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Our apostle begins this chapter with wonder and admiration at the astonishing goodness and condescension of Alighty God towards believers, in taking them into his family, and adopting them into the number of his children; that strangers and enemies should be dignified with the honourable and amiable title of his sons; it is the same relation that Christ has, I ascend to my Father and your Father; there is indeed a diversity in the foundation of it; Christ is a Son by nature, we by favour; he by generation, we by adoption: However, not only crowns and sceptres are beneath his dignity, but the honour of our innocent state was not equal with it; well might the apostle then break out with an heavenly astonishment, and say Behold what manner of love is this, that we should be called, accounted and acknowledged, for the children of God!
Here note, 1. That it is the high and honourable privilege of all true believers, that they are now the sons of God.
They are Song of Solomon , 1. By regeneration; they are made partakers of the divine nature; not in the essence of it, but in the gracious qualities of it, which enables them in some measure to resemble God their Father; they receive a principle of spiritual life from God which enables them to live unto God: and this principle received in regeneration: it is an inward principle, an universal principle, a God exalting principle, and an abiding principle.
2. They are children by adoption also: adoption is the acceptance of a stranger into the relation and privileges of a son; it was a rare condescension in Pharoah's daughter to rescue Moses, an innocent and forsaken stranger, from perishing by the waters, and adopt him for her son; but O! how much greater kindness was it for Almighty God to save guilty and wretched man from eternal flames, and to take a rebel into his family! This privilege of being the sons of God by regeneration and adoption, is a choice and gracious privilege, an high and honourable privilege, a free and undeserved privilege, a lasting and abiding privilege.
Observe, 2. As the privilege itself, so the fontal cause of it, the fountain from whence it doth proceed and flow, namely, from the gratuitous love and free favour of God; what manner of love has the father bestowed upon us? He cannot say what, nor how great it was: He admires it, but cannot declare it; yet though adoption was the effect of God's free love, it was the fruit of Christ's rich purchase; he of a Son became a servant, that we of slaves might become sons.
Observe. 3. In the word, Behold! a note of attention and admiration both; God expects, the gospel requires, and the privilege of adoption deserves, that it be beheld with love and wonder, taken notice of with joy and thankfulness, and improved for growth in grace and advancement in holiness: Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us?
Note here, That the believer's dignity though real and great, is altogether unknown to the unbelieving world; they are so far from acknowledging them to be God's children, that they mock and scoff, jeer and deride them, for pretending so to be; and as they little know them, so do they less affect and love them, but hate and persecute them. The world knoweth us not.
Note, 2. The reason assigned why the world knows not the children of God, Because it knew not him; God once made himself manifest to the world in and by his Son; Christ, in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead, came and dwelt among us, but the world knew him not, received him not; and if they saw no beauty in him, who had strength of grace, and no corruption in him, is it any wonder that they see no excellency in them in whom is much weakness of grace, and too great strength of corruption? Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
As if the apostle had said, "Although the world knows us not, affects us not, esteems us not, because of the weakness of our grace and the strength of our corruptions, yet notwithstanding both these, we are now the sons of God; this is the happiness of our present condition, we are as children in their minority; we are not grown up for the inheritance, but we are growing; we are not what we would be, we are not what we should be; we are not what we shall be; but blessed be God we are what we are; now are we the sons of God."
Observe, 2. As the honour and dignity of the Christian's privilege in this life asserted, we are now the sons of God, so their happiness and glory in the next life described,
1. By way of negation. It doth not yet appear what they shall be; the glory which God has prepared for all his adopted children and people, is an hidden glory, a glory that doth not yet appear; what the saints shall be in their perfect state of glory doth not yet appear to them in this their imperfect state of grace.
2. By way of positive asseveration, But we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Here note, 1. The certainty of Christ's appearance declared, He shall appear.
2. A double benefit which believers may expect at his appearing.
1. They shall be like him, as well in holiness as in happiness, as well in purity as in immortality; like him in a perfect freedom from sin, like him in the ardour and intense fervency of their love; like him in the perfection of grace, and the unspotted purity of his holy nature.
2. They shall see him: That is, his glory, with a clear and immediate sight, with a full and comprehensive sight, with an assimilating and transforming sight, with an appropriating and possessive sight, with a satisfying and everlasting sight.
Every one that hath this hope, that is, the hope of seeing and enjoying Christ in glory, he now endeavours to purify himself, according to the pattern and copy which Christ hath set before him, labouring to imitate it, though he cannot reach it.
