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Title: Expositor's Bible: The Epistles of St. John
Author: Alexander, William
Language: English
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                        THE EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE

                          EDITED BY THE REV.

                   W. ROBERTSON NICOLL, M.A., LL.D.

                  _Editor of "The Expositor," etc._

                       THE EPISTLES OF ST. JOHN


                       WILLIAM ALEXANDER, D.D.

                         HODDER AND STOUGHTON

                         27, PATERNOSTER ROW

                        THE EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE.

             _Crown 8vo, cloth, price 7s. 6d. each vol._

                        FIRST SERIES, 1887-8.

    By A. MACLAREN, D.D.

  St. Mark.
    By Very Rev. the Dean of Armagh.

    By Prof. MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  1 Samuel.
    By Prof. W. G. BLAIKIE, D.D.

  2 Samuel.
    By the same Author.

    By Principal T. C. EDWARDS, D.D.

                        SECOND SERIES, 1888-9

    By Prof. G. G. FINDLAY, B.A.

  The Pastoral Epistles.
    By Rev. A. PLUMMER, D.D.

  Isaiah I.--XXXIX.
    By Prof. G. A. SMITH, D.D. Vol. I.

  The Book of Revelation.
    By Prof. W. MILLIGAN, D.D.

  1 Corinthians.
    By Prof. MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  The Epistles of St. John.
    By Right Rev. W. ALEXANDER, D.D.

                        THIRD SERIES, 1889-90.

  Judges and Ruth.
    By R. A. WATSON, M.A., D.D.

    By Rev. C. J. BALL, M.A.

  Isaiah XL.--LXVI.
    By Prof. G. A. SMITH, D.D. Vol. II.

  St. Matthew.
    By Rev. J. MONRO GIBSON, D.D.

    By Very Rev. the Dean of Armagh.

  St. Luke.
    By Rev. H. BURTON, M.A.

                        FOURTH SERIES, 1890-1.

    By Rev. SAMUEL COX, D.D.

  St. James and St. Jude.
    By Rev. A. PLUMMER, D.D.

    By Rev. R. F. HORTON, D.D.

    By Rev. S. H. KELLOGG, D.D.

  The Gospel of St. John.
    By. Prof. M. DODS, D.D. Vol. I.

  The Acts of the Apostles.
    By Prof. STOKES, D.D. Vol. I.

                        FIFTH SERIES, 1891-2.

  The Psalms.
    By A. MACLAREN, D.D. Vol. I.

  1 and 2 Thessalonians.

  The Book of Job.
    By R. A. WATSON, M.A., D.D.

    By Prof. G. G. FINDLAY, B.A.

  The Gospel of St. John.
    By Prof. M. DODS, D.D. Vol. II.

  The Acts of the Apostles.
    By Prof. STOKES, D.D. Vol. II.

                        SIXTH SERIES, 1892-3.

  1 Kings.
    By Very Rev. the Dean of Canterbury.

    By Principal RAINY, D.D.

  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.
    By Prof. W. F. ADENEY, M.A.

    By Prof. W. G. BLAIKIE, D.D.

  The Psalms.
    By A. MACLAREN, D.D. Vol. II.

  The Epistles of St. Peter.
    By Prof. RAWSON LUMBY, D.D.

                       SEVENTH SERIES, 1893-4.

  2 Kings.
    By Very Rev. the Dean of Canterbury.

    By H. C. G. MOULE, M.A., D.D.

  The Books of Chronicles.
    By Prof. W. H. BENNETT, M.A., B.D.

  2 Corinthians.

    By R. A. WATSON, M.A., D.D.

  The Psalms.
    By A. MACLAREN, D.D. Vol. III.

                        EIGHTH SERIES 1895-6.

    By Ven. Archdeacon FARRAR.

  The Book of Jeremiah.
    By Prof. W. H. BENNETT, M.A., B.D.

    By Prof. ANDREW HARPER, B.D.

  The Song of Solomon and
    By Prof. W. F. ADENEY, M.A.

    By Prof. JOHN SKINNER, M.A.

  The Minor Prophets.
    By Prof. G. A. SMITH, D.D. Two

                         EPISTLES OF ST. JOHN

                       _TWENTY-ONE DISCOURSES_

           With Greek Text, Comparative Versions, and Notes
                          Chiefly Exegetical

                          WILLIAM ALEXANDER
                D.D., D.C.L. OXON., HON. LL.D. DUBLIN
                      BRASENOSE COLLEGE, OXFORD

                           _FOURTH EDITION_

                         HODDER AND STOUGHTON
                         27, PATERNOSTER ROW


  Hujus scriptis illustratur,
  Illustrata solidatur
             Unitas Ecclesiæ.

                        ADAM OF ST. VICTOR
                  _Seq._ xxxi. (_S. Johannes Evangelista_).


It is now many years ago since I entered upon a study of the Epistles
of St. John, as serious and prolonged as was consistent with the often
distracting cares of an Irish Bishop. Such fruit as my labours
produced enjoyed the advantage of appearing in the last volume of the
_Speaker's Commentary_ in 1881.

Since that period I have frequently turned again to these
Epistles--subsequent reflection or study not seldom filling in gaps in
my knowledge, or leading me to modify former interpretations. When
invited last year to resume my old work, I therefore embraced
willingly the opportunity which was presented to me.

Let me briefly state the method pursued in this book.

I. The First Part contains four Discourses.

(1) In the first Discourse I have tried to place the reader in the
historical surroundings from which (unless all early Church history is
unreal, a past that never was present) these Epistles emanated.

(2) In the second Discourse I compare the Epistle with the Gospel.
This is the true point of orientation for the commentator. Call the
connection between the two documents what we may; be the Epistle
preface, appendix, moral and devotional commentary, or accompanying
encyclical address to the Churches, which were "the nurslings of
John"; that connection is constant and pervasive. Unless this
principle is firmly grasped, we not only lose a defence and
confirmation of the Gospel, but dissolve the whole consistency of the
Epistle, and leave it floating--the thinnest cloud in the whole
cloudland of mystic idealism.

(3) The third Discourse deals with the polemical element in these
Epistles. Some commentators indeed, like the excellent Henry Hammond,
"spy out Gnostics where there are none." They confuse us with uncouth
names, and conjure up the ghosts of long-forgotten errors until we
seem to hear a theological bedlam, or to see theological scarecrows.
Yet Gnosticism, Doketism, Cerinthianism, certainly sprang from the
teeming soil of Ephesian thought; and without a recognition of this
fact, we shall never understand the Epistle. Undoubtedly, if the
Apostle had addressed himself only to contemporary error, his great
Epistle would have become completely obsolete for us. To subsequent
ages an antiquated polemical treatise is like a fossil scorpion with a
sting of stone. But a divinely taught polemic under transitory forms
of error finds principles as lasting as human nature.

(4) The object of the fourth Discourse is to bring out the image of
St. John's soul--the essentials of the spiritual life to be found in
those precious chapters which still continue to be an element of the
life of the Church.

Such a view, if at all accurate, will enable the reader to contemplate
the whole of the Epistle with the sense of completeness, of remoteness,
and of unity which arises from a general survey apart from particular
difficulties. An ancient legend insisted that St. John exercised
miraculous power in blending again into one the broken pieces of a
precious stone. We may try in an humble way to bring these fragmentary
particles of spiritual gem-dust together, and fuse them into one.

II. The plan pursued in the second part is this. The First Epistle (of
which only I need now speak) is divided into ten sections.

The sections are thus arranged--

(1) The _text_ is given in Greek. In this matter I make no pretence to
original research; and have simply adopted Tischendorf's text, with
occasional amendments from Dr. Scrivener or Prof. Westcott. At one
time I might have been tempted to follow Lachmann; but experience
taught me that he is "audacior quàm limatior," and I held my hand. The
advantage to every studious reader of having the divine original close
by him for comparison is too obvious to need a word more.

With the Greek I have placed in parallel columns the translations most
useful for ordinary readers--the Latin, the English A.V. and R.V. The
Latin text is that of the "Codex Amiatinus," after Tischendorf's
splendid edition of 1854. In this the reader will find the Hieronymian
interpretation as it stood not more than a hundred and twenty years
after the death of St. Jerome, an interpretation more diligent and more
accurate than that which is supplied by the ordinary Vulgate text. The
saint felt "the peril of presuming to judge others where he himself
would be judged by all; of changing the tongue of the old, and carrying
back a world which was growing hoary to the initial essay of infancy."
The Latin is of that form to which ancient Latin Church writers gave the
name of "rusticitas." But it is a happy--I had almost said a
divine--rusticity. In translating from the Hebrew of the Old Testament,
St. Jerome has given a new life, a strange tenderness or awful cadence,
to prophets and psalmists. The voice of the fields is the voice of
Heaven also. The tongue of the people is for once the tongue of God.
This Hebraistic Latin or Latinised Hebrew forms the strongest link in
that mysterious yet most real spell wherewith the Latin of the Church
enthrals the soul of the world. But to return to our immediate subject.
The student can seldom go wrong by more than a hair's breadth when he
has before him three such translations. In the first column stands St.
Jerome's vigorous Latin. The second contains the English A.V., of which
each clause seems to be guarded by the spirits of the holy dead, as well
as by the love of the living Church; and to tell the innovator that he
"does wrong to show it violence, being so majestical." The third column
offers to view the scholarlike--if sometimes just a little pedantic and
provoking--accuracy of the R.V. To this comparison of versions I attach
much significance. Every translation is an additional commentary, every
good translation the best of commentaries.

I have ventured with much hesitation to add upon another column in
each section a translation drawn up by myself for my own private use;
the greater portion of which was made a year or two before the
publication of the R.V. Its right to be here is this, that it affords
the best key to my meaning in any place where the exposition may be
imperfectly expressed.[1]

(2) One or more Discourses are attached to most of the sections. In
these I may have seemed sometimes to have given myself a wide scope,
but I have tried to make a sound and careful exegesis the basis of
each. And I have throughout considered myself bound to draw out some
great leading idea of St. John with conscientious care.

(3) The Discourses (or if there be no Discourse in the section, the
text and versions) are followed by short notes, chiefly exegetical, in
which I have not willingly passed by any real difficulty.

I have not wished to cumber my pages with constant quotations. But in
former years I have read, in some cases with much care, the following
commentators--St. Augustine's _Tractatus_, St. John Chrysostom's
Homilies on the Gospel (full of hints upon the Epistles), Cornelius à
Lapide; of older post-Reformation commentators, the excellent Henry
Hammond, the eloquent Dean Hardy, the precious fragments in Pole's
_Synopsis_--above all, the inimitable Bengel; of moderns, Düsterdieck,
Huther, Ebrard, Neander; more recently, Professor Westcott, whose
subtle and exquisite scholarship deserves the gratitude of every
student of St. John. Of Haupt I know nothing, with the exception of an
analysis of the Epistle, which is stamped with the highest praise of
so refined and competent a judge as Archdeacon Farrar. But having read
this list fairly in past years, I am now content to have before me
nothing but a Greek Testament, the Grammars of Winer and Donaldson,
the New Testament lexicons of Bretschneider, Grimm, and Mintert, with
Tromm's "Concordantia LXX." For, on the whole, I really prefer St.
John to his commentators. And I hope I am not ungrateful for help
which I have received from them, when I say that I now seem to myself
to understand him better without the dissonance of their many voices.
"Johannem nisi ex Johanne ipso non intellexeris."

III. It only remains to commend this book, such as it is, not only to
theological students, but to general readers, who I hope will not be
alarmed by a few Greek words here and there.

I began my fuller study of St. John's Epistle in the noonday of life;
I am closing it with the sunset in my eyes. I pray God to sanctify
this poor attempt to the edification of souls, and the good of the
Church. And I ask all who may find it useful, to offer their
intercessions for a blessing upon the book, and upon its author.


          _February 6th, 1889_.

MERCIFUL GOD, we beseech Thee to cast Thy bright beams of light upon
Thy Church, that it being enlightened by the doctrine of Thy blessed
Apostle and Evangelist St. John, may so walk in the light of Thy
truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


[1] I venture to call attention to the rendering "very." It enables
the translator to mark the important distinction between two words:
αληθης, _factually_ true and real, as opposed to that which in point
of fact is mendacious; αληθινος, _ideally_ true and real, that which
alone realizes the idea imperfectly expressed by something else. This
is one of St. John's favourite words. In regard to αγαπη I have not
had the courage of my convictions. The word "charity" seems to me
almost providentially preserved for the rendering of that term. It is
not without a purpose that ερως is so rigorously excluded from the New
Testament. [So also from the Epp. of Ignatius.] The objection that
"charity" conveys to ordinary English people the notion of mere
material alms is of little weight. If "charity" is sometimes a little
_metallic_, is not "love" sometimes a little _maundering_? I agree
with Canon Evans that the word, strictly speaking, should be always
translated "charity" when alone, "love" when in regimen. Yet I have
not been bold enough to put "God is charity" for "God is love."


  PREFACE                                                           v

                              _PART I_.

                             DISCOURSE I.


                            DISCOURSE II.

      ST. JOHN                                                     21

                            DISCOURSE III.

      ST. JOHN                                                     39

                            DISCOURSE IV.

  THE IMAGE OF ST. JOHN'S SOUL IN HIS EPISTLE                      54

                               PART II.

      FIRST EPISTLE OF ST. JOHN                                    75

                              SECTION I.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                                79

                             DISCOURSE I.

  ANALYSIS AND THEORY OF ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL                         80

                            DISCOURSE II.


                             SECTION II.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               100

                            DISCOURSE III.

  EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT                                         102

                            DISCOURSE IV.

      ATONEMENT                                                   106

                           SECTION III. (1)

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               117

                             DISCOURSE V.

      INFLUENCE                                                   118

                           SECTION III. (2)

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               133

                           SECTION III. (3)

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               134

                            DISCOURSE VI.

  THE WORLD WHICH WE MUST NOT LOVE                                136

                            DISCOURSE VII.

      WORLD                                                       149

                             SECTION IV.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               164

                           DISCOURSE VIII.

  KNOWING ALL THINGS                                              166

                              SECTION V.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               179

                             SECTION VI.

  TEXTS AND VERSIONS                                              185

                            DISCOURSE IX.

  LOFTY IDEALS PERILOUS UNLESS APPLIED                            188

                             SECTION VII.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               204

                            SECTION VIII.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               207

                             DISCOURSE X.

  BOLDNESS IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT                                 210

                             SECTION IX.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               220

                            DISCOURSE XI.

  BIRTH AND VICTORY                                               223

                            DISCOURSE XII.

      WITNESSES                                                   236

                           DISCOURSE XIII.


                            DISCOURSE XIV.

  SIN UNTO DEATH                                                  254

                            DISCOURSE XV.


                              SECTION X.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               274

                          _SECOND EPISTLE_.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               279

                            DISCOURSE XVI.

  THEOLOGY AND LIFE IN KYRIA'S LETTER                             282

                           _THIRD EPISTLE_.

  TEXT AND VERSIONS                                               297

                           DISCOURSE XVII.

  THE QUIETNESS OF TRUE RELIGION                                  300

                               PART I.


                                     (BENGEL _in Act._ xix. 21.)

                             DISCOURSE I.


    "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."--I JOHN V. 21.

After the example of a writer of genius, preachers and essayists for the
last forty years have constantly applied--or misapplied--some lines from
one of the greatest of Christian poems. Dante sings of St. John--

                   "As he, who looks intent,
      And strives with searching ken, how he may see
      The sun in his eclipse, and, through decline
      Of seeing, loseth power of sight: so I
      Gazed on that last resplendence."[2]

The poet meant to be understood of the Apostle's spiritual splendour of
soul, of the absorption of his intellect and heart in his conception of
the Person of Christ and of the dogma of the Holy Trinity. By these
expositors of Dante the image is transferred to the style and structure
of his writings. But confusion of thought is not magnificence, and mere
obscurity is never sunlike. A blurred sphere and undecided outline is
not characteristic of the sun even in eclipse. Dante never intended us
to understand that St. John as a writer was distinguished by a
beautiful vagueness of sentiment, by bright but tremulously drawn lines
of dogmatic creed. It is indeed certain that round St. John himself, at
the time when he wrote, there were many minds affected by this vague
mysticism. For them, beyond the scanty region of the known, there was a
world of darkness whose shadows they desired to penetrate. For them this
little island of life was surrounded by waters into whose depths they
affected to gaze. They were drawn by a mystic attraction to things which
they themselves called the "shadows," the "depths," the "silences." But
for St. John these shadows were a negation of the message which he
delivered that "God is light, and darkness in Him is none." These
silences were the contradiction of the Word who has once for all
interpreted God. These depths were "depths of Satan."[3] For the men who
were thus enamoured of indefiniteness, of shifting sentiments and
flexible creeds, were Gnostic heretics. Now St. John's style, as such,
has not the artful variety, the perfect balance in the masses of
composition, the finished logical cohesion of the Greek classical
writers. Yet it can be loftily or pathetically impressive. It can touch
the problems and processes of the moral and spiritual world with a
pencil-tip of deathless light, or compress them into symbols which are
solemnly or awfully picturesque.[4] Above all St. John has the faculty
of enshrining dogma in forms of statement which are firm and
precise--accurate enough to be envied by philosophers, subtle enough to
defy the passage of heresy through their finely drawn yet powerful
lines. Thus in the beginning of his Gospel all false thought upon the
Person of Him who is the living theology of His Church is refuted by
anticipation--that which in itself or in its certain consequences
unhumanises or undeifies the God Man; that which denies the singularity
of the One Person who was Incarnate, or the reality and entireness of
the Manhood of Him who fixed His Tabernacle[5] of humanity in us.[6]

It is therefore a mistake to look upon the First Epistle of St. John
as a creedless composite of miscellaneous sweetnesses, a disconnected
rhapsody upon philanthropy. And it will be well to enter upon a
serious perusal of it, with a conviction that it did not drop from the
sky upon an unknown place, at an unknown time, with an unknown
purpose. We can arrive at some definite conclusions as to the
circumstances from which it arose, and the sphere in which it was
written--at least if we are entitled to say that we have done so in
the case of almost any other ancient document of the same nature.

Our simplest plan will be, in the first instance, to trace in the
briefest outline the career of St. John after the Ascension of our Lord,
so far as it can be followed certainly by Scripture, or with the highest
probability from early Church history. We shall then be better able to
estimate the degree in which the Epistle fits into the framework of
local thought and circumstances in which we desire to place it.

Much of this biography can best be drawn out by tracing the contrast
between St. John and St. Peter, which is conveyed with such subtle and
exquisite beauty in the closing chapter of the fourth Gospel.

The contrast between the two Apostles is one of _history_ and of

_Historically_ the work done by each of them for the Church differs in
a remarkable way from the other.

We might have anticipated for one so dear to our Lord a distinguished
part in spreading the Gospel among the nations of the world. The tone
of thought revealed in parts of his Gospel might even have seemed to
indicate a remarkable aptitude for such a task. St. John's peculiar
appreciation of the visit of the Greeks to Jesus, and his preservation
of words which show such deep insight into Greek religious ideas,
would apparently promise a great missionary, at least to men of lofty
speculative thought.[7] But in the Acts of the Apostles St. John is
first overshadowed, then effaced, by the heroes of the missionary
epic, St. Peter and St. Paul. After the close of the Gospels he is
mentioned five times only. Once his name occurs in a list of the
Apostles.[8] Thrice he passes before us with Peter.[9] Once again (the
first and last time when we hear of St. John in personal relation with
St. Paul) he appears in the Epistle to the Galatians with two others,
James and Cephas, as reputed to be pillars of the Church.[10] But
whilst we read in the Acts of his taking a certain part in miracles,
in preaching, in confirmation; while his boldness is acknowledged by
adversaries of the faith; not a line of his individual teaching is
recorded. He walks in silence by the side of the Apostle who was more
fitted to be a missionary pioneer.[11]

With the materials at our command, it is difficult to say how St. John
was employed whilst the first great advance of the cross was in
progress. We know for certain that he was at Jerusalem during the
second visit of St. Paul. But there is no reason for conjecturing that
he was in that city when it was visited by St. Paul on his last
voyage[12] (A.D. 60); while we shall presently have occasion to show
how markedly the Church tradition connects St. John with Ephesus.

We have next to point out that this contrast in the _history_ of the
Apostles is the result of a contrast in their _characters_. This
contrast is brought out with a marvellous prophetic symbolism in the
miraculous draught of fishes after the Resurrection.

First as regards St. Peter.

"When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's
coat unto him (for he was naked), and did cast himself into the
sea."[13] His was the warm energy, the forward impulse of young life,
the free bold plunge of an impetuous and chivalrous nature into the
waters which are nations and peoples. _In_ he _must_; _on_ he _will_.
The prophecy which follows the thrice renewed restitution of the
fallen Apostle is as follows: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When
thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou
wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy
hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou
wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death He should
glorify God, and when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow
Me."[14] This, we are told, is obscure; but it is obscure only as to
details. To St. Peter it could have conveyed no other impression than
that it foretold his martyrdom. "When thou wast young," points to the
tract of years up to old age. It has been said that forty is the old
age of youth, fifty the youth of old age. But our Lord does not
actually define old age by any precise date. He takes what has
occurred as a type of Peter's youthfulness of heart and
frame--"girding himself," with rapid action, as he had done shortly
before; "walking," as he had walked on the white beach of the lake in
the early dawn; "whither thou wouldest," as when he had cried with
impetuous half defiant independence, "I go a fishing," invited by the
auguries of the morning, and of the water. The form of expression
seems to indicate that Simon Peter was not to go far into the dark and
frozen land; that he was to be growing old, rather than absolutely
old.[15] Then should he stretch forth his hands, with the dignified
resignation of one who yields manfully to that from which nature would
willingly escape. "This spake He," adds the evangelist, "signifying by
what death he shall glorify God."[16] What fatal temptation leads so
many commentators to minimise such a prediction as this? If the
prophecy were the product of a later hand added after the martyrdom of
St. Peter, it certainly would have wanted its present inimitable
impress of distance and reserve.

It is in the context of this passage that we read most fully and truly
the contrast of our Apostle's nature with that of St. Peter. St. John,
as Chrysostom has told us in deathless words, was loftier, saw more
deeply, pierced right into and through spiritual truths,[17] was more
the lover of Jesus than of Christ, as Peter was more the lover of
Christ than of Jesus. Below the different work of the two men, and
determining it, was this essential difference of nature, which they
carried with them into the region of grace. St. John was not so much
the great missionary with his sacred restlessness; not so much the
oratorical expositor of prophecy with his pointed proofs of
correspondence between prediction and fulfilment, and his passionate
declamation driving in the conviction of guilt like a sting that
pricked the conscience. He was the theologian; the quiet master of the
secrets of the spiritual life; the calm strong controversialist who
excludes error by constructing truth. The work of such a spirit as his
was rather like the finest product of venerable and long established
Churches. One gentle word of Jesus sums up the biography of long years
which apparently were without the crowded vicissitudes to which other
Apostles were exposed. If the old Church history is true, St. John was
either not called upon to die for Jesus, or escaped from that death by
a miracle. That one word of the Lord was to become a sort of motto of
St. John. It occurs some twenty-six times in the brief pages of these
Epistles. "If I will that he abide"--abide in the bark, in the Church,
in one spot, in life, in spiritual communion with Me. It is to be
remembered finally, that not only spiritual, but ecclesiastical
consolidation is attributed to St. John by the voice of history. He
occupied himself with the visitation of his Churches and the
development of Episcopacy.[18] So in the sunset of the Apostolic age
stands before us the mitred form of John the Divine. Early
Christianity had three successive capitals--Jerusalem, Antioch,
Ephesus. Surely, so long as St. John lived, men looked for a Primate
of Christendom not at Rome but at Ephesus.

How different were the two deaths! It was as if in His words our Lord
allowed His two Apostles to look into a magic glass, wherein one saw
dimly the hurrying feet, the prelude to execution which even the saint
wills not; the other the calm life, the gathered disciples, the quiet
sinking to rest. In the clear obscure of that prophecy we may discern
the outline of Peter's cross, the bowed figure of the saintly old man.
Let us be thankful that John "_tarried_." He has left the Church three
pictures that can never fade--in the Gospel the picture of Christ, in
the Epistles the picture of his own soul, in the Apocalypse the
picture of Heaven.

So far we have relied almost exclusively upon indications supplied by
Scripture. We now turn to Church history to fill in some particulars
of interest.

Ancient tradition unhesitatingly believed that the latter years of St.
John's prolonged life, were spent in the city of Ephesus, or province
of Asia Minor, with the Virgin-Mother, the sacred legacy from the
cross, under his fostering care for a longer or shorter portion of
those years. Manifestly he would not have gone to Ephesus during the
lifetime of St. Paul. Various circumstances point to the period of his
abode there as beginning a little after the fall of Jerusalem (A.D.
67). He lived on until towards the close of the first century of the
Christian era, possibly two years later (A.D. 102). With the date of
the Apocalypse we are not directly concerned, though we refer it to a
very late period in St. John's career, believing that the Apostle did
not return from Patmos until just after Domitian's death. The date of
the Gospel may be placed between A.D. 80 and 90. And the First Epistle
accompanied the Gospel, as we shall see in a subsequent discourse.

The Epistle then, like the Gospel, and contemporaneously with it, saw
the light in Ephesus, or in its vicinity. This is proved by three
pieces of evidence of the most unquestionable solidity.

(1) The opening chapters of the Apocalypse contain an argument, which
cannot be explained away, for the connection of St. John with Asia
Minor and with Ephesus. And the argument is independent of the
authorship of that wonderful book. _Whoever_ wrote the Book of the
Revelation must have felt the most absolute conviction of St. John's
abode in Ephesus and temporary exile to Patmos. To have written with a
special view of acquiring a hold upon the Churches of Asia Minor,
while assuming from the very first as _fact_ what _they_, more than
any other Churches in the world, must have known to be _fiction_,
would have been to invite immediate and contemptuous rejection. The
three earliest chapters of the Revelation are unintelligible, except
as the real or assumed utterance of a Primate (in later language) of
the Churches of Asia Minor. To the inhabitants of the barren and
remote isle of Patmos, Rome and Ephesus almost represented the world;
their rocky nest among the waters was scarcely visited except as a
brief resting-place for those who sailed from one of those great
cities to the other, or for occasional traders from Corinth.

(2) The second evidence is the fragment of the Epistle of Irenæus to
Florinus preserved in the fifth book of the Ecclesiastical History of
Eusebius. Irenæus mentions no dim tradition, appeals to no past which
was never present. He has but to question his own recollections of
Polycarp, whom he remembered in early life. "Where he sat to talk, his
way, his manner of life, his personal appearance, how he used to tell
of his intimacy with John, and with the others who had seen the
Lord."[19] Irenæus elsewhere distinctly says that "John himself issued
the Gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia Minor, and that he survived
in that city until Trajan's time."[20]

(3) The third great historical evidence which connects St. John with
Ephesus is that of Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, who wrote a synodical
epistle to Victor and the Roman Church on the quartodeciman question,
toward the close of the second century. Polycrates speaks of the great
ashes which sleep in Asia Minor until the Advent of the Lord, when He
shall raise up His saints. He proceeds to mention Philip who sleeps in
Hierapolis; two of his daughters; a third who takes her rest in Ephesus,
and "John moreover, who leaned upon the breast of Jesus, who was a high
priest bearing the radiant plate of gold upon his forehead."[21]

This threefold evidence would seem to render the sojourn of St. John
at Ephesus for many years one of the most solidly attested facts of
earlier Church history.

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be necessary for our purpose to sketch the general condition
of Ephesus in St. John's time.

A traveller coming from Antioch of Pisidia (as St. Paul did A.D. 54)
descended from the mountain chain which separates the Meander from the
Cayster. He passed down by a narrow ravine to the "Asian meadow"
celebrated by Homer. There, rising from the valley, partly running up
the slope of Mount Coressus, and again higher along the shoulder of
Mount Prion, the traveller saw the great city of Ephesus towering upon
the hills, with widely scattered suburbs. In the first century the
population was immense, and included a strange mixture of races and
religions. Large numbers of Jews were settled there, and seem to have
possessed a full religious organisation under a High Priest or Chief
Rabbi. But the prevailing superstition was the worship of the
Ephesian Artemis. The great temple, the priesthood whose chief seems
to have enjoyed a royal or quasi-royal rank, the affluence of pilgrims
at certain seasons of the year, the industries connected with objects
of devotion, supported a swarm of devotees, whose fanaticism was
intensified by their material interest in a vast religious
establishment. Ephesus boasted of being a theocratic city, the
possessor and keeper of a temple glorified by art as well as by
devotion. It had a civic calendar marked by a round of splendid
festivities associated with the cultus of the goddess. Yet the moral
reputation of the city stood at the lowest point, even in the
estimation of Greeks. The Greek character was effeminated in Ionia by
Asiatic manners, and Ephesus was the most dissolute city of Ionia. Its
once superb schools of art became infected by the ostentatious
vulgarity of an ever-increasing parvenu opulence. The place was
chiefly divided between dissipation and a degrading form of
literature. Dancing and music were heard day and night; a protracted
revel was visible in the streets. Lascivious romances whose infamy was
proverbial were largely sold and passed from hand to hand. Yet there
were not a few of a different character. In that divine climate, the
very lassitude, which was the reaction from excessive amusement and
perpetual sunshine, disposed many minds to seek for refuge in the
shadows of a visionary world. Some who had received or inherited
Christianity from Aquila and Priscilla, or from St. Paul himself,
thirty or forty years before, had contaminated the purity of the faith
with inferior elements derived from the contagion of local heresy, or
from the infiltration of pagan thought. The Ionian intellect seems to
have delighted in imaginative metaphysics; and for minds
undisciplined by true logic or the training of severe science
imaginative metaphysics is a dangerous form of mental recreation. The
adept becomes the slave of his own formulæ, and drifts into partial
insanity by a process which seems to himself to be one of indisputable
reasoning. Other influences outside Christianity ran in the same
direction. Amulets were bought by trembling believers. Astrological
calculations were received with the irresistible fascination of
terror. Systems of magic, incantations, forms of exorcism, traditions
of theosophy, communications with demons--all that we should now sum
up under the head of spiritualism--laid their spell upon thousands. No
Christian reader of the nineteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles
will be inclined to doubt that beneath all this mass of superstition
and imposture there lay some dark reality of evil power. At all events
the extent of these practices, these "curious arts" in Ephesus at the
time of St. Paul's visit, is clearly proved by the extent of the local
literature which spiritualism put forth. The value of the books of
magic which were burned by penitents of this class, is estimated by
St. Luke at fifty thousand pieces of silver--probably about thirteen
hundred and fifty pounds of our money![22]

Let us now consider what ideas or allusions in the Epistles of St.
John coincide with, and fit into, this Ephesian contexture of life and

We shall have occasion in the third discourse to refer to forms of
Christian heresy or of semi-Christian speculation indisputably
pointed to by St. John, and prevalent in Asia Minor when the Apostle
wrote. But besides this, several other points of contact with Ephesus
can be detected in the Epistles before us. (1) The first Epistle
closes with a sharp decisive warning, expressed in a form which could
only have been employed when those who were addressed habitually lived
in an atmosphere saturated with idolatry, where the social temptations
to come to terms with idolatrous practices were powerful and
ubiquitous. This was no doubt true of many other places at the time,
but it was pre-eminently true of Ephesus. Certain of the Gnostic
Christian sects in Ionia held lax views about "eating things
sacrificed unto idols," although fornication was a general
accompaniment of such a compliance. Two of the angels of the Seven
Churches of Asia within the Ephesian group--the angels of Pergamum and
of Thyatira--receive especial admonition from the Lord upon this
subject. These considerations prove that the command, "Children, guard
yourselves from the idols," had a very special suitability to the
conditions of life in Ephesus. (2) The population of Ephesus was of a
very composite kind. Many were attracted to the capital of Ionia by
its reputation as the capital of the pleasures of the world. It was
also the centre of an enormous trade by land and sea. Ephesus,
Alexandria, Antioch and Corinth were the four cities where at that
period all races and all religions of civilised men were most largely
represented. Now the First Epistle of St. John has a peculiar breadth
in its representation of the purposes of God. Christ is not merely the
fulfilment of the hopes of one particular people. The Church is not
merely destined to be the home of a handful of spiritual citizens. The
Atonement is as wide as the race of man. "He is the propitiation for
the whole world;" "we have seen, and bear witness that the Father sent
the Son as Saviour of the world."[23] A cosmopolitan population is
addressed in a cosmopolitan epistle. (3) We have seen that the gaiety
and sunshine of Ephesus was sometimes darkened by the shadows of a
world of magic, that for some natures Ionia was a land haunted by
spiritual terrors. He must be a hasty student who fails to connect the
extraordinary narrative in the nineteenth chapter of the Acts with the
ample and awful recognition in the Epistle to the Ephesians of the
mysterious conflict in the Christian life against evil intelligences,
real, though unseen.[24] The brilliant rationalist may dispose of such
things by the convenient and compendious method of a sneer. "Such
narratives as that" (of St. Paul's struggle with the exorcists at
Ephesus) "are disagreeable little spots in everything that is done by
the people. Though we cannot do a thousandth part of what St. Paul
did, we have a system of physiology and of medicine very superior to
his."[25] Perhaps _he_ had a system of spiritual diagnosis very
superior to ours. In the epistle to the Angel of the Church of
Thyatira, mention is made of "the woman Jezebel, which calleth herself
a prophetess,"[26] who led astray the servants of Christ. St. John
surely addresses himself to a community where influences precisely of
this kind exist, and are recognised when he writes,--"Beloved,
believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of
God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.... Every
spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God."[27] The Church or
Churches, which the First Epistle directly contemplates, did not
consist of men just converted. Its whole language supposes Christians,
some of whom had grown old and were "fathers" in the faith, while
others who were younger enjoyed the privilege of having been born and
brought up in a Christian atmosphere. They are reminded again and
again, with a reiteration which would be unaccountable if it had no
special significance, that the commandment "that which they heard,"
"the word," "the message," is the same which they "had from the
_beginning_."[28] Now this will exactly suit the circumstances of a
Church like the Ephesian, to which another Apostle had originally
preached the Gospel many years before.[29]

On the whole, we have in favour of assigning these Epistles to Ionian
and Ephesian surroundings a considerable amount of external evidence.
The general characteristics of the First Epistle consonant with the
view of their origin which we have advocated are briefly these. (1) It
is addressed to readers who were encompassed by peculiar temptations
to make a compromise with idolatry. (2) It has an amplitude and
generality of tone which befitted one who wrote to a Church which
embraced members from many countries, and was thus in contact with men
of many races and religions. (3) It has a peculiar solemnity of
reference to the invisible world of spiritual evil and to its terrible
influence upon the human mind. (4) The Epistle is pervaded by a desire
to have it recognised that the creed and law of practice which it
asserts is absolutely one with that which had been proclaimed by
earlier heralds of the cross to the same community. Every one of these
characteristics is consistent with the destination of the Epistle for
the Christians of Ephesus in the first instance. Its polemical
element, which we are presently to discuss, adds to an accumulation
of coincidences which no ingenuity can volatilise away. The Epistle
meets Ephesian circumstances; it also strikes at Ionian heresies.

Aïa-so-Louk,[30] the modern name of Ephesus, appears to be derived
from two Greek words which speak of St. John the divine, the
theologian of the Church. As the memory of the Apostle haunts the city
where he so long lived, even in its fall and long decay under its
Turkish conquerors,--and the fatal spread of the malaria from the
marshes of the Cayster--so a memory of the place seems to rest in turn
upon the Epistle, and we read it more satisfactorily while we assign
to it the origin attributed to it by Christian antiquity, and keep
that memory before our minds.


[2] Cary's _Dante_, _Paradiso_, xxv. 117. Stanley's _Sermons and
Essays on the Apostolic Age_, 242.

[3] Apoc. ii. 24.

[4] John xiii. 30 cf. 1 John ii, 11.

[5] εσκηνωσεν εν ἡμιν.

[6] This characteristic of St. John's style is powerfully expressed by
the great hymn-writer of the Latin Church.

      "Hebet sensus exors styli;
      Stylo scribit tam subtili,
        Fide tam catholicâ,
      Ne de Verbo salutari
      Posset quicquam refragari
           Pravitas hæretica."
                   _Adam of St. Victor, Seq._ xxxii.

[7] John xii. 20-34, especially ver. 24.

[8] Acts i. 13.

[9] Acts iii. 4, v. 13, viii. 14.

[10] Gal. ii. 9.

[11] Acts iii. 4, iv. 13, viii. 14. The singular and interesting
manuscript of Patmos (Αι περιοδοι του θεολογου) attributed to St.
John's disciple, Prochorus, seems to recognise that St. John's chief
mission was not that of working miracles. Even in a kind of duel of
prodigies between him and the sinister magician of Patmos, the
following occurs. "Kynops asked a young man in the multitude where his
father then was. 'My father is dead,' he replied, 'he went down yonder
in a storm.' Turning to John, the magician said,--'Now then, bring up
this young man's father from the dead.' 'I have not come here,'
answered the Apostle, 'to raise the dead, but to deliver the living
from their errors.'"

[12] Gal. ii. 9; Acts xxi. 17, _sqq._

[13] John xxi. 7.

[14] Ibid., vers. 17, 18, 19.

[15] The beginning of old age would account sufficiently for the
anticipation of death in 2 Peter i. 13, 14, 15.

[16] δοξασει ver. 19. The lifelike _shall_ (not _should_) is part of
the many minute but vivid touches which make the whole of this scene
so full of motion and reality--"I go a fishing" (ver. 3); "_about_ two
hundred cubits" (ver. 8); the accurate αιγιαλος (ver. 4. See Trench,
_On Parables_, 57; Stanley, _Apostolic Age_, 135).

[17] διορατικωτερος. S. Joann. Chrysost.--_Hom. in Joann._

[18] _Euseb. H. E._, iii. 23. See other quotations in Bilson,
_Government of Christ's Church_, p. 365.

[19] _Ap. Euseb. H. E._, v. 20.

[20] _Adv. Hæres._, lib. iii., ch. 1.

[21] ἱερευς το πεταλον πεφορεκως--"Pontifex ejus (sc. _Domini_) auream
laminam in fronte habens." So translated by S. Hieron. _Lib. de Vir.
Illust._, xlv. The πεταλον is the LXX. rendering of צִיץ, the
projecting leaf or plate of radiant gold (Exod. xxviii. 26, xxxix.
30), associated with the "mitre" (Lev. viii. 9). Whether Polycrates
speaks literally, or wishes to convey by a metaphor the impression of
holiness radiating from St. John's face, we probably cannot decide.

[22] Acts xix. 20, 21. In this description of Ephesus the writer has
constantly had in view the passages to which he referred in the
_Speakers Commentary, N.T._, iv., 274, 276. He has also studied M.
Renan's _Saint Paul_, chap, xii., and the authorities cited in the
notes, pp. 329, 350.

[23] St. John ii. 2, iv. 14.

[24] "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against," etc. Eph.
vi. 12-17.

[25] _Saint Paul_, Renan, 318, 319.

[26] For the almost certain reference here to the Chaldean Sybil
Sambethe, see Apoc ii. 20, Archdeacon Lee's note in _Speaker's
Commentary, N.T._, iv. 527, 534, 535, and Dean Blakesley (art.
_Thyatira, Dict. of the Bible_).

[27] 1 John iv. 1, 3.

[28] 1 John ii. 7, ii. 24, iii. 11; 2 John vv. 5, 6. The passage in
ii. 24 is a specimen of that simple emphasis, that presentation of a
truth or duty under two aspects, which St. John often produces merely
by an inversion of the order of the words. "Ye--what ye _heard_ from
the beginning let it abide in you. If what from the _beginning_ ye
heard abide in you" (ὁ ηκουσατε απ' αρχης ... ὁ απ' αρχης ηκουσατε).
The emphasis in the first clause is upon the _fact_ of their having
_heard_ the message; in the second upon this feature of the
message--that it was given in the _beginning_ of Christianity amongst
them, and kept unchanged until the present time. Cf. εντολη παλαια
(ii. 7) with αρχαιος = "of the early Christian time," in Polycarp,
_Ep. ad Philipp._, i.

[29] Acts xviii. 18-21. To these general links connecting our Epistles
with Ephesus, a few of less importance, yet not without significance,
may be added. (1) The name of Demetrius (3 John 12) is certainly
suggestive of the holy city of the earth-mother (Acts xix. 24, 38).
Vitruvius assigns the completion of the temple of Ephesus to an
architect of the name, and calls him "servus Dianæ." (2) St. John in
his Gospel adopts, as if instinctively, the computation of time which
was used in Asia Minor (John iv. 6, xix. 4--Hefel. _Martyrium S.
Polycarp_. xxi.). On the same principle he speaks in the Apocalypse of
"day and night" (Apoc. iv. 8, vii. 15, xii. 10, xiv. 11, xx. 10); St.
Paul, on the other hand, speaks of "night and day" (1 Tim. v. 5). It
is a very real indication of the accuracy of the report of words in
the Acts that, while St. Luke himself uses either form indifferently
(Luke ii. 37, xviii. 2), St. Paul, as quoted by him, always says
"night and day" (Acts xx. 31, xxvi. 7). (3) Is it merely fanciful to
conjecture that the unusual αγαθοποιων (3 John 11) may be an allusion
to the astrological language in which alone the term is ever used
outside a very few instances in the sacred writers? "He only is under
a good star, and has beneficent omens for his life." Balbillus, one of
the most famous astrologers of antiquity, the confidant of Nero and
Vespasian, was an Ephesian, and almost supreme in Ephesus, not long
before St. John's arrival there. Sueton., _Neron._, 36.

[30] Aïa-so-Louk, a corruption of ἁγιος θεολογος, _holy theologian_
(or ἁγια θεολογου, _holy city of the theologian_). Some scholars,
however, assert that the word is often pronounced and written
_aiaslyk_, with the common Turkish termination _lyk_. See _S. Paul_
(Renan, 342, note 2).

                            DISCOURSE II.


   Συναδυσι μεν γαρ αλληλοις το ευαγγελιον και ἡ επιστολη. _Dionys.
                Alexandr. ap Euseb., H. E., vii., 25._

    "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be
    full."--1 JOHN i. 4.

From the wholesale burning of books at Ephesus, as a consequence of
awakened convictions, the most pregnant of all commentators upon the
New Testament has drawn a powerful lesson. "True religion," says the
writer, "puts bad books out of the way." Ephesus at great expense
burnt curious and evil volumes, and the "word of God grew and
prevailed." And he proceeds to show how just in the very matter where
Ephesus had manifested such costly penitence, she was rewarded by
being made a sort of depository of the most precious books which ever
came from human pens. St. Paul addresses a letter to the Ephesians.
Timothy was Bishop of Ephesus when the two great pastoral Epistles
were sent to him.[31] All St. John's writings point to the same place.
The Gospel and Epistles were written there, or with primary reference
to the capital of Ionia.[32] The Apocalypse was in all probability
first read at Ephesus.

Of this group of Ephesian books we select two of primary
importance--the Gospel and First Epistle of St. John. Let us dwell
upon the close and thorough connection of the two documents, upon the
interpenetration of the Epistle by the Gospel, by whatever name we may
prefer to designate the connection.

It is said indeed by a very high authority, that while the "whole
Epistle is permeated with thoughts of the person and work of Christ,"
yet "direct references to facts of the Gospel are singularly rare." More
particularly it is stated that "we find here none of the foundation and
(so to speak) crucial events summarised in the earliest Christian
confession as we still find them in the Apostles' creed." And among
these events are placed, "the Birth of the Virgin Mary, the Crucifixion,
the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Session, the Coming to Judgment."

To us there seems to be some exaggeration in this way of putting the
matter. A writing which accompanied a sacred history, and which was a
spiritual comment upon that very history, was not likely to repeat the
history upon which it commented, just in the same shape. Surely the
Birth is the necessary condition of having come in the flesh. The
incident of the piercing of the side, and the water and blood which
flowed from it, is distinctly spoken of; and in that the Crucifixion
is implied. Shrinking with shame from Jesus at His Coming, which is
spoken of in another verse, has no meaning unless that Coming be to
Judgment.[33] The sixth chapter is, if we may so say, the section of
"the Blood," in the fourth Gospel. That section standing in the
Gospel, standing in the great Sacrament of the Church, standing in the
perpetually cleansing and purifying efficacy of the Atonement--ever
present as a witness, which becomes personal, because identified with
a Living Personality[34]--finds its echo and counterpart in the
Epistle towards the beginning and near the close.[35]

We now turn to that which is the most conclusive evidence of connection
between two documents--one historical, the other moral and spiritual--of
which literary composition is capable. Let us suppose that a writer of
profound thoughtfulness has finished, after long elaboration, the
historical record of an eventful and many-sided life--a life of supreme
importance to a nation, or to the general thought and progress of
humanity. The book is sent to the representatives of some community or
school. The ideas which its subject has uttered to the world, from their
breadth and from the occasional obscurity of expression incident to all
great spiritual utterances, need some elucidation. The plan is really
exhaustive, and combines the facts of the life with a full insight into
their relations; but it may be missed by any but thoughtful readers. The
author will accompany this main work by something which in modern
language we might call an introduction, or appendix, or advertisement,
or explanatory pamphlet, or encyclical letter. Now the ancient form of
literary composition rendered books packed with thought doubly difficult
both to read and write; for they did not admit foot-notes, or marginal
analyses, or abstracts. St. John then practically says, first to his
readers in Asia Minor, then to the Church for ever--"with this life of
Jesus I send you not only thoughts for your spiritual benefit, moulded
round His teaching, but something more; I send you an _abstract_, a
compendium of contents, at the beginning of this letter; I also send you
at its close a key to the plan on which my Gospel is conceived." And
surely a careful reader of the Gospel at its first publication would
have desired assistance exactly of this nature. He would have wished to
have a synopsis of contents, short but comprehensive, and a synoptical
view of the author's plan--of the idea which guided him in his choice of
incidents so momentous and of teaching so varied.

We have in the First Epistle two synopses of the Gospel which
correspond with a perfect precision to these claims.[36] We have: (1)
a synopsis of the _contents_ of the Gospel; (2) a synoptical view of
the _conception_ from which it was written.

1. We find in the Epistle at the very outset a synopsis of the
contents of the Gospel.

"That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that
which we have seen with our eyes, that which we gazed upon, and our
hands handled--_I speak_ concerning the Word who is the Life--that
which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you also."

What are the contents of the Gospel? (1) A lofty and dogmatic
_proœmium_, which tells us of "the Word who was in the beginning with
God--in Whom was life." (2) _Discourses_ and utterances, sometimes
running on through pages, sometimes brief and broken. (3) _Works_,
sometimes miraculous, sometimes wrought into the common contexture of
human life--looks, influences, seen by the very eyes of St. John and
others, gazed upon with ever deepening joy and wonder. (4) _Incidents_
which proved that all this issued from One who was intensely human;
that it was as real as life and humanity--historical not visionary;
the doing and the effluence of a Manhood which could be, and which
was, grasped by human hands.

Such is a synopsis of the Gospel precisely as it is given in the
beginning of the First Epistle. (1) The Epistle mentions _first_,
"that which was from the beginning." There is the compendium of the
proœmium of the Gospel. (2) One of the most important constituent
parts of the Gospel is to be found in its ample preservation of
dialogues, in which the Saviour is one interlocutor; of monologues
spoken to the hushed hearts of the disciples, or to the listening
Heart of the Father, yet not in tones so low that their love did not
find it audible. This element of the narrative is summed up by the
writer of the Epistle in two words--"That which we heard."[37] (3) The
_works_ of benevolence or power, the doings and sufferings; the
pathos or joy which spring up from them in the souls of the disciples,
occupy a large portion of the Gospel. All these come under the
heading, "that which we have seen with our eyes,[38] that which we
gazed upon,"[39] with one unbroken gaze of wonder as so beautiful, and
of awe as so divine.[40] (4) The assertion of the _reality of the
Manhood_[41] of Him who was yet the Life manifested--a reality through
all His words, works, sufferings--finds its strong, bold summary in
this compendium of the contents of the Gospel, "and our hands have
handled." Nay, a still shorter compendium follows: (1) The Life with
the Father. (2) The Life manifested.[42]

2. But we have more than a synopsis which embraces the contents of the
Gospel at the beginning of the Epistle. We have towards its close a
_second_ synopsis of the whole framework of the Gospel; not now the
theory of the Person of Christ, which in such a life was necessarily
placed at its beginning, but of the human conception which pervaded
the Evangelist's composition.

The second synopsis, not of the contents of the Gospel, but of the aim
and conception which it assumed in the form into which it was moulded
by St. John, is given by the Epistle with a fulness which omits
scarcely a paragraph of the Gospel. In the space of six verses of the
fifth chapter the word _witness_, as verb or substantive, is repeated
_ten_ times.[43] The simplicity of St. John's artless rhetoric can
make no more emphatic claim on our attention. The Gospel is indeed a
tissue woven out of many lines of evidence human and divine. Compress
its purpose into one single word. No doubt it is supremely the Gospel
of the Divinity of Jesus. But, next to that, it may best be defined as
the Gospel of _Witness_. These witnesses we may take in the order of
the Epistle. St. John feels that his Gospel is more than a book; it is
a past made everlastingly present. Such as the great Life was in
history, so it stands for ever. Jesus _is_ "the propitiation, _is_
righteous," "is _here_."[44] So the great influences round His Person,
the manifold witnesses of His Life, stand witnessing for ever in the
Gospel and in the Church. What are these? (1) The Spirit is ever
_witnessing_. So our Lord in the Gospel--"when the Comforter is come,
He shall witness of Me."[45] No one can doubt that the Spirit is one
pre-eminent subject of the Gospel. Indeed, teaching about Him, above
all as the witness to Christ, occupies three unbroken chapters in one
place.[46] (2) The _water_ is ever witnessing. So long as St. John's
Gospel lasts, and permeates the Church with its influence, the water
must so testify. There is scarcely a paragraph of it where water is
not; almost always with some relation to Christ. The witness of the
Baptist[47] is, "I baptize with water." The Jordan itself bears
witness that all its waters cannot give that which He bestows who is
"preferred before" John.[48] Is not the water of Cana that was made
wine a witness to His glory?[49] The birth of "water and of the
Spirit,"[50] is another witness. And so in the Gospel section after
section. The water of Jacob's well; the water of the pool of Bethesda;
the waters of the sea of Galilee, with their stormy waves upon which
He walked; the water outpoured at the feast of tabernacles, with its
application to the river of living water; the water of Siloam; the
water poured into the basin, when Jesus washed the disciples' feet;
the water which, with the blood, streamed from the riven side upon the
cross; the water of the sea of Galilee in its gentler mood, when Jesus
showed Himself on its beach to the seven; as long as all this is
recorded in the Gospel, as long as the sacrament of Baptism, with its
visible water and its invisible grace working in the regenerate,
abides among the faithful;--so long is the water ever witnessing.[51]
(3) The Blood is ever "witnessing." Expiation once for all;
purification continually from the blood outpoured; drinking the blood
of the Son of Man by participation in the sacrament of His love, with
the grace and strength that it gives day by day to innumerable souls;
the Gospel concentrated into that great sacrifice; the Church's gifts
of benediction summarised in the unspeakable Gift; this is the
unceasing witness of the _Blood_. (4) Men are ever witnessing. "The
witness of men" fills the Gospel from beginning to end. The glorious
series of confessions wrung from willing and unwilling hearts form the
points of division round which the whole narrative may be grouped. Let
us think of all those attestations which lie between the Baptist's
precious testimony with the sweet yet fainter utterances of Andrew,
Philip, Nathanael, and the perfect creed of Christendom condensed into
the burning words of Thomas--"my Lord and my God."[52] What a range of
feeling and faith; what a variety of attestation coming from human
souls, sometimes wrung from them half unwillingly, sometimes uttered
at crisis-moments with an impulse that could not be resisted! The
witness of men in the Gospel, and the assurance of one testimony that
was to be given by the Apostles individually and collectively,[53]
besides the evidences already named includes the following--the
witness of Nicodemus, of the Samaritan woman, of the Samaritans, of
the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, of Simon Peter, of the
officers of the Jewish authorities, of the blind man, of Pilate.[54]
(5) The witness of God occupies also a great position in the fourth
Gospel. That witness may be said to be given in five forms: the
witness of the Father,[55] of Christ Himself,[56] of the Holy
Spirit,[57] of Scripture,[58] of miracles.[59] This great cloud of
witnesses, human and divine, finds its appropriate completion in
another subjective witness.[60] The whole body of evidence passes from
the region of the intellectual to that of the moral and spiritual
life. The _evidence_ acquires that _evidentness_ which is to all our
knowledge what the sap is to the tree. The faithful carries it in his
heart; it goes about with him, rests with him day and night, is close
to him in life and death. He, the principle of whose being is belief
ever going out of itself and resting its acts of faith on the Son of
God, has all that manifold witness in him.[61]

It would be easy to enlarge upon the verbal connection between the
Epistle before us and the Gospel which it accompanied. We might draw out
(as has often been done) a list of quotations from the Gospel, a whole
common treasury of mystic language; but we prefer to leave an undivided
impression upon the mind. A document which gives us a synopsis of the
_contents_ of another document at the beginning, and a synoptical
analysis of its predominant idea at the close, covering the entire work,
and capable of absorbing every part of it (except some necessary
adjuncts of a rich and crowded narrative), has a connection with it
which is vital and absorbing. The Epistle is at once an abstract of the
contents of the Gospel, and a key to its purport. To the Gospel, at
least to it and the Epistle considered as integrally one, the Apostle
refers when he says: "these things write we unto you."[62]

St. John had asserted that one end of his declaration was to make his
readers hold fast "fellowship with us," _i.e._, with the Church as the
Apostolic Church; aye, and that fellowship of ours is "with the
Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ;" "and these things," he
continues (with special reference to his Gospel, as spoken of in his
opening words), "we write unto you, that your joy may be fulfilled."

There is as truly a joy as a "patience and comfort of the Scriptures."
The Apostle here speaks of "your joy," but that implied _his_ also.

All great literature, like all else that is beautiful, is a "joy for
ever." To the true student his books are this. But this is so only
with a few really great books. We are not speaking of works of exact
science. Butler, Pascal, Bacon, Shakespeare, Homer, Scott, theirs is
work of which congenial spirits never grow quite tired. But to be
capable of giving out joy, books must have been written with it. The
Scotch poet tells us, that no poet ever found the Muse, until he had
learned to walk beside the brook, and "no think long." That which is
not thought over with pleasure; that which, as it gradually rises
before the author in its unity, does not fill him with delight; will
never permanently give pleasure to readers. He must know joy before he
can say--"these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."

The book that is to give joy must be a part of a man's self. That is
just what most books are not. They are laborious, diligent, useful
perhaps; they are not interesting or delightful. How touching it is,
when the poor old stiff hand must write, and the overworked brain
think, for bread! Is there anything so pathetic in literature as Scott
setting his back bravely to the wall, and forcing from his imagination
the reluctant creations which used to issue with such splendid
profusion from its haunted chambers?

Of the conditions under which an inspired writer pursued his labours
we know but little. But some conditions are apparent in the books of
St. John with which we are now concerned. The fourth Gospel is a book
written without _arrière pensée_, without literary conceit, without
the paralysing dread of criticism. What verdict the polished society
of Ephesus would pronounce; what sneers would circulate in philosophic
quarters; what the numerous heretics would murmur in their
conventicles; what critics within the Church might venture to whisper,
missing perhaps favourite thoughts and catch-words;[63] St. John cared
no more than if he were dead. He communed with the memories of the
past; he listened for the music of the Voice which had been the
teacher of his life. To be faithful to these memories, to recall these
words, to be true to Jesus, was his one aim. No one can doubt that the
Gospel was written with a full delight. No one who is capable of
feeling, ever has doubted that it was written as if with "a feather
dropped from an angel's wing;" that without aiming at anything but
truth, it attains in parts at least a transcendent beauty. At the
close of the proœmium, after the completest theological _formula_
which the Church has ever possessed--the still, even pressure of a
tide of thought--we have a parenthetic sentence, like the splendid
unexpected rush and swell of a sudden wave ("we beheld the glory, the
glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father"); then after the
parenthesis a soft and murmuring fall of the whole great tide ("full
of grace and truth"). Can we suppose that the Apostle hung over his
sentence with literary zest? The number of writers is small who can
give us an everlasting truth by a single word, a single pencil touch;
who, having their mind loaded with thought, are wise enough to keep
that strong and eloquent silence which is the prerogative only of the
highest genius. St. John gives us one of these everlasting pictures,
of these inexhaustible symbols, in three little words--"He then having
received the sop, went immediately out, and _it was night_."[64] Do we
suppose that he admired the perfect effect of that powerful
self-restraint? Just before the crucifixion he writes--"Then came
Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe, and
Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man!"[65] The pathos, the majesty,
the royalty of sorrow, the admiration and pity of Pilate, have been
for centuries the inspiration of Christian art. Did St. John
congratulate himself upon the image of sorrow and of beauty which
stands for ever in these lines? With St. John as a writer it is as
with St. John delineated in the fresco at Padua by the genius of
Giotto. The form of the ascending saint is made visible through a
reticulation of rays of light in colours as splendid as ever came from
mortal pencil; but the rays issue entirely from the Saviour, whose
face and form are full before him.

The feeling of the Church has always been that the Gospel of St. John
was a solemn work of faith and prayer. The oldest extant fragment upon
the canon of the New Testament tells us that the Gospel was undertaken
after earnest invitations from the brethren and the bishops, with solemn
united fasting; not without special revelation to Andrew the Apostle
that John was to do the work.[66] A later and much less important
document connected in its origin with Patmos embodies one beautiful
legend about the composition of the Gospel. It tells how the Apostle was
about to leave Patmos for Ephesus; how the Christians of the island
besought him to leave in writing an account of the Incarnation, and
mysterious life of the Son of God; how St. John and his chosen friends
went forth from the haunts of men about a mile, and halted in a quiet
spot called the gorge of Rest,[67] and then ascended the mountain which
overhung it. There they remained three days. "Then," writes Prochorus,
"he ordered me to go down to the town for paper and ink. And after two
days I found him standing rapt in prayer. Said he to me--'take the ink
and paper, and stand on my right hand.' And I did so. And there was a
great lightning and thunder, so that the mountain shook. And I fell on
the ground as if dead. Whereupon John stretched forth his hand and took
hold of me, and said--'stand up at this spot at my right hand.' After
which he prayed again, and after his prayer said unto me--'son
Prochorus, what thou hearest from my mouth, write upon the sheets.' And
having opened his mouth as he was standing praying, and looking up to
heaven, he began to say--'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God.' And so following on, he spake in
order, standing as he was, and I wrote sitting."[68]

True instinct which tells us that the Gospel of St. John was the fruit
of prayer as well as of memory; that it was thought out in some valley
of rest, some hush among the hills; that it came from a solemn joy which
it breathed forth upon others! "These things write I unto you, that your
joy may be fulfilled." Generation after generation it has been so. In
the numbers numberless of the Redeemed, there can be very few who have
not been brightened by the joy of that book. Still, at one funeral after
another, hearts are soothed by the word in it which says--"I am the
Resurrection and the Life." Still the sorrowful and the dying ask to
hear again and again--"let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be
afraid." A brave young officer sent to the war in Africa, from a
regiment at home, where he had caused grief by his extravagance,
penitent, and dying in his tent, during the fatal day of Isandula,
scrawled in pencil--"dying, dear father and mother--happy--for Jesus
says, 'He that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.'" Our English
Communion Office, with its divine beauty, is a texture shot through and
through with golden threads from the discourse at Capernaum. Still are
the disciples glad when they see the Lord in that record. It is the book
of the Church's smiles; it is the gladness of the saints; it is the
purest fountain of joy in all the literature of earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

                               NOTE A.

The thorough connection of the Epistle with the Gospel may be made
more clear by the following tabulated analysis:--

The (A) _beginning_ and (B) the _close_ of the Epistle contain _two_
abstracts, longer and shorter, of the contents and bearing of the


                          _i._--1 John i. 1.

1. "That which was from the beginning--concerning the Word of Life" =
John i. 1-15.

2. (_a_) "Which we have _heard_" = John i. 38, 39, 42, 47, 50, 51, ii.
4, 7, 8, 16, 19, iii. 3, 22, iv. 7, 39, 48, 50, v. 6, 47, vi. 5, 70,
vii. 6, 39, viii. 7, 58, ix. 3, 41, x. 1, 39, xi. 4, 45, xii. 7, 50,
xiii. 6, 38, xiv., xvii., xviii. 14, 37, xix. 11, 26, 27, 28, 30, xx.
15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 27, 29, xxi. 5, 6, 10, 12, 22.

(_b_) "Which we have seen _with our eyes_" = John i. 29, 36, 39, ii.
11, vi. 2, 14, 19, ix., xi. 44, xiii. 4, 5, xvii. 1, xviii. 6, xix. 5,
17, 18, 34, 38, xx. 5, 14, 20, 25, 29, xxi. 1, 14.

(_c_) "Which we gazed upon" = _ibid._

(_d_) "Which we have handled" = John xx. 27 (refers also to a
synoptical Gospel, Luke xxiv. 39, 40).

                         _ii._--1 John i. 2.

1. "The Life was manifested" = John i. 29--xxi. 25.

2. (_a_) "We have seen" = (A. _i._ 2 (_b_)).

(_b_) "And bear witness" = John i. 7, 19, 37, iii. 2, 27, 33, iv. 39,
vi. 69, xx. 28, 30, 31, xxi. 24.

(_c_) "And declare unto you" = John _passim_.

"The Life, the Eternal Life, which"

  א "Was with the Father" = John i. 1-4.

  ב "And was manifested unto us" = John _passim_.


                        _i._--1 John v. 6-10.

           Summary of the Gospel as a Gospel of _witness_.

1. "The Spirit beareth witness" = John i. 32, xiv., xv., xx. 22.

2. "The water beareth witness" = John i. 28, ii. 9, iii. 5, iv. 13,
14, v. 1, 9, vi. 19, vii. 37, ix. 7, xiii. 5, xix. 34, xxi. 1.

3. "The blood beareth witness" = John vi. 53, 54, 55, 56, xix. 34.

4. "The witness of men" = (A. _ii._ 1 (_b_)) Also John i. 45, 49, iii.
2, iv. 39, vii. 46, xii. 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 21, xviii. 38, xix. 35,
xx. 28.

5. "The witness of God" =

(_a_) Scripture = John i. 45, v. 39, 46, xix. 36, 37.

(_b_) Christ's own = John viii. 17, 18, 46, xv. 30, xviii. 37.

(_c_) His Father's = John v. 37, viii. 18, xii. 28.

(_d_) His works = John v. 36, x. 25, xv. 24.

                         _ii._--1 John v. 20.

We know (_i.e._, by the Gospel) that--

1. "The Son of God is come" (ἡκεν), "has come and is here."

Note.--בָאחִי = ἡκω, LXX. Psalm xl. 7. "_Venio_ symbolum quasi Domini
Jesu fuit." (Bengel on Heb. x. 7), the _Ich Dien_ of the Son of the
Father--εγω γαρ εκ του θεου εξηλθον και ἡκω. "I came forth from God,
and am here" (John viii. 4) = John i. 29--xxi. 23 (John xiv. 18, 21,
23, xvi. 16, 22, form part of the thought "is here").

2. "And hath given us an understanding" = gift of the Spirit, John
xiv., xv., xvi. (especially 13, 16).

3. "This is the very God and eternal Life" = John i. 1, 4.

The whole Gospel of St. John brings out these primary principles of
the Faith,--

That the Son of God has come. That He is now and ever present with His
people. That the Holy Spirit gives them a new faculty of spiritual
discernment. That Christ is the very God and the Life of men.


[31] Bengel, on Acts xix. 19, 20, finds a reference to manuscripts of
some of the synoptical Gospels and of the Epistles in 2 Tim. iv. 13,
and conjectures that, after St. Paul's martyrdom, Timothy carried them
with him to Ephesus.

