth chapter, and includes and closes with the fifth.
The First part contains, in the first and second chapters, the following most transcendently glorious, and important subjects—An account is given of the Person of Christ_Of his manifestation in the flesh-Of the true knowledge of his Person-Of communion truly and personally with Him, and the Father in Him: and every thing is delivered to promote this. Our infirmities, be they what they may, are not to be considered as hindrances to our communion with the Lord; because the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. The apostle then enters on the subject of indwelling sin in us, who have communion with the Father and the Son; and he administers the only antidote to them; which he knew to be all-sufficient. This is the subject-matter of the first chapter. In the beginning of the second chapter, he goes on pursuing his former discourse, giving a most precious and blessed account of the advocacy of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the behalf of his sinning ones. After which he most freely sets forth the true, outward evidence of such and such knowing Christ, and giving proof thereof, in their loving the brethren. And of such and such, though under the same outward profession, as not loving Christ, and giving proof thereof, in not loving the brethren. He then writes to saints, under these different denominationsas little children; fathers ; young men ; and babes : and he expresseth what is most suited to these, and what the perfection of each of these states consists in. He then speaks of the antichrists which were then prevalent in the last hour of the apostolic age. He shews that the preservation of saints from these, was a full proof they had received the true Unction from the Holy One. He exhorts them to abide in Christ, according to the truths and doctrines which they had received and professed concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God: to the end, that at the appearing of Christ, the apostles, and others who were engaged with them in setting forth Christ unto them, might not be ashamed; but have confidence before Him, that these saints, thus written unto, were what they ought to be, in the knowledge of Christ, and in life and conversation, agreeable to the same: as it would ever be found an undeniable truth, that as surely and truly as they knew Christ was righteous, it would be known that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him. Here, I think, ends the First part of this most excellent Epistle.
The Second distinctive part of this Epistle, begins with the third chapter, and ends with it. In which saints are called upon to behold the love of the Father, as expressed in bestowing the title of Adoption on them. He calls them sons of God. The apostle would have them consider, what will, and must in the issue, arise out of this title, and the grace from whence it originated. They were now the sons of God. They would one day see Christ as He is. He then shews, what the true knowledge of this produces. He expressly declares, such who are under a profession of Christ, and commit sin, are not to be considered as