Observe here, 1. The character of a Christian by this hope, every man that hath this hope in him.
Learn, That a Christian is a person of high hopes, and raised expectations, as to future blessedness; the author of this hope is God; the object of this hope is some future good promised and expected; the grounds of this hope are the promise and oath of God, the purchase and undertaking of Christ, and the sanctifying work of the Spirit, in and upon his soul.
Observe, 2. A description of this hope by its inseparable effect, it purifies the Christian; he that has this hope purifies himself; where it is implied,
1. That sin is a pollution which we must be purified from. 2. That the holiest of saints here on earth, are not perfectly purified from this pollution, but are daily endeavouring to purify themselves more and more.
Observe, 3. The pattern after which the sincere Christian doth conform in this work of purification, and that is Christ: he purifies himself, even as he is pure; intimating, that the Lord Jesus Christ was a perfect pattern of purity; and that it is the Christian's duty to eye this pattern, and to endeavour to conform himself thereunto, by purifying himself, even as Christ is pure.
Whosoever committeth sin, that is, whosoever lives in the allowed commission of it, lives in rebellion against, and in a flat opposition to, the law of God, sin being a transgression of God's law; and such a person as thus commits sin, not only violates the law of God, but also frustrates the death of Christ; for Christ, in whom there was no sin, was manifested in the flesh to take away sin, the guilt of it by his blood, the power of it by his Spirit, and consequently we must purify ourselves from it, if we hope to see him as he is.
Learn hence, That nothing can be more unreasonble and absurd, than to expect salvation with God in heaven by a sinless Saviour, if we allow ourselves in a course of sin; nothing being more contrary than this to the design of Christ's death, which was not only to deliver us from the danger, but from the dominion of our sins; not only to expiate our sins, but to make us sinless like himself.
That is, "Whoever lives in sin, and goes on in a course and trade of sinning, is the servant and slave of sin; and although his reason condemns him, his conscience boggles at it, and his will is something averse to it, yet if he yields his members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, he is the servant of sin; and whatever his pretence may be, he has no right knowledge of Christ, nor any true faith in him; for whosoever abideth in him thus, sinneth not."
Learn hence, That the sincere Christian, so far as he is in Christ, and by faith united to him, and is taught and ruled by him, sinneth not; that is, he makes it his constant care and continual endeavour to shun and avoid all sin.
2. That such persons as go on in a course of sin, let their pretences to Christianity be what they will, they never had any experimental knowledge of Christ, no fellowship or communion with him; nor can ever hope to be happy in the fruition and enjoyment of him: Whosever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
As if the apostle had said, "Let no man deceive you by making you believe that a right faith may consist with an unrighteous life, for only he that doeth righteousness is righteous. "
Note here, 1. That there is a twofold doing of righteousness.
1. In a legal sense, which stands in an exact obeying and fulfilling the law; and thus there is none righteous, no not one.
2. In an evangelical sense, a walking uprightly, according to the rule of the gospel, conscientiously avoiding all known sin, and performing every commanded duty; it is not a single action, but a constant course of holy actions, that denominates a person holy; a righteous man makes righteousness the business of his life; his daily care is how to please God in all he does.
Note, 2. That it is the duty of every Christian, that would not be deceived as to his spiritual state and condition, to try himself by this infallible mark and rule of trial: He that doth righteousness is righteous; he that doth not righteousness is not of God.
Christian, enquire not so much what thy affections are, what thy desires are, what thy joys and comforts are, as what thy actions are; not what thy peace is, but what thy paths are: For God doth not measure men's sincerity by the tides of their affections, but by the constant bent of their resolutions, and the general course and tenor of their conversation; He that doth righteousness, is righteous, and only he.
That is, "So far as a man sinneth, so far he is of the devil, and like unto him, in whom sin is predominant: he having been an old sinner, soon after the beginning of the creation, and a bold tempter to sin all his days."
Learn, 1. That Satan has kept in a constant and continued course of sinning against God from the beiginning of his apostacy, and first moment of his revolt from God; the devil sinneth from the beginning.
Learn, 2. That such as make sin their work, do make themselves the devil's children; they are his children by imitation: John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father ye will do.
As if he had said, "The Son of God came purposely into the world to destroy sin, the work of the devil, in all that he will save.
Note, 1. The odious character wherewith sin is branded, it is the work of the devil; that work which he is always doing himself; and which he is continually tempting and soliciting others to do, that they may be as miserable as himself.
