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17 to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing these
things before, guard yourselves, that ye may not, being entangled
with the error of the ungodly, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
REFLECTIONS. Who is there, that can be so sluggish and lethargic, as not to be in some measure awakened and alarmed by the awful views here given, of the dissolution, as well as the crcation of the world, by the word of God! Who must not even tremble, when he turns his eye back to the dreadful ruin brought on it by the universal deluge ; when that element, which had been, and is, the means and instrument of life to the whole animal creation, at the divine signal, became the means and instrument of death! Who can be unaffected, when he seriously reflects on the heavens passing away with a great noise ? on the elements melting with fervent heat ? on the burning up the earth, and all things thercin ? Let scoffers who walk after their own lusts, madly deride the promise of his coming ; let them deliver over their taunts and insults to each other, through the succession of a thousand years : were bis coming at the distance of ten thousand generations, or at yet remoter distances, they who have any just impression on their minds of the eternity of God, or the immortality of the human soul, would discern the important day of final retribution, as immediate and present to their view. While they scoff and deride the tremendous reality, let us hear the declaration of its approach with the profoundest attention ; and let our souls enter deeply into the alarming and important reflection. If indeed we look for such great things as these what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and god. liness ; that we may be found of him in peace, without spot or blemish ? And if we desire this blessedness (as who can fail earnestly to desire it, who hath a firm and steady persuasion of its reality ?) can we possibly live in tolerable composure, if we have little or no reason to conclude we shall obtain an interest and share in it? Let us be all concerned that we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour ; by the knowledge of whom every grace will be greatly revived and strengthened. On these lively and important subjects of meditation let our thoughts frequently dwell, and let us endeavour, that the sentiments which result from them, may be wrought in our hearts, and control our lives. And as for those hard sayings which occur, either in St. Peter or St. Paul, or any other sacred and inspired writer, let us neither wrest and torture them to our own mischief and destruction, nor be so curiously and sedulously diving into their meaning, as to neglect these and the like plain and serious admonitions ; this sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby. May all the powers of our souls be exerted in securing their deliverance from wrath to come, that so the patience of God, and his long-suffering 10wards us, may indeed prove salvation. And if that be the case, the light of heavep will mightily illustrate those mysteries both of the
divine word and providence, which our weak and defective organs of vision have not enabled us clearly to discern and unfold, while by the comparatively fainter, though in itself glorious, light of revelation, we are guided through this dark and gloomy valley.
THE FRET EPISTLE OF JOHN.
THE apostle John is the same with John the Evangelist. There is noth4 ing but conjecture respecting cither the persons to whom, or the time when this epistle was written. His design in it is, to demonstrate the vanity of fiiith separate from morality, to soothe and refine the warm and over zealous tempers of the Christians to whom he writes, into that amiable charity and love for which he himself was so eminent, and to guard and arm them against the snarcs and efforts of antichrist, the grand apostate and seducer of the Chris han church ; and of all who were endued with his spirit.
The apostle opens his design in bearing his testimony to the holiness of God,
and his mercy to all true penitents. Ch. i.
THAT which was from the beginning, that which we have
I heard, that which we have seen with our own eyes, that which we have attentively looked upon, and our hands have hand2 led of the word of life: (for even the life was manifested, and
we saw it, and we bear testimony and declare unto you that eternal 3 life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us :) what
we have seen and heard we declare unto you, that ye also may
have communion with us : and truly our communion is with God 4 the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things we 5 write to you that your joy may be fulfilled. And this is the de
claration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you, 6 that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say
that we have communion with him, and walk in darkness, we lie 7 and do not the truth. But if we walk in light, as he himself is in
the light, we have communion with one another, and the blood of 8 Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we 9 have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If
we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins 10 and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we
have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
REFLECTIONS. How seriously should we attend to the word of life, when addressed . to us by those who were so intimately acquainted with it, and with VOL. II.
him who brought it and revealed it to the world! In like manner may all concerned in dispensing it, be able to say that it is what they have heard, and, as it were seen and handled ; yea, tasted and felt in all its sweetness and energy. Jesus Christ is indeed that life which was with the Father, and is now manifested unlo us : may we ever regard him as such, and have communion with John, and the other sacred writers, in their communion with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ. Surely they, who by experience know the delight and benefit of that communion, will desire that others may be partakers of it with themselves.
Their own joy, instead of being diminished, will be rather rendered more complete and intense, by being in this manner imparted to others.
Nothing can be of more iinportance than to form right and worthy conceptions of God; and that we may do so, let us reflect on him, as the purest and even unmingled lighi, without any the least shade of darkness; as truth in perfection, without any mixture of falsehood or evil. And let us be particularly concerned, that as we desire to have fellowship with him, we allow not ourselves to walk in darkness of any kind, but prut off all its works, that we may fiut on the whole armour of light, and walk in the light as he is of the light. Let every action of our lives, every thought of our hearts, be brought to the light of the gospel, and tried and proved according to it. And as it would be very vain and criminal in us, to deny our having any sin ; as it would be selfdeceit to imagine it, and self-confusion to affirm it, let us with humble thankfulness, apply to that blood which is able to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Most freely confessing our sins, in all their age gravations, so far as our weak and limited thoughts can attain to the view of them, let us humbly plead his promise, and his covenant; and then fidelity and justice will join with mercy, to insure our deliverance from the punishment they merit : so that instead of being, as we have deserved, companions in condemnation and ruin, we shall share together, in that complete freedom from all the penal consequences of sin, which will be the portion of all those who truly repent, and obey the gospel.
