1 John 4* Believers cautioned against giving heed to every one thatpretends to the Spirit. (1-6) Brotherly love enforced. (7-21)1-6 Christians who are well acquainted with the Scriptures,may, in humble dependence on Divine teaching, discern those whoset forth doctrines according to the apostles, and those whocontradict them. The sum of revealed religion is in the doctrineconcerning Christ, his person and office. The false teachersspake of the world according to its maxims and tastes, so as notto offend carnal men. The world approved them, they made rapidprogress, and had many followers such as themselves; the worldwill love its own, and its own will love it. The true doctrineas to the Saviour's person, as leading men from the world toGod, is a mark of the spirit of truth in opposition to thespirit of error. The more pure and holy any doctrine is, themore likely to be of God; nor can we by any other rules try thespirits whether they are of God or not. And what wonder is it,that people of a worldly spirit should cleave to those who arelike themselves, and suit their schemes and discourses to theircorrupt taste? 7-13 The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love. He that does notlove the image of God in his people, has no saving knowledge ofGod. For it is God's nature to be kind, and to give happiness.The law of God is love; and all would have been perfectly happy,had all obeyed it. The provision of the gospel, for theforgiveness of sin, and the salvation of sinners, consistentlywith God's glory and justice, shows that God is love. Mysteryand darkness rest upon many things yet. God has so shown himselfto be love, that we cannot come short of eternal happiness,unless through unbelief and impenitence, although strict justicewould condemn us to hopeless misery, because we break ourCreator's laws. None of our words or thoughts can do justice tothe free, astonishing love of a holy God towards sinners, whocould not profit or harm him, whom he might justly crush in amoment, and whose deserving of his vengeance was shown in themethod by which they were saved, though he could by his almightyWord have created other worlds, with more perfect beings, if hehad seen fit. Search we the whole universe for love in its mostglorious displays? It is to be found in the person and the crossof Christ. Does love exist between God and sinners? Here was theorigin, not that we loved God, but that he freely loved us. Hislove could not be designed to be fruitless upon us, and when itsproper end and issue are gained and produced, it may be said tobe perfected. So faith is perfected by its works. Thus it willappear that God dwells in us by his new-creating Spirit. Aloving Christian is a perfect Christian; set him to any goodduty, and he is perfect to it, he is expert at it. Love oils thewheels of his affections, and sets him on that which is helpfulto his brethren. A man that goes about a business with ill will,always does it badly. That God dwells in us and we in him, werewords too high for mortals to use, had not God put them beforeus. But how may it be known whether the testimony to this doesproceed from the Holy Ghost? Those who are truly persuaded thatthey are the sons of God, cannot but call him Abba, Father. Fromlove to him, they hate sin, and whatever disagrees with hiswill, and they have a sound and hearty desire to do his will.Such testimony is the testimony of the Holy Ghost. 14-21 The Father sent the Son, he willed his coming into thisworld. The apostle attests this. And whosoever shall confessthat Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he inGod. This confession includes faith in the heart as thefoundation; makes acknowledgment with the mouth to the glory ofGod and Christ, and profession in the life and conduct, againstthe flatteries and frowns of the world. There must be a day ofuniversal judgment. Happy those who shall have holy boldnessbefore the Judge at that day; knowing he is their Friend andAdvocate! Happy those who have holy boldness in the prospect ofthat day, who look and wait for it, and for the Judge'sappearance! True love to God assures believers of God's love tothem. Love teaches us to suffer for him and with him; thereforewe may trust that we shall also be glorified with him, #2Ti2:12|. We must distinguish between the fear of God and beingafraid of him; the fear of God imports high regard andveneration for God. Obedience and good works, done from theprinciple of love, are not like the servile toil of one whounwillingly labours from dread of a master's anger. They arelike that of a dutiful child, who does services to a belovedfather, which benefit his brethren, and are done willingly. Itis a sign that our love is far from perfect, when our doubts,fears, and apprehensions of God, are many. Let heaven and earthstand amazed at his love. He sent his word to invite sinners topartake of this great salvation. Let them take the comfort ofthe happy change wrought in them, while they give him the glory.The love of God in Christ, in the hearts of Christians from theSpirit of adoption, is the great proof of conversion. This mustbe tried by its effects on their temper, and their conduct totheir brethren. If a man professes to love God, and yet indulgesanger or revenge, or shows a selfish disposition, he gives hisprofession the lie. But if it is plain that our natural enmityis changed into affection and gratitude, let us bless the nameof our God for this seal and earnest of eternal happiness. Thenwe differ from the false professors, who pretend to love God,whom they have not seen, yet hate their brethren, whom they haveseen.
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