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Lord of all. In all these particulars the united testimony of the Triune Jehovah to the person and work of Christ, appeared most conspicuously.
This verse has been greatly objected to on account of its speaking so plainly of the Trinity of the Persons in the Godhead, and the Unity of the essence. But it bears the usual mark of genuineness which appears in other passages of scripture, from its introducing the subject indirectly, and not being inserted merely for the purpose of declaring that great truth of our holy religion without any other object. Our apostle states the same great truth of the doctrine of the Trinity, also in an incidental manner, in the preceding chapter; Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His SPIRIT; and we have seen, and do testify, that the FATHER sent the SON to be the Saviour of the world. Here the three sacred Persons of the ever blessed Trinity are mentioned, and the office assigned to each in the economy of the covenant of redemption is adverted to. Many similar passages might be collected from the apostolical writings. And the doctrine was taught most plainly by our blessed Saviour in His last long discourse with His disciples, which is recorded by St. John.
The apostle proceeds to mention the earthly testimony to the person and work of Christ, which corresponded with the heavenly one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit
and the water and the blood; and these three agree in one. The Spirit which descended on Him in an especial manner at His entrance upon His public ministry, which is frequently referred to by the Evangelists, bore this testimony. St. Luke says, The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon Him; and again, Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. In consequence of this visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon our blessed Saviour, John the Baptist bare record that this is the Son of God; and afterwards declared that God gave not the Spirit by measure or partially, but superabundantly, unto Him. For the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand; and therefore, He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. This Spirit of God, which visibly descended on the Man Christ Jesus; together with the water of baptism, by which He was designated to be the Messiah; and the blood which He shed upon the cross for the redemption of mankind; these three agree in one united testimony to the truth of the gospel of Christ. The testimony of earthly witnesses is received by mankind, when it is clearly stated; as our Saviour said to the Jews, It is written in your law that the testi
75 Luke iii. 2; iv. 1. 76 John i. 34; iii. 34,
But if we receive the
mony of two men is true.76 witness of men, the witness of God is greater. The Spirit, the water, and the blood, gave testimony to the senses of mankind, affording visible evidence of the nature of the Christian dispensation, and of the benefits which are conferred by it; or, that pardon of sin, and cleansing from sin, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, were the blessings bestowed by means of it.
Since we have the testimony of heavenly witnesses, as well as of earthly ones, to the truth of the gospel of Christ, it may well be asked, How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? The testimony of God should be received with the most profound reverence and humility. He has given testimony concerning His Son, which it is of the utmost importance that mankind should receive, since without receiving it, their immortal souls cannot be saved. For this testimony referred to 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; that is, he receives the testimony of God into his heart and mind; whereby he has internal proof of its truth, a heartfelt conviction wrought in his mind by the Holy Spirit, by which he is enabled to believe the testimony of God. While, on the other hand, he that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. In
what an awful state of mind must that man be who accounts the truth of God falsehood, and therefore gives no credit to it; who rejects the Divine testimony, when it is brought before him! God has given the fullest evidence for the confirmation of the truth of the gospel of Christ, but man shuts his eyes against it, and will not receive it, will not take the trouble of investigating it, and therefore decides against it. What a dreadful infatuation is this; and especially when the rejection of this testimony is so tremendous in its consequences!
The apostle proceeds to state in the text, the substance of the testimony which the witnesses in heaven and in earth concur in bearing to the truth of the record, of which also the believer has the fullest assurance. This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in His Son. It is for the purpose of making known this important testimony, that the evidence produced has been brought forward. This is the record, or witness, or testimony, of all Divine revelation; the one great object proposed by the revelation of God; to make known to the sinful perishing children of men, that God hath given to us eternal life; that this blessing which was forfeited by sin, has been restored to man by the lovingkindness and mercy of God his Creator; and this life is in His Son. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." And therefore it is declared, that, while the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.78 What a wonderful declaration is this! that He whom His creature man had offended by transgressing His holy, just, and good law, should Himself have been pleased to provide the means of pardon and reconciliation for the guilty criminal; so that we are told in His holy word, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;79 that He should not have spared His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,78 in order that in Him we might have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace. How wonderful was this! Were we duly sensible of the desert of sin, did we see the danger to which we are exposed in consequence of it, and dread the execution of the sentence denounced against the transgression of the law of God; and did we, in such a state of mind, hear, as it were for the first time, the declarations of Divine mercy, and the means whereby it is extended to our guilty souls, what surprise and admiration, what astonishment and joy would it excite in our minds. But insensibility to the evil of sin, and to our own danger as sinners, leads us to disregard the good tidings of
77 John iii. 16. 78 Rom. vi. 23; viii. 32. 79 2 Cor. v. 18.