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own steadfastness; and that, without the greatest vigilance, they will do so - But they “know" the certainty and awfulness of the day of judgment, and should therefore be afraid of meeting it unprepared. It will then be too late to rectify their “errors,” or repent of their instability d; and this consideration should make them doubly cautious against every occasion of falling®.] II. His direction for preventing it
The Christian should seek to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ
[None, who have received grace, will be satisfied with the measure they have received; but they will be seeking to attain more and moref. Nor will any, who know Christ, think they “ know any thing yet as they ought to know:” they will perceive that there are in him “ treasures of knowledge,” which they have never explored, and which to all eternity will be progressively opening to their view.
Hence the Christian's duty is to be continually advancing in every part of the divine life; and to "make his profiting appear unto all men."]
This will be his best, his only, preservative against apostasy-
[Painting or statuary admit of intermissions in labour : such work, left for a season, may be resumed without any increased difficulty: but, in religion, every intermission is a positive injury: if the work proceed not, it declines: it always either waxes or wanes. Now every declension weakens the vital principle within us—restores to activity our dormant corruptions---exposes us to the assaults of our great adversary-and provokes God to withdraw his accustomed aid" :
onsequently, our downfall begun, will, if not prevented by sovereign grace, be speedy, gradual, irretrievable. On the other hand, a progress in grace confirms every good habitfastens round us the whole armour of God-keeps our enemy at a distance and secures to us the continued protection of
c 1 Tim. i. 19. 2 Tim. ii. 18. Matt. xxiv. 12. 1 Cor. ix. 27. Whether God will restore his elect, is a distinct question, that, if introduced in this place, night uphold a system, but would weaken the force of the Apostle's caution.
d Matt. xxv. 11-13.
8 Col. ii. 3. St. Paul, after preaching Christ for above twenty years, yet sought above all things to “know him.” Phil. iji. 8, 10.
h Mark these particulars very distinctly, pausing at the end of each. And do the same in that which follows.
heaven. Go on adding to your grace, says God," and you shall never falli.”] ADVICE
1. Reflect much and often on the day of judgment
[Through a forgetfulness of that day we become the sport of every temptation : but if we would frequently endeavour to realize the strictness of the scrutiny, and the severity of the judgment which will then take place, we should be more fortified against error in principle, or evil in practice. We must expect our Lord's coming, if we would be found ready on his arrivalk.] 2. Be diligent in the use of all the means of grace
[It is in vain to hope that we shall grow in grace or knowledge, if we do not use the means which God has appointed. But, if we watch unto prayer, and conscientiously devote ourselves to him, he will " bless us with all spiritual blessings :" “our faith and love shall grow exceedingly;" our
hope shall abound through the power of the Holy Ghost," and, from being “ babes,” we shall become “children, young men, and fathers in Christ?:” and, having attained at last “the measure of the full stature of Christm,” we shall “enter into his joy," and be partakers of his glory for evermore.]
i 2 Pet. i. 5, 10, 11.
k Matt. xxiv. 42-41.
THE BENEFITS ARISING FROM FAITH IN CHRIST.
1 John i. 1-3. That which was from the beginning, which we
have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us ;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us : and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
IT is impossible to read these words, and not be struck with the extreme earnestness of the Apostle in his mode of giving the testimony before us. It seems evident, that the truths which he affirms had been much controverted; and that the evidence on which they rested had been called in question. And the fact was, that many heresies had arisen even whilst he was yet alive. Some even went so far as to deny that Jesus had ever died and risen again : they asserted, that all those transactions, which were recorded of him by the Evangelists, had taken place in appearance only, and not in reality. Against such absurd and impious conceits, St. John, now at a very advanced age, bore his testimony with a zeal suited to the occasion. He was the only surviving witness of the events referred to; and hence he repeats, even to tautology, the evidence which he had had again and again, from all his senses, respecting the truth
of all that he affirmed : and he urges upon the whole Christian Church the reception of his testimony, by representing the incalculable benefits which all who believed it would receive.
That we may enter fully into the declarations before us, let us consider, I. His testimony
This may be understood as relating to the Gospel generally
[The Gospel is certainly called “the word of lifea :” and it was from eternity hid“ with the Father)," and at last, " at the beginning" of the Gospel dispensation, was manifested to the Apostless, who had every possible means of examining and ascertaining the truth of ite; and who, in consequence of the fullest conviction in their own minds, “ bare witness” to it as the means by which alone eternal life could be obtained'. This sense, I say, the words before us may very properly bear: and, inasmuch as the Gospel is elsewhere denominated “the word of life," (which Christ is not ;) and the words “from the beginning 8,” generally, though not always in the Epistles of St. John, import, " from the beginning of the Gospel dispensation,” it is by no means improbable that this may be the true sense of the passage.
On the other hand, his mode of expression is far less proper, if applied to the Gospel, than if applied personally to the Lord Jesus Christ; to whom the generality of commentators suppose the Apostle to refer. We therefore observe, that]
It may be understood also as relating personally to the Lord Jesus Christ
[He, though not called “the word of life,” is constantly known as
The Word h:” He also is called “ The Lifei" and what seems more particularly to determine the point is, that he is in this very epistle called, “ Eternal Life :"
“ Eternal Life :"* " This is the true God, and Eternal Lifek.” He too was from eternity" with the Father!," and in due time" was manifest in the flesh m.”
a Phil. ii. 16.
b Eph. iii. 9. c ár åpxñs must of necessity be so understood in other parts of this epistle ; ii. 7, 24. and iii. 11. d Rom. xvi. 25, 26.
Seeing and hearing" of the truth are applied to Christ, as well as to the Apostles. John iii. 11. with John viii. 26, 38.
i Mark xvi. 16. 8 1 John ii. 13, 14. h Rev. xix. 13. i John xi. 25. k 1 John v. 20.
1 John i. 18. m 1 Tim. iji. 16.
And it was his existence that was so determinately denied by the heretics whom the Apostle wished to silence. He, too, not only had lived in closest intimacy with his disciples before his crucifixion, but, after his death and resurrection, had appeared to them for forty days; and, when they doubted whether it were he, or whether it were not a spirit whom they saw, he said to them, “ Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have".". Now, if we consider the Apostle as speaking personally of him, we can account for the vast variety of expressions tending to confirm the testimony which he bore respecting him: whereas, if we apply the expressions to the Gospel, the terms are multiplied far beyond what the occasion called for, and the metaphors are stronger than he could with propriety use. Besides, if we understand him as speaking of Christ personally, there is a remarkable coincidence between the beginning of this epistle of St. John, and the beginning of his Gospel. “ In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” “ In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” And " the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we behold his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father."
But, whether we understand the expressions as relating to the Gospel of Christ, or to his person]
It must of necessity be understood as declaring, that in Christ Jesus there is life, even eternal life
[The Apostle testified of Christ, as he says in a subsequent chapter of this epistle: “We have seen and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world P." inquire more particularly what the substance of his testimony was, he informs us: " This is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son." “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son: he that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life 9."
Thus we see, in fact, that, whether we understand the passage as speaking of the Gospel, or of Christ himself, it comes to the same point. If the Gospel be spoken of, it is as revealing Christ: if Christ be spoken of, it is as revealed in the Gospel ; or, in other words, as being " the way, the truth, and the life.”
Bear in mind then, that all that is spoken of Christ in the holy Gospels is true: the Apostles were ear-witnesses, and eye-witnesses, of it, even of all that they relate. “They did
n Luke xxiv. 39. o John i. 1-4, 14. 91 John v. 9, 11, 12.
p 1 John iv. 14. r John xiv, 6.