[32] Renan's curious theory that Rom. xvi. 1-16 is a sheet of the
Epistle to the Ephesians accidentally misplaced, rests upon a supposed
prevalence of Ephesian names in the case of those who are greeted.
Archdeacon Gifford's refutation, and his solution of an unquestionable
difficulty, seems entirely satisfactory. (_Speaker's Commentary, in
loc._, vol. iii., New Testament.)

[33] It has become usual to say that the Epistle does not advert to
John iii. or John vi. To us it seems that _every_ mention of the Birth
of God _is_ a reference to John iii. (1 John ii. 23, iii. 9, iv. 7, v.
1-4.) The word αιμα occurs _once_ only in the fourth Gospel outside
the sixth chapter (xix. 34; for i. 13 belongs to physiology). Four
times we find it in that chapter--vi. 53, 54, 55, 56. Each mention of
the "Blood" in connection with our Lord _does_ advert to John vi.

[34] The masc. part. οι μαρτυρουντες is surely very remarkable with
the three neuters (το πνευμα, το ὑδωρ, το αιμα) 1 John v. 7, 8.

[35] 1 John i. 7, v. 6, 8.

[36] See note A. at the end of this Discourse, which shows that there
are, in truth, _four_ such summaries.

[37] ὁ ακηκοαμεν.

[38] ὁ εωρακαμεν τοις οφθαλμοις ἡμων.

[39] John xx. 20.

[40] ὁ εθεασαμεθα, 1 John i. 1. The same word is used in John i. 14.

[41] John xix. 27 would express this in the most palpable form. But it
is constantly understood through the Gospel. The tenacity of Doketic
error is evident from the fact that Chrysostom, preaching at Antioch,
speaks of it as a popular error in his day. A little later, orthodox
ears were somewhat offended by some beautiful lines of a Greek sacred
poet, too little known among us, who combines in a singular degree
Roman gravity with Greek grace. St. Romanus (A.D. 491) represents our
Lord as saying of the sinful woman who became a penitent,

      την βρεξασαν ιχνη
      ἁ ουκ ἑβρεξε βυθος
      ψιλοις τοτε τοις δακρυσιν.

      "Which with her tears, then pure,
       Wetted the feet the sea-depth wetted not."

(_Spicil. Solesmen._ Edidit T. B. Pitra, _S. Romanus_, xvi. 13, _Cant.
de Passione._ 120.)

[42] 1 John i. 2. The Life with the Father = John i. 1, 14. The Life
manifested = John i. 14 to end.

[43] The A.V. (1 John v. 6-12) obscures this by a too great
sensitiveness to monotony. The language of the verses is varied
unfortunately by "bear record" (ver. 7), "hath testified" (ver. 9),
"believeth not the record" (ver. 10), "this is the record" (ver. 11).

[44] 1 John ii. 2-29, iii. 7, iv. 3, v. 20.

[45] John xv. 26.

[46] John xiv., xv., xvi., Cf. vii. 39. The witness of the Spirit in
the Apostolic ministry will be found John xx. 22.

[47] John i. 19.

[48] John i. 16, 31, 33.

[49] John ii. 9, iv. 46.

[50] John iii. 5.

[51] John iv. 5, 7, 11, 12, v. 1, 8, vi. 19, vii. 35, 37, ix. 7, xiii.
1, 14, xix. 34, xxi. 1, 8. In the other great Johannic book water is
constantly mentioned. Apoc. vii. 7, xiv. 7, xvi. 5, xxi. 6, xxii. 1,
xxii. 17. (Cf. the το ὑδωρ, Acts x. 47.)

[52] John i. 19, 29, 32, 34, 35, 36, 41, 45, 47, xix. 27.

[53] John xv. 27.

[54] John iii. 2. The Baptist's final witness (iii. 25, 33, iv. 39,
42, v. 15, vi. 68, 69, vii. 46, xix. 4, 6). Note, too, the
accentuation of the idea of _witness_ (John v. 31, 39). It is to be
regretted that the R.V. also has sometimes obscured this important
term by substituting a different English word, _e.g._, "the word of
the woman who _testified_" (John iv. 39).

[55] John viii. 18, xii. 28.

[56] Ibid. viii. 17, 18.

[57] Ibid. xv. 26.

[58] Ibid. v. 39, 46, xix. 35, 36, 37.

[59] Ibid. v. 36.

[60] This sixth witness (1 John v. 10) exactly answers to John xx. 30,

[61] ὁ πιστευων εις τον υιον, κτλ (v. 10). The construction is different
in the words which immediately follow (ὁ μη πιστευων τω θεγ), not even
giving Him credence, not _believing Him_, much less _believing on Him_.

[62] The view here advocated of the relation of the Epistle to the
Gospel of St. John, and of the brief but complete analytical synopsis
in the opening words of the Epistle, appears to us to represent the
earliest known interpretation as given by the author of the famous
fragment of the Muratorian Canon, the first catalogue of the books of
the N. T. (written between the middle and close of the second
century). After his statement of the circumstances which led to the
composition of the fourth Gospel, and an assertion of the perfect
internal unity of the Evangelical narratives, the author of the
fragment proceeds. "What wonder then if John brings forward each
matter, point by point, with such consecutive order (tam constanter
singula), even in his Epistles saying, when he comes to write in his
own person (dicens in semetipso), 'what we have seen with our eyes,
and heard with our ears, and our hands have handled, these things have
we written.' For thus, in orderly arrangement and consecutive language
he professes himself not only an eye-witness, but a hearer, and yet
further a writer of the wonderful things of the Lord." [So we
understand the writer. "Sic enim non solum visorem, sed et auditorem,
sed et scriptorem omnium mirabilium Domini, per ordinem profitetur."
The fragment, with copious annotations, may be found in _Reliquæ
Sacræ_, Routh, Tom. i., 394, 434.]

[63] For whatever reason, four classical terms (if we may so call them)
of the Christian religion are excluded, or nearly excluded, from the
Gospel of St. John, and from its companion document. _Church_, _gospel_,
_repentance_, occur nowhere. _Grace_ only once (John i. 14; see,
however, 2 John 3; Apoc. i. 4; xxii. 21), _faith_ as a substantive only
once. (1 John v. 4, but in Apoc. ii. 13-19; xiii. 10; xiv. 123.)

[64] ἡν δε νυξ. John xiii. 30.

[65] John xix. 5.

[66] Canon. Murator. (apud Routh., _Reliq. Sacræ_, Tom. i., 394).

[67] εν τοπω ἡσυχω λεγομενω καταπαυσις.

[68] This passage is translated from the Greek text of the manuscript
of Patmos, attributed to Prochorus, as given by M. Guérin.
(_Description de l'Isle de Patmos_, pp. 25-29.)

                            DISCOURSE III.


      "Dum Magistri super pectus
       Fontem haurit intellectûs
           Et doctrinæ flumina,
       Fiunt, ipso situ loci,
       Verbo fides, auris voci,
           Mens Deo contermina.

      "Unde mentis per excessus,
       Carnis, sensûs super gressus,
           _Errorumque nubila_,
       Contra veri solis lumen
       Visum cordis et acumen
           Figit velut aquila."
                 _Adam of St. Victor_, Seq. xxxii.

    "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the
    flesh is of God. Every spirit that confesseth not [that] Jesus
    Christ [is come in the flesh] is not of God."--1 JOHN iv. 2, 3.

A discussion (however far from technical completeness) of the
polemical element in St. John's Epistle, probably seems likely to be
destitute of interest or of instruction, except to ecclesiastical or
philosophical antiquarians. Those who believe the Epistle to be a
_divine_ book must, however, take a different view of the matter. St.
John was not merely dealing with forms of human error which were local
and fortuitous. In refuting _them_ he was enunciating principles of
universal import, of almost illimitable application. Let us pass by
those obscure sects, those subtle curiosities of error, which the
diligence of minute research has excavated from the masses of
erudition under which they have been buried; which theologians, like
other antiquarians, have sometimes labelled with names at once uncouth
and imaginative. Let us fix our attention upon such broad and
well-defined features of heresy as credible witnesses have indelibly
fixed upon the contemporaneous heretical thought of Asia Minor; and we
shall see not only a great precision in St. John's words, but a
radiant image of truth, which is equally adapted to enlighten us in
the peculiar dangers of our age.

Controversy is the condition under which all truth must be held, which
is not in necessary subject-matter--which is not either mathematical
or physical. In the case of the second, controversy is active, until
the fact of the physical law is established beyond the possibility of
rational discussion; until self-consistent thought can only think upon
the postulate of its admission. Now in these departments all the
argument is on one side. We are not in a state of suspended
speculation, leaning neither to affirmation nor denial, which is
_doubt_. We are not in the position of inclining either to one side or
the other, by an almost impalpable overplus of evidence, which is
_suspicion_; or by those additions to this slender stock, which
convert suspicion into _opinion_. We are not merely yielding a strong
adhesion to one side, while we must yet admit, to ourselves at least,
that our knowledge is not perfect, nor absolutely manifest--which is
the mental and moral position of _belief_. In necessary
subject-matter, we know and see with that perfect intellectual vision
for which controversy is impossible.[69]

The region of belief must therefore, in our present condition, be a
region from which controversy cannot be excluded.

Religious controversialists may be divided into three classes, for each
of which we may find an emblem in the animal creation. The first are the
nuisances, at times the numerous nuisances, of Churches. These
controversialists delight in showing that the convictions of persons
whom they happen to dislike, can, more or less plausibly, be pressed to
unpopular conclusions. They are incessant fault-finders. Some of them,
if they had an opportunity, might delight in finding the sun guilty in
his daily worship of the many-coloured ritualism of the western clouds.
Controversialists of this class, if minute are venomous, and capable of
inflicting a degree of pain quite out of proportion to their strength.
Their emblem may be found somewhere in the range of "every creeping
thing that creepeth upon the earth." The second class of
controversialists is of a much higher nature. Their emblem is the hawk
with his bright eye, with the forward throw of his pinions, his rushing
flight along the woodland skirt, his unerring stroke. Such hawks of the
Churches, whose delight is in pouncing upon fallacies, fulfil an
important function. They rid us of tribes of mischievous winged errors.
The third class of controversialists is that which embraces St. John
supremely--such minds also as Augustine's in his loftiest and most
inspired moments, such as those which have endowed the Church with the
Nicene Creed. Of such the eagle is the emblem. Over the grosser
atmosphere of earthly anger or imperfect motives, over the clouds of
error, poised in the light of the True Sun, with the eagle's upward wing
and the eagle's sunward eye, St. John looks upon the truth. He is indeed
the eagle of the four Evangelists, the eagle of God. If the eagle could
speak with our language, his style would have something of the purity of
the sky and of the brightness of the light. He would warn his nestlings
against losing their way in the banks of clouds that lie below him so
far. At times he might show that there is a danger or an error whose
position he might indicate by the sweep of his wing, or by descending
for a moment to strike.

There are then _polemics_ in the Epistle and in the Gospel of St.
John. But we refuse to hunt down some obscure heresy in every
sentence. It will be enough to indicate the master heresy of Asia
Minor, to which St. John undoubtedly refers, with its intellectual and
moral perils. In so doing, we shall find the very truth which our own
generation especially needs.

The prophetic words addressed by St. Paul to the Church of Ephesus
thirty years before the date of this Epistle had found only too
complete a fulfilment. "From among their own selves," at Ephesus in
particular, through the Churches of Asia Minor in general, men _had_
arisen "speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after
them."[70] The prediction began to justify itself when Timothy was
Bishop of Ephesus only five or six years later. A few significant
words in the First Epistle to Timothy let us see the heretical
influences that were at work. St. Paul speaks with the solemnity of a
closing charge when he warns Timothy against what were at once[71]
"profane babblings," and "antitheses of the Gnosis which is falsely so
called." In an earlier portion of the same Epistle the young Bishop is
exhorted to charge certain men not to teach a "different doctrine,"
neither to give "heed to myths and genealogies," out of whose endless
mazes no intellect entangled in them can ever find its way.[72] Those
commentators put us on a false scent who would have us look after
Judaizing error, Jewish "stemmata." The reference is not to Judaistic
ritualism, but to semi-Pagan philosophical speculation. The
"genealogies" are systems of divine potencies which the Gnostics (and
probably some Jewish Rabbis of Gnosticising tendency) called
"æons,"[73] and so the earliest Christian writers understood the word.

Now without entering into the details of Gnosticism, this may be said
of its general method and purpose. It aspired at once to accept and to
transform the Christian creed; to elevate its faith into a philosophy,
a _knowledge_--and then to make this knowledge cashier and supersede
faith, love, holiness, redemption itself.

This system was strangely eclectic, and amalgamated certain elements not
only of Greek and Egyptian, but of Persian and Indian Pantheistic
thought. It was infected throughout with dualism and doketism. Dualism
held that all good and evil in the universe proceeded from two first
principles, good and evil. Matter was the power of evil whose home is in
the region of darkness. Minds which started from this fundamental view
could only accept the Incarnation provisionally and with reserve, and
must at once proceed to explain it away. "The Word was made flesh;" but
the Word of God, the True Light, could not be personally united to an
actual material system called a human body, plunged in the world of
matter, darkened and contaminated by its immersion. The human flesh in
which Jesus appeared to be seen was fictitious. Redemption was a drama
with a shadow for its hero. The phantom of a redeemer was nailed to the
phantom of a cross. Philosophical dualism logically became theological
_doketism_. Doketism logically evaporated dogmas, sacraments, duties,

It may be objected that this doketism has been a mere temporary and
local aberration of the human intellect; a metaphysical curiosity,
with no real roots in human nature. If so, its refutation is an
obsolete piece of an obsolete controversy; and the Epistle in some of
its most vital portions is a dead letter.

Now of course literal doketism is past and gone, dead and buried. The
progress of the human mind, the slow and resistless influence of the
logic of common sense, the wholesome influence of the sciences of
observation in correcting visionary metaphysics, have swept away æons,
emanations, dualism,[75] and the rest. But a subtler, and to modern
minds infinitely more attractive, doketism is round us, and accepted,
as far as words go, with a passionate enthusiasm.

What is this doketism?

Let us refer to the history and to the language of a mind of singular
subtlety and power.

In George Eliot's early career she was induced to prepare for the
press a translation of Strauss's mythical explanation of _the Life of
Jesus_. It is no disrespect to so great a memory to say, that at that
period of her career, at least, Miss Evans must have been unequal to
grapple with such a work, if she desired to do so from a Christian
point of view. She had not apparently studied the history or the
structure of the Gospels. What she knew of their meaning she had
imbibed from an antiquated and unscientific school of theologians. The
faith of a sciolist engaged in a struggle for its life with the fatal
strength of a critical giant instructed in the negative lore of all
ages, and sharpened by hatred of the Christian religion, met with the
result which was to be expected. Her faith expired, not without some
painful throes. She fell a victim to the fallacy of youthful
conceit--I cannot answer this or that objection, _therefore_ it is
unanswerable. She wrote at first that she was "Strauss-sick." It made
her ill to dissect the beautiful story of the crucifixion. She took to
herself a consolation singular in the circumstances. The sight of an
ivory crucifix, and of a pathetic picture of the Passion, made her
capable of enduring the first shock of the loss which her heart had
sustained. That is, she found comfort in looking at tangible reminders
of a scene which had ceased to be an historical reality, of a sufferer
who had faded from a living Redeemer into the spectre of a visionary
past. After a time, however, she feels able to propose to herself and
others "a new starting point. We can never have a satisfactory basis
for the history of the man Jesus, but that negation does not affect
the Idea of the Christ, either in its historical influence, or its
great symbolic meanings."[76] Yes! a Christ who has no history, of
whom we do not possess one undoubted word, of whom we know, and can
know, nothing; who has no flesh of fact, no blood of life; an idea,
not a man; this is the Christ of modern doketism. The method of this
widely diffused school is to separate the _sentiments_ of admiration
which the history inspires from the _history_ itself; to sever the
_ideas_ of the faith from the _facts_ of the faith, and then to
present the _ideas_ thus surviving the dissolvents of criticism, as at
once the refutation of the facts and the substitute for them.

This may be pretty writing, though false and illogical writing is
rarely even _that_; but a little consideration will show that this new
starting point is not even a plausible substitute for the old belief.

(1) We question simple believers in the first instance. We ask them
what is the great religious power in Christianity for themselves, and
for others like-minded? What makes people pure, good, self-denying,
nurses of the sick, missionaries to the heathen? They will tell us
that the power lies, not in any doketic idea of a Christ-life which
was never lived, but in "the conviction that that idea was really and
perfectly incarnated in an actual career,"[77] of which we have a
record literally and absolutely true in all essential particulars.
When we turn to the past of the Church, we find that as it is with
these persons, so it has ever been with the saints. For instance, we
hear St. Paul speaking of his whole life. He tells us that "whether we
went out of ourselves it was unto God, or whether we be sober, it is
for you;" that is to say, such a life has two aspects, one God-ward,
one man-ward. Its God-ward aspect is a noble insanity, its man-ward
aspect a noble sanity; the first with its beautiful enthusiasm, the
second with its saving common sense. What is the source of this?
"_For_ the love of Christ constraineth us,"--forces the whole stream
of life to flow between these two banks without the deviations of
selfishness--"because we thus judge, that He died for all, that they
which live should no longer live unto themselves, but to Him who for
their sakes died and rose again."[78] It was the real unselfish life
of a real unselfish Man which made such a life as that of St. Paul a
possibility. Or we may think of the first beginning of St. John's love
for our Lord. When he turned to the past, he remembered one bright day
about ten in the morning, when the real Jesus turned to him and to
another with a real look, and said with a human voice, "what seek ye?"
and then--"come, and ye shall see."[79] It was the real living love
that won the only kind of love which could enable the old man to write
as he did in this Epistle so many years afterwards--"we love because
He first loved us."[80]

(2) We address ourselves next to those who look at Christ simply as an
ideal. We venture to put to them a definite question. You believe that
there is no solid basis for the history of the man Jesus; that His life
as an historical reality is lost in a dazzling mist of legend and
adoration. Has the idea of a Christ, divorced from all accompaniment of
authentic fact, unfixed in a definite historical form, uncontinued in an
abiding existence, been operative or inoperative for yourselves? Has it
been a practical power and motive, or an occasional and evanescent
sentiment? There can be no doubt about the answer. It is not a
make-belief but a belief which gives purity and power. It is not an
ideal of Jesus but the blood of Jesus which cleanseth us from all sin.

There are other lessons of abiding practical importance to be drawn
from the polemical elements in St. John's Epistle. These, however, we
can only briefly indicate because we wish to leave an undivided
impression of that which seems to be St. John's chief object
_controversially_. There were Gnostics in Asia Minor for whom the
mere _knowledge_ of certain supposed spiritual truths was all in all,
as there are those amongst ourselves who care for little but what are
called clear views. For such St. John writes--"and hereby we do _know_
that we _know_ Him, if we keep His commandments."[81] There were
heretics in and about Ephesus who conceived that the special favour of
God, or the illumination which they obtained by junction with the sect
to which they had "gone out" from the Church, neutralised the poison
of sin, and made innocuous for _them_ that which might have been
deadly for others. They suffered, as they thought, no more
contamination by it, than "gold by lying upon the dunghill" (to use a
favourite metaphor of their own). St. John utters a principle which
cleaves through every fallacy in every age, which says or insinuates
that sin subjective can in any case cease to be sin objective.
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the
transgression of the law. All unrighteousness is sin."[82] Possibly
within the Church itself, certainly among the sectarians without it,
there was a disposition to lessen the glory of the Incarnation, by
looking upon the Atonement as narrow and partial in its aim. St.
John's unhesitating statement is that "He is the propitiation for the
whole world." Thus does the eagle of the Church ever fix his gaze
above the clouds of error, upon the Sun of universal truth.

Above all, over and through his negation of temporary and local errors
about the person of Christ, St. John leads the Church in all ages to
the true Christ. Cerinthus, in a form which seems to us eccentric and
revolting, proclaimed a Jesus not born of a virgin, temporarily
endowed with the sovereign power of the Christ, deprived of Him
before his passion and resurrection, while the Christ remained
spiritual and impassible. He taught a _commonplace_ Jesus. At the
beginning of his Epistle and Gospel, John "wings his soul, and leads
his readers onward and upward." He is like a man who stands upon the
shore and looks upon town and coast and bay. Then another takes the
man off with him far to sea. All that he surveyed before is now lost
to him; and as he gazes ever oceanward, he does not stay his eye upon
any intervening object, but lets it range over the infinite azure. So
the Apostle leads us above all creation, and transports us to the ages
before it; makes us raise our eyes, not suffering us to find any end
in the stretch above, since end is none.[83] That "in the beginning,"
"from the beginning," of the Epistle and Gospel, includes nothing
short of the eternal God. The doketics of many shades proclaimed an
ideological, a misty Christ. "Every spirit which confesseth Jesus
Christ as in flesh having come is of God, and every spirit which
confesseth not Jesus, is not of God." "Many deceivers have gone out
into the world, they who confess not Jesus Christ coming in
flesh."[84] Such a Christ of mist as these words warn us against is
again shaped by more powerful intellects and touched with tenderer
lights. But the shadowy Christ of George Eliot and of Mill is equally
arraigned by the hand of St. John. Each believer may well think within
himself--I must die, and that, it may be, very soon; I must be alone
with God, and my own soul; with that which I am, and have been; with
my memories, and with my sins. In that hour the weird desolate
language of the Psalmist will find its realisation: "lover and friend
hast thou put from me, and mine acquaintance are--_darkness_."[85]
Then we want, and then we may find, a real Saviour. Then we shall know
that if we have only a doketic Christ, we shall indeed be alone--for
"except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye
have no life in you."[86]

       *       *       *       *       *


The two following extracts, in addition to what has been already said
in this discourse, will supply the reader with that which it is most
necessary for him to know upon the heresies of Asia Minor. 1. "Two
principal heresies upon the nature of Christ then prevailed, each
diametrically opposite to the other, as well as to the Catholic faith.
One was the heresy of the Doketæ, which destroyed the verity of the
_Human Nature_ in Christ; the other was the heresy of the Ebionites,
who denied the _Divine Nature_, and the eternal Generation, and
inclined to press the observation of the ceremonial law. Ancient
writers allow these as heresies of the first century; all admit that
they were powerful in the age of Ignatius. Hence Theodoret (_Proœm._)
divided the books of these heresies into two categories. In the first
he included those who put forward the idea of a second Creator, and
asserted that the Lord had appeared illusively. In the second he
placed those who maintained that the Lord was merely a man. Of the
first, Jerome observed (_Adv. Lucifer._ xxiii.) 'that while the
Apostles yet remained upon the earth, while the blood of Christ was
almost smoking upon the sod of Judæa, some asserted that the body of
the Lord was a phantom.' Of the second, the same writer remarked that
'St. John, at the invitation of the bishops of Asia Minor, wrote his
Gospel against Cerinthus and other heretics--and especially against
the dogma of the Ebionites then rising into existence, who asserted
that Christ did not exist before Mary.' Epiphanius notes that these
heresies were mainly of Asia Minor (φημι δε εν τη' Ασια). _Hæres._
lvi." (Pearson, _Vindic. Ignat._, ii., c. i., p. 351.)

2. "Two of these sects or schools are very ancient, and seem to have
been referred to by St. John. The first is that of the Naassenians or
Ophites. The antiquity of this sect is guaranteed to us by the author
of the _Philosophumena_, who represents them as the real founders of
Gnosticism. "Later," he says, "they were called _Gnostics_, pretending
that they only _knew the depths_." (To this allusion is made Apoc. ii.
24, which would identify these sectaries with the Balaamites and
Nicolaitans.) The second of these great heresies of Asia Minor is the
doketic. The publication of the _Philosophumena_ has furnished us with
much more precise information about their tenets. We need not say much
about the divine emanation--the fall of souls into matter, their
corporeal captivity, their final rehabilitation (these are merely the
ordinary Gnostic ideas). But we may follow what they assert about the
Saviour and His manifestation in the world. They admit in Him the only
Son of the Father (ὁ μονογενης παις ανωθεν αιωνιος), who descended to
the reign of shadows and the Virgin's womb, where He clothed Himself
in a gross, human material body. But this was a vestment of no
integrally personal and permanent character; it was, indeed, a sort of
masquerade, an artifice or fiction imagined to deceive the prince of
this world. The Saviour at His baptism received a second birth, and
clad Himself with a subtler texture of body, formed in the bosom of
the waters--if that can be termed a body which was but a fantastic
texture woven or framed upon the model of His earthly body. During the
hours of the Passion, the flesh formed in Mary's womb, and it alone,
was nailed to the tree. The great Archon or Demiurgus, whose work that
flesh was, was played upon and deceived, in pouring His wrath only
upon the work of His hands. For the soul, or spiritual substance,
which had been wounded in the flesh of the Saviour, extricated itself
from this as from an unmeet and hateful vesture; and itself
contributing to nailing it to the cross, triumphed by that very flesh
over principalities and powers. It did not, however, remain naked, but
clad in the subtler form which it had assumed in its baptismal second
birth (_Philosoph._, viii. 10). What is remarkable in this theory is,
first, the admission of the reality of the terrestrial body, formed in
the Virgin's womb, and then nailed to the cross. The _negation_ is
only of the _real_ and permanent union of this body with the heavenly
spirit which inhabits it. We shall, further, note the importance which
it attaches to the Saviour's baptism, and the part played by water, as
if an intermediate element between flesh and spirit. This may bear
upon 1 John v. 8."

[This passage is from a _Dissertation--les Trois Témoins Célestes_, in
a collection of religious and literary papers by French scholars (Tom.
ii., Sept. 1868, pp. 388-392). The author, since deceased, was the
Abbé Le Hir, M. Renan's instructor in Hebrew at Saint Sulpice, and
pronounced by his pupil one of the first of European Hebraists and
scientific theologians.]


[69] "Proprium est credentis ut cum assensu cogitet." "The intellect
of him who believes assents to the thing believed, not because he sees
that thing either in itself or by logical reference to first
self-evident principles; but because it is so far convinced by Divine
authority as to assent to things which it does not see, and on account
of the dominance of the will in setting the intellect in motion." This
sentence is taken from a passage of Aquinas which appears to be of
great and permanent value. _Summa Theolog._ 2^a, 2^æ quæst. i. art. 4.
quæst. v. art. 2.

[70] Acts xx. 30.

[71] τας βεβηλους κενοφωνιας, και αντιθεσεις της ψευδωνυμου γνωσεως. 1
Tim. vi. 20. The "antitheses" may either touch with slight sarcasm upon
pompous pretensions to scientific logical method; or may denote the
really self-contradictory character of these elaborate compositions; or
again, their polemical opposition to the Christian creed.

[72] μυθοις και γενεαλογιαις απεραντοις. 1 Tim. i. 3, 4.

[73] Irenæus quotes 1 Tim. i. 4, and interprets it of the Gnostic
'æons.' _Adv. Hæres._, i. Proœm.

[74] Few phenomena of criticism are more unaccountable than the desire
to evade any acknowledgment of the historical existence of these
singular heresies. Not long after St. John's death, Polycarp, in
writing to the Philippians, quotes 1 John iv. 3, and proceeds to show
that doketism had consummated its work down to the last fibres of the
root of the creed, by two negations--no resurrection of the body, no
judgment. (Polycarp, _Epist. ad Philip._, vii.) Ignatius twice deals
with the Doketæ at length. To the Trallians he delivers what may be
called an antidoketic creed, concluding in the tone of one who was
wounded by what he was daily hearing. "Be deaf then when any man
speaks unto you without Jesus Christ, who is of Mary, who truly was
born, truly suffered under Pontius Pilate, truly was crucified and
died, truly also was raised from the dead. But if some who are
unbelieving say that He suffered apparently, _as if in vision, being
visionary themselves_, why am I a prisoner? why do I choose to fight
with wild beasts?" (Ignat., _Ep. ad Trall._, iv. x.) The play upon the
name doketæ cannot be mistaken (λεγουσιν το δοκειν πεπονθεναι αυτον,
αυτοι οντες το δοκειν). Ignatius writes to another Church--"What
profited it me if one praiseth me but blasphemeth my Lord, not
confessing that He bears true human flesh. They abstain from Eucharist
and prayer, because they confess not that the Eucharist is flesh of
our Saviour Jesus Christ." (_Ep. ad Smyrn._, v. vi. vii.)

[75] The elder Mr. Mill, however, appears to have seriously leaned to
this as a conceivable solution of the contradictory phenomena of

[76] _Life_ vol. ii., 359, 360.

[77] Much use has here been made of a truly remarkable article in the
_Spectator_, Jan. 31st, 1885.

[78] 2 Cor. v. 13-15.

[79] John i. 43.

[80] 1 John iv. 19.

[81] 1 John ii. 3.

[82] 1 John iii. 4, v. 17.

[83] Every one who reads Greek should refer to the magnificent
passage, _S. Joann. Chrysos., in Joann., Homil._ ii. 4.

[84] 1 John iv. 2; 2 John v. 7. See notes on the passages.

[85] Psalm lviii. 18.

[86] John vi. 53.

                            DISCOURSE IV.


  "He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king
                shall be his friend."--PROV. xxii. 11.

         ὁ θεμελιος.... ὁ δευτερος σαπφειρος.--APOC. xxi. 19.

    "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is
    begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him
    not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in
    wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath
    given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and
    we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is
    the true God and eternal life."--1 JOHN v. 18-20.

Much has been said in the last few years of a series of subtle and
delicate experiments in sound. Means have been devised of doing for
the ear something analogous to that which glasses do for another
sense, and of making the results palpable by a system of notation. We
are told that every tree for instance, according to its foliage, its
position, and the direction of the winds, has its own prevalent note
or tone, which can be marked down, and its _timbre_ made first visible
by this notation, and then audible. So is it with the souls of the
saints of God, and chiefly of the Apostles. Each has its own note, the
prevalent key on which its peculiar music is set. Or we may employ
another image which possibly has St. John's own authority. Each of the
twelve has his peculiar emblem among the twelve vast and precious
foundation stones which underlie the whole wall of the Church. St.
John may thus differ from St. Peter, as the sapphire's azure differs
from the jasper's strength and radiance. Each is beautiful, but with
its own characteristic tint of beauty.[87]

We propose to examine the peculiarities of St. John's spiritual nature
which may be traced in this Epistle. We try to form some conception of
the key on which it is set, of the colour which it reflects in the
light of heaven, of the image of a soul which it presents. In this
attempt we cannot be deceived. St. John is so transparently honest; he
takes such a deep, almost terribly severe view of truth. We find him
using an expression about truth which is perhaps without a parallel in
any other writer. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk
in darkness we lie, and are not _doing the truth_."[88] The truth then
for him is something co-extensive with our whole nature and whole
life. Truth is not only to be _spoken_--that is but a fragmentary
manifestation of it. It is to be _done_. It would have been for him
the darkest of lies to have put forth a spiritual commentary on his
Gospel which was not realised in himself. In the Epistle, no doubt, he
uses the first person singular sparingly, modestly including himself
in the simple _we_ of Christian association. Yet we are as sure of the
perfect accuracy of the picture of his soul, of the music in his heart
which he makes visible and audible in his letter, as we are that he
heard the voice of many waters, and saw the city coming down from God
out of heaven; as sure, as if at the close of this fifth chapter he
had added with the triumphant emphasis of truth, in his simple and
stately way, "I John heard these things and saw them."[89] He closes
this letter with a threefold affirmation of certain primary postulates
of the Christian life; of its _purity_,[90] of its _privilege_[91], of
its _Presence_,[92]--"we know," "we know," "we know." In each case the
plural might be exchanged for the singular. He says "_we_ know,"
because he is sure "_I_ know."

In studying the Epistles of St. John we may well ask what we see and
hear therein of St. John's character, (1) as a sacred writer, (2) as a
saintly soul.


We consider first the indications in the Epistle of the Apostle's
character as a sacred writer.

For help in this direction we do not turn with much satisfaction to
essays or annotations pervaded by the modern spirit. The textual
criticism of minute scholarship is no doubt much, but it is not all.
Aorists are made for man, not man for the aorist. He indeed who has
not traced every fibre of the sacred text with grammar and lexicon
cannot quite honestly claim to be an _expositor_ of it. But in the
case of a book like Scripture this, after all, is but an important
preliminary. The frigid subtlety of the commentator who always seems
to have the questions for a divinity examination before his eyes,
fails in the glow and elevation necessary to bring us into communion
with the spirit of St. John. Led by such guides, the Apostle passes
under our review as a third-rate writer of a magnificent language in
decadence, not as the greatest of theologians and masters of the
spiritual life--with whatever defects of literary style, at once the
Plato of the twelve in one region, and the Aristotle in the other; the
first by his "lofty inspiration," the second by his "judicious
utilitarianism." The deepest thought of the Church has been brooding
for seventeen centuries over these pregnant and many-sided words, so
many of which are the very words of Christ. To separate ourselves from
this vast and beautiful commentary is to place ourselves out of the
atmosphere in which we can best feel the influence of St. John.

Let us read Chrysostom's description of the style and thought of the
author of the fourth Gospel. "The son of thunder, the loved of Christ,
the pillar of the Churches, who leaned on Jesus' bosom, makes his
entrance. He plays no drama, he covers his head with no mask. Yet he
wears array of inimitable beauty. For he comes having his feet shod
with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, and his loins girt, not
with fleece dyed in purple, or bedropped with gold, but woven through
and through with, and composed of, the truth itself. He will now
appear before us, not dramatically, for with him there is no
theatrical effect or fiction, but with his head bared he tells the
bare truth. All these things he will speak with absolute accuracy,
being the friend of the King Himself--aye, having the King speaking
within him, and hearing all things from Him which He heareth from the
Father; as He saith--'you I have called friends, for all things that I
have heard from My Father, I have made known unto you.' Wherefore, as
if we all at once saw one stooping down from yonder heaven, and
promising to tell us truly of things there, we should all flock to
listen to him, so let us now dispose ourselves. For it is from up
there that this man speaks down to us. And the fisherman is not
carried away by the whirling current of his own exuberant verbosity;
but all that he utters is with the steadfast accuracy of truth, and as
if he stood upon a rock he budges not. All time is his witness. Seest
thou the boldness, and the great authority of his words! how he utters
nothing by way of doubtful conjecture, but all demonstratively, as if
passing sentence. Very lofty is this Apostle, and full of dogmas, and
lingers over them more than over other things!"[93] This admirable
passage, with its fresh and noble enthusiasm, nowhere reminds us of
the glacial subtleties of the schools. It is the utterance of an
expositor who spoke the language in which his master wrote, and
breathed the same spiritual atmosphere. It is scarcely less true of
the Epistle than of the Gospel of St. John.

Here also "he is full of dogmas," here again he is the theologian of
the Church. But we are not to estimate the amount of dogma merely by
the number of words in which it is expressed. Dogma, indeed, is not
really composed of isolated texts--as pollen showered from conifers
and germs scattered from mosses, accidentally brought together and
compacted, are found upon chemical analysis to make up certain lumps
of coal. It is primary and structural. The Divinity and Incarnation of
Jesus pervade the First Epistle. Its whole structure is
_Trinitarian_.[94] It contains two of the three great three-word
dogmatic utterances of the New Testament about the nature of God (the
first being in the fourth Gospel)--"God is Spirit," "God is light,"
"God is love." The chief dogmatic statements of the Atonement are
found in these few chapters. "The blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us
from all sin." "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
Righteous." "He is the propitiation for the whole world." "God loved
us, and sent His Son the propitiation for our sins." Where the Apostle
passes on to deal with the spiritual life, he once more "is full of
dogmas," _i.e._, of eternal self-evidenced oracular sentences, spoken
as if "down from heaven," or by one "whose foot is upon a
rock,"--apparently identical propositions, all-inclusive, the dogmas
of moral and spiritual life, as those upon the Trinity, the
Incarnation, the Atonement, are of strictly theological truth. A
further characteristic of St. John as a sacred writer in his Epistle
is, that he appears to indicate throughout the moral and spiritual
conditions which were necessary for receiving the Gospel with which he
endowed the Church as the life of their life. These conditions are
three. The first is _spirituality_, submission to the teaching of the
Spirit, that they may know by it the meaning of the words of
Jesus--the "anointing" of the Holy Ghost, which is ever "teaching all
things" that He said.[95] The second condition is _purity_, at least,
the continuing effort after self-purification which is incumbent even
upon those who have received the great pardon.[96] This involves the
following in life's daily walk of the One perfect life-walk,[97] the
imitation of that which is supremely good,[98] "incarnated in an
actual earthly career." All must be purity, or effort after purity, on
the side of those who would read aright the Gospel of the immaculate
Lamb of God. The third condition for such readers is love--_charity_.
When he comes to deal fully with that great theme, the eagle of God
wheels far out of sight. In the depths of His Eternal Being, "God is
love."[99] Then this truth comes closer to us as believers. It stands
completely and for ever _manifested_ in its work _in us_,[100] because
"God _hath sent_" (a mission in the past, but with abiding
consequences)[101] "His Son, His only-begotten Son into the world,
that we may live through Him." Yet again, he rises higher from the
_manifestation_ of this love to the eternal and essential principle in
which it stands present for ever. "In this _is_ the love, not that we
loved God, but that God loved us, and once for all sent His Son a
propitiation for our sins."[102] Then follows the manifestation of
_our_ love. "If God so loved us, we also are bound to love one
another." Do we think it strange that St. John does not first draw the
lesson--"if God so loved us, we also are bound to love God"? It has
been in his heart all along, but he utters it in his own way, in the
solemn pathetic question--"he that loveth not his brother whom he
hath seen, God whom he hath not seen how can he love?"[103] Yet once
more he sums up the creed in a few short words. "We have believed the
love that God hath in us."[104] Truly and deeply has it been said that
this creed of the heart, suffused with the softest tints and sweetest
colours, goes to the root of all heresies upon the Incarnation,
whether in St. John's time or later. That God should give up His Son
by sending Him forth in humanity; that the Word made flesh should
humble Himself to the death upon the cross, the Sinless offer Himself
for sinners, this is what heresy cannot bring itself to understand. It
is the excess of such love which makes it incredible. "We have
believed the love" is the whole faith of a Christian man. It is St.
John's creed in three words.[105]

Such are the chief characteristics of St. John as a sacred writer,
which may be traced in his Epistle. These characteristics of the
author imply corresponding characteristics of the man. He who states
with such inevitable precision, with such noble and self-contained
enthusiasm, the great dogmas of the Christian faith, the great laws of
the Christian life, must himself have entirely believed them. He who
insists upon these conditions in the readers of his Gospel, must
himself have aimed at, and possessed, spirituality, purity, and love.


We proceed to look at the First Epistle as a picture of the soul of
its author.

(1) His was a life free from the dominion of wilful and habitual sin
of any kind. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, and he
cannot continue sinning." "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not;
whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him." A man so
entirely true, if conscious to himself of any reigning sin, dare not
have deliberately written these words.

(2) But if St. John's was a life free from subjection to any form of
the power of sin, he shows us that sanctity is not sinlessness, in
language which it is alike unwise and unsafe to attempt to explain
away. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." "If we
say that we have not sinned and are not sinners, we make Him a liar."
But so long as we do not fall back into darkness, the blood of Jesus
is ever purifying us from all sin. This he has written that the
fulness of the Christian life may be realised in believers; that each
step of their walk may follow the blessed footprints of the most holy
life; that each successive act of a consecrated existence may be free
from sin.[106] And yet, if any fail in some such single act,[107] if
he swerve, for a moment, from the "true tenour" of the course which he
is shaping, there is no reason to despair. Beautiful humility of this
pure and lofty soul! How tenderly, with what lowly graciousness he
places himself among those who have and who need an Advocate. "Mark
John's humility," cries St. Augustine; "he says not '_ye_ have,' nor
'ye have _me_,' nor even '_ye_ have Christ.' But he puts forward
Christ, not himself; and he says '_we_ have,' not '_ye_ have,' thus
placing himself in the rank of sinners."[108] Nor does St. John cover
himself under the subterfuges by which men at different times have
tried to get rid of a truth so humiliating to spiritual
pride--sometimes by asserting that they so stand accepted in Christ
that no sin is accounted to them for such; sometimes by pleading
personal exemption for themselves as believers.

This Epistle stands alone in the New Testament in being addressed to
two generations--one of which after conversion had grown old in a
Christian atmosphere, whilst the other had been educated from the
cradle under the influences of the Christian Church. It is therefore
natural that such a letter should give prominence to the constant need
of pardon. It certainly does not speak so much of the great initial
pardon,[109] as of the continuing pardons needed by human frailty. In
dwelling upon pardon once given, upon sanctification once begun, men
are possibly apt to forget the pardon that is daily wanting, the
purification that is never to cease. We are to walk daily from pardon
to pardon, from purification to purification. Yesterday's surrender of
self to Christ may grow ineffectual if it be not renewed to-day. This
is sometimes said to be a humiliating view of the Christian life.
Perhaps so--but it is the view of the Church, which places in its
offices a daily confession of sin; of St. John in this Epistle; nay,
of Him who teaches us, after our prayers for bread day by day, to pray
for a daily forgiveness. This may be more humiliating, but it is safer
teaching than that which proclaims a pardon to be appropriated in a
moment for all sins past, present, and to come.

This humility may be traced incidentally in other regions of the
Christian life. Thus he speaks of the possibility at least of his
being among those who might "shrink with shame from Christ in His
coming." He does not disdain to write as if, in hours of spiritual
depression, there were tests by which he too might need to lull and
"persuade his heart before God."[110]

(3) St. John again has a boundless faith in prayer. It is the key put
into the child's hand by which he may let himself into the house, and
come into his Father's presence when he will, at any hour of the night
or day. And prayer made according to the conditions which God has laid
down is never quite lost. The particular thing asked for may not
indeed be given; but the substance of the request, the holier wish,
the better purpose underlying its weakness and imperfection, never
fails to be granted.[111]

(4) All but superficial readers must perceive that in the writings and
character of St. John there is from time to time a tonic and wholesome
_severity_. Art and modern literature have agreed to bestow upon the
Apostle of love the features of a languid and inert tenderness. It is
forgotten that St. John was the son of thunder; that he could once wish
to bring down fire from heaven; and that the natural character is
transfigured not inverted by grace. The Apostle uses great plainness of
speech. For him a lie is a lie, and darkness is never courteously called
light. He abhors and shudders at those heresies which rob the soul first
of Christ, and then of God.[112] Those who undermine the Incarnation
are for him not interesting and original speculators, but "lying
prophets." He underlines his warnings against such men with his roughest
and blackest pencil mark. "Whoso sayeth to him 'good speed' hath
fellowship with his _works_, those wicked _works_"[113]--for such heresy
is not simply one work, but a series of works. The schismatic prelate or
pretender Diotrephes may "babble;" but his babblings are wicked words
for all that, and are in truth the "works which he is doing."

The influence of every great Christian teacher lasts long beyond the day
of his death. It is felt in a general tone and spirit, in a special
appropriation of certain parts of the creed, in a peculiar method of the
Christian life. This influence is very discernible in the remains of two
disciples of St. John,[114] Ignatius and Polycarp. In writing to the
Ephesians, Ignatius does not indeed explicitly refer to St. John's
Epistle, as he does to that of St. Paul to the Ephesians. But he draws
in a few bold lines a picture of the Christian life which is imbued with
the very spirit of St. John. The character which the Apostle loved was
quiet and real; we feel that his heart is not with "him that
sayeth."[115] So Ignatius writes--"it is better to keep silence, and yet
to _be_, than to talk and _not to be_. It is good to teach if 'he that
sayeth doeth.' He who has gotten to himself the word of Jesus truly is
able to hear the silence of Jesus also, so that he may _act_ through
that which he _speaks_, and _be known_ through the things wherein he is
_silent_. Let us therefore do all things as in His presence who dwelleth
in us, that we may be His temple, and that He may be in us our God."
This is the very spirit of St. John. We feel in it at once his severe
common sense and his glorious mysticism.

We must add that the influence of St. John may be traced in matters
which are often considered alien to his simple and spiritual piety. It
seems that Episcopacy was consolidated and extended under his fostering
care. The language of Ignatius (probably his disciple) upon the
necessity of union with the Episcopate is, after all conceivable
deductions, of startling strength. A few decades could not possibly have
removed Ignatius so far from the lines marked out to him by St. John as
he must have advanced, if this teaching upon Church government was a new
departure. And with this conception of Church government we must
associate other matters also. The immediate successors of St. John, who
had learned from his lips, held deep sacramental views. The Eucharist is
"the bread of God, the bread of heaven, the bread of life, the flesh of
Christ." Again Ignatius cries--"desire to use one Eucharist, for one is
the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup unto oneness of His
blood, one altar, as one Bishop, with the Presbytery and deacons."[117]
Hints are not wanting that sweetness and life in public worship derived
inspiration from the same quarter. The language of Ignatius is deeply
tinged with his passion for _music_.[118] The beautiful story, how he
set down, immediately after a vision, the melody to which he had heard
the angels chanting, and caused it to be used in his church at Antioch,
attests the impression of enthusiasm and care for sacred song which was
associated with the memory of Ignatius.[119] Nor can we be surprised at
these features of Ephesian Christianity, when we remember who was the
founder of those Churches. He was the writer of _three_ books. These
books come to us with a continuous living interpretation of more than
seventeen centuries of historical Christianity. From the fourth Gospel
in large measure has arisen the sacramental instinct, from the
Apocalypse the æsthetic instinct, which has been certainly exaggerated
both in the East and West. The third and sixth chapters of St. John's
Gospel permeate every baptismal and eucharistic office. Given an
inspired book which represents the worship of the redeemed as one of
perfect majesty and beauty, men may well in the presence of noble
churches and stately liturgies, adopt the words of our great English
Christian poet--

            "things which shed upon the outward frame
      Of worship glory and grace--which who shall blame
      That ever look'd to heaven for final rest?"

The third book in this group of writings supplies the sweet and quiet
spirituality which is the foundation of every regenerate nature.

Such is the image of the soul which is presented to us by St. John
himself. It is based upon a firm conviction of the nature of God, of
the Divinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement of our Lord. It is
spiritual. It is pure, or being purified. The highest theological
truth--"God is Love"--supremely _realised_ in the Holy Trinity,
supremely manifested in the sending forth of God's only Son, becomes
the law of its common social life, made visible in gentle patience, in
giving and forgiving.[120] Such a life will be free from the
degradation of habitual sin. Yet it is at best an imperfect
representation of the one perfect life.[121] It needs unceasing
purification by the blood of Jesus, the continual advocacy of One who
is sinless. Such a nature, however full of charity, will not be weakly
indulgent to vital error or to ambitious schism;[122] for it knows the
value of truth and unity. It feels the sweetness of a calm conscience,
and of a simple belief in the efficacy of prayer. Over every such
life--over all the grief that may be, all the temptation that must
be--is the purifying hope of a great Advent, the ennobling assurance
of a perfect victory, the knowledge that if we continue true to the
principle of our new birth we are safe. And our safety is, not that we
keep ourselves, but that we are kept by arms which are as soft as
love, and as strong as eternity.[123]

These Epistles are full of instruction and of comfort for us, just
because they are written in an atmosphere of the Church which, in one
respect at least, resembles our own. There is in them no reference
whatever to a continuance of miraculous powers, to raptures, or to
extraordinary phenomena. All in them which is supernatural continues
even to this day, in the possession of an inspired record, in
sacramental grace, in the pardon and holiness, the peace and strength
of believers. The apocryphal "Acts of John" contain some fragments of
real beauty almost lost in questionable stories and prolix declamation.
It is probably not literally true that when St. John in early life
wished to make himself a home, his Lord said to him, "I have need of
thee, John;" that that thrilling voice once came to him, wafted over the
still darkened sea--"John, hadst thou not been Mine, I would have
suffered thee to marry."[124] But the Epistle shows us much more
effectually that he had a pure heart and virgin will. It is scarcely
probable that the son of Zebedee ever drained a cup of hemlock with
impunity; but he bore within him an effectual charm against the poison
of sin.[125] We of this nineteenth century may smile when we read that
he possessed the power of turning leaves into gold, of transmuting
pebbles into jewels, of fusing shattered gems into one; but he carried
with him wherever he went that most excellent gift of charity, which
makes the commonest things of earth radiant with beauty.[126] He may
not actually have praised his Master during his last hour in words which
seem to us not quite unworthy even of such lips--"Thou art the only
Lord, the root of immortality, the fountain of incorruption. Thou who
madest our rough wild nature soft and quiet, who deliveredst me from the
imagination of the moment, and didst keep me safe within the guard of
that which abideth for ever." But such thoughts in life or death were
never far from him for whom Christ was the Word and the Life; who knew
that while "the world passeth away and the lust thereof, he that doeth
the will of God abideth for ever."[127]

May we so look upon this image of the Apostle's soul in his Epistle
that we may reflect something of its brightness! May we be able to
think, as we turn to this threefold assertion of knowledge--"_I_ know
something of the security of this keeping.[128] _I_ know something of
the sweetness of being in the Church, that isle of light surrounded by
a darkened world.[129] _I_ know something of the beauty of the perfect
human life recorded by St. John, something of the continued presence
of the Son of God, something of the new sense which He gives, that we
may know Him who is the Very God."[130] Blessed exchange not to be
vaunted loudly, but spoken reverently in our own hearts--the exchange
of we, for I. There is much divinity in these pronouns.[131]


                               NOTE A.

1 John iv. 8, 9, 10. Modern theological schools of a Calvinistic bias
have tended to overlook the conception of the nature of God as
essential or substantive Love, and to consider love only as
_manifested_ in redemption. Socinianising interpreters understand the
proposition to mean that God is simply and exclusively benevolent. (On
the inadequacy of this, see Butler, _Anal._, Part I., ch. iii., and
Dissertation II. of the Nature of Virtue.) The highest Christian
thought has ever recognised that the proposition 'God is Love'
necessarily involves the august truth that God if _sole_ is not
_solitary_. ("Credimur et confitemur omnipotentem Trinitatem--unum
Deum _solum_ non _solitarium_." Concil. Tolet., vi. 1.) "Let it not be
supposed," said St. Bernard, "that I here account Love as an attribute
or accident, but as the Divine essence--no new doctrine, seeing that
St. John saith 'God is love.' It may rightly be said both that _Love_
is _God_, and that love is _the gift of God_. For Love gives love; the
essential Love gives that which is accidental. When Love signifies the
Giver, it is the name of His essence; when it signifies His gift, it
is the name of a quality or attribute." (_S. Bernard., de dil. Deo_,
xii.). "This is nobly said. God is love. Thus love is the eternal law
whereby all things were created and are governed--wherewith He who is
the law of all things is unto Himself His own law, and that a law of
love--wherewith He bindeth His Trinity into Unity." (_Thomassin. Dogm.
Theol._, lib. iii., 23.)

                               NOTE B.

ἡ ῥιζα της αθανασιας και ἡ πηγη της αφθαρσιας· ὁ την ερημον και
αγριωθεισαν φυσιν ἡμων ηρεμον και ἡσυχιον ποιησας, ὁ της προσκαιρου
φαντασιας ῥυσαμενος με και εις την αει μενουσαν φρουρησας (_Acta
Johannis_, 21). These sentences are surely not without freshness and
power. One other passage is worth translating, because it seems to
have just that imaginative cast which makes the Greek Liturgies, like
so much else that is Greek, stand midway between the East and West;
and because it apparently refers to St. John's Gospel. "Jesus! Thou
who hast woven this coronal with Thy plaiting, who hast blended these
many flowers into the flower of Thy presence, not blown through by the
winds of any storm; Thou who hast scattered thickly abroad the seed of
these words of Thine"--(_Acta Johannis_, 17).


[87] Apoc. xxi. 19, 20.

[88] 1 John i. 6, cf. John iii. 21. In the LXX. the phrase is only
found once, and is then applied to God: αληθειαν εποιησας (Neh. ix.
33). It is characteristic of St. John's style that _doing a lie_ is
found in Apoc. xxi. 27, xxii. 15.

[89] Apoc. xxii. 8.

[90] 1 John v. 18.

[91] Ibid. 19.

[92] ἡκει, "has come,--and is here."--Ibid. 20.

[93] _S. Joann. Chrysost., in Johan._, Homil. iii., Tom. viii., 25,
36, Edit. Migne.

[94] Huther, while rejecting with all impartial critics the
interpolation (1 John v. 7), writes thus: "when we embrace in one
survey the contents of the Epistle as a whole, it is certainly easy to
_adapt the conception_ of the three Heavenly witnesses to one place
after another in the document. But it does not follow that the mention
of it just here would be in its right place." (_Handbuch über der drei
Briefe des Johannes._ Dr. J. E. Huther.)

[95] 1 John ii. 20.

[96] 1 John i. 7, iii. 3.

[97] 1 John ii. 6.

[98] "Imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good" (3 John
12). A comparison of this verse with John xxi. 24 would lead to the
supposition that the writer of the letter is quoting the Gospel, and
assumes an intimate knowledge of it on the part of Caius. See
Discourse XVII. Part ii. of this vol.

[99] See note A at the end of this discourse.

[100] 1 John iv. 9.

[101] απεσταλκεν.

[102] απεστειλεν.

[103] 1 John iv. 20.

[104] 1 John iv. 16.

[105] πεπιστευκαμεν την αγαπην, 1 John iv. 16.

[106] For the aor. conj. in this place as distinguished from the pres.
conj. cf. John v. 20, 23, vi. 28, 29, 30. Professor Westcott's refined
scholarship corrects the error of many commentators, "that the Apostle
is simply warning us not to draw encouragement for license from the
doctrine of forgiveness." The tense is decisive against this, the
thought is of the single _act_ not of the _state_.

[107] εαν τις ἁμαρτη, 1 John ii. 1.

[108] _In Epist. Johann._, Tract. I.

[109] 1 John ii. 12, is, of course, an important exception.

[110] 1 John iii. 19, 20.

[111] See Prof. Westcott's valuable note on 1 John v. 15. The very
things literally asked for would be τα αιτηθεντα, not τα αιτηματα.

[112] 2 John 11.

[113] 3 John 10.

[114] _Mart. Ignat._, i. _S. Hieron, de Script. Eccles._, xvii.

[115] ὁ λεγων, 1 John ii. 4, 6, 9.

[116] _Ignat. Epist. ad Ephes._, xv., cf. 1 John ii. 14, iv. 9, 17,
iii. 2.

[117] _S. Ignat. Epist. ad Philad._, iv.; cf. _Epist. ad Smyrn._,
vii.; _Epist. ad Ephes._, xx.

[118] The most elaborate passage in the Ignatian remains is probably
this. "Your Presbytery is fitted together harmoniously with the Bishop
as chords with the cithara. Hereby in your symphonious love Jesus
Christ is sung in concord. Taking your part man by man become one
choir, that being harmoniously accordant in your like-mindedness,
having received in unity the chromatic music of God (χρωμα Θεου
λαβοντες), ye may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ unto the
Father."--_Epist. ad Ephes._, iv. The same image is differently
applied, _Epist. ad Philad._, i.

[119] The story is given by Socrates. (_H. E._, vi. 8.)

[120] 1 John iv. 7, 12.

[121] 1 John ii. 6, 9, i. 7-10, ii. 1, 2.

[122] 1 John i. 7, ii. 2, iv. 3, 6; 2 John 7-11; 3 John 9, 10.

[123] 1 John iii. 19, v. 14, 15, iv. 2, 3, v. 4, 5, 18.

[124] These sentences do not go so far as the mischievous and
antiscriptural legend of later ascetic heretics, who marred the beauty
and the purpose of the miracle at Cana, by asserting that John was the
bridegroom, and that our Lord took him away from his bride. _Acta
Johannis_, XXI. _Act. Apost. Apoc._, Tisch., 275).

[125] This legend no doubt arose from the promise--"if they drink any
deadly thing it shall not hurt them" (Mark xvi. 18).

  "Virus fidens sorbuit." Adam of St. Victor, _Seq._ XXXIII.


      "Aurum hic de frondibus,
       Gemmas de silicibus,
       Fractis de fragminibus,
          Fecit firmas."--_Ibid._

There is something interesting in the persistency of legends about St.
John's power over gems, when connected with the passage, flashing all
over with the light of precious stones, whose exquisite disposition is
the wonder of lapidaries. Apoc. xxi, 18, 22.

[127] See note B at the end of the Discourse.

[128] 1 John v. 18.

[129] Ibid. v. 19.

[130] Ibid. v. 20.

[131] Said by Luther of Psalm xxii. 1.

                               PART II.


                          I. SUBJECT MATTER.

(1) The _Epistle_ is to be read through with constant reference to the
_Gospel_. In what _precise form_ the former is related to the latter
(whether as a preface or as an appendix, as a spiritual commentary or
an encyclical) critics may decide. But there is a vital and constant
connection. The two documents not only touch each other in thought,
but _interpenetrate_ each other; and the Epistle is constantly
_suggesting_ questions which the Gospel only can answer, _e.g._, 1
John i. 1, cf. John i. 1-14; 1 John v. 9, "witness of men," cf. John
i. 15-36, 41, 45, 49, iii. 2, 27-36, iv. 29-42, vi. 68, 69, vii. 46,
ix. 38, xi. 27, xviii. 38, xix. 5, 6, xx. 28.

(2) Such eloquence of _style_ as St. John possesses is _real_ rather
than _verbal_. The interpreter must look not only at the words
themselves, but at that which _precedes_ and _follows_; above all he
must fix his attention not only upon the _verbal expression_ of the
thought, but upon the _thought itself_. For the formal connecting link
is not rarely omitted, and must be supplied by the devout and candid
diligence of the reader. The "root below the stream" can only be traced
by our bending over the water until it becomes translucent to us.

_E.g._ 1 John i. 7, 8. Ver. 7, "the root below the stream" is a
question of this kind, which naturally arises from reading ver.
6--"must it be said that the sons of light need a constant cleansing
by the blood of Jesus, which implies a constant guilt"? Some such
thought is the latent root of connection. The answer is supplied by
the following verse. ["It is so" for] "if we say that we have no sin,"
etc. Cf. also iii. 16, 17, xiv. 8, 9, 10, 11, v. 3 (ad. fin.), 4.

                            II. LANGUAGE.

1. _Tenses._

In the New Testament generally tenses are employed very much in the same
sense, and with the same general accuracy, as in other Greek authors.
The so-called "enallage temporum," or perpetual and convenient Hebraism,
has been proved by the greatest Hebrew scholars to be no Hebraism at
all. But it is one of the simple secrets of St. John's quiet thoughtful
power, that he uses tenses with the most rigorous precision.

(_a_) The _Present_ of continuing uninterrupted action, _e.g._, i. 8,
ii. 6, iii. 7, 8, 9.

Hence the so-called _substantized_ participle with article ὁ has in St.
John the sense of the continuous and constitutive temper and conduct of
any man, the principle of his moral and spiritual life--_e.g._, ὁ λεγων,
he who is ever vaunting, ii. 4; πας ὁ μισων, every one the abiding
principle of whose life is hatred, iii. 15; πας ὁ αγαπων, every one the
abiding principle of whose life is love, iv. 7.

The Infin. Present is generally used to express an action now in
course of performing or _continued_ in itself or in its results, or
_frequently repeated--e.g._, 1 John ii. 6, iii. 8, 9, v. 18. (Winer,
_Gr. of N. T. Diction_, Part 3, xliv., 348).

(_b_) The _Aorist_.

This tense is generally used either of a thing occurring only once,
which does not admit, or at least does not require, the notion of
continuance and perpetuity; or of something which is brief and as it
were only momentary in duration (Stallbaum, _Plat. Enthyd._, p. 140).
This limitation or isolation of the predicated action is most
accurately indicated by the usual form of this tense in Greek. The
aorist verb is encased between the augment ε- past time, and the
adjunct σ- future time, _i.e._, the act is fixed on within certain
limits of previous and consequent time (Donaldson, _Gr. Gr._, 427, B.
2). The aorist is used with most significant accuracy in the Epistle
of St. John, _e.g._, ii. 6, 11, 27, iv. 10, v. 18.

(_c_) The _Perfect_.

The Perfect denotes action absolutely past which lasts on in its
effects. "The idea of completeness conveyed by the aorist must be
distinguished from that of a state consequent on an act, which is the
meaning of the perfect" (Donaldson, _Gr. Gr._, 419). Careful
observation of this principle is the key to some of the chief
difficulties of the Epistle (iii. 9, v. 4, 18).

(2) The form of _accessional parallelism_ is to be carefully noticed.
The second member is always in advance of the first; and a third is
occasionally introduced in advance of the second, denoting the highest
point to which the thought is thrown up by the tide of thought,
_e.g._, 1 John ii. 4, 5, 6, v. 11, v. 27.

(3) The _preparatory touch_ upon the chord which announces a theme to be
amplified afterwards,--_e.g._, ii. 29, iii. 9--iv. 7, v. 3, 4; iii.
21--v. 14, ii. 20, iii. 24, iv. 3, v. 6, 8, ii. 13, 14, iv. 4--v. 4, 5.

(4) One secret of St. John's simple and solemn rhetoric consists in an
_impressive change_ in the order in which a leading word is used,
_e.g._, 1 John ii. 24, iv. 20.

These principles carefully applied will be the best commentary upon
the letter of the Apostle, to whom not only when his subject is--

      "De Deo Deum verum
       Alpha et Omega, Patrem rerum";

but when he unfolds the principles of our spiritual life, we may apply
Adam of St. Victor's powerful and untranslatable line,

      "Solers scribit idiota."

                              SECTION I.

        GREEK TEXT.                        LATIN.

  Ὁ ἩΝ απ' αρχης, ὁ                  Quod fuit ab initio,
  ακηκοαμεν, ὁ ἑωρακαμεν             quod audivimus, et
  τοις οφθαλμοις ἡμων,               vidimus oculis nostris,
  ὁ εθεασαμεθα, και αι               quod perspeximus, et
  χειρες ἡμων εψηλαφησαν             manus nostræ temtaverunt,
  περι του λογου της ζωης·           de Verbo vitæ;
  και ἡ ζωη εφανερωθη,               et vita manifestata
  και ἑωρακαμεν, και                 est, et vidimus et testamur,
  μαρτυρουμεν, και απαγγελλομεν      et adnuntiamus
  ὑμιν την                           vobis vitam æternam,
  ζωην την αιωνιον, ἡτις             quæ erat apud Patrem,
  ην προς τον πατερα,                et apparuit nobis: quod
  και εφανερωθη ἡμιν·                vidimus et audivimus,
  ὁ ἑωρακαμεν και ακηκοαμεν,         et adnuntiamus vobis,
  απαγγελλομεν                       ut et vos societatem
  ὑμιν, ἱνα και ὑμεις                habeatis nobiscum, et
  κοινωνιαν εχητε μεθ'               societas nostra sit cum
  ἡμων· και ἡ κοινωνια               Patre, et Filio eius Iesu
  δε ἡ ἡμετερα μετα του              Christo. Et hæc scripsimus
  πατρος και μετα του                vobis ut gaudium
  υιου αυτου Ιησου                   nostrum sit plenum.
  Χριστου· και ταυτα
  γραφομεν ὑμιν, ἱνα ἡ
  χαρα ὑμων ἡ πεπληρωμενη.