Note, 2. Our Saviour's manifestation in the flesh asserted; the Son of God was manifested, namely, to the world, and in the world; he appeared in our nature, and was seen in our flesh; it was a real exhibition, and not an imaginary manifestation of him.
Note, 3. The great end of this gracious manifestation of the Son of God in our nature, it was to destroy the works of the devil, to loose and dissolve; so the original: This supposes mankind to have been in bonds and fetters; we were in durance and captivity, shut and locked up in the prison-house; we were under the dominion of sin, and power of Satan, but the Son of God came to rescue us, to knock off our fetters, and to set us at liberty: By the works of the devil understand all sin in general.
2. Those sins in particular, which have most of the devil's image upon them, and render persons most like unto him, such are malice and envy, rejoicing at the calamities, and delighting in the evils, that befall others, rage and passion, bitter strife and contention, schism and faction, lying and falshood, craft and treachery; but especially pride and haughtiness, which was the sin that turned Satan out of heaven, and made him a devil in hell.
3. By the works of the devil here are meant in particular, idolatry, and all idolatrous worship, even to the worshipping of the devil himself; this, and all other kinds of idolatry, had strangely prevailed and over-run the world before the coming of Christ, who came on purpose to deliver mankind from this slavery, and to put down the kingdoms of Satan, and beat him out of those strong-holds which he thought had been impregnable; The Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Observe here, 1. The character of a true Christian, he is born of God; he has in the work of regeneration passed under a blessed change by the operation of the Holy Spirit, renewing his nature, and reforming his life; yet this denotes not a single transient act of regeneration, but rather a continued course and permanent state; one that is born of God is the same with him that leads a pious and godly life, and continues so to do.
Observe, 2. What is here asserted concerning him that is born of God, namely, that he doth not commit sin, and that he cannot sin.
1. He doth not commit sin, he is no evil doer, no worker of iniquity, no habitual or customary sinner; he goes not on in any way or course of sin, as the wicked does, who makes a trade of it; yea, he doth not tolerate or allow himself in any single act of sin; not that he is absolutely free from all sin.
2. It is said, he cannot sin; but how? And why? How can he not sin? Has he not a natural power to sin? Has he not corruptions within, and temptations without, inclining and disposing him to sin, as well as other men? And has he not opportunity to sin; the same expectations of advantages by sin with other men? Yes, no doubt; but he has not a will bent for sin, or a heart and mind set upon sin, as the wicked have; nay, he has a heart and will opposite to sin, and set against all sin.
A gracious person then, though he hath not a natural impossibility, yet he has a moral impossibility to sin. He that is born of God hath a power to do that evil which he hath not a will to do; he hath always a natural power, and sometimes a civil power, as being in authority; but his blood and pedigree are so high, being born of God, that he disdains to meddle with, or to trade in so base a thing as sin is.
Note, That a child of God has a blessed impotency in the unregenerate part, that he cannot sin strongly, though as yet he has not that ability in the regenerate part, as not to sin at all.
Observe, 3. The reasons assigned why a regenerate person cannot sin as the wicked sin, because his seed remaineth in him, and because he is born of God; that is, he has an inward principle inclining and disposing him to hate and oppose all sin, to wit, the sanctifying grace of God; and he has that mortifying Spirit, which causes him daily more and more to die unto sin, amd enables him to mortify the deeds of the body.
Learn hence, That although sin remaineth in him that is born of God, yet he that is born of God doth not remain in sin, either as to a sinful state, or a sinful conversation; God's word and Spirit, by which he was regenerate, still remain in him; and so far as he is under the ruling power and governing influences of them, he cannot sin, much less live in wilful sin.
Our apostle in these words give us the distinguishing character of a good and bad man; those who in their dispositions and actions, in the temper of their minds, and in the actions of their lives, do imitate God, are his children; and those who addict themselves to sin and impiety are of another race and descent, they are the children of the devil; they resemble him, and belong unto him. By doing righteousness is meant the practice of universal goodness, and a thorough conformity to the law of God in opposition to sin, which is the transgression of the law.
Learn hence, 1. That every man may come to the certain knowledge of his own condition, whether he be a good or a bad man; By this the children of God are manifested; that is, hereby good and bad men are really distinguished; the Scripture has laid down real marks of difference between them.
Learn, 2. That the love and practice of universal righteousness, and nothing short of it, will denominate a person a child of God, and evidence to his own conscience, that he is brought into a state of grace and favour with him: In this the children of God are manifest, whosoever doth righteousness is of God.
