FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN.
Completed by Mr. T. Reynolds.
THOUGH the continued tradition of the Church attests that this epistle came from St. John the apostle, yet we may obsen^e some other evidence that will confirm (or with some perhaps even outweigh) the certainty of that tradition. It should seem, that the penman was one of the apostolical college, by the sensible palpable assurance he had of the truth of the Mediator's person in his human nature ; That which rje have heard, ivhich we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life, v. 1. He here takes notice of the evidence the Lord gave to Thomas of liis resurrection, by calling him to feel the prints of the nails and of the spear, which is recorded by John. And he must have been one of the disciples present, when the Lord came on the same day in which he arose from the dead, and shewed them his hands and his side, John 20. 20. But, that we may be assured wliich apostle this was, there is scarcely a critic or competent judge of diction, or style of argument and. spirit, but will adjudge this epistle to the writer of that gospel that bears the name of the apostle John. They wonderfully agree in the titles and characters of the Redeemer ; the Word, the Life, the Light; his- name was the word of God. Compare 1 John 1. 1. and ch. 5. 7. with John 1. 1. and Rev. 19, 13. They agree in the commendation of God's love to us, (1 John 3. 1. and ch. 4. 9. John 3. 16.) and in speak- ing of our regeneration, or being born of God ; 1 Epist. 3. 9. ch. 4. 7. and ch. 5. 1. John 3. 5, 6. Lastly, (to add no more instances, which may be easily seen in comparing this epistle with that gospel) they agree in the allusion to, or application of, that passage in that gospel, which relates (and which alone relates) the issuing of water and blood out of the Redeemer's opened side ; This is he that came by water and blood, ch. 5. 6. Thus the epistle plainly appears to flow from the same pen as that gospel did. Now I know not that the text, or the intrinsic history of any of the gospels, gives us such assurance of its writer or penman, as that ascribed to John plainly does. There (viz. ch. 21. 24.) the sacred historian thus notifies himself; This is the discifile that testijieth of these things, and wrote these things ; and we know that his testimony is true. Now who is this disciple, but he concerning whom Peter asked. What shall this man do ? And concerning whom the Lord answered. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? v. 22. And who (in v. 20.) is described by these three characters : 1. That he is the dis- cifile whom Jesus loved ; the Lord's peculiar friend. 2. That he also leaned on his breast at su/i/ier. 3. Tliat he said unto him. Lord, who is he that betrayeth thee? As sure then as it is that that disciple was John, so sure may the church be that that gospel and this epistle came from the beloved John. The epistle is styled general, as being not inscribed to any particular church ; it is, as a circular letter, (or a visitation charge,) sent to divers churches, (some say of Parthia,) in order to confirm them in their steadfast adherence to the Lord Christ, and the sacred doctrine concernmg his person and office, against seducers ; and to instigate them to adorn that doctrine by love to God and man ; and particularly to each other, as being descended from God, united by the same Head, and travelling toward the same eternal life.
I. JOHN, I.
Evidence men concerning Christ's person and excellency, V. I, 2. The knowledge thereof gives us communion with God and Christ, (v. 3.) and joy, v. 4. A description of God, V. 5. How we are thereupon to walk, v. 6. The benefit of such walking, v. 7. The way to forgiveness, v. 9. The evil of denying our sin, v. 8 . . 10.
1.THAT which was from the begin- ning:, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of hfe ; 2. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us ;) 3. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us : and truly our fellowship is with the Father, Vol. vi.—5 N