  That which was from                That which was from
  the beginning, which               the beginning, that
  we have heard, which               which we have heard,
  we have seen with our              that which we have
  eyes, which we have                seen with our eyes,
  looked upon, and our               that which we beheld,
  hands have handled,                and our hands handled,
  of the Word of Life;               concerning the Word
  (for the life was                  of life (and the life was
  manifested, and we                 manifested, and we
  have seen _it_, and bear           have seen, and bear
  witness, and show unto             witness, and declare
  you that eternal life,             unto you the life, the
  which was with the                 eternal _life_, which was
  Father, and was manifested         with the Father, and
  unto us;) that                     was manifested unto
  which we have seen                 us); that which we
  and heard declare we               have seen and heard
  unto you, that ye                  declare we unto you
  also may have fellowship           also, that ye also may
  with us: and truly                 have fellowship with
  our fellowship _is_ with           us: yea, and our fellowship
  the Father, and with               is with the
  his Son Jesus Christ.              Father, and with his
  And these things write             Son Jesus Christ: and
  we unto you, that your             these things we write,
  joy may be full.                   that our joy may be


  That which was ever
  from the beginning,
  that which we have
  heard, that which we
  have seen with our
  eyes, that which we
  gazed upon, and our
  hands handled--_I
  speak_ concerning the
  Word who is the
  Life--and the Life
  was manifested, and
  we have seen, and
  bear witness, and declare
  unto you the
  life, the eternal _life_,
  as being that which
  was ever with the
  Father, and was manifested
  unto us: that
  which we have seen
  and heard declare we
  unto you, that ye also
  may have fellowship
  with us: yea, and that
  fellowship, which is
  our _fellowship_, is with
  the Father and with
  His Son Jesus Christ.
  And these things write
  we unto you, that your
  joy may be fulfilled.

                             DISCOURSE I.


                 "Of the Word of Life."--1 JOHN i. 1.

In the opening verses of this Epistle we have a sentence whose ample
and prolonged prelude has but one parallel in St. John's
writings.[132] It is, as an old divine says, "prefaced and brought in
with more magnificent ceremony than any passage in Scripture."

The very emotion and enthusiasm with which it is written, and the
sublimity of the exordium as a whole, tends to make the highest sense
also the most natural sense. Of what or of whom does St. John speak in
the phrase "concerning the Word of Life," or "the Word who is the
Life"? The neuter "that which" is used for the masculine--"He
who"--according to St. John's practice of employing the neuter
comprehensively when a collective whole is to be expressed. The phrase
"from the beginning," taken by itself, might no doubt be employed to
signify the beginning of Christianity, or of the ministry of Christ.
But even viewing it as entirely isolated from its context of language
and circumstance, it has a greater claim to be looked upon as _from
eternity_ or _from the beginning of the creation_. Other
considerations are decisive in favour of the last interpretation.

(1) We have already adverted to the lofty and transcendental tone of
the whole passage, elevating as it does each clause by the
irresistible upward tendency of the whole sentence. The climax and
resting place cannot stop short of the bosom of God. (2) But again, we
must also bear in mind that the Epistle is everywhere to be read with
the Gospel before us, and the language of the Epistle to be connected
with that of the Gospel. The proœmium of the Epistle is the subjective
version of the objective historical point of view which we find at the
close of the preface to the Gospel. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt
among us;" so St. John begins his sentence in the Gospel with a
statement of an historical fact. But he proceeds, "and we delightedly
beheld His glory;" that is a statement of the personal impression
attested by his own consciousness and that of other witnesses. But let
us note carefully that in the Epistle, which is in subjective relation
to the Gospel, this process is exactly reversed. The Apostle begins
with the personal impression; pauses to affirm the reality of the many
proofs in the realm of fact of that which produced this impression
through the senses upon the conceptions and emotions of those who were
brought into contact with the Saviour; and then returns to the
subjective impression from which he had originally started. (3) Much
of the language in this passage is inconsistent with our understanding
by the Word the first announcement of the Gospel preaching. One might
of course speak of hearing the commencement of the Gospel message, due
surely not of seeing and handling it. (4) It is a noteworthy fact that
the Gospel and the Apocalypse begin with the mention of the personal
Word. This may well lead us to expect that Logos should be used in the
same sense in the proœmium of the great Epistle by the same author.

We conclude then that when St. John here speaks of the Word of Life,
he refers to something higher again than the preaching of life, and
that he has in view both the manifestation of the life which has taken
place in our humanity, and Him who is personally at once the Word and
the Life.[133] The proœmium may be thus paraphrased. "That which in
all its collective influence was from the beginning as understood by
Moses, by Solomon, and Micah;[134] which we have first and above all
heard in divinely human utterances, but which we have also seen with
these very eyes; which we gazed upon with the full and entranced sight
that delights in the object contemplated;[135] and which these hands
handled reverentially at His bidding.[136] I speak all this concerning
the Word who is also the Life."

Tracts and sheets are often printed in our day with anthologies of
texts which are supposed to contain the very essence of the Gospel.
But the sweetest scents, it is said, are not distilled exclusively
from flowers, for the flower is but an exhalation. The seeds, the
leaf, the stem, the very bark should be macerated, because they
contain the odoriferous substance in minute sacs. So the purest
Christian doctrine is distilled, not only from a few exquisite flowers
in a textual anthology, but from the whole substance, so to speak, of
the message. Now it will be observed that at the beginning of the
Epistle which accompanied the fourth Gospel, our attention is directed
not to a sentiment, but to a fact and to a Person. In the collections
of texts to which reference has been made, we should probably never
find two brief passages which may not unjustly be considered to
concentrate the essence of the scheme of salvation more nearly than
any others. "The Word was made flesh." "Concerning the Word of Life
(and that Life was once manifested, and we have seen and consequently
are witnesses and announce to you from Him who sent us that Life, that
eternal Life whose it is to have been in eternal relation with the
Father, and manifested to us); That which we have seen and heard
declare we from Him who sent us unto you, to the end that you too may
have fellowship with us."

It would be disrespectful to the theologian of the New Testament to
pass by the great dogmatic term never, so far as we are told, applied
by our Lord to Himself, but with which St. John begins each of his
three principal writings--THE WORD.[137]

Such mountains of erudition have been heaped over this term that it has
become difficult to discover the buried thought. The Apostle adopted a
word which was already in use in various quarters simply because if,
from the nature of the case necessarily inadequate,[138] it was yet more
suitable than any other. He also, as profound ancient thinkers
conceived, looked into the depths of the human mind, into the first
principles of that which is the chief distinction of man from the lower
creation--language. The human word, these thinkers taught, is twofold;
inner and outer--now as the manifestation to the mind itself of
unuttered thought, now as a part of language uttered to others. The word
as signifying unuttered thought, the mould in which it exists in the
mind, illustrates the eternal relation of the Father to the Son. The
word as signifying uttered thought illustrates the relation as conveyed
to man by the Incarnation. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only
begotten God which is in the bosom of the Father He interpreted Him."
For the theologian of the Church Jesus is thus the Word; because He had
His being from the Father in a way which presents some analogy to the
human word, which is sometimes the inner vesture, sometimes the outward
utterance of thought--sometimes the human thought in that language
without which man cannot think, sometimes the speech whereby the speaker
interprets it to others. Christ is the Word Whom out of the fulness of
His thought and being the Father has eternally inspoken and outspoken
into personal existence.[139]

One too well knows that such teaching as this runs the risk of
appearing uselessly subtle and technical, but its practical value will
appear upon reflection. Because it gives us possession of the point of
view from which St. John himself surveys, and from which he would have
the Church contemplate, the history of the life of our Lord. And
indeed for that life the theology of the Word, _i.e._, of the
Incarnation, is simply necessary.

For we must agree with M. Renan so far at least as this, that a great
life, even as the world counts greatness, is an organic whole with an
underlying vitalising idea; which must be construed as such, and
cannot be adequately rendered by a mere narration of facts. Without
this unifying principle the facts will be not only incoherent but
inconsistent. There must be a point of view from which we can embrace
the life as one. The great test here, as in art, is the formation of
a living, consistent, unmutilated whole.[140]

Thus a general point of view (if we are to use modern language easily
capable of being misunderstood we must say a theory) is wanted of the
Person, the work, the character of Christ. The synoptical Evangelists
had furnished the Church with the narrative of His earthly origin. St.
John in his Gospel and Epistle, under the guidance of the Spirit,
endowed it with the theory of His Person.

Other points of view have been adopted, from the heresies of the early
ages to the speculations of our own. All but St. John's have failed to
co-ordinate the elements of the problem. The earlier attempts essayed
to read the history upon the assumption that He was merely human or
merely divine. They tried in their weary round to unhumanise or
undeify the God-Man, to degrade the perfect Deity, to mutilate the
perfect Humanity--to present to the adoration of mankind a something
neither entirely human nor entirely divine, but an impossible mixture
of the two. The truth on these momentous subjects was fused under the
fires of controversy. The last centuries have produced theories less
subtle and metaphysical, but bolder and more blasphemous. Some have
looked upon Him as a pretender or an enthusiast. But the depth and
sobriety of His teaching upon ground where we are able to test it--the
texture of circumstantial word and work which will bear to be
inspected under any microscope or cross-examined by any
prosecutor--have almost shamed such blasphemy into respectful silence.
Others of later date admit with patronising admiration that the
martyr of Calvary is a saint of transcendent excellence. But if He who
called Himself Son of God was not much more than saint, He was
something less. Indeed He would have been something of three
characters; saint, visionary, pretender--at moments the Son of God in
His elevated devotion, at other times condescending to something of
the practice of the charlatan, His unparalleled presumption only
excused by His unparalleled success.

Now the point of view taken by St. John is the only one which is
possible or consistent--the only one which reconciles the humiliation
and the glory recorded in the Gospels, which harmonises the otherwise
insoluble contradictions that beset His Person and His work. One after
another, to the question, "what think ye of Christ?" answers are
attempted, sometimes angry, sometimes sorrowful, always confused. The
frank respectful bewilderment of the better Socinianism, the gay
brilliance of French romance, the heavy insolence of German criticism,
have woven their revolting or perplexed christologies. The Church
still points with a confidence, which only deepens as the ages pass,
to the enunciation of the theory of the Saviour's Person by St.
John--in his Gospel, "The Word was made flesh"--in his Epistle,
"concerning the Word of Life."


[132] See the noble and enthusiastic preface to the washing of the
disciples' feet (John xiii. 1, 2, 3).

[133] The phrase probably means the Logos, the Personal "Word who is
at once both the Word and the Life." For the double genitive, the
second almost appositional to the first, conf. John ii. 21, xi. 13.
This interpretation would seem to be that of Chrysostom. "If then the
Word is the Life; and if this Christ who is at once the Word and the
Life became flesh; then the Life became flesh." (_In Joan. Evang._ v.)

[134] Gen. i. 1; Prov. viii. 23; Micah v. 2.

[135] Cf. John vi. 36, 40. The word is applied by the angel to the
disciples gazing on the Ascension, Acts i. 11. The Transfiguration may
be here referred to. Such an incident as that in John vii. 37 attests
a vivid delighted remembrance of the Saviour's very attitude.

[136] Luke xxiv. 39; John xx. 27.

[137] Gospel i. 1-14; 1 John i. 1; Apoc. i. 9.

[138] "He hath a name written which _no one knoweth but He
Himself_,--and His name is called THE WORD OF GOD" (Apoc. xix. 12,
13). Gibbons' adroit italics may here be noted. "The Logos, TAUGHT in
the school of Alexandria BEFORE Christ 100--REVEALED to the Apostle
St. John, ANNO DOMINI, 97" (_Decline and Fall_, ch. xxi.). Just so
very probably--though whether St. John ever read a page of Philo or
Plato we have no means of knowing.

[139] The following table may be found useful:--

  |               THE WORD IN ST. JOHN IS OPPOSED.                   |
  |(A) To the Gnostic Word,      |    |(A) Uncreated and Eternal.    |
  |         created and temporal | as |"In the beginning was         |
  |                              |    |the Word."                    |
  |(B) To the Platonic Word,     |    |(B) Personal and Divine.      |
  |         ideal and abstract   | as |"The Word was God."           |
  |                              |    |"He"--"His."                  |
  |(C) To the Judaistic and      |    |(C) Creative and First Cause. |
  |Philonic Word--the type       |    |"All things were made         |
  |and idea of God in            | as |by Him."                      |
  |creation ...                  |    |                              |
  |(D) To the Dualistic Word--   |    |(D) Unique and Universally    |
  |limitedly and partially       |    |Creative. "Without Him        |
  |instrumental in creation.     | as |was not anything made         |
  |                              |    |that hath been made."         |
  |(E) To the Doketic Word--     | as |(E) Real and Permanent. "The  |
  |impalpable and visionary      |    |Word became flesh."           |

[140] _Vie de Jesus_, Int. 4.

                            DISCOURSE II.


              "That which we have heard."--1 JOHN i. 1.

Our argument so far has been that St. John's Gospel is dominated by a
central idea and by a theory which harmonises the great and many-sided
life which it contains, and which is repeated again at the beginning of
the Epistle in a form analogous to that in which it had been cast in the
proœmium of the Gospel--allowing for the difference between a history
and a document of a more subjective character moulded upon that history.

There is one objection to the accuracy, almost to the veracity, of a
life written from such a theory or point of view. It may disdain to be
shackled by the bondage of facts. It may become an essay in which
possibilities and speculations are mistaken for actual events, and
history is superseded by metaphysics. It may degenerate into a romance
or prose-poem; if the subject is religious, into a mystic effusion. In
the case of the fourth Gospel the cycles in which the narrative moves,
the unveiling as of the progress of a drama, are thought by some to
confirm the suspicion awakened by the point of view given in its
proœmium, and in the opening of the Epistle. The Gospel, it is said, is
_ideological_. To us it appears that those who have entered most deeply
into the spirit of St. John will most deeply feel the significance of
the two words which we place at the head of this discourse--"which we
have heard," "which we have seen with our very eyes," (which we
contemplated with entranced gaze) "which our hands have handled."

More truly than any other, St. John could say of this letter in the
words of an American poet:

      "This is not a book--It is I!"

In one so true, so simple, so profound, so oracular, there is a
special reason for this prolonged appeal to the senses, and for the
place which is assigned to each. In the fact that _hearing_ stands
first, there is a reference to one characteristic of that Gospel to
which the Epistle throughout refers. Beyond the synoptical
Evangelists, St. John records the words of Jesus. The position which
_hearing_ holds in the sentence, above and prior to _sight_ and
_handling_, indicates the reverential estimation in which the Apostle
held his Master's teaching.[141] The expression places us on solid
historical ground, because it is a moral demonstration that one like
St. John would not have dared to invent whole discourses and place
them in the lips of Jesus. Thus in the "_we have heard_" there is a
guarantee of the sincerity of the report of the discourses, which
forms so large a proportion of the narrative that it practically
guarantees the whole Gospel.

On this accusation of ideology against St. John's Gospel, let us make
a further remark founded upon the Epistle.

It is said that the Gospel systematically subordinates chronological
order and historical sequence of facts to the necessity imposed by the
theory of the Word which stands in the forefront of the Epistle and

But mystic ideology, indifference to historical veracity as compared
with adherence to a conception or theory, is absolutely inconsistent
with that strong, simple, severe appeal to the validity of the
historical principle of belief upon sufficient evidence which pervades
St. John's writings. His Gospel is a tissue woven of many lines of
evidence. "Witness" stands in almost every page of that Gospel, and
indeed is found there nearly as often as in the whole of the rest of
the New Testament. The word occurs _ten_ times in five short verses of
the Epistle.[142] There is no possibility of mistaking this prolixity
of reiteration in a writer so simple and so sincere as our Apostle.
The theologian is an historian. He has no intention of sacrificing
history to dogma, and no necessity for doing so. His theory, and that
alone, harmonises his facts. His facts have passed in the domain of
human history, and have had that evidence of witness which proves that
they did so.

A few of the stories of the earliest ages of Christianity have ever been
repeated, and rightly so, as affording the most beautiful illustrations
of St. John's character, the most simple and truthful idea of the
impression left by his character and his work. His tender love for
souls, his deathless desire to promote mutual love among his people, are
enshrined in two anecdotes which the Church has never forgotten. It has
scarcely been noticed that a tradition of not much later date (at least
as old as Tertullian, born probably about A.D. 150) credits St. John
with a stern reverence for the accuracy of historical truth, and tells
us what, in the estimation of those who were near him in time, the
Apostle thought of the lawfulness of ideological religious romance. It
was said that a presbyter of Asia Minor confessed that he was the author
of certain apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla--probably the same strange
but unquestionably very ancient document with the same title which is
still preserved. The man's motive does not seem to have been selfish.
His work was apparently the composition of an ardent and romantic nature
passionately attracted by a saint so wonderful as St. Paul.[143] The
tradition went on to assert that St. John without hesitation degraded
this clerical romance-writer from his ministry. But the offence of the
Asiatic presbyter would have been light indeed compared with that of
the mendacious Evangelist, who could have deliberately fabricated
discourses and narrated miracles which he dared to attribute to the
Incarnate Son of God. The guilt of publishing to the Church apocryphal
Acts of Paul and Thecla would have paled before the crimson sin of
forging a Gospel.

These considerations upon St. John's prolonged and circumstantial
claim to personal acquaintance with the Word made flesh, confirmed by
every avenue of communication between man and man--and first in order
by the hearing of that sweet yet awful teaching--point to the fourth
Gospel again and again. And the simple assertion--"that which we have
heard"--accounts for one characteristic of the fourth Gospel which
would otherwise be a perplexing enigma--its _dramatic_ vividness and

This dramatic truth of St. John's narrative, manifested in various
developments, deserves careful consideration. There are three notes in
the fourth Gospel which indicate either a consummate dramatic instinct
or a most faithful record. (1) The delineation of _individual
characters_. The Evangelist tells us with no unmeaning distinction,
that Jesus "knew all men, and knew what is in man!"[144] For some
persons take an apparently profound view of human nature in the
abstract. They pass for being sages so long as they confine themselves
to sounding generalizations, but they are convicted on the field of
life and experience. They claim to know what is in man; but they know
it vaguely, as one might be in possession of the outlines of a map,
yet totally ignorant of most places within its limits. Others, who
mostly affect to be keen men of the world, refrain from
generalizations; but they have an insight, which at times is
startling, into the characters of the individual men who cross their
path. There is a sense in which they superficially seem to know all
men, but their knowledge after all is capricious and limited. One
class affects to know men, but does not even affect to know man; the
other class knows something about man, but is lost in the infinite
variety of the world of real men. Our Lord knew both--both the
abstract ultimate principles of human nature and the subtle
distinctions which mark off every human character from every other. Of
this peculiar knowledge he who was brought into the most intimate
communion with the Great Teacher was made in some degree a partaker in
the course of His earthly ministry. With how few touches yet how
clearly are delineated the Baptist, Nathanael, the Samaritan woman,
the blind man, Philip, Thomas, Martha and Mary, Pilate! (2) More
particularly the _appropriateness_ and _consistency_ of the language
used by the various persons introduced in the narrative is, in the
case of a writer like St. John, a multiplied proof of historical
veracity.[145] For instance, of St. Thomas only one single sentence,
containing seven words, is preserved,[146] outside the memorable
narrative in the twentieth chapter; yet how unmistakably does that
brief sentence indicate the same character--tender, impetuous, loving,
yet ever inclined to take the darker view of things because from the
very excess of its affection it cannot believe in that which it most
desires, and demands accumulated and convincing proof of its own
happiness. (3) Further, the _language_ of our Lord which St. John
preserves is both morally and intellectually a marvellous witness to
the proof of his assertion here in the outset of his Epistle.

This may be exemplified by an illustration from modern literature.
Victor Hugo, in his _Légende des Siècles_, has in one passage only
placed in our Lord's lips a few words which are not found in the
Evangelist.[147] Every one will at once feel that these words ring
hollow, that there is in them something exaggerated and factitious--and
_that_ although the dramatist had the advantage of having a _type_ of
style already constructed for him. People talk as if the representation
in detail of a perfect character were a comparatively easy performance.
Yet every such representation shows some flaw when closely inspected.
For instance, a character in which Shakespeare so evidently delighted as
Buckingham, whose end is so noble and martyr-like, is thus described,
when on his trial, by a sympathising witness:

                   "'How did he bear himself?'
      'When he was bought again to the bar, to hear,
      His knell rung out, his judgment, he was struck
      With such an agony, he sweat extremely,
      And something spoke in choler, _ill and hasty_;
      But he fell to himself again, and sweetly
      In all the rest show'd a most noble patience.'"[148]

Our argument comes to this point. Here is one man of all but the
highest rank in dramatic genius, who utterly fails to invent even one
sentence which could possibly be taken for an utterance of our Lord.
Here is another, the most transcendent in the same order whom the
human race has ever known, who tacitly confesses the impossibility of
representing a character which shall be "one entire and perfect
chrysolite," without speck or flaw. Take yet another instance. Sir
Walter Scott appeals for "the fair licence due to the author of a
fictitious composition;" and admits that he "cannot pretend to the
observation of complete accuracy even in outward costume, much less in
the more important points of language and manners."[149] But St. John
was evidently a man of no such pretensions as these kings of the human
imagination--no Scott or Victor Hugo, much less a Shakespeare. How
then--except on the assumption of his being a faithful reporter, of
his recording words actually spoken, and witnessing incidents which he
had seen with his very eyes and contemplated with loving and admiring
reverence--can we account for his having given us long successions of
sentences, continuous discourses in which we trace a certain unity and
adaptation;[150] and a character which stands alone among all recorded
in history or conceived in fiction, by presenting to us an excellence
faultless in every detail? We assert that the one answer to this
question is boldly given us by St. John in the forefront of his
Epistle--"That which we have heard, which we have seen with our
eyes--concerning the Word who is the Life--declare we unto you."

St. John's mode of writing history may profitably be contrasted with
that of one who in his own line was a great master, as it has been
ably criticised by a distinguished statesman. Voltaire's historical
masterpiece is a portion of the life of Maria Theresa, which is
unquestionably written from a partly ideological point of view. For,
those who have patience to go back to the "sources," and to compare
Voltaire's narrative with them, will see the process by which a
literary master has produced his effect. The writer works as if he
were composing a classical tragedy restricted to the unities of time
and place. The three days of the coronation and of the successive
votes are brought into one effect, of which we are made to feel that
it is due to a magic inspiration of Maria Theresa. Yet, as the great
historical critic to whom we refer proceeds to demonstrate, a
different charm, very much more real because it comes from truth, may
be found in literal historical accuracy without this academic rouge.
Writers more conscientious than Voltaire would not have assumed that
Maria Theresa was degraded by a husband who was inferior to her. They
would not have substituted some pretty and pretentious phrases for the
genuine emotion not quite veiled under the official Latin of the
Queen. "However high a thing art may be, reality, truth, which is the
work of God, is higher!"[151] It is this conviction, this entire
intense adhesion to truth, this childlike ingenuousness which has made
St. John as an historian attain the higher region which is usually
reached by genius alone--which has given us narratives and passages
whose ideal beauty or awe is so transcendent or solemn, whose
pictorial grandeur or pathos is so inexhaustible, whose philosophical
depth is so unfathomable.[152]

He stands with spell-bound delight before his work without the
disappointment which ever attends upon men of genius; because that work
is not drawn from himself, because he can say three words--which we have
_heard_, which we have _seen_ with our eyes, which we have _gazed_ upon.


                             Ch. i. 2, 4.

Ver. 2. _Us_, _we_.] "The nominative plural first person is not always
of _majesty_ but often of _modesty_, when we share our privilege and
dignity with others" (_Grotius_). The context must decide what shade
of meaning is to be read into the text, _e.g._, here it is the we of
modesty, as also (very tenderly and beautifully) in ii. 1, 2, v. 5. It
rises into _majesty_ with the majestic, "we announce."

Ver. 4. "_These things._"] Not even the _fellowship_ with the Church
and with the Father and with the Son is so much in the Apostle's
intention here as the record in the _Gospel_.

_We write unto you._] In days when men's minds were still freshly full
of the privilege of free access to the Scriptures, these words suggested
(and they naturally enough do so still) the use of the written word, and
the guilt of the Church or of individuals in neglecting it. This has
been well expressed by an old divine. "That which is able to give us
full joy must not be deficient in anything which conduceth to our
happiness; but the holy Scriptures give fulness of joy, and therefore
the way to happiness is perfectly laid down in them. The _major_ of this
syllogism is so clear, that it needs no probation; for who can or will
deny, that full joy is only to be had in a state of bliss? The _minor_
is plain from this scripture, and may thus be drawn forth. That which
the Apostles aimed at in, may doubtless be attained to by, their
writings; for they being inspired of God, it is no other than the end
that God purposed in inspiring which they had in writing; and either God
Himself is wanting in the means which He hath designed for this end, or
these writings contain in them what will yield fulness of joy, and to
that end bring us to a state of blessedness.

"How odious is the profaneness of those Christians who neglect the holy
Scriptures, and give themselves to reading other books! How many
precious hours do many spend, and that not only on work days, but holy
days, in foolish romances, fabulous histories, lascivious poems! And why
this, but that they may be cheered and delighted, when as full joy is
only to be had in these holy books. Alas, the joy you find in those
writings is perhaps pernicious, such as tickleth your lust, and
promoteth contemplative wickedness. At the best it is but vain, such as
only pleaseth the fancy and affecteth the wit; whereas these holy
writings (to use David's expression, Psalm xix. 8), are 'right,
rejoicing the heart.' Again, are there not many who more set by
Plutarch's morals, Seneca's epistles, and suchlike books, than they do
by the holy Scriptures? It is true, there are excellent truths in those
moral writings of the heathen, but yet they are far short of these
sacred books. Those may comfort against outward trouble, but not against
inward fears; they may rejoice the mind, but cannot quiet the
conscience; they may kindle some flashy sparkles of joy, but they cannot
warm the soul with a lasting fire of solid consolation. And truly, if
ever God give you a spiritual ear to judge of things aright, you will
then acknowledge there are no bells like to those of Aaron, no harp like
to that of David, no trumpet like to that of Isaiah, no pipes like to
those of the Apostles." (_First Epistle of St. John, unfolded and
applied_ by Nathaniel Hardy, D.D., Dean of Rochester, about 1660.)


[141] The appeal to the senses of _seeing_ and _hearing_ is a trait
common to _all_ the group of St. John's writings (John i. 14, xix. 35;
1 John i. 1, 2, iv. 14; Apoc. i. 2). The true reading (καγω Ιωαννης ὁ
ακουων και βλεπων ταυτα. Apoc. xxi. 8, where _hearing_ stands before
_seeing_) is indicative of John's style.

[142] 1 John v. 6-12.

[143] That the "Acts of Paul and Thecla" are of high antiquity there
can be no rational doubt. Tertullian writes: "But if those who read
St. Paul's writings rashly use the example of Thecla, to give licence
to women to teach and baptize publicly, let them know that a presbyter
of Asia Minor, who put together that piece, crowning it with the
authority of a Pauline title, convicted by his own confession of doing
this from love of St. Paul, was deprived of his orders." (Tertullian,
_De Baptismo_, xvii.) On which St. Jerome remarks--"We therefore
relegate to the class of apocryphal writings, the περιοδος of Paul and
Thecla, and the whole fable of the baptized lion. For how could it be
that the sole real companion of the Apostle" (Luke) "while so well
acquainted with the rest of the history, should have known nothing of
this? And further, Tertullian, who touched so nearly upon those times,
records that a certain presbyter in Asia Minor, convicted before
_John_ of being the author of that book, and confessing that as a
σπουδαστης of the Apostle Paul he had done this from loving devotion
to that great memory, was deposed from his ministry." (St. Hieron.,
_de Script. Eccles._, VII.) See the mass of authority for the
antiquity of this document, which gives a considerable degree of
probability to the statement about St. John, in _Acta Apost. Apoc._,
Edit. Tischendorf.--Proleg. xxi., xxvi.

[144] John iii, 24, 25.

[145] Those who are perplexed by the identity in style and turn of
language between the Epistle and the discourse of our Lord in St.
John's Gospel may be referred to the writer's remarks in _The Speakers
Commentary_ (N. T. iv. 286-89). It should be added that the Epp. to
the Seven Churches (Apoc. ii., iii.)--especially to Sardis--interweave
sayings of Jesus recorded by the Synoptical evangelists, _e.g._, "as a
thief," Apoc. iii. 3, cf. Mark xiii. 37; "book of life," Apoc. iii. 5,
cf. Luke x. 20; "confessing a name," Apoc. iii. 5, cf. Matt. x. 32;
"He that hath an ear," Apoc. iii. 6, 13, 22, and ii. 7, 11, 17, 29.
This phrase, found in each of the seven Epp., occurs nowhere in the
fourth Gospel, but constantly in the Synoptics. Cf. Matt. x. 27, xi.
15, xiii. 19, 43; Mark iv. 9, 23, vii. 16; Luke viii. 8, xiv. 35; cf.
also "giving power over the nations," Apoc. ii. 26--with the
conception in Matt. xix. 28; Luke xxii. 29, 30. The word _repentance_
is nowhere in the fourth Gospel, nor given as part of our Lord's
teaching; but we find it Apoc. ii. 5, 16, iii. 3, 19. If the author of
the fourth Gospel was also the author of the Apocalypse, his choice of
the style which he attributes to the Saviour was at least decided by
no lack of knowledge of the Synoptical type of expression, and by no
incapacity to use it with freedom and power.

[146] John xi. 16.


         "Qui me suit, aux anges est pareil.
      Quand un homme a marché tout le jour au soleil
      Dans un chemin sans puits et sans hôtellerie,
      S'il ne croit pas quand vient le soir il pleure, il crie,
      Il est las; sur la terre il tombe haletant.
      S'il croit en moi, qu'il prie, il peut au même instant.
      Continuer sa route avec des forces triples."

                        (_Le Christ et le Tombeau._) Tom. i. 44.

[148] King Henry VIII., Act 2, Sc. 1. Contrast again our Lord before
the council with St. Paul before that tribunal. In the case of one of
the chief of saints there is the touch of human infirmity, the
"something spoken in choler, ill and hasty," the angry and
contemptuous "whited wall"--the confession of hasty inconsiderateness
(ουκ ἡδειν--ὁτι εστιν αρχιερευς) which led to a violation of a precept
of the law (Exod. xxii. 28).

[149] Preface to _Ivanhoe_.

[150] _How_ the great sayings were accurately collected has not been
the question before us in this discourse. But it presents little
difficulty. It is not absurd to suppose (if we are required to
postulate no divine assistance) that notes may have been taken in some
form by certain members of the company of disciples. The profoundly
thoughtful remark of Irenæus upon his own unfailing recollection of
early lessons from Polycarp, would apply with indefinitely greater
force to such a pupil as John, of such a teacher as Jesus. "I can
thoroughly recollect things so far back better than those which have
lately occurred; for lessons which have grown with us since boyhood
are compacted into a unity with the very soul itself." (τη ψυχη
ἑνουνται αυτη) _Euseb._, v. 29. But above all, whatever subordinate
agency may have been employed in the preservation of those precious
words, every Christian reverently acknowledges the fulfilment of the
Saviour's promise--"The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, He shall teach you
all things, and bring all things to your remembrance _whatsoever I
have said unto you_" (John xiv. 26).

[151] Duc de Broglie. _Revue des deux Mondes._ 15 Jan. 1882. Coxe,
_House of Austria_, vol. iii., chap. xcix., p. 415, sqq.

[152] John xiii. 30, xi. 35, xix. 5, xxii. 29-35.

                             SECTION II.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Και αυτη εστιν ἡ                   Et hæc est adnuntiatio
  αγγελια ἡν ακηκοαμεν               quam audivimus
  απ' αυτου, και                     ab eo, et adnuntiamus
  αναγγελλομεν ὑμιν, ὁτι             vobis, quoniam Deus
  ὁ Θεος φως εστιν, και              lux est, et tenebræ in
  σκοτια εν αυτω ουκ εστιν           eo non sunt ullæ. Si
  ουδεμια. εαν ειπωμεν               dixerimus quoniam societatem
  ὁτι κοινωνιαν εχομεν μετ'          habemus cum
  αυτου, και εν τω σκοτει            eo et in tenebris ambulamus,
  περιπατωμεν, ψευδομεθα,            mentimur, et
  και ου ποιουμεν την                non facimus veritatem:
  αληθειαν· εαν δε εν                si autem in luce ambulamus
  τω φωτι περιπατωμεν,               sicut et ipse
  ὡς αυτος εστιν εν                  est in luce, societatem
  τω φωτι, κοινωνιαν εχομεν          habemus ad invicem,
  μετ' αλληλων, και                  et sanguis Iesu Christi,
  το αιμα Ιησου του                  Filii eius, mundat nos
  υιου αυτου καθαριζει               omni peccato. Si
  ἡμας απο πασης ἁμαρτιας.           dixerimus quoniam
  Εαν ειπωμεν ὁτι                    peccatum non habemus,
  ἁμαρτιαν ουκ εχομεν,               ipsi nos seducimus,
  ἑαυτους πλανωμεν, και              et veritas in nobis
  ἡ αληθεια εν ἡμιν ουκ              non est. Si confiteamur
  εστιν. εαν ὁμολογωμεν              peccata nostra,
  τας ἁμαρτιας ἡμων,                 fidelis et justus est,
  πιστος εστι και δικαιος,           ut remittat nobis peccata
  ἱνα ἁφη ἡμιν τας                   nostra, et emundet
  ἁμαρτιας, και καθαριση             nos ab omni iniquitate.
  ἡμας απο πασης αδικιας.            Si dixerimus
  εαν ειπωμεν ὁτι ουχ                quoniam non peccavimus,
  ἡμαρτηκαμεν, ψευστην               mendacem faciemus
  ποιουμεν αυτον, και ὁ              eum, et verbum
  λογος αυτου ουκ εστιν εν           eius in nobis non est.
  ἡμιν.                              Filioli mei, hæc scribo
                                     vobis, ut non peccetis:
  Τεκνια μου, ταυτα                  sed et si quis peccaverit
  γραφω ὑμιν, ἱνα μη                 advocatum habemus
  ἁμαρτητε· και εαν τις              apud Patrem, Iesum
  ἁμαρτη, παρακλητον                 Christum iustum et
  εχομεν προς τον πατερα,            ipse est propitiatio pro
  Ιησουν Χριστον δικαιον·            peccatis nostris, non
  και αυτος ιλασμος εστι             pro nostris autem tantum
  περι των ἁμαρτιων ἡμων·            sed etiam pro
  ου περι των ἡμετερων               totius mundi.
  δε μονον, αλλα και περι
  ὁλου του κοσμου.


  This then is the message           And this is the message
  which we have                      which we have
  heard of Him, and declare          heard from Him, and
  unto you, that                     announce unto you,
  God is light, and in               that God is light, and
  Him is no darkness at              _in_ Him is _no darkness_
  all. If we say that we             at all. If we say that
  have fellowship with               we have fellowship
  Him, and walk in darkness,         with him, and walk in
  we lie, and do not                 the darkness, we lie, and
  the truth: but if we               do not the truth: but
  walk in the light, as              if we walk in the light,
  He is in the light,                as He is in the light,
  we have fellowship one             we have fellowship one
  with another, and the              with another, and the
  blood of Jesus Christ              blood of Jesus His Son
  His Son cleanseth us               cleanseth us from all
  from all sin. If we say            sin. If we say that
  that we have no sin,               we have no sin, we
  we deceive ourselves,              deceive ourselves, and
  and the truth is not in            the truth is not in us.
  us. If we confess our              If we confess our
  sins, He is faithful and           sins He is faithful and
  just to forgive us _our_           righteous to forgive us
  sins, and to cleanse us            our sins, and to cleanse
  from all unrighteousness.          us from all unrighteousness.
  If we say that                     If we say that
  we have not sinned,                we have not sinned,
  we make Him a liar,                we make Him a liar,
  and His word is not in             and His word is not in
  us. My little children,            us. My little children,
  these things write I               these things write I
  unto you, that ye sin              unto you, that ye may
  not. But if any man                not sin. And if any
  sin, we have an                    man sin, we have
  advocate with the                  an Advocate with the
  Father, Jesus Christ               Father, Jesus Christ
  the righteous: and He              the righteous: and He
  is the propitiation for            is the propitiation for
  our sins: and not for              our sins; and not for
  our's only, but also for           ours only, but also for
  _the sins of_ the whole            the whole world.


  And this is the message
  which we have
  heard from Him and
  are announcing unto
  you that God is light,
  and darkness in Him
  there is none. If we
  say that we have fellowship
  with Him and
  are walking in the
  darkness, we lie and
  are not doing the truth;
  but if we walk in the
  light as He is in the
  light we have fellowship
  one with another,
  and the blood of Jesus
  His Son is purifying
  us from all sin. If we
  say that we have not
  sin, we mislead ourselves
  and the truth
  in us is not. If we
  confess our sins He is
  faithful and righteous
  that He may forgive
  our sins and purify us
  from all unrighteousness.
  If we say that
  we have not sinned a
  liar we are making
  Him, and His word is
  not in us. My children
  these things write I
  unto you that ye may
  not sin. And yet if
  any may have sinned,
  an Advocate have we
  with the Father Jesus
  Christ _who is_ righteous:
  and He is propitiation
  for our sins; yea, and
  not for ours only but
  also for the whole

                            DISCOURSE III.

                      _EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT._

    "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin
    not. And if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
    Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins, and
    not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."--1
    JOHN ii. 1, 2.

Of the Incarnation of the Word, of the whole previous strain of solemn
oracular annunciation, there are two great objects. Rightly understood
it at once stimulates and soothes; it supplies inducements to
holiness, and yet quiets the accusing heart. (1) It urges to a
pervading holiness in each recurring circumstance of life.[153] "That
ye may not sin" is the bold universal language of the morality of God.
Men only understand moral teaching when it comes with a series of
monographs on the virtues, sobriety, chastity, and the rest.
Christianity does not overlook these, but it comes first with
all-inclusive principles. The morality of man is like the sculptor
working line by line and part by part, partially and successively. The
morality of God is like nature, and works in every part of the flower
and tree with a sort of ubiquitous presence. "These things write we
unto you." No dead letter--a living spirit infuses the lines; there is
a deathless principle behind the words which will vitalize and
permeate all isolated relations and developments of conduct. "These
things write we unto you that ye may not sin."

(2) But further, this announcement also soothes. There may be isolated
acts of sin against the whole tenor of the higher and nobler life.
There may be, God forbid!--but it may be--some glaring act of
inconsistency. In this case the Apostle uses a form of expression
which includes himself, "we have," and yet points to Christ, not to
himself, "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ"--and that
in view of His being One who is perfectly and simply righteous; "and
He is the propitiation for our sins."

Then, as if suddenly fired by a great thought, St. John's view broadens
over the whole world beyond the limits of the comparatively little group
of believers whom his words at that time could reach. The Incarnation
and Atonement have been before his soul. The Catholic Church is the
correlative of the first, humanity of the second. The Paraclete whom he
beheld is ever in relation with, ever turned towards the Father.[154]
His propitiation _is_, and He _is_ it. It _was_ not simply a fact in
history which works on with unexhaustible force. As the Advocate is ever
turned towards the Father, so the propitiation lives on with unexhausted
life. His intercession is not verbal, temporary, interrupted. The
Church, in her best days, never prayed--"Jesus, pray for me!" It is
interpretative, continuous, unbroken. In time it is eternally valid,
eternally present. In space it extends as far as human need, and
therefore takes in every place. "Not for our sins only," but for men
universally, "for the whole world."[155]

It is implied then in this passage, that Christ was _intended_ as a
propitiation for the whole world; and that He is _fitted_ for
satisfying all human wants.

(1) Christ was intended for the whole world. Let us see the Divine
intention in one incident of the crucifixion. In that are mingling lines
of glory and of humiliation. The King of humanity appears with a scarlet
camp-mantle flung contemptuously over His shoulders; but to the eye of
faith it is the purple of empire. He is crowned with the acanthus
wreath; but the wreath of mockery is the royalty of our race. He is
crucified between two thieves; but His cross is a Judgment-Throne, and
at His right hand and His left are the two separated worlds of belief
and unbelief. All the Evangelists tell us that a superscription, a title
of accusation, was written over His cross; two of them add that it was
written over Him "in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew" (or in
Hebrew, Greek, Latin). In Hebrew--the sacred tongue of patriarchs and
seers, of the nation all whose members were in idea and destination
those of whom God said, "My prophets." In Greek--the "musical and golden
tongue which gave a soul to the objects of sense and a body to the
abstractions of philosophy;" the language of a people whose mission it
was to give a principle of fermentation to all races of mankind,
susceptible of those subtle and largely indefinable influences which are
called collectively Progress. In Latin--the dialect of a people
originally the strongest of all the sons of men. The three languages
represent the three races and their ideas--revelation, art, literature;
progress, war, and jurisprudence. Beneath the title is the thorn-crowned
head of the ideal King of humanity.

Wherever these three tendencies of the human race exist, wherever
annunciation can be made in human language, wherever there is a heart
to sin, a tongue to speak, an eye to read, the cross has a message.
The superscription, "written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin," is the
historical symbol translated into its dogmatic form by St. John--"He
is the propitiation[156] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also
for the whole world."


[153] Observe in the Greek the μη ἁμαρτητε, which refers to single
acts, not to a continuous state--"that _ye may not sin_."

[154] 1 John ii. 2. As a translation, "towards" seems too pedantic;
yet προς is _ad-versus_ rather than _apud_, and with the accusative
signifies either the direction of motion, or the relation between two
objects. (Donaldson, _Greek Grammar_, 524). We may fittingly call the
preposition here προς _pictorial_.

[155] The various meanings of κοσμος are fully traced below on 1 John
ii. 17. There is one point in which the notions of κοσμος and αιων
intersect. But they may be thus distinguished. The first signifies the
world projected in _space_, the second in _time_. The supposition that
the form of expression at the close of our verse is elliptical, and to
be filled up by the repetition of "for the sins of the whole world"
"is not justified by usage, and weakens the force of the passage."
(_Epistles of St. John_, Westcott, p. 44.)

[156] As to doctrine. There are three "grand circles" or "families of
images" whereby Scripture approaches from different quarters, or surveys
from different sides, the benefits of our Lord's meritorious death.
These are represented by, are summed up in, three words--απολυτρωσις,
καταλλαγη, ιλασμος. The last is found in the text and in iv. 10; nowhere
else precisely in that form in the New Testament. "Ιλασμος (expiation or
propitiation) and απολυτρωσις (redemption) is fundamentally one single
benefit, _i.e._, the restitution of the lost sinner. Απολυτρωσις is in
respect of _enemies_; καταλλαγη in respect of _God_. And here again the
words ἱλασμ. and καταλλ. differ. _Propitiation_ takes away offences as
against _God_. _Reconciliation_ has two sides. It takes away (_a_) God's
_indignation_ against _us_, 2 Cor. v. 18, 19; (_b_) _our alienation_
from _God_, 2 Cor. v. 20." (Bengel on Rom. iii. 24. Whoever would
rightly understand all that we can know on these great words must study
_New Testament Synonyms, Archbp. Trench_, pp. 276-82.)

                            DISCOURSE IV.


                "For the whole world."--1 JOHN ii. 2.

Let us now consider the universal and ineradicable wants of man.

Such a consideration is substantially unaffected by speculation as to
the theory of man's origin. Whether the first men are to be looked for
by the banks of some icy river feebly shaping their arrowheads of
flint, or in godlike and glorious progenitors beside the streams of
Eden; whether our ancestors were the result of an inconceivably
ancient evolution, or called into existence by a creative act, or
sprung from some lower creature elevated in the fulness of time by a
majestic inspiration,--at least, as a matter of fact, man has other
and deeper wants than those of the back and stomach. Man as he is has
five spiritual instincts. _How_ they came to be there, let it be
repeated, is not the question. It is the fact of their existence, not
the mode of their _genesis_, with which we are now concerned.

(1) There is almost, if not quite, without exception the instinct
which may be generally described as the instinct of the Divine. In the
wonderful address where St. Paul so fully recognises the influence of
geographical circumstance and of climate, he speaks of God "having
made out of one blood every nation of men to seek after their Lord,
if haply at least" (as might be expected) "they would feel for
Him"[157]--like men in darkness groping towards the light. (2) There
is the instinct of prayer, the "testimony of the soul naturally
Christian." The little child at our knees meets us half way in the
first touching lessons in the science of prayer. In danger, when the
vessel seems to be sinking in a storm, it is ever as it was in the
days of Jonah, when "the mariners cried every man unto his God."[158]
(3) There is the instinct of immortality, the desire that our
conscious existence should continue beyond death.

                      "Who would lose,
      Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
      These thoughts that wander through eternity,
      To perish rather swallow'd up and lost
      In the wide womb of uncreated night?"

(4) There is the instinct of morality, call it conscience or what we
will. The lowest, most sordid, most materialised languages are never
quite without witness to this nobler instinct. Though such languages
have lien among the pots, yet their wings are as the wings of a dove
that is covered with silver wings and her feathers like gold. The most
impoverished vocabularies have words of moral judgment, "good" or
"bad;" of praise or blame, "truth and lie;" above all, those august
words which recognise a law paramount to all other laws, "I must," "I
ought." (5) There is the instinct of _sacrifice_, which, if not
absolutely universal, is at least all but so--the sense of impurity
and unworthiness, which says by the very fact of bringing a victim. "I
am not worthy to come alone; may my guilt be transferred to the
representative which I immolate."

(1) Thus then man seeks after God. Philosophy unaided does not succeed
in finding Him. The theistic systems marshal their syllogisms; they
prove, but do not convince. The pantheistic systems glitter before
man's eye; but when he grasps them in his feverish hand, and brushes
off the mystic gold dust from the moth's wings, a death's-head mocks
him. St. John has found the essence of the whole question, stripped
from it all its plausible disguises, and characterises Mahommedan and
Judaistic Deism in a few words. Nay, the philosophical deism of
Christian countries comes within the scope of his terrible
proposition. "Deo erexit Voltairius," was the philosopher's
inscription over the porch of a church; but Voltaire had not in any
true sense a God to whom he could dedicate it. For St. John tells
us--"whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father."[159]
Other words there are in his Second Epistle whose full import seems to
have been generally overlooked, but which are of solemn significance
to those who go out from the camp of Christianity with the idea of
finding a more refined morality and a more ethereal spiritualism.
"Whosoever goeth forward and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ";
whosoever writes progress on his standard, and goes forward beyond the
lines of Christ, loses natural as well as supernatural religion--"he
hath not God."[160] (2) Man wants to pray. Poor disinherited child,
what master of requests shall he find? Who shall interpret his broken
language to God, God's infinite language to him? (3) Man yearns for
the assurance of immortal life. This can best be given by one specimen
of manhood risen from the grave, one traveller come back from the
undiscovered bourne with the breath of eternity on His cheek and its
light in His eye; one like Jonah, Himself the living sign and proof
that He has been down in the great deeps. (4) Man needs a morality to
instruct and elevate conscience. Such a morality must possess these
characteristics. It must be _authoritative_, resting upon an absolute
will; its teacher must say, not "I think," or "I conclude,"
but--"verily, verily I say unto you." It must be _unmixed_ with baser
and more questionable elements. It must be _pervasive_, laying the
strong grasp of its purity on the whole domain of thought and feeling
as well as of action. It must be _exemplified_. It must present to us
a series of pictures, of object-lessons in which we may see it
illustrated. Finally, this morality must be _spiritual_. It must come
to man, not like the Jewish Talmud with its seventy thousand precepts
which few indeed can ever learn, but with a compendious and condensed,
yet all-embracing brevity--with words that are spirit and life. (5) As
man knows duty more thoroughly, the instinct of sacrifice will speak
with an ever-increasing intensity. "My heart is overwhelmed by the
infinite purity of this law. Lead me to the rock that is higher than
I; let me find God and be reconciled to Him." When the old Latin spoke
of _propitiation_ he thought of something which brought _near
(prope)_; his inner thought was--"let God come near to me, that I may
be near to God." These five ultimate spiritual wants, these five
ineradicable spiritual instincts, _He_ must meet, of whom a master of
spiritual truth like St. John can say with his plenitude of
insight--"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only,
but also for the whole world."

We shall better understand the fulness of St. John's thought if we
proceed to consider that this fitness in Christ for meeting the
spiritual wants of humanity is _exclusive_.

Three great religions of the world are more or less _Missionary_.
Hinduism, which embraces at least a hundred and ninety millions of
souls, is certainly not in any sense missionary. For Hinduism
transplanted from its ancient shrines and local superstitions dies
like a flower without roots. But Judaism at times has strung itself to
a kind of exertion almost inconsistent with its leading idea. The very
word "proselyte" attests the unnatural fervour to which it had worked
itself up in our Lord's time. The Pharisee was a missionary sent out
by pride and consecrated by self-will. "Ye compass sea and land to
make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him tenfold more the
child of hell than yourselves."[161] Bouddhism has had enormous
missionary success from one point of view. Not long ago it was said
that it outnumbered Christendom. But it is to be observed that it
finds adherents among people of only one type of thought and
character.[162] Outside these races it is and must ever be,
non-existent. We may except the fanciful perversion of a few idle
people in London, Calcutta, or Ceylon, captivated for a season or two
by "the light of Asia." We may except also a very few more remarkable
cases where the esoteric principle of Bouddhism commends itself to
certain profound thinkers stricken with the dreary disease of modern
sentiment. Mohammedanism has also, in a limited degree, proved itself
a missionary religion, not only by the sword. In British India it
counts millions of adherents, and it is still making some progress in
India. In other ages whole Christian populations (but belonging to
heretical and debased forms of Christianity) have gone over to
Mohammedanism. Let us be just to it.[163] It once elevated the pagan
Arabs. Even now it elevates the Negro above his fetisch. But it must
ever remain a religion for stationary races, with its sterile God and
its poor literality, the dead book pressing upon it with a weight of
lead. Its merits are these--it inculcates a lofty if sterile Theism;
it fulfils the pledge conveyed in the word Moslem, by inspiring a calm
if frigid resignation to destiny; it teaches the duty of prayer with a
strange impressiveness. But whole realms of thought and feeling are
crushed out by its bloody and lustful grasp. It is without purity,
without tenderness, and without humility.

Thus then we come back again with a truer insight to the exclusive
fitness of Christ to meet the wants of mankind.

Others beside the Incarnate Lord have obtained from a portion of their
fellow-men some measure of passionate enthusiasm. Each people has a
hero, call him demigod, or what we will. But such men are idolised by
one race alone, and are fashioned after its likeness. The very qualities
which procure them an apotheosis are precisely those which prove how
narrow the type is which they represent; how far they are from speaking
to all humanity. A national type is a narrow and exclusive type.

No European, unless effeminated and enfeebled, could really love an
Asiatic Messiah. But Christ is loved everywhere. No race or kindred is
exempt from the sweet contagion produced by the universal appeal of the
universal Saviour. From all languages spoken by the lips of man, hymns
of adoration are offered to Him. We read in England the Confessions of
St. Augustine. Those words still quiver with the emotions of penitence
and praise; still breathe the breath of life. Those ardent affections,
those yearnings of personal love to Christ, which filled the heart of
Augustine fifteen centuries ago, under the blue sky of Africa, touch us
even now under this grey heaven in the fierce hurry of our modern life.
But they have in them equally the possibility of touching the Shanar of
Tinnevelly, the Negro--even the Bushman, or the native of Terra del
Fuego. By a homage of such diversity and such extent we recognise a
universal Saviour for the universal wants of universal man, the fitting
propitiation for the whole world.

Towards the close of this Epistle St. John oracularly utters three
great canons of universal Christian consciousness--"we know," "we
know," "we know." Of these three canons the second is--"we know that
we are from God, and the world lieth wholly in the wicked one." "A
characteristic Johannic exaggeration"! some critic has exclaimed; yet
surely even in Christian lands where men lie outside the influences of
the Divine society, we have only to read the Police-reports to justify
the Apostle. In volumes of travels, again, in the pages of Darwin and
Baker, from missionary records in places where the earth is full of
darkness and cruel habitations, we are told of deeds of lust and blood
which almost make us blush to bear the same form with creatures so
degraded. Yet the very same missionary records bear witness that in
every race which the Gospel proclamation has reached, however low it
may be placed in the scale of the ethnologist; deep under the ruins of
the fall are the spiritual instincts, the affections which have for
their object the infinite God, and for their career the illimitable
ages. The shadow of sin is broad indeed. But in the evening light of
God's love the shadow of the cross is projected further still into the
infinite beyond. Missionary success is therefore sure, if it be slow.
The reason is given by St. John. "He is the propitiation for our sins,
and not for ours only, but for the whole world."


                          Ch. i. 5 to ii. 2.

Ver. 5. The Word, the Life, the Light, are connected in the first
chapter as in John i. 3, 4, 5. Upon earth, behind all life is light;
in the spiritual world, behind all light is life.

_Darkness._] The schoolmen well said that there is a fourfold
darkness--of nature, of ignorance, of misery, of sin. The symbol of
light applied to God must designate perfect goodness and beauty,
combined with blissful consciousness of it, and transparent luminous
clearness of wisdom.

Ver. 7. _The blood of Jesus His Son_] Sc. poured forth. This word (the
Blood) denotes more vividly and effectively than any other could do
three great realities of the Christian belief--the reality of the
Manhood of Jesus, the reality of His sufferings, the reality of His
sacrifice. It is dogma; but dogma made pictorial, pathetic, almost
passionate. It may be noted that much current thought and feeling
around us is just at the opposite extreme. It is a semi-doketism which
is manifested in two different forms. (1) Whilst it need not be
denied that there are hymns which are pervaded by an ensanguined
materialism, and which are calculated to wound reverence, as well as
taste; it is clear that much criticism on hymns and sermons, where the
"Blood of Jesus" is at all appealed to, has an ultra-refinement which
is unscriptural and rationalistic. It is out of touch with St. Paul
(Col. i. 14-20), with the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb.
ix. 14) (a passage strikingly like this verse), with St. Peter (1 Pet.
i. 19), with St. John in this Epistle, with the redeemed in heaven
(Apoc. v. 9). (2) A good deal of feeling against representations in
sacred art seems to have its origin in this sort of unconscious
semi-doketism. It appears to be thought that when representation
supersedes symbolism, Christian thought and feeling necessarily lose
everything and gain nothing. But surely it ought to be remembered that
for a being like man there are two worlds, one of ideas, the other of
facts; one of philosophy, the other of history. The one is filled with
things which are conceived, the other with things which are done. One
contents itself with a shadowy symbol, the other is not satisfied
except by a concrete representation. So we venture respectfully to
think that the image of the dead Christ is not foreign to Scripture or
Scriptural thought; simply because, _as a fact_, He died. Calvary, the
tree, the wounds, were not ideal. The crucifixion was not a symbol for
dainty and refined abstract theorists. The form of the Crucified was
not veiled by silver mists and crowned with roses. He who realises the
meaning of the "Blood of Jesus," and is _consistent_, will not be
severe upon the expression of the same thought in another form.

"Note that which Estius hath upon the blood of his Son, that in them
there is a confutation of three heresies at once: the Manichees, who
deny the truth of Christ's human nature, since, as Alexander said of his
wound, _clamat me esse hominem_, it proclaimeth me a man, we may say of
His blood, for had He not been man He could not have bled, have died;
the Ebionites, who deny Him to be God, since, being God's natural Son,
He must needs be of the same essence with Himself; and the Nestorians,
who make two persons, which, if true, the blood of Christ the man could
not have been called the blood of Christ the Son of God."

"That which I conceive here chiefly to be taken notice of is, that our
Apostle contents not himself to say the _blood of Jesus Christ_, but
he addeth _His Son_, to intimate to us how this blood became available
to our cleansing, to wit, as it was the blood not merely of the Son of
Mary, the Son of David, the Son of Man, but of Him who was also the
Son of God."

"Behold, O sinner, the exceeding love of thy Saviour, who, that He
might cleanse thee when polluted in thy blood, was pleased to shed His
own blood. Indeed, the pouring out of Christ's blood was a
super-excellent work of charity; hence it is that these two are joined
together; and when the Scripture speaketh of His love, it presently
annexeth His sufferings. We read, that when Christ wept for Lazarus,
John xi. 36, the standers by said, "See how He loved him." Surely if
His tears, much more His blood, proclaimeth His affection towards us.
The Jews were the scribes, the nails were the pens, His body the white
paper, and His blood the red ink; and the characters were love,
exceeding love, and these so fairly written that he which runs may
read them. I shut up this with that of devout Bernard, Behold and look
upon the rose of His bloody passion, how His redness bespeaketh His
flaming love, there being, as it were, a contention betwixt His
passion and affection: this, that it might be hotter; that, that it
might be redder. Nor had His sufferings been so red with blood had not
His heart been inflamed with love. Oh let us beholding magnify,
magnifying admire, and admiring praise Him for His inestimable
goodness, saying with the holy Apostle (Rev. i. 5), 'Unto Him that
loved us, and washed us from our sins in His blood, be honour and
glory for ever.'"--_Dean Hardy_ (pp. 77, 78.) Observe on this verse
its unison of thought and feeling with Apoc. i. 5, xxii. 14.[164]

Chap. ii. 1. _We have an Advocate_] literally Paraclete. One called in
to aid him whose cause is to be tried or petition considered. The word
is used only by St. John, four times in the Gospel, of the Holy
Ghost;[165] once here of Christ.

"And now, O thou drooping sinner, let me bespeak thee in St.
Austin's[166] language: Thou committest thy cause to an eloquent lawyer,
and art safe; how canst thou miscarry, when thou hast the Word to be thy
advocate? Let me put this question to thee: If, when thou sinnest, thou
hadst all the angels, saints, confessors, martyrs, in those celestial
mansions to beg thy pardon, dost thou think they would not speed? I tell
thee, one word out of Christ's mouth is more worth than all their
conjoined entreaties. When, therefore, thy daily infirmities discourage
thee, or particular falls affright thee, imagine with thyself that thou
heardst thy advocate pleading for thee in these or the like expressions:
O My loving Father, look upon the face of Thine Anointed; behold the
hands, and feet, and side of Thy crucified Christ! I had no sins of My
own for which I thus suffered; no, it was for the sins of this penitent
wretch, who in My name sued for pardon! Father, I am Thy Son, the Son of
Thy love, Thy bosom, who plead with Thee; it is for Thy child, Thy
returning penitent child, I plead. That for which I pray is no more than
what I paid for; I have merited pardon for all that come to Me! Oh let
those merits be imputed, and that pardon granted to this poor sinner!
Cheer up, then, thou disconsolate soul, Christ is an advocate for thee,
and therefore do not despair, but believe; and believing, rejoice; and
rejoicing, triumph."--_Dean Hardy_ (pp. 128, 129). In these days, when
petitions to Jesus to pray for us have crept into hymns and are creeping
into liturgies, it may be well to note that in the remains of the early
saints and in the solemn formulas of the Christian Church, Christ is not
asked to pray for us, but to hear our prayers. The Son is prayed to; the
Father is prayed to through the Son; the Son is never prayed to pray to
the Father. (See Greg. Nazianz., _Oratio_ xxx., _Theologiæ_ iv., _de
Filio_. See Thomassin, _Dogm. Theol._, lib. ix., cap. 6, Tom. iv. 220,

Ver. 2. _Not for ours only._] This large-hearted afterthought reminds
one of St. Paul's "corrective and ampliative" addition; of his
chivalrous abstinence from exclusiveness in thought or word, when
having dictated "Jesus Christ our Lord," his voice falters, and he
feels constrained to say--"both theirs, and ours" (1 Cor. i. 2).


[157] Acts xvii. 27.

[158] Jonah i. 5.

[159] 1 John ii. 28.

[160] 2 John 9.

[161] Matt. xxiii. 15.

[162] Bouddhism, it is now said, appears to be on the wane, and the
period for its disappearance is gradually approaching, according to
the Boden Professor of Sanscrit at Oxford. In his opinion this creed
is "one of rapidly increasing disintegration and decline," and "as a
form of popular religion Bouddhism is gradually losing its vitality
and hold on the vast populations once loyal to its rule." He computes
the number of Bouddhists at 100,000,000; not 400,000,000 as hitherto
estimated; and places Christianity numerically at the head of all
religions--next Confucianism, thirdly Hinduism, then Bouddhism, and
last Mohammedanism. He affirms that the capacity of Bouddhism for
resistance must give way before the "mighty forces which are destined
to sweep the earth."

[163] That modern English writers have been more than just to Mohammed
is proved overwhelmingly by the living Missionary who knows
Mohammedanism best.--_Mohammed and Mohammedans_. Dr. Koelle.

[164] The inner meaning of 1 John i. 8 exactly = ὑπακοη και ῥαντισμος
(1 Peter i. 2). It is the _obedient_ who are _sprinkled_.

[165] John xiv. 16, 26, xv. 26, xvi. 7.

[166] Aug. _in loc._

                          SECTION III. (1).

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Και εν τουτω                       Et in hoc scimus
  γινωσκομεν ὁτι εγνωκαμεν           quoniam cognovimus
  αυτον, εαν τας εντολας             eum, si mandata eius
  αυτου τηρωμεν. ὁ λεγων,            observemus. Qui dicit
  ὁτι "Εγνωκα αυτον,"                se nosse eum et mandata
  και τας εντολας αυτου              eius non custodit,
  μη τηρων, ψευστης εστιν,           mendax est, et
  και εν τουτω ἡ αληθεια             in eo veritas non est:
  ουκ εστιν· ὁς δ' αν                qui autem servat verbum
  τηρη αυτου τον λογον,              eius, vere in eo
  αληθως εν τουτω ἡ                  caritas Dei perfecta
  αγαπη του Θεου τετελειωται.        est: in hoc scimus
  εν τουτω                           quoniam in ipso sumus.
  γινωσκομεν ὁτι εν αυτω             Qui dicit se in
  εσμεν. ὁ λεγων εν                  ipso manere debet sicut
  αυτω μενειν, οφειλει,              ille ambulavit et ipse
  καθως εκεινος περιεπατησεν,        ambulare.
  και αυτος ουτως


  And hereby we do                   And _hereby know_ we
  know that we know                  that we _know_ Him, if
  Him, if we keep His                we keep His commandments.
  commandments. He                   He that
  that saith, I know Him,            saith, I know Him, and
  and keepeth not His                keepeth not His commandments
  commandments, is a                 is a liar,
  liar, and the truth is             and the truth is not in
  not in Him. But whoso              him: but whoso keepeth
  keepeth His word,                  His word, in him verily
  in him verily is the               hath the love of God
  love of God perfected:             been perfected. Hereby
  hereby know we that                know we that we
  we are in Him. He                  are in Him: he that
  that saith he abideth              saith he abideth in
  in Him ought himself               Him ought himself also
  also so to walk, even              to walk even as He
  as He walked.                      walked.


  And hereby we do
  know that we have
  knowledge of Him, if
  we observe His commandments.
  He that
  saith I have knowledge
  of Him and observeth
  not His commandments
  is a liar, and in
  this man the truth
  is not. But whoso
  observeth His word
  verily in this man the
  love of God is perfected.
  Hereby know
  we that we are in
  Him: he that saith
  he abideth in Him is
  bound, even as He
  walked, so also himself
  to be ever walking.

                             DISCOURSE V.


    "He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk
    even as He also walked."--1 JOHN ii. 6.

This verse is one of those in reading which we may easily fall into
the fallacy of mistaking _familiarity_ for knowledge.

Let us bring out its meaning with accuracy.

St. John's hatred of unreality, of lying in every form, leads him to
claim in Christians a perfect correspondence between the outward
profession and the inward life, as well as the visible manifestation
of it. "He that saith" always marks a danger to those who are
outwardly in Christian communion. It is the "take notice" of a hidden
falsity. He whose claim, possibly whose vaunt, is that he abideth in
Christ, has contracted a moral debt of far-reaching significance. St.
John seems to pause for a moment. He points to a picture in a page of
the scroll which is beside him--the picture of Christ in the Gospel
drawn by himself; not a vague magnificence, a mere harmony of colour,
but a likeness of absolute historical truth. Every pilgrim of time in
the continuous course of his daily walk, outward and inward, has by
the possession of that Gospel contracted an obligation to be walking
by the one great life-walk of the Pilgrim of eternity. The very depth
and intensity of feeling half hushes the Apostle's voice. Instead of
the beloved Name which all who love it will easily supply,[167] St.
John uses the reverential _He_, the pronoun which specially belongs to
Christ in the vocabulary of the Epistle.[168] "He that saith he
abideth in Him" is bound, even as He once walked, to be ever walking.


The importance of _example_ in the moral and spiritual life gives
emphasis to this canon of St. John.