This discovers a farther difference between the children of God and the children of Satan, namely, Brotherly love; he doth not say, he that hateth his brother is a child of the devil, but he that loveth not his brother; intimating, that not only hatred and malice against, but want of brotherly love towards each other, is the mark and sign not of a child of God, but of the devil. He that doth not unfeignedly love men as men, and all Christians as Christians, is no child of God, no lover of God; for he that loveth not God's image, loveth not God himself.
Our apostle comes now to enforce his exhortation unto brotherly love, by many weighty arguments:
1.He assures them, that this precept concerning brotherly love was given them by Christ and his apostles, from the beginning of the preaching of the gospel: This is the message ye heard of him from the beginning.
Note here, 1. That the word of God is a message sent from God unto us, a message for our information and instruction, a message for our guide and direction.
2. That the duty of brotherly love is an ancient message that God has sent and has continued to send us, from the beginning; God help us to learn this lesson, so anciently taught us, and so long pressed upon us by God himself! This is the message which ye heard from the beginning.
A second argument to exite brotherly love is drawn from the evil of hating our brother, which appears in the person and practice of Cain, whom our apostle describes.
1. By his pedigree, He was of that wicked one; that is, the devil, of his diabolical dispostion, of his envious and malicious inclination, and, as such, was not so much Adam's son as the devil's son.
2. By his practice, he slew his brother: He first hated him, and then slew him. His hatred was causeless and unjust, implacable and deadly, and ended in his brother's death and his own destruction.
3. The reason is assigned why he slew him, Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous; not for any harm he had done, or for any evil he had deserved, but because Cain was bad himself, and his works bad; to hate godliness, and to persecute the godly, is the very nature and disposition of a wicked man.
Observe, lastly, The inference drawn by the apostle from this example of Cain's hating his holy and innocent brother; Marvel not, my brethren, says he, if the world hate you; intimating, that the world always did, and ever will hate God's children; and that the children of God are not to marvel or wonder at it, but to prepare for it; it is no new thing, but what has been from the beginning: Though Cain be dead, the spirit of Cain is alive; the prosecutor goes about with Cain's club in his hand, redded with blood; marvel not then if the world hate you.
Observe here, 1. Our apostle's description of a carnal unregenerate state; it is a state of spiritual death.
2. Of a Christian's renewed state by the Spirit of Christ, it is a state of spiritual life; we are passed from death to life.
3. Here is the mark and token by which this translation from death to life may be known, namely, by love; for love being the great work of God's renewing spirit on the soul, it is by the production of that, we come to the knowledge that we are changed from a Cainish corrupt state of death, into a state of holy life: Whatever grace men pretend unto, if they want this grace of love, they are yet dead in sin.
Observe, 4. The characteristical note of that love which will be an indubitable evidence of this our translation from death to life, it must be a love of the brethren; that is, of all Christians, as such; particularly it must be an extensive and universal love, that reaches all the children of God, all good men, of what judgment and opinion soever, otherwise it is the love of a party only, and a love for opinion sake, not for grace-sake, We give thanks since we heard of your love to all saints: Colossians 1:4 that is, to all of what nation and kingdom soever, of what estate and condition soever, of what judgment and opinion soever, though differing from you in some lesser things.
It must also be an holy love that will evidence our Christianity; though all men must be loved as men, yet the brethren must be loved for the likeness of God in them, we must love God's holiness in holy persons: it is one thing to love the brethren, and another to love them as brethren, and because they are brethren; a gracious person may be loved only for carnal respects, and sinister ends; again, it must be active and operative, a costly and expensive love; that cheap love of some men, which will wish a poor Christian well, but will be at no pains, no cost, or expence, to help and succour him, because they love their money better than they do their brother, is the hypocrite's love, not the saint's. If a brother or a sister be naked, and we say unto him, Be thou clothed, &c. James 2:15 this is a cold sort of love, which will profit neither our brother nor ourselves.
From the whole learn, That the love of grace in another, is a good evidence of the life of grace in ourselves; unfeigned love to the children of God as such, is an undoubted evidence of our regeneration and adoption; We know that we are passed from, &c.
Observe here, 1. The nature of the sin condemned, it is a secret sin of the heart, not an open sin of the life; he that hateth his brother, that is, in his heart, is a murderer, though he doth not smite him either with his tongue, or with his hand.
