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and glory. Upon men lying in the darkness of ignorance and sin was this gracious light shed; yet they acknowledged it not, being blinded by their prejudices and passions; at least they did not generally acknowledge it; the Jews especially, Christ's own peculiar people, to whom the oracles of God had been entrusted, rejecting the accumulated evidence of prophecies and miracles, and undesignedly fulfilling those very oracles, by “crucifying the Lord of life.” Ver. 6. There was
a' man sent from God, whose name was John." This John is not to be confounded with the author of the Gospel, but is the same who is known by the title of John the Baptist. His birth, his character, and office, had been distinctly foretold *; and at the appointed time he came,
“ the chosen messenger to prepare the way of the Lord"-by“ turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just”—“ to bear witness of that divine light,” which coming into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, shone upon the human race, to instruct them, and to lead them to everlasting life. In our translation, it is said, “ that was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” But,
* Luke i. 13. Also Isa. xl. 3., and Mal. iii. I.
though the original is capable indeed of this signification, yet from comparison with other texts of this Gospel *, there is good reason to believe, that the more proper translation would be, light coming into the world, was the true light, which lighteth every man." And to as many as received it, hath Christ given a title to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name ; 6 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;" that is, who have obtained the inheritance of the sons of God by no right of descent, no concurrence of human means, nor by any favour of man; but by the free will of God, through Jesus Christ. Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever t."
Ver. 14. This Word then (according to the appellation given to our Saviour in the first verses of this Gospel), took upon him our nature, and dwelt among men, having condescended to become a real man, though endowed at the same time with the spirit of unerring truth, and filled with the fulness of divine grace. When St. John
* Chap. iii. 19, and xii. 46.
† 1 Pet. i. 23.
asserts that he had “ beheld * his glory, the glory
as of the only begotten of the Father," he probably alludes to that glorious scene, to which he had been admitted with two other disciples, when Christ was transfigured before them, so that his face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light,” and a voice from heaven declared him to be “the beloved Son, in whom God was well pleased,” and whom they were commanded “to hear,” that is, to believe, and to obey. It is no wonder that such a magnificent foresight of the “ power and presence of Jesus Christ coming in his kingdom t," should have deeply impressed the minds of those present. Accordingly we find St. Peter and St. John both appealing to this transaction as a certain ground of confidence in their Lord. I suppose it might be highly expedient that these “ pillars” of the church, as St. Paul has called them I, should be favoured with such a supernatural attestation and divine confirmation of their faith.
Ver. 15. Christ coming after John the Baptist
The word ɛbɛagaueda properly signifies “ looking at a spectacle,” and is used again in the same sense, ver. 32. ; likewise in 1 John i. 1. + 2 Pet. i. 16., and Matt. xvi. 28.
| Gal. ij. 9.
in point of time, is before him in dignity and honor. This is repeated in substance in the third chapter and 28th verse, when, in reply to some observations that were made to him, John again asserts that he is not the Christ, but that he was sent before him; and adds “ he that cometh from heaven is above all.” (Ver. 31.) Ver. 16. The words “ fulness” and “
grace," in the 16th verse, have a reference to verse 14, where it is said that the Word, or Christ, coming into the world, was “full of grace and truth." The meaning is, that of Christ's fulness * we have all received, having our deficiency supplied from the fulness of his perfection; and grace, or the favour of God, derived to us through the intercession of Christ, according to that abundant grace which he enjoys in the bosom of his Father.
Ver. 17. The Law, which is said to have been given by Moses, is the Jewish Law, contained in
• The Greek word inpwua, like“ fulness” in English, may be used in different senses according to the context. Here, and in most other texts of the New Testament, it seems to signify “ The fulness of Christ's perfections supplying the deficiencies of his servants ;” and sometimes it signifies, “ The fulness acquired by his servants, whose deficiencies are supplied out of the perfection of Christ.” See Appendix, No. I.
the first five books of the Old Testament, and including a variety of positive commands, and ordinances to be observed in obedience to the will of the lawgiver, while their purport was often little understood. This Law, embracing the whole system of the religious and civil polity of the Jews, is often contrasted with the gracious dispensation of the Gospel, which“ brought life and immortality to light.” This was grace indeed, when the merciful designs of God were fulfilled in Jesus Christ; and this was truth indeed, when the means of salvation, and the hopes of glory, were opened to our view. In reading the Gospels it should not be forgotten, that the transactions and discourses recorded in them, took place among Jews; in consequence of which, frequent allusions are made both to their Scriptures, and to their customs.
Ver. 18. Though God, as a pure spirit, can never be an object of human sight, yet his nature and attributes, his perfect knowledge, unbounded power, and overflowing goodness, have been abundantly declared to us by Jesus Christ.
Ver. 21. We read at the conclusion of the book of Malachi,"
“ Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dread