Such an example as can be sufficient for creatures like ourselves
should be at once manifested in concrete form and susceptible of ideal

This was felt by a great but unhappily anti-christian thinker, the
exponent of a severe and lofty morality. Mr. Mill fully confesses that
there may be an elevating and an ennobling influence in a Divine ideal;
and thus justifies the apparently startling precept--"be ye therefore
perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect."[169] But he
considered that some more human model was necessary for the moral
striver. He recommends novel-readers, when they are charmed or
strengthened by some conception of pure manhood or womanhood, to carry
that conception with them into their own lives. He would have them ask
themselves in difficult positions, how that strong and lofty man, that
tender and unselfish woman, would have behaved in similar circumstances,
and so bear about with them a standard of duty at once compendious and
affecting. But to this there is one fatal objection--that such an
elaborate process of make-believe is practically impossible. A fantastic
morality, if it were possible at all, must be a feeble morality. Surely
an authentic example will be greatly more valuable.

But _example_, however precious, is made indefinitely more powerful
when it is _living_ example, example crowned by personal influence.

So far as the stain of a guilty past can be removed from those who have
contracted it; they are improvable and capable of restoration, chiefly,
perhaps almost exclusively, by personal influence in some form. When a
process of deterioration and decay has set in in any human soul, the
germ of a more wholesome growth is introduced in nearly every case, by
the transfusion and transplantation of healthier life. We test the
soundness or the putrefaction of a soul by its capacity of receiving and
assimilating this germ of restoration. A parent is in doubt whether a
son is susceptible of renovation, whether he has not become wholly evil.
He tries to bring the young man under the personal influence of a friend
of noble and sympathetic character. Has his son any capacity left for
being touched by such a character; of admiring its strength on one side,
its softness on another? When he is in contact with it, when he
perceives how pure, how self-sacrificing, how true and straight it is,
is there a glow in his face, a trembling of his voice, a moisture in his
eye, a wholesome self-humiliation? Or does he repel all this with a
sneer and a bitter gibe? Has he that evil attribute which is possessed
only by the most deeply corrupt--"they blaspheme, rail at glories"?[170]
The Chaplain of a penitentiary records that among the most degraded of
its inmates was one miserable creature. The Matron met her with
firmness, but with a good will which no hardness could break down, no
insolence overcome. One evening after prayers the Chaplain observed this
poor outcast stealthily kissing the shadow of the Matron thrown by her
candle upon the wall. He saw that the diseased nature was beginning to
be capable of assimilating new life, that the victory of wholesome
personal influence had begun. He found reason for concluding that his
judgment was well founded.

The law of restoration by living example through personal influence
pervades the whole of our human relations under God's natural and
moral government as truly as the principle of mediation. This law also
pervades the system of restoration revealed to us by Christianity. It
is one of the chief results of the Incarnation itself. It begins to
act upon us first, when the Gospels become something more to us than a
mere history, when we realise in some degree how He walked. But it is
not complete until we know that all this is not merely of the past,
but of the present; that He is not dead, but living; that we may
therefore use that little word _is_ about Christ in the lofty sense of
St. John--"even as He _is_ pure;" "in Him _is_ no sin;" "even as He
_is_ righteous;" "He _is_ the propitiation for our sins." If this is
true, as it undoubtedly is, of all good human influence personal and
living, is it not true of the Personal and living Christ in an
infinitely higher degree? If the shadow of Peter overshadowing the
sick had some strange efficacy; if handkerchiefs or aprons from the
body of Paul wrought upon the sick and possessed; what may be the
spiritual result of contact with Christ Himself? Of one of those men
specially gifted to raise struggling natures and of others like him, a
true poet lately taken from us has sung in one of his most glorious
strains. Matthew Arnold likens mankind to a host inexorably bound by
divine appointment to march over mountain and desert to the city of
God. But they become entangled in the wilderness through which they
march, split into mutinous factions, and are in danger of "battering
on the rocks" for ever in vain, of dying one by one in the waste. Then
comes the poet's appeal to the "servants of God":--

              "In the hour of need
      Of your fainting dispirited race,
      Ye like angels appear!
      Languor is not in your heart,
      Weakness is not in your word,
      Weariness not on your brow.
      Eyes rekindling, and prayers
      Follow your steps as ye go.
      Ye fill up the gaps in our file,
      Strengthen the wavering line,
      Stablish, continue our march--
      On, to the bound of the waste--
      On to the City of God."[171]

If all this be true of the personal influence of good and strong
men--true in proportion to their goodness and strength--it must be
true of the influence of the Strongest and Best with Whom we are
brought into personal relation by prayer and sacraments, and by
meditation upon the sacred record which tells us what His one
life-walk was. Strength is not wanting upon His part, for He is able
to save to the uttermost. Pity is not wanting; for to use touching
words (attributed to St. Paul in a very ancient apocryphal document),
"He alone sympathised with a world that has lost its way."[172]

Let it not be forgotten that in that of which St. John speaks lies the
true answer to an objection, formulated by the great anti-christian
writer above quoted, and constantly repeated by others. "The ideal of
Christian morality," says Mr. Mill, "is negative rather than positive;
passive rather than active; innocence rather than nobleness; abstinence
from evil, rather than energetic pursuit of good; in its precepts (as
has been well said), 'thou shalt not' predominates unduly over 'thou
shalt.'"[173] The answer is this. (1) A true religious system must have
a distinct moral code. If not, it would be justly condemned for
"expressing itself" (in the words of Mr. Mill's own accusation against
Christianity elsewhere) "in language most general, and possessing rather
the impressiveness of poetry or eloquence than the precision of
legislation." But the necessary formula of precise legislation is, "thou
shalt not"; and without this it cannot be precise. (2) But further. To
say that Christian legislation is negative, a mere string of "thou shalt
nots," is just such a superficial accusation as might be expected from a
man who should enter a church upon some rare occasion, and happen to
listen to the ten commandments, but fall asleep before he could hear the
Epistle and Gospel. The philosopher of duty, Kant, has told us that the
peculiarity of a moral principle, of any proposition which states what
duty is, is to convey the meaning of an imperative through the form of
an indicative. In his own expressive if pedantic language--"its
categorical form involves an epitactic meaning." St. John asserts that
the Christian "ought to walk even as Christ walked." To every one who
receives it, that proposition is therefore precisely equivalent to a
_command_--"walk as Christ walked." Is it a negative, passive morality,
a mere system of "thou shalt not," which contains such a precept as
that? Does not the Christian religion in virtue of this alone enforce a
great "thou shalt;" which every man who brings himself within its range
will find rising with him in the morning, following him like his shadow
all day long, and lying down with him when he goes to rest?


It should be clearly understood that in the words "even as He walked,"
the Gospel of St. John is both referred to and attested.

For surely to point with any degree of moral seriousness to an
example, _is_ to presuppose some clear knowledge and definite record
of it. No example can be beautiful or instructive when its shape is
lost in darkness. It has indeed been said by a deeply religious
writer, "that the likeness of the Christian to Christ is to His
character, not to the particular form in which it was historically
manifested." And this, of course, is in one sense a truism. But how
else except by this historical manifestation can we know the character
of Christ in any true sense of the word knowledge? For those who are
familiar with the fourth Gospel, the term "walk" was tenderly
significant. For if it was used with a reminiscence of the Old
Testament and of the language of our Lord,[174] to denote the whole
continuous activity of the life of any man inward and outward, there
was another signification which became entwined with it. St. John had
used the word historically[175] in his Gospel, not without allusion to
the Saviour's homelessness on earth, to His itinerant life of
beneficence and of teaching.[176] Those who first received this
Epistle with deepest reverence as the utterance of the Apostle whom
they loved, when they came to the precept--"walk even as He
walked"--would ask themselves _how_ did He walk? What do we know of
the great rule of life thus proposed to us? The Gospel which
accompanied this letter, and with which it was in some way closely
connected, was a sufficient and definite answer.


The character of Christ in his Gospel is thus, according to St. John,
the loftiest ideal of purity, peace, self-sacrifice, unbroken
communion with God; the inexhaustible fountain of regulated thoughts,
high aims, holy action, constant prayer.

We may advert to one aspect of this perfection as delineated in the
fourth Gospel--our Lord's way of doing small things, or at least
things which in human estimation appear to be small.

The fourth chapter of that Gospel contains a marvellous record of word
and work. Let us trace that record back to its beginning. There are
seeds of spiritual life scattered in many hearts which were destined
to yield a rich harvest in due time; there is the account of one
sensuous nature, quickened and spiritualised; there are promises which
have been for successive centuries as a river of God to weary natures.
All these results issue from three words spoken by a tired traveller,
sitting naturally over a well--"give me to drink."

We take another instance. There is one passage in St. John's Gospel
which divides with the proœmium of his Epistle, the glory of being the
loftiest, the most prolonged, the most sustained, in the Apostle's

It is the prelude of a work which might have seemed to be of little
moment. Yet all the height of a great ideal is over it, like the vault
of heaven; all the power of a Divine purpose is under it, like the
strength of the great deep; all the consciousness of His death, of His
ascension, of His coming dominion, of His Divine origin, of His session
at God's right hand--all the hoarded love in His heart for His own which
were in the world--passes by some mysterious transference into that
little incident of tenderness and of humiliation. He sets an everlasting
mark upon it, not by a basin of gold crusted with gems, nor by mixing
precious scents with the water which He poured out, nor by using linen
of the finest tissue, but by the absolute perfection of love and dutiful
humility in the spirit and in every detail of the whole action. It is
one more of those little chinks through which the whole sunshine of
heaven streams in upon those who have eyes to see.[177]

The underlying secret of this feature of our Lord's character is told
by Himself. "My meat is to be ever doing the will of Him that sent Me,
and so when the time comes by one great decisive act to finish His
work."[178] All along the course of that life-walk there were smaller
preludes to the great act which won our redemption--multitudinous
daily little perfect epitomes of love and sacrifice, without which the
crowning sacrifice would not have been what it was. The plan of our
life must, of course, be constructed on a scale as different as the
human from the Divine. Yet there is a true sense in which this lesson
of the great life may be applied to us.

The apparently small things of life must not be despised or neglected on
account of their smallness, by those who would follow the precept of St.
John. Patience and diligence in petty trades, in services called menial,
in waiting on the sick and old, in a hundred such works, all come within
the sweep of this net, with its lines that look as thin as cobwebs, and
which yet for Christian hearts are stronger than fibres of steel--"walk
even as He walked." This, too, is our only security. A French poet has
told a beautiful tale. Near a river which runs between French and German
territory, a blacksmith was at work one snowy night near Christmas time.
He was tired out, standing by his forge, and wistfully looking towards
his little home, lighted up a short quarter of a mile away, and wife and
children waiting for their festal supper, when he should return. It came
to the last piece of his work, a rivet which it was difficult to finish
properly; for it was of peculiar shape, intended by the contractor who
employed him to pin the metal work of a bridge which he was constructing
over the river. The smith was sorely tempted to fail in giving honest
work, to hurry over a job which seemed at once so troublesome and so
trifling. But some good angel whispered to the man that he should do his
best. He turned to the forge with a sigh, and never rested until the
work was as complete as his skill could make it. The poet carries us on
for a year or two. War breaks out. A squadron of the blacksmith's
countrymen is driven over the bridge in headlong flight. Men, horses,
guns, try its solidity. For a moment or two the whole weight of the mass
really hangs upon the one rivet. There are times in life when the whole
weight of the soul also hangs upon a rivet; the rivet of sobriety, of
purity, of honesty, of command of temper. Possibly we have devoted
little or no honest work to it in the years when we should have
perfected the work; and so, in the day of trial, the rivet snaps, and we
are lost.

There is one word of encouragement which should be finally spoken for
the sake of one class of God's servants.

Some are sick, weary, broken, paralysed, it may be slowly dying.
What--they sometimes ask--have we to do with this precept? Others who
have hope, elasticity, capacity of service, may walk as He walked; but
we can scarcely do so. Such persons should remember what walking in
the Christian sense is--all life's activity inward and outward. Let
them think of Christ upon His cross. He was fixed to it, nailed hand
and foot. Nailed; yet never--not when He trod upon the waves, not when
He moved upward through the air to His throne--never did He walk more
truly because He walked in the way of perfect love. It is just whilst
looking at the moveless form upon the tree that we may hear most
touchingly the great "thou shalt"--thou shalt walk even as He walked.


As there is a literal, so there is a mystical walking as Christ
walked. This is an idea which deeply pervades St. Paul's writings. Is
it His birth? We are born again. Is it His life? We walk with Him in
newness of life. Is it His death? We are crucified with Him. Is it His
burial? We are buried with Him. Is it His resurrection? We are risen
again with Him. Is it His ascension--His very session at God's right
hand? "He hath raised us up and made us sit together with Him in
heavenly places." They know nothing of St. Paul's mind who know
nothing of this image of a soul seen in the very dust of death, loved,
pardoned, quickened, elevated, crowned, throned. It was this
conception at work from the beginning in the general consciousness of
Christians which moulded round itself the order of the Christian year.

It will illustrate this idea for us if we think of the difference
between the outside and the inside of a church.

Outside on some high spire we see the light just lingering far up,
while the shadows are coldly gathering in the streets below; and we
know that it is winter. Again the evening falls warm and golden on the
churchyard, and we recognise the touch of summer. But inside it is
always God's weather; it is Christ all the year long. Now the Babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes, or circumcised with the knife of the
law, manifested to the Gentiles, or manifesting Himself with a glory
that breaks through the veil; now the Man tempted in the wilderness;
now the victim dying on the cross; now the Victor risen, ascended,
sending the Holy Spirit; now for twenty-five Sundays worshipped as the
Everlasting Word with the Father and the Holy Ghost. In this mystical
following of Christ also, the one perpetual lesson is--"he that saith
he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk even as He walked."


                            Ch. ii. 3-11.

Ver. 4. _A liar._] There are many things which the "sayer" says by the
language of his life rather than by his lips to others: many things
which he says to himself. "We lead ourselves astray" (i. 8). We "say"
I have knowledge of Him, while yet we observe not His commandments.
Strange that we can lie to the one being who knows the truth
thoroughly--_self_; and having lied, can get the lie believed,--

                          "Like one,
      Who having, unto truth, by telling of it,
      Made such a sinner of his memory,
      To credit his own lie."
                                     _Tempest_, Act I. Sc. 2.

Ver. 7. _Fresh._] There are two quite different words alike translated
new in A. V.: one of these is the word used here (καινος); the other
(νεος). The first always signifies _new_ in quality--intellectual,
ethical, spiritual _novelty_--that which is opposed to, which replaces
and supersedes, the antiquated, inferior, outworn; _new_ in the world
of thought. (Heb. viii. 13 states this with perfect precision.) It may
sometimes not inadequately be rendered _fresh_ ("youngly,"
Shakespeare, _Coriolanus_). The other term (νεος) is simply _recent_;
_new_ chronologically in the world of time.

_Which ye heard from the beginning._] Probably a recognition of St.
Paul's teaching at Ephesus, and of his Epistle to the Ephesians.

Ver. 8. To many commentators this verse seems almost of insoluble
difficulty. Surely, however, the meaning is clear enough for those who
will place themselves within the atmosphere of St. John's thought.
"Again a fresh commandment I am writing to you" [this commandment,
charity, is no unreal and therefore delusive standard of duty]. Taken
as one great whole (ὁ) it is true, matter of observable historical
fact, because it is realised in Him who gave the commandment; capable
of realisation, and even in measure realised in you. [And this can be
actually done by Christians, and recognised more and more by others],
"because the shadow is drifting by from the landscape even of the
world, and the light, the very light, enlighteneth by a new ideal and
a new example."

Ver. 10. _Scandal._] In Greek is the rendering of two Hebrew words.
(1) That against which we trip and stumble, a stumbling-block; (2) A
hook or snare.

Ver. 11. The terrible force of this truly Hebraistic parallelism
should be noted.

  1. He that hateth his brother _is_ in darkness.
  2.      "    "          "     walketh in darkness.
  3.      "    "          "     knoweth not where he goeth.
  4.      "    "          "     darkness has blinded his eyes.

The third beat of the parallelism contains an allusion to that Cain
among the nations, the Jewish people in our Lord's time. (John xii. 35.)

In illustration of the powerful expression, ("darkness has blinded his
eyes") the present writer quoted a striking passage from Professor
Drummond, who adduces a parallel for the Christian's loss of the
spiritual faculty, by the atrophy of organs which takes place in
moles, and in the fish in dark caverns. (_Speaker's Commentary, in
loc._) But as regards the mole at least, a great observer of Nature
entirely denies the alleged atrophy. Mr. Buckland quotes Dr. Lee in a
paper, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, where he says,--"the
eye of the mole presents us with an instance of an organ which is
rudimentary, not by arrest of development, but through disuse, aided
perhaps by natural selection." But Mr. Buckland asserts that "the same
great Wisdom who made the mole's teeth the most beautiful set of
insectivorous teeth among animals, also made its eye fit for the work
it has to do. The mole has been designed to prey upon earthworms; they
will not come up to the surface to him, so he must go down into the
earth to them. For this purpose his eyes are fitted." (_Life of F.
Buckland_, pp. 247, 248).


[167] "Nomen facile supplent credentes, plenum pectus habentes memoriâ

[168] Εκεινος in our Epistle belongs to Christ in every place but one
where it occurs (1 John ii. 6, iii. 3, 5, 7, 16, iv. 17; cf. John i.
18, ii. 21). It is very much equivalent to our reverent usage of
printing the pronoun which refers to Christ with a capital letter.

[169] Matt. vi. 45.

[170] δοξας βλασφημουντες (2 Peter ii. 10; Jude v. 8).

[171] _Poems by Matthew Arnold_ ("Rugby Chapel," Nov. 1857), vol. ii.,
pp. 251, 255.

[172] ὁς μονος συνεπαθησεν πλανωμενω κοσμω. _Acta Paul. et Thec._ 16,
_Acta. Apost. Apoc._ 47. Edit. Tischendorf.

[173] _On Liberty._ John Stuart Mill (chap. iii.).

[174] John viii. 12-35. For Apostolic usage of the word, see Acts i.
21; Rom. vi. 4; Ephes. ii. 10; Col. iii. 7.

[175] John vii. 1.

[176] "Ambulando docebat."--_Bretschneider_.

[177] John xiii. 1-6.

[178] Ἱνα ποιω ... και τελειωσω (John iv. 34).

                           SECTION III. (2)

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Αγαπητοι, ουκ εντολην              Carissimi non mandatum
  καινην γραφω ὑμιν, αλλ'            novum scribo
  εντολην παλαιαν ἡν                 vobis, sed mandatum
  ειχετε απ' αρχης· ἡ                vetus quod habuistis
  εντολη ἡ παλαια εστιν              ab initio: mandatum
  ὁ λογος ὁν ηκουσατε.               vetus est verbum quod
  παλιν εντολην καινην               audistis. Iterum mandatum
  γραφω ὑμιν, ὁ εστιν                novum scribo
  αληθες εν αυτω και                 vobis, quod est verum
  εν ὑμιν, ὁτι ἡ σκια                et in ipso et in vobis,
  παραγεται και το φως               quoniam tenebræ transierunt
  το αληθινον ηδη φαινει.            et lumen verum
  ὁ λεγων εν τω φωτι                 jam lucet. Qui dicit
  ειναι και τον αδελφον              se in luce esse et fratrem
  αυτου μισων εν τη                  suum odit, in
  σκοτια εστιν ἑως αρτι.             tenebris est usque
  αγαπων τον αδελφον                 adhuc. Qui diligit
  αυτου εν τω φωτι μενει.           f ratrem suum in lumine
  και σκανδαλον εν αυτω              manet, et scandalum
  ουκ εστιν. ὁ δε μισων              in eo non est: qui
  τον αδελφον αυτου εν               autem odit fratrem
  τη σκοτια εστιν και εν             suum, in tenebris est,
  τη σκοτια περιπατει, και           et in tenebris ambulat
  ουκ οιδε που ὑπαγει,               et nescit quo eat,
  ὁτι ἡ σκοτια ετυφλωσεν             quoniam tenebræ obcæcaverunt
  τους οφθαλμους αυτου.              oculos eius.


  Brethren, I write                  Beloved, no new
  no new commandment                 commandment write I
  unto you, but an old               unto you, but an old
  commandment which                  commandment which
  ye had from the beginning.         ye had from the beginning:
  The old commandment                the old commandment
  is the word                        is the word
  which ye have heard                which ye heard. Again,
  from the beginning.                a new commandment
  Again, a new commandment           write I unto you, which
  I write unto                       thing is true in Him
  you, which thing is                and in you: because
  true in Him and in                 the darkness is passing
  you: because the darkness          away, and the true
  is past, and the                   light already shineth.
  true light now shineth.            He that saith he is in
  He that saith he                   the light, and hateth
  is in the light, and               his brother, is in the
  hateth his brother, is             darkness even until
  in darkness even until             now. He that loveth
  now. He that loveth                his brother abideth in
  his brother abideth in             the light, and there is
  the light, and there is            none occasion of stumbling
  none occasion of stumbling         in him. But he
  in him. But he                     that hateth his brother
  that hateth his brother            is in the darkness, and
  is in darkness, and                walketh in the darkness,
  walketh in darkness,               and knoweth not
  and knoweth not whither            whither he goeth, because
  he goeth, because                  the darkness
  that darkness hath                 hath blinded his eyes.
  blinded his eyes.


  Beloved, no fresh
  commandment I am
  writing unto you, but
  an old commandment
  which ye had from the
  beginning. The commandment,
  the old commandment,
  is the word
  which ye heard. Again,
  a fresh commandment
  I am writing unto you,
  which thing [_as a whole_]
  is true in Him and in
  you: because the shadow
  is drifting by, and
  the light, the very _light_,
  is already enlightening.
  He that saith he is in
  the light and hateth his
  brother, in the darkness
  is he hitherto. He
  that loveth his brother
  in the light abideth he,
  and scandal in him
  there is not. But he
  that hateth his brother
  in the darkness is he,
  and in the darkness
  walketh he, and he
  knoweth not whither
  he goeth because the
  darkness hath blinded
  his eyes.

                           SECTION III. (3)

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Γραφω ὑμιν, τεκνια,                Scribo vobis, filioli,
  ὁτι αφεωνται ὑμιν αι               quoniam remittentur
  ἁμαρτιαι δια το ὁνομα              vobis, peccata propter
  αυτου. γραφω ὑμιν, πατερες,        nomen eius. Scribo
  ὁτι εγνωκατε τον                   vobis, patres, quoniam
  απ' αρχης. γραφω ὑμιν,             cognovistis eum qui
  νεανισκοι, ὁτι νενικηκατε          ab initio est. Scribo
  τον πονηρον. εγραψα                vobis, adolescentes,
  ὑμιν, παιδια, ὁτι εγνωκατε         quoniam vicistis malignum.
  τον πατερα. εγραψα                 Scribo vobis,
  ὑμιν, πατερες, ὁτι                 infantes, quia cognovistis
  εγνωκατε τον απ' αρχης.            patrem. Scripsi
  Εγραψα ὑμιν, νεανισκοι,            vobis, iuvenes quia
  ὁτι ισχυροι εστε, και              fortes estis et verbum
  ὁ λογος του Θεου εν                Dei in vobis manet et
  ὑμιν μενει, και νενικηκατε         vicistis malignum. Nolite
  τον πονηρον. μη αγαπατε            diligere mundum
  τον κοσμον, μηδε τα                ne que eaquæ in mundo
  εν τω κοσμω. εαν τις               sunt. Si quis diligit
  αγαπα τον κοσμον, ουκ              mundum, non est
  εστιν ἡ αγαπη του                  caritas Patris in eo:
  πατρος εν αυτω· ὁτι                quoniam omne quod in
  παν το εν τω κοσμω,                mundo est, concupiscentia
  ἡ επιθυμια της σαρκος              carnis est, et
  και ἡ επιθυμια των                 concupiscentia oculorum,
  οφθαλμων και ἡ αλαζονια            et superbia vitæ;
  του βιου, ουκ                      quæ non est ex Patre,
  εστιν εκ του πατρος,               sed ex mundo est. Et
  αλλα εκ του κοσμου εστιν·          mundus transibit et
  και ὁ κοσμος παραγεται             concupiscentia eius:
  και ἡ επιθυμια αυτου·              qui autem facit voluntatem
  ὁ δε ποιων το θελημα               Dei, manet in
  του Θεου μενει εις τον             eternum.


  I write unto you,                  I write unto you, my
  little children, because           little children, because
  your sins are forgiven             your sins are forgiven
  you for His name's                 you for His name's
  sake. I write unto                 sake. I write unto
  you, fathers, because              you, fathers, because
  ye have known Him                  ye know Him that is
  that is from the beginning.        from the beginning. I
  I write unto you,                  write unto you, young
  young men, because ye              men, because ye have
  have overcome the                  overcome the evil one.
  wicked one. I write                I have written unto
  unto you, little children,         you, little children, because
  because ye have                    ye know the
  known the Father. I                Father. I have written
  have written unto you,             unto you, fathers, because
  fathers, because ye                ye know Him
  have known Him that                which is from the
  is from the beginning.             beginning. I have
  I have written unto                written unto you,
  you, young men, because            young men, because ye
  ye are strong,                     are strong, and the
  and the word of God                word of God abideth
  abideth in you, and ye             in you, and ye have
  have overcome the                  overcome the evil one.
  wicked one. Love not               Love not the world,
  the world, neither the             neither the things that
  things that are in the             are in the world. If
  world. If any man                  any man love the
  love the world, the                world, the love of the
  love of the Father is              Father is not in him.
  not in him. For all                For all that is in the
  that is in the world,              world, the lust of the
  the lust of the flesh,             flesh, and the lust of
  and the lust of the                the eyes, and the vainglory
  eyes, and the pride of             of life, is not of
  life, is not of the Father,        the Father, but is of
  but is of the world.               the world. And the
  And the world passeth              world passeth away,
  away, and the lust                 and the lust thereof:
  thereof: but he that               but he that doeth the
  doeth the will of God              will of God abideth for
  abideth for ever.                  ever.


  I am writing unto
  you, children, because
  your sins are forgiven
  you for His name's
  sake. I am writing
  unto you, fathers, because
  ye have knowledge
  of Him who is
  from the beginning. I
  am writing unto you,
  young men, because
  ye are conquerors of
  the wicked one.

  I have written unto
  you, little children, because
  ye have knowledge
  of the Father. I
  have written unto you,
  fathers, because ye
  have knowledge of Him
  who is from the beginning.
  I have written
  unto you, young men,
  because ye are strong
  and the word of God
  abideth in you, and ye
  are conquerors of the
  wicked one.

  Love not the world,
  neither the things that
  are in the world. If
  any man love the world
  the love of the Father is
  not in him. For all that
  is in the world, the lust
  of the flesh and the lust
  of the eyes and the arrogancy
  of living, is not
  from the Father, but
  from the world is it.
  And the world is drifting
  by, and the lust of
  it: but he that is doing
  the will of God abideth
  for ever.

                            DISCOURSE VI.

                 _THE WORLD WHICH WE MUST NOT LOVE._

    "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If
    any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For
    all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of
    the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the
    world."--1 JOHN ii. 15, 16.

An adequate development of words so compressed and pregnant as these
would require a separate treatise, or series of treatises.[179] But if
we succeed in grasping St. John's conception of _the world_, we shall
have a key that will open to us this cabinet of spiritual thought.


In the writings of St. John the world is always found in one or other
of four senses, as may be decided by the context. (1) It means the
creation,[180] the universe. So our Lord in His High-priestly
prayer--"Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."[181] (2)
It is used for the earth _locally_ as the place where man
resides;[182] and whose soil the Son of God trod for awhile. "I am no
more in the world, but these are in the world."[183] (3) It denotes
the chief inhabitants of the earth, they to whom the counsels of God
mainly point--men universally. Such a transference is common in nearly
all languages. Both the inhabitants of a building and the material
structure which contains them, are called "a house;" and the
inhabitants are frequently bitterly blamed, while the beauty of the
structure is passionately admired. In this sense there is a
magnificent width in the word _world_. We cannot but feel indignant at
attempts to gird its grandeur within the narrow rim of a human system.
"The bread that I will give," said He who knew best, "is My flesh
which I will give for the life of the world."[184] "He is the
propitiation for the whole world," writes the Apostle at the beginning
of this chapter. In this sense, if we would imitate Christ, if we
would aspire to the Father's perfection, "love not the world" must be
tempered by that other tender oracle--"God so loved the world."[185]

In none of these senses can the world here be understood.[186]

There remains then (4) a fourth signification, which has two allied
shades of thought. World is employed to cover the whole present
existence, with its blended good and evil--susceptible of elevation by
grace, susceptible also of deeper depths of sin and ruin. But yet
again the indifferent meaning passes into one that is wholly evil,
wholly within a region of darkness. The first creation was pronounced
by God in each department "good" collectively; when crowned by God's
masterpiece in man, "very good."[187] "All things," our Apostle tells
us, "were made through Him (the Word), and without Him was not any
thing made that was made."[188] But as that was a world wholly good,
so is this a world wholly evil. This evil world is not God's creation,
drew not its origin from Him. All that is _in_ it came out _from_ it,
from nothing _higher_.[189] This wholly evil world is not the material
creation; if it were, we should be landed in dualism, or Manicheism.
It is not an entity, an actual tangible thing, a creation. It is not
of God's world that St. John cries in that last fierce word of
abhorrence which he flings at it as he sees the shadowy thing like an
evil spirit made visible in an idol's arms--"the world lieth wholly in
the evil one."[190]

This anti-world, this caricature of creation, this thing of
negations, is spun out of three abuses of the endowment of God's
glorious gift of free-will to man; out of three noble instincts
ignobly used. _First_, "the lust of the flesh"--of which flesh is the
seat, and supplies the organic medium through which it works. The
flesh is that softer part of the frame which by the network of the
nerves is intensely susceptible of pleasurable and painful sensations;
capable of heroic patient submission to the higher principles of
conscience and spirit,[191] capable also of frightful rebellion. Of
all theologians St. John is the least likely to fall into the
exaggeration of libelling the flesh as essentially evil. Is it not he
who, whether in his Gospel, or in his Epistles, delights to speak of
the _flesh_ of Jesus, to record words in which He refers to it?[192]
Still the flesh brings us into contact with all sins which are sins
that spring from, and end in, the senses. Shall we ask for a catalogue
of particulars from St. John? Nay, we cannot expect that the virgin
Apostle, who received the virgin Mother from the Virgin Lord upon the
cross, will sully his virgin pen with words so abhorred. When he has
uttered _the lust of the flesh_ his shudder is followed by an eloquent
silence. We can fill up the blank too well--drunkenness, gluttony,
thoughts and motions which spring from deliberate, wilfully cherished,
rebellious sensuality; which fill many of us with pain and fear, and
wring cries and bitter tears from penitents, and even from saints. The
_second_, abuse of free-will, the second element in this world which
is not God's world, is the desire of which the eyes are the seat--"the
lust of the eyes." To the two sins which we instinctively associate
with this phrase--voluptuousness and curiosity of the senses or the
soul--Scripture might seem to add _envy_, which derives so much of its
aliment from sight. In this lies the Christian's warning against
wilfully indulging in evil sights, bad plays, bad books, bad pictures.
He who is outwardly the spectator of these things becomes inwardly the
actor of them. The eye is, so to speak, the burning-glass of the soul;
it draws the rays from their evil brightness to a focus, and may
kindle a raging fire in the heart. Under this department comes
unregulated spiritual or intellectual curiosity. The first need not
trouble us so much as it did Christians in a more believing time.
Comparatively very few are in danger from the _planchette_ or from
astrology. But surely it is a rash thing for an ordinary mind, without
a clear call of duty, without any adequate preparation, to place its
faith within the deadly grip of some powerful adversary. People really
seem to have absolutely no conscience about reading anything--the last
philosophical Life of Christ, or the last romance; of which the titles
might be with advantage exchanged, for the philosophical history is a
light romance, and the romance is a heavy philosophy. The _third_
constituent in the evil anti-trinity of the anti-world is "the pride"
(the arrogancy, gasconade, almost swagger) "of life," of which the
lower life[193] is the seat. The thought is not so much of outward
pomp and ostentation as of that false pride which arises in the heart.
The arrogancy is within; the gasconade plays its "fantastic tricks
before high heaven." And each of these three elements (making up as
they do collectively all that is "in the world" and springing out of
the world) is not a substantive thing, not an original ingredient of
man's nature, or among the forms of God's world; it is the perversion
of an element which had a use that was noble, or at least innocent.
For first comes "the lust of the flesh." Take those two objects to
which this lust turns with a fierce and perverted passion. The
possession of flesh in itself leads man to crave for the necessary
support to his native weakness. The mutual craving for the love of
beings so like and so unlike as man and woman, if it be a weakness,
has at least a most touching and exquisite side. Again, is not a
yearning for beauty gratified through the eyes? Were they not given
for the enjoyment, for the teaching, at once high and sweet, of Nature
and of Art? Art may be a moral and spiritual discipline. The ideas of
Beauty from gifted minds by cunning hands transferred to, and stamped
upon, outward things, come from the ancient and uncreated Beauty,
whose beauty is as perfect as His truth and strength. Still further;
in the lower life, and in its lawful use, there was intended to be a
something of quiet satisfaction, a certain restfulness, at times
making us happy and triumphant. And lo! for all this, not moderate
fare and pure love, not thoughtful curiosity and the sweet pensiveness
which is the best tribute to the beautiful--not a wise humility which
makes us feel that our times are in God's hands and our means His
continual gift--but degraded senses, low art, evil literature, a pride
which is as grovelling as it is godless.

These three typical summaries of the evil tendencies in the exercise
of free-will correspond with a remarkable fulness to the two
narratives of trial which give us the compendium and general outline
of all human temptation.

Our Lord's three temptations answer to this division. The lust of the
flesh is in essence the rebellion of the lower appetites, inherent to
creaturely dependence, against the higher principle or law. The
nearest and only conceivable approach to this in the sinless Man would
be in His seeking lawful support by unlawful means--procuring food by
a miraculous exertion of power, which only would have become sinful,
or short of the highest goodness, by some condition of its exercise at
that time and in that place. An appeal to the desire for beauty and
glory, with an implied hint of using them for God's greater honour, is
the essence of the second temptation; the one possible approximation
to the "lust of the eyes" in that perfect character. The interior
deception of some touch of pride in the visible support of angels
wafting the Son of God through the air is Satan's one sinister way of
insinuating to the Saviour something akin to "the pride of life."

In the case of the other earlier typical trials it will be observed that
while the temptations fit into the same threefold framework, they are
placed in an order which exactly reverses that of St. John. For in Eden
the first approach is through "pride"; the magnificent promise of
elevation in the scale of being, of the knowledge that would win the
wonder of the spiritual world. "For God doth know that in the day ye eat
thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods,
knowing good and evil."[194] The next step is that which directs the
curiosity both of the senses and of the aspiring mind to the object
forbidden--"when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that
it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one
wise."[195] Then seems to have come some strange and sad rebellion of
the lower nature, filling their souls with shame; some bitter revelation
of the law of sin in their members; some knowledge that they were
contaminated by the "lust of the flesh."[196] The order of the
temptation in the narrative of Moses is historical; St. John's order is
moral and spiritual, answering to the facts of life. The "lust of the
flesh" which may approach the child through childish greed, grows apace.
At first it is half unconscious; then it becomes coarse and palpable. In
the man's desire acting with unregulated curiosity, through ambition of
knowledge at any price, searching out for itself books and other
instruments with deliberate desire to kindle lust, the "lust of the
eyes" ceases not its fatal influence. The crowning sin of pride with its
_selfishness_, which is self apart from God as well as from the brother,
finds its place in the "pride of life."


We may now be in a position to see more clearly against _what_ world
the Primate of early Christendom pronounced his anathema, and launched
his interdict, and why?

_What_ "world" did he denounce?

Clearly _not_ the world as the creation, the universe. Not again the
earth locally. God made and ordered all things. Why should we not love
them with a holy and a blameless love? Only we should not love them in
themselves; we should not cling to them forgetting Him. Suppose that
some husband heaped beautiful and costly presents upon his wife whom
he loved. At last with the intuition of love he begins to see what is
the secret of such cold imitation of love as that icy heart can give.
She loves _him_ not--his riches, not the man; his gifts, not the
giver. And thus loving with that frigid love which has no heart in it,
there is no true love; her heart is another's. Gifts are given that
the giver may be loved in them. If it is true that "gifts are nought
when givers prove unkind," it is also true that there is a sort of
adultery of the heart when the taker is unkind--because the gift is
valuable, not because the bestower is dear.[197] And so the world,
God's beautiful world, now becomes to us an idol. If we are so lost in
the procession of Nature, in the march of law, in the majestic growth,
in the stars above and in the plants below, that we forget the
Lawgiver, who from such humble beginnings has brought out a world of
beauty and order; if with modern poets we find content, calm,
happiness, purity, rest, simply in contemplating the glaciers, the
waves, and the stars; then we look at the world even in this sense in
a way which is a violation of St. John's rule. Yet again, the world
which is now condemned is not humanity. There is no real Christianity
in taking black views, and speaking bitter things, about the human
society to which we belong, and the human nature of which we are
partakers. No doubt Christianity believes that man "is very far gone
from original righteousness;" that there is a "corruption in the
nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of
Adam." Yet the utterers of unwholesome apophthegms, the suspecters of
their kind, are not Christian thinkers. The philosophic historian,
whose gorge rose at the doctrine of the Fall, thought much worse of
man practically than the Fathers of the Church. They bowed before
martyrdom and purity, and believed in them with a child-like faith.
For Gibbon, the martyr was not quite so true, nor the virgin quite so
pure, nor the saint quite so holy. He Who knew human nature best, Who
has thrown that terrible ray of light into the unlit gulf of the heart
when He tells us "what proceeds out of the heart of man,"[198] had yet
the ear which was the first to hear the trembling of the one chord
that yet kept healthful time and tune in the harlot's passionate
heart. He believed that man was recoverable; lost, but capable of
being found. After all, in this sense there is something worthy of
love in man. "God so _loved_" (not so _hated_) "the world, that He
gave His only begotten Son." Shall we say that _we_ are to hate the
world which He loved?

And now we come to that world which God never loved, never will love,
never will reconcile to Himself,--which we are not to love.

This is most important to see; for there is always a danger in setting
out with a stricter standard than Christ's, a narrower road than the
narrow one which leads to heaven. Experience proves that they who begin
with standards of duty which are impossibly high end with standards of
duty which are sometimes sadly low. Such men have tried the
impracticable, and failed; the practicable seems to be too hard for them
ever afterwards. They who begin by anathematising the world in things
innocent, indifferent, or even laudable, not rarely end by a reaction of
thought which believes that the world is nothing and nowhere.

But there is such a thing as the world in St. John's sense--an evil
world brought into existence by the abuse of our free-will; filled by
the anti-trinity, by "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and
the pride of life."

Let us not confuse "the world" with the earth, with the whole race of
man, with general society, with any particular set, however much some
sets are to be avoided. Look at the thing fairly. Two people, we will
say, go to London, to live there. One, from circumstances of life and
position, naturally falls into the highest social circle. Another has
introductions to a smaller set, with an apparently more serious
connection. Follow the first some evening. He drives to a great
gathering. The room which he enters is ablaze with light; jewelled
orders sparkle upon men's coats, and fair women move in exquisite
dresses. We look at the scene and we say--"what worldly society has
the man fallen into!" Perhaps so, in a sense. But about the same time
the other walks to a little room with humbler adjuncts, where a grave
and apparently serious circle meet together. We are able to look in
there also, and we exclaim--"this is serious society, unworldly
society." Perhaps so again. Yet let us read the letters of Mary
Godolphin. She bore a life unspotted by the world in the dissolute
court of Charles II., because the love of the Father was in her. In
small serious circles are there no hidden lusts which blaze up in
scandals? Is there no vanity, no pride, no hatred? In the world of
Charles II.'s court Mary Godolphin lived out of the world which God
hated; in the religious world not a few, certainly, live in the world
which is not God's. For once more, the world is not so much a
place--though at times its power seems to have been drawn into one
intense focus, as in the empire of which Rome was the centre, and
which may have been in the Apostle's thought in the following verse.
In the truest and deepest sense the world consists of our own
spiritual surrounding; it is the place which we make for our own
souls. No walls that ever were reared can shut out the world from us;
the "Nun of Kenmare" found that it followed her into the seemingly
spiritual retreat of a severe Order. The world in its essence is
subtler and thinner than the most infinitesimal of the bacterian germs
in the air. They can be strained off by the exquisite apparatus of a
man of science. At a certain height they cease to exist. But the world
may be wherever we are; we carry it with us wherever we go, it lasts
while our lives last. No consecration can utterly banish it even from
within the church's walls; it dares to be round us while we kneel, and
follows us into the presence of God.

(2) Why does God hate this "world"--the world in this sense? St. John
tells us. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in
him." Deep in every heart must be one or other of two loves. There is
no room for two master-passions. There is an expulsive power in all
true affection. What tenderness and pathos, how much of expostulation,
more potent because reserved--"the love of the Father is not in him"!
He has told all his "little ones" that he has written to them because
they "know the Father." St. John does not use sacred names at random.
Even Voltaire felt that there was something almost awful in hearing
Newton pronounce the name of God. Such in an incomparably higher
degree is the spirit of St. John. In this section he writes of "the
love of the _Father_,"[199] and of the "will of _God_."[200] The first
title has more sweetness than majesty; the second more majesty than
sweetness.[201] He would throw into his plea some of the winningness
of one who uses this as a resistless argument with a tempted but
loving child--an argument often successful when every other fails. "If
you do this, your Father will not love you; you will not be His
child." We have but to read this with the hearts of God's dear
children. Then we shall find that if the "love not" of this verse
contains "words of extirpation;"[202] it ends with others which are
intended to draw us with cords of a man, and with bands of love.


[179] After all deductions for the lack of accurate and searching
textual exegesis, perhaps Bossuet's "Traité de la concupiscence, ou
Exposition de ces Paroles de Saint Jean, 1 John ii. 15-17" (_Œuvres de
Bossuet_, Tom. vii., 380-420), remains unrivalled.

[180] The word κοσμος originally signified ornament (chiefly perhaps
of dress); figuratively it came to denote order. It was first applied
by Pythagoras to the _universe_, from the conception of the order,
which reigns in it (Plut., _de Plac. Phil._, ii. 1). From schools of
philosophy it passed into the language of poets and writers of
elevated prose. It is somewhat singular that the Romans, possibly from
Greek influence, came to apply "mundus" by the same process to _the
world_, as it had also originally signified _ornament_, especially of
female dress (See Richard Bentley against Boyle, _Opera Philol._,
347-445, and Notes, Humboldt's _Cosmos_, xiii.). In the LXX. κοσμος
does not appear as the translation of שׂלָמ its spiritual equivalent
in Hebrew; but very often in the sense of "ornament" and "order." (See
Tromm., _Concord. Gr. in LXX_., 1, 913), but it is found as _world_
several times in the Apocrypha (Wisdom vi. 26, vii. 18, ix. 3, xi. 18,
xv. 14; 2 Mac. iii. 12, vii. 9-23, viii. 18, xiii. 14).

[181] John xvii. 24.

[182] In Hebrew תֵּבֵל habitable globe; translated οικουμενη in LXX.
(see Psalm lxxxix. 11).

[183] John v. 11.

[184] John vi. 31; 1 John ii. 2.

[185] John iii. 16. It may be added that these are passages where the
_world_ as humanity generally passes into the darker meaning of that
portion of it which is actively hostile to God. John xv. 18, 19.

[186] See note on ver. 16 at the end of the next Discourse.

[187] Gen. i. 31.

[188] John i. 3.

[189] The writer does not happen to remember any commentator who has
pointed out this subtle but powerful thought, παν το εν τω κοσμω--εκ
του κοσμου εστιν (1 John ii. 16).

[190] 1 John v. 19.

[191] John xiv. 1; 1 John iv. 2, 3; 2 John 7.

[192] John vi. 51, 53-56; 1 John iv. 2, 3; 2 John 7.

[193] ἡ αλαζονια του βιου.

[194] Gen. iii. 5.

[195] Gen. iii. 6.

[196] Gen. iii. 7.

[197] S. Augustin., _Tract. in Joann. Epist._

[198] Mark vii. 21.

[199] 1 John ii. 15, 16.

[200] Ibid. ver. 17.

[201] No portion of Prof. Westcott's Commentary is more thorough or
more exquisite than his exposition here. (_Epistles of St. John_, 66.)

[202] "_Extirpantia verba._" St. August (in loc.).

                            DISCOURSE VII.


    "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth
    the will of God abideth for ever."--1 JOHN ii. 17.

The connection of the passage in which these words occur is not
difficult to trace, for those who are used to follow those "roots
below the stream," those real rather than verbal links latent in the
substance of St. John's thoughts. He addresses those whom he has in
view with a paternal authority, as his "sons" in the faith--with an
endearing variation as "little children." He reminds them of the
wisdom and strength involved in their Christian life. Theirs is the
sweetest flower of knowledge--"to know the Father." Theirs is the
grandest crown of victory--"to overcome the wicked one." But there
remains an enemy in one sense more dangerous than the evil one--the
world. By the world in this place we are to understand that element in
the material and human sphere, in the region of mingled good and evil,
which is external to God, to the influence of His Spirit, to the
boundaries of His Church--nay, which frequently passes over those
boundaries. In this sense it is, so to speak, a fictitious world, a
world of wills separated from God because dominated by self; a shadowy
caricature of creation; an anti-kosmos, which the Author of the kosmos
has not made. What has been well called "the great love not" rings
out--"love not the world." For this admonition two reasons of ever
enduring validity are given by St. John. (1) The application of the
law of human nature, that two master-passions cannot co-exist in one
man. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in
him." (2) The unsatisfactory nature of the world, its incurable
transitoriness, its "visible tendency to non-existence." "The world
passeth away, and the lust thereof."

It will be well to consider how far this thought of the transitoriness
of the world, of its drifting by in ceaseless change, is in itself
salutary and Christian, how far it needs to be supplemented and
elevated by that which follows and closes the verse.[203]


There can be no doubt, then, that up to a certain point this
conviction is a necessary element of Christian thought, feeling, and
character; that it is at least among the preliminaries of a saving
reception of Christ.

There is in the great majority of the world a surprising and almost
incredible levity. There is a disposition to believe in the permanency
of that which we have known to continue long, and which has become
habitual. There is a tale of a man who was resolved to keep from his
children the knowledge of _death_. He was the Governor of a colony,
and had lost in succession his wife and many children. Two only, mere
infants, were left. He withdrew to a beautiful and secluded island,
and tried to barricade his daughters from the fatal knowledge which,
when once acquired, darkens the spirit with anticipation. In the
ocean-island death was to be a forbidden word. If met with in the
pages of a book, and questions were asked, no answer was to be given.
If some one expired, the body was to be removed, and the children were
to be told that the departed had gone to another country. It does not
need much imagination to feel sure that the secret could not be kept;
that some fish lying on the coral reef, or some bright bird killed in
the tropic forest, gave the little ones the hint of a something that
touched the splendour of the sunset with a strange presentiment; that
some hour came when, as to the rest of us, so to them, the mute
presence would insist upon being made known. Ours is a stranger mode
of dealing with ourselves than was the father's way of dealing with
his children. We tacitly resolve to play a game of make-believe with
ourselves, to forget that which cannot be forgotten, to remove to an
incalculable distance that which is inexorably near. And the fear of
death with us does not come from the nerves, but from the will. Death
ushers us into the presence of God. Those of whom we speak hate and
fear death because they fear God, and hate His presence. Now it is
necessary for such persons as these to be awakened from their
illusion. That which is supremely important for them is to realise
that "the world" is indeed "drifting by;" that there is an emptiness
in all that is created, a vanity in all that is not eternal; that time
is short, eternity long. They must be brought to see that with the
world, the "lust thereof" (the concupiscence, the lust of it, which
has the world for its object, which belongs to it, and which the world
stimulates) passes by also. The world, which is the object of the
desire, is a phantom and a shadow; the desire itself must be therefore
the phantom of a phantom and the shadow of a shadow.

This conviction has a thousand times over led human souls to the one
true abiding centre of eternal reality. It has come in a thousand
ways. It has been said that one heard the fifth chapter of Genesis
read, with those words eight times repeated over the close of each
record of longevity, like the strokes of a funeral bell, "_and he
died_;" and that the impression never left him, until he planted his
foot upon the rock over the tide of the changing years. Sometimes this
conviction is produced by the death of friends--sometimes by the slow
discipline of life--sometimes no doubt it may be begun, sometimes
deepened, by the preacher's voice upon the watch-night, by the
effective ritualism of the tolling bell, of the silent prayer, of the
well-selected hymn. And it is right that the world's dancing in, or
drinking in, the New Year, should be a hint to Christians to pray it
in. This is one of the happy plagiarisms which the Church has made
from the world. The heart feels as it never did before the truth of
St. John's sad, calm, oracular survey of existence. "The world passeth
away, and the lust thereof."


But we have not sounded the depth of the truth--certainly we have not
exhausted St. John's meaning--until we have asked something more. Is
this conviction alone always a herald of salvation? Is it always, taken
by itself, even salutary? Can it never be exaggerated, and become the
parent of evils almost greater than those which it supersedes?

We are led by careful study of the Bible to conclude that this
sentiment of the flux of things _is_ capable of exaggeration. For
there is one important principle which arises from a comparison of the
Old Testament with the New in this matter.

It is to be noticed that the Old Testament has indefinitely more which
corresponds to the first proposition of the text, without the
qualification which follows it, than we can find in the New.

The patriarch Job's experience echoes in our ears. "Man that is born
of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He
cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a
shadow, and never continueth in one stay."[204] The Funeral Psalms
make their melancholy chant. "Behold, Thou hast made my days as it
were a span long.... Verily every man living is altogether vanity. For
man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain.... O
spare me a little that I may smile again."[205] Or we read the words
of Moses, the man of God, in that ancient psalm of his, that hymn of
time and of eternity. All that human speech can say is summed up in
four words, the truest, the deepest, the saddest and the most
expressive, that ever fell from any mortal pen. "We bring our years to
an end, as a sigh."[206] Each life is a sigh between two eternities!

Our point is, that in the New Testament there is greatly less of this
element--greatly less of this pathetic moralising upon the vanity and
fragility of human life, of which we have only cited a few
examples--and that what there is lies in a different atmosphere, with
sunnier and more cheerful surroundings. Indeed, in the whole compass
of the New Testament there is perhaps but one passage which is set
quite in the same key with our familiar declamations upon the
uncertainty and shortness of human life--where St. James desires
Christians ever to remember in all their projects to make deduction
for the will of God, "not knowing what shall be on the morrow."[207]
In the New Testament the voice, which wails for a second about the
changefulness and misery, is lost in the triumphant music by which it
is encompassed. If earthly goods are depreciated, it is not merely
because "the load of them troubles, the love of them taints, the loss
of them tortures;"[208] it is because better things are ready. There
is no lamentation over the change, no clinging to the dead past. The
tone is rather one of joyful invitation. "Your raft is going to pieces
in the troubled sea of time; step into a gallant ship. The volcanic
isle on which you stand is undermined by silent fires; we can promise
to bring you with us to a shore of safety where you shall be compassed
about with songs of deliverance."

It is no doubt true to urge that this style of thought and language is
partly to be ascribed to a desire that the attention of Christians
should be fixed on the return of their Lord, rather than upon their
own death. But, if we believe Scripture to have been written under
Divine guidance, the history of religion may supply us with good
grounds for the absence of all exaggeration from its pages in speaking
of the misery of life and the transitoriness of the world.

The largest religious experiment in the world, the history of a
religion which at one time numerically exceeded Christendom, is a
gigantic proof that it is _not_ safe to allow unlimited licence to
melancholy speculation. The true symbol for humanity is not a skull
and an hour glass.

Some two thousand five hundred years ago, towards the end of the
seventh century before Christ, at the foot of the mountains of Nepaul,
in the capital of a kingdom of Central India, an infant was born whom
the world will never forget. All gifts seemed to be showered on this
child. He was the son of a powerful king and heir to his throne. The
young Siddhârtha was of rare distinction, brave and beautiful, a
thinker and a hero, married to an amiable and fascinating princess.
But neither a great position nor domestic happiness could clear away
the cloud of melancholy which hung over Siddhârtha, even under that
lovely sky. His deep and meditative soul dwelt night and day upon the
mystery of existence. He came to the conclusion that the life of the
creature is incurably evil from three causes--from the very fact of
existence, from desire, and from ignorance. The things revealed by
sense are evil. None has that continuance and fixity which is the mark
of _Law_, and the attainment of which is the condition of happiness.
At last his resolution to leave all his splendour and become an
ascetic was irrevocably fixed. One splendid morning the prince drove
to a glorious garden. On his road he met a repulsive old man,
wrinkled, toothless, bent. Another day, a wretched being wasted with
fever crossed his path. Yet a third excursion--and a funeral passes
along the road with a corpse on an open bier, and friends wailing as
they go. His favourite attendant is obliged in each case to confess
that these evils are not exceptional--that old age, sickness, and
death, are the fatal conditions of conscious existence for all the
sons of men. Then the Prince Royal takes his first step towards
becoming the deliverer of humanity. He cries--"woe, woe to the youth
which old age must destroy, to the health which sickness must
undermine, to the life which has so few days and is so full of evil."
Hasty readers are apt to judge that the Prince was on the same track
with the Patriarch of Idumea, and with Moses the man of God in the
desert--nay, with St. John, when he writes from Ephesus that "the
world passeth away, and the lust thereof."

It may be well to reconsider this; to see what contradictory principle
lies under utterances which have so much superficial resemblance.

Siddhârtha became known as the Bouddha, the august founder of a great
and ancient religion. That religion has of later years been favourably
compared with Christianity--yet what are its necessary results, as drawn
out for us by those who have studied it most deeply? Scepticism, fanatic
hatred of life, incurable sadness in a world fearfully misunderstood;
rejection of the personality of man, of God, of the reality of Nature.
Strange enigma! The Bouddha sought to win annihilation by good works;
everlasting non-being by a life of purity, of alms, of renunciation, of
austerity. The prize of his high calling was not everlasting life, but
everlasting death; for what else is impersonality, unconsciousness,
absorption into the universe, but the negation of human existence? The
acceptance of the principles of Bouddhism is simply a sentence of death
intellectually, morally, spiritually, almost physically, passed upon the
race which submits to the melancholy bondage of its creed of desolation.
It is the opium drunkenness of the spiritual world without the dreams
that are its temporary consolation. It is enervating without being soft,
and contemplative without being profound. It is a religion which is
spiritual without recognising the soul, virtuous without the conception
of duty, moral without the admission of liberty, charitable without
love. It surveys a world without nature, and a universe without
God.[209] The human soul under its influence is not so much drunken as
asphyxiated by a monotonous unbalanced perpetual repetition of one half
of the truth--"the world passeth away, and the lust thereof."

For let us carefully note that St. John adds a qualification which
preserves the balance of truth. Over against the dreary contemplation
of the perpetual flux of things, he sets a constant course of
_doing_--over against the _world_, God in His deepest, truest
personality, "_the will of God_"--over against the fact of our having
a short time to live, and being full of misery, an everlasting
_fixity_, "_he abideth for ever_"--(so well brought out by the old
gloss which slipped into the Latin text, "even as God abideth for
ever"). As the Lord had taught before, so the disciple now teaches, of
the rocklike solidity, of the permanent abiding, under and over him
who "_doeth_." Of the devotee who became in his turn the Bouddha,
Çakhya-Mouni could not have said one word of the close of our text.
"_He_"--but human personality is lost in the triumph of knowledge.
"_Doeth the will of God_"--but God is ignored, if not denied.[210]
"_Abideth for ever_"--but that is precisely the object of his
aversion, the terror from which he wishes to be emancipated at any
price, by any self-denial.

It may be supposed that this strain of thought is of little practical
importance. It may be of use, indeed, in other lands to the missionary
who is brought into contact with forms of Bouddhism in China, India, or
Ceylon, but not to us in these countries. In truth it is not so. It is
about half a century ago since a great English theologian warned his
University that the central principle of Bouddhism was being spread far
and wide in Europe from Berlin. This propaganda is not confined to
philosophy. It is at work in literature generally, in poetry, in novels,
above all in those collections of "Pensées" which have become so
extensively popular. The unbelief of the last century advanced with
flashing epigrams and defiant songs. With Byron it softened at times
into a melancholy which was perhaps partly affected. But with Amiel, and
others of our own day, unbelief assumes a sweet and dirge-like tone. The
satanic mirth of the past unbelief is exchanged for a satanic melancholy
in the present. Many currents of thought run into our hearts, and all
are tinged with a darkness before unknown from new substances in the
soil which colours the waters. There is little fear of our not hearing
enough, great fear of our hearing too much, of the proposition--"the
world passeth away, and the lust thereof."

All this may possibly serve as some explanation for the fact that the
Christian Church, as such, has no fast for the last day of the year,
no festival for New Year's Day except one quite unconnected with the
lessons which may be drawn from the flight of time. The death of the
old year, the birth of the new year, have touching associations for
us. But the Church consecrates no death but that of Jesus and His
martyrs, no nativity but that of her Lord, and of one whose birth was
directly connected with His own--John the Baptist.[211] A cause of
this has been found in the fact that the day had become so deeply
contaminated by the abominations of the heathen _Saturnalia_ that it
was impossible in the early Church to continue any very marked
observation of it. This may well be so; but it is worth considering
whether there is not another and deeper reason. Nothing that has now
been said can be supposed to militate against the observance of this
time by Christians in private, with solemn penitence for the
transgressions of the past year, and earnest prayer for that upon
which we enter--nothing against the edification of particular
congregations by such services as those most striking ones which are
held in so many places. But some explanation is supplied why the
"Watch-night" is not recognised in the calendar of the Church.

Let us take our verse together as a whole and we have something better
than moralising over the flight of time and the transitoriness of the
world; something better than vulgarising "vanity of vanities" by vapid

It is hard to conceive a life in which death and evanescence have
nothing that enforces their recognition. Now the removal of one dear
to us, now a glance at the obituary with the name of some one of
almost the same age as ourselves, brings a sudden shadow over the
sunniest field. Yet surely it is not wholesome to encourage the
perpetual presence of the cloud. We might impose upon ourselves the
penance of being shut up all a winter's night with a corpse, go half
crazy with terror of that unearthly presence, and yet be no more
spiritual after all.[212] We must learn to look at death in a
different way, with new eyes. We all know how different dead faces
are. Some speak to us merely of material ugliness, of the sweep of
"decay's effacing fingers." In others a new idea seems to light up the
face; there is the touch of a superhuman irradiation, of a beauty from
a hidden life. We feel that we look on one who has seen Christ, and
say--"we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." These two
kinds of faces answer to the two different views of life.

Not the transitory, but the permanent; not the fleeting, but the
abiding; not death but life, is the conclusion of the whole matter.
The Christian life is not an initial spasm followed by a chronic
dyspepsia. What does St. John give us as the picture of it
exemplified in a believer? Daily, perpetual, constant doing the will
of God. This is the end far beyond--somewhat inconsistent
with--obstinately morbid meditation and surrounding ourselves with
multiplied images of mortality. Lying in a coffin half the night might
not lead to that end; nay, it might be a hindrance thereto. Beyond the
grave, outside the coffin, is the object at which we are to look. "The
current of things temporal," cries Augustine, "sweeps along. But like
a tree over that stream has risen our Lord Jesus Christ. He willed to
plant Himself as it were over the river. Are you whirled along by the
current? Lay hold of the wood. Does the love of the world roll you
onward in its course? Lay hold upon Christ. For you He became temporal
that you might become eternal. For He was so made temporal as to
remain eternal. Join thy heart to the eternity of God, and thou shalt
be eternal with Him."

Those who have heard the Miserere in the Sistine Chapel describe the
desolation which settles upon the soul which surrenders itself to the
impression of the ritual. As the psalm proceeds, at the end of each
rhythmical pulsation of thought, each beat of the alternate wings of
the parallelism, a light upon the altar is extinguished. As the wail
grows sadder the darkness grows deeper. When all the lights are out
and the last echo of the strain dies away, there would be something
suitable for the penitent's mood in the words--"the world passeth
away, and the lust thereof." Upon the altar of the Christian heart
there are tapers at first unlighted, and before it a priest in black
vestments. But one by one the vestments are exchanged for others which
are white; one after another the lamps are lighted slowly and without
noise, until gradually, we know not how, the whole place is full of
light. And ever sweeter and clearer, calm and happy, with a triumph
which is at first repressed and reverential, but which increases as
the light becomes diffused, the words are heard strong and quiet--a
plain-song now that will swell into an anthem presently--"he that
doeth the will of God abideth for ever."


                            Ch. ii. 12-17.

Ver. 12, 13, 14. These verses cannot properly be divided so as to
embrace three departments of spiritual, answering to three departments
of natural, life. All believers are addressed _authoritatively_ as
"children" in the faith, _tenderly_ as "little children;" then
subdivided into two classes only, "fathers," and "young men."
_Confirmation_ is justly found implied here.

Ver. 16. Hardy's comment is quaint, and interesting. "These three are
'all that is in the world;' they are the world's cursed trinity;
according to that of the poet,

      Ambitiosus honos, et opes, et fœda voluptas;
      Hæc tria pro trino numine mundus habet,

which wicked men adore and worship as deities; in which regard Lapide
opposeth them to the three persons in the blessed Trinity: the lust of
the eyes to the Father, who is liberal in communicating His essence to
the Son and the Spirit; the lust of the flesh to the Son, whose
generation is spiritual and eternal; the pride of life to the Holy
Ghost, who is the Spirit of humility. That golden calf, which, being
made, was set up and worshipped by the Israelites in the wilderness,
is not unfitly made use of to represent these: the calf, which is a
wanton creature, an emblem of the lust of flesh; the gold of the calf,
referring to the lust of the eyes; and the exalting it, to the pride
of life. Oh, how do the most of men fall down before this golden calf
which the world erecteth."

In tracing the various senses of "the world" we have not dwelt
prominently upon the conception of the world as embodied in the Roman
Empire, and in the city of Rome as its seat--an empire standing over
against the Church as the Kingdom of God. The αλαζονια του βιου may be
projected outwardly, and set in a material framework in the gorgeous
description of the wealth and luxury of Rome in Apoc. xviii. 11-14. M.
Rénan finds in the Apocalypse the cry of horror of a witness who has
been at Rome, seen the martyrdom of brethren, and been himself near
death. (Apoc. i. 9, vi. 9, xiii. 10, xx. 4; cf. _L'Antechrist_, pp.
197, 199. Surely Apoc. xviii. 20 adds a strong testimony to the
martyrdom of Peter and Paul at Rome.) So early a witness as Tertullian
gives the story of St. John's having been plunged into the boiling oil
without injury to him before his exile at Patmos. (_De Præscr. Hær._,
36). The Apocryphal 'Acta Iohannis' (known to Eusebius and to St.
Augustine), relates at length an interview at Rome between Domitian
and St. John--not without interest, in spite of some miraculous
embellishment. _Acta. Apost. Apoc._ Tischendorf, 266-271.


[203] παραγεται. It has been said that this is not the real point;
that what St. John here describes is not the general attribute of the
world as transitory, but its condition at the moment when the Epistle
was written, in presence of the manifestation of "the kingdom of God,
which was daily shining forth." But surely the world can scarcely be
so completely identified with the temporary framework of the Roman
Empire; and the _universality_ of the antithesis (ὁ δε ποιων κ.τ.λ.)
and its intensely _individual_ form, lead us to take κοσμος in that
universal and inclusive signification which alone is of abiding
interest to every age.

[204] Job xiv. 1, 2. Cf. x. 20-22.

[205] Such seems to be the meaning of אַבְלִינָה (Ps. xxxix. 14).

[206] Ps. xc. 9.