Learn hence, That sins of the heart are damning, as well as sins of the life; a man may be an adulterer in the sight of God, and yet never touch a woman, Matthew 5:28; an idolator, and yet never bow his knee to an image, Ephesians 5:5, a murderer, and yet never hurt his brother; if he hates him in his heart, it is recorded murder in God's account. What need have we to put up David's prayer, Cleanse thou me from my secret sins? Psalms 19:1
Observe, 2. The sad and deplorable condition of such as are guilty of this sin, namely, of murdering their brother by hatred in their hearts: He that hateth his brother, abideth in death, and hath not eternal life abiding in him, 1 John 3:14-Ezra :; that is he hath no spiritual life, nothing of the life of grace abideth in him, which is the seed and principle, the original and beginning of life.
Note thence, That the life of grace in the heart of a regenerate person, is the beginning and first principle of a life of glory, whereof they cannot but be destitute who hate their brother in their hearts. So much hatred in a man, so much death; and so much want of love, so much want of life.
Here our apostle presses brotherly love from another argument, namely, from the example of Jesus Christ, who being God, as well as man, laid down his life, as man, for us.
Where note, That the intimate union betwixt the divine and human nature in Christ, gives ground for the calling Christ's life, as man, the life of God: as his blood is said, Acts 20:28 to be God's own blood; Hereby perceive we the love of God, that is, of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, in that he laid down his life for us.
Thence learn, That the death of Christ for us is a special manifestation of his singular love unto us.
Observe farther, The inference which our apostle draws from Christ's love in laying down his life for us, namely, that we therefore ought to lay down our lives for the brethren: That is, in a time of persecution, when the glory of God, the edification of the church, and the eternal salvation of our brethren, do require it, and stand in need of it: We must never stick at laying down our lives when God calls us to it, as needful for better ends than our lives. It is not needful that we live, but needful and necessary that we glorify God, both in life and death.
Our apostle here draws an argument from the greater to the less, after this manner: "If, says he, we ought to be ready in some cases to part with our lives for the brethren, surely we much more ought to impart and communicate our worldly goods to them in the time of their necessity, and he that refuses so to do, can never think there is any thing of that love in him, which God requires of him towards his children."
Learn hence, that there certainly dwells no love of God in that man's heart, who having this world's goods, stretchest not out his hands to help the necessities of his brother.
Here note, 1. The fountain from which all charitable distributions are to proceed and flow, namely, from the compassion of the heart.
2. That the compassion of the heart must draw forth the help of the hand: He that is a Christian indeed will open both heart and hand to the distressed, and they shall partake of his purse as well as of his pity.
3. It is not said, He that has abundance of this world's goods, let him of his great superfluity give; but he that hath this world's goods: that is, in any measure, yea, though he has no more than he works for, yet is he required, Ephesians 4:28 that worketh with his hands, to give to him that needeth. The world is greatly deceived who thinks charity and almsgiving a duty that only concerns the rich; indeed it concerns them eminently, but not exclusively. And oh! the dreadful account that some rich men have to give, who expend more upon a lust in one day, than they give to the poor in a whole year. But yet, after all, every one that hath this world's goods, though he has but what he labours and sweats for, yet must he in in proportion to what he has, give to him that needeth.
Note, 4. The object of this our compassion and charity; a brother, a brother in need, and every brother in need; not only such as are cast down, but such as are falling, are the proper objects of our pity and help.
Note, 5. The circumstance of time when we must give, namely, when we see our brother in need. What a vanity is it to leave our alms till after our death, to be beholden to the justice of others for their distribution! Let us see our charity bestowed with our own eyes, and given out with our own hands, when the loins of the poor will bless us, but their prayers will do us no good when we are dead. Whoso seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
From the whole learn, That when we are in a capacity, and enjoy an opportunity of expressing our charitable benevolence towards our poor and indigent brethren, the omission of it is a certain evidence that there is nothing of the love of God residing in us.
Having laid down several motives to brotherly love before, by way of excitation, as an help to their affections, he comes now to propound some directions to them as an help to their endeavours.
And the first is this, to take special care that their love be sincere, and not hypocritical. Let us not love in word, that is, in word only, but in deed, and in truth. As if he had said, "Let our deeds speak the truth of our love; sincere love is fruitful; true affection will put forth itself into action; it doth not rest at the tongue's end, but will be seen at the finger's end, rendering us laborious in works and offices of friendship; as faith, so love without works is dead; and as faith is justified by works, so is our love also.
