1 John 1

** This epistle is a discourse upon the principles of

Christianity, in doctrine and practice. The design appears to

be, to refute and guard against erroneous and unholy tenets,

principles, and practices, especially such as would lower the

Godhead of Christ, and the reality and power of his sufferings

and death, as an atoning sacrifice; and against the assertion

that believers being saved by grace, are not required to obey

the commandments. This epistle also stirs up all who profess to

know God, to have communion with him, and to believe in him, and

that they walk in holiness, not in sin, showing that a mere

outward profession is nothing, without the evidence of a holy

life and conduct. It also helps forward and excites real

Christians to communion with God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to

constancy in the true faith, and to purity of life.

* The apostle prefaces his epistle to believers in general, with

evident testimonies to Christ, for promoting their happiness and

joy. (1-4) The necessity of a life of holiness, in order to

communion with God, is shown. (5-10)

1-4 That essential Good, that uncreated Excellence, which had

been from the beginning, from eternity, as equal with the

Father, and which at length appeared in human nature for the

salvation of sinners, was the great subject concerning which the

apostle wrote to his brethren. The apostles had seen Him while

they witnessed his wisdom and holiness, his miracles, and love

and mercy, during some years, till they saw him crucified for

sinners, and afterwards risen from the dead. They touched him,

so as to have full proof of his resurrection. This Divine

Person, the Word of life, the Word of God, appeared in human

nature, that he might be the Author and Giver of eternal life to

mankind, through the redemption of his blood, and the influence

of his new-creating Spirit. The apostles declared what they had

seen and heard, that believers might share their comforts and

everlasting advantages. They had free access to God the Father.

They had a happy experience of the truth in their souls, and

showed its excellence in their lives. This communion of

believers with the Father and the Son, is begun and kept up by

the influences of the Holy Spirit. The benefits Christ bestows,

are not like the scanty possessions of the world, causing

jealousies in others; but the joy and happiness of communion

with God is all-sufficient, so that any number may partake of

it; and all who are warranted to say, that truly their

fellowship is with the Father, will desire to lead others to

partake of the same blessedness.
5-10 A message from the Lord Jesus, the Word of life, the

eternal Word, we should all gladly receive. The great God should

be represented to this dark world, as pure and perfect light. As

this is the nature of God, his doctrines and precepts must be

such. And as his perfect happiness cannot be separated from his

perfect holiness, so our happiness will be in proportion to our

being made holy. To walk in darkness, is to live and act against

religion. God holds no heavenly fellowship or intercourse with

unholy souls. There is no truth in their profession; their

practice shows its folly and falsehood. The eternal Life, the

eternal Son, put on flesh and blood, and died to wash us from

our sins in his own blood, and procures for us the sacred

influences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till it

is quite done away. While the necessity of a holy walk is

insisted upon, as the effect and evidence of the knowledge of

God in Christ Jesus, the opposite error of self-righteous pride

is guarded against with equal care. All who walk near to God, in

holiness and righteousness, are sensible that their best days

and duties are mixed with sin. God has given testimony to the

sinfulness of the world, by providing a sufficient, effectual

Sacrifice for sin, needed in all ages; and the sinfulness of

believers themselves is shown, by requiring them continually to

confess their sins, and to apply by faith to the blood of that

Sacrifice. Let us plead guilty before God, be humble, and

willing to know the worst of our case. Let us honestly confess

all our sins in their full extent, relying wholly on his mercy

and truth through the righteousness of Christ, for a free and

full forgiveness, and our deliverance from the power and

practice of sin.

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