[207] James iv. 13-17. The passage 1 Pet. i. 25 is taken from the
magnificent prophecy in which the fragility of all flesh, transitory
as the falling away of the flowers of grass into impalpable dust, is
contrasted with the eternity of the word of God. Isa. xl. 6, 7, LXX.

[208] "Possessa onerant, amata inquinant, amissa cruciant."--_St.

[209] The view here taken of Bouddhism follows that of M. J.
Barthelemy St. Hilaire. _Le Bouddha et sa Réligion._ Prémière partie,
chap. v., pp. 141-182.

[210] "These populations neither deny nor affirm God. They simply
ignore Him. To assert that they are atheists would be very much the
same thing as to assert that they are anti-Cartesians. As they are
neither for nor against Descartes, so they are neither for nor against
God. They are just children. A child is neither atheist nor deist. He
is nothing."--Voltaire, _Dict. Phil._, Art. _Athêisme_.

[211] It is noteworthy that in the collects in the English Prayer-Book,
and indeed in its public formularies generally (outside the Funeral
Service, and that for the Visitation of the Sick), there are but two
places in which the note of the "world passeth away" is very prominently
struck, viz., the Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Easter, and one
portion of the prayer for "The Church Militant." One of the most
wholesome and beautiful expressions of the salutary convictions arising
from Christian perception of this melancholy truth is to be found in Dr.
Johnson's "Prayer for the Last Day in the Year," as given in Mr.
Stobart's _Daily Services for Christian Households_, pp. 99, 100.

[212] The old "Memento Mori" timepiece of Mary, Queen of Scots, is a
watch in the interior of a death's-head, which opens to disclose it.
Surely not a symbol likely to make any soul happier or better!

                             SECTION IV.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Παιδια, εσχατη ωρα                 Filioli, novissima
  εστιν· και καθως ηκουσατε          hora est: et sicut audistis
  ὁτι ὁ αντιχριστος                  quia antichristus
  ερχεται, και νυν αντιχριστοι       venit, nunc autem antichristi
  πολλοι γεγονασιν·                  multi facti sunt,
  ὁθεν γινωσκομεν                    unde scimus quia
  ὁτι εσχατη ὡρα εστιν.              novissima hora est.
  Εξ ἡμων εξηλθαν, αλλ'              Ex nobis prodierunt,
  ουκ ησαν εξ ἡμων. ει               sed non erant ex nobis,
  γαρ εξ ἡμων ησαν,                  nam si fuissent ex
  μεμενηκεισαν αν μεθ'               nobis, permansissent
  ἡμων· αλλ' ἱνα φανερωθωσιν         utique nobiscum; sed
  ὁτι ουκ εισιν                      ut manifesti sint quoniam
  παντες εξ ἡμων. Και                non sunt omnes
  ὑμεις χρισμα εχετε απο             ex nobis. Sed vos
  του αγιου, και οιδατε              unctionem habetis a
  παντα. ουκ εγραψα                  Sancto, et nostis omnia.
  ὑμιν, ὁτι ουκ οιδατε               Non scripsi vobis quasi
  την αληθειαν, αλλ' ὁτι             ignorantibus veritatem,
  οιδατε αυτην, και ὁτι              sed quasi scientibus
  παν ψευδος εκ της                  eam, et quoniam omne
  αληθειας ουκ εστιν. Τις            mendacium ex veritate
  εστιν ὁ ψευστης, ει                non est. Quis est mendax,
  μη ὁ αρνουμενος ὁτι                nisi qui negat
  Ιησους ουκ εστιν ὁ                 quoniam Iesus non est
  Χριστος; ουτος εστιν               Christus? Hic est
  ὁ αντιχριστος, ὁ αρνουμενος        antichristus, qui negat
  τον πατερα και                     Patrem et Filium.
  τον υιον. πας ὁ αρνουμενος         Omnis qui negat Filium
  τον υιον, ουδε                     nec Patrem habet: qui
  τον πατερα εχει. ὁ                 confitetur Filium, et
  ὁμολογων τον υιον και              Patrem habet. Vos
  τον πατερα εχει. Ὑμεις             quod audistis ab initio,
  ὁ ηκουσατε απ' αρχης,              in vobis permaneat.
  εν ὑμιν μενετω. εαν                Si in vobis permanserit
  εν ὑμιν μεινη ὁ απ'                quod ab initio audistis,
  αρχης ηκουσατε, και ὑμεις          et vos in Filio et Patre
  εν τω υιω και εν τω                manebitis. Et hæc est
  πατρι μενειτε. και αυτη            promissio quam ipse
  εστιν ἡ επαγγελια, ἡν              pollicitus est vobis,
  αυτος επηγγειλατο ἡμιν,            vitam æternam. Hæc
  την ζωην την αιωνιον.              scripsi vobis de his qui
  ταυτα εγραψα ὑμιν περι             seducunt vos. Et vos
  των πλανωντων ὑμας.                unctionem quam accepistis
  Και ὑμεις το χρισμα                ab eo, maneat in
  ὁ ελαβατε απ' αυτου,               vobis; et non necesse
  μενει εν ὑμιν, και ου              habetis ut aliquis
  χρειαν εχετε ἱνα τις               doceat vos, sed sicut
  διδασκη ὑμας· αλλ' ὡς              unctio eius docet vos
  το αυτου χρισμα διδασκει           de omnibus, et verum
  ὑμας περι παντων, και              est, et non est mendacium,
  αληθες εστιν, και ουκ              et sicut docuit
  εστιν ψευδος· και καθως            vos manete in eo. Et
  εδιδαξεν ὑμας, μενειτε             nunc, filioli, manete in
  εν αυτω. Και νυν,                  eo, ut cum apparuerit
  τεκνια, μενετε εν αυτω·            habemus fiduciam, et
  ἱνα ὁταν φανερωθη,                 non confundamur ab eo
  σχωμεν παρρησιαν, και              in adventu eius.
  μη αισχυνθωμεν απ'
  αυτου, εν τη παρουσια


  Little children, it is             Little children, it is
  the last time: and as              the last hour: and as
  ye have heard that                 ye heard that antichrist
  antichrist shall come,             cometh, even now have
  even now there are                 there arisen many
  many antichrists;                  antichrists; whereby
  whereby we know that               we know that it is the
  it is the last time.               last hour. They went
  They went out from us,             out from us, but they
  but they were not of               were not of us; for if
  us; for if they had                they had been of us,
  been of us, they would             they would have continued
  _no doubt_ have continued          with us: but
  with us: but                       _they went out_, that they
  _they went out_, that              might be made manifest
  they might be made manifest        how that they are
  that they were not                 not of us. And ye
  all of us. But ye have             have an anointing from
  an unction from the                the Holy One, and ye
  Holy One, and ye know              know all things. I
  all things. I have not             have not written unto
  written unto you because           you because ye know
  ye know not the                    not the truth, but because
  truth, but because ye              ye know it, and
  know it, and that no               because no lie is of the
  lie is of the truth.               truth. Who is the liar
  Who is a liar but he               but he that denieth
  that denieth that Jesus            that Jesus is the
  is the Christ? He is               Christ? This is the
  antichrist, that denieth           antichrist, _even_ he that
  the Father and the Son.            denieth the Father and
  Whosoever denieth the              the Son. Whosoever
  Son, the same hath not             denieth the Son, the
  the Father: [_but_]                same hath not the
  _he that acknowledgeth the         Father: he that confesseth
  Son hath the Father                the Son hath
  also_. Let that therefore          the Father also. As
  abide in you,                      for you, let that abide
  which ye have heard                in you which ye heard
  from the beginning.                from the beginning.
  If that which ye have              If that which ye heard
  heard from the beginning           from the beginning
  shall remain in                    abide in you, ye also
  you, ye also shall continue        shall abide in the Son,
  in the Son, and                    and in the Father.
  in the Father. And                 And this is the promise
  this is the promise that           which He promised us,
  He hath promised us,               _even_ the life eternal.
  _even_ eternal life.               These things have I
  These _things_ have I              written unto you concerning
  written unto you concerning        them that
  them that seduce you.              would lead you astray.
  But the anointing                  And as for you, the
  which ye have received             anointing which ye received
  of Him abideth in you,             of Him abideth
  and ye need not that               in you, and ye need
  any man teach you:                 not that any one teach
  but as the same anointing          you; but as His anointing
  teacheth you of all                teacheth you concerning
  things, and is truth,              all things, and
  and is no lie, and even            is true, and is no lie,
  as it hath taught you,             and even as it taught
  ye shall abide in Him.             you, ye abide in Him.
  And now, little children,          And now, _my_ little
  abide in Him;                      children, abide in Him;
  that, when He shall                that, if He shall be
  appear, we may have                manifested, we may
  confidence, and not be             have boldness, and not
  ashamed before Him                 be ashamed before Him
  at His coming.                     at His coming.


  Little children, it is
  a last hour; and as ye
  heard that antichrist
  cometh, so now many
  antichrists are in existence;
  whereby we
  know that it is a last
  hour. They went out
  from us, but they were
  not of us; for if they
  had been of us they
  would have continued
  with us: but that they
  might be made manifest
  how that all are not
  of us, _they all went out_.
  But ye have unction
  from the Holy One, and
  ye know all things. I
  have not written unto
  you _this_--"ye know
  not the truth"--but
  know it," and
  _this_--"every lie is not
  from the truth." Who
  is the liar but he that
  denieth that Jesus is
  the Christ? The antichrist
  is this, he that
  denieth the Father and
  the Son. Whosoever
  denieth the Son the
  same hath not the
  Father; he that confesseth
  the Son also
  hath the Father. As
  for you--that which ye
  heard from the beginning
  let it abide in you.
  If that abide in you
  which from the beginning
  ye heard, ye also
  shall abide in the Son
  and in the Father. And
  this is the promise
  which He promised us,
  the life, the eternal
  _life_. These things have
  I written unto you
  concerning those that
  would mislead you.
  And as for you--the
  anointing which ye
  received from Him
  abideth in you, and ye
  have no need that any
  be teaching you: but
  as His unction is teaching
  you continually
  concerning all things,
  and is true, and is not
  a lie, and as it taught
  you, so shall ye abide
  in Him. And now,
  children, abide in Him,
  that if He shall be
  manifested we may
  have boldness and not
  shrink in shame from
  Him in His coming.

                           DISCOURSE VIII.

                        _KNOWING ALL THINGS._

    "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all
    things."--1 JOHN ii. 20.

There is little of the form of logical argument to which Western
readers are habituated in the writings of St. John, steeped as his
mind was in Hebraic influences. The inferential "therefore" is not to
be found in this Epistle.[213] Yet the diligent reader or expositor
finds it more difficult to detach any single sentence, without loss to
the general meaning, than in any other writing of the New Testament.
The sentence may look almost as if its letters were graven brief and
large upon a block of marble, and stood out in oracular isolation--but
upon reverent study it will be found that the seemingly lapidary
inscription is one of a series with each of which it is indissolubly
connected--sometimes limited, sometimes enlarged, always coloured and
influenced by that which precedes and follows.

It is peculiarly needful to bear this observation in mind in considering
fully the almost startling principle stated in the verse which is
prefixed to this discourse. A kind of spiritual omniscience appears to
be attributed to believers. Catechisms, confessions, creeds, teachers,
preachers, seem to be superseded by a stroke of the Apostle's pen, by
what we are half tempted to consider as a magnificent exaggeration. The
text sounds as if it outstripped even the fulfilment of the promise of
the new covenant contained in Jeremiah's prophecy--"they shall teach no
more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know
the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the
greatest of them."[214]

The passages just before and after St. John's splendid
annunciation[215] in our text are occupied with the subject of
Antichrist, here first mentioned in Scripture. In this section of our
Epistle Antichrist is (1) _revealed_, and (2) _refuted_.

(1) Antichrist is revealed by the very crisis which the Church was then
traversing. From this especially, from the transitory character of a
world drifting by them in unceasing mutation, the Apostle is led to
consider this as one of those crisis-hours of the Church's history, each
of which may be _the_ last hour, and which is assuredly--in the language
of primitive Christianity--_a_ last hour. The Apostle therefore exclaims
with fatherly affection--"Little children, it is a last hour."[216]

Deep in the heart of the Apostolic Church, because it came from those
who had received it from Christ, there was one awful anticipation. St.
John in this passage gives it a name. He remembers Who had told the Jews
that "if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."[217]
He can announce to them that "as ye have heard this Antichrist cometh,
even so now" (precisely as ye have heard) "many antichrists have come
into existence and are around you, whereby we know that it is a last
hour." The _name_ Antichrist occurs only in these Epistles, and seems
purposely intended to denote both one who occupies the place of Christ,
and one who is against Christ. In "the Antichrist" the antichristian
principle is personally concentrated. The conception of
representative-men is one which has become familiar to modern students
of the philosophy of history. Such representative-men, at once the
products of the past, moulders of the present, and creative of the
future, sum up in themselves tendencies and principles good and evil,
and project them in a form equally compacted and intensified into the
coming generations. Shadows and anticipations of Antichrist the holiest
of the Church's sons have sometimes seen, even in the high places of the
Church. But it is evident that as yet the Antichrist has not come. For
wherever St. John mentions this fearful impersonation of evil, he
connects the manifestation of his influence with absolute denial of the
true Manhood, of the Messiahship, of the everlasting sonship of Jesus,
of the Father, Who is His and our Father.[218] In negation of the
Personality of God, in the substitution of a glittering but unreal idea
of human goodness and active philanthropy for the historical Christ, we
of this age may not improbably hear his advancing footsteps, and foresee
the advent of a day when antichristianity shall find its great

(2) Antichrist is also refuted by a principle common to the life of
Christians and by its result.

The principle by which he is refuted is a gift of insight lodged in
the Church at large, and partaken of by all faithful souls.

A hint of a solemn crisis had been conveyed to the Christians of Asia
Minor by secessions from the great Christian community. "They went out
from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they
would have continued with us (which they did not, but went out) that
they might be made manifest that not all are of us."[219] Not only
this. "Yea further, ye yourselves have a hallowing oil from Him who is
hallowed, a chrism from the Christ, an unction from the Holy One,
even from the Son of God." Chrism (as we are reminded by the most
accurate of scholars) is always the _material_ with which anointing is
performed, never the _act_ of anointing; it points to the unction of
prophets, priests and kings under the Old Testament, in whose
sacrifices and mystic language oil symbolises the Holy Spirit as the
spirit of joy and freedom. Quite possibly there may be some allusion
to a literal use of oil in Baptism and Confirmation, which began at a
very early period;[220] though it is equally possible that the
material may have arisen from the spiritual, and not in the reverse
order. But beyond all question the real predominant reference is to
the Holy Ghost. In the chrism here mentioned there is a feature
characteristic of St. John's style. For there is first a faint
prelusive note which (as we find in several other important
subjects[221]) is faintly struck and seems to die away, but is
afterwards taken up, and more fully brought out. The full distinct
mention of the Holy Spirit comes like a burst of the music of the
"Veni Creator," carrying on the fainter prelude when it might seem to
have been almost lost. The first reverential, almost timid hint, is
succeeded by another, brief but significant--almost dogmatically
expressive of the relation of the Holy Spirit to Christ as _His_
Chrism, "the Chrism of Him."[222] We shall presently have a direct
mention of the Holy Ghost. "Hereby we know that He abideth in us,
from the Spirit which He gave us."[223]

Antichrist is refuted by a result of this great principle of the life
of the Holy Spirit in the living Church. "Ye have" chrism from the
Christ; Antichrist shall not lay his unhallowing disanointing hand
upon you. As a result of this, "ye know all things."[224]

How are we to understand this startling expression?

If we receive any teachers as messengers commissioned by God, it is
evident that their message must be communicated to us through the
medium of human language. They come to us with minds that have been in
contact with a _Mind_ of infinite knowledge, and deliver utterances of
universal import. They are therefore under an obligation to use
language which is capable of being misunderstood by some persons. Our
Lord and His Apostles so spoke at times. Two very different classes of
men constantly misinterpret words like those of our text. The
rationalist does so with a sinister smile; the fanatic with a cry of
hysterical triumph. The first may point his epigram with effective
reference to the exaggerated promise which is belied by the ignorance
of so many ardent believers; the second may advance his absurd claim
to personal infallibility in all things spiritual. Yet an Apostle
calmly says--"ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all
things." This, however, is but another asterisk directing the eye to
the Master's promise in the Gospel, which is at once the warrant and
the explanation of the utterance here. "The Holy Ghost, whom the
Father will send in My name, He shall _teach you all things_, and
bring all things to your remembrance, _whatsoever I have said unto
you_."[225] The express limitation of the Saviour's promise is the
implied limitation of St. John's statement. "The Holy Ghost has been
sent, according to this unfailing pledge. He teaches you (and, if He
teaches, you know) all things which Christ has said, as far as their
substance is written down in a true record--all things of the new
creation spoken by our Lord, preserved by the help of the Spirit in
the memories of chosen witnesses with unfading freshness, by the same
Spirit unfolded and interpreted to you."

We should observe in what spirit and to whom St. John speaks.

He does not speak in the strain which would be adopted by a missionary
in addressing men lately brought out of heathenism into the fold of
Christ. He does not like a modern preacher or tract-writer at once
divide his observations into two parts, one for the converted, one for
the unconverted; all are his "dear ones" as beloved, his "sons" as
brought into close spiritual relationship with himself. He classes
them simply as young and old, with their respective graces of strength
and knowledge. All are looked upon as "abiding"; almost the one
exhortation is to abide unto the end in a condition upon which all
have already entered, and in which some have long continued. We feel
throughout the calmness and assurance of a spiritual teacher writing
to Christian men who had either been born in the atmosphere of
Christian tradition, or had lived in it for many years. They are again
and again appealed to on the ground of a common Christian
confidence--"we know." They have all the articles of the Christian
creed, the great inheritance of a faithful summary of the words and
works of Christ. The Gospel which Paul at first preached in Asia Minor
was the starting point of the truth which remained among them,
illustrated, expanded, applied, but absolutely unaltered.[226] What
the Christians whom St. John has in view really want is the revival of
familiar truths, not the impartation of new. No spiritual voyage or
discovery is needed; they have only to explore well-known regions. The
memory and the affections must be stimulated. The truths which have
become "cramped and bed-ridden" in the dormitory of the soul must
acquire elasticity from exercise. The accumulation of ashes must be
blown away, and the spark of fire beneath fanned into flame. This
capacity of revival, of expansion, of quickened life, of developed
truth, is in the unction common to the faithful, in the latent
possibilities of the new birth. The same verse to which we have before
referred as the best interpreter of this should be consulted
again.[227] There is an instructive distinction between the
tenses--"as His unction _is teaching_"--"as it _taught_ you."[228] The
teaching was once for all, the creed definite and fixed, the body of
truth a sum-total looked upon as one. "The unction _taught_." Once for
all the Holy Spirit made known the Incarnation and stamped the
recorded words of Christ with His seal. But there are depths of
thought about His person which need to be reverently explored. There
is an energy in His work which was not exhausted in the few years of
its doing, and which is not imprisoned within the brief chronicle in
which it is written. There is a spirit and a life in His words. In one
aspect they have the strength of the tornado, which advances in a
narrow line; but every foot of the column, as if armed with a tooth of
steel, grinds and cuts into pieces all which resists it. Those words
have also depths of tenderness, depths of wisdom, into which eighteen
centuries have looked down and never yet seen the last of their
meaning. Advancing time does but broaden the interpretation of the
wisdom and the sympathy of those words. Applications of their
significance are being discovered by Christian souls in forms as new
and manifold as the claims of human need. The Church collectively is
like one sanctified mind meditating incessantly upon the Incarnation;
attaining more and more to an understanding of that character as it
widens in a circle of glory round the form of its historical
manifestation--considering how those words may be applied not only to
self but to humanity. The new wants of each successive generation
bring new help out of that inexhaustible store. The Church may have
"decided opinions"; but she has not the "deep slumber" which is said
to accompany them. How can _she_ be fast asleep who is ever learning
from a teacher Who is always supplying her with fresh and varied
lessons? The Church must be ever learning, because the anointing
which "taught" once for all is also ever "teaching."

This profound saying is therefore chiefly true of Christians as a
whole. Yet each individual believer may surely have a part in it.
"There is a teacher in the heart who has also a chair in heaven." "The
Holy Spirit who dwells in the justified soul," says a pious writer,
"is a great director." May we not add that He is a great catechist? In
difficulties, whether worldly, intellectual, or spiritual, thousands
for a time helpless and ignorant, in presence of difficulties through
which they could not make their way, have found with surprise how true
in the sequel our text has become to them.

For we all know how different things, persons, truths, ideas may
become, as they are seen at different times and in different lights,
as they are seen in relation to God and truth or outside that
relation. The bread in Holy Communion is unchanged in _substance_; but
some new and glorious relation is superadded to it. It is devoted by
its consecration to the noblest _use_ manward and Godward, so that St.
Paul speaks of it with hushed reverence as "_The Body_."[229] It seems
to be a part of the same law that some one--once perhaps frivolous,
common-place, sinful--is taken into the hand of the great High Priest,
broken with sorrow and penitence, and blessed; and thereafter he is at
once personally the same, and yet another higher and better by that
awful consecration to another use. So again with some truth of creed
or catechism which we have fallen into the fallacy of supposing that
we know because it is familiar. It may be a truth that is sweet or
one that is tremendous. It awaits its consecration, its blessing, its
transformation into a something which in itself is the same yet which
is other to us. That is to say, the familiar truth is old, in itself,
in substance and expression. It needs no other, and can have no better
formula. To change the formula would be to alter the truth; but to us
it is taught newly with a fuller and nobler exposition by the unction
which is "ever teaching," whereby we "know all things."


                            Ch. ii. 18-28.

Ver. 18. A _last hour_,] εσχατη ὡρα. "Hour" is used in all St. John's
writings of a definite point of time, which is also providentially
fixed. (Cf. John xvii. 1; Apoc. iii. 3.) In something of this elevated
signification Shakespeare appears to employ the word in _The Tempest_
in relation to his own life:

      _Prospero._ "How's the day?"

      _Ariel._ "On the _sixth hour_; at which time, my lord,
      You said our work should cease."

Each decade of years is here looked upon as a providentially fixed
duration of time. The poet intended to retire from the work of
imaginative poetry when his life should draw on towards sixty years of

Ver. 19. "It doth not appear, nor is it probable, that these
antichrists, when gone out from the Apostles, did still pretend to the
orthodox faith; and therefore no need for the Apostle to make any
provision against it. Nay, it is plainly intimated by the following
discourse, that these antichrists being gone forth, did set themselves
expressly, directly, against the orthodox, denying that Jesus, whom
they did profess, to be the Christ; and therefore the design of this
clause is most rationally conceived to be the prevention of that
scandal which their horrid apostasy might give to weak Christians; nor
could anything more effectually prevent or remove it, than to let them
know that these antichristian apostates were never true stars in the
firmament of the Church, but only blazing comets, as their falling
away did evidently demonstrate."--_Dean Hardy_, 309.

Ver. 19. To use the words of a once famous controversial divine, they
may be said to be "of the Church presumptively in their own, and
others' opinion, but not really." (_Spalat., lib._ vii., 10, cf. on
the whole subject, _St. Aug. Lib. de Bono. Persev._, viii.)

"Let no one count that the good can go forth from the Church; the wind
cannot carry away the wheat, nor the storm overthrow the solidly
rooted tree. The light chaff is tossed by the wind, the weak trees go
down before the blast. 'They went out from us, but they were not of
us.'"--_S. Cyp., B. de Simplic._

Ver. 24. _Ye shall abide in the Son, and in the Father._] "If it be
asked why the Son is put before the Father, the answer is well
returned. Because the Apostle had just before inveighed against those
who, though they pretended to acknowledge the Father, yet deny the
Son. Though withal there may besides be a double reason assigned: the
one to insinuate that the Son is not less than the Father, but that
they are equal in essence and dignity. Upon this account most probable
it is that the apostolical benediction beginneth with 'The grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ,' and then followeth 'the love of God the
Father.' The other, because, as Beda well glosseth, No man cometh in,
or continueth in, the Father but by the Son, who saith of Himself, 'I
am the way, the truth, and the life.'

"To draw it up, lo, here _Eximia laus doctrinæ_, an high commendation
of evangelical doctrine, that it leads up to Christ, and by Him to the
Father. The water riseth as high as the spring from whence it floweth.
No wonder if the gospel, which cometh from God through Christ, lead us
back again through Christ to God; and as by hearing and believing this
doctrine we are united to, so by adhering to, and persevering in it,
we continue in, the Son and the Father. Suitable to this is that
promise of our blessed Saviour, John xiv. 23, 'If any man love Me he
will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to
him and make our abode with him.'"--_Dean Hardy_, 350.

Ver. 27. The connection of the whole section is well traced by the old
divine, whose commentary closes a little below.

"If you compare these three with the eight foregoing verses, you shall
find them to be a summary repetition of what is there more largely
delivered. There are three hinges upon which the precedent discourse
turneth, namely, the peril of antichristian doctrine, the benefit of
the Spirit's unction, the duty of perseverance in the Christian faith;
and these three are inculcated in these verses. Indeed, where the
danger is very great, the admonition cannot be too frequent. When the
benefit is of singular advantage, it would be often considered, and a
duty which must be performed cannot be too much pressed. No wonder if
St. John proposed them in this gemination to our second thoughts. And
yet it is not a naked repetition neither, but such as hath a variation
and amplification in every particular. The duty is reinforced at the
eight-and-twentieth verse, but in another phrase, of 'abiding in
Christ,' and with a new motive, drawn from the second coming of
Christ. The benefit is reiterated, and much amplified, in the
seven-and-twentieth verse, as to its excellency and energy. Finally,
the danger is repeated, but with another description of those by whom
they were in danger; whilst as before he had called them antichrists
for their enmity against Christ, so here, for their malignity against
Christians, he calleth them seducers: 'These things have I written to
you concerning them that seduce you,' etc."--_Dean Hardy_, 357.


[213] The ουν in ver. 24 is not recognised by the R. V. nor adopted in
Professor Westcott's text. One uncial (A), however, inserts it in 1
John iv. 19. It occurs in 3 John 8. This inferential particle is found
with unusual frequency in St. John's Gospel. It does not seem
satisfactory to account for this by calling it "one of the beginnings
of modern Greek." (B. de Xivrey.) By St. John as an _historian_, the
frequent _therefore_ is the spontaneous recognition of a Divine logic
of events; of the necessary yet natural sequence of every incident in
the life of the "Word made Flesh." The ουν expresses something more
than continuity of narrative. It indicates a connection of events so
interlinked that each springs from, and is joined with, the preceding,
as if it were a conclusion which followed from the premiss of the
Divine argument. Now a mind which views _history_ in this light is
just the mind which will be _dogmatic_ in theology. The inspired
dogmatic theologian will necessarily write in a style different from
that of the theologian of the Schools. The style of the former will be
_oracular_; that of the latter will be _scholastic, i.e._,
inferential, a concatenation of syllogisms. The syllogistic ουν is
then naturally absent from St. John's Epistles. The one undoubted
exception is 3 John 8, where a practical inference is drawn from an
historical statement in ver. 7. The writer may be allowed to refer to
_The Speaker's Commentary_, iv., 381.

[214] Jer. xxxi. 34.

[215] Vers. 18, 22.

[216] The last hour is not a date arbitrarily chosen and written down
as a man might mark a day for an engagement in a calendar. It is
determined by history--by the sum-total of the product of the actions
of men who are not the slaves of fatality, who possess free-will, and
are not forced to act in a particular way. It is supposed to derogate
from the Divine mission of the Apostles if we admit that they might be
mistaken as to the chronology of the closing hour of time. But to know
that supreme instant would involve a knowledge of the whole plan of
God and the whole predetermining motives in the appointment of that
day, _i.e._, it would constructively involve _omniscience_. Cf. Mark
xiii. 32, and our Lord's profound saying, Acts i. 7.

[217] John v. 43.

[218] 1 John ii. 22, iv. 2, 3; 2 John 7-9.

[219] Ver. 19.

[220] Bingham's _Antiquities_, i., 462-524, 565.

[221] For other instances of this characteristic, see a subject
_introduced_ ii. 29, _expanded_ iii. 9--another subject _introduced_
iii. 21, _expanded_ v. 14.

[222] το αυτου χρισμα, ver. 27, _not_ το αυτο ("the same anointing," A.
V.) "This most unusual order throws a strong emphasis on the pronoun."
(Prof. Westcott.) The writer thankfully quotes this as it seems to him
to bring out the dogmatic significance of the word, emphasised as it is
by this unusual order--the chrism, the Spirit of _Him_.

[223] 1 John iii. 24.

[224] The reading of the A. V. is received into Tischendorf's text and
adopted by the R. V. Another reading omits και and substitutes παντες
for παντα so that the passage would run thus, "Ye have an unction from
the Holy One. Ye all know (I have not written unto you because ye know
not) the truth." As far as the difficulty of παντα is concerned,
nothing is gained by the change, as the statement recurs in a slightly
varied form in ver. 27.

[225] John xiv. 26.

[226] "Let that abide in you which ye heard from the beginning," 1
John ii. 24. Cf. "Testifying that this is the true grace of God
wherein ye stand," 1 Pet. v. 12. "Even as our beloved brother Paul has
written unto you," 2 Pet. iii. 15. St. Paul has thus the attestation
of St. John as well as of St. Peter.

[227] Ver. 27

[228] διδασκει--εδιδαξεν.

[229] 1 Cor. xi. 29.

                              SECTION V.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  εαν ειδητε ὁτι                     Si scitis quoniam
  δικαιος εστιν, γινωσκετε ὁτι       iustus est, scitote quoniam
  πας ὁ ποιων την δικαιοσυνην        omnis qui facit
  εξ αυτου γεγεννηται.               iustitiam ex ipso natus
  Ιδετε ποταπην αγαπην               est. Videte qualem
  δεδωκεν ἡμιν ὁ πατηρ, ἱνα          caritatem dedit nobis
  τεκνα Θεου κληθωμεν, και           Pater ut filii Dei nominemur
  εσμεν. δια τουτο ὁ κοσμος          et simus.
  ου γινωσκει ἡμας, ὁτι ουκ          Propter hoc mundus
  εγνω αυτον. Αγαπητοι,              non novit nos, quia non
  νυν τεκνα Θεου εσμεν,              novit eum. Carissimi,
  και ουπω εφανερωθη                 nunc filii Dei sumus
  τι εσομεθα· οιδαμεν                et nondum apparuit
  ὁτι εαν φανερωθη                   quid erimus. Scimus
  ὁμοιοι αυτυ εσομεθα,               quoniam cum apparuerit
  ὁτι οψομεθα αυτον καθως            similes ei erimus,
  εστιν. και πας ὁ εχων              quoniam videbimus
  την ελπιδα ταυτην επ'              eum sicuti est. Et
  αυτυ αγνιζει εαυτον                omnis qui habet spem
  καθως εκεινος αγνος εστιν.         hanc in eo sanctificat se,
  Πας ὁ ποιων την ἁμαρτιαν           sicut et ille sanctus est.
  και την ανομιαν                    Omnis qui facit peccatum
  ποιει· και ἡ αμαρτια               et iniquitatem facit,
  εστιν ἡ ανομια. και                et peccatum est iniquitas.
  οιδατε ὁτι εκεινος                 Et scitis quoniam
  εφανερωθη ἱνα τας ἁμαρτιας         ille apparuit ut
  αρη, και ἁμαρτια εν αυτω           peccata tolerit, et peccatum
  ουκ εστιν. πας ὁ εν αυτω           in eo non est.
  μενων ουχ ἁμαρτανει·               Omnis qui in eo manet
  πας ὁ ἁμαρτανων ουχ                non peccat, et omnis
  ἑωρακεν αυτον ουδε                 qui peccat non videt
  εγνωκεν αυτον. Παιδια,             eum nec cognovit eum.
  μηδεις πλανατω ὑμας·               Filioli, nemo vos seducat.
  ὁ ποιων την δικαιοσυνην            Qui facit iustitiam,
  δικαιος εστιν, καθως               iustus est,
  εκεινος δικαιος εστιν.             sicut et ille iustus est:
  ὁ ποιων την ἁμαρτιαν               qui facit peccatum, ex
  εκ του διαβολου εστιν,             diabolo est quoniam
  ὁτι απ' αρχης ὁ διαβολος           ab initio diabolus
  ἁμαρτανει. εις τουτο               peccat. In hoc apparuit
  εφανερωθη ὁ υιος του               Filius Dei, ut
  Θεου, ἱνα λυση τα εργα             dissolvat opera diaboli.
  του διαβολου. πας ὁ                Omnis qui natus est
  γεγεννημενος εκ του                ex Deo peccatum non
  Θεου ἁμαρτιαν ου ποιει,            facit, quoniam semen
  ὁτι σπερμα αυτου εν                ipsius in eo manet, et
  αυτω μενει· και ου                 non potest peccare,
  δυναται ἁμαρτανειν, ὁτι            quoniam ex Deo natus est.
  εκ του Θεου γεγεννηται.


  If ye know that He                 If ye know that He
  is righteous, ye know              is righteous, ye know
  that every one that                that every one also
  doeth righteousness is             that doeth righteousness
  born of Him. Behold,               is begotten of
  what manner of love                Him. Behold, what
  the Father hath bestowed           manner of love the
  upon us, that                      Father hath bestowed
  we should be called                upon us, that we
  the sons of God:                   should be called children
  therefore the world                of God: and _such_
  knoweth us not, because            we are. For this cause
  it knew Him not.                   the world knoweth us
  Beloved, now are we                not, because it knew
  the sons of God, and it            Him not. Beloved,
  doth not yet appear                now are we children
  what we shall be: but              of God, and it is not
  we know that, when                 yet made manifest
  He shall appear, we                what we shall be. We
  shall be like Him; for             know that, if He shall
  we shall see Him as He             be manifested, we shall
  is. And every man                  be like Him; for we
  that hath this hope in             shall see Him even as
  Him purifieth himself,             He is. And every one
  even as He is pure.                that hath this hope _set_
  Whosoever committeth               on Him purifieth himself,
  sin transgresseth also             even as He is
  the law: for sin is the            pure. Every one that
  transgression of the               doeth sin doeth also
  law. And ye know                   lawlessness: and sin
  that He was manifested             is lawlessness. And
  to take away our sins;             ye know that He was
  and in Him is no sin.              manifested to take
  Whosoever abideth in               away sins; and in
  Him sinneth not: whosoever         Him is no sin. Whosoever
  sinneth hath                       abideth in Him
  not seen Him, neither              sinneth not: whosoever
  known Him. Little                  sinneth hath not
  children, let no man               seen Him, neither
  deceive you: he that               knoweth Him. _My_
  doeth righteousness is             little children, let no
  righteous, even as He              man lead you astray:
  is righteous. He that              he that doeth righteousness
  committeth sin is of the           is righteous,
  devil; for the devil               even as He is righteous;
  sinneth from the beginning.        he that doeth sin
  For this purpose                   is of the devil; for the
  the Son of God                     devil sinneth from the
  was manifested, that               beginning. To this
  He might destroy the               end was the Son of
  works of the devil.                God manifested, that
  Whosoever is born of               He might destroy the
  God doth not commit                works of the devil.
  sin: for His seed remaineth        Whosoever is begotten
  in him: and                        of God doeth no sin,
  he cannot sin, because             because His seed
  he is born of God.                 abideth in him; and
                                     he cannot sin, because
                                     he is begotten of God.


  If ye know that He
  is righteous, ye are
  aware that every one
  who is doing righteousness
  is born of
  Him. Behold what
  manner of love the
  Father hath bestowed
  upon us that we should
  be called children of
  God;--and we are.
  Because of this the
  world knoweth us
  because it knew not
  Him. Beloved, now
  are we children of
  God, and it never yet
  was manifested what
  we shall be; but we
  know that if it shall
  be manifested we
  shall be like Him;
  for we shall see Him
  as He is. And everyone
  that hath this hope
  _fixed_ on Him is ever
  purifying himself even
  as He is pure. Every
  one that is doing sin, is
  also doing lawlessness;
  and, _indeed_, sin is lawlessness.
  And ye know
  that He was manifested
  that He should take
  away sins; and sin in
  Him is not. Whosoever
  abideth in Him is
  not sinning; every one
  that is sinning hath
  not seen Him neither
  hath known Him.
  Little children, let no
  man mislead you; he
  that is doing righteousness
  is righteous, even
  as He is righteous: he
  that is doing sin is of
  the devil, because the
  devil is continually
  sinning from the beginning.
  Unto this end
  the Son of God was
  manifested that He
  might destroy the
  works of the devil.
  Whosoever is born of
  God is not doing sin
  for his seed abideth in
  Him, and he is not able
  to be sinning, because
  he is born of God.


                         Ch. ii. 29, iii. 9.

III. ver. 2. "_Hope fixed in Him_" or "_on_ Him."] The English reader
should note the capital letter; not hope in our hearts, but hope
unfastened from self. Επι σοι Κυριε ηλπισα, is the LXX. translation of
Psalm xxx. 1.

_Is ever purifying himself._] "See how he does not do away with
freewill; for he says _purifies himself_. Who purifies us but God? Yet
God does not purify you when you are unwilling; therefore in joining
your will to God you purify yourself." (St. Augustine _in loc._)

_We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is._] "So then we
are about to see a certain sight, excelling all beauties of the earth;
the beauty of gold, silver, forest, fields--the beauty of sea and air,
sun and moon--the beauty of stars--the beauty of angels. Aye,
excelling all these, because all these are beautiful only for _it_.
What, therefore, shall we be when we shall see all these? What is
promised? _We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is._ The
tongue hath spoken as it could; let the rest be thought over by the
heart" (St. Augustine _in loc._). Cf. 2 Cor. iii. 18. "As the whole
body, face, above all eyes of those who look towards the sun are
_sunnied_" (insolantur).--_Bengel._

Ver. 3. The ample stores of English divinity contain two sermons, one
excellent, one beautiful, upon this verse. The first is by Paley; it
is founded upon the leading thought, which he expresses with his usual
manly common sense. "There are a class of Christians to whom the
admonition of the text is peculiarly necessary. Finding it an easier
thing to do good than to expel sins which cleave to their hearts,
their affections, or their imaginations; they set their endeavours
more towards _beneficence_ than _purity_. Doing good is not the whole
of our duty, nor the most difficult part of it. In particular it is
not that part of it which is insisted upon in our text." (Paley,
Sermon XLIII.) But the second sermon is perhaps the finest which ever
came from the pen of South, and he throws into it the full power of
his heart and intellect. The bare analysis is this:--

Is it indeed possible for a man to "purify himself"? There is a
twofold work of purification. (1) The infusing of the habit of purity
into the soul (regeneration or conversion). In this respect, no man
can purify himself. (2) The other work of purification is exercising
that habit or grace of purity. "God who made, and since new made us,
without ourselves, will not yet save us without ourselves." But again,
how can a man purify himself to that degree _even as Christ is pure_?
_Even as_ denotes similitude of kind, not equality of degree. We are
to purify ourselves from the _power_ of sin, and from the _guilt_ of
sin. Purification from the _power_ of sin consists in these things.
(1) A continually renewed repentance. Every day, every hour, may
afford matter for penitential sorrow. "A fountain of sin may well
require a fountain of sorrow." Converting repentance must be followed
by daily repentance. (2) Purifying ourselves consists in vigilant
prevention of acts of sin for the future. The means of effecting this
are these. (_a_) Opposing the very first risings of the heart to sin.
"The bees may be at work, and very busy within, though we see none of
them fly abroad." (_b_) Severe mortifying duties, such as watchings
and fastings. (_c_) Frequent and fervent prayer. "A praying heart
naturally turns into a purified heart." We are to purify ourselves,
also, from the _guilt_ of sin. (1) Negatively. No duty or work within
our power to perform can take away the guilt of sin. Those who think
so, understand neither "the fiery strictness of the law, nor the
spirituality of the Gospel." (2) That which alone can purify us from
the _guilt_ of sin is applying the virtue of the blood of Christ to
the soul by renewed acts of faith. "It is that alone that is able to
wash away the deep stain, and to change the hue of the spiritual
Ethiopian." The last consideration is--how the life of heaven and
future glory has such a sovereign influence upon this work? [This
portion of the sermon falls far below the high standard of the rest,
and entirely loses the spirit of St. John's thought.] South's
_Sermons_. (Sermon 72, pp. 594-616.)

Ver. 6. _That He might destroy the works of the devil._] The word here
used for Satan (διαβολος) is found in John vii. 70, viii. 44, xiii. 2;
Apoc. ii. 10, xii. 9, 12, xx. 2, 10. One class of miracles is not
specifically recorded by St. John in his Gospel--the dispossession of
demoniacs. Probably this terrible affliction was less common in
Jerusalem than in Galilee. But the idea of possession is not foreign
to his mode of thought. John vi. 70, viii. 44, 48, x. 20, xiii. 27. He
here points to the dispossessions, so many of which are recorded by
the Synoptics.

III. ver. 9. His _seed abideth in him_.] Of these words only two
interpretations appear to be fairly possible. (1) The first would
understand "His seed" as "_God's seed_," the stock or family of His
children who are the true אֱלהִים זֶרצ, _seed of God_ (Mal. ii. 15). In
favour of this interpretation it may be urged: first, that "seed" in the
sense of "children, posterity, any one's entire stock and filiation," in
perhaps nearly two hundred passages of the LXX., is the Greek rendering
of many different Hebrew words. (See σπερμα in Num. xxiv. 20; Deut. xxv.
1; Jer. l. 16; Gen. iii. 15; Isa. xiv. 20, 30, xv. 9; Num. xxiii. 10; 2
Chron. xiv. 27.) Secondly, no inapt meaning is given in the present text
by so understanding the word. "He is unable to go on in sin, for _God's_
true stock and family (they who are true to the majesty of their birth)
abide in Him." (2) But a second meaning appears preferable. "Seed"
(σπερμα) would then be understood as a metaphorical application of the
grain in the vegetable world which contains the possible germ of the
future plant or tree; and would signify the possibility, or germinal
principle, given by the Holy Spirit to the soul in regeneration. For
this signification in our passage there is a strong argument, which we
have not seen adverted to, in St. John's mode of language and of
thought. "His seed abideth in him" (σπερμα αυτου εν αυτω μενει) is
really a quotation from the LXX. (ου το σπερμα αυτου εν αυτω--note the
repetition of the words Gen. i. 11, 12). Now the Book of Genesis seems
to have been the part of the Old Testament which (with the Psalms) was
chiefly in St. John's mind in the Epistle. (Cf. 1 John i. 1, Gen. i.
1.--iii. 8, Gen. ii.--iii. 12, Gen. iv. 8--iii. 15, Gen. xxvii. 41.) St.
John, also, connects the new birth of the sons of God, as did our Lord,
with the birth of the creation, whose first germ was "the Spirit of God
moving upon the face of the waters" (Gen. i. 2; John iii. 5). This
parallel between the first creation and the second, between creation and
regeneration, has always commended itself to profound Christian exegesis
as being deeply set in the mind of Scripture. Witness the magnificent

      Plebs ut sacra renascatur,
      Per Hunc unda consecratur,
      Cui super ferebatur
        In rerum exordium.
      Fons, origo pietatis,
      Fons emundans a peccatis,
      Fons de fonte Deitatis,
        Fons sacrator fontium!
           Adam of St. Victor, Seq. xx., _Pentecoste_.

It is instructive, to study the treatment of our Lord's words (John
iii. 5) by a commentator so little mystical as Professor Westcott. St.
John, then, might point at this as another hint of regeneration in the
parable of creation, viewed spiritually. The world of vegetation in
Genesis is divided into two classes. (1) _Herbs_ צֵשֶׂב = all grasses
and plants which "_yield seed_." (2) _Trees_ מְּרִי צֵץ = shrubs and
arboreous plants which have their seed enclosed in their fruit (Gen.
i. 11, 12) Such are the plants of God's planting in His garden. Of
each the "seed" from which he sprung, and which he will reproduce
unless he becomes barren and blighted, "is in him." "He cannot sin."
It is against the basis of his new nature. Of the new creation as of
the old, the law is--"his seed is in him."

The rest of this verse is interpreted in the Discourse upon 1 John v. 4.

                             SECTION VI.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Εν τουτω φανερα εστιν              In hoc manifesti sunt
  τα τεκνα του Θεου και              filii Dei et filii diaboli.
  τα τεκνα του διαβολου.             Omnis qui non est
  Πας ὁ μη ποιων δικαιοσυνην         iustus non est ex Deo,
  ουκ εστιν εκ του                   et qui non diligit
  Θεου, και ὁ μη αγαπων              fratrem suum; quoniam
  τον αδελφον αυτου· ὁτι             hæc est adnuntiatio
  αυτη εστιν ἡ αγγελια               quam audistis ab
  ἡν ηκουσατε απ' αρχης,             initio, ut diligamus alterutrum,
  ἱνα αγαπωμεν αλληλους·             non sicut
  ου καθως Καιν εκ του               Cain ex maligno erat,
  πονηρου ἡν και εσφαξε              et occidit fratrem suum.
  τον αδελφον αυτου· και             Et propter quid occidit
  χαριν τινος εσφαξεν                eum? quoniam opera
  αυτον; ὁτι τα εργα                 eius maligna erant,
  αυτου πονηρα ἡν, τα                fratris autem eius
  δε του αδελφου αυτου               iusta. Nolite mirari
  δικαια. μη θαυμαζετε,              fratres si odit nos
  αδελφοι, ει μισει ὑμας ὁ           mundus. Nos scimus
  κοσμος. Ἡμεις οιδαμεν              quoniam translati
  ὁτι μεταβεβηκαμεν εκ               sumus de morte in
  του θανατου εις την                vitam, quoniam diligimus
  ζωην, ὁτι αγαπωμεν                 fratres: qui non
  τους αδελφους· ὁ μη                diligit, manet in morte.
  αγαπων μενει. εν τω                Omnis qui odit fratrem
  θανατω· πας ὁ μισων                suum homicida est, et
  τον αδελφον αυτου                  scitis quoniam omnis
  ανθρωποκτονος εστιν· και           homicida non habet
  οιδατε ὁτι πας ανθρωποκτονος       vitam æternam in se
  ουκ εχει ζωην                      manentem. In hoc
  αιωνιον εν αυτω μενουσαν.          cognovimus caritatem
  Εν τουτω εγνωκαμεν                 Dei, quoniam ille pro
  την αγαπην, ὁτι                    nobis animam suam
  εκεινος ὑπερ ἡμων την              posuit: et nos debemus
  ψυχην αυτου εθηκε· και           pro fratribus animas
  ἡμεις οφειλομεν ὑπερ               ponere. Qui habuerit
  των αδελφων τας ψυχας              substantiam mundi et
  θειναι. ὁς δ' ἁν εχη               viderit fratrem suum
  τον βιον του κοσμου                necesse habere et
  και θεωρη τον αδελφον              clauserit viscera sua ab
  αυτου χρειαν εχοντα και            eo, quomodo caritas
  κλειση τα σπλαγχνα                 Dei manet in eo?
  αυτου απ' αυτου, πως               Filioli non diligamus
  ἡ αγαπη του Θεου μενει             verbo nec lingua sed
  εν αυτω; τεκνια μη                 opere et veritate. In
  αγαπωμεν λογω μηδε                 hoc cognovimus quoniam
  γλωσση, αλλ' εργω και              ex veritate
  αληθεια. Και εν τουτω              sumus: et in conspectu
  γινωσκμεν ὁτι εκ της               eius suademus corda
  αληθειας εσμεν, και                nostra, quoniam si
  εμπροσθεν αυτου πεισομεν           reprehenderit nos cor
  τας καρδιας ἡμων·                  nostrum, major est
  ὁτι εαν καταγινωσκη                Deus corde nostro
  ἡμων ἡ καρδια, ὁτι                 et novit omnia. Carissimi
  μειζων εστιν ὁ Θεος                si cor nostrum
  της καρδιας ἡμων, και              non reprehenderit nos,
  γινωσκει παντα. αγαπητοι,          fiduciam habemus ad
  εαν, ἡ καρδια                      Deum, et quodcumque
  ἡμων μη καταγινωσκη                petierimus accipiemus
  ἡμων, παρρησιαν εχομεν             abeo, quoniam mandata
  προς τον Θεον, και ὁ               eius custodemus et ea
  εαν αιτωμεν, λαμβανομεν            quæ sunt placita coram
  παρ' αυτου, ὁτι τας                eo facimus. Et hoc
  εντολας αυτου τηρουμεν,            est mandatum eius ut
  και τα αρεστα ενωπιον              credamus in nomine
  αυτου ποισυμεν. και                filii eius Iesu Christi
  αυτη εστιν ἡ εντολη                et diligamus alterutrum
  αυτου, ἱνα πιστευσωμεν             sicut dedit mandatum
  τω ονοματι του υιου                nobis. Et qui servat
  αυτου Ιησου Χριστου,               mandata eius, in illo
  και αγαπωμεν αλληλους,             manet et ipse in eo: et
  καθως εδωκεν εντολην.              in hoc scimus quoniam
  και ὁ τηρων τας                    manet in nobis, de
  εντολας αυτου, εν αυτω             spiritu quem dedit
  μενει, και αυτος εν αυτω.          nobis.
  και εν τουτω γινωσκομεν
  ὁτι μενει εν ἡμιν, εκ
  του Πνευματος ου ἡμιν


  In this the children               In this the children
  of God are manifest,               of God are manifest,
  and the children of the            and the children of the
  devil: whosoever doeth             devil: whosoever doeth
  not righteousness                  not righteousness is
  is not of God, neither             not of God, neither he
  he that loveth not his             that loveth not his
  brother. For this is               brother. For this is
  the message that ye                the message which ye
  heard from the beginning,          heard from the beginning,
  that we should                     that we should
  love one another. Not              love one another: not
  as Cain, _who_ was of              as Cain was of the evil
  that wicked one, and               one, and slew his
  slew his brother. And              brother. And wherefore
  wherefore slew he                  slew he him?
  him? Because his own               Because his works
  works were evil, and               were evil, and his
  his brother's righteous.           brother's righteous.
  Marvel not, my brethren,           Marvel not, brethren,
  if the world hate                  if the world hateth
  you. We know that                  you. We know that
  we have passed from                we have passed out of
  death unto life, because           death into life, because
  we love the brethren.              we love the brethren.
  He that loveth not _his_           He that loveth not
  brother abideth in                 abideth in death.
  death. Whosoever                   Whosoever hateth his
  hateth his brother is a            brother is a murderer:
  murderer: and ye know              and ye know that no
  that no murderer hath              murderer hath eternal
  eternal life abiding in            life abiding in him.
  him. Hereby perceive               Hereby know we love,
  we the love _of God_,              because He laid down
  because He laid down               His life for us: and we
  His life for us: and               ought to lay down our
  we ought to lay down               lives for the brethren.
  _our_ lives for the                But whoso hath the
  brethren. But whoso                world's goods, and beholdeth
  hath this world's good,            his brother in
  and seeth his brother              need, and shutteth up
  have need, and shutteth            his compassion from
  up his bowels                      him, how doth the love
  _of compassion_ from him,          of God abide in him?
  how dwelleth the love of           _My_ little children, let
  God in him? My little              us not love in word,
  children, let us not love          neither with the
  in word, neither in                tongue; but in deed
  tongue; but in deed                and truth. Hereby
  and in truth. And                  shall we know that we
  hereby we know that                are of the truth, and
  we are of the truth,               shall assure our heart
  and shall assure our               before him, whereinsoever
  hearts before Him.                 our heart condemn
  For if our heart condemn           us; because God
  us, God is greater                 is greater than our
  than our heart, and                heart, and knoweth all
  knoweth all things.                things. Beloved, if
  Beloved, if our heart              our heart condemn us
  condemn us not, _then_             not, we have boldness
  have we confidence                 toward God; and
  toward God. And                    whatsoever we ask,
  whatsoever we ask,                 we receive of Him,
  we receive of Him,                 because we keep His
  because we keep His                commandments, and
  commandments, and                  do the things that are
  do those things that               pleasing in His sight.
  are pleasing in His                And this is His commandment,
  sight. And this is His             that we
  commandment, That                  should believe in the
  we should believe on               name of His Son Jesus
  the name of His Son                Christ, and love one
  Jesus Christ, and love             another, even as He
  one another, as He                 gave us commandment.
  gave us commandment.               And he that keepeth
  And he that keepeth                His commandments
  His commandments                   abideth in Him, and
  dwelleth in Him, and               He in him. And hereby
  He in him. And hereby              we know that He
  we know that He                    abideth in us, by the
  abideth in us, by the              Spirit which He gave
  Spirit which He hath               us.
  given us.


  In this the children
  of God are manifest
  and the children of the
  devil: every one who is
  not doing righteousness
  is not of God,
  neither he that is not
  loving his brother.
  For this is the message
  that ye heard from the
  beginning that ye
  should love one another.
  Not as Cain
  was of the wicked one
  and slew his brother
  (_shall we be_). And
  wherefore slew he
  him? because his
  works were evil, but
  those of his brother
  righteous. Brethren,
  marvel not if the world
  hate you. We know
  that we have passed
  over from the death
  unto the life because
  we love the brethren.
  He who loveth not
  abideth in the death.
  Every one who hateth
  his brother is a murderer:
  and ye know
  that no murderer hath
  eternal life abiding in
  him. Hereby know
  we The Love because
  He laid down His life
  for us: and we are
  bound to lay down our
  lives for the brethren.
  But whoso hath the
  living of the world and
  gazes on his brother
  having need and shuts
  out his heart from him,
  how doth the love of
  God abide in him?
  Children let us not love
  in word, nor with the
  tongue, but in work
  and truth. Hereby
  shall we know that we
  are of the truth and
  shall persuade our
  hearts before Him.
  For if our heart condemn
  us God is greater
  than our heart and
  knoweth all things.
  Beloved, if our heart
  condemn us not then
  have we boldness toward
  God, and whatsoever
  we ask we
  receive of Him, for we
  observe His commandments,
  and are doing
  those things that are
  pleasing in His sight.
  And His commandment
  is this, that we
  should believe the
  name of His Son Jesus
  Christ and love one
  another as He gave
  commandment. And
  he who is observing
  His commandments
  abideth in Him, and
  He in him. And hereby
  we know that He
  abideth in us--out of
  the fulness of the Spirit
  whereof He gave us.

                            DISCOURSE IX.


    "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life
    for us: and we ought to lay down, our lives for the brethren. But
    whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and
    shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the
    love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word,
    neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth."--1 JOHN iii. 16-18.

Even the world sees that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ has very
practical results. Even the Christmas which the world keeps is
fruitful in two of these results--forgiving and giving. How many of
the multitudinous letters at that season contain one or other of these
things--either the kindly gift, or the tender of reconciliation; the
confession "I was wrong," or the gentle advance "we were both wrong."

Love, charity (as we rather prefer to say), in its effects upon all
our relations to others, is the beautiful subject of this section of
our Epistle. It begins with the message of love[230] itself--yet
another asterisk referring to the Gospel,[231] to the very substance
of the teaching which the believers of Ephesus had first received from
St. Paul,[232] and which had been emphasized by St. John. This
message is announced not merely as a sounding sentiment, but for the
purpose of being carried out into action. As in moral subjects virtues
and vices are best illustrated by their contraries;[233] so, beside
the bright picture of the Son of God, the Apostle points to the
sinister likeness of Cain.[234] After some brief and parenthetic words
of pathetic consolation, he states as the mark of the great transition
from death to life, the existence of love as a pervading spirit
effectual in operation.[235] The dark opposite of this is then
delineated[236] in consonance with the mode of representation just
above.[237] But two such pictures of darkness must not shadow the
sunlit gallery of love. There is another--the fairest and brightest.
Our love can only be estimated by likeness to it; it is imperfect
unless it is conformed to the print of the wounds, unless it can be
measured by the standard of the great Self-sacrifice.[238] But if this
may be claimed as the one real proof of conformity to Christ, much
more is the limited partial sacrifice of "this world's good"
required.[239] This spirit, and the conduct which it requires in the
long run, will be found to be the test of all solid spiritual
comfort,[240] of all true self-condemnation or self-acquittal.[241]

We may say of the verses prefixed to this discourse, that they bring
before us charity in its _idea_, in its _example_, in its
_characteristics_--in _theory_, in _action_, in _life_.


We have here love in its idea, "hereby know we love." Rather "hereby
know we _The Love_."[242]

Here the idea of charity in us runs parallel with that in Christ. It
is a subtle but true remark,[243] that there is here no logical
inferential particle. "Because He laid down His life for us," is not
followed by its natural correlative "therefore we," but by a simple
connective "and we." The reason is this, that our duty herein is not a
mere cold logical deduction. It is all of one piece with The Love. "We
know The Love because He laid down His life for us; _and_ we are in
duty bound for the brethren to lay down our lives."

Here, then, is the idea of love, as capable of realisation in us. It
is continuous unselfishness, to be crowned by voluntary death, if
death is necessary. The beautiful old Church tradition shows that this
language was the language of St. John's life. Who has forgotten how
the Apostle in his old age is said to have gone on a journey to find
the young man who had fled from Ephesus and joined a band of robbers;
and to have appealed to the fugitive in words which are the pathetic
echo of these--"if needs be I would die for thee as He for us?"


The idea of charity is then practically illustrated by an incident of
its opposite. "But whoso hath this world's good, and gazes upon his
brother in need, and shuts up his heart against him, how doth the love
of God abide in him?"[244] The reason for this descent in thought is
wise and sound. High abstract ideas expressed in lofty and
transcendent language, are at once necessary and dangerous for
creatures like us. They are necessary, because without these grand
conceptions our moral language and our moral life would be wanting in
dignity, in amplitude, in the inspiration and impulse which are often
necessary for duty and always for restoration. But they are dangerous
in proportion to their grandeur. Men are apt to mistake the emotion
awakened by the very sound of these magnificent expressions of duty
for the discharge of the duty itself. Hypocrisy delights in sublime
speculations, because it has no intention of their costing anything.
Some of the most abject creatures embodied by the masters of romance
never fail to parade their sonorous generalizations. One of such
characters, as the world will long remember, proclaims that sympathy
is one of the holiest principles of our common nature, while he shakes
his fist at a beggar.[245]

Every large speculative ideal then is liable to this danger; and he
who contemplates it requires to be brought down from his
transcendental region to the test of some commonplace duty. This is
the latent link of connection in this passage. The ideal of love to
which St. John points is the loftiest of all the moral and spiritual
emotions which belong to the sentiments of man. Its archetype is in
the bosom of God, in the eternal relations of the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost. "God is love." Its home in humanity is Christ's heart of
fire and flesh; its example is the Incarnation ending in the Cross.

Now of course the question for all but one in thousands is not the
attainment of this lofty ideal--laying down his life for the brethren.
Now and then, indeed, the physician pays with his own death for the
heroic rashness of drawing out from his patient the fatal matter.
Sometimes the pastor is cut off by fever contracted in ministering to
the sick, or by voluntarily living and working in an unwholesome
atmosphere. Once or twice in a decade some heart is as finely touched
by the spirit of love as Father Damien, facing the certainty of death
from a long slow putrefaction, that a congregation of lepers may enjoy
the consolations of faith. St. John here reminds us that the ordinary
test of charity is much more commonplace. It is helpful compassion to
a brother who is known to be in need, manifested by giving to him
something of this world's "good"--of the "living"[246] of this world
which he possesses.


We have next the characteristics of love in action. "My sons; let us
not love in word nor with the tongue; but in work and truth." There is
love in its energy and reality; in its effort and sincerity--active
and honest, without indolence and without pretence. We may well be
reminded here of another familiar story of St. John at Ephesus. When
too old to walk himself to the assembly of the Church, he was carried
there. The Apostle who had lain upon the breast of Jesus; who had
derived from direct communication with Him those words and thoughts
which are the life of the elect; was expected to address the faithful.
The light of the Ephesian summer fell upon his white hair; perhaps
glittered upon the mitre which tradition has assigned to him. But when
he had risen to speak, he only repeated--"little children, love one
another." Modern hearers are sometimes tempted to envy the primitive
Christians of the Ephesian Church, if for nothing else, yet for the
privilege of listening to the shortest sermon upon record in the
annals of Christianity. When Christian preachers have behind them the
same long series of virgin years, within them the same love of Christ
and knowledge of His mysteries; when their very presence evinces the
same sad, tender, smiling, weeping, all-embracing sympathy with the
wants and sorrows of humanity; they may perhaps venture upon the
perilous experiment of contracting their sermons within the same span
as St. John's. And when some, who like the hearers at Ephesus, are not
prepared for the repetition of an utterance so brief, begin to
ask--"why are you always saying this?"--the answer may well be in the
spirit of the reply which the aged Apostle is said to have
made--"because it is the commandment of the Lord, and sufficient, if
it only be fulfilled indeed."


This passage supplies an argument (capable, as we have seen in the
Introduction, of much larger expansion from the Epistle as a whole)
against mutilated views, fragmentary versions of the Christian life.

There are four such views which are widely prevalent at the present

(1) The _first_ of these is _emotionalism_; which makes the entire
Christian life consist in a series or bundle of emotions. Its origin is
the desire of having the feelings touched, partly from sheer love of
excitement; partly from an idea that _if_ and _when_ we have worked up
certain emotions to a fixed point we are saved and safe. This reliance
upon feelings is in the last analysis reliance upon self. It is a form
of salvation by works; for feelings are inward actions. It is an unhappy
anachronism which inverts the order of Scripture; which substitutes
peace and grace (the compendious dogma of the heresy of the emotions)
for grace and peace, the only order known to St. Paul and St. John.[247]
The only spiritual emotions spoken of in this Epistle are joy,
confidence, "assuring our hearts before Him":[248] the first as the
result of receiving the history of Jesus in the Gospel, the Incarnation,
and the blessed communion with God and the Church which it involves; the
second as tried by tests of a most practical kind.

(2) The _second_ of these mutilated views of the Christian life is
_doctrinalism_--which makes it consist of a series or bundle of
doctrines apprehended and expressed correctly, at least according to
certain formulas, generally of a narrow and unauthorised character.
According to this view the question to be answered is--has one quite
correctly understood, can one verbally formulate certain almost
scholastic distinctions in the doctrine of justification? The
well-known standard--"the Bible only"--must be reduced by the excision
of all within the Bible except the writings of St. Paul; and even in
this selected portion faith must be entirely guided by certain
portions more selected still, so that the question finally may be
reduced to this shape--"am I a great deal sounder than St. John and
St. James, a little sounder than an unexpurgated St. Paul, as sound as
a carefully expurgated edition of the Pauline Epistles?"

(3) The _third_ mutilated view of the Christian life is
_humanitarianism_--which makes it a series or bundle of philanthropic

There are some who work for hospitals, or try to bring more light and
sweetness into crowded dwelling-houses. Their lives are pure and
noble. But the one article of their creed is humanity. Altruism is
their highest duty. Their object, so far as they have any object apart
from the supreme rule of doing right, is to lay hold on subjective
immortality by living on in the recollection of those whom they have
helped, whose existence has been soothed and sweetened by their
sympathy. With others the case is different. Certain forms of this
busy helpfulness--especially in the laudable provision of recreations
for the poor--are an innocent interlude in fashionable life;
sometimes, alas! a kind of work of supererogation, to atone for the
want of devotion or of purity--possibly an untheological survival of
a belief in justification by works.

(4) The _fourth_ fragmentary view of the Christian life is
_observationism_, which makes it to consist in a bundle or series of
observances. Frequent services and communions, perhaps with exquisite
forms and in beautifully decorated churches, have their dangers as
well as their blessings. However closely linked these observances may
be, there must still in every life be interstices between them. How
are these filled up? What spirit within connects together, vivifies
and unifies, this series of external acts of devotion? They are means
to an end. What if the means come to interpose between us and the
end--just as a great political thinker has observed that with legal
minds the forms of business frequently overshadow the substance of
business, which is their end, and for which they were called into
existence. And what is the end of our Christian calling? A life
pardoned; in process of purification; growing in faith, in love of God
and man, in quiet joyful service. Certainly a "rage for ceremonials
and statistics," a long list of observances, does not infallibly
secure such a life, though it may often be not alone the delighted and
continuous expression, but the constant food and support of such a
life. But assuredly if men trust in any of these things--in their
emotions, in their favourite formulas, in their philanthropic works,
in their religious observances--in anything but Christ, they greatly
need to go back to the simple text--"His name shall be called Jesus,
for He shall save His people from their sins."

