1 John 1** This epistle is a discourse upon the principles ofChristianity, in doctrine and practice. The design appears tobe, to refute and guard against erroneous and unholy tenets,principles, and practices, especially such as would lower theGodhead of Christ, and the reality and power of his sufferingsand death, as an atoning sacrifice; and against the assertionthat believers being saved by grace, are not required to obeythe commandments. This epistle also stirs up all who profess toknow God, to have communion with him, and to believe in him, andthat they walk in holiness, not in sin, showing that a mereoutward profession is nothing, without the evidence of a holylife and conduct. It also helps forward and excites realChristians to communion with God and the Lord Jesus Christ, toconstancy in the true faith, and to purity of life. * The apostle prefaces his epistle to believers in general, withevident testimonies to Christ, for promoting their happiness andjoy. (1-4) The necessity of a life of holiness, in order tocommunion with God, is shown. (5-10)1-4 That essential Good, that uncreated Excellence, which hadbeen from the beginning, from eternity, as equal with theFather, and which at length appeared in human nature for thesalvation of sinners, was the great subject concerning which theapostle wrote to his brethren. The apostles had seen Him whilethey witnessed his wisdom and holiness, his miracles, and loveand mercy, during some years, till they saw him crucified forsinners, and afterwards risen from the dead. They touched him,so as to have full proof of his resurrection. This DivinePerson, the Word of life, the Word of God, appeared in humannature, that he might be the Author and Giver of eternal life tomankind, through the redemption of his blood, and the influenceof his new-creating Spirit. The apostles declared what they hadseen and heard, that believers might share their comforts andeverlasting advantages. They had free access to God the Father.They had a happy experience of the truth in their souls, andshowed its excellence in their lives. This communion ofbelievers with the Father and the Son, is begun and kept up bythe influences of the Holy Spirit. The benefits Christ bestows,are not like the scanty possessions of the world, causingjealousies in others; but the joy and happiness of communionwith God is all-sufficient, so that any number may partake ofit; and all who are warranted to say, that truly theirfellowship is with the Father, will desire to lead others topartake of the same blessedness. 5-10 A message from the Lord Jesus, the Word of life, theeternal Word, we should all gladly receive. The great God shouldbe represented to this dark world, as pure and perfect light. Asthis is the nature of God, his doctrines and precepts must besuch. And as his perfect happiness cannot be separated from hisperfect holiness, so our happiness will be in proportion to ourbeing made holy. To walk in darkness, is to live and act againstreligion. God holds no heavenly fellowship or intercourse withunholy souls. There is no truth in their profession; theirpractice shows its folly and falsehood. The eternal Life, theeternal Son, put on flesh and blood, and died to wash us fromour sins in his own blood, and procures for us the sacredinfluences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till itis quite done away. While the necessity of a holy walk isinsisted upon, as the effect and evidence of the knowledge ofGod in Christ Jesus, the opposite error of self-righteous prideis guarded against with equal care. All who walk near to God, inholiness and righteousness, are sensible that their best daysand duties are mixed with sin. God has given testimony to thesinfulness of the world, by providing a sufficient, effectualSacrifice for sin, needed in all ages; and the sinfulness ofbelievers themselves is shown, by requiring them continually toconfess their sins, and to apply by faith to the blood of thatSacrifice. Let us plead guilty before God, be humble, andwilling to know the worst of our case. Let us honestly confessall our sins in their full extent, relying wholly on his mercyand truth through the righteousness of Christ, for a free andfull forgiveness, and our deliverance from the power andpractice of sin.
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