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quence of this, as love had been illustrated in Christ's walk or doing for us, if we take the place of fellowship with Him, or profess that we abide in Him the light, and yet hate one another, we deceive ourselves, and are still in darkness (ii. 7-9).
And still pursuing this epistle, we are told of another quality, or virtue, in this object that has been manifested; that " in Him is no sin.” And, therefore, it is also again at once denied, that we have either seen or known Him, if we commit sin (iii. 5, 6).
The same principle is recognised in that passagethat the object will, if the soul have fellowship with it, leave its likeness behind it.
So again, a second time, as to love. Love is perceived or manifested in the Lord Jesus laying down His life for
If we shut up our compassions from one another, that love does not dwell in us. We can have had no fellowship with it (ii. 16, 17; iv. 9—11).
And further still, as to love. It is a perfect love which has been displayed; communion with it, therefore, believing, intelligent apprehension of it, will beget full assurance in the soul, and cast out all fear (iv. 17–19).
Surely I do not say too much, when I say, after all this, that this blessed epistle gives us various manifestatior of God in Christ, " the Word of life," and that such manifestations leave their impressions on the souls that have communion with them.
And this same thing, the power of communion with manifestations to leave impressions on the soul, is incidentally contemplated in two interesting instances.
1st. We are to be like Jesus in glory, when He is manifested in glory, because we shall see Him in that glory (iii. 2).
2ndly. We are liars, if we say that we love God, while we are hating our brother. Such things cannot be. Our brother has been seen-God has not been seen. Therefore, on the principle of the epistle, on the principle that communion with things manifested, leaves impressions behind it, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we love not our brother whom we have seen (iv. 20, 21).
These passages strikingly affirm the general principle.
But there is true blessing from all this. It takes us into real, vital, personal knowledge of the Blessed One. And supposing that these impressions, of which we speak, are but faintly and partially produced in the soul; and surely we know too well that such is the case-we know where to charge the mischief; that is, on the imperfectness of our communion with the object, and not on the object or manifestation itself. And that discovery is our blessing. For God is true to us; it is we who are use to ourselves. The manifestations made of God to us should produce, as this epistle tells us, joy, light, love, holiness, assurance of heart. If, then, we find that all this precious fruit is but partially ripened in our souls, we charge this on the poverty of our communion with our object, and not on the manifestation He has made of Himself. That manifestation is such as would secure all these virtues in us in full measure. We find out, that we are not straightened in Him; but in our own bowels. And surely this is precious. The reflection in us is faint; but the light that has awakened it is unclouded.
The way, however, to deepen these impressions, is, still to be occupied with the manifestation. We are not to be too carefully turning over the shame and the grief of this faintness before the conscience, but to be returning, 80 to speak, again and again, to the object. And with this judgment, the Spirit in the apostle seems to concur, when He says, " these things have I written unto you, that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God" (v. 13). Let the Son of God be still the object of your faith. .
I would say a little further on this epistle. In chap. 5. 18—21, the apostle gives us three results, and then closes his letter. We get, in these verses, three “We knows," leading forth three distinct, though connected, truths, each of them weighty, solemn, and precious.
Ist. He that is born of God sinneth not, but keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
Such doctrine had been considered in some of the
previous parts of the epistle. The Son of God had been declared to have been manifested to take away our sin, and to have no sin in Himself (chap.i.5): such words teaching us, that the life imparted to us by the Son is a clean life, a life according to God in righteousness and holiness. The fountain of it is Himself, without touch or stain of sin; and that which flows from Him in us is of like quality. The same fountain cannot send forth both salt water and fresh. The nature that sins, that yields sin as its fruit, can have no communion with Him. What fellowship has light with darkness? Neither can "the wicked one," the source of the unclean nature, touch that which is born of God, or derived from the Son, as is here taught us. He cannot come in to defile it, as he defiled Adam.
And this is very blessed. It intimates a condition gloriously beyond that of Adam. All Adam's estates and possessions were exposed to the attempts of "the wicked one." The Serpent was no trespasser in the garden of Eden. He had title to be there, so that Adam might be assayed. But it is otherwise with us.
We carry a life, and are heirs of an inheritance, that is not thus exposed. Both our life and our inheritance, all our estate in Christ, and through Christ, are drawn from Christ in victory over him. The Serpent is not seen in the city, as he is in the garden (Rev.xxi., Gen.iii.) The Tree of Life is there, but not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
2nd. We are of God, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one.
Such doctrine had also been previously treated in the epistle. It had been declared, that all that was in the world was of the world, and that the enemy of God was the one that was quickening the world, as its indwelling energy (chap. ii. 16, iv.4.). There were, thus, two distinct scenes of action, and two distinct principles of action, There was God in the saints, and there was the wicked one in the world. The saints were of God; all besides were of the world. The one had the renewed faculty of the flock of God, to hear the Shepherd's voice; all besides had taste and intelligence only for the interests and
delights of a system which their own hearts and hands, corrupted and occupied by Satan, had fashioned and were sustaining every day (chap.iv. 1-6.).
This is a proposition of an awful character. It teaches us, that there is no belonging to God among men, but by being drawn out of the world by Jesus. The world may have its varieties and measures; but it is all in the wicked one.
All is but varied darkness, and enmity, No deliverance, no translation into light, no return to God, but by the way of Jesus, that manifested Life, which this epistle had declared.
3rd. The Son of God has come to give us an understanding to know Him that is true, and we are in Him, and have the true God, and, in Him and with Him, eternal life.
This likewise is doctrine of wondrous value. The world by wisdom had not found out God. All their learning had left them ignorant of God. The altar at Athens witnesses this. But God had now revealed Himself, and that revelation was in Jesus. The glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ. This epistle had already taught us this, that the eternal life that was with the Father had been manifested. The apostles had seen, and heard and handled it. So that knowledge of God was now secured to us. We have been given an understanding to know Him; and we find this knowledge to be eternal life-as this epistle had likewise already said, "he that has the Son has life;” and had shewn the varions fruits of being in the knowledge of, or fellowship with, this revealed God. All thoughts of our own, all conjectures of
our own about God, can but make idols or false deities. We are to keep ourselves from all such. We are to know God only in this manifestation of Himself which we get and have in Jesus, and we are to treat all other thoughts of Him as idolatrous. This only is "the true God," and we are to keep ourselves from all besides as from idols."
Thus we have three distinct, weighty propositions. Solemn, interesting, blessed conclusions they are. The saints have knowledge of God, and life in that knowledge; and thus they are separated from a world which
the wicked one owns and animates, and are in possession of that which that same wicked one can never touch.
And the whole closes with that warning already referred to, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." The true God being now revealed, let no thought of God, no reasoning about Him, no conclusions of our own wisdom or theology, arise independently in the heart. All this will but end in idolatry; refined it may be, speculative and philosophic; but still idolatry. The notions of man about Him must be false; for by wisdom we cannot know Him. God has been pleased to manifest Himself, and with that manifestation we are to have communion, and by the light of it to walk apart from all idols; ever esteeming it our blessedness, that we are not left to our conjectures about God, but are called to know Him in the light of His own revelation of Himself, and in that knowledge find our life eternally secured
Lord Jesus ! when I think of Thee,
Of all Thy love and grace,
Thy beauty, face to face.
A barren, thirsty ground,
Where foes and snares abound;
My soul o'erflows with praise-
A joyful song I raise.
My Rock, my Food, my Light;
Unchanging, fresh delight.
Hard following after Thee;
Thy face in glory see.