Now, as we have said above, in distinction from all these fragmentary
views, St. John's Epistle is a survey of the completed Christian life,
founded upon his Gospel. It is a consummate fruit ripened in the long
summers of his experience. It is not a treatise upon the Christian
affections, nor a system of doctrine, nor an essay upon works of
charity, nor a companion to services.

Yet this wonderful Epistle presupposes at least much that is most
precious of all these elements. (1) It is far from being a burst of
emotionalism. Yet almost at the outset it speaks of an emotion as being
the natural result of rightly received objective truth.[249] St. John
recognises feeling, whether of supernatural or natural origin;[250] but
he recognises it with a certain majestic reserve. Once only does he seem
to be carried away. In a passage to which reference has just been made,
after stating the dogma of the Incarnation, he suffuses it with a wealth
of emotional colour. It is Christmas in his soul; the bells ring out
good tidings of great joy. "These things write we unto you, that your
joy may be full." (2) This Epistle is no dogmatic summary. Yet combining
its proœmium with the other of the fourth Gospel, we have the most
perfect statement of the dogma of the Incarnation. As we read
thoughtfully on, dogma after dogma stands out in relief. The divinity of
the Word, the reality of His manhood, the effect of His atonement, His
intercession, His continual presence, the personality of the Holy
Spirit, His gifts to us, the relation of the Spirit to Christ, the Holy
Trinity--all these find their place in these few pages. If St. John is
no mere doctrinalist he is yet the greatest theologian the Church has
ever seen. (3) Once more; if the Apostle's Christianity is no mere
humanitarian sentiment to encourage the cultivation of miscellaneous
acts of good-nature, yet it is deeply pervaded by a sense of the
integral connection of practical love of man with the love of God. So
much is this the case, that a large gathering of the most emotional of
modern sects is said to have gone on with a Bible reading in St. John's
Epistle until they came to the words--"we know that we have passed from
death unto life, because we love the brethren." The reader immediately
closed the book, pronouncing with general assent that the verse was
likely to disturb the peace of the children of God. Still St. John puts
humanitarianism in its right place as a result of something higher.
"This commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his
brother also." As if he would say--"do not sever the law of social life
from the law of supernatural life; do not separate the human fraternity
from the Divine Fatherhood." (4) No one can suppose that for St. John
religion was a mere string of observances. Indeed, to some his Epistle
has given the notion of a man living in an atmosphere where external
ordinances and ministries either did not exist at all, or only in almost
impalpable forms. Yet in that wonderful manual, "The Imitation of
Christ," there is not more than the faintest trace of any of these
external things; while no one could possibly argue that the author was
ignorant of, or lightly esteemed, the ordinances and sacraments amongst
which his life must have been spent. Certainly the fourth Gospel is
deeply sacramental. This Epistle, with its calm, unhesitating conviction
of the sonship of all to whom it is addressed; with its view of the
Christian life as in idea a continuous growth from a birth the secret of
whose origin is given in the Gospel; with its expressive hints of
sources of grace and power and of a continual presence of Christ; with
its deep mystical realisation of the double flow from the pierced side
upon the cross, and its thrice-repeated exchange of the _sacramental_
order "_water_ and blood,"[251] for the _historical_ order "_blood_ and
water"; unquestionably has the sacramental sense diffused throughout it.
The Sacraments are not in obtrusive prominence; yet for those who have
eyes to see they lie in deep and tender distances. Such is the view of
the Christian life in this letter--a life in which Christ's truth is
blended with Christ's love; assimilated by thought, exhaling in worship,
softening into sympathy with man's suffering and sorrow. It calls for
the believing soul, for the devout heart, for the helping hand. It is
the perfect balance in a saintly soul of feeling, creed, communion, and

For of work for our fellow man it is that the question is asked half
despairingly--"whoso hath this world's good, and seeth" (gazes
at)[252] "his brother have need, and shutteth up his heart against
him, how doth the love of God[253] dwell in him?" Some can quietly
look at the poor brother; they see _him_ in need, but they have not
the thoughtful eyes that see _his need_. They may belong to "the
sluggard Pity's vision-weaving tribe," who expend a sigh of sentiment
upon such spectacles, and nothing more. Or they may be hardened
professors of the "dismal science," who have learned to consider a
sigh as the luxury of ignorance or of feebleness. But for all
practical purposes both these classes interpose a too effectual
barrier between their heart and their brother's need. But true
Christians are made partakers in Christ of the mystery of human
suffering. Even when they are not actually in sight of brethren in
want, their ears are ever hearing the ceaseless moaning of the sea of
human sorrow, with a sympathy which involves its own measure of pain,
though a pain which brings with it abundant compensation. Their inner
life has not merely won for itself the partly selfish satisfaction of
personal escape from punishment, great as that blessing may be. They
have caught something of the meaning of the secret of all love--"we
love because He first loved us."[254] In those words is the romance
(if we may dare to call it so) of the divine love-tale. Under its
influence the face once hard and narrow often becomes radiant and
softened; it smiles, or is tearful, in the light of the love of His
face who first loved.

It is this principle of St. John which is ever at work in Christian
lands. In hospitals it tells us that Christ is ever passing down the
wards; that He will have no stinted service; that He must have more
for His sick more devotion, a gentler touch, a finer sympathy; that
where His hand has broken and blessed, every particle is a sacred
thing, and must be treated reverently.

Are there any who are tempted to think that our text has become
antiquated; that it no longer holds true in the light of organised
charity, of economic science? Let them listen to one who speaks with
the weight of years of active benevolence, and with consummate
knowledge of its method and duties.[255] "There are men who, in their
detestation of roguery, forget that by a wholesale condemnation of
charity, they run the risk of driving the honest to despair and of
turning them into the very rogues of whom they desire so ardently to
be quit. These men are unconsciously playing into the hands of the
Socialists and the Anarchists, the only sections of society whose
distinct interest it is that misery and starvation should increase. No
doubt indiscriminate almsgiving is hurtful to the State as well as to
the individual who receives the dole, but not less dangerous would it
be to society if the principles of these stern political economists
were to be literally accepted by any large number of the rich, and if
charity ceased to be practised within the land. We cannot yet afford
to shut ourselves up in the castle of philosophic indifference,
regardless of the fate of those who have the misfortune to find
themselves outside its walls."


                           Ch. iii. 12-21.

Ver. 12. A second reference to the Book of Genesis within a few lines
(see ver. 8). It is characteristic of the historical spirit of St.
John that he does not entangle himself with the luxuriant upgrowth of
wild fable in which traditional Judaism has ever enveloped the simple
narrative of Cain and Abel in Genesis.

Ver. 15. St. John may refer to another passage in Genesis. "And Esau
said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand;
then will I slay my brother Jacob" (Gen. xxvii. 11-41).

Ver. 17. A Rabbinical saying is worth recording as an illustration of
the spirit in which the "living of this world" should be held. "He that
saith, Mine is thine, and thine is mine, is an idiot; he that saith,
Mine is mine, and thine is thine, is moderate; he that saith, Mine is
thine, and thine is thine, is charitable; but he that saith, Thine is
mine, and mine is mine, is wicked; even though it be only saying it in
his heart, to wish it were so." Paulus Fagius. _Sentent. Heb._

Vers. 19, 20, 21. These verses probably present more difficulties than
any other portion of this Epistle. (1) For their construction. The
following note from a _fasciculus_ (now no longer to be procured)
written by a master of sacred studies seems to us to say all that can
be said for a rendering different from that of the R. V. and our own.

"Ver. 20: ὁτι εαν καταγινωσκη ἡμων ἡ καρδια, ὁτι μειζων εστιν ὁ Θεος.
The difficulty is in the second ὁτι, which is ignored by the Vulgate and
A. V. The Revisers (after Hoogeveen, _De Partic._ p. 589, ed. Schütz.
and others) point ὁ,τι εαν in the first clause, which they join with the
preceding verse: 'and shall assure our heart before him, whereinsoever
our heart condemn us; because God' etc. But this is quite inadmissible,
since nothing can be plainer than that εαν καταγινωσκη (ver. 20) and εαν
μη καταγινωσκη (ver. 21) are both _in protasi_, and in strict
correlation with each other. Dean Alford suggests an ellipsis of the
verb substantive before the second ὁτι, and would translate: 'Because if
our heart condemn us, (it is) because God' etc. He instances such cases
as ει τις εν Χριστω, (he is) καινη κτισις, which are quite dissimilar;
but the following from St. Chrysostom (T. X. p. 122 B) fully bears out
this construction; Ὁ ζυγος μου χρηστος κ.τ.ἑ. ει δε ουκ αισθανη της
κουφοτητος, ὉΤΙ προθυμιαν ερρωμενην ουκ εχεις; where I have expunged
δηλον before ὁτι on the authority of three out of four MSS. collated for
these Homilies, the fourth, with the old Latin version, for ὁτι
προθυμιαν reading μη θαυμασης, προθυμιαν γαρ. In my note on that place I
have pointed out that the ellipsis is not of δηλον, but of το αιτιον,
_causa est, quia_. So in the present instance we might translate: 'For
if our heart condemn us, (the reason is) because God is greater,' etc.,
were it not for the difficulty of explaining how the fact of God's being
greater than our heart can be a valid reason for our heart condemning
us. I would, therefore, take the second ὁτι for _quod_, not _quia_, and
suppose an ellipsis of δηλον, as in 1 Tim. vi. 7, where see
note."--_Otium Norvicense_, by Frederic Field, M.A., LL.D. (pp. 153,

Dr. Field s rendering then is: "For if our heart condemn us, (it is
evident) that God is greater than our heart."

(2) For the meaning of these verses. All interpretations appear to
fall into two classes; as St. John is supposed to aim at (_a_)
_soothing_ conscience, or (_b_) _awakening_ it. But may he not really
intend to leave people to think over a something which he has
purposely omitted, and to apply it as required? The saying "God is
greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things," probably cuts two
ways. If my heart condemn me justly, and with truth, much more so does
God who is greater than my heart. But, if my conscience is tenderly
sensitive, scrupulous because full of love, God's knowledge of my
heart tells in this case on the brighter side, as truly as in the
other case it told on the darker side. We may lull our heart. "A
tranquil God tranquillises all things, and to see His peacefulness is
to be at peace." (_St. Bernard in Cant._)


[230] Ver. 11.

[231] John xv. 12-17. See also the stress laid upon the unity of
believers; surely including love as well as doctrine in the great
High-Priestly prayer, John xvii. 21-23.

[232] "The message that ye heard _from the beginning_," conf. 1 John
ii. 24.

[233] "Contrariorum eadem est scientia."

[234] This is one of the few references to the Old Testament _history_
in St. John's Epistle (Gen. iv. 1-8). To the _theology_ of the Old
Testament there are many references; _e.g._, light and life. 1 John i.
1-5; John i. 4; Ps. xxxvi. 9. There is, however, another historical
reference a few verses above (1 John iii. 8)--a passage of primary
importance because it recognises the whole narrative of the Fall in
Genesis, and affords a commentary upon the words of Christ (John viii.
44). The writer has somewhere seen an interesting suggestion that ver.
12 may contain some allusion to the visit of Apollonius of Tyana to
Ephesus. Apollonius incited the mob to kill a beggar-man for the
purpose of placing himself on a level with Chalcas and others who
caused the sacrifice of human victims. The date of this incident would
apparently coincide with the closing years of St. John's life
(_Philostrat. vita Apollon._, Act. ii., S. 5).

[235] Ver. 14.

[236] Vers. 14, 15.

[237] Ver. 12.

[238] Ver. 16.

[239] Ver. 17.

[240] Vers. 18, 19.

[241] Vers. 20, 21.

[242] "For _The Love_ I rather beseech thee" (Phil. v. 9). The
addition in the A.V. (_of God_) rather impairs the sweetness and
power, the reverential reserve of the original.

[243] Of Prof. Westcott.

[244] Ver. 17.

[245] It is suggestive that on Quinquagesima Sunday, when 1 Cor. xiii.
is the Epistle, St. Luke xviii. 31 sqq., is the Gospel. The lyric of
love is joined with a fragment of its epic. That fragment tells us of
a love which not only proclaimed itself ready to be sacrificed (Luke
xviii. 31-33), but condescended individually to the blind importunate
mendicant who sat by the wayside begging (vers. 35-43).

[246] The word here is βιος not ζωη. "Βιος period of life; hence the
means by which it is sustained, means of life." (Archbp. Trench.) It
is to be wished that the R. V. had either kept "the good" of the A.
V., or adopted the word "living"--the translation of βιος in Mark xii.
44; Luke xxi. 4.

[247] 2 John 3.

[248] 1 John i. 4, ii. 28, iii. 21, iv. 17, v. 14, iii. 19.

[249] 1 John i. 4.

[250] τα σπλαγχνα (ver. 17). This however is the only occurrence of the
word in St. John's writings. The substantive σπλαγχνα = _emotions_, is
found in classical poets. But the verb σπλαγχνιζομαι occurs only in LXX.
and New Testament--and thus, like αγαπη, is almost born within the
circle of revealed truth. The new dispensation so rich in the mercy of
God (Luke i. 78), so fruitful in mercy from man to man, may well claim a
new vocabulary in the department of tenderness and pity.

[251] 1 John v. 6, conf. John xix. 34.

[252] θεωρη, ver. 17.

[253] "The love of which God is at once the object, and the author,
and the pattern." (Prof. Westcott.)

[254] 1 John iv. 19.

[255] Lord Meath.

                             SECTION VII.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Αγαπητοι, μη παντι                 Carissimi, nolite omni
  πνευματι πιστευετε,                spiritui credere, sed
  αλλα δοκιμαζετε τα                 probate spiritus si ex
  πνευματα, ει εκ του                Deo sint, quoniam multi
  Θεου εστιν· ὁτι πολλοι             pseudoprophetæ exierunt
  ψευδοπροφηται εξεληλυθασιν         in mundum. In
  εις τον κοσμον.                    hoc cognoscitur spiritus
  εν τουτω γινωσκετε το              Dei. Omnis spiritus
  Πνευμα του Θεου· παν               qui confitetur Iesum
  πνευμα ὁ ὁμολογει                  Christum in carne
  Ιησουν Χριστον εν                  venisse, ex Deo est:
  σαρκι εληλυθοτα, εκ                et omnis spiritus qui
  του Θεου εστι. και                 solvit Iesum Christum
  παν πνευμα ὁ μη ὁμολογειτον        ex Deo non est; et his
  Ιησουν Χριστον                     est Antichristus quod
  εν σαρκι εληλυθοτα, εκ             audistis quoniam venit
  του Θεου ουκ εστι· και             et nunc iam in mundo
  τουτο εστι το του                  est. Vos ex Deo estis,
  αντιχριστου, ὁ ακηκοατε            filioli, et vicistis eum,
  ὁτι ερχεται, και νυν εν            quoniam maior est qui
  τω κοσμω εστιν ηδη.                in vobis est quam qui
  Ὑμεις εκ του Θεου εστε,            in mundo. Ipsi de
  τεκνια, και νενικηκατε             mundo sunt: ideo de
  αυτους· ὁτι μειζων εστιν           mundo locuntur, et
  ὁ εν ὑμιν ἡ ὁ εν τω                mundus eos audit. Nos
  κοσμω. Αυτοι εκ του                ex Deo sumus: qui
  κοσμου εισι· δια τουτο             novit Deum audit nos;
  εκ του κοσμου λαλουσι,             qui non est ex Deo,
  και ὁ κοσμος αυτων                 non audit nos. In hoc
  ακουει. ἡμεις εκ του               cognoscimus spiritum
  Θεου εσμεν· ὁ γινωσκων             veritatis et spiritum
  τον Θεον, ακουει ἡμων·             erroris.
  ὁς ουκ εστιν εκ του Θεου,
  ουκ ακουει ἡμων. Εκ
  τουτου γινωσκομεν το
  πνευμα της αληθειας
  και το πνευμα της


  Beloved, believe not               Beloved, believe not
  every spirit, but try the          every spirit, but prove
  spirits whether they               the spirits whether
  are of God: because                they are of God; because
  many false prophets                many false prophets
  are gone out into the              are gone out into
  world. Hereby know                 the world. Hereby
  ye the Spirit of God:              know ye the Spirit
  Every spirit that confesseth       of God: every spirit
  that Jesus                         which confesseth that
  Christ is come in the              Jesus Christ is come
  flesh is of God: and               in the flesh is of God:
  every spirit that confesseth       and every spirit which
  not that Jesus                     confesseth not Jesus is
  Christ is come in the              not of God: and this
  flesh is not of God: and           is the _spirit_ of the
  this is that _spirit_ of           antichrist, whereof ye have
  antichrist, whereof ye             heard that it cometh;
  have heard that it                 and now it is in the
  should come; and even              world already. Ye are
  now already is it in the           of God, _my_ little
  world. Ye are of God,              children, and have overcome
  little children, and have          them: because
  overcome them: because             greater is He that is
  greater is He that                 in you, than he that is
  is in you, than he that            in the world. They
  is in the world. They              are of the world, therefore
  are of the world: therefore        speak they _as_ of
  speak they of the                  the world, and the
  world, and the world               world heareth them.
  heareth them. We are               We are of God: he that
  of God: he that knoweth            knoweth God heareth
  God heareth us:                    us: he who is not of
  he that is not of God              God heareth us not.
  heareth not us. Hereby             By this we know the
  know we the spirit                 spirit of truth and the
  of truth, and the spirit           spirit of error.
  of error.


  Beloved, believe not
  any spirit, but try the
  spirits whether they
  are of God: because
  many false prophets
  are gone out into the
  world. Hereby know
  ye the Spirit of God:
  every spirit that confesseth
  Jesus Christ
  come in the flesh is of
  God: and every spirit
  which confesseth not
  Jesus is not of God:
  and this is that _power_
  of the antichrist whereof
  ye have heard that it
  cometh, and even now
  it is in the world already.
  Ye are of God,
  children, and have conquered
  them: because
  greater is He that is
  in you, than he that is
  in the world. They
  are of the world, therefore
  of the world is
  their manner of speech,
  and the world heareth
  them. We are of God;
  he that knoweth God
  heareth us, he who is
  not of God heareth not
  us. From this we know
  the spirit of The Truth,
  and the spirit of the


                            Ch. iv. 1, 7.

Ver. 1. _Believe not any spirit_] μη παντι πνευματι πιστευετε. The
different constructions of πιστευειν in St. John must be carefully
noted. (_a_) With _dative_ as here--"believe not such an one;" take
him not upon trust, at his own word; credit him not with veracity. So
in the Gospel, our Lord continually complains that the Jews did not
even believe Him on His word--strong and clear as that word was with
all the freshness of Heaven, and all the transparency of truth. John
v. 38, 46, viii. 45, 46, x. 37.

(_b_) πιστευειν εις = to make an act of faith in, to repose in as
divine. John iii. 36, iv. 39, vi. 35, xi. 25; 1 John v. 10.

(_c_) With an _accusative_ = to be persuaded of the thing--to believe
it with an implied conviction of permanence in the persuasion--as in
the beautiful verse (iv. 16)--"we are fully persuaded of the love of
God," we make it the creed of our heart. πεπιστευκαμεν την αγαπην.

                            SECTION VIII.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Αγαπητοι, αγαπωμεν                 Carissimi, diligamus
  αλ ληλους, ὁτι ἡ αγαπη             invicem, quoniam caritas
  εκ του Θεου εστι, και              ex Deo est, et
  πας ὁ αγαπων εκ του                omnis qui diligit ex
  Θεου γεγεννηται και                Deo natus est et cognoscit
  γινωσκει τον Θεον· ὁ               Deum. Qui non
  μη αγαπων ουκ εγνω                 diligit non novit Deum,
  τον Θεον· ὁτι ὁ Θεος               quoniam Deus caritas
  αγαπη εστιν. Εν τουτω              est. In hoc apparuit
  εφανερωθη ἡ αγαπη του              caritas Dei in nobis,
  Θεου εν ἡμιν, ὁτι τον              quoniam Filium Suum
  υιον αυτου τον μονογενη            unigenitum misit Deus
  απεσταλκεν ὁ Θεος εις              in mundum, ut vivamus
  τον κοσμον, ἱνα ζησωμεν            per Eum. In hoc
  δι αυτου. εν τουτω                 est caritas, non quasi
  εστιν ἡ αγαπη, ουχ ὁτι             nos dilexerimus Deum,
  ἡμεις ηγαπησαμεν τον               sed quoniam ipse dilexit
  Θεον, αλλ' ὁτι αυτος               nos et misit Filium
  ηγαπησεν ἡμας και                  suum propitionem pro
  απεστειλε τον υιον                 peccatis nostris. Carissimi,
  αυτου ιλασμον περι                 si sic Deus
  των ἁμαρτιων ἡμων.                 dilexit nos, et nos debemus
  αγαπητοι, ει ουτως ὁ               alterutrum diligere.
  Θεος ηγαπησεν ἡμας,                Deum nemo
  και ἡμεις ὁφειλομεν                vidit unquam: si diligamus
  αλληλους αγαπαν. Θεον              invicem, Deus
  ουδεις πωποτε τεθεαται·            in nobis manet, et
  εαν αγαπωμεν αλληλους,             caritas eius in nobis
  ὁ Θεος εν ἡμιν μενει,              perfecta est. In hos
  και ἡ αγαπη αυτου                  intellegimus quoniam
  τετελειωμενη εστιν εν              in eum manemus et
  ἡμιν. εν τουτω γινωσκομεν          ipse in nobis, quoniam
  ὁτι εν αυτω                        de Spiritu Suo dedit
  μενομεν και αυτος εν               nobis. Et nos vidimus
  ἡμιν, ὁτι εκ του Πνευματος         et testificamur quoniam
  αυτου δεδωκεν ἡμιν.                Pater misit Filium
  Και ἡμεις τεθεαμεθα                salvatorem mundi.
  και μαρτυρουμεν ὁτι ὁ              Quicunque confessus
  πατηρ απεσταλκε τον                fuerit quoniam Iesus
  υιου σωτηρα του κοσμου.            est Filius Dei, Deus in
  ὁς αν ὁμολογηση ὁτι               eo manet, et ipse in
  Ιησους εστιν ὁ υιος του            Deo. Et nos cognovimus
  Θεου, ὁ Θεος εν αυτω               et credimus, caritati
  μενει και αυτος εν τω              Dei quam habet
  Θεω. Και ἡμεις εγνωκαμεν           Deus in nobis. Deus
  και πεπιστευκαμεν                  caritas est, et qui manet
  την αγαπην ἡν εχει ὁ               in caritate in Deo manet,
  Θεος εν ἡμιν. ὁ Θεος               et Deus in eo. In
  αγαπη εστι, και ὁ μενων            hoc perfecta est nobiscum
  εν τη αγαπη εν τω Θεω              caritas ut fiduciam
  μενει, και ὁ Θεος εν               habeamus in die iudicii
  αυτω. Εν τουτω τετελειωται         quia sicut ille est et
  ἡ αγαπη μεθ'                       nos sumus in hoc
  ἡμων, ἱνα παρρησιαν                mundo. Timor non
  εχωμεν εν τη ἡμερα της             est in caritate, sed
  κρισεως· ὁτι καθως                 perfecta caritas foras
  εκεινος εστι και ἡμεις             mittit timorem; quoniam
  εσμεν εν τω κοσμω                  timor pœnam
  τουτω. φοβος ουκ εστιν             habet, qui autem timet
  εν τη αγαπη, αλλ' ἡ                non est perfectus in
  τελεια αγαπη εξω βαλλει            caritate. Nos ergo
  τον φοβον, ὁτι ὁ φοβος             diligamus invicem quoniam
  κολασιν εχει, ὁ δε                 Deus prior dilexit
  φοβουμενος ου τετελειωται          nos. Si quis dixerit
  εν τη αγαπη. ἡμεις                 quoniam diligo Deum,
  αγαπωμεν αυτον, ὁτι                et fratrem suum oderit,
  αυτος πρωτος ηγαπησεν              mendax est: qui enim
  ημας. Εαν τις ειπη.                non diligit fratrem
  Ὁτι αγαπω τον Θεον,                suum quem videt,
  και τον αδελφον αυτου              Deum quem non videt
  μιση, ψευστης εστιν· ὁ             quomodo potest diligere?
  γαρ μη αγαπων τον                  Et hoc mandatum
  αδελφον αυτου ὁν ἑωρακε            habemus a Deo,
  τον Θεον ὁν ουχ ἑωρακε             ut qui diligat Deum
  πως δυναται αγαπαν;                diligat et fratrem suum.
  και ταυτην την εντολην
  εχομεν απ' αυτου, ἱνα              Omnis qui credit
  ὁ αγαπων τον Θεον                  quoniam Iesus est
  αγαπα και τον αδελφον              Christus, ex Deo natus
  αυτου.                             est; et omnis qui diligit
                                     eum qui genuit, diligit
  Πας ὁ πιστευων ὁτι                 eum qui natus est
  Ιησους εστιν ὁ Χριστος             ex eo. In hoc cognoscimus
  εκ του Θεου γεγεννηται·            quoniam diligimus
  και πας ὁ αγαπων τον               natos Dei, cum
  γεννησαντα αγαπα και               Deum diligamus et
  τον γεγεννημενον εξ                mandata eius faciamus.
  αυτου. εν τουτω γινωσκομεν         Hæc est enim caritas
  ὁτι αγαπωμεν                       Dei, ut mandata eius
  τα τεκνα του Θεου, ὁταν            custodiamus.
  τον Θεον αγαπωμεν και
  τας εντολας αυτου τηρωμεν.
  αυτη γαρ εστιν
  ἡ αγαπη του Θεου, ἱνα
  τας εντολας αυτου τηρωμεν.


  Beloved, let us love               Beloved, let us love
  one another: for love              one another: for love
  is of God; and every               is of God; and every
  one that loveth is born            one that loveth is begotten
  of God, and knoweth                of God, and
  God. He that loveth                knoweth God. He
  not knoweth not God;               that loveth not knoweth
  for God is love. In                not God; for God
  this was manifested                is love. Herein was
  the love of God toward             the love of God manifested
  us, because that                   in us, that God
  God sent His only begotten         hath sent His only begotten
  Son into the                       Son into the
  world, that we might               world, that we might
  live through Him.                  live through Him.
  Herein is love, not                Herein is love, not
  that we loved God,                 that we loved God,
  but that He loved us,              but that He loved us,
  and sent His Son _to be_           and sent His Son _to be_
  the propitiation for our           the propitiation for our
  sins. Beloved, if God              sins. Beloved, if God
  so loved us, we ought              so loved us, we also
  also to love one another.          ought to love one another.
  No man hath                        No man hath
  seen God at any time.              beheld God at any
  If we love one another,            time: if we love one
  God dwelleth in us,                another, God abideth
  and His love is perfected          in us, and His love is
  in us. Hereby                      perfected in us: hereby
  know we that we dwell              know we that we
  in Him, and He in us,              abide in Him, and He
  because He hath given              in us, because He hath
  us of His Spirit. And              given us of His Spirit.
  we have seen and do                And we have beheld
  testify that the Father            and bear witness that
  sent the Son _to be_ the           the Father hath sent
  Saviour of the world.              the Son _to be_ the
  Whosoever shall confess            Saviour of the world.
  that Jesus is the                  Whosoever shall confess
  Son of God, God dwelleth           that Jesus is the
  in him, and he in                  Son of God, God abideth
  God. And we have                   in him, and he in
  known and believed                 God. And we know
  the love that God hath             and have believed the
  to us. God is love:                love which God hath
  and he that dwelleth               in us. God is love;
  in love dwelleth in                and he that abideth in
  God, and God in him.               love abideth in God,
  Herein is our love                 and God abideth in
  made perfect, that we              him. Herein is love
  may have boldness in               made perfect with us,
  the day of judgment:               that we may have boldness
  because as He is, so               in the day of
  are we in this world.              judgment; because as
  There is no fear in                He is, even so are we
  love; but perfect love             in this world. There
  casteth out fear: because          is no fear in love: but
  fear hath torment.                 perfect love casteth out
  He that feareth                    fear, because fear hath
  is not made perfect                punishment; and he
  in love. We love                   that feareth is not
  Him, because He                    made perfect in love.
  first loved us. If a               We love, because He
  man say, I love God,               first loved us. If a
  and hateth his brother,            man say, I love God,
  he is a liar: for he               and hateth his brother,
  that loveth not his                he is a liar: for he
  brother whom he hath               that loveth not his
  seen, how can he love              brother whom he hath
  God whom he hath not               seen, cannot love God
  seen? And this commandment         whom he hath not seen.
  have we                            And this commandment
  from Him, That he                  have we from
  who loveth God love                Him, that he who
  his brother also.                  loveth God love his
                                     brother also.
  Whosoever believeth
  that Jesus is the Christ           Whosoever believeth
  is born of God: and                that Jesus is the Christ
  every one that loveth              is begotten of God:
  Him that begat loveth              and whosoever loveth
  Him also that is begotten          Him that begat loveth
  of Him. By this we                 Him also that is begotten
  know that we love the              of Him. Hereby
  children of God, when              we know that we
  we love God, and keep              love the children of
  His commandments.                  God, when we love
  For this is the love of            God, and do His commandments.
  God, that we keep                  For this
  His commandments.                  is the love of God, that
                                     we keep His commandments.


  Beloved, let us love
  one another, for love
  is of God, and every
  one that loveth is born
  of God, and knoweth
  God. He that loveth
  not knoweth not God,
  for God is love. In
  this was manifested
  the love of God in us,
  because that God hath
  sent His Son His only
  begotten Son into the
  world that we might
  live through Him. In
  this is The Love, not
  that we loved God,
  but that He loved us,
  and sent His Son _as_
  propitiation for our
  sins. Beloved, if God
  so loved us, we also
  are bounden to love
  one another. God no
  one hath ever yet beholden:
  if we love one
  another God abideth
  in us and His love is
  perfected in us. Herein
  know we that we
  abide in Him, and He
  in us, because He hath
  given us out of the
  _fulness_ of His Spirit.
  And we have beheld
  and are bearing witness
  that the Father
  hath sent the Son _as_
  the Saviour of the
  world. Whosoever
  shall confess that Jesus
  is the Son of God, God
  abideth in him and he
  in God. And we know
  and have believed the
  love which God hath
  in us. God is love; and
  he that abideth in love,
  abideth in God, and
  God in him. Herein
  hath The Love been
  perfected with us that
  we may have boldness
  in the Day of the
  Judgment: because as
  He is so are we in this
  world. Fear is not in
  love: but the perfect
  love casteth out fear,
  because fear bringeth
  punishment with it.
  He that is fearing is
  not made perfect in his
  love. We love Him
  because He first loved
  us. If a man say, I love
  God, and hateth his
  brother, he is a liar:
  for he that loveth not
  his brother whom he
  hath seen, God whom
  he hath not seen how
  can he love? And
  this commandment
  have we from Him,
  that he who loveth
  God love his brother

  Whosoever believeth
  that Jesus is the Christ
  is born of God, and
  every one who loveth
  Him that begat loveth
  also Him that is begotten
  of Him. Herein
  we know that we love
  the children of God,
  when we love God and
  do His commandments:
  for this is the love of
  God, that we observe
  His commandments.

                             DISCOURSE X.

                  _BOLDNESS IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT._

    "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the
    Day of Judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world."--1
    JOHN iv. 17.

It has been so often repeated that St. John's eschatology is idealized
and spiritual, that people now seldom pause to ask what is meant by the
words. Those who repeat them most frequently seem to think that the
idealized means that which will never come into the region of historical
fact, and that the spiritual is best defined as the unreal. Yet, without
postulating the Johannic authorship of the Apocalypse--where the
Judgment is described with the most awful accompaniments of outward
solemnity[256]--there are two places in this Epistle which are allowed
to drop out of view, but which bring us face to face with the visible
manifestations of an external Advent. It is a peculiarity of St. John's
style (as we have frequently seen) to strike some chord of thought, so
to speak, before its time; to allow the prelusive note to float away,
until suddenly, after a time, it surprises us by coming back again with
a fuller and bolder resonance. "And now, my sons,"[257] (had the Apostle
said) "abide in Him, that if He shall be manifested, we may have
confidence, and not be ashamed shrinking from Him[258] at His
coming."[259] In our text the same thought is resumed, and the reality
of the Coming and Judgment in its external manifestation as emphatically
given as in any other part of the New Testament.[260]

We may here speak of the conception of the Day of the Judgment: of the
fear with which that conception is encompassed; and of the sole means
of the removal of that fear which St. John recognises.


We examine the general conception of "the Day of the Judgment," as
given in the New Testament.

As there is that which with terrible emphasis is marked off as "_the_
Judgment,"[261] "_the_ Parousia," so there are other judgments or
advents of a preparatory character. As there are phenomena known as mock
suns, or haloes round the moon, so there are fainter reflections ringed
round the Advent, the Judgment.[262] Thus, in the development of
history, there are successive cycles of continuing judgment; preparatory
advents; less completed _crises_, as even the world calls them.

But against one somewhat widely-spread way of blotting the Day of the
Judgment from the calendar of the future--so far as believers are
concerned--we should be on our guard. Some good men think themselves
entitled to reason thus--"I am a Christian. I shall be an assessor in
the judgment. For me there is, therefore, no judgment day." And it is
even held out as an inducement to others to close with this conclusion,
that they "shall be delivered from the bugbear of judgment."

The origin of this notion seems to be in certain universal tendencies
of modern religious thought.

The idolatry of the immediate--the prompt creation of effect--is the
perpetual snare of _revivalism_. _Revivalism_ is thence fatally bound at
once to follow the tide of emotion, and to increase the volume of the
waters by which it is swept along. But the religious emotion of this
generation has one characteristic by which it is distinguished from that
of previous centuries. The revivalism of the past in all Churches rode
upon the dark waves of fear. It worked upon human nature by exaggerated
material descriptions of hell, by solemn appeals to the throne of
Judgment. Certain schools of biblical criticism have enabled men to
steel themselves against this form of preaching. An age of soft
humanitarian sentiment--superficial, and inclined to forget that perfect
Goodness may be a very real cause of fear--must be stirred by emotions
of a different kind. The infinite sweetness of our Father's heart--the
conclusions, illogically but effectively drawn from this, of an
Infinite good-nature, with its easy-going pardon, reconciliation all
round, and exemption from all that is unpleasant--these, and such as
these, are the only available materials for creating a great volume of
emotion. An invertebrate creed; punishment either annihilated or
mitigated; judgment, changed from a solemn and universal assize, a bar
at which every soul must stand, to a splendid, and--for all who can say
I _am saved_--a triumphant pageant in which they have no anxious
concern; these are the readiest instruments, the most powerful leverage,
with which to work extensively upon masses of men at the present time.
And the seventh article of the Apostles' Creed must pass into the limbo
of exploded superstition.

The only appeal to Scripture which such persons make, with any show of
plausibility, is contained in an exposition of our Lord's teaching in a
part of the fifth chapter of the fourth Gospel.[263] But clearly there
are three Resurrection scenes which may be discriminated in those words.
The first is spiritual, a present awakening of dead souls,[264] in those
with whom the Son of Man is brought into contact in His earthly
ministry. The second is a department of the same spiritual resurrection.
The Son of God, with that mysterious gift of Life in Himself,[265] has
within Him a perpetual spring of rejuvenescence for a faded and dying
world. A renewal of hearts is in process during all the days of time, a
passage for soul after soul out of death into life.[266] The third scene
is the general Resurrection and general Judgment.[267] The first was the
resurrection of comparatively few; the second is the resurrection of
many; the third will be the resurrection of all. If it is said that the
believer "cometh not into _judgment_," the word in that place plainly
signifies _condemnation_.[268]

Clear and plain above all such subtleties ring out the awe-inspiring
words: "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the
Judgment;" "we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ."[269]

Reason supplies us with two great arguments for the General Judgment.
One from the conscience of history, so to speak; the other from the
individual conscience.

1. General history points to a general judgment. If there is no such
judgment to come, then there is no one definite moral purpose in human
society. Progress would be a melancholy word, a deceptive appearance, a
stream that has no issue, a road that leads nowhere. No one who believes
that there is a Personal God, Who guides the course of human affairs,
can come to the conclusion that the generations of man are to go on for
ever without a winding-up, which shall decide upon the doings of all who
take part in human life. In the philosophy of nature, the affirmation or
denial of purpose is the affirmation or denial of God. So in the
philosophy of history. Society without the General Judgment would be a
chaos of random facts, a thing without rational retrospect or definite
end--_i.e._, without God. If man is under the government of God, human
history is a drama, long-drawn, and of infinite variety, with
inconceivably numerous actors. But a drama must have a last act. The
last act of the drama of history is "The Day of the Judgment."

2. The other argument is derived from the individual conscience.

Conscience, as a matter of fact, has two voices. One is _imperative_;
it tells us what we are to do. One is _prophetic_, and warns us of
something which we are to receive. If there is to be no Day of the
General Judgment, then the million prophecies of conscience will be
belied, and our nature prove to be mendacious to its very roots.

There is no essential article of the Christian creed like this which
can be isolated from the rest, and treated as if it stood alone. There
is a _solidarity_ of each with all the rest. Any which is isolated is
in danger itself, and leaves the others exposed. For they have an
internal harmony and congruity. They do not form a hotchpot of
credenda. They are not so many _beliefs_ but one _belief_. Thus the
isolation of articles is perilous. For, when we try to grasp and to
defend one of them, we have no means left of measuring it but by terms
of comparison which are drawn from ourselves, which must therefore be
finite, and by the inadequacy of the scale which they present, appear
to render the article of faith thus detached incredible. Moreover,
each article of our creed is a revelation of the Divine attributes,
which meet together in unity. To divide the attributes by dividing the
form in which they are revealed to us is to belie and falsify the
attribute; to give a monstrous development to one by not taking into
account some other which is its balance and compensation. Thus, many
men deny the truth of a punishment which involves final separation
from God. They glory in the legal judgment which "dismisses hell with
costs." But they do so by fixing their attention exclusively upon the
one dogma which reveals one attribute of God. They isolate it from the
Fall, from the Redemption by Christ, from the gravity of sin, from the
truth that all whom the message of the Gospel reaches may avoid the
penal consequences of sin. It is impossible to face the dogma of
eternal separation from God without facing the dogma of Redemption.
For Redemption involves in its very idea the intensity of sin, which
needed the sacrifice of the Son of God; and further, the fact that the
offer of salvation is so free and wide that it cannot be put away
without a terrible wilfulness.

In dealing with many of the articles of the creed, there are opposite
extremes. Exaggeration leads to a revenge upon them which is, perhaps,
more perilous than neglect. Thus, as regards eternal punishment, in
one country ghastly exaggerations were prevalent. It was assumed that
the vast majority of mankind "are destined to everlasting punishment";
that "the floor of hell is crawled over by hosts of babies a span
long." The inconsistency of such views with the love of God, and with
the best instincts of man, was victoriously and passionately
demonstrated. Then unbelief turned upon the dogma itself, and argued,
with wide acceptance, that "with the overthrow of this conception goes
the whole redemption-plan, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the
Resurrection, and the grand climax of the Church-scheme, the General
Judgment." But the alleged article of faith was simply an
exaggeration of that faith, and the objections lay altogether against
the exaggeration of it.


We have now to speak of the removal of that terror which accompanies the
conception of the Day of the Judgment, and of the sole means of that
emancipation which St. John recognises. For terror there is in every
point of the repeated descriptions of Scripture--in the surroundings, in
the summons, in the tribunal, in the trial, in one of the two sentences.

"God is love," writes St. John, "and he that abideth in love abideth
in God: and God abideth in him. In this [abiding], love stands
perfected _with us_,[270] and the object is nothing less than this,"
not that we may be exempted from judgment, but that "we may have
boldness in the Day of the Judgment." Boldness! It is the splendid
word which denotes the citizen's right of free speech, the masculine
privilege of courageous liberty.[271] It is the tender word which
expresses the child's unhesitating confidence, in "saying all out" to
the parent. The ground of the boldness is conformity to Christ.
Because "as He _is_," with that vivid idealizing sense, frequent in
St. John when he uses it of our Lord--"as He is," delineated in the
fourth Gospel, seen by "the eye of the heart"[272] with constant
reverence in the soul, with adoring wonder in heaven, perfectly true,
pure, and righteous--"even so" (not, of course, with any equality in
degree to that consummate ideal, but with a likeness ever growing, an
aspiration ever advancing[273])--"so are we in this world," purifying
ourselves as He is pure.

Let us draw to a definite point our considerations upon the Judgment,
and the Apostle's sweet encouragement for the "day of wrath, that
dreadful day."

It is of the essence of the Christian faith to believe that the Son of
God, in the Human Nature which He assumed, and which He has borne into
heaven, shall come again, and gather all before Him, and pass sentence
of condemnation or of peace according to their works. To hold this is
necessary to prevent terrible doubts of the very existence of God; to
guard us against sin, in view of that solemn account; to comfort us
under affliction.

What a thought for us, if we would but meditate upon it! Often we
complain of a commonplace life, of mean and petty employment. How can
it be so, when at the end we, and those with whom we live, must look
upon that great, overwhelming sight! Not an eye that shall not see
Him, not a knee that shall not bow, not an ear that shall not hear the
sentence. The heart might sink and the imagination quail under the
burden of the supernatural existence which we cannot escape. One of
two looks we must turn upon the Crucified--one willing as that which
we cast on some glorious picture, or on the enchantment of the sky;
the other unwilling and abject. We should weep first with Zechariah's
mourners, with tears at once bitter because they are for sin, and
sweet because they are for Christ.

But, above all things, let us hear how St. John sings us the sweet low
hymn that breathes consolation through the terrible fall of the triple
hammer-stroke of the rhyme in the _Dies iræ_. We must seek to lead
upon earth a life laid on the lines of Christ's. Then, when the Day of
the Judgment comes; when the cross of fire (so, at least, the early
Christians thought) shall stand in the black vault; when the sacred
wounds of Him who was pierced shall stream over with a light beyond
dawn or sunset; we shall find that the discipline of life is complete,
that God's love after all its long working with us stands perfected,
so that we shall be able, as citizens of the kingdom, as children of
the Father, to say out all. A Christlike character in an un-Christlike
world--this is the cure of the disease of terror. Any other is but the
medicine of a quack. "There is no fear in love; but the perfect love
casteth out fear, because fear brings punishment; and he that feareth
is not made perfect in love."[274]

We may well close with that pregnant commentary on this verse which
tells us of the four possible conditions of a human soul--"without
either fear or love; with fear, without love; with fear and love; with
love, without fear."[275]


                           Ch. iv. 7, v. 3.

Ver. 3. This verse should divide about the middle.


[256] Apoc. xx. 12, 13.

[257] 1 John ii. 28.

[258] αισχυνθωμεν απ' αυτου, see Jerem. xii. 13 (for מִן בּושׁ). Prof.
Westcott happily quotes, "as a guilty thing surprised."

[259] _Coming_, εν τη παρουσια αυτου. The word is not found elsewhere
in the Johannic group of writings. But by his use of it here, St. John
falls into line with the whole array of apostolic witnesses--with St.
Matthew (xxiv. 3-27, 37, 39); with St. Paul (_passim_); with St. James
(v. 7, 8); with St. Peter (2 Peter i. 16, iii. 4-12). This fact may
well warn critics of the precarious character of theories founded upon
"the negative phenomena of the books of the New Testament." (See
Professor Westcott's excellent note, _The Epistles of St. John_, 80.)

[260] (εν τη ἡμερα της κρισεως)--"in the Day of the Judgment"--cf.
Apoc. xiv. 7. We have "in THE Judgment" (Matt. xii. 41, 42; Luke x.
14, xi. 31, 32)--the indefinite "day of judgment" (Matt. x. 15, xi.
22, 24; Mark vi. 11).

[261] 2 Pet. ii. 9, iii. 7--but "_The_ Day of _The_ Judgment," here

[262] Cf. our Lord's words--"_henceforth_ (απ' αρτι) ye shall see the
Son of Man _coming_." (Matt. xxvi. 64.)

[263] John v. 21, 29.

[264] Ver. 21.

[265] Ver. 26.

[266] Ver. 24.

[267] Ver. 28, 29.

[268] The writer ventures to lament the substitution of "judgment" for
"condemnation," ver. 24. R.V. It is a verbal consistency, or minute
accuracy, purchased at the heavy price of a false thought, suggested
to many readers who are not scholars. "In John's language κρισις is,
(_a_) that _judgment_ which came in pain and misery to those who
rejected the salvation offered to mankind by Christ, iii. 19, κ.τ.λ.,
ερχεσθαι εις κρισιν, to _fall into the state of one thus condemned_,
v. 24. (_b_) Judgment of condemnation to the wicked, with ensuing
rejection, v. 29." Grimm. Lex. N.T. 247. Between this passage of the
fourth Gospel and Apoc. xx., there is a marvellous inner harmony of
thought. "The first resurrection" (ver. 6) = John v. 21, 26; then vv.
11, 12, 13 = John v. 28, 29.

[269] Heb. ix. 27; 2 Cor. v. 10, cf. Rom. xiv. 10; Apoc. xx. 11, 12, 13.

[270] μεθ' ἡμων--God's love in itself is perfected. It might be made
as perfect as man's nature will admit by an instantaneous act; but God
works jointly, in companionship with us. The grace of God "preventing
us that we may will, _works with us_ when we will." The essential idea
of μετα is _companionship_ or _connexion_. (See Donaldson, _Gr. Gr.,
50, 52 a._)

[271] ελευθεριας ἡ πολις μεστη και παρρησιας γιγνεται. (Plat., _Rep._,
557 B). The word is derived from παν and ῥησις.

[272] Ephes. i. 18.

[273] Cf. Matt. v. 48.

[274] Ver. 18.

[275] Bengel. The writer must acknowledge his obligation to Professor
Westcott, whose exposition gives us a peculiar conception of the depth
of St. John's teaching here. (_The Epistles of St. John_, 149-153).

                             SECTION IX.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Και αι εντολαι αυτου               Et mandata eius gravia
  βαρειαι ουκ εισιν· ὁτι             non sunt. Quoniam
  παν το γεγεννημενον εκ             omne quod natum est
  του Θεου νικα τον                  ex Deo vincit mundum:
  κοσμον· και αυτη εστιν             et hæc est victoria
  ἡ νικη ἡ νικησασα τον              quæ vincit mundum,
  κοσμον, ἡ πιστις ἡμων.             fides nostra. Quis est
  τις εστιν ὁ νικων τον              qui vincit mundum nisi
  κοσμον, ει μη ὁ πιστευων           qui credit quoniam
  ὁτι Ιησους εστιν ὁ υιος            Iesus est Filius Dei?
  του Θεου; Ουτος εστιν              Hic est qui venit per
  ὁ ελθων δι ὑδατος και              aquam et sanguinem,
  αιματος, Ιησους ὁ Χριστος·         Iesus Christus: non in
  ουκ εν τω ὑδατι                    aqua solum, sed in
  μονον, αλλ' εν τω ὑδατι            aqua et sanguine. Et
  και εν τω αιματι· και το           Spiritus est qui testificatur
  πνευμα εστι το μαρτυρουν,          quoniam Christus
  ὁτι το πνευμα                      est veritas. Quia
  εστιν ἡ αληθεια. ὁτι               tres sunt qui testimonium
  τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες,       dant, Spiritus
  το πνευμα, και                     et aqua et sanguis, et
  το ὑδωρ, και το αιμα·              tres unum sunt. Si
  και οι τρεις εις το ἑν             testimonium hominum
  εισιν. Ει την μαρτυριαν            accipimus, testimonium
  των ανθρωπων λαμβανομεν,           Dei maius est: quoniam
  ἡ μαρτυρια του                     hoc est testimonium
  Θεου μειζων εστιν· ὁτι             Dei quod
  αυτη εστιν ἡ μαρτυρια              maius est, quia testificatus
  του Θεου, ὁτι μεμαρτυρηκεν         est de Filio suo.
  περι του υιου                      Qui credit in Filio Dei,
  αυτου. ὁ πιστευων εις              habet testimonium Dei
  τον υιον του Θεου, εχει            in se: qui non credit
  την μαρτυριαν εν αυτω.             mendacem facit eum:
  ὁ μη πιστευων τω                   quoniam non credidit
  Θεω, ψευστην πεποιηκεν             in testimonio quod
  αυτον, ὁτι ου πεπιστευκεν          testificatus est Deus
  εις την μαρτυριαν, ἡν              de Filio suo. Et hoc
  μεμαρτυρηκεν ὁ Θεος                est testimonium, quoniam
  περι του υιου αυτου.               vitam eternam
  Και αυτη εστιν ἡ μαρτυρια          dedit nobis Deus, et
  ὁτι ζωην αιωνιον                   hæc vita in Filio eius.
  εδωκεν ἡμιν ὁ Θεος· και            Qui habet Filium habet
  αυτη ἡ ζωη εν τω υιω               vitam: qui non habet
  αυτου εστιν. ὁ εχων                filium vitam non habet.
  τον υιον, εχει την ζωην·           Hæc scripsi vobis ut
  ὁ μη εχων τον υιον του             sciatis quoniam vitam
  Θεου, την ζωην ουκ εχει.           habetis æternam, qui
  Ταυτα εγραψα ὑμιν ἱνα              creditis in nomine
  ειδητε ὁτι ζωην εχετε              Filii Dei. Et hæc est
  αιωνιον, οι πιστευοντες            fiducia quam habemus
  εις το ὁνομα του υιου              ad eum quia quodcumque
  του Θεου. Και αυτη                 petierimus secundum
  εστιν ἡ παρρησια ἡν                voluntatem
  εχομεν προς αυτον, ὁτι             eius audit nos. Et
  εαν τι αιτωμεθα κατα               scimus quoniam audit
  το θελημα αυτου, ακουει            nos quicquid petierimus,
  ἡμων· και εαν οιδαμεν              scimus quoniam
  ὁτι ακουει ἡμων ὁ αν               habemus petitiones
  αιτωμεθα, οιδαμεν ὁτι              quas postulamus ab eo.
  εχομεν τα αιτηματα α               Qui scit fratrem suum
  ητηκαμεν παρ' αυτου.               peccare peccatum non
  Εαν τις ιδη τον αδελφον            ad mortem, petit, et
  αυτου αμαρτανοντα                  dabit ei vitam, peccantibus
  αμαρτιαν μη προς θανατον,          non ad mortem.
  αιτησει, και δωσει                 Est peccatum ad mortem:
  αυτω ζωην τοις ἁμαρτανουσι         non pro illo dico
  μη προς θανατον.                   ut roget quis. Omnis
  εστιν αμαρτια προς                 iniquitas peccatum est:
  θανατον· ου περι εκεινης           et est peccatum ad
  λεγω ἱνα ερωτηση· πασα             mortem.
  αδικια αμαρτια εστιν,
  και εστιν αμαρτια ου
  προς θανατον.


  And His commandments               And His commandments
  are not grievous.                  are not grievous.
  For whatsoever is born             For whatsoever is begotten
  of God overcometh the              of God overcometh
  world: and this is the             the world: and
  victory that overcometh            this is the victory that
  the world, _even_ our              hath overcome the
  faith. Who is he that              world, _even_ our faith.
  overcometh the world,              And who is he that
  but he that believeth              overcometh the world,
  that Jesus is the Son              but he that believeth
  of God? This is He                 that Jesus is the Son
  that came by water                 of God? This is He
  and blood, _even_ Jesus            that came by water
  Christ; not by water               and blood, _even_ Jesus
  only, but by water and             Christ; not with the
  blood. And it is the               water only, but with
  Spirit that beareth witness,       the water and with the
  because the Spirit                 blood. And it is the
  is truth. For there                Spirit that beareth
  are three that bear                witness, because the
  record in heaven, the              Spirit is the truth.
  Father, the Word, and              For there are three
  the Holy Ghost: and                who bear witness, the
  these three are one.               Spirit, and the water,
  And there are three                and the blood: and the
  that bear witness in               three agree in one. If
  earth, the spirit, and             we receive the witness
  the water, and the                 of men, the witness of
  blood: and these three             God is greater: for the
  agree in one. If we                witness of God is this,
  receive the witness of             that He hath borne
  men, the witness of                witness concerning His
  God is greater: for                Son. He that believeth
  this is the witness of             on the Son of God hath
  God which He hath                  the witness in him: he
  testified of His Son.              that believeth not God
  He that believeth on               hath made Him a liar:
  the Son of God hath                because he hath not
  the witness in himself:            believed in the witness
  he that believeth not              that God hath borne
  God hath made Him a                concerning His Son.
  liar; because he believeth         And the witness is
  not the record                     this, that God gave
  that God gave of His               unto us eternal life,
  Son. And this is the               and this life is in His
  record, that God hath              Son. He that hath the
  given to us eternal life,          Son hath the life; he
  and this life is in His            that hath not the Son
  Son. He that hath the              of God hath not the life.
  Son hath life; _and_ he            These things have I
  that hath not the Son              written unto you, that
  of God hath not life.              ye may know that ye
  These things have I                have eternal life, _even_
  written unto you that              unto you that believe
  believe on the name of             on the name of the Son
  the Son of God; that               of God. And this is
  ye may know that ye                the boldness which we
  have eternal life, and             have toward Him, that,
  that ye may believe on             if we ask any thing
  the name of the Son of             according to His will,
  God. And this is the               He heareth us: and if
  confidence that we                 we know that He heareth
  have in Him, that, if              us whatsoever we
  ask any thing according            ask, we know that
  to His will, He                    we have the petitions
  heareth us: and if we              which we have asked
  know that He hear us,              of Him. If any man
  whatsoever we ask,                 see his brother sinning
  we know that we have               a sin not unto death,
  the petitions that we              he shall ask, and _God_
  desired of Him. If                 will give him life for
  any man see his brother            them that sin not unto
  sin a sin _which is_               death. (There is a sin
  not unto death, he shall           unto death). There
  ask, and He shall give             is sin unto death; not
  him life for them that             concerning this _sin_ am
  sin not unto death.                I saying that he should
  There is a sin unto                make request. All
  death: I do not say                unrighteousness is sin,
  that he shall pray for             and there is sin not
  it. All unrighteousness            unto death.
  is sin: and there
  is a sin not unto death.


  And His commandments
  are not heavy,
  for whatsoever is born
  of God conquereth the
  world: and this is the
  conquest that hath conquered
  the world--the
  Faith of us. Who is
  he that is conquering
  the world, but he that
  is believing that Jesus
  is the Son of God?
  This is He that came
  by water and blood--Jesus
  Christ: not with
  the water only, but
  with the water and
  with the blood. And
  the Spirit is that which
  is ever witnessing that
  the Spirit is the truth.
  For three are they who
  are ever witnessing, the
  Spirit and the water
  and the blood: and the
  three agree in one.

  If we receive the witness
  of men the witness
  of God is greater;
  because the witness of
  God is this, because (_I
  say_) He hath witnessed
  concerning His Son.
  He that is believing on
  the Son of God hath the
  witness in him, he that
  is not believing God
  hath made Him a liar:
  because he is not a
  believer in the witness
  that God witnessed
  concerning His Son.
  And this is the witness,
  that God gave
  unto us eternal life,
  and this life is in His
  Son. He that hath the
  Son hath the life, he
  that hath not the Son
  of God hath not the
  life. These things have
  I written unto you that
  ye may know that ye
  have eternal life--ye
  that are believing in
  the name of the Son
  of God! And this is
  the boldness which we
  have to Himward, that
  if we ask any thing
  according to His will,
  He is hearing us: and
  if we know that He is
  hearing us, we know
  that we have the desires
  that we have
  desired from Him. If
  any man see his brother
  sinning sin not unto
  death, he shall ask,
  and _God_ shall give him
  life--(I _mean_ for those
  who are not sinning
  unto death). Not concerning
  this _sin_ am I
  saying that he should
  make request. All unrighteousness
  is sin,
  and there is sin not
  unto death.

                            DISCOURSE XI.

                         _BIRTH AND VICTORY._

    "And His commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of
    God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh
    the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but
    he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"--1 JOHN v. 3, 4, 5.

St. John here connects the Christian birth with victory. He tells us
that of the supernatural life the destined and (so to speak) natural
end is conquest.

Now in this there is a _contrast_ between the law of nature and the
law of grace. No doubt the first is marvellous. It may even, if we
will, in one sense be termed a victory; for it is the proof of a
successful contest with the blind fatalities of natural environment.
It is in itself the conquest of a something which has conquered a
world below it. The first faint cry of the baby is a wail no doubt;
but in its very utterance there is a half triumphant undertone.
Boyhood, youth, opening manhood--at least in those who are physically
and intellectually gifted--generally possess some share of "the
rapture of the strife" with nature and with their contemporaries.

      "Youth hath triumphal mornings; its days bound
       From night as from a victory."

But sooner or later that which pessimists style "the martyrdom of
life" sets in. However brightly the drama opens, the last scene is
always tragic. Our natural birth inevitably ends in defeat.

A birth and a defeat is thus the epitome of each life which is
naturally brought into the field of our present human existence. The
defeat is sighed over, sometimes consummated, in every cradle; it is
attested by every grave.

But if birth and defeat is the motto of the natural life, birth and
victory is the motto of every one born into the city of God.

This victory is spoken of in our verses as a victory along the whole
line. It is the conquest of the collective Church, of the whole mass of
regenerate humanity, so far as it has been true to the principle of its
birth[276]--the conquest of the Faith which is "The Faith of _us_,"[277]
who are knit together in one communion and fellowship in the mystical
body of the Son of God, Christ our Lord. But it is something more than
that. The general victory is also a victory in detail. Every true
individual believer shares in it.[278] The battle is a battle of
soldiers. The abstract ideal victory is realised and made concrete in
each life of struggle which is a life of enduring faith. The triumph is
not merely one of a school, or of a party. The question rings with a
triumphant challenge down the ranks--"who is the ever-conqueror of the
world, but the ever-believer that Jesus is the Son of God?"

We are thus brought to two of St. John's great master-conceptions,
both of which came to him from _hearing_ the Lord who is the
Life--both of which are to be read in connection with the fourth
Gospel--the Christian's _Birth_ and his _victory_.


The Apostle introduces the idea of the birth which has its origin from
God precisely by the same process to which attention has already been
more than once directed.

St. John frequently mentions some great subject; at first like a
musician who with perfect command of his instrument, touches what
seems to be an almost random key, faintly, as if incidentally and half
wandering from his theme. But just as the sound appears to be absorbed
by the purpose of the composition, or all but lost in the distance,
the same chord is struck again more decidedly; and then, after more or
less interval, is brought out with a music so full and sonorous, that
we perceive that it has been one of the master's leading ideas from
the very first. So, when the subject is first spoken of, we
hear--"every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him."[279] The
subject is suspended for a while; then comes a somewhat more marked
reference. "Whosoever is born of God is not a doer of sin; and he
cannot continue sinning, because of God he is born." There is yet one
more tender recurrence to the favourite theme--"every one that loveth
is born of God."[280] Then, finally here at last the chord, so often
struck, grown bolder since the prelude, gathers all the music round
it. It interweaves with itself another strain which has similarly been
gaining amplitude of volume in its course, until we have a great _Te
Deum_, dominated by two chords of Birth and Victory. "This _is_ the
conquest that has _conquered_ the world--the Faith which is of us."

We shall never come to any adequate notion of St. John's conception of
the Birth of God, without tracing the place in his Gospel to which his
asterisk in this place refers. To one passage only can we turn--our
Lord's conversation with Nicodemus. "Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God--except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."[281] The germ of
the idea of entrance into the city, the kingdom of God, by means of a
new birth, is in that storehouse of theological conceptions, the
psalter. There is one psalm of a Korahite seer, enigmatical it may be,
shadowed with the darkness of a divine compression,[282] obscure from
the glory that rings it round, and from the gush of joy in its few and
broken words. The 87th Psalm is the psalm of the font, the hymn of
regeneration. The nations once of the world are mentioned among them
that know the Lord. They are counted when He writeth up the peoples.
Glorious things are spoken of the City of God. Three times over the
burden of the song is the new birth by which the aliens were made free
of Sion.

      This one was born there,
      This one and that one was born in her,
      This one was born there.[283]

All joyous life is thus brought into the city of the new-born. "The
singers, the solemn dances, the fresh and glancing springs, are in
thee."[284] Hence, from the notification of men being born again in
order to see and enter into the kingdom, our Lord, as if in surprise,
meets the Pharisee's question--"how can these things be?"--with
another--"art thou that teacher in Israel,[285] and understandest not
these things?" Jesus tells His Church for ever that every one of His
disciples must be brought into contact with two worlds, with two
influences--one outward, the other inward; one material, the other
spiritual; one earthly, the other heavenly; one visible and
sacramental, the other invisible and divine. Out of these he must come
forth new-born.

Of course it may be said that "the water" here coupled with the Spirit
is _figurative_. But let it be observed first, that from the very
constitution of St. John's intellectual and moral being things outward
and visible were not annihilated by the spiritual transparency which he
imparted to them. Water, literal water, is everywhere in his writings.
In his Gospel more especially he seems to be ever seeing, ever hearing
it. He loved it from the associations of his own early life, and from
the mention made of it by his Master. And as in the Gospel water is, so
to speak, one of the three great factors and centres of the book;[286]
so now in the Epistle, it still seems to glance and murmur before him.
"The water" is one of the three abiding witnesses in the Epistle also.
Surely, then, our Apostle would be eminently unlikely to express "the
Spirit of God" _without_ the outward water by "water _and_ the Spirit."
But above all, Christians should beware of a "licentious and deluding
alchemy of interpretation which maketh of anything whatsoever it
listeth." In immortal words--"when the letter of the law hath two things
plainly and expressly specified, water and the Spirit; water, as a duty
required on our part, the Spirit, as a gift which God bestoweth; there
is danger in so presuming to interpret it, as if the clause which
concerneth ourselves were more than needed. We may by such rare
expositions attain perhaps in the end to be thought witty, but with ill

But, it will further be asked, whether we bring the Saviour's
saying--"except any one be born again of water and the Spirit"--into
direct connection with the baptism of infants? Above all, whether we
are not encouraging every baptised person to hold that somehow or
other he will have a part in the victory of the regenerate?

We need no other answer than that which is implied in the very force
of the word here used by St. John--"all that is born of God conquereth
the world." "That is born" is the participle perfect.[288] The force
of the perfect is not simply past action, but such action lasting on
in its effects. Our text, then, speaks only of those who having been
born again into the kingdom continue in a corresponding condition, and
unfold the life which they have received. The Saviour spoke first and
chiefly of the initial act. The Apostle's circumstances, now in his
old age, naturally led him to look on from that. St. John is no
"idolater of the immediate." Has the gift received by his spiritual
children worn long and lasted well? What of the new life which should
have issued from the New Birth? Regenerate in the past, are they
renewed in the present?

