« FöregåendeFortsätt »
“I will put my Spirit within you; and cause you to " walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments “and do them.”* As the coming of Christ, the Judge, had been just before spoken of by St. John; it is most obvious to understand the words concerning him. Thus true christians are “ born of God," “ born of the Spirit,” born of Christ: “A seed shall serve him, it shall be "counted to the Lord for a generation.” “He shall see “his seed, he shall prolong his days.”+
But would the apostle reverse his proposition? Would he declare, that every one, who doeth not righteousness, is not born of him? This enquiry is peculiarly important in the argument: and the next quotation may throw some light upon it. “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: in this " the children of God are manifest, and the children of " the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of “God.”# If therefore any man be born of God, whether in baptism, or not, “his seed,” (“ the incorruptible “ seed,”!) remains in him, and produces its effects; so that “ he cannot sin,” in the manner at least, in which all do, who are not “ born of God.” For “ the
grace " of God, which bringeth salvation, teaches him, that,
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, he should live “soberly, and righteously, and godly, in this present " world.” But how can this consist with the sentiment; that all baptized persons are “ born of God," however ungodly and unholy their conduct may be? And how
s the children of God, and the children of the devil,
* Ez. xxxvi. 26, 27. † Ps. xxii. 30, 31. Is. liii. 10. #1 Ihn iii. 9, 10. Γεγεννημενος has been born. Αμαρτίαν και ποιει, ii. 29. G. To do righteousness implies an habitual uniform righteous conduct; not a single gond action: so to commit sin, means in this connection, allowed habitual sin. $ 1 Pet. i. 23.
Tit. ii. 11, 12
“ be manifested” by the apostolick rules, if this be the case?
Again the apostle says, “Beloved, let us love one “ another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth “ is born of God, and knoweth God.”* We may here observe how prominent the idea, of all true christians being born of God, was in the apostle's mind; and that they alone were born of God: yet he does not expressly mention baptism, except, as recording facts, in all his writings. But he never adduces any thing, peculiar to genuine christianity; but it is associated with being " born of God." “Every one that loveth, is born of “God.” For “ neither circumcision availeth any thing,
nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." He also connects it with “knowing God.” “He that “ loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: he that “ loveth not knoweth not God.” Thus he excludes from the saving knowledge of God, all, those who have not loved; and consequently, according to this statement, all who are not “born of God."
“ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is “ born of God; and every one that loveth him that begat, “ loveth him also, that is begotten of him.”+ Now, if every true believer in Christ has been born of God; and if none, as adults, are properly admissible to baptism, except those, who profess faith in Christ; and none, as adults, receive baptism aright, except true believers: then it inevitably follows, that all, in the primitive church, and all in every age, who rightly have received baptism, have been previously “born of God.” “He “that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved." “What doth hinder me to be baptized? If thou believ
1 John iv. 7, 8. John i. 12, 13
1 John y. 1. Tezenta, has been born, or begotten.
"est with all thy heart, thou mayest; and he answered " and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of “God and he baptized him, * Is it not clear, from the apostle's assertion, “Every one that believeth that “ Jesus is the Christ, has been born of God:” thật regeneration preceded baptism, in respect of thiş Ethiopian? And is it not equally clear, that it does so, in the case of all, who receive baptism, on a sincere profession of faith in the Lord Jesus? How then can baptişm be regeneration; or be uniformly connected with it?
Again, faith in Christ was the evidence that men were “born of God:” and this rendered them the spe. cial objects of love to other christians; who,“ loving “ him that begat, loved all those, who were begotten of “him.”+ It is clear, that the apostle supposed this faith to be productive of holy obedience, and the several other evidences of regeneration before adduced. He, therefore, deemed it proper, to mention the same subject again, within a few verses. “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?” Some manuscripts read, " Whosoever, &c.” but the reading adopted by our venerable translators is sufficient for our argument; nay, perhaps is more directly conclusive." It implies, that there is a new heart, or nature in believers, which“ is “ born of God,” as distinct from the depraved nature, the remains of which still dwell in them; and that this new nature wherever it exists, overcometh the world, with all its allurements and terrors. “ That which is “ born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of “the Spirit is spirit.” The apostle had before said,
• Mark svi. 16. Acts viii. 36-38.
† Philem. 9-12
“By this we know that we love the children of God; " when we love God and keep his commandments. For “this is the love of God, that we keep his command. "ments; and his commandments are not grievous.” He assumes it as indisputable, that all true believers love God: and he shows, that this love, when genuine, is evinced by obedience to his commandments; and that not merely outward and reluctant, but cordial. “His "commandments are not grievous," that is to those who love God: but “ the carnal mind is enmity against “God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor in. " deed can be."* “Blessed is the man, that feareth “the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his command. "ments.”+ “I delight in the law of God, after the in"ward man.”! But, besides the state of the heart and mind, whether carnal, as born of the flesh, or spiritual as born of the Spirit; the things of the world present many and powerful allurements; and the men of the world often set before us many terrors. These, in one form or other, overcome all, except those who are “ born of God;” but “whatsoever is born of God over“cometh the world; and this is the victory which over. “cometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that “overcometh the world; but he that believeth that Je. “sus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water "and blood; not by water only, but by water and “ blood.” If the water here means no more than, outward baptism: then the blood means no more than outwardly receiving the Lord's supper: and thus the atone. ment, and faith in that atonement, as signified in one sacrament; as well as regeneration by the Holy Spirit, as signified in the other sacrament, becomes a mere opus operatum. But do all, who are baptized, love God,
f Ps. cxii. 1.
$ 1 John v. 3--6.
* Rom. viii, 7.
# Rom. vii. 22.
and keep his commandments? Do they all love the children of God? Do they all by faith in Christ, overcome the world? If they do not; then being “born of “God” denotes something vastly superior to outward baptism, and of a more discriminating and appropriate nature,
“ 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.”* The apostle is speaking concerning “ a sin unto death;” and his words clearly mean, that no one, who has been “ born “ of God,” or “ begotten of God,”f committeth this sin unto death. I might here, with a force of argu. ment not easily answered, maintain the final perseverance of all who are “ born of God:” for apostates are especially the persons, marked out as guilty of this sin. I Now if he who has been born of God doth not commit this sin; “ but keepeth himself, and that wicked one “ toucheth him not;" then it cannot be of them who “ draw back to perdition;” but is “ of them that be. “ lieve to the saving of the soul.” They went out ” from us, because they were not of us; for if they had “ been of us, they would no doubt have continued with “us: but they went out, that it might be made mani.
fest, that they were not all of us." They were such as “had no root in themselves;" they were foolish vir. gins, with the lamp of plausible profession; but “with“out oil in their vessels,” or grace in their hearts. They were guests “ which had not the wedding gar"ment.” They were “ unfruitful branches of the true “ Vine.” They were not born of God.
But, waving this subject for the present, I would only
• 1 John v. 18.
troy evafervos, Tevretess, participles from the verb. # Heb. vi. 4-6. x. 26-29. Heb. x. 39. 1 Jobn ij. 19.