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1: Believe not every spirit - Whereby any teacher is
actuated. But try the spirits - By the rule which follows.
We are to try all spirits by the written word: "To the law
and to the testimony!" If any man speak not according to
these, the spirit which actuates him is not of God.
2: Every spirit - Or teacher. Which confesseth - Both with
heart and voice. Jesus Christ, who is come in the flesh, is
of God - This his coming presupposes, contains, and draws after
it, the whole doctrine of Christ.
3: Ye have heard - From our Lord and us, that it cometh.
4: Ye have overcome these seducers, because greater is the
Spirit of Christ that is in you than the spirit of antichrist
that is in the world.
5: They - Those false prophets. Are of the world - Of
the number of those that know not God. Therefore speak they
of the world - From the same principle, wisdom, spirit; and,
of consequence, the world heareth them - With approbation.
6: We - Apostles. Are of God - Immediately taught, and sent
by him. Hereby we know - From what is said,(1Jo 4:2-6).
7: Let us love one another - From the doctrine he has just
been defending he draws this exhortation. It is by the Spirit
that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. Every one
that truly loveth God and his neighbour is born of God.
8: God is love - This little sentence brought St. John
more sweetness, even in the time he was writing it, than the
whole world can bring. God is often styled holy, righteous,
wise; but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the
abstract, as he is said to be love; intimating that this is
his darling, his reigning attribute, the attribute that sheds
an amiable glory on all his other perfections.
12: If we love one another, God abideth in us - This is
treated of, (1Jo 4:13-16).
And his love is perfected - Has its full effect. In us - This
is treated of, (1Jo 4:17-19).
14: And in consequence of this we have seen and testify
that the Father sent the Son - These are the foundation and the
criteria of our abiding in God and God in us, the communion
of the Spirit, and the confession of the Son.
15: Whosoever shall, from a principle of loving
faith, openly confess in the face of all opposition and
danger, that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him.
16: And we know and believe - By the same Spirit,
the love that God hath to us.
17: Hereby - That is, by this communion with God. Is
our love made perfect; that we may - That is, so that we shall
have boldness in the day of judgment - When all the stout - hearted
shall tremble. Because as he - Christ. Is - All love. So are we
- Who are fathers in Christ, even in this world.
18: There is no fear in love - No slavish fear can be where
love reigns. But perfect, adult love casteth out slavish fear:
because such fear hath torment - And so is inconsistent with the
happiness of love. A natural man has neither fear nor love;
one that is awakened, fear without love; a babe in Christ,
love and fear; a father in Christ, love without fear.
19: We love him, because he first loved us - This is
the sum of all religion, the genuine model of Christianity.
None can say more: why should any one say less, or less
20: Whom he hath seen - Who is daily presented to
his senses, to raise his esteem, and move his kindness
or compassion toward him.
21: And this commandment have we from him - Both God
and Christ. That he who loveth God love his brother - Every
one, whatever his opinions or mode of worship be, purely
because he is the child, and bears the image, of God.
Bigotry is properly the want of this pure and universal love.
A bigot only loves those who embrace his opinions, and receive
his way of worship; and he loves them for that, and not for