This simple piece of exegesis lets us at once perceive that another
verse in this Epistle, often considered of almost hopeless perplexity,
is in truth only the perfection of sanctified (nay, it may be said, of
moral) common-sense; an intuition of moral and spiritual instinct.
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for his seed remaineth in
him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." We have just seen
the real significance of the words "he that is born of God"--he for whom
his past birth lasts on in its effects. "He _doeth_ not sin," is not a
sin-doer, makes it not his "trade," as an old commentator says. Nay, "he
is not able to be" (to keep on) "sinning." "He cannot sin." He cannot!
There is no physical impossibility. Angels will not sweep him away upon
their resistless pinions. The Spirit will not hold him by the hand as if
with a mailed grasp, until the blood spirts from his finger-tips, that
he may not take the wine-cup, or walk out to the guilty assignation. The
compulsion of God is like that which is exercised upon us by some
pathetic wounded-looking face that gazes after us with a sweet reproach.
Tell the honest poor man with a large family of some safe and
expeditious way of transferring his neighbour's money to his own pocket.
He will answer, "I cannot steal:" that is, "I cannot steal, however
much it may physically be within my capacity, without a burning shame,
an agony to my nature worse than death." On some day of fierce heat,
hold a draught of iced wine to a total abstainer, and invite him to
drink. "I cannot," will be his reply. Cannot! He can, so far as his hand
goes; he cannot, without doing violence to a conviction, to a promise,
to his own sense of truth. And he who continues in the fulness of his
God-given Birth "does not _do_ sin," "cannot be sinning." Not that he is
sinless, not that he never fails, or does not sometimes fall; not that
sin ceases to be sin to him, because he thinks that he has a standing in
Christ. But he cannot go on in sin without being untrue to his birth;
without a stain upon that finer, whiter, more sensitive conscience,
which is called "spirit" in a son of God; without a convulsion in his
whole being which is the precursor of death, or an insensibility which
is death actually begun.

How many such texts as these are practically useless to most of us! The
armoury of God is full of keen swords which we refrain from handling,
because they have been misused by others. None is more neglected than
this. The fanatic has shrieked out--"sin in my case! I _cannot_ sin. _I_
may hold a sin in my bosom; and God may hold me in His arms for all
that. At least, I may hold that which would be a sin in you and most
others; but to _me_ it is _not_ sin." On the other hand, stupid goodness
maunders out some unintelligible paraphrase, until pew and reader yawn
from very weariness. Divine truth in its purity and plainness is thus
discredited by the exaggeration of the one, or buried in the leaden
winding-sheet of the stupidity of the other.

In leaving this portion of our subject we may compare the view latent
in the very idea of infant baptism with that of the leader of a
well-known sect upon the beginnings of the spiritual life in children.

"May not children grow up into salvation, without knowing the exact
moment of their conversion?" asks "General" Booth. His answer is--"yes,
it may be so; and we trust that in the future this will be the usual way
in which children may be brought to Christ." The writer goes on to tell
us how the New Birth will take place in future. "When the conditions
named in the first pages of this volume are complied with--when the
parents are godly, and the children are surrounded by holy influences
and examples from their birth, and trained up in the spirit of their
early dedication--they will _doubtless come to know and love and trust
their Saviour in the ordinary course of things_. The Holy Ghost will
take possession of them from the first. Mothers and fathers will, as it
were, put them into the Saviour's arms in their swaddling clothes, and
He will take them, and bless them, and sanctify them from the very womb,
and make them His own, without their knowing the hour or the place when
they pass from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. In
fact, with such little ones it shall never be very dark, for their
natural birth shall be, as it were, in the spiritual twilight, which
begins with the dim dawn, and increases gradually until the noonday
brightness is reached; so answering to the prophetic description, 'The
path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more
unto the perfect day.'"[289]

No one will deny that this is tenderly and beautifully written. But
objections to its teaching will crowd upon the mind of thoughtful
Christians. It seems to defer to a period in the future, to a new era
incalculably distant, when Christendom shall be absorbed in
Salvationism, that which St. John in his day contemplated as the normal
condition of believers, which the Church has always held to be capable
of realization, which has been actually realized in no few whom most of
us must have known. Further; the fountain-heads of thought, like those
of the Nile, are wrapped in obscurity. By what process grace may work
with the very young is an insoluble problem in psychology, which
Christianity has not revealed. We know nothing further than that Christ
blessed little children. That blessing was _impartial_, for it was
communicated to all who were brought to Him; it was _real_, otherwise He
would not have blessed them at all. That He conveys to them such grace
as they are capable of receiving is all that we can know. And yet again;
the Salvationist theory exalts parents and surroundings into the place
of Christ. It deposes His sacrament, which lies at the root of St.
John's language, and boasts that it will secure Christ's end, apparently
without any recognition of Christ's _means_.


The second great idea in the verses at the head of this discourse is
_Victory_. The intended issue of the new birth is conquest--"all that
is born of God conquers the world."

The idea of victory is almost[290] exclusively confined to St. John's
writings. The idea is first expressed by Jesus--"be of good cheer: I
have conquered the world."[291] The first prelusive touch in the
Epistle, hints at the fulfilment of the Saviour's comfortable word in
one class of the Apostle's spiritual children. "I write unto you,
young men, because ye have conquered the wicked one. I have written
unto you, young men, because ye have conquered the wicked one."[292]
Next, a bolder and ampler strain--"ye are of God, little children, and
have conquered them: because greater is He that is in you, than he
that is in the world."[293] Then with a magnificent persistence, the
trumpet of Christ wakens echoes to its music all down and round the
defile through which the host is passing--"all that is born of God
conquereth the world: and this is the conquest that has conquered the
world--the Faith which is ours."[294] When, in St. John's other great
book, we pass with the seer into Patmos, the air is, indeed, "full of
noises and sweet sounds." But dominant over all is a storm of triumph,
a passionate exultation of victory. Thus each epistle to each of the
seven Churches closes with a promise "to him that _conquereth_."

The text promises _two_ forms of victory.

1. A victory is promised to the Church universal. "_All that_ is born
of God conquereth the world." This conquest is concentrated in, almost
identified with "the Faith." Primarily, in this place, the term (here
alone found in our Epistle) is not the faith by _which we believe_,
but the Faith _which is_ believed--as in some other places;[295] not
faith subjective, but The Faith objectively.[296] Here is the dogmatic
principle. The Faith involves definite knowledge of definite
principles. The religious knowledge, which is not capable of being put
into definite propositions, we need not trouble ourselves greatly
about. But we are guarded from over-dogmatism. The word "of us" which
follows "the Faith" is a mediating link between the objective and the
subjective. First, we possess this Faith as a common heritage. Then,
as in the Apostle's creed we begin to individualise this common
possession by prefixing "I believe" to every article of it. Then the
victory contained in the creed, the victory which the creed _is_ (for
more truly again than of Duty may it be said of Faith, "thou who _art
victory_"[297]), is made over to each who believes. Each, and each
alone, who in soul is ever believing, in practice is ever victorious.

This declaration is full of promise for missionary work. There is no
system of error, however ancient, subtle, or highly organised, which
must not go down before the strong collective life of the regenerate.
No less encouraging is it at home. No form of sin is incapable of
being overthrown. No school of anti-Christian thought is invulnerable
or invincible. There are other apostates besides Julian who will
cry--"Galilæe, vicisti!"

2. The second victory promised is individual, for each of us. Not only
where cathedral-spires lift high the triumphant cross; on
battle-fields which have added kingdoms to Christendom; by the
martyr's stake, or in the arena of the Coliseum, have these words
proved true. The victory comes down to us. In hospitals, in shops, in
courts, in ships, in sick-rooms, they are fulfilled for us. We see
their truth in the patience, sweetness, resignation, of little
children, of old men, of weak women. They give a high consecration and
a glorious meaning to much of the suffering that we see. What, we are
sometimes tempted to cry--is _this_ Christ's Army? are these His
soldiers, who can go anywhere and do anything? Poor weary ones! with
white lips, and the beads of death-sweat on their faces, and the
thorns of pain ringed like a crown round their foreheads; so wan, so
worn, so tired, so suffering, that even our love dares not pray for
them to live a little longer yet. Are these the elect of the elect,
the vanguard of the regenerate, who carry the flag of the cross where
its folds are waved by the storm of battle; whom St. John sees
advancing up the slope with such a burst of cheers and such a swell of
music that the words--"this is the conquest"--spring spontaneously
from his lips? Perhaps the angels answer with a voice which we cannot
hear--"whatsoever is born of God conquereth the world." May we fight
so manfully that each may render if not his "pure" yet his purified

                "soul unto his captain Christ,
      Under whose colours he hath fought so long:"

--that we may know something of the great text in the Epistle to the
Romans, with its matchless translation--"we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us"[298]--that arrogance of victory which is at
once so splendid and so saintly.


[276] This is expressed, after St. John's fashion, by the neuter, παν
το γεγεννημενον εκ του Θεου. ver. 4.

[277] ἡ πιστις ἡμων, ver. 4.

[278] ὁ νικων τον κοσμον, ὁ πιστευων, ver. 5.

[279] 1 John ii. 29.

[280] 1 John iv. 7.

[281] John iii. 5.

[282] σφοδρα αινιγματωδης και σκοτεινως ειρημενος. Euseb.


    יֻלָּר־שָׁמ וֶה.   Ver. 4.
יֻלַּר־בָּהּ וְאִישׁ אִישׁ.   Ver. 5.
    יֻלָּר־שָׁמ וֶה.   Ver. 6. Psalm lxxxvii.


      "Both they who sing and they who dance,
        With sacred song are there;
      In thee fresh brooks and soft streams glance,
        And all my fountains clear."
                      MILTON, Paraphrase Ps. lxxxvii. 7.

This, on the whole, seems to be considered the most tenable

[285] Συ ει ὁ διδασκαλος του Ισραηλ; John iii. 10.

[286] John i. 26, ii. 6, 9, iii. 5-22, iv. 6-16, v. 3, vii. 37, 39,
ix. 7, xiii. 1-5, xix. 34.

[287] Hooker, _E. P._, V. lix. (4).

[288] So the perfect is used throughout. γεγεννηται. ii. 29, iii. 9,
iv. 7. παν το γεγεννημενον. v. 4. Very remarkably below, πας ὁ
γεγεννημενος--αλλα ὁ γεννηθεις εκ του Θεου; the first of the
regenerate man who continues in that condition of grace, the second of
the Begotten Son of God who keeps His servant. 1 John v. 18.

[289] _Training of children; or How to Make the Children into Saints
and Soldiers of Jesus Christ._ By the General of the Salvation Army.
London: Salvation Army Book Stores, pp. 162, 163.

[290] Not quite, cf. Rom. viii. 37, xii, 21; 1 Cor. xv. 55, 57. The
substantive νικη occurs only 1 John v. 4. A slightly different form
(νικος) is in Matt. xii. 20; 1 Cor. xv. 54, 55, 57.

[291] John xvi. 33.

[292] John ii. 13, 14.

[293] 1 John iv. 4.

[294] It does not seem possible to convey to the English reader the
fourfold harping upon the word (1 John v. 4, 5) by any other rendering.
"The _victory_ that hath _overcome_ the world" (R.V.) fails in this. The
noble translation of ὑπερνικωμεν (Rom. viii. 37), happily retained by
the Revisers, is rendered consistent by the translation here proposed.

[295] Apoc. ii. 13, xiv. 12.

[296] Fides _quæ creditur_, not _quâ creditur_.


  "Thou who art victory!"     WORDSWORTH, _Ode to Duty_.

[298] ὑπερνικωμεν. Rom. viii. 37.

                            DISCOURSE XII.


    "It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is
    truth. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit, and the
    water, and the blood; and these three agree in one. If we receive
    the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, for this is the
    witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that
    believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."--1 JOHN
    v. 6-10.

It has been said that Apostles and apostolic men were as far as
possible removed from common-sense, and have no conception of evidence
in our acceptation of the word. About this statement there is scarcely
even superficial plausibility. Common-sense is the measure of ordinary
human tact among palpable realities. In relation to human existence it
is the balance of the estimative faculties; the instinctive summary of
inductions which makes us rightly credulous and rightly incredulous,
which teaches us the supreme lesson of life, when to say "yes," and
when to say "no." Uncommon sense is superhuman tact among no less real
but at present impalpable realities; the spiritual faculty of forming
spiritual inductions aright. So St. John among the three great canons
of primary truth with which he closes his Epistle writes--"we know
that the Son of God hath come and is present, and hath given us
understanding, that we know Him who is true."[299] So with
_evidences_. Apostles did not draw them out with the same logical
precision, or rather not in the same logical form, which the modern
spirit demands. Yet they rested their conclusions upon the same
abiding principle of evidence, the primary axiom of our entire social
life--that there is a degree of human evidence which practically
cannot deceive. "If we receive the witness of men." The form of
expression implies that we certainly do.[300]

Peculiar difficulty has been felt in understanding the paragraph. And
one portion of it remains difficult after any explanation. But we
shall succeed in apprehending it as a whole only upon condition of
taking one guiding principle of interpretation with us.

The word _witness_ is St. John's central thought here. He is
determined to beat it into the minds of his readers by the most
unsparing iteration. He repeats it ten times over, as substantive or
verb, in six verses.[301] His object is to turn our attention to his
Gospel, and to this distinguishing feature of it--its being from
beginning to end a Gospel of _witness_. This witness he declares to be
fivefold. (1) The witness of the Spirit, of which the fourth Gospel is
pre-eminently full. (2) The witness of the Divine Humanity, of the
God-Man who is not man deified, but God humanified. This verse is no
doubt partly polemical, against heretics of the day, who would clip
the great picture of the Gospel, and force it into the petty frame of
their theory. This is He (the Apostle urges) who came on the stage of
the world's and the Church's history[302] as the Messiah, under the
condition, so to speak, of water and blood;[303] bringing with Him,
accompanied by, not the water only, but the water and the blood.[304]
Cerinthus separated the Christ, the divine Æon, from Jesus the holy
but mortal man. The two, the divine potency and the human existence,
met at the waters of Jordan, on the day of the Baptism, when the
Christ united Himself to Jesus. But the union was brief and
unessential. Before the crucifixion, the divine ideal Christ withdrew.
The man suffered. The impassible immortal potency was far away in
heaven. St. John denies the fortuitous juxta-position of two
accidentally-united existences. We worship one Lord Jesus Christ,
attested not only by Baptism in Jordan, the witness of water, but by
the death on Calvary, the witness of blood. He came by water and
blood, as the means by which His office was manifested; but with the
water and with the blood, as the sphere in which He exercises that
office. When we turn to the Gospel, and look at the pierced side, we
read of blood and water, the order of actual history and physiological
fact. But here St. John takes the ideal, mystical, sacramental order,
water and blood--cleansing and redemption--and the sacraments which
perpetually symbolise and convey them. Thus we have Spirit, water,
blood. Three are they who are ever witnessing.[305] These are three
great centres round which St. John's Gospel turns.[306] These are the
three genuine witnesses, the trinity of witness, the shadow of the
Trinity in heaven. (3) Again the fourth Gospel is a Gospel of human
witness, a tissue woven out of many lines of human attestation. It
records the cries of human souls overheard and noted down at the
supreme crisis-moment of life, from the Baptist, Philip, and
Nathanael, to the everlasting spontaneous creed of Christendom on its
knees before Jesus, the cry of Thomas ever rushing molten from a heart
of fire--"my Lord and my God." (4) But if we receive, as we assuredly
must and do receive, the overpowering and soul-subduing mass of
attesting human evidence, how much more must we receive the Divine
witness, the witness of God so conspicuously exhibited in the Gospel
of St. John! "The witness of God is greater, because _this_" (even the
history in the pages to which he adverts) "is the witness; because" (I
say with triumphant reiteration) "He hath witnessed concerning His
Son."[307] This witness of God in the last Gospel is given in four
forms--by Scripture,[308] by the Father,[309] by the Son Himself,[310]
by His works.[311] (5) This great volume of witness is consummated and
brought home by another. He who not merely coldly assents to the word
of Christ, but lifts the whole burden of his belief on to the Son of
God,[312] hath the witness in him. That which was logical and external
becomes internal and experimental.

In this ever-memorable passage, all scholars know that an
interpolation has taken place. The words--"in heaven the Father, the
Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three
that bear witness in earth"--are a gloss. A great sentence of one of
the first of critics may well reassure any weak believers who dread
the candour of Christian criticism, or suppose that it has impaired
the evidence for the great dogma of the Trinity. "If the fourth
century knew that text, let it come in, in God's name; but if that age
did not know it, then Arianism in its height was beaten down without
the help of that verse; and, let the _fact_ prove as it will, the
_doctrine_ is unshaken."[313] The human material with which they have
been clamped should not blind us to the value of the heavenly jewels
which seemed to be marred by their earthly setting.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is constantly said--as we think with considerable
misapprehension--that in his Epistle St. John may imply, but does not
refer directly to any particular incident in, his Gospel. It is our
conviction that St. John very specially includes the Resurrection--the
central point of the evidences of Christianity--among the things
attested by the witness of men. We propose in another discourse to
examine the Resurrection from St. John's point of view.


[299] δεδωκεν ἡμιν διανοιαν ἱνα γινωσκομεν κ.τ.λ. 1 John v. 20. N. T.
lexicographers give as its meaning _intelligentia_ (_einsicht_). See
Grimm. _Bretschn._, s.v. Prof. Westcott remarks that "generally nouns
which express intellectual powers are rare in St. John's writings."
But διανοια is the word by which the LXX. translate the Hebrew לֵב,
and has thus a moral and emotional tinge imparted to it. We may
compare the sense in which Aristotle uses it in his Poetics for the
cast of thought, or general sentiment. (_Poet._, vi.)

[300] ει την μαρτυριαν των ανθρωπων λαμβανομεν. 1 John v. 9.

[301] The A. V. (very unhappily) tried to minimise this reiteration by
the introduction of synonyms in four places--"bear record," "record"
(vv. 7, 10, 11), "hath testified" (ver. 9).

[302] ὁ ελθων.

[303] δι ὑδατος και αιματος.

[304] ουκ εν τω ὑδατι μονον, αλλ' εν τω ὑδατι και εν τω αιματι.

[305] τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες, ver. 7.

[306] The _Water_, John iii. 5, cf. i. 26-33, ii. 9, iii. 23, iv. 13,
v. 4, ix. 7. The _Blood_, vi. 53, 54, 56, xix. 34. The _Spirit_, vii.
39, xiv., xv., xvi., xx. 22. The water centres in _Baptism_ (iii. 5);
the blood is symbolised, exhibited, in Holy _Communion_ (vi.); the
Spirit is perpetually making them effective, and especially by the
appointed ministry (xx. 22).

[307] ὁτι αυτη εστιν ἡ μαρτυρια του Θεου, ὁτι μεμαρτυρηκεν περι του
υιου αυτου, ver. 9.

[308] v. 39, 46, etc.

[309] viii. 18.

[310] viii. 17, 18.

[311] ver. 36, x. 25.

[312] ὁ πιστευων εις τον υιον του Θεου, ver. 10. (See Bihs Ellicott on
the force of various prepositions with πιστευω. _Comment, on Pastoral

[313] Bentley. Letter of January 1st, 1717.

                           DISCOURSE XIII.


          "If we receive the witness of men."--1 JOHN v. 9.

At an early period in the Christian Church the passage in which these
words occur, was selected as a fitting Epistle for the First Sunday
after Easter, when believers may be supposed to review the whole body
of witness to the risen Lord and to triumph in the victory of faith. A
consideration of the unity of essential principles in the narratives
of the Resurrection will afford the best illustration of the
comprehensive canon--"if we receive the witness of men."--if we
consider the unity of essential principles in the narratives of the
Resurrection, and draw the natural conclusions from them.


Let us note the unity of essential principles in the narratives of the

St. Matthew hastens on from Jerusalem to the appearance in Galilee.
"Behold! He goeth before you _into Galilee_," is, in some sense, the
key of the 28th chapter. St. Luke, on the other hand, speaks only of
manifestations in Jerusalem or its neighbourhood.

Now St. John's Resurrection history falls in the 20th chapter into
four pieces, with three manifestations in Jerusalem. The 21st chapter
(the appendix-chapter) also falls into four pieces, with one
manifestation to the seven disciples in Galilee.

St. John makes no profession of telling us all the appearances which
were known to the Church, or even all of which he was personally
cognisant. In the treasures of the old man's memory there were many
more which, for whatever reason, he did not write. But these distinct
continuous specimens of a permitted communing with the eternal
glorified life (supplemented on subsequent thought by another in the
last chapter) are as good as three or four hundred for the great
purpose of the Apostle. "These are written that ye might believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God."[314]

Throughout St. John's narrative every impartial reader will find
delicacy of thought, abundance of matter, minuteness of detail. He
will find something more. While he feels that he is not in cloudland
or dreamland, he will yet recognise that he walks in a land which is
wonderful, because the central figure in it is One whose name is
Wonderful. The fact is fact, and yet it is something more. For a short
time poetry and history are absolutely coincident. Here, if anywhere,
is Herder's saying true, that the fourth Gospel seems to be written
with a feather which has dropped from an angel's wing.

The unity in essential principles which has been claimed for these
narratives taken together is not a lifeless identity in details. It is
scarcely to be worked out by the dissecting-maps of elaborate harmonies.
It is not the imaginative unity which is poetry; nor the mechanical
unity, which is fabrication; nor the passionless unity, which is
commended in a police-report. It is not the thin unity of plain-song; it
is the rich, unity of dissimilar tones blended into a fugue.

This unity may be considered in two essential agreements of the four
Resurrection histories.

1. All the Evangelists agree in reticence on one point--in abstinence
from one claim.

If any of us were framing for himself a body of such evidence for the
Resurrection as should almost extort acquiescence, he would assuredly
insist that the Lord should have been seen and recognised after the
Resurrection by miscellaneous crowds--or, at the very least, by hostile
individuals. Not only by a tender Mary Magdalene, an impulsive Peter, a
rapt John, a Thomas through all his unbelief nervously anxious to be
convinced. Let Him be seen by Pilate, by Caiaphas, by some of the Roman
soldiers, of the priests, of the Jewish populace. Certainly, if the
Evangelists had simply aimed at effective presentation of evidence, they
would have put forward statements of this kind.

But the apostolic principle--the apostolic canon of Resurrection
evidence--was very different. St. Luke has preserved it for us, as it
is given by St. Peter. "Him God raised up the third day, and gave Him
to be made manifest after He rose again from the dead, not to all the
people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us."[315] He
shall, indeed, appear again to all the people, to every eye; but that
shall be at the great Advent. St. John, with his ideal tenderness, has
preserved a word of Jesus, which gives us St. Peter's canon of
Resurrection evidence, in a lovelier and more spiritual form. Christ
as He rose at Easter should be visible, but only to the eye of love,
only to the eye which life fills with tears and heaven with
light--"yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see
Me ... He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will
manifest Myself to Him."[316] Round that ideal canon St. John's
Resurrection-history is twined with undying tendrils. Those words may
be written by us with our softest pencils over the 20th and 21st
chapters of the fourth Gospel. There is--very possibly there can
be--under our present human conditions, no manifestation of Him who
was dead and now liveth, except to belief, or to that kind of doubt
which springs from love.

That which is true of St. John is true of all the Evangelists.

They take that Gospel, which is the life of their life. They bare its
bosom to the stab of Celsus,[317] to the bitter sneer plagiarised by
Renan--"why did He not appear to all, to His judges and enemies? Why
only to one excitable woman, and a circle of His initiated?" "The
hallucination of a hysterical woman endowed Christendom with a risen
God."[318] An apocryphal Gospel unconsciously violates this apostolic,
or rather divine canon, by stating that Jesus gave His grave-clothes
to one of the High Priest's servants.[319] There was every reason but
one why St. John and the other Evangelists _should have_ narrated such
stories. There was only one reason why they _should not_, but that was
all-sufficient. Their Master was the Truth as well as the Life. They
dared not lie.

Here, then, is one essential accordance in the narratives of the
Resurrection. They record no appearances of Jesus to enemies or to

2. A second unity of essential principle will be found in the
impression produced upon the witnesses.

There was, indeed, a moment of terror at the sepulchre, when they had
seen the angel clothed in the long white garment. "They trembled, and
were amazed; neither said they anything to any man; for they were
afraid." So writes St. Mark.[320] And no such word ever formed the
close of a Gospel! On the Easter Sunday evening there was another
moment when they were "terrified and affrighted, and supposed that
they had seen a spirit."[321] But this passes away like a shadow. For
man, the Risen Jesus turns doubt into faith, faith into joy. For
woman, He turns sorrow into joy. From the sacred wounds joy rains over
into their souls. "He showed them His hands and His feet ... while
they yet believed not for joy and wondered." "He showed unto them His
hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the
Lord."[322] Each face of those who beheld Him wore after that a smile
through all tears and forms of death. "Come," cried the great Swedish
singer, gazing upon the dead face of a holy friend, "come and see this
great sight. Here is a woman who has seen Christ." Many of us know
what she meant, for we too have looked upon those dear to us who have
seen Christ. Over all the awful stillness--under all the cold
whiteness as of snow or marble--that strange soft light, that subdued
radiance, what shall we call it? wonder, love, sweetness, pardon,
purity, rest, worship, discovery. The poor face often dimmed with
tears, tears of penitence, of pain, of sorrow, some perhaps which we
caused to flow, is looking upon a great sight. Of such the beautiful
text is true, written by a sacred poet in a language of which so many
verbs are pictures. "They looked unto Him, and _were lightened_."[323]
That meeting of lights without a name it is which makes up what angels
call joy. There remained some of that light on all who had seen the
Risen Lord. Each might say--"have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"

This effect, like every effect, had a cause.

Scripture implies in the Risen Jesus a form with all heaviness and
suffering lifted off it--with the glory, freshness, elasticity, of the
new life, overflowing with beauty and power. He had a voice with some of
the pathos of affection, making its sweet concession to human
sensibility: saying, "Mary," "Thomas," "Simon, son of Jonas." He had a
presence at once so majestic that they durst not question Him, yet so
full of magnetic attraction that Magdalene clings to His feet, and Peter
flings himself into the waters when he is sure that it is the Lord.[324]

Now let it be remarked that this consideration entirely disposes of
that afterthought of critical ingenuity which has taken the place of
the base old Jewish theory--"His disciples came by night, and stole
Him away."[325] That theory, indeed, has been blown into space by
Christian apologetics. And now not a few are turning to the solution
that He did not really die upon the cross, but was taken down alive.

There are other, and more than sufficient refutations. One from the
character of the august Sufferer, who would not have deigned to
receive adoration upon false pretences. One from the minute
observation by St. John of the physiological effect of the thrust of
the soldier's lance, to which he also reverts in the context.

But here, we only ask what effect the appearance of the Saviour among
His disciples, supposing that He had not died, must unquestionably
have had.

He would only have been taken down from the cross something more than
thirty hours. His brow punctured with the crown of thorns; the wounds in
hands, feet, and side, yet unhealed; the back raw and torn with
scourges; the frame cramped by the frightful tension of six long
hours--a lacerated and shattered man, awakened to agony by the coolness
of the sepulchre and by the pungency of the spices; a spectral,
trembling, fevered, lamed, skulking thing--could that have seemed the
Prince of Life, the Lord of Glory, the Bright and Morning Star? Those
who had seen Him in Gethsemane and on the cross, and then on Easter, and
during the forty days, can scarcely speak of His Resurrection without
using language which attains to more than lyrical elevation. Think of
St. Peter's anthemlike burst. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the
Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Think of the words which
St. John heard Him utter. "I am the First and the Living, and behold! I
became dead, and I am, living unto the ages of ages."[326]

Let us, then, fix our attention upon the unity of all the Resurrection
narratives in these two essential principles. (1) The appearances of
the Risen Lord to belief and love only. (2) The impression common to
all the narrators of glory on His part, of joy on theirs.

We shall be ready to believe that this was part of the great body of
proof which was in the Apostle's mind, when pointing to the Gospel
with which this Epistle was associated, he wrote of this human but
most convincing testimony--"if we receive," as assuredly we do, "the
witness of men"--of evangelists among the number.


Too often such discussions as these end unpractically enough. Too often

      "When the critic has done his best,
       The pearl of price at reason's test
       On the Professor's lecture table
       Lies, dust and ashes levigable."

But, after all, we may well ask: can we afford to dispense with this
well-balanced probability? Is it well for us to face life and death
without taking it, in some form, into the account?

Now at the present moment, it may safely be said that, for the best
and noblest intellects imbued with the modern philosophy, as for the
best and noblest of old who were imbued with the ancient philosophy,
external to Christian revelation, immortality is still, as before, a
fair chance, a beautiful "perhaps," a splendid possibility.
Evolutionism is growing and maturing somewhere another Butler, who
will write in another, and possibly more satisfying chapter, than that
least convincing of any in the _Analogy_--"of a Future State."

What has Darwinism to say on the matter?

Much. Natural selection seems to be a pitiless worker; its instrument
is _death_. But, when we broaden our survey, the sum-total of the
result is everywhere advance--what is mainly worthy of notice, in man
the advance of goodness and virtue. For of goodness, as of freedom,

             "The battle once begun
      Though baffled oft, is always won."

Humanity has had to travel thousands of miles, inch by inch, towards
the light. We have made such progress that we can see that in time,
relatively short, we shall be in noonday. After long ages of strife,
of victory for hard hearts and strong sinews, goodness begins to wipe
away the sweat of agony from her brow; and will stand, sweet, smiling,
triumphant in the world. A gracious life is free for man; generation
after generation a softer ideal stands before us, and we can conceive
a day when "the meek shall inherit the earth." Do not say that
evolution, if proved _à outrance_, brutalises man. Far from it. It
lifts him from below out of the brute creation. What theology calls
original sin, modern philosophy the brute inheritance--the ape, and
the goat, and the tiger--is dying out of man. The perfecting of human
nature and of human society stands out as the goal of creation. In a
sense, all creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Nor need the true Darwinian necessarily fear materialism. "Livers
secrete bile--brains secrete thought," is smart and plausible, but it
is shallow. Brain and thought are, no doubt, connected--but the
connection is of simultaneousness, of two things in concordance
indeed, but not related as cause and effect. If cerebral physiology
speaks of annihilation when the brain is destroyed, she speaks
ignorantly and without a brief.

The greatest thinkers in the Natural Religion department of the new
philosophy seem then to be very much in the same position as those in
the same department of the old. For immortality there is a sublime
probability. With man, and man's advance in goodness and virtue as the
goal of creation, who shall say that the thing so long provided for,
the goal of creation, is likely to perish? Annihilation is a
hypothesis; immortality is a hypothesis. But immortality is the more
likely as well as the more beautiful of the two. We may believe in it,
not as a thing demonstrated, but as an act of faith that "God will not
put us to permanent intellectual confusion."[327]

But we may well ask whether it is wise and well to refuse to intrench
this probability behind another. Is it likely that He who has so much
care for us as to make us the goal of a drama a million times more
complex than our fathers dreamed of; who lets us see that He has not
removed us out of his sight; will leave Himself, and with Himself our
hopes, without witness in history? History is especially human; human
evidence the branch of moral science of which man is master--for man
is the best interpreter of man. The primary axiom of family, of
social, of legal, of moral life, is, that there is a kind and degree
of human evidence which we ought not to refuse; that if credulity is
voracious in belief, incredulity is no less voracious in negation;
that if there is a credulity which is simple, there is an incredulity
which is unreasonable and perilous. Is it then safe to grope for the
keys of death in darkness, and turn from the hand that holds them out;
to face the ugly realities of the pit with less consolation than is
the portion of our inheritance in the faith of Christ?

"The disciples," John tells us, "went away again unto their own home.
But Mary was standing without at the sepulchre weeping."[328] Weeping!
What else is possible while we are _outside_, while we _stand_--what
else until we _stoop_ down from our proud grief to the sepulchre,
humble our speculative pride, and condescend to gaze at the death of
Jesus face to face? When we do so, we forget the hundred voices that
tell us that the Resurrection is partly invented, partly imagined,
partly ideally true. We may not see angels in white, nor hear their
"why weepest thou?" But assuredly we shall hear a sweeter voice, and a
stronger than theirs; and our name will be on it, and His name will
rush to our lips in the language most expressive to us--as Mary said
unto Him in _Hebrew_,[329] Rabboni. Then we shall find that the grey
of morning is passing; that the thin thread of scarlet upon the
distant hills is deepening into dawn; that in that world where Christ
is the dominant law the ruling principle is not natural selection
which works through death, but supernatural selection which works
through life; that "because He lives, we shall live also."[330]

With the reception of the witness of men then, and among them of such
men as the writer of the fourth Gospel, all follows. For Christ,

      "Earth breaks up--time drops away;--
       In flows Heaven with its new day
       Of endless life, when He who trod,
       Very Man and very God,
       This earth in weakness, shame, and pain,
       Dying the death whose signs remain
       Up yonder on the accursëd tree;
       Shall come again, no more to be
       Of captivity the thrall--
       But the true God all in all,
       King of kings, and Lord of lords,
       As His servant John received the words--
       'I died, and live for evermore.'"

For us there comes the hope in Paradise--the connection with the
living dead--the pulsation through the isthmus of the Church, from sea
to sea, from us to them--the tears not without smiles as we think of
the long summer-day when Christ who is our life shall appear--the
manifestation of the sons of God, when "them that sleep in Jesus will
God bring with Him." Our resurrection shall be a fact of history,
because His is a fact of history; and we receive it as such--partly
from the reasonable motive of reasonable human belief on sufficient
evidence for practical conviction.

All the long chain of manifold witness to Christ is consummated and
crowned when it passes into the inner world of the individual life.
"He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in him,"
_i.e._, in himself![331] Correlative to this, stands a terrible truth.
He of whom we must conceive that he believes not God,[332] has made
Him a liar--nothing less, because his time for receiving Christ came
and went, and with this crisis his unbelief stands a completed present
act as the result of his past;[333] unbelief stretching over to the
completed witness of God concerning His Son;[334]--human unbelief
co-extensive with divine witness.

But that sweet witness in a man's self is not merely in books or
syllogisms. It is the creed of a living soul. It lies folded within a
man's heart, and never dies--part of the great principle of
victory[335] fought and won over again in each true life[336]--until
the man dies, and ceasing then only because he sees that which is the
object of its witness.


[314] The writer is entirely persuaded that St. John in chap. xx. 30,
31, refers to the _Resurrection_ "signs," and not to miracles generally.

[315] Acts x. 41, 42. It is to be regretted that the R. V. has not
boldly given us such an arrangement of the words in this important
passage as would at once connect "made manifest" with "after He rose
again from the dead," and avoid making the Apostle state that the
chosen witnesses ate and drank with Christ after the Resurrection. St.
Peter mentions that particular characteristic of the Apostles which
made them judges not to be gainsayed of the identity of the Risen One
with Him with whom they used to eat and drink.

[316] John xiv. 19-21.

[317] Τις τουτο ειδεν; γυνη παροιστρος, και ει τις αλλος των εκ της
αυτης γοητειας. Ὁτε μεν ηπιστειτο εν σωματι πασιν ανιδην (freely,
without restraint) εκηρυττεν, ὁτε δε πιστιν αν ισχυραν παρειχεν εκ
νεκρων αναστας ἑνι μονω γυναιω και τοις ἑαυτου θεασιωταις (adepts,
initiated) κρυβδην παρεφαινετω ... εχρην ειπερ οντως θειαν δυναμιν
εκφηναι ηθελεν ὁ Ιησους αυτοις τοις επηρεασι και τω καταδικασαντι και
ὁλως πασιν οφθηναι. [Celsus, _ap. Orig._, 2, 55, 59, 70, 63.] The
passage is given in Rudolph Anger's invaluable _Synopsis Evang. cum
locis qui supersunt parallelis litterarum et traditionum Evang.
Irenæo. antiquiorum._ p. 254.

[318] γυνη παροιστρος, Celsus. "Moments sacrés ou la passion d'une
hallucinée donne au monde un Dieu ressuscité." Renan, _Vie de Jesus_,

[319] "Post Resurrectionem ... Dominus quum dedisset sindonem servo
sacerdotis"--Evang. ad Heb.--Matt. xxvii. 59.--R. Anger, _Synopsis
Evang._, 288.

[320] Mark xvi. 8.

[321] Luke xxiv. 37.

[322] Luke xxiv. 41; John xx. 20.

[323] Ps. xxxiv. 15.

[324] John xxi. 12, cf. 7.

[325] Matt. xxviii. 13.

[326] 1 Peter i. 3, 4; Apoc. i. 17, 18.

[327] See _The Destiny of Man, viewed in the light of his origin_, by
John Fiske, especially the three remarkable chapters pp. 96-119.

[328] John xx. 10, 11.

[329] The word Ἑβραιστι had unfortunately dropped out of the T. R.
John xx. 16.

[330] John xiv. 19.

[331] εν ἑαυτω, ver. 10.

[332] ὁ μη πιστευων τω Θεω, _Ibid._

[333] ου πεπιστευκεν, _Ibid._

[334] εις την μαρτυριαν ἡν μεμαρτυρηκεν ὁ Θεος περι του υιου αυτου.

[335] παν το γεγεννημενον εκ του Θεου νικα τον κοσμον. ver. 4.

[336] With the neuter in ver. 4, contrast the individualising
masculine in ver. 5, τις εστιν ὁ νικων.

                            DISCOURSE XIV.

                          _SIN UNTO DEATH._

             "There is a sin unto death."--1 JOHN v. 17.

The Church has ever spoken of seven deadly sins. Here is the ugly
catalogue. Pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, hatred, sloth.
Many of us pray often "from fornication and all other deadly sin, Good
Lord deliver us." This language rightly understood is sound and true;
yet, without careful thought, the term may lead us into two errors.

1. On hearing of _deadly_ sin we are apt instinctively to oppose it to
_venial_. But we cannot define by any _quantitative_ test what venial
sin may be for any given soul. To do that we must know the complete
history of each soul; and the complete genealogy, conception, birth,
and autobiography of each sin. Men catch at the term _venial_ because
they love to minimise a thing so tremendous as sin. The world sides
with the casuists whom it satirises; and speaks of a "white lie," of a
foible, of an inaccuracy, when "the 'white lie' may be that of St.
Peter, the foible that of David, and the inaccuracy that of Ananias!"

2. There is a second mistake into which we often fall in speaking of
deadly sin. Our imagination nearly always assumes some one definite
outward act; some single individual sin. This may partly be due to a
seemingly slight mistranslation in the text. It should not run "there
is _a_ sin," but "there is sin unto" (_i.e._, in the direction of,
towards) "death."

The text means something deeper and further-reaching than any single
sin, deadly though it may be justly called.

The author of the fourth Gospel learned a whole mystic language from the
life of Jesus. Death, in the great Master's vocabulary, was more than a
single action. It was again wholly different from bodily death by the
visitation of God. There are two realms for man's soul co-extensive with
the universe and with itself. One which leads towards God is called
_Life_; one which leads from Him is called _Death_. There is a radiant
passage by which the soul is translated from the death which is death
indeed, to the life which is life indeed. There is another passage by
which we pass from life to death; _i.e._, fall back towards _spiritual_
(which is not necessarily eternal) death.

There is then a general condition and contexture; there is an atmosphere
and position of soul in which the true life flickers, and is on the way
to death. One who visited an island on the coast of Scotland has told
how he found in a valley open to the spray of the north-west ocean a
clump of fir trees. For a time they grew well, until they became high
enough to catch the prevalent blast. They were still standing, but had
taken a fixed set, and were reddened as if singed by the breath of fire.
The island glen might be "swept on starry nights by balms of spring;"
the summer sun as it sank might touch the poor stems with a momentary
radiance. The trees were still _living,_ but only with that cortical
vitality which is the tree's death in life. Their doom was evident; they
could have but a few more seasons. If the traveller cared some years
hence to visit that islet set in stormy waters, he would find the firs
blanched like a skeleton's bones. Nothing remained for them but the sure
fall, and the fated rottenness.

The analogy indeed is not complete. The tree in such surroundings
_must_ die; it can make for itself no new condition of existence; it
can hear no sweet question on the breeze that washes through the
grove, "why will ye die?" It cannot look upward--as it is scourged by
the driving spray, and tormented by the fierce wind--and cry, "O God
of my life, give me life." It has no will; it cannot transplant
itself. But the human tree can root itself in a happier place. Some
divine spring may clothe it with green again. As it was passing from
life toward death, so by the grace of God in prayers and sacraments,
through penitence and faith, it may pass from death to life.

The Church then is not wrong when she speaks of "deadly sin." The
number _seven_ is not merely a mystic fancy. But the _seven_ "deadly
sins" are seven attributes of the whole character; seven master-ideas;
seven general conditions of a human soul alienated from God; seven
forms of aversion from true life, and of reversion to true death. The
style of St. John has often been called "senile;" it certainly has the
oracular and sententious quietude of old age in its almost lapidary
repose. Yet a terrible light sometimes leaps from its simple and
stately lines. Are there not a hundred hearts among us who know that
as years pass they are drifting further and further from Him who is
the Life? Will they not allow that St. John was right when, looking
round the range of the Church, he asserted that there is such a thing
as "sin unto death?"

It may be useful to take that one of the seven deadly sins which
people are the most surprised to find in the list.

How and why is sloth deadly sin?

There is a distinction between sloth as _vice_ and sloth as _sin_. The
deadly _sin_ of _sloth_ often exists where the _vice_ has no place.
The sleepy music of Thomson's "Castle of Indolence" does not describe
the slumber of the spiritual sluggard. Spiritual sloth is want of care
and of love for all things in the spiritual order. Its conceptions are
shallow and hasty. For it the Church is a department of the civil
service; her worship and rites are submitted to, as one submits to a
minor surgical operation. Prayer is the waste of a few minutes daily
in concession to a sentiment which it might require trouble to
eradicate. For the slothful Christian, saints are incorrigibly stupid;
martyrs incorrigibly obstinate; clergymen incorrigibly professional;
missionaries incorrigibly restless; sisterhoods incorrigibly tender;
white lips that can just whisper Jesus incorrigibly awful. For the
slothful, God, Christ, death, judgment have no real significance. The
Atonement is a plank far away to be clutched by dying fingers in the
article of death, that we may gurgle out "yes," when asked "are you
happy"? Hell is an ugly word, Heaven a beautiful one which means a sky
or an Utopia. Apathy in all spiritual thought, languor in every work
of God, fear of injudicious and expensive zeal; secret dislike of
those whose fervour puts us to shame, and a miserable adroitness in
keeping out of their way; such are the signs of the spirit of sloth.
And with this a long series of sins of omission--"slumbering and
sleeping while the Bridegroom tarries"--"unprofitable servants."

We have said that the _vice_ of sloth is generally distinct from the
_sin_. There is, however, one day of the week on which the sin is apt
to wear the drowsy features of the _vice--Sunday_. If there is any day
on which we might be supposed to do something towards the spiritual
world it must be Sunday. Yet what have any of us done for God on any
Sunday? Probably we can scarcely tell. We slept late, we lingered over
our dressing, we never thought of Holy Communion; after Church (if we
went there) we loitered with friends; we lounged in the Park; we
whiled away an hour at lunch; we turned over a novel, with secret
dislike of the benevolent arrangements which give the postman some
rest. Such have been in the main our past Sundays. Such will be those
which remain, more or fewer, till the arrival of a date written in a
calendar which eye hath not seen. The last evening of the closing year
is called by an old poet, "the twilight of two years, nor past, nor
next." What shall we call the last Sunday of our year of life?

Turn to the first chapter of St. Mark. Think of that day of our Lord's
ministry which is recorded more fully than any other. What a day! First
that teaching in the Synagogue, when men "were astonished," not at His
volubility, but at His "doctrine," drawn from depths of thought. Then
the awful meeting with the powers of the world unseen. Next the
utterance of the words in the sick room which renovated the fevered
frame. Afterwards an interval for the simple festival of home. And then
we see the sin, the sorrow, the sufferings crowded at the door. A few
hours more, while yet there is but the pale dawn before the meteor
sunrise of Syria, He rises from sleep to plunge His wearied brow in the
dews of prayer. And finally the intrusion of others upon that sacred
solitude, and the work of preaching, helping, pitying, healing closes in
upon Him again with a circle which is of steel, because it is duty--of
delight, because it is love. O the divine monotony of one of those
golden days of God upon earth! And yet we are offended because He who is
the same for ever, sends from heaven that message with its terrible
plainness--"because thou art lukewarm, I will spue thee out of my
mouth." We are angry that the Church classes sloth as deadly sin, when
the Church's Master has said--"thou wicked and _slothful_ servant."

                            DISCOURSE XV.


    "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death."--
    1 JOHN v. 17.

Let us begin by detaching awhile from its context this oracular
utterance: "all unrighteousness is sin." Is this true universally, or
is it not?

A clear consistent answer is necessary, because a strange form of the
doctrine of indulgences (long whispered in the ears) has lately been
proclaimed from the housetops, with a considerable measure of apparent

Here is the singular dispensation from St. John's rigorous canon to
which we refer.

Three such indulgences have been accorded at various times to certain
favoured classes or persons. (1) "The moral law does not exist for the
elect." This was the doctrine of certain Gnostics in St. John's day;
of certain fanatics in every age. (2) "Things absolutely forbidden to
the mass of mankind, are allowable for people of commanding rank."
Accommodating Prelates, and accommodating Reformers have left the
burden of defending these ignoble concessions to future generations.
(3) A yet baser dispensation has been freely given by very vulgar
casuists. "The chosen of Fortune"--the men at whose magic touch every
stock seems to rise--may be allowed unusual forms of enjoying the
unusual success which has crowned their career.

Such are, or such _were_, the dispensations from St. John's canon
permitted to themselves, or to others, by the elect of _Heaven_, by
the elect of _station_, and by the elect of _fortune_.

Another election hath obtained the perilous exception now--the
election of _genius_. Those who endow the world with music, with art,
with romance, with poetry, are entitled to the reversion. "All
unrighteousness is sin"--except for _them_. (1) The indulgence is no
longer valid for those who affect intimacy with heaven (partly perhaps
because it is suspected that there is no heaven to be intimate with).
(2) The indulgence is not extended to the men who apparently rule over
nations, since it has been discovered that nations rule over them. (3)
It is not accorded to the constructors of fortunes; they are too many,
and too uninteresting, though possibly figures could be conceived
almost capable of buying it. But (generally speaking) men of these
three classes must pace along the dust of the narrow road by the
signpost of the law, if they would escape the censure of society.

For genius alone there is no such inconvenient restriction. Many men, of
course, deliberately prefer the "primrose path," but they can no more
avoid indignant hisses by the way than they can extinguish the
"everlasting bonfire" at the awful close of their journey. With the man
of genius it seems that it is otherwise. He shall "walk in the ways of
his heart, and in the sight of his eyes;" but, "for all these things"
the tribunals of certain schools of a delicate criticism (delicate
criticism can be so indelicate!) will never allow him "to be brought
into judgment." Some literary oracles, biographers, or reviewers, are
not content to keep a reverential silence, and to murmur a secret
prayer. They will drag into light the saddest, the meanest, the most
selfish doings of genius. Not the least service to his generation, and
to English literature, of the true poet and critic lately taken from
us,[337] was the superb scorn, the exquisite wit, with which his
indignant purity transfixed such doctrines. A strange winged thing, no
doubt, genius sometimes is; alternately beating the abyss with splendid
pinions, and eating dust which is the "serpent's meat." But for all
that, we cannot see with the critic when he tries to prove that the
reptile's crawling is part of the angel's flight; and the dust on which
he grovels one with the infinite purity of the azure distances.

The arguments of the apologists for moral eccentricity of genius may be
thus summed up:--The man of genius bestows upon humanity gifts which are
on a different line from any other. He enriches it on the side where it
is poorest; the side of the Ideal. But the very temperament in virtue of
which a man is capable of such transcendent work makes him passionate
and capricious. To be _imaginative_ is to be _exceptional_; and these
exceptional beings live for mankind rather than for themselves. When
their conduct comes to be discussed, the only question is whether that
conduct was adapted to forward the superb self-development which is of
such inestimable value to the world. If the gratification of any desire
was necessary for that self-development, genius itself being the judge,
the cause is ended. In winning that gratification hearts may be broken,
souls defiled, lives wrecked. The daintiest songs of the man of genius
may rise to the accompaniment of domestic sobs, and the music which he
seems to warble at the gates of heaven may be trilled over the white
upturned face of one who has died in misery. What matter! Morality is so
icy, and so intolerant; its doctrines have the ungentlemanlike rigour of
the Athanasian Creed. Genius breaks hearts with such supreme
gracefulness, such perfect wit, that they are arrant Philistines who
refuse to smile.

We who have the text full in our mind answer all this in the words of
the old man of Ephesus. For all that angel-softness which he learned
from the heart of Christ, his voice is as strong as it is sweet and
calm. Over all the storm of passion, over all the babble of successive
sophistries, clear and eternal it rings out--"_all_ unrighteousness is
sin." To which the apologist, little abashed, replies--"of course we
all know _that_--quite true as a general rule, but then men of genius
have bought a splendid dispensation by paying a splendid price, and so
_their_ inconsistencies are not sin."

There are two assumptions at the root of this apology for the
aberrations of genius which should be examined. (1) The temperament of
men of genius is held to constitute an excuse from which there is no
appeal. Such men indeed are sometimes not slow to put forward this
plea for themselves. No doubt there are trials peculiar to every
temperament. Those of men of genius are probably very great. They are
children of the sunshine and of the storm; the grey monotony of
ordinary life is distasteful to them. Things which others find it easy
to accept convulse their sensitive organisation. Many can produce
their finest works only on condition of being sheltered where no
bills shall find their way by the post; where no sound, not even the
crowing of cocks, shall break the haunted silence. If the letter comes
in one case, and if the cock crows in the other, the first may
possibly never be remembered, but the second is never forgotten.

For this, as for every other form of human temperament--that of the
dunce, as well as of the genius--allowance must in truth be made. In
that one of the lives of the English Poets, where the great moralist
has gone nearest to making concessions to this fallacy of temperament,
he utters this just warning. "No wise man will easily presume to say,
had I been in Savage's condition I should have lived better than
Savage." But we must not bring in the temperament of the man of genius
as the standard of his conduct unless we are prepared to admit the
same standard in every other case. God is no respecter of persons. For
each, conscience is of the same texture, law of the same material. As
all have the same cross of infinite mercy, the same judgment of
perfect impartiality, so have they the same law of inexorable _duty_.

(2) The necessary _disorder_ and _feverishness_ of high literary and
artistic inspiration is a _second_ postulate of the pleas to which I
refer. But, is it true that disorder _creates inspiration_; or is a
condition of it?

All great work is ordered work; and in producing it the faculties must
be exercised harmoniously and with order. True inspiration, therefore,
should not be caricatured into a flushed and dishevelled thing. Labour
always precedes it. It has been prepared for by education. And that
education would have been painful but for the glorious efflorescence
of materials collected and assimilated, which is the compensation for
any toil. The very dissatisfaction with its own performances, the
result of the lofty ideal which is inseparable from genius, is at once
a stimulus and a balm. The man of genius apparently writes, or paints,
as the birds sing, or as the spring colours the flowers; but his
subject has long possessed his mind, and the inspiration is the child
of thought and of ordered labour. Destroying the peace of one's own
family or of another's, being flushed with the preoccupation of guilty
passion, will not accelerate, but retard the advent of those happy
moments which are not without reason called creative. Thus, the
inspiration of genius is akin to the inspiration of prophecy. The
prophet tutored himself by a fitting education. He became assimilated
to the noble things in the future which he foresaw. Isaiah's heart
grew royal; his style wore the majesty of a king, before he sang the
King of sorrow with His infinite pathos, and the King of righteousness
with His infinite glory. Many prophets attuned their spirits by
listening to such music as lulls, not inflames passion. Others walked
where "beauty born of murmuring sound" might pass into their strain.
Think of Ezekiel by the river of Chebar, with the soft sweep of waters
in his ear, and their cool breath upon his cheek. Think of St. John
with the shaft of light from heaven's opened door upon his upturned
brow, and the boom of the Ægean upon the rocks of Patmos around him.
"The note of the heathen seer" (said the greatest preacher of the
Greek Church) "is to be contorted, constrained, excited, like a
maniac; the note of a prophet is to be wakeful, self-possessed, nobly
self-conscious."[338] We may apply this test to the distinction
between genius, and the dissipated affectation of genius.

Let us then refuse our assent to a doctrine of indulgences applied to
genius on the ground of _temperament_ or of literary and artistic
_inspiration_. "Why," we are often asked, "why force your narrow
judgment upon an angry or a laughing world?" What have you to do with
the conduct of gifted men? Genius means exuberance. Why "blame the
Niagara River" because it will not assume the pace and manner of "a
Dutch canal"? Never indeed should we force that judgment upon any,
unless they force it upon us. Let us avoid as far as we may posthumous
gossip over the grave of genius. It is an unwholesome curiosity which
rewards the blackbird for that bubbling song of ecstasy in the
thicket, by gloating upon the ugly worm which he swallows greedily
after the shower. The pen or pencil has dropped from the cold fingers.
After all its thought and sin, after all its toil and agony, the soul
is with its Judge. Let the painter of the lovely picture, the writer
of the deathless words, be for us like the priest. The washing of
regeneration is no less wrought through the unworthy minister; the
precious gift is no less conveyed when a polluted hand has broken the
bread and blessed the cup. But if we are forced to speak, let us
refuse to accept an _ex post facto_ morality invented to excuse a
worthless absolution. Especially so when the most sacred of all rights
is concerned. It is not enough to say that a man of genius dissents
from the received standard of conduct. He cannot make fugitive
inclination the only principle of a connection which he promised to
recognise as paramount. A passage in the Psalms,[339] has been called
"The catechism of Heaven." "The catechism of Fame" differs from "the
catechism of Heaven." "Who shall ascend unto the hill of Fame?" "He
that possesses genius." "Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord?"
"He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; He that hath sworn to his
neighbour and disappointeth him not" (or disappointeth _her_ not)
"though it were to his own hindrance"--aye, to the hindrance of his
self-development. Strange that the rough Hebrew should still have to
teach us chivalry as well as religion! In St. John's Epistle we find
the two great axioms about sin, in its two essential aspects. "Sin is
the transgression of the law:" there is its aspect chiefly _Godward_.
"All unrighteousness" (mainly injustice, denial of the rights of
others) "is sin:" there is its aspect chiefly _manward_.

Yes, the principle of the text is rigid, inexorable, eternal. Nothing
can make its way out of those terrible meshes. It is without favour,
without exception. It gives no dispensation, and proclaims no
indulgences, to the man of genius, or to any other. If it were
otherwise, the righteous God, the Author of creation and redemption,
would be dethroned. And _that_ is a graver thing than to dethrone even
the author of "Queen Mab," and of "The Epipsychidion." Here is the
jurisprudence of the "great white Throne" summed up in four words:
"_all unrighteousness is sin_."

So far, in the last discourse, and in this, we have ventured to
isolate these two great principles from their context. But this
process is always attended with peculiar loss in St. John's writings.
And as some may think perhaps that the promise[340] just succeeding is
falsified we must here run the risk of bringing in another thread of
thought. Yet indeed the whole paragraph[341] has its source in an
intense faith in the _efficacy of prayer_, specially as exercised in
_intercessory prayer_.

(1) The efficacy of prayer.[342] This is the very sign of contrast with,
of opposition to, the modern spirit, which is the negation of _prayer_.

What is the real value of prayer?

Very little, says the modern spirit. Prayer is the stimulant, the
Dutch courage of the moral world. Prayer is a power, not because it
_is_ efficacious, but because it is _believed_ to be so.

A modern Rabbi, with nothing of his Judaism left but a rabid antipathy
to the Founder of the Church, guided by Spinoza and Kant, has turned
fiercely upon the Lord's prayer.[343] He takes those petitions which
stand alone among the liturgies of earth in being capable of being
translated into every language. He cuts off one pearl after another from
the string. Let us look at two specimens. "Our Father which art in
Heaven." Heaven! the very name has a breath of magic, a suggestion of
beauty, of grandeur, of purity in it. It moves us as nothing else can.
We instinctively lift our heads; the brow grows proud of that splendid
home, and the eye is wetted with a tear and lighted with a ray, as it
looks into those depths of golden sunset which are full for the young of
the radiant mystery of life, for the old of the pathetic mystery of
death.[344] Yes, but for modern science Heaven means air, or atmosphere,
and the address itself is contradictory. "Forgive us." But surely the
guilt cannot be forgiven, except by the person against whom it is
committed. There is no other forgiveness. A mother (whose daughter went
out upon the cruel London streets) carried into execution a thought
bestowed upon her by the inexhaustible ingenuity of love. The poor woman
got her own photograph taken, and a friend managed to have copies of it
hung in several halls and haunts of infamy with these words clearly
written below--"come home, I forgive you." The tender subtlety of love
was successful at last; and the poor haggard outcast's face was touched
by her mother's lips. "But the heart of God," says this enemy of prayer,
"is not as a woman's heart." (Pardon the words, O loving Father! Thou
who hast said "Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Pardon,
O pierced Human Love! who hast graven the name of every soul on the
palms of Thy hands with the nails of the crucifixion.) Repentance
subjectively seems a reality when mother and child meet with a burst of
passionate tears, and the polluted brow feels purified by their molten
downfall; but repentance _objectively_ is seen to be an absurdity by
every one who grasps the conception of law. The penitential Psalms may
be the _lyrics_ of repentance, the Gospel for the third Sunday after
Trinity its _idyll_, the cross its _symbol_, the wounds of Christ its
_theology_ and _inspiration_. But the course of Nature, the hard logic
of life is its refutation--the flames that burn, the waves that drown,
the machine that crushes, the society that condemns, and that neither
can, nor will forgive.

Enough, and more than enough of this. The monster of ignorance who has
never learnt a prayer, has hitherto been looked upon as one of the
saddest of sights. But there is something sadder--the monster of
over-cultivation, the wreck of schools, the priggish fanatic of
godlessness. Alas! for the nature which has become like a plant
artificially trained and twisted to turn away from the light. Alas!
for the heart which has hardened itself into stone until it cannot
beat faster, or soar higher, even when men are saying with happy
enthusiasm, or when the organ is lifting upward to the heaven of
heavens the cry which is at once the creed of an everlasting dogma and
the hymn of a triumphant hope--"with Thee is the well of Life, and in
Thy light shall we see light." Now having heard the answer of the
modern spirit to the question "what is the real value of prayer?"
think of the answer of the spirit of the Church as given by St. John
in this paragraph. That answer is not drawn out in a syllogism. St.
John appeals to our consciousness of a divine life. "That ye may know
that ye have eternal life." This _knowledge_ issues in _confidence,
i.e._, literally the sweet possibility of saying out all to God. And
this confidence is never disappointed for any believing child of God.
"If we know that He hear us, we know that we have the petitions that
we desired of Him."[345]

On the 16th verse we need only say, that the greatness of our
brother's spiritual need does not cease to be a title to our sympathy.
St. John is not speaking of all requests, but of the fulness of
brotherly intercession.

       *       *       *       *       *

One question and one warning in conclusion; and that question is this.
Do we take part in this great ministry of love? Is our voice heard in
the full music of the prayers of intercession that are ever going up to
the Throne, and bringing down the gift of life? Do _we_ pray for others?

In one sense all who know true affection and the sweetness of _true_
prayer do pray for others. We have never loved with supreme affection
any for whom we have not interceded, whose names we have not baptized
in the fountain of prayer. Prayer takes up a tablet from the hand of
love written over with names; that tablet death itself can only break
when the heart has turned Sadducee.

Jesus (we sometimes think) gives one strange proof of the love which
yet passeth knowledge. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and
Lazarus;" "when He had heard therefore" [O that strange therefore!]
"that Lazarus was sick, He abode _two days_ still in the same place
where He was." Ah! sometimes not two days, but two years, and
sometimes evermore, He seems to remain. When the income dwindles with
the dwindling span of life; when the best beloved must leave us for
many years, and carries away our sunshine with him; when the life of a
husband is in danger--then we pray; "O Father, for Jesu's sake spare
that precious life; enable me to provide for these helpless ones;
bless these children in their going out and coming in, and let me see
them once again before the night cometh, and my hands are folded for
the long rest." Yes, but have we prayed at our Communion "because of
that Holy Sacrament in it, and with it," that He would give them the
grace which they need--the life which shall save them from sin unto
death? Round us, close to us in our homes, there are cold hands,
hearts that beat feebly. Let us fulfil St. John's teaching, by praying
to Him who is the life that He would chafe those cold hands with His
hand of love, and quicken those dying hearts by contact with that
wounded heart which is a heart of fire.


                             Ch. v. 3-17.

Ver. 3. This section should begin with the words "And His commandments
are not heavy"--and should not be separated from what follows, because
they give one reason of the victory whereof he proceeds to speak. "His
commandments are not heavy, for all that is born of God conquereth the
world." What a picture of the sweetness of a life of service! What a
gentle smile must have been on the old man's face as he said, "His
commandments are not grievous!"

Vers. 7, 8. This passage with its apparent obscurity, and famous
interpolation, demands some additional notice. As to _criticism_ and

(1) _Critically._ Since the publication of J. J. Griesbach's
celebrated work (_Diatribe in locum_ 1 John v. 7, 8, Tom. ii., N.T.
Halle: 1806), first German, and latterly English, opinion has become
absolutely unanimous in agreeing with Griesbach that "the words
included between brackets are spurious, and should therefore be
eliminated from the Sacred Text." Even the famous Roman Catholic
scholar, Scholts, in his great critical edition of the New Testament,
in two volumes (Bonn: 1836), boldly dropped the disputed passage from
the text. The interpolated passage has certainly no support in any
uncial manuscript, or ancient version, or Greek Father of the four
first centuries. (2) As to _interpretation_, the faith has lost
nothing by the honesty of her wisest defenders. The whole of the
genuine passage is intensely Trinitarian. The interpolation is nothing
but an exposition written into the text. The three genuine witnesses
do really point to the Three Witnesses in Heaven. Bengel's saying
expresses the permanent feeling of Christendom, which no criticism can
do away with: "This trine array of witnesses on earth is supported by,
and has above and beneath it the Trinity, which is Heavenly,
archetypal, fundamental, everlasting." The whole context recognizes
three special works of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. "This
is the witness of God," _i.e._ of the Father (ver. 9); "this is He
that came by water and blood," _i.e._ the Son (ver. 6); "it is the
Spirit that witnesseth," _i.e._ the Holy Ghost (_ibid._).

A fuller examination of this passage, from a polemical point of view,
will be found in the third of the introductory discourses. It will be
well, however, to indicate here the immediate controversial reference
in the Spirit, the water, and the blood. There is abundant proof that
the popular heretical philosophy of Asia Minor struck Christianity
precisely in three vital places. It denied--

(1) The Incarnation--consequently

(2) The Redemption--consequently

(3) The Sacraments.

But the mention of the water and the blood in connection with the
Person of the Son Incarnate and Crucified established exactly these
three points. Narrated as it was by an eye-witness, it established:--

(1) The reality of the Incarnation--consequently

(2) The reality of Redemption--for the blood of Jesus cleanses from
all sin (1 John i. 7)--consequently

(3) The reality of Sacraments.

We have articulate evidence of the denial of the two sacraments by the
Docetic idealists of Asia Minor. The _Philosophumena_ tells us of the
view of baptism held by one of their principal sects. "According to them
the promise of the laver of regeneration is nothing more than the
introduction into the 'unfading pleasure' of him that is washed (as they
say) with living water, and anointed with 'chrism that speaketh
not.'"[346] The testimony of Ignatius is express as to the other
sacrament. "From Eucharist and prayer they abstain on account of not
confessing that the Eucharist is flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ which
suffered for our sins." ["Water and blood" should be noted in Heb. ix.
19. Water is not mentioned in Exod. xxiv. 6.]--(_Ep. ad Smyrn._ vii.)


[337] Mr. Matthew Arnold.

[338] This is true as a general rule; but there were exceptions.

[339] See Ps. xv. Cf. Ps. xxiv. 3-7.

[340] 1 John v. 15.

[341] 1 John v. 14, 18.

[342] Vv. 14, 15.

[343] _Historical and Critical Commentary on Leviticus._ By M. M.
Kalisch. Part 1. Theology of the Past and Future, 431, 438.

[344] This is denied by De Wette (_Ueber die Religion_, Vorlesungen,

[345] The form of expression indicates _not_ necessarily the very
things asked, but the spiritual essence and substance.