Farther to firomote holiness he urges the advocacy of Christ, and the neces
sity of shewing our love to God, by obedience, by brotherly-love, and by overcoming the love of the world. Ch. ii. 1—17.
M Y little children, I write these things to you that you may
I l not sin : but if any man sin, we have an advocate* with 2 the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one ; and he is the propi.
tiation for our sins; and not only for ours, but also for the sins of 3 the whole world. And by this we know that we are acquainted 4 with him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know
* Dr. S. Harris has shewn that the word advocate signifies the same with patron among the Romans, or a great person among the Hebrews, who patronised the cause of some of inferior rank, and was a sponsor for their gocd behaviour.
him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and in this re5 spect the truth is not in him. But whosoever keepeth his word, in
him certainly is the love of God perfected : by this we know that 6 we are in him. He that saith, he abideth in him, ought himself 7 so to walk as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but the old commandment which ye had from the
beginning of your acquaintance with the gospel : the old command8 ment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a
new commandment ( write to you, which expression is true in
him, and in you; because the darkness is passed away, and the 9 true light now shineth. He that saith, he is in the light, and ha10 teth his brother, is in the darkness even till now. He that loveth
his brother, abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumb11 ling in him. But he who hateth his brother, is in darkness, and
walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because
darkness hath blinded his eyes. 12 I write unto you, little children, because by his name your sins 13 are forgiven you. [* I write to you, fathers, because ye have
known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young
men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, 14 little children, because you have known the Father. I have writ
ten to you, fathers, because ye have known him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because ye are
strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome 15 the wicked one. Love not the world, nor the things which are in
the world. If any one love the world, the love of the Father is not 16 in him. For all that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life : these things are not of the 17 Father, but of the world. And the world, and the luxury of it pas
seth away : but he that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.
REFLECTIONS. Often let us be lifting up our eyes and our hearts to him who is our great Advocate with the l'ather: too frequently do the infirmities of our lives demand our application to him under that character. Let us rejoice that he is Jesus Christ the righteous, that he is the Lord our righteousne88. While we joy in him as the propitiation for our sins, let it comfort our hearts to think, how wide the efficacy of his atonement extends. O, that all the world might be engaged to apply to hiin under this important consideration ! O, that all those who profess so to apply to him, might remember how necessary it is, that if they would shew they indeed know him, they should keep his commandments : this, rather than any of those passionate transports of mind, on which some are ready to lay so great a stress, is the perfection of love to God. May the Spirit of Christ impress upon us more of our -; Master's image, and teach us with greater care and exactness to order our walk and conversation by his example. Since we have an illustrious light to direct our path, let us make use of it to this pur
* This is such an apparent tautology, that the author thinks it the fault of a transcriber, and should be left out.
pose, lest eternal darkness come upon us. Let us learn the divine lesson we are here taught, to love our brethren, and gradually to rise higher above that love of the world, that attachment to temporal and present interests, which is inconsistent with the love of the Father. When we are tempted too fondly to admire, or too eagerly to pursue this gaudy pageant, let us survey the inventory here given of its boasted treasures. Let us compute the most it can even pretend to confer upon us, and impartially weigh all that can gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, against those solid pleasures which arise from the love of God, against those infinite benefits which will finally result from it. They who do his will abide for ever, nor is their removal from this empty and transitory world any objection against it. Yea rather, how would it be possible, or how desirable, they should abide for ever, were not a removal from such a mutable, such an unsatisfying, and in many respects afflicting world, to make a part of the plan, formed by divine providence and grace in their favour!
SECTION III. He discourses of the Antichrists which then began to arise, and directs Chris
tians to the best preservatives against their doctrines. Ch. ii. 18-28.
48 T ITTLE children, it is the last time* : and as you have heard
u that Antichrist is coming, I assure you that even now there
are many Antichrists ; by which we know that this is the last time. 19 They went out from among us, yet they were not of us: for if
they had been of us, they would doubtless have continued with us.
But this hath happened that they might be made apparent, because 20 all are not of us. And ye have an anointing of the Holy One, 21 and ye know all things. I have not written to you, because ye
know not the truth ; but because you know it : for no lie ris of 22 the truth. Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the
Christ? This is Antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Every one who denieth the Son, hath not the Father: [but he who 24 acknowledgeth the Son, hath the Father alsot.) As for you
therefore, let that which you have heard from the beginning, abide
in you. If that which ye have heard from the beginning, abide 25 in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And
this is the promise which he hath promised to us, even eternal 26 life. These things I have written unto you concerning those who 27 would deceive you. And as for you, the unction which you have
received from him, abideth in you; and you have no necessity that any one should teach you. But as this unction teacheth you
concerning all things, and is true, and hath no falsehood in it, 28 even as that hath taught you, abide in him. Yea now, little chil.
dren, abide in him, that when he shall appear, we may have bold. ness, and may not be put to shame before him at his coming. * The last of God's dispensations to our world.
+ These words, commonly printed in Italics to denote their doubtfulness, are found in many good copies.