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Many false prophets were in the world. spirit, but try the caution you against credulously submitting to secta spirits whether they every one who pretends a divine inspiration for are of God: because many false prophets what he says : believe not therefore every pre
1 John are gone out into the tended spirit :a but make trial of the spirits, iv. 1 world.
whether they be indeed of God or not: for it is
presses it, (Mat. xxiv. 24,) deceive the very 2 Hereby know ye elect if it were possible. Now in this ye know 2 the Spirit of God : and may distinguish the Spirit of God, which is every spirit that the Spirit of truth, from that of error: every Christ is come in the spirit that confesseth Jesus Christ, who is come flesh, is of God. in the flesh, that pays a becoming deference
to his authority, and the Divine discoveries
operations, to promote the honour of the great 3 And every spirit Redeemer. And you may, on the other hand, 3 that confesseth not be sure of this, that every pretended spirit of that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is revelation, that doth not confess and do homage not of God : and this to Jesus Christ, who is come in the flesh, is not is that spirit of anti of God: and indeed this is on the contrary, the have heard that it very [spirit] of antichrist, of whom you have should come,
and heard in the Divine oracles and predictions even now already it which our blessed Lord delivered concerning 4 Ye are of God,lit. this last time that he is coming, and is now in tle children, and have some measure already in the world. But, my 4 :
- Believe not every spirit.] Many pre. him, but yielding a regular consistent bomtended to the character of the Messiah, age, and, as it were, harmonizing and falland others, in an extraordinary manner to ing in with his design. be sent and inspired of God; and this This is the spirit of antichrist.] From they did with a view of turning away hence some have argued, that the Pope Christians from their faith and hope. The cannot be antichrist, because he confesses apostle here, by a short turn of argument, Christ ; and that it must necessarily be demonstrates that they were indeed im- some entirely opposing person or sect, and postors from this very attempt.
which does not bare the Christian name ; 6 That confesseth Jesus Christ, who is come but the interpretation above obviates this in the flesh] So the words o oponaga objection ; for it is certain popery is an Ιησε Χριςον εν σαρκι εληλυθόλα, may very usurpation entirely inconsistent with a well be rendered'; and indeed they must due homage to Christ, and founded upon be so in this connection, for the bare con- principles most opposite to those of his fession of Christ's incarnation would not government and religion. It is said to have have been sufficient to have cleared them been already in the world, as the ambitious, from the suspicion of being impostors. To imposing, persecuting spirit, which is the confess Jesus Christ, seems to mean, not very essence of antichristianism, did then barely professing some kind of regard to greatly prevail.
Whereas the apostles were of God. sect. dear children, ye are of God, and have overcome overcome them ; bevi. them in all their snares and delusions,d because cause greater is
he that is in you, greater and more powerful by far is he that is than he that is in the 1 John iv. 4
in you, than he that is in the world : the Son of world.
of the apostasy, and for all his confederates.
of the world, and they know how to manage world : therefore
detriment of the interests of true religion. 6 Whereas, on the contrary, we are of God, and 6 We are of God:
have approved ourselves to be so, by such irre- he that knoweth sistible evidence, that I may now venture to that is not of God,
God, heareth us; he say, that he who knoweth God, and experiences heareth not the governing influence of Divine fear and Hereby know we love, heareth and regardeth us ;e but he who is the spirit of truth,
and the spirit of ernot of God, doth not attentively and obediently
dre-have overcome them.] That is, sequence of which you may know assur. your doctrines have prevailed against edly that we are of God, and they of the some who deserve the name of antichrist, world.” Compare Bull's Serm. i. p. 11. as undoubtedly all who opposed the Chris. I rather think, as Archbishop Tillotson tian interest in some measure did ; and as has stated it, (Vol. III. p. 501.) He conyou have the true miraculous gifts of the siders the Christian religion as now so Spirit, to which they falsely pretend, it is abundantly demonstrated, that it might be soon seen, that the advantage is clearly made a test by which other doctrines and on your side.
pretences might be tried; and to those who - He who knoweth God, heareth us.] have received it upon full evidence,it must Bishop Bull thinks, the meaning of this be so. Thus the Jews were directed to is, “Regard our temper and conduct, judge, and obliged to condemn, a pretendand
compare it with that of those who ed prophet, as ipso facto, proved an imposoppose us, and you will find a carnal prin- tor, if he attempted to turn them aside ciple continually prevailing in them, and from the revelation which God had given a spiritual principle governing us : in con- by Moses, Deut. xiii, 1–3.
Every one who loveth, is born of God.