[346] Ἡ γαρ επαγγελια του λουτρου ουκ αλλη τις εστι κατ' αυτους, ἡ το
εισαγαγειν εις την αμαραντον ἡδονην τον λουομενον κατ' αυτους ζωντ
ὑδατι και χριομενον αλαλω χρισματι.--(_Philosoph._, p. 140, de

                              SECTION X.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Οιδαμεν ὁτι πας ὁ                  Scimus quoniam omnis
  γεγεννημενος εκ του                qui natus est ex
  Θεου ουχ ἁμαρτανει,                Deo non peccat, sed
  αλλ' ὁ γεννηθεις εκ του            generatio Dei conservat
  Θεου τηρει αυτον, και              eum et malignus non
  ὁ πονηρος ουχ ἁπτεται              tangit eum. Scimus
  αυτου. οιδαμεν ὁτι εκ              quoniam ex Deo sumus
  του Θεου εσμεν, και                et mundus totus in
  ὁ κοσμος ὁλος εν τω                maligno positus est.
  πονηρω κειται. οιδαμεν             Et scimus quoniam
  δε ὁτι ὁ υιος του Θεου             Filius Dei venit, et
  ἡκει, και δεδωκεν ἡμιν             dedit nobis sensum ut
  διανοιαν, ἱνα γινωσκωμεν           cognoscamus verum
  τον αληθινον· και εσμεν            Deum et simus in vero,
  εν τω αληθινω, εν τω                Filio eius; hic est
  υιω αυτου Ιησου Χριστω.            verus et vita æterna.
  ουτος εστιν ὁ αληθινος             Filioli custodite vos a
  Θεος και ἡ ζωη αιωνιος.            simulachris.
  Τεκνια, φυλαξατε ἑαυτους
  απο των ειδωλων.


  We know that whosoever             We know that whosoever
  is born of God                     is begotten of
  sinneth not; but he                God sinneth not; but
  that is begotten of God            He that was begotten
  keepeth himself, and               of God keepeth him,
  that wicked one toucheth           and the evil one toucheth
  him not. _And_ we                  him not. We know
  know that we are of                that we are of God,
  God, and the whole                 and the whole world
  world lieth in wickedness.         lieth in the evil one.
  And we know                        And we know that the
  that the Son of God is             Son of God is come,
  come, and hath given               and hath given us an
  us an understanding,               understanding that we
  that we may know Him               know Him that is true,
  that is true, and we               and we are in Him that
  are in Him that is true,           is true, _even_ in His
  _even_ in His Son Jesus            Son Jesus Christ. This
  Christ. This is the                is the true God, and
  true God, and eternal              eternal life. _My_ little
  life. Little children,             children, guard yourselves
  keep yourselves from               from idols.
  idols. Amen.


  We know that whosoever
  is born of God
  sinneth not: but the
  Begotten of God keepeth
  him, and the evil
  one toucheth him not.

  We know that we
  are from God and the
  world lieth wholly in
  the evil one.

  We know moreover
  that the Son of God
  hath _come and_ is here,
  and hath given us
  understanding that we
  know Him that is the
  Very God: and in His
  Son Jesus Christ (this
  is the Very God and
  eternal life), we are
  in the Very (_God_).
  Children, guard yourselves
  from the idols.


                            Ch. v. 18-21.

Ver. 18, 19, 20. Three seals are affixed to the close of this
Epistle--three postulates of the spiritual reason; three primary canons
of spiritual perception and knowledge. Each is marked by the emphatic
"we know," which is stamped at the opening its first line. The first "we
know," is of a sense of purity made possible to the Christian through
the keeping by Him Who is the one Begotten of God. The evil one cannot
touch him with the contaminating touch which implies connection. The
second "we know" involves a sense of _privilege_; the true conviction
that by God's power, and love, we are brought into a sphere of light,
out of the darkness in which a sinful world has become as if cradled on
the lap of the evil one. The third "we know" is the deep consciousness
of the very Presence of the Son of God in and with His Church. And with
this comes all the inner life--supremely a new way of looking at things,
a new possibility of thought, a new cast of thought and sentiment,
"understanding" (διανοια). Words denoting intellectual faculties and
processes are rare in St. John. This word is used in the sense just
given in Plat., _Rep._, 511, and Arist., _Poet._, vi. (in the last,
however, rather of the _sentiment_ of the piece than of the author), "He
hath given us understanding that we know continuously the very [God]."
And in "His Son Jesus Christ [this is the very God and eternal life] we
are in the very God." This interpretation of the passage is supported by
the position of the pronoun which cannot be referred naturally to any
subject but Jesus Christ. Waterland quotes Irenæus. "No man can know God
unless God has taught him; that is to say, that without God, God cannot
be known."[347]

Ver. 21. The Epistle closes with a short, sternly affectionate
exhortation. "Children, guard yourselves" (the aorist imperative of
immediate final decision) "from the idols." These words are natural in
the atmosphere of Ephesus (Acts xix. 26, 27). The Author of the
Apocalypse has a like hatred of idols. (Apoc. ii. 14, 15, ix. 20, xx.
1-8, xxii. 15.)

It would appear that the Gnostics allowed people to eat freely things
sacrificed to idols. Modern, like ancient unbelief, has sometimes
attributed to St. John a determination to exalt the Master whom he
knew to be a man to an equality with God. But this is morally
inconsistent with the Apostle's unaffected shrinking from idolatry in
every form. (See _Speaker's Commentary, N. T._, iv., 347).


[347] Moyer Lecture, vi.

                  _THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST. JOHN._

                             II. EPISTLE.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Ο πρεσβυτερος εκλεκτη              Senior electæ dominæ
  κυρια και τοις τεκνοις             et natis eius, quos ego
  αυτης, ους εγω αγαπω               diligo in veritate, et
  εν αληθεια, και ουκ εγω            non ego solus sed et
  μονος αλλα και παντες              omnes qui cognoverunt
  οι εγνωκοτες την αληθειαν,         veritatem, propter veritatem
  δια την αληθειαν                   quæ permanet
  την μενουσαν εν ἡμιν,              in nobis et nobis cum
  και μεθ' ἡμων εσται εις            erit in æternum. Sit
  τον αιωνα. εσται μεθ'              nobiscum gratia misericordia
  ἡμων χαρις, ελεος, ειρηνη,         pax a Deo Patre
  παρα Θεου πατρος και               et Christo Iesu Filio
  παρα Κυριου Ιησου                  Patris in veritate et
  Χριστου του υιου του               caritate. Gavisus sum
  πατρος, εν αληθεια και             valde quoniam inveni
  αγαπη. Εχαρην λιαν                 de filii tuis ambulantes
  ὁτι ευρηκα εκ των τεκνων           in veritate sicut mandatum
  σου περιπατουντας εν               accepimus a
  αληθεια, καθως εντολην             Patre. Et nunc rogo te,
  ελαβομεν παρα του                  domina, non tamquam
  πατρος. και νυν ερωτω              mandatum novum scribens
  σε, κυρια, ουχ ὡς εντολην          tibi, sed quod
  γραφων σοι καινην, αλλα            habuimus ab initio, ut
  ἡν ειχομεν απ' αρχης,              diligamus alterutrum.
  ἱνα αγαπωμεν αλληλους.             Et hæc est caritas, ut
  και αυτη εστιν ἡ αγαπη,            ambulemus secundum
  ἱνα περιπατωμεν κατα               mandata eius. Hoc
  τας εντολας αυτου. αυτη            mandatum est ut quemadmodum
  εστιν ἡ εντολη, καθως              audistis ab
  ηκουσατε απ' αρχης, ἱνα            initio in eo ambuletis.
  εν αυτη περιπατητε· ὁτι            Quoniam multi seductores
  πολλοι πλανοι εισηλθον             exierunt in mundum
  εις τον κοσμον, οι μη              qui non confitentur
  ὁμολογουντες Ιησουν                Iesum Christum venientem
  Χριστον ερχομενον εν               in carne. Hic
  σαρκι· ουτος εστιν ὁ               est seductor et antichristus.
  πλανος και ὁ αντιχριστος·          Videte vosmet
  βλεπετε ἑαυτους, ἱνα μη            ipsos, ne perdatis
  απολεσωμεν α ειργασαμεθα,          quæ operati estis, sed
  αλλα μισθον                        ut mercedam plenum
  πληρη απολαβωμεν. πας              accipiatis. Omnis qui
  ὁ παραβαινων και μη                præcedit et non manet
  μενων εν τη διδαχη του             in doctrina Christi,
  Χριστου Θεον ουκ εχει·             Deum non habet: qui
  ὁ μενων εν τη διδαχη               permanet in doctrina,
  ουτος και τον πατερα και           hic et Filium et Patrem
  τον υιον εχει. ει τις              habet. Si quis venit ad
  ερχεται προς ὑμας και              vos, et hanc doctrinam
  ταυτην την διδαχην ου              non adfert, nolite recipere
  φερει, μη λαμβανετε                eum in domumnec
  αυτον εις οικιαν, και              ave ei dixeritis: qui
  χαιρειν αυτω μη λεγετε·            enim dicit illi ave, communicat
  ὁ γαρ λεγων αυτω                   operibus illius
  χαιρειν κοινωνει τοις              malignis. Plura habens
  εργοις αυτου τοις πονηροις.        vobis scribere, nolui
  Πολλα εχων ὑμιν                    per cartam et atramentum:
  γραφειν ουκ ηβουληθην              spero enim me
  δια χαρτου και μελανος·            futurum apud vos et
  αλλα ελπιζω ελθειν προς            os ad os loqui, ut
  ὑμας και στομα προς                gaudium vestrum sit
  στομα λαλησαι, ἱνα ἡ               plenum. Salutant te
  χαρα ἡμων η πεπληρωμενη.           filii sororis tuæ electæ.
  Ασπαζεται σε
  τα τεκνα της αδελφης
  σου της εκλεκτης. αμην.


  The elder unto the                 The elder unto the
  elect lady and her children,       elect lady and her children,
  whom I love in                     whom I love in
  the truth; and not I               truth; and not I only,
  only, but also all they            but also all they that
  that have known the                know the truth; for
  truth; for the truth's             the truth's sake which
  sake, which dwelleth               abideth in us, and it
  in us, and shall be with           shall be with us for
  us for ever. Grace be              ever: Grace, mercy,
  with you, mercy, _and_             peace shall be with us,
  peace, from God the                from God the Father,
  Father, and from the               and from Jesus Christ,
  Lord Jesus Christ, the             the Son of the Father,
  Son of the Father, in              in truth and love. I
  truth and love. I rejoiced         rejoice greatly that I
  greatly that I                     have found certain of
  found of thy children              thy children walking
  walking in truth, as we            in truth, even as we
  have received a commandment        received commandment
  from the                           from the Father.
  Father. And now I                  And now I beseech
  beseech thee, lady, not            thee, lady, not as
  as though I wrote a                though I wrote to thee
  new commandment                    a new commandment,
  unto thee, but that                but that which we had
  which we had from the              from the beginning,
  beginning, that we love            that we love one
  one another. And this              another. And this is
  is love, that we walk              love, that we should
  after His commandments.            walk after His commandments.
  This is the                        This is
  commandment, That,                 the commandment,
  as ye have heard from              even as ye heard from
  the beginning, ye                  the beginning, that ye
  should walk in it. For             should walk in it. For
  many deceivers are                 many deceivers are
  entered into the world,            gone forth into the
  who confess not that               world, even they that
  Jesus Christ is come in            confess not that Jesus
  the flesh. This is a               Christ cometh in the
  deceiver and an antichrist.        flesh. This is the
  Look to yourselves,                deceiver and the antichrist.
  that we lose                       Look to yourselves,
  not those things which             that ye lose not
  we have wrought, but               the things which we
  that we receive a                  have wrought, but that
  full reward. Whosoever             ye receive a full reward.
  transgresseth, and                 Whosoever
  abideth not in the doctrine        goeth onward and
  of Christ, hath                    abideth not in the
  not God. He that                   teaching of Christ, hath
  abideth in the doctrine            not God: he that
  of Christ, he hath both            abideth in the teaching,
  the Father and the Son.            the same hath both the
  If there come any unto             Father and the Son.
  you, and bring not this            If any one cometh unto
  doctrine, receive him              you, and bringeth not
  not into _your_ house,             this teaching, receive
  neither bid him God                him not into _your_ house,
  speed: For he that                 and give him no greeting:
  biddeth him God speed              for he that giveth
  is partaker of his evil            him greeting partaketh
  deeds. Having many                 in his evil works.
  things to write unto               Having many things
  you, I would not _write_           to write unto you, I
  with paper and ink:                would not _write them_
  but I trust to come                with paper and ink:
  unto you, and speak                but I hope to come
  face to face, that our             unto you, and to speak
  joy may be full. The               face to face, that your
  children of thy elect              joy may be fulfilled.
  sister greet thee.                 The children of thine
  Amen.                              elect sister salute thee.


  The Elder unto the
  excellent Kyria and
  her children whom I
  love in truth, (and not
  I only, but also all they
  that know the truth)
  for the truth's sake
  which abideth in us--yea,
  and with us it
  shall be for ever. There
  shall be with you
  grace, mercy, peace
  from God the Father,
  and from Jesus Christ
  the Son of the Father,
  in truth and love. I
  was exceeding glad
  that I found of thy
  children walking in
  truth even as we received
  from the Father. And
  now I beseech thee
  Kyria, not as though
  writing a fresh commandment
  unto thee,
  but that which we had
  from the beginning,
  that we love one
  another. And this is
  the love, that we should
  walk according to His
  commandments. This
  is the commandment
  as ye heard from the
  beginning that ye
  should walk in it. For
  many deceivers are
  gone out into the world,
  _even_ they who are not
  confessing Jesus Christ
  coming in the flesh.
  This the deceiver, and
  the antichrist. Look
  to yourselves that ye
  lose not the things
  which ye have worked,
  but that ye receive reward
  in full. Every
  one leading forward
  and not abiding in
  the doctrine which is
  Christ's hath not God:
  he that abideth in the
  doctrine, the same hath
  both the Son and the
  Father. If there come
  unto you any and
  bringeth not the doctrine,
  receive him not
  into your house, and
  no good speed wish
  him. For he that
  wisheth him good
  speed partaketh in his
  works which are evil.
  Having many things to
  write unto you I would
  not write with paper
  and ink, but I hope to
  be with you and to
  speak face to face, that
  our joy may be fulfilled.
  The children of thine
  elect sister greet thee.

                            DISCOURSE XVI.


    "The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in
    the truth ... Grace be with you, mercy and peace, from God the
    Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in
    truth and love."--2 JOHN, 3.

Of old God addressed men in tones that, were so to speak, distant.
Sometimes He spoke with the stern precision of law or ritual;
sometimes in the dark and lofty utterances of prophets; sometimes
through the subtle voices of history, which lend themselves to
different interpretations. But in the New Testament He whom no man
hath seen at any time, "interpreted,"[348] Himself with a sweet
familiarity. It is of a piece with the dispensation of condescension,
that the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven should come to us in such
large measure through epistles. For a letter is just the result of
taking up one's pen to converse with one who is absent, a familiar
talk with a friend.

Of the epistles in our New Testament, a few are addressed to
_individuals_. The effect of three of these letters upon the Church,
and even upon the world, has been great. The Epistles to Timothy and
Titus, according to the most prevalent interpretation of them, have
been felt in the outward organization of the Church. The Epistle to
Philemon, with its eager tenderness, its softness as of a woman's
heart, its chivalrous courtesy, has told in another direction. With
all its freedom from the rashness of social revolution; its almost
painful abstinence (as abolitionists have sometimes confessed to
feeling) from actual invective against slavery in the abstract; that
letter is yet pervaded by thoughts whose issue can only be worked out
by the liberty of the slave. The word emancipation may not be
pronounced, but it hovers upon the Apostle's lips.

The second Epistle is, in our judgment, a letter to an individual.
Certainly we are unable to find in its whole contents any probable
allusion to a Church personified as a lady.[349] It is, as we read it,
addressed to Kyria, an Ephesian lady, or one who lived in the circle
of Ephesian influence. It was sent by the Apostle during an absence
from Ephesus. That absence might have been for the purpose of one of
the visitations of the Churches of Asia Minor, which (as we are told
by ancient Church writers) the Apostle was in the habit of holding.
Possibly, however, in the case of a writer so brief and so reserved in
the expression of personal sentiment as St. John, the gush and
sunshine of anticipated joy at the close of this note might tempt us
to think of a rift in some sky that had been long darkened; of the
close of some protracted separation, soon to be forgotten in a happy
meeting. "Having many things to write unto you, I would not do so by
means of paper and ink; but I hope to come unto you, and to speak face
to face that our joy may be fulfilled."[350] The expression might not
seem unsuitable for a return from exile. Several touches of language
and feeling in the latter point to the conclusion that Kyria was a
widow. There is no mention of her husband, the father of her children.
In the case of a writer who uses the names of God with such subtle and
tender suitability, the association of Kyria's "children walking in
truth" with "even as we received commandment _from the Father_," may
well point to Him who was for them the Father of the fatherless. We
need not with some expositors draw the sad conclusion that St. John
affectionately hints that there were others of the family who could
not be included in this joyful message. But it would seem highly
probable from the language used that there were several sons, and also
that Kyria had no daughters. Over these sons who had lost one earthly
parent, the Apostle rejoices with the heart of a father in God. He
bursts out with his _eureka_, the _eureka_ not of a philosopher, but
of a saint. "I rejoiced exceedingly that I found[351] certain of the
number of thy children walking in truth."

While we may not trace in this little Epistle the same fountain of
wide-spreading influence as in others to which we have referred; while
we feel that, like its author, its work is deep and silent rather than
commanding, reflection will also lead us to the conclusion that it is
worthy of the Apostle who was looked upon as one of the "pillars" of
the faith.[352]

1. Let us reflect that this letter is addressed by the aged Apostle to
a widow, and concerns her family.

It is significant that Kyria was, in all probability, a widow of

Too many of us have more or less acquaintance with one department of
French literature. A Parisian widow is too often the questionable
heroine of some shameful romance, to have read which is enough to
taint the virginity of the young imagination. Ephesus was the Paris of
Ionia. Petronius was the Daudet or Zola of his day. An Ephesian widow
is the heroine of one of the most cynically corrupt of his stories.

But "where sin abounded, grace did more than abound." Strange that
first in an epistle to a Bishop of the Church of Ephesus, St. Paul
should have presented us with that picture of a Christian widow--"she
that is a widow, indeed, and desolate, who hath her hope set on God,
and continueth in prayer night and day"--yet who, if she has the
devotion, the almost entire absorption in God, of Anna, the daughter
of Phanuel,[353] leaves upon the track of her daily road to heaven the
trophies of Dorcas--"having brought up children well, used hospitality
to strangers, washed the saints' feet, relieved the afflicted,
diligently followed every good work."[354] Such widows are the leaders
of the long procession of women, veiled or unveiled, with vows or
without them, who have ministered to Jesus through the ages. Christ
has a beautiful art of turning the affliction of His daughters into
the consolation of suffering. When life's fairest hopes are
disappointed by falsehood, by cruel circumstances, by death; the
broken heart is soothed by the love of Christ, the only love which is
proof against death and change. The consolation thus received is the
most unselfish of gifts. It overflows, and is lavishly poured out upon
the sick and weary. With St. Paul's picture of a widow of this kind,
contrast another by the same hand which hangs close beside it. The
younger Ephesian widow, such as Petronius described, was known by St.
Paul also. If any count the Apostle as a fanatic, destitute of all
knowledge of the world because he lived above it, let them look at
those lines, which are full of such caustic power, as they hit on the
characteristics of certain idle and wanton affecters of a sorrow which
they never felt.[355] What a distance between such widows and Kyria,
"beloved for the truth's sake which abideth in us!"[356]

But the short letter of St. John is addressed to Kyria's _family_ as
well as to herself. "The elder to the excellent Kyria and her

There is one question which we naturally ask about every school and
form of religion. It is the question which a great English Professor
of Divinity used to ask his pupils to put in a homely form about every
religious scheme and mode of utterance--"will it _wash_ well?" Is it
an influence which seems to be productive and lasting? Does it abide
through time and trials? Is it capable of being passed on to another
generation? Are plans, services, organizations, preachings, classes,
vital or showy? Are they fads to meet fancies, or works to supply
wants? Is that which we hold such sober, solid truth, that wise piety
can say of it, half in benediction, half in prophecy[358]--"the truth
which abideth in us; yea, and with us it shall be for ever?"

2. We turn to the _contents_ of the Epistle.

We shall be better able to appreciate the value of these, if we
consider the state of Christian literature at that time.

What had Christians to read and carry about with them? The excellent
work of the Bible Society was physically impossible for long centuries
to come. No doubt the LXX. version of the Old Testament was widely
spread. In every great city of the Roman Empire there was a vast
population of Jews. Many of these were baptized into the Church, and
carried into it with them their passionate belief in the Old
Testament. The Christians of the time and place to which we refer
could, probably, with little trouble, if not read, yet hear the Old
Covenant and able expositions of it. But they had not copies of the
entire New Testament. Indeed, if all the New Testament was then
written, it certainly was not collected into one volume, nor
constituted one supreme authority. "Many barbarous nations," says a
very ancient Father, "believe in Christ without written record, having
salvation impressed through the Spirit in their hearts, and diligently
preserving the old tradition."[359] Possibly a Church or single
believer had one synoptical Gospel. At Ephesus Christians had
doubtless been catechised in, and were deeply imbued with, St. John's
view of the Person, work, and teaching of our Lord. This had now been
moulded into shape, and definitely committed to writing in that
glorious Gospel, the Church's Holy of Holies, St. John's Gospel. For
them and for their contemporaries there was a living realization of
the Gospel. They had heard it from eye-witnesses. They had passed into
the wonderland of God. The earth on which Jesus trod had blossomed
into miracle. The air was haunted by the echoes of His voice. They
had, probably, also a certain number of the Epistles of St. Paul. The
Christians of Ephesus would have a special interest in their own
Epistle to the Ephesians, and in the two which were written to their
first Bishop, Timothy. They had also (whether written or not)
impressed upon their memories by their weekly Eucharist, the
liturgical Canon of consecration according to the _Ephesian
usage_--from which, and not from the Roman, the Spanish and Gallican
seem to be derived. The Ephesian Christians had also the first Epistle
of St. John, which in some form accompanied the Gospel, and is,
indeed, a picture of spiritual life drawn from it. But let us remember
that the Epistle is not of a character to be very quickly or readily
learned by heart. Its subtle, latent links of connection do not
present many grappling hooks for the memory to fasten itself to.
Copies also must have been comparatively few.

Now let us see how the second Epistle may well have been related to
the first.

Supremely, and above all else, the first Epistle contained _three_
warnings, very necessary for those times. (1) There was a danger of
_losing the true Christ_, the Word made Flesh, Who for the forgiveness
of our sins did shed out of His most precious side both water and
blood--in a false, because shadowy and ideal Christ. (2) There was
danger of _losing true love_, and therefore spiritual life, with truth.
(3) With the true Christ and true love there was a danger of losing
_the true commandment_--love of God and of the brethren. Now in the
second Epistle these very three warnings were written on a leaflet in a
form more calculated for circulation and for remembrance. (1) Against
the peril of faith, of _losing the true Christ_. "Many deceivers are
gone out into the world--they who confess not Jesus Christ coming in
flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."[360] With the true
Christ, the true doctrine of Christ would also vanish, and with it all
living hold upon _God_. _Progress_ was the watchword; but it was in
reality _regress_. "Every one who abideth not in the doctrine of Christ
hath not God."[361] (2) Against the peril of _losing love_. "I beseech
thee, Kyria ... that we love one another."[362] (3) Against the peril of
losing _the true commandment_ (the great spiritual principle of
charity), or the true commandments[363] (that principle in the details
of life). "And this is love, that we walk after His _commandments_. This
is the _commandment_, that even as ye heard from the beginning ye should
walk in it."[364]

Here then were the chief practical elements of the first Epistle
contracted into a brief and easily remembered shape.

Easily remembered, too, was the stern, practical prohibition of the
intimacies of hospitality with those who came to the home of the
Christian, in the capacity of emissaries of the antichrist above
indicated. "Receive him not into your house, and good speed salute
him not with."[365]

Many are offended with this. No doubt Christianity is the religion of
love--"the epiphany of the sweet-naturedness and philanthropy of
God."[366] We very often look upon heresy or unbelief with the
tolerance of curiosity rather than of love. At all events, the Gospel
has its intolerance as well as tolerance. St. John certainly had this.
It is not a true conception in art which invests him with the mawkish
sweetness of perpetual youth. There is a sense in which he was a son
of Thunder to the last. He who believes and knows must formulate a
dogma. A dogma frozen by formality, or soured by hate, or narrowed by
stupidity, makes a bigot. In reading the Church History of the first
four centuries we are often tempted to ask, why all this subtlety,
this theology-spinning, this dogma-hammering? The answer stands out
clear above the mists of controversy. Without all this the Church
would have lost the conception of Christ, and thus finally Christ
Himself. St. John's denunciations have had a function in Christendom
as well as his love.

3. There are two most precious indications of the highest Christian
truth with which we may conclude.

We have prefixed to this Epistle that beautiful Apostolic salutation
which is found in two only among the Epistles of St. Paul.[367] After
that simple, but exquisite expression of blessing merged in
prophecy--"the truth which abideth in us--yes! and with us it shall be
for ever"[368]--there comes another verse set in the same key. "There
shall be with us grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father, and from
Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth" of thought, "and love"
of life.[369]

This rush and reduplication of words is not very like the usual
reserve and absence of emotional excitement in St. John's style. Can
it be that something (possibly the glorious death of martyrdom by
which Timothy died) led St. John to use words which were probably
familiar to Ephesian Christians?

However this may be, let us live by and learn from those lovely words.
Our poverty wants _grace_, our guilt wants _mercy_, our misery wants
_peace_. Let us ever keep the Apostle's order. Do not let us put
_peace_, our feeling of peace, first. The emotionalists' is a
topsy-turvy theology. Apostles do not say "peace and grace," but
"grace and peace."

One more--in an age which substitutes an ideal something called the
spirit of Christianity for Christ, let us hold fast to that which is
the essence of the Gospel and the kernel of our three creeds. "To
confess Jesus Christ coming in flesh."[370] Couple with this a canon
of the First Epistle--"confesseth Jesus Christ _come_ in flesh."[371]
The second is the Incarnation _fact_ with its abiding consequences;
the first, the Incarnation _principle_ ever living in a Person, Who
will also be personally manifested. This is the substance of the
Gospels; this the life of prayers and sacraments; this the expectation
of the saints.


Ver. 1. _The Elder._] This word has played a great part in an
important controversy. It is argued that the Elder of this and of the
Third Epistle is the author indeed of the first Epistle and of the
Gospel, but cannot be the Apostle St. John, who would not, (it is
alleged,) call himself ὁ πρεσβυτερος. And Eusebius (_H.E._ lib. iii.,
cap. ult.) preserves a fragment from Papias, which he misunderstands
to indicate that there were two Johns (see Riggenbach, _Leben Jesu_,
59, 60). But even if the word be Presbyter, and points to an
ecclesiastical title, it might stand precisely on the same footing as
St. Peter's language--"the elders among you I exhort, who am a _fellow
elder_" (1 Pet. v. 1). The Elder at the opening of the Second and
Third Epistles of St. John, may well signify the aged Apostle, the
oldest of the company of Jesus, the one living representative of the
traditions of Galilee and Jerusalem.

Ver. 7. _The seducer._] ὁ πλανος. The almost technical force of this
word would be adequately appreciated only by readers more or less imbued
with Jewish ideas. It was indeed the really strong motive in the
terrible game which the Jewish priests played in bringing about the
death of our Lord. The process against the _Mesith_, "seducer," is drawn
out in the Talmud with an effrontery at once puerile and revolting. The
man accused of _seduction_ was to be drawn into conversation, while two
witnesses were hidden in the next room,--and candles were to be lighted,
as if accidentally, close by him, that the witnesses might be sure that
they had seen, as well as heard the heretic. He was to be called upon to
retract his heretical pravity. If he refused, he was to be brought
before the Council, and stoned if the verdict was against him. The
Talmudists add that this was the legal process carried out against
Jesus: that He was condemned upon the testimony of two witnesses; and
that the crime of "misleading" was the only one which was thus formally
dealt with. (See references to the Talmud of Jerusalem, and that of
Babylon, _Vie de Jesus_, Renan, 394, N. 1). The Gospels tell us that the
accusation against our Lord was "misleading:" and the terrible word in
the verse which we are examining was actually applied to Him (εκεινος ὁ
πλανος, Matt. xxvii. 63; πλανα τον οχλον John vii. 12; μη και ὑμεις
πεπλανησθε John vii. 47).

"Excepting some minutiæ which were the product of the Rabbinical
imagination, the narrative of the Evangelists answers, point by point,
to the process actually laid down by the Talmud" (Renan, ut sup.).

Ver. 9. _Every one who leadeth forward._] πας ὁ προαγων is certainly
the true reading here; the commander himself pushing boldly onward,
and also carrying others with him. The allusion is polemical to the
vaunted _progress_ of the Gnostic teachers.

"_The doctrine which is Christ's._"] What is that? John vii. 16, 17.
The doctrine which Christ emphatically called "_My doctrine_," "_the
doctrine_." No doubt the word (διδαχη) sometimes means the _act_,
sometimes the _mode, of teaching_ (Mark xii. 38; 1 Cor. xiv. 6); but
"it underwent a transformation which converted it into a term
synonymous with dogmatic teaching," with the body of faithful doctrine
which was the ultimate type and norm to which all statements must be
conformed. (Acts vi. 42; Tit. i. 9; Rom. vi. 17, xvi. 17; see also
Matt. xvi. 12; Acts v. 28, xvii. 19; Heb. xiii. 9.) It is much to be
regretted that in the R.V. the word "doctrine" has disappeared from
all these passages, Romans xvi. 17 alone excepted. St. John's language
in this verse seems quite decisive.


[348] John i. 18.

[349] There is no doubt a large amount of authority for this view that
St. John addresses a Church personified. It has the support of sacred
critics so different as Bishop Wordsworth and Bishop Lightfoot. (_Ep.
to Colossians and Philemon_, 305), and Professor Westcott seems (with
some hesitation) to lean to it. But there is also a great body of
support, ancient and modern, for the literal view. (Clem. Alex.,
_Adunbr. ad ii. Joan., Op._, iii. 1011.) So Athanasius, or the author
of "Synopsis S.S." in Athanasius, _Opp._, iv. 410. See also the
heading of the A. V. ("He exhorteth a certain honourable matron, with
her children.") For reasons for accepting Kyria rather than Electa as
the name, see _Speaker's Commentary_, iv. 335.

[350] Ver. 12.

[351] ευρηκα, ver. 4.

[352] "James, Cephas, and JOHN, who seemed to be _pillars_." Gal. ii. 9.

[353] Luke ii. 36.

[354] 1 Tim. v. 3, 5, 10.

[355] 1 Tim, v. 6-11, 12, 13.

[356] 2 John 2.

[357] Ver. 1.

[358] δια την αληθειαν την μενουσαν εν ἡμιν, και μεθ' ἡμων εσται εις
τον αιωνα. 2 John ver. 2.

[359] Irenæus, _Hær._, iii. 4.

[360] Ver. 7.

[361] Ver. 9.

[362] Ver. 5.

[363] "_Commandments_ and _commandment_--Love strives to realise in
detail every separate expression of the will of God." (Prof. Westcott,
_Epistles of St. John_, 217).

[364] Ver. 6.

[365] It is, probably, the existence of these verses (vv. 10, 11)
which acts as a stimulus to many liberal Christian commentators in
favour of the ultra-mystical view, that the lady addressed in this
Epistle is a Church personified. It should be carefully noted that St.
John speaks of a _formal_ summons, so to speak, from an emissary of
antichrist as such. (ει τις ερχεται προς ὑμας, ver. 10). St. John,
also, must have detected a danger in the very gentleness of Kyria's
character, or in the disposition of some of her children. So much,
indeed, might seem implied in the sudden, solemn, and rather startling
warning, which entreated constant continuous care (βλεπετε ἑαυτους),
so that they should not in some momentary impulse, under the charm of
some deceiver, lose what they had wrought, and with it reward in
fulness (ἱνα μη απολεσητε, ver. 10).

[366] Titus iii. 4.

[367] 1 Tim. i. 1; 2 Tim. i. 2.

[368] The construction altered to bring out the meaning more
strikingly than a uniform structure could have done.--Winer, _Gr.
Gr._, Part III., § 3.

[369] Εσται μεθ' ὑμων χαρις, ελεος, ειρηνη, κ.τ.λ. 2 John ver. 3.

[370] Ιησουν Χριστον ερχομενον εν σαρκι. 2 John ver. 7.

[371] Ιησουν Χριστον εν σαρκι εληλυθοτα. 1 John iv. 2.

                   _THE THIRD EPISTLE OF ST. JOHN._

                            III. EPISTLE.

          GREEK.                           LATIN.

  Ὁ πρεσβυτερος Γαιω                 Senior Gaio carissimo,
  τω αγαπητω, ὁν εγω                 quem ego diligo
  αγαπω εν αληθεια.                  in veritate. Carissime,
  Αγαπητε, περι παντων               de omnibus orationem
  ευχομαι σε ευοδουσθαι              facio prosper te ingredi
  και ὑγιαινειν, καθως               et valere, sicut prospere
  ευοδουται σου ἡ ψυχη.              agit anima tua.
  εχαρην γαρ λιαν ερχομενων          Gavisus sum valde venientibus
  αδελφων και                        fratribus et
  μαρτυρουντων σου τη                testimonium perhibentibus
  αληθεια, καθως συ                  veritati tuæ, sicut
  εν αληθεια περιπατεις.             tu in veritate ambulas.
  μειζοτεραν τουτων ουκ              Maiorem horum non
  εχω χαραν, ἱνα ακουω               habeo gratiam quam ut
  τα εμα τεκνα εν αληθεια            audiam filios meos in
  περιπατουντα. Αγαμητε,             veritate ambulantes.
  πιστον ποιεις                      Carissime, fideliter
  ὁ εαν εργαση εις τους              facias quidquid operaris
  αδελφους και εις τους              in fratres, et hoc
  ξενους, οι εμαρτυρησαν             in peregrinos; qui testimonium
  σου τη αγαπη ενωπιον               reddiderunt
  εκκλησιας, ους καλως               caritati tuæ in conspectu
  ποιησεις προπεμψας                 ecclesiæ; quos
  αξιως του Θεου. ὑπερ               bene facies ducens
  γαρ του ονοματος                   digna Deo. Pro nomine
  εξηλθον μηδεν λαμβανοντες          enim profecti sunt nihil
  απο των εθνων.                     accipientes a gentibus.
  ἡμεις ουν οφειλομεν                Nos ergo debemus suscipere
  απολαμβανειν τους τοιουτους,       huiusmodi ut
  ἱνα συνεργοι                       cooperatores simus
  γινωμεθα τη αληθεια.               veritatis. Scripsissem
  Ἑγραψα τη εκκλησια·                sitan ecclesiæ: sedis
  αλλ' ὁ φιλοπρωτευων                qui amat primatum
  αυτων Διοτρεφης ουκ                gerere in eis Diotripes
  επιδεχεται ἡμας. δια               non recipit nos. Propter
  τουτο, εαν ελθω, ὑπομνησω          hoc, si venero,
  αυτου τα εργα                      commoneam eius opera
  ἁ ποιει λογοις πονηροις            quæ facit verbis malignis
  φλυαρων ἡμας, και μη               garriens in nos, et
  αρκουμενος επι τουτοις             quasi non ei ista sufficiant,
  ουτε αυτος επιδεχεται              nec ipse suscipit
  τους αδελφους, και τους            fratres, et eos quo cupiunt
  βουλομενους κωλυει και             prohibet et de
  εκ της εκκλησιας εκβαλλει.         ecclesia eicit. Carissime,
  Αγαπητε, μη                        noli imitari malum,
  μιμου το κακον, αλλα               sed quod bonum
  το αγαθον. ὁ αγαθοποιων            est. Qui bene facit,
  εκ του Θεου                        ex Deo est: qui male
  εστιν· ὁ δε κακοποιων              facit, non videt Deum.
  ουχ ἑωρακεν τον Θεον.              Demetrio testimonium
  Δημητριω μεμαρτυρηται              redditur ab omnibus et
  ὑπο παντων και ὑπ'                 ab ipsa veritate: et nos
  αυτης της αληθειας·                testimonium perhibemus,
  και ἡμεις δε μαρτυρουμεν,          et nosti quoniam
  και οιδατε ὁτι ἡ μαρτυρια          testimonium nostrum
  ἡμων αληθης εστι.                  verum est. Multa habui
  Πολλα ειχον γραφειν,               scribere tibi, sed nolui
  αλλ' ου θελω δια μελανος           per atramentum et
  και καλαμου σοι                    calamum scribere tibi:
  γραψαι· ελπιζω δε                  spero autem protinus
  ευθεως ιδειν σε, και               te videre, et os ad os
  στομα προς στομα                   loquimur. Pax tibi.
  λαλησομεν. Ειρηνη σοι.             Salutant te amici. Saluta
  Ασπαζονται σε οι φιλοι·            amicos per nomen.
  ασπαζου τους φιλους
  κατ' ονομα.


  The elder unto the                 The elder unto Gaius
  well beloved Gaius,                the beloved, whom I
  whom I love in the                 love in truth. Beloved,
  truth. Beloved, I wish             I pray that in all things
  above all things that              thou mayest prosper
  thou mayest prosper                and be in health, even
  and be in health,                  as thy soul prospereth.
  even as thy soul                   For I rejoiced greatly,
  prospereth. For I rejoiced         when brethren came
  greatly, when                      and bare witness unto
  the brethren came and              thy truth, even as thou
  testified of the truth             walkest in truth.
  that is in thee, even              Greater joy have I
  as thou walkest in                 none than this, to hear
  the truth. I have no               of my children walking
  greater joy than to hear           in the truth. Beloved,
  that my children walk              thou doest a faithful
  in truth. Beloved, thou            work in whatsoever
  doest faithfully whatsoever        thou doest toward them
  thou doest to                      that are brethren and
  the brethren, and to               strangers withal; who
  strangers; which have              bare witness to thy
  borne witness of thy               love before the church:
  charity before the                 whom thou wilt do
  church: whom if thou               well to set forward on
  bring forward on their             their journey worthily
  journey after a godly              of God: because that
  sort, thou shalt do well:          for the sake of the
  because that for His               Name they went forth,
  name's sake they went              taking nothing of the
  forth, taking nothing              Gentiles. We therefore
  of the Gentiles. We                ought to welcome
  therefore ought to receive         such, that we may be
  such, that we                      fellow-workers with
  might be fellowhelpers             the truth. I wrote
  to the truth. I wrote              somewhat unto the
  unto the Church: but               church: but Diotrephes,
  Diotrephes, who loveth             who loveth to have the
  to have the pre-eminence           pre-eminence among
  among them,                        them, receiveth us not.
  receiveth us not.                  Therefore, if I come,
  Wherefore, if I come,              I will bring to remembrance
  I will remember his                his works which
  deeds which he doeth,              he doeth, prating against
  prating against us with            us with wicked
  malicious words: and               words: and not content
  not content therewith,             therewith, neither doth
  neither doth he himself            he himself receive the
  receive the brethren,              brethren, and them
  and forbiddeth them                that would he forbiddeth,
  that would, and casteth            and casteth _them_
  _them_ out of the church.          out of the church. Beloved,
  Beloved, follow not that           imitate not that
  which is evil, but that            which is evil, but that
  which is good. He                  which is good. He
  that doeth good is of              that doeth good is of
  God: but he that doeth             God: he that doeth
  evil hath not seen God.            evil hath not seen God.
  Demetrius hath good                Demetrius hath the
  report of all _men_, and           witness of all _men_, and
  of the truth itself: yea,          of the truth itself: yea,
  and we _also_ bear                 we also bear witness;
  record; and ye know                and thou knowest that
  that our record is true.           our witness is true. I
  I had many things to               had many things to
  write, but I will not              write unto thee, but I
  with ink and pen write             am unwilling to write
  unto thee: but I trust             _them_ to thee with ink
  I shall shortly see thee,          and pen: but I hope
  and we shall speak                 shortly to see thee, and
  face to face. Peace _be_           we shall speak face to
  to thee. _Our_ friends             face. Peace _be_ unto
  salute thee. Greet the             thee. The friends salute
  friends by name.                   thee. Salute the
                                     friends by name.


  The Elder unto Gaius
  the beloved, whom I
  love in truth. Beloved,
  in all things I pray that
  thou mayest prosper,
  and be in health, even
  as thy soul prospereth.
  For I was exceeding
  glad of brethren coming
  and witnessing to thy
  truth, even as thou
  truly walkest. Greater
  joy than these _joys_ I
  have not, that I should
  hear of my own children
  walking truly. Beloved,
  thou doest in
  faithful wise whatsoever
  thou art working
  towards the brethren
  who are moreover
  strangers; which witness
  to thy charity
  before the Church;
  whom thou wilt do
  well to speed forward
  on their journey worthily
  of God: because
  that for the sake of the
  Name they went out
  taking nothing of the
  Gentiles. We therefore
  are bound to take
  up such that we may
  become fellow-workers
  with the truth. I wrote
  somewhat unto the
  Church: but Diotrephes
  who loveth to have
  primacy over them receiveth
  us not. Wherefore
  if I come I will
  bring to remembrance
  his works which he is
  doing, prating against
  us with wicked words:
  and not contented hereupon
  neither doth he
  himself receive the
  brethren, and them
  that would he hindereth,
  and casteth them
  out of the Church. Beloved,
  imitate not that
  which is evil, but that
  which is good. He
  who is doing good is
  from God; he that is
  doing evil hath not
  seen God. To Demetrius
  witness stands
  given of all men and
  of the truth itself: yea,
  and we also are witnessing,
  and ye know
  that our witness is
  true. Many things I
  had to have written,
  but I am not willing to
  be writing unto thee
  with ink and pen: but
  I am hoping straightway
  to see thee, and
  we shall speak face to
  face. Peace unto thee.
  The friends greet thee.
  Greet the friends by

                           DISCOURSE XVII.


    "The elder unto the well beloved Gaius.... He that doeth good is
    of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."--3 JOHN 1, 11.

The mere analysis of this note must necessarily present a meagre
outline. There is a brief expression of pleasure at the tidings of the
sweet and gracious hospitality of Gaius which was brought by certain
missionary brethren to Ephesus, coupled with the assurance of the
truth and consistency of his whole walk. The haughty rejection of
Apostolic letters of communion by Diotrephes is mentioned with a burst
of indignation. A contrast to Diotrephes is found in Demetrius, with
the threefold witness to a life so worthy of imitation. A brief
greeting--and we have done with the last written words of St. John
which the Church possesses.


Let us _first_ see whether, without passing over the bounds of
historical probability, we can fill up this bare outline with some
colouring of circumstance.

To two of the three individuals named in this Epistle we seem to have
some clue.

The _Gaius_ addressed is, of course, _Caius_ in Latin, a very common
prænomen, no doubt.

Three persons of the name appear in the New Testament[372]--unless we
suppose St. John's Caius to be a fourth. But the generous and beautiful
hospitality adverted to in this note is entirely of a piece with the
character of him of whom St. Paul had written, "Gaius, mine host, and of
the whole Church."[373] We know further, from one of the most ancient
and authentic documents of Christian literature, that the Church of
Corinth (to which this Caius belonged) was, just at the period when St.
John wrote, in a lamentable state of schismatic confusion. Diotrephes
may, at such a period, have been aspiring to put forward his claim at
Corinth; and may, in his ambitious proceedings, have rejected from
communion the brethren whom St. John had sent to Caius.[374] A yet more
interesting reflection is suggested by a writing of considerable
authority. The writer of the "Synopsis of Holy Scripture," which stands
amongst the Works of Athanasius, says--"the Gospel according to John was
both dictated by John the Apostle and beloved when in exile at Patmos,
and by him was published in Ephesus, through Caius the beloved and
friend of the Apostles, of whom Paul also writing to the Romans saith,
_Caius mine host, and of the whole Church_."[375] This would give a very
marked significance to one touch in this Third Epistle of St. John. The
phrase here "and we bear witness also, _and ye know that our witness is
true_"--clearly points back to the closing attestation of the
Gospel--"_and we know that his witness is true_."[376] He counts upon a
quick recognition of a common memory.[377]

Demetrius is, of course, a name redolent of the worship of Demeter the
Earth-Mother, and of Ephesian surroundings. No reader of the New
Testament needs to be reminded of the riot at Ephesus, which is told
at such length in the history of St. Paul's voyages by St. Luke. The
conjecture that the agitator of the turbulent guild of silversmiths
who made silver shrines of Diana may have become the Demetrius, the
object of St. John's lofty commendation, is by no means improbable.
There is a peculiar fulness in the narrative of the Acts, and an
amplitude and exactness in the reports of the speeches of Demetrius
and of the town-clerk which betray both unusually detailed
information, and a feeling on the part of the writer that the subject
was one of much interest for many readers.[378] The very words of
Demetrius about Paul evince that uneasy sense of the powers of
fascination possessed by the Apostle which is often the first timid
witness of reluctant conviction.[379] The whole story would be of
thrilling interest to those who, knowing well what Demetrius had
become, were here told what he once had been. In a very ancient
document (the so-called "Apostolic Constitutions")[380] we read that
"Demetrius was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia by me," _i.e._, by the
Apostle John. To the Bishop of a city so often shaken by the
earthquakes of that volcanic soil came the commendation--"I know thy
works that thou didst keep My word;" and the assuring promise that he
should, when the victory was won, have the solidity and permanence of
"a pillar" in a "temple"[381] that no convulsion could shake down. The
witness then, which stands on record for the Bishop of Philadelphia,
is threefold; the threefold witness of the First Epistle on a reduced
scale--the witness of the world;[382] the witness of the Truth itself,
even of Jesus;[383] the witness of the Church--including John.[384]


We may now advert to the _contents_ and _general style_ of this letter.

  1. As to its _contents_.

1. It supplies us with a valuable test of Christian life, in what may
be called the Christian instinct of _missionary affection_, possessed
in such full measure by Caius.[385]

This, indeed, is an ingredient of Christian character. Do we admire
and feel attracted by missionaries? They are knight-errants of the
Faith; leaders of the "forlorn hope" of Christ's cause; bearers of the
flag of the cross through the storms of battle. Do we wish to honour
and to help them, and feel ennobled by doing so? He who has no almost
enthusiastic regard for missionaries has not the spirit of primitive
Christianity within his breast.

2. The Church is beset with different dangers from very different
quarters. The second Epistle of St. John has its bold unmistakable
warning of danger from the philosophical atmosphere which is not only
round the Church, but necessarily finds its way within. Those who assume
to be leaders of intellectual and even of spiritual progress sometimes
lead away from Christ. The test of scientific truth is accordance with
the proposition which embodies the last discovery; the test of religious
truth is accordance with the proposition which embodies the first
discovery, _i.e._, "the doctrine of Christ." Progress outside this is
regress; it is desertion first of Christ, ultimately of God.[386] As the
second Epistle warns the Church of peril from _speculative ambition_, so
the third Epistle marks a danger from _personal ambition_,[387]
arrogating to itself undue authority within the Church. Diotrephes in
all probability was a bishop.[388] At Rome there has been a permanent
Diotrephes in the office of the Papacy; how much this has had to say to
the dislocation of Christendom, God knows. But there are other smaller
and more vulgar continuators of Diotrephes, who occupy no Vatican.
Priests! But there are priests in different senses. The priest who
stands to minister in holy things, the true _Leitourgos_ is rightly
so-called. But there is an arrogant priestship which would do violence
to conscience, and interpose rudely between God and the soul. Priests in
this sense are called by different names. They are clad in different
dresses--some in chasubles, some in frock-coats, some in petticoats.
"Down with priestcraft," is even the cry of many of them. The priest who
stands to offer sacrifice may or may not be a priest in the evil sense;
the priest (who abjures the name) who is a master of religious
small-talk of the popular kind, and winds people to his own ends round
his little finger by using them deftly, is often the modern edition of

3. This brief Epistle contains one of those apparently mere spiritual
_truisms_, which make St. John the most powerful and comprehensive of
all spiritual teachers. He had suggested a warning to Caius, which
serves as the link to connect the example of Diotrephes which he has
denounced, with that of Demetrius which he is about to commend.
"Beloved!" he cries, "imitate not that which is evil, but that which
is good." A glorious little "Imitation of Christ," a compression of
his own Gospel, the record of the Great Example in three words![389]
Then follows this absolutely exhaustive division, which covers the
whole moral and spiritual world. "He that doeth good," (the whole
principle of whose moral life is this,) "is of," has his origin from,
"God;" "he that doeth evil hath not seen God," sees Him not as a
consequence of having spiritually looked upon Him. Here, at last, we
have the flight of the eagle's wing, the glance of the eagle's eye.
Especially valuable are these words, almost at the close of the
Apostolic age and of the New Testament Scripture. They help us to keep
the delicate balance of truth; they guard us against all abuse of the
precious doctrines of grace. Several texts are _mutilated_; more are
conveniently _dropped out_. How seldom does one see the whole context
quoted, in tracts and sheets, of that most blessed passage--"if we
walk in the light, as He is in the light, _the blood of Jesus, His
Son, cleanseth us from all sin_?" How often do we see these words at
all--"he that doeth good is of God, but he that doeth evil hath not
seen God?" Perhaps it may be a lingering suspicion that a text which
comes out of a very short Epistle is worth very little. Perhaps
doctrinalism _à outrance_ considers that the sentiment "savours of
works." But, at all events, there is terrible decisiveness about these
antithetic propositions. For each life is described in section and in
plan by one or other of the two. The whole complicated series of
thought, actions, habits, purposes, summed up in the words _life_ and
_character_, is a continuous stream issuing from the man who
necessarily is _doing_ every moment of his existence. The stream is
either pure, bright, cleansing, gladdening, capable of being tracked
by a thread of emerald wherever it flows; or it carries with it on its
course blackness, bitterness, and barrenness. Men must be plainly
dealt with. They may hold any creed, or follow any round of religious
practices. There are creeds which are nobly true, others which are
false and feeble--practices which are beautiful and elevating, others
which are petty and unprofitable. They may repeat the shibboleth ever
so accurately; and follow the observances ever so closely. They may
sing hymns until their throats are hoarse, and beat drums until their
wrists are sore. But St. John's propositions ring out, loud and clear,
and syllable themselves in questions, which one day or other the
conscience will put to us with terrible distinctness. Are you one who
is ever doing good; or one who is not doing good? "God be merciful to
me a sinner!" may well rush to our lips. But _that_, when opportunity
is given, must be followed by another prayer. Not only--"wash away my
sins." Something more. "Fill and purify me with Thy Spirit, that,
pardoned and renewed, I may become good, and be doing good." It is
sometimes said that the Church is full of souls "dying of their
morality." Is it not at least equally true to say that the Church is
full of souls dying of their spirituality? That is--souls dying in one
case of unreal morality; in the other of unreal spirituality, which
juggles with spiritual words, making a sham out of them. Morality
which is not spiritual, is imperfect; spirituality which is not
moralized through and through is of the spirit of evil.

It is a great thing that in these last sentences, written with a
trembling hand, which shrank from the labour of pen and ink,[390] the
Apostle should have lifted a word (probably current in the atmosphere of
Ephesus among spiritualists and astrologers[391]), from the low
applications with which it was undeservedly associated; and should have
rung out high and clear the Gospel's everlasting justification, the
final harmony of the teaching of grace--"he that doeth good is of God."


The style of the third Epistle of St. John is certainly that of an old
man. It is reserved in language and in doctrine. God is thrice and
thrice only mentioned.[392] Jesus is not once expressly uttered. But

      "... They are not empty-hearted whose low sound
       Reverbs no hollowness."

In religion, as in everything else, we are earnest, not by aiming at
earnestness, but by aiming at an object. Religious language should be
deep and real, rather than demonstrative. It is not safe to play with
sacred names. To pronounce them at random for the purpose of being
effective and impressive is to take them in vain. What a wealth of
reverential love there is in that--"for the sake of the Name!"[393]
Old copyists sometimes thought to improve upon the impressiveness of
Apostles by cramming in sacred names. They only maimed what they
touched with clumsy hand. A deeper sense of the Sacramental Presence
is in the hushed, awful, reverence of "not discerning the Body," than
in the interpolated "not discerning of the Lord's Body." Even so "The
Name," perhaps, speaks more to the heart, and implies more than "His
Name." It is, indeed, the "beautiful Name," by the which we are
called. And sometimes in sermons, or in Eucharistic "Gloria in
Excelsis," or in hymns that have come from such as St. Bernard, or in
sick rooms, it shall go up with our sweetest music, and waken our
tenderest thoughts, and be "as ointment poured forth." But what an
underlying Gospel, what an intense suppressed flame there is behind
these quiet words! This letter says nothing of rapture, of prophecy,
of miracle. It lies in the atmosphere of the Church, as we find it
even now. It has a word for _friendship_. It seeks to _individualise_
its benediction.[394] A hush of evening rests upon the note. May such
an evening close upon our old age!


Ver. 2 ... _thy soul._] Strange difficulty seems to be felt in some
quarters about the word ψυχη, as used by our Lord and the Apostles.
The difficulty arises from a singular argument advanced by M. Renan.
He maintains that Christ and His first followers knew nothing of "the
soul" as the immortal principle in man--that in him which is capable
of being saved or lost. It was simply, according to him, _either_ the
animal natural life[395] (Matt. ii. 20; John xii. 25); _or_ at most
the vague Greek immortality of the shadows, as opposed to the later
Hebrew Resurrection-life. But there are very numerous passages in the
New Testament where "soul" _can_ only be used for "life as created by
God;" for the thinking substance, different from the body and
indestructible by death, created with possibilities of eternal
happiness or misery. (The following passages are decisive--Matt. x.
28, xi. 29; Acts ii. 27; 2 Cor. xii. 13; Heb. xiii. 17; 1 Pet. i. 9,
22, ii. 11, 25; Jas. i. 21, v. 20; 3 John 2; Apoc. vi. 9, xx. 4).

    Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ltd., London and Aylesbury


[372] Caius, a Macedonian (Acts xix. 29); Caius of Derbe (Acts xx. 4);
Caius of Corinth (Rom. xvi. 23; 1 Cor. i. 14).

[373] Rom. xvi. 23.

[374] No doubt ver. 10 presents some difficulty. Voyages between
Corinth were regularly and easily performed. Still it is scarcely
probable that the aged Apostle should have contemplated such a voyage.
But the form (εαν ελθω) purposely expresses possibility rather than
probability--the smallest amount of presumption--if I shall come,
which is not quite impossible. (Donaldson, _Gr. Gr._, "Conditional
Propositions." 501.) The hope of seeing Caius "face to face" (ver. 14)
contains no objection, as it may refer to a visit of Caius to Ephesus.

[375] "Synopsis S.S." '76. (S. Athanas., _Opp_., iv. 433. Edit. Migne.)

[376] Read together 3 John 12, and John xxi. 24.

[377] The writer had worked out his conclusions about Caius
independently before he happened to read Bengel's note. "Caius
_Corinthi_ de quo Rom. xvi. 23, vel huic Caio, Johannis amico, fuit
_simillimus_ in hospitalite--vel _idem_;--si idem, ex Achaia in Asiam
migravit, vel Corinthum Johannes hanc epistolam misit."

[378] Acts xix. 23-41.

[379] "Almost throughout all Asia this Paul hath persuaded and turned
away much people, saying, that they be no gods, which are made with
hands."--Acts xix. 26.

[380] vii. 46.

[381] Apoc. iii. 7, 8, 12.

[382] "All men."

[383] Και ὑπ' αυτης της αληθειας _i.e._, Jesus (Apoc. iii. 7, 12).
This type of expression marks the "Asiatic school." So Papias; απ'
αυτης της αληθειας (Ap. Euseb. _H. E._, iii. 39). Cf. John xiv. 6.

[384] "And we also bear witness." 3 John 12.

[385] 3 John 5, 6, 7.

[386] 2 John 9.

[387] 3 John 9, 10.

[388] See authorities quoted by Archdeacon Lee (_Speaker's
Commentary_, Tom. ii., N.T., p. 512).

[389] μιμου ... το αγαθον, 3 John 11.

[390] 3 John 13.

[391] The verb αγαθοποιειν is found in a few places in the LXX and New
Testament. "Amongst profane writers, astrologers only used this verb.
They signified by it, _I offer a good omen_. So in Proclus and
others." See Bretsch. and Grimm, s. v. αγαθοποιεω.

[392] "Worthily of God" ver. 6; "is of God--hath not seen God" ver. 11.

[393] Ver. 7.

[394] "The friends salute thee: salute the friends by name," ver. 14
The mention of friendship is not common in the New Testament.
Beautiful exceptions will be found in Luke xii. 4; John xi. 11, xv.
14, 15; cf. Acts xxvii. 3.

[395] As indicated by breathing--from ψυχω

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                        _BY THE SAME AUTHOR._

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      CENTURY=: Contributions towards the Literary History
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PREFACE.--The work, of which this is the first volume, has been
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                        _BY THE SAME AUTHOR._

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       *       *       *       *       *

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                        _BY THE SAME AUTHOR._

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         *       *       *       *       *

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         *       *       *       *       *

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       *       *       *       *       *

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         *       *       *       *       *

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         *       *       *       *       *

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  Colossians and Philemon. By ALEXANDER MACLAREN, D.D.

  The Gospel according to St. Mark.
       By the Very Rev. G. A. CHADWICK, D.D., Dean of Armagh.

  The Book of Genesis. By the Rev. Professor MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  The First Book of Samuel. By Professor W. G. BLAIKIE, D.D., LL.D.

  The Second Book of Samuel. By the same Author.

  The Epistle to the Hebrews. By Principal T. C. EDWARDS, D.D.

                            SECOND SERIES.

  The Epistle to the Galatians. By Professor G. G. FINDLAY, B.A.

  The Pastoral Epistles. By the Rev. A. PLUMMER, D.D.

  The Book of Isaiah i.-xxxix. Vol. I.
       By Professor GEORGE ADAM SMITH, D.D.

  The Book of Revelation. By Professor W. MILLIGAN, D.D.

  The First Epistle to the Corinthians.
       By Professor MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  The Epistles of St. John.
       By the Right Rev. W. ALEXANDER, D.D., D.C.L., Lord Bishop of
       Derry and Raphoe.

                            THIRD SERIES.

  Judges and Ruth. By the Rev. R. A. WATSON, D.D.

  The Prophecies of Jeremiah. By the Rev. C. J. BALL, M.A.

  The Book of Isaiah. Chaps. xl. to lxvi. Vol. II.
       By Professor GEORGE ADAM SMITH, D.D.

  The Gospel of St. Matthew. By J. MONRO GIBSON, D.D.

  The Book of Exodus.
       By the Very Rev. G. A. CHADWICK, D.D., Dean of Armagh.

  The Gospel of St. Luke. By the Rev. H. BURTON, M.A.

                            FOURTH SERIES.

  Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher. By SAMUEL COX, D.D.

  The Epistles of St. James and St. Jude.
       By the Rev. ALFRED PLUMMER, D.D.

  The Book of Leviticus. By the Rev. S. H. KELLOGG, D.D.

  The Book of Proverbs. By the Rev. R. F. HORTON, D.D.

  The Acts of the Apostles. Vol. I.
       By the Rev. Professor G. T. STOKES, D.D.

  The Gospel of St. John. Vol. I.
       By the Rev. Professor MARCUS DODS, D.D.

                 The Expositor's Bible--_continued_.

  _Separate Volumes, 7/6. Price to subscribers for any single series,
  24/- net, except the Eighth (7 volumes), the subscription price of
                         which is 28/- net._

                            FIFTH SERIES.

  The Epistles to the Thessalonians.
       By the Rev. JAMES DENNEY, D.D.

  The Gospel of St. John. Vol. II.
       By the Rev. Professor MARCUS DODS, D.D.

  The Book of Psalms. Vol. I. By the Rev. ALEXANDER MACLAREN, D.D.

  The Acts of the Apostles. Vol. II.
       By the Rev. Professor G. T. STOKES, D.D.

  The Book of Job. By the Rev. R. A. WATSON, D.D.

  The Epistle to the Ephesians.
       By the Rev. Professor G. G. FINDLAY, B.A.

                            SIXTH SERIES.

  The Epistle to the Philippians. By the Rev. Principal RAINY, D.D.

  The First Book of Kings.
       By the Very Rev. F. W. FARRAR, F.R.S., Dean of Canterbury.

  The Book of Joshua.
       By the Rev. Professor W. G. BLAIKIE, D.D., LL.D.

  Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. By the Rev. Prof. W. F. ADENEY, M.A.

  The Book of Psalms. Vol. II. By the Rev. ALEXANDER MACLAREN, D.D.

  The Epistles of St. Peter. By the Rev. Prof. J. RAWSON LUMBY, D.D.

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  The Epistle to the Romans. By Handley C. G. MOULE, M.A., D.D.

  The Second Book of Kings.
       By the Very Rev. F. W. FARRAR, F.R.S., Dean of Canterbury.

  The Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
       By the Rev. JAMES DENNEY, D.D.

  The Books of Chronicles. By the Rev. Prof. W. H. BENNETT, M.A.

  The Book of Numbers. By the Rev. R. A. WATSON, D.D.

  The Book of Psalms. Vol. III. By ALEX. MACLAREN, D.D.

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       By the Very Rev. F. W. FARRAR, F.R.S., Dean of Canterbury.

  The Book of Jeremiah. Chaps, xxi.-lii.
       By the Rev. W. H. BENNETT, M.A.

  The Book of Deuteronomy.
       By the Rev. Professor ANDREW HARPER, B.D.

  The Song of Solomon and the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
       By the Rev. W. F. ADENEY, M.A.

  The Book of Ezekiel. By the Rev. JOHN SKINNER, M.A.

  The Minor Prophets.
       By the Rev. Professor GEORGE ADAM SMITH, D.D. In two vols.

                       The Devotional Library.

      _Handsomely printed and bound, price 3s. 6d. each, cloth._

  =1. THE KEY OF THE GRAVE.= A Book for the Bereaved.
      By W. ROBERTSON NICOLL, M.A., LL.D. Third Edition.

"Dr. Robertson Nicoll has produced a unique, exquisite, and most
edifying book. We are much impressed by the delicate and profound
spiritual insight manifested on every page of this beautiful little
volume. Many a familiar passage in the Bible shines with a new,
unexpected, and immortal light. It is difficult to know what to quote
from a volume so full of delightful and memorable passages. It is
pre-eminently a book to put into the hands of the refined, sensitive,
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greatest bereavement."--_Methodist Times_.

      M.A., Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. Second Edition.

"Two gifts, both of the very highest, are marvellously united in
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possible to review such a book as this. Words about it do not tell us
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                    _THE GENERAL GORDON EDITION._

      Norwich. Reprinted, with General Gordon's marks, from the
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"Hall's treatise is in itself an excellent example of the best kind of
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the modern reader that its sacred teachings and appeals formed part of
the spiritual nourishment of the English 19th century hero and
saint."--_Christian World_.

  =4. RUYSBROECK AND THE MYSTICS.= With selections
      from Ruysbroeck. By MAURICE MAETERLINCK. Authorised
      Translation by Jane T. Stoddart.

"It does much to make intelligible and attractive a powerful religious
thinker, from whom most readers would turn aside on account of the
perplexities and vagueness of his manner."--_Scotsman_.

       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation and spelling errors have been fixed throughout.

Inconsistent hyphenation is as in the original.

The comparisons located on Pages 79, 100-101, 117, 133-135, 164-165,
179-180, 185-187, 204-205, 207-209, 220-222, 274, 279-281 and 297-299,
have been reformatted to make them more readable.

Footnote 116: Has no anchor, left as in the orginal text.

Footnote 124: Has no opening parenthesis, left as in the original.
[... Tisch., 275).]

Page 241: Paragraph was modified to match better scan. Ending of the
paragraph was removed and replaced with a dash. [... witness of
men"--if we consider ...].

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Expositor's Bible: The Epistles of St. John" ***

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