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anxious unnecessary cares about the morrow, which may never come, or in making provision for it, which we may not want; but to attend to the calls of present duty, and repose ourselves on thee, our heavenly Father, for the
Finally, O Lord our God, help us to attend to the words which Jesus our great Master taught from thee; and especially to beware of going away from his sacred lessons, contented merely with our admiration and approbation of them, lest we deceive ourselves thereby; but to be earnest and diligent in copying after them, and transcribing them into our own lives, that we may be in the end approved by thee, and gain our admittance into thy heavenly and eternal kingdom, which of thine infinite undeserved goodness thou hast promised us by him!
Now unto thee, O Father, &c.
God of all grace, &c.
December 12, 1784.
1 John iv. 20.
If a man say, I love God, and bateth his brother,
he is a liar : for be tbat loveth not his brother whom he bath seen, how can be love God whom he batb not seen ?
This epistle, written by the favourite disciple of our Lord, shows us how very soon some men began to corrupt the purity and simplicity of his religion.
For it is very generally agreed, that the main design of the apostle therein is to confute and check the progress of a doctrine, brought in, most probably, by some of the learned converts from among the heathens, who, being offended with the common açcount of Christ as too degrading to him, would not allow him to have come in flesh: to have been really a man as others : one who actually
suffered and died; but, that all this was done in appearance only.
And not content with this gross deviation from the doctrine of the apostles, they scru. pled not to behave haughtily and contemptuously towards other christians, because they did not approve and fall in with their novel opinions.
For it will appear to any one who attends to the connexion of the apostle's discourse, that he continues to speak here of those he had mentioned in the beginning of the chapter, who denied that Christ was come in the flesh; and that he goes on to characterize them, as persons whose doctrine was very fashionable, (ver. 5.) because many did not like the thought that the founder of their religion should have suffered upon the ignominious cross like a slave and malefactor; and he also hints at their Gnostic pretensions (ver. 6, 7, 8.) to superior knowledge to that of all other christians; from which they were called Gnostics; and it was the name of a large sect of heathen philosophers at that time, some of whom had embraced christianity, but had much disfigured and corrupted it by their
philosophy; (ver. 5.) “ They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth theni."
They were the men, in their own opinions, who knew God more than others ; they also pretended to love him better and to be his favourites.
But with that authority which became an apostle who was intimately and personally acquainted with the blessed Jesus, his master, and knew his true character, he claims their regards and assent to what he delivered.
Ver. 6. “ We are of God,” proceeds he. “ He that knoweth God, heareth us. He that is not of God, heareth not us. Hereby we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error;" that is, according as men received or rejected his doctrine concerning the person of Christ being truly a man, in which it was not possible for him to be deceived or mistaken. The apostle here speaks boldly and with. out reserve. He then turns himself to exhort to mutual love and candour one towards another, in which those conceited heathen christians were so defective, holding all, but those of their own opinion, beneath their notice, and unworthy of their regards.