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TO the People of my Pastoral Charge, the following Sermons, written for their benefit, and now printed at their desire, are affectionately Dedicated
THE NEW YORK
JOHN I. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him ; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
It was justly observed by the early fathers of the christian church, that three of the Evan. gelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in their history of Christ, began with his incarnation, then passed along
through his life, his death, his resurrection and his ascension to his divine glory in the heavens. They began with his humanity, and advanced to his divinity. They found their Saviour on earth, and left him in heaven. While John first contemplates the Redeemer as the mighty God, then descending to earth, to assume our nature, and make atonement for sin. He begins with him in heaven, then comes with him to earth. He first contemplates his Lord as
one with the father, afterwards, as a man of sorrows, wounded for our transgressions, dying that sinners may live.
This thought is very useful in leading us to a correct view of the plan of the gospel of John.
It affords the true reason of the solemn, and, ap. parently, abrupt manner, in which this gospel is introduced.
Another observation may be made on the introduction of this gospel. The Evangelist evi. dently had in his mind the beginning of the book of Genesis. The narrative of the creation by Moses is justly considered, merely as a sample of composition, one of the highest efforts of the human mind, and might well be contemplated as a pattern, by the succeeding writers of the inspired scriptures. But there is a more important reason why this Apostle should have had a reference to the Mosaic account of the creation in the beginning of his gospel. Moses gave a history of the material creation, John was to give a history of the new creation; the redemption of a Church by the Lord Jesus. The Hebrew prophet has taught us how the heavens and the earth rose out of chaos., The beloved disciple has made known the manner in which a holy people, meet for the service of God, is to be raised from the ruins of sin. The former has made ar ecord of the ruin of man by sin: the latter of his glorious recovery by grace. One gives a history of the creation of the first man, of his fatal apostacy, and the ruin of all his posterity. The other informs us of the coming of the second Adam, of his victory over sin, of his purpose to restore all the evils ofthe fall, and of the eternal glory of his numerous seed. The one records the dawn of hope
for our guilty world, in the promise of the victory of the seed of the woman : the other assures us that that promised seed has come,
and has finished the work which was given him to do. Moses says, “In the beginning God creSated the heaven and the earth.” John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the ‘Word was with God, and the Word was God." He adds, “ All things were made by him." Thus the same Creator that is introduced by the Hebrew shepherd as calling into being the heavens and the earth, is presented by the chosen disciple, as the Redeemer of lost men.
The term Word, in the text, means Christ. This is evident from what is said in the succeeding explanation. Concerning the Word, the Evangelist asserts, (verse 4)"In him was life; and "the life was the light of men." And (verse 14)
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among óus, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the ‘only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and 'truth." And (verse 17) 'speaking of the same person, “For the law was given by Moses, but ‘grace and truth canie by Jesus Christ." This apostle speaks of Christ, in other instances, under the appellation of the Word.
1. John 1. . “That which was from the beginning, which we 'have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, Sand our hands have handled of the Word of life." And in the same epistle, (chap. 5, verse 7,) “ For there are three that bear record in beaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
"Ghost." It is said of Christ, Rev. xix. 13, “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in 'blood; and his wame is called, the Word of God."-We may add, though there have been great attempts to explain away, and pervert the natural meaning of the words of our text, yet it is generally admitted, on all hands, that it is Christ that is spoken of under the denomination of the Word.
The principal object of the inspired evangelist, in the introduction of his gospel, is, undoubtedly, to declare the true character of Christ. He, therefore, asserts his divinity in the fullest and plainest manner, and in various forms of expression, declaring him to be eternal, to be God, the Creator of all things, inherently possessed of life, and the author of all moral light bestowed upon men.
The gospel of John was, evidently, written for the primary purpose of illustrating and confirming the great doctrine of the deity of Christ. It was written many years after the other gospels, and as is generally understood, after the banishment of this apostle to the isle of Patmos, where he received and wrote the Revelation, and after all the other apostles were dead. All the ancient ecclesiastical writers agree in the account that the apostle John saw the other gospels and approved of them; but thought some things further ought to be recorded concerning Christ, particularly, with regard to his divinity. St. John then wrote his gospel,