PARTS 40 - 46

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." - 1 JOHN 5: 13-15.
This would seem to be the beginning of the end of the epistle. Whether the "these things" which "I have written unto you" are simply the things contained in the immediately preceding context, or must be held to reach further back, is not material. John is evidently summing up; he is pointing his discourse or argument to its close. And he points it very clearly and cogently. He puts very strongly the final end he has in view. It is that you may "know" certain things. Over and over again he uses that word "know;" not less than six or seven times in the course of about as many verses. The knowledge meant is evidently of a high order, in a spiritual point of view; not speculative and intellectual merely, out experimental and practical. It is not simply faith, although it is connected with faith, as flowing from it, and involved in it. Still it is something more than faith. It is, if one may say so, faith realised; faith proved inwardly or subjectively, by being acted out and acted upon outwardly or objectively; the believer ascertaining, by actual trial and experience, the truth and trustworthiness of his belief. It is not now with us - we think, we are persuaded, we hope; but "we know."

Now one thing which you are thus believingly to know is "that you have eternal life." And you are to know this, not in the way of a mere reflex ascertaining of it, but in the way of a direct acting of it out; for "this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." It is thus, in the actual use of it, that you are to know your having eternal life. In plain terms, the outgoing or forthcoming of our boldness, as having eternal life, is in prayer. Prayer is the exercise or expression of it; as it has been said before to be: "Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (3: 22).

I. There is, however, as it might seem, a qualification here which is not there; "according to his will." What that means it is important to see. It cannot well mean that before asking anything we must know certainly that what we ask is according to his will. This would really preclude us, in ordinary circumstances, from asking anything, or at least from asking anything definite and precise. I say in ordinary circumstances. For we may be situated as Daniel was, when, upon an interpretation of Jeremiah's prophecy, he was infallibly led by inspiration to the conclusion that the period of the Babylonian captivity was expired, or expiring, and that Israel's restoration was certainly due. Without claiming, or having any right to claim, inspiration or infallibility, men have considered themselves entitled, on some extraordinary occasions, to ask certain things to be done by God in his providence, in the full assurance that they were according to his will. That there may be such instances of confidence in asking, upon a clear and certain conviction beforehand that what is asked is according to God's will, confidence, not given by fresh inspiration, but reached by faith in exercise upon inspiration previously recorded, may be admitted. But these exceptionable cases can scarcely be held to meet the apostle's broad and general statement as to the efficacy of all believing prayer. Nor will it do to make this seeming qualification, "according to his will," a mere tag or appendix to all prayer and every prayer; as meaning simply that whatever we ask, we are to ask with this proviso, expressed or understood, "if it be according to thy will." No doubt, when we pray for anything which implies that God should order his providence one way rather than another, thus and not otherwise ;-and we can hardly pray for anything specific or definite which does not imply that ; - we must, if we would not be guilty of presumption or impiety, virtually attach always the reservation which that formula implies. But this is so evidently indispensable, as a condition of all genuine and reverential prayer, that it could hardly be needful for John to state it. He must surely be pointing to some higher function of the prayer of faith.

"If we ask anything according to his will" - may not this mean, "If we ask anything as we believe that he wills it"? We ask it as he wills it. In asking it, we put ourselves in the same position with him in willing it. He and we look at it from the same point of view. We who ask identify ourselves with him who wills. Whatever we ask, we ask as from within the circle of his will; we being one in our asking with him in his willing. This may seem too high a position for us to occupy or aim at; too divine a standpoint; that we in asking, and God in willing, should be at one. And yet is it not the only fair, the only possible, alternative or antithesis to what is the only notion of prayer which the natural man can take in, the notion of bending God's will to his? For that, unquestionably, is what, when tie prays, the natural man desires.

The priests of Baal, when, in answer to Elijah's challenge, "they cried aloud and cut themselves after their manner" sought by their fierce and bloody importunity to bend the object of their mad worship to their purpose, and make him subservient to their pleasure. The sailors in the ship with Jonah, when they called every man upon his god, simply thought that they might be. "heard for their much speaking." The instinct of physical pain in acute disease, or of natural affection in an anxious crisis, or of blank despair in sudden peril, may wring from unaccustomed lips a defiant or an abject appeal to the Ruler over all. It is an unknown God who is invoked, on the mere chance that he may be got to do their bidding. The heathen view of prayer, like the heathen view of sacrifice, proceeds upon that notion of subjecting God's determination to men's desire; the prayer and the sacrifice being both alike intended to work upon the divine mind so as to change it into accordance with that of the worshipper. The idea is that God needs to be appeased, and that he may be persuaded; that he needs to be appeased by sacrifice, so that wrath may give place to pity; and that he may be persuaded by prayer to act otherwise than his inner nature might prompt, in compliance with solicitations, or in deference to pressure, from without.

But a right spiritual apprehension of God, as "having in himself eternal life" and "giving us that eternal life in his Son" places both sacrifice and prayer in an entirely different light. Eternal life must necessarily, in its nature as well as in its duration, be independent of time, and consequently also of time's changes and contingencies, its influences and motives. As it is in God himself, it is self-moved, self-originated, self-inspired. He has within himself the grounds and reasons of all his proceedings. In so far as it is communicable to us through his Son and in his Son, it must possess substantially the same character of self-containedness, if I may use such a term, or independence of things without. Only, in our case, this life of ours is "hid with Christ in God." It is his life in us.

How then does God himself, having life, this eternal life, in himself, stand related to prayer, or to sacrifice and prayer together? Both must be from within himself. They are alike and equally means of his own appointment or ordination. Sacrifice, the atoning sacrifice of his Son for us, is his own way of opening up communication between himself and us. Prayer, our prayer to him in his Son's name, is his own way of carrying on and carrying oat the communication. He, having eternal life in himself, moved from within himself, gives to us this eternal life in his Son. And all the fruit or benefit of it he is pleased to give through prayer. For the eternal life which is now, in a sense, common to him and us, comes out in prayer. We meet in prayer, he and we together. And we meet, be it said with reverence, on the footing of our joint possession, in a measure, of the same eternal life; life in ourselves; he and we thus meet together.

Thus prayer, as it is here introduced, becomes a very solemn, because a very confidential, dealing with God. It is asking. But it is asking upon the ground of a very close union and thorough identity between God and us, as regards the life to which the asking has respect, and of which it is the acting out. In plain terms, it is our asking as one in interest, in sympathy, in character, in end and aim - one, in short, m life or manner of living, with him whom we ask; through his giving us eternal life; that life being in his Son, and being indeed the very life itself of his Son.. This is not, however, to be regarded as of the essence of prayer, so that none may appeal to the throne of grace without it. God forbid that I should restrict the efficacy of prayer, however and whenever it is offered, out of a smitten conscience and broken heart, Not merely as a sinner out of Christ, but as a believer in Christ, I find my need, daily and hourly, of that liberty of access, as it were from without, to my God and Father, which I have in and with him who has taught me so to approach him. But it is a somewhat different attitude that I am here called to assume ; different, and yet after all the same. I pray as having eternal life; the very eternal life which God gives, and which is in his Son Jesus Christ. What sort of prayer does that mean? Are we not, in offering it, brought into the position of offering the prayer from the very same standpoint, if one may say so, on which God himself stands, when he answers the prayer? We offer our prayer as having eternal life; God's own eternal life, made over to us as ours in his Son. And that is the ground of the confidence which we have, "that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us."

II. Hence we are to "know that we have eternal life" through our thus asking, in this confidence; for "if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." We are to know our privilege in the using of it; we are to know our position by taking advantage of it. We receive, in the Son, as the Father's gift, a new life. In its nature and manner of acting, it is analogous to the Father's own life, and indeed, in some sense, identical with it. The identity manifests itself in this confidence of prayer. In so far as my prayer is the working out of that identity, it must be confident, confiding, free, and bold. It must be real and actual conversation with God within his own holy place; in his own inmost chamber; upon the matter, whatever it is, that is the subject of my prayer. I get in now within the veil. I am a dweller in the secret place of the Most High. I am, as it were, behind the scenes of his great providential drama, his great economy of grace and judgment. I am with him; one with him; one with him in sympathy of mind and heart as to the eternal principles and laws upon which the whole plan of his moral administration proceeds. From that point of view I consider the question at issue; the question to which my prayer relates; and my prayer regarding it is framed accordingly. It is a setting forth of the matter, as, in all its aspects, it presents itself to me. It is a spreading of it out before God, as it appears to me - to me, however, as having God's gift to me of eternal life in his Son. For the case is now under my eye, not as it might present itself to me, judging after the flesh, looking at things in the light of merely natural predilections and opinions - but as it presents itself to me, judging spiritually; looking at things in the light of the eternal life which God gives me in his Son. Whatever I so ask must be according to his will; and therefore I may have absolute confidence that I have it.

I may possibly see my way, upon this footing, to ask altogether unconditionally. I may so realise God's giving to me eternal life in his Son, - and so clearly and unmistakably and assuredly perceive how, in the view of that eternal life, the event at issue might best be ordered - as to have the utmost boldness in preferring a specific request, absolutely and without qualification. Eminent saints of God have felt themselves entitled, and have warrantably felt themselves entitled, especially in critical emergencies, to be thus precise and peremptory; all the more if a brotherhood of them conferred and consulted together, under the guidance of God's word, as applied by the Spirit's help to his providence. All of them being led by the Spirit to the same conclusion, finding that the case presented itself to them all in the same aspect, and being of one mind as to what would best subserve the ends of the eternal life which they all have in common as God's gift in his Son ; - they may have considered themselves at liberty to condescend with great assurance upon the particular step which they would have God to take. And therefore they might unhesitatingly ask him to take it, and fearlessly reckon on his taking it. I suppose that this is partly the Lord's meaning in that remarkable promise: "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

Even in such a case, however, the prayer is not mere importunate solicitation, as from without; it partakes more of the nature of confidential conversation, within the circle of God's house and family. To adopt a homely phrase, it is as if, using the liberty of trusted children, we were telling our Father how the case under consideration strikes us; how it strikes us when we are looking at it, or trying to look at it, from his point of view; looking at it in the light of that "eternal life which he gives us in his Son."

And what does it really matter, in such intercourse as this, on such a footing as this, with the only wise God, if we should ordinarily count it safer and more becoming to ask conditionally; under the reservation and with the qualification of deference and submission to his better judgment? Our asking anything thus conditionally, if only we ask in the spirit of the eternal life which we have in his Son, is very eminently "according to his will." He cannot but approve of it. Nor does it in the least detract from our confidence in asking. There is room indeed here for different degrees, not of our confidence in asking, but of the conditionality or un-conditionality, if I may say so, with which we ask. Our confidence in asking is the same; the only difference is as to our making up our mind what to ask. As to that, we may well have some hesitation for the most part in being very definite and positive. Even when we honestly and truly ask as having eternal life given to us by God in his Son, we may be at a loss. Nay, the more we so ask, the more may we be at a loss We try to look at the matter at issue as God looks at it; not under the influence of things without, and the considerations which they might suggest; but under the rule, and in the light, of that higher life which he has in himself. We seek to judge as God judges; in the view, not of temporal interests merely, but of eternal issues. Well may we pause and be very cautious; well may there be a certain reserve in any judgment we form, and a certain reservation in any prayer we frame upon that judgment; well may there be some dubiety, not as to our having what we ask, but as to what we are to ask; what we would have God to do.

But what then? Is this confidence in prayer a delusion, a sort of juggle? I am told that in virtue of the eternal life which God gives me in his Son, I may have whatever I choose to ask. And in the same breath I am told that this very eternal life, which I thus have, may hinder me, mr the most part, from ever asking almost anything definitely and positively. Is this not a kind of double-dealing? Is it not putting me off as with the Barmecide's empty feast, or the visionary mirage of the desert? Nay, it is far otherwise.

Let us consider practically our real position; let us take a specific instance. Our brother Lazarus is sick; and the sickness seems to be unto death. What are we to ask? What is to be our petition, and what our request? If we have respect simply to life temporal; if we take account merely of such considerations as this present earthly scene suggests; we cannot hesitate a moment. Looking at the case from a human standpoint, we need no time for deliberation. The instinct of natural affection will prompt, and many reasons of Christian expediency will occur to enforce, the loud wailing cry to the Lord to spare so precious and useful a life. But we feel that, as admitted to a participation with the Son in the eternal life of God, we have a higher standing and a weightier responsibility in this matter of prayer. We are lifted up to the very footstool on which the throne of the hearer of prayer itself rests; and from thence we look at the question, as he looks at it. Finding ourselves thus placed, our first impulse may be to shrink and hang back altogether. We refuse even to attempt to form a judgment, and to frame the judgment into a prayer, however guarded. But that is not his will; nor on second thoughts is it our wish. It is indeed a singularly high and holy position, in respect of insight and sympathy, that we are called to occupy in fellowship with God. But we are to occupy it boldly, and with all confidence. And now from that position we apply our mind, as it were, along with him, to the determination of what is best to be done; and we express our mind freely to him all along as we do so. We talk the whole affair over with him; conversing about it without reserve. We reason, we expostulate, we plead. We spread out before him all the views and considerations, of whatever sort, that seem to us to have any bearing on the case; not excluding those suggested by warm natural affection and urgent earthly interests, but not limiting our regard to these. We say whatever occurs to us, whatever it is in our heart to say.

What though in all this close and confidential dealing with God we should not be able to say positively what is best? Is it not a blessed intercourse notwithstanding? We may be reduced to utter straits: "Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?" In our anguish of spirit, distracted between conflicting motives; altogether at a loss to decide what we would have God to do; driven out of reasoning and speech; we may be reduced to groaning and weeping; to "strong crying and tears." What then? Is our confidence in prayer gone? Nay, it was when Jesus "in the days of his flesh made supplication with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death" that he had the most complete assurance of his being "heard in that he feared." And it is when "we know not what to pray for as we ought, that the Spirit, helping our infirmities, maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered." Our unutterable groanings the blessed Spirit takes as his own, turning them into prayers; prayers very specially acceptable to the hearer of prayer. For "he who searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit when he" thus "maketh intercession for the saints." His doing so is "according to the will of God."

Let us look then at the light which John's teaching in these verses casts on the privilege and duty of prayer.

I. In the first place, let us consider what prayer is, as thus viewed, in all the fullness and variety of its confident assurance. It is not simply petitioning; it is not monotonous reiteration; the incessant sending up to heaven again and again of the same appeal, the same demand for some specific deliverance, some precise and definite benefit, that may seem to us indispensable, that we feel as if we could not do without. It is a far more confidential dealing with God than that. It is our becoming "the men of his secret." It is our getting into the inmost chamber of his house, and consulting with him there; seeking to know his mind; ready to make his mind ours. I say it is consulting with God. And the consultation may and must be full and free. It will embrace as its topics whatever can be of interest to him or to us; to him primarily, to us as under him. Hence everywhere and always, and with reference to everything, we must be thus consulting with God; not only upon cases of difficulty or distress, but upon all sorts of cases; common cases, everyday cases; little cases, as well as cases of rare and grave emergency.

Prayer of this kind may be short, like the Lord's strong cry of agony in the garden; it may be silent, like his groaning and weeping at Bethany. But it may be long, ever so long, without falling under the Lord's censure of the long prayers of the Pharisees. In such prayer he himself often spent the whole long night, He was at home then and there with his Father; consulting with him about many things; about all things bearing on his Father's glory and his own work; laying his own views and feelings and wishes unreservedly before his Father; and reverently learning his.

Brethren, pray thus without ceasing. "In everything, by such prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God." Carry everything; literally everything; everything that befalls you, or seems likely to befall you; every choice you have to make ; whatever you have to say or do; every care, every duty, every trial, every glad relief; carry everything to God. Converse with God about it. Turn it over, as between God and you, in every possible way. Look at it from every possible point of view. Do not be in haste to make up your mind as to what is best; as to what you should definitely ask. Rather prolong the blessed interview. The very suspending of your judgment,, as the consultation goes on, may make the interview more blessed. And the issue will be the clear, calm "peace of God keeping your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ your Lord;" "the single eye, making the whole body full of light."

2. Then, secondly, let us consider how close and intimate is the connection between life and prayer ; between God's giving us eternal life in his Son, and our asking thus confidently and confidentially. The two are really one; the eternal life is realised and acted out in this asking. The life is prayer; and prayer is the life. It is as partakers of the life which the Father has in himself, and which, by his gift, the Son also has in himself, that we ask and pray. The essential characteristic of that life is its self-contained-ness, if I may repeat the phrase; its independence of things without; its drawing from within itself the motives of all its voluntary determinations. So the Father lives; not affected by impulses and influences of a temporal sort from without; but purposing and decreeing, willing and acting, always from himself and for himself. So the Son also lives, not as God merely, but as "the man Christ Jesus;" being, as to his manhood as well as his Godhead, in an intimate sense one with the Father; one in purpose and decree, in will and action; one in mind and heart. So also in a measure we, having the Son, live. Our real life is apart from the contingencies and accidents of time, being "hid with Christ in God." It is as so living, living that hidden life, that we ask and pray. What harmony, what concord and agreement, what entire oneness, between God and us, does this imply! It is oneness of opinion, sentiment, feeling, desire; first, on the great fundamental question, What is life? - life worthy of the name, - life worth the living; and then, in subordination to that, upon every question which can touch that life. We form the same idea of life that God has, and that Christ has; the same idea of what it is worth while to live for. And it is under that idea, fixed and fastened deep in our inmost spirit, that we ask and pray. We settle in the Spirit with ourselves, - as well as with Christ and with God, - what is the only true, the only perfect, the only desirable life, for beings possessed of a divine faculty of intelligence, and destined to a divine immortality. Having that life, we commune with the living One, as our Father in Christ, upon all the great eternal aims and hopes which it contains, and all the small temporal casualties by which, for a season, these aims and hopes may be environed and beset. Such communing about eternity, and about time as related to eternity, is prayer; the prayer which acts out "the eternal life which we have as God's gift in his Son."

3- In the third place, let us consider how very holy this life is, and how very holy therefore must be the prayer which acts it out. It is indeed our being "partakers of God's holiness." For such living fellowship and communion as is implied in the life and the prayer, sensitively shrinks from all unholy handling. Sense may not mar it; sin may not pollute it; the touch of earth's vanity or man's corruption breaks its sacred spell, and dissolves its peaceful charm. For the charm of this life of prayer is peace; the peace of God; the peace of conscious sympathy with the God of peace. But all earthliness, worldliness, and selfishness, - all diversity of judgment or feeling on any point between us and him whose eternal life we share, - in a word, all unholiness, - disturbs that peace. No unsanctified bosom can be its dwelling-place on earth, for its dwelling-place in heaven is the holy bosom of God. Therefore, "as he who hath called us is holy, let us also be holy."

4. For, in the fourth place, this faculty of praying as having eternal life, is itself to be sought by prayer. The life is God's gift in Christ, to be appropriated by faith; the Spirit shutting us up into Christ, and making us one with Christ. The prayer is in the Spirit and of the Spirit. It is the Spirit making intercession for us, with us, in us. It is the Spirit of his Son sent forth by God into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. But the Spirit is given in answer to prayer. Therefore let us ask, seek, knock, that we may receive the Spirit; that he may dwell in us; that he may move us, as having eternal life in the Son, to pray, as the Son himself was wont to pray, in the Spirit. So moved, we may be praying confidently, as the Son prayed, in all sorts of ways; not only in prolonged midnight meditations, but in brief ejaculations as occasion calls; in hasty utterances; or when utterance fails, in sighs and tears and groans. For we have all boldness to be ever praying, after whatever sort of prayer may suit the times and seasons of our praying. Let us pray that we may receive the Spirit thus to embolden us always to pray ; - to "ask according to his will" even as the Spirit "maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God."

"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. Ail unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." 1 John 5: 16, 17.
John assumes that one chief use which you will be disposed to make of your right and power to pray will be to pray for others. He puts a case. You see your brother sinning. He is "your brother." This does not necessarily imply that he who sins is a true brother in the Lord. It has been already made manifest more than once in this epistle, that the relation of brotherhood, in the apostle's sense of the term is of much wider reach and range. It arises not so much out of the character and standing of him whom you call your brother, as out of the nature of the affection with which you regard him. True, your brother, in the highest point of view, is he who, being really to God a son, is really to you on that account a brother. But whoever he may be whom you love with a brotherly love; with a love that treats him as a brother; not as a mere instrument to be used or companion to be enjoyed for a day, but as one having an immortal soul to be saved for eternity; every one so loved by you is your brother. When he sins, his sin vexes you as the sin of a brother. You cannot look on and see him sinning with indifference or amusement or contempt, as if he were a stranger, or a helot, or a dog. It is your brother whom you see