303 of error, as the one receives, and the other re- sect.
jects, this Divine system. 7 Beloved, let us But think it not enough speculatively to adlove one another : mit its authority, Let it be your great care
iv. 7 and every one that practically to acknowledge it; and especially loveth is born of to the purposes of mutual benevolence. Yes, God, and knoweth my beloved, let us love one another ; for love is God.
as really from God, as truth itself; and every
ance with him has made deep and powerful
fountain and exemplar : he recommends it by
tures for his sake, whose creatures they are.
and miserable sinners, mignt lide through him ;
and so conducted to the possession of life ever10 Herein is love, lasting. Yes, Sirs, I must repeat it again, that 10 not that we loved your hearts, and my own, may be the more God, but that he deeply affected with it, herein is love, not in
deed that we loved God, for we were, on the
grace, we should have persisted and perished; * Let us love one another.] It is reported, love one another. And the importance of that when the apostle John was grown the argument by which he here enforces old, and past preaching, he used to be led love, justifies the repetition of it so fre. to the church at Ephesus, and only say quently. these words to the people, Little children,
304 Reflections on the spirit of truth and error, &c. sect. but that he loved us, and in boundless compas- loved us, and sent vi
sion to our necessities and our miseries, sent his Son to be the pro1 John
his Son [to be] a propitiation for our sins ; to pitiation for our sins. iv. 10 make atonement to his injured justice for our
offences, and so to introduce us on honourable 11 terms to his favour. And let me make this 11 Beloved, if God important inference from it, my beloved, if God so loved us, we ought
also to love one anso loved us, how ought we to love one another, other. in imitation of his Divine example, from a sense of the happy state into which we are
brought, and in gratitude to him for so inesti12 mable a favour? And the inference has the 12 No man bath
greater weight, as no man hath ever seen God, or seen God at any can see him, since he is in his own nature in.
time. If we love
one another, God visible, and possessed of such essential perfec- dwelleth in us, and tions, that it is impossible that any expressions his love is perfected
THE spirit of error has been working, in some measure, in all ages of the church ; nor are we to wonder, if having infested
that of the apostles, it be transmitted to our own. It is neces1 sary therefore to try the spirits, whether they be of God; and we
may safely try them by the homage they pay to Christ ; and this
not merely to his name, but to the genius of his religion, and to 2 the great standard of it, which he hath left upon record in his
word, that it might not be that uncertain thing which the fancies 3 or traditions of fallible men might have rendered it. Antichris
tiun principles and powers have arisen, but God has enabled, 4 and he will enable the remnant of his people to conquer them ;
for the spirit in them is greater than that which is in the world. 5 That may hearken to seducers as they accommodate their doc6 trine to its prevailing lusts and passions ; but let us remember
that the gospel is now established as a test, and may we admit, or reject, all human teachings, as they agree, or disagree with it.
If we read and hear it to any valuable purpose, it will teach us to love one another : that great lesson of our Divine Master, with relation to which we have line upon line, and precept upon 8 precept. If we value ourselves in any degree upon knowing God, let us give this proof of it, without which all our most subtile
They who have the spirit of God dwell in him;
305 speculations or debates concerning his nature and perfections secto will be utterly vain. And that we may attain to this, let us fre- . vi. quently contemplate that incomparable display of his love towards us, in sending his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Let us daily consider our lives as derived from that great act of mercy and grace; and that it is through Christ alone as thus given us of God, that we can obtain and secure life eternal, since in him we receive the only appointed propitiation for those sins, which would otherwise have obstructed the pas- 10 sage of all good to us, even from the great eternal fountain of felicity. He hath prevented us with the blessings of his goodness : we did not love him, but he first loved us. o that this love on 10 his part, may produce the warmest return on ours ! and let us testify the sincerity of this affection, by remembering how it ought to influence our hearts to benevolence as well as devotion. And as we cannot see God at any time, nor extend any act of 11 beneficence to him, let us see his image with due regard in every Christian, and in some degree in every human creature, that we may express our love of him, by doing good to them for his sake, 12
S E C T. VII.
The apostle further urges the excellence of love, as a substantial
proof of our knowing God, and dwelling in him ; and as bringe ing the greatest honour to God, and affording the truest composure and confidence to the soul.
1 John IV. 13, to the end.
1 John IV. 13.
1 John IV. 13. HEREBY know
HAVE been mentioning love as an argu- sect, we that we dwell in him, and he ment of our union to God; and I must now
vii. in us, because he add, that in this also we know, that we abide in hath given us of his him, and that he dwelleth in us, because he hath
iv. 13 Spirit.
given to us the communication of his Spirit,
thereby assures us that he owns us as his, and is 14 And we have become our God : And animated and sealed 14. seen and do testify, by this Spirit, as we have seen and known by that the Father sent undoubted evidence ourselves, so we courjour of the world. ageously testify to others, how hazardous so
ever the bearing that testimony may be, that