Observe next, The encouragement which our apostle gives to the exercise of this true love, hereby we shall know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him: That is, "By such efficacy and real fruits of our love we shall know that we are true Christians, who live by, and walk according to the rule of the gospel, which is emphatically stiled the truth, and shall have the assured testimony of our consciences, that we are sincere in the sight of God."
Learn hence, 1. That the love of Christians one to another ought not to be verbal, or in word only, but in deed, and in truth.
2. That the sincerity of our love to our brethren is the security of our consciences and estates before God. A Christian may be assured of his good estate, and may build his assurance upon the sincerity of his love to God and Christians.
By heart here is undoubtedly meant conscience: and it is as much as if the apostle had said, "If our consciences tells us that our love is barren and fruitless, and so condemn us for hypocrisy, God is greater than our consciences, both in holiness to condemn, and in knowledge to perceive the evil of them, for he knoweth all things; whereas if we have the witness of our consciences touching the sincerity of our love by the fruits of it; if, after a most strict examination of our consciences, and an exact comparing of our lives and actions with the law of God, we are not condemned of insinceriy in our obedience to God, and love to our neighbour, then have we an humble confidence with God in all our addresses to him."
Learn hence, 1. That the consciences of men have a self-condemning and a self-absolving power.
2. That the consciences of men are much better known to God, than they either are or can be known unto themselves.
3. That if our hearts or consciences do condemn us, it is an evidence of greater condemnation from the heart-searching God.
4. That if our consciences do absolve us, it is an argument of our acceptance with God, and a ground of condfidence in all our addresses to him.
5. That according to the verdict or testimony of men's consciences rightly informed, and truly testifying, God will either acquit or absolve them at the great day.
Observe here, 1. An extraordinary favour and privilege insured, Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him; that is, whatsoever we ask according to his will, we are sure to receive, either in kind or in equivalency. It shall either be given in mercy, or denied in love; for verily God is as kind in denying some of our requests, as in answering others; we often cry for that which it would be cruelty for God to give; we know not what is best to beg, but an infinitely wise God knoweth what is fittest to give. Dat pre jocundis aptissima.
Observe, 2. The qualification of the persons to whom this precious privilege does belong. They keep God's commandments, and do the things that please him. According to our hearing God's commandments, so he hears and answers our prayers; with what measure we mete to God, God will measure to us again. If God's commands be trod under our feet, no wonder that all our prayers fall to the ground. God hears not us, if we hear not him. If we keep his commandments, whatsoever we ask, we receive of him.
Observe here, 1. What is the sum of the Christian's duty, faith and love, to believe on the name of Jesus Christ; that is, to rely upon him as our Redeemer, our Teacher, our King, our Intercessor, and to obey his great command of loving one another with a pure heart fervently.
Observe, 2. What a mighty encouragement it is to faith, that believing on Christ is constituted a duty by a plain gospel-precept, This is his commandment, for this command cuts off that vain pretence and plea of presumption. What! such a vile wretch as thou presume to believe on Christ? says Satan. Yes, says the Christian, here is a command to me so to do, yea, a command from the highest sovereignty, the contempt whereof I must answer at my utmost peril.
Observe, 3. How the command of faith, and the command of love, are linked and knit together, as if the weight of our salvation hung equally and alike upon both; as without faith it is impossible to please God, so without love it is impossible to please him also. Will no duty profit without faith? In like manner can we neither profit ourselves nor others without love: As whatever is not of faith is sin, so whatever duty we perform towards our brother, if we do it not out of love, we miss our reward. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1 Lord! can we ever think this command of love small and inconsiderable, when thou hast joined the love of thine image with faith in thy dear Son? This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son, and love one another.
Observe here, 1. The benefit of obedience to God's command. God dwelleth in us, and we in him. God's dwelling in us implies,
1. Right and property; what a man dwells in is his own.
2. Command and authority; the master and owner is the commander and disposer of the house.
It also, 3. Implies residence and continuance, settlement and fixedness of abode; there a man dwells where he constantly resides.
And our dwelling in God imports, 1. Reconciliation with God. Can two dwell together except they be agreed?
2. Affiance and trust in him.
3. An upholding constant communion with him; it is one thing to run to God for refuge in a storm, and another thing to make him our dwelling place at all times, and in all conditions; he that keepeth God's commandments thus dwelleth in God, and God in him; it follows, And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Learn hence, That the Spirit of God, bestowed upon us in his sanctifying gifts and saving graces, is an evident sign of God's dwelling in us, and we in him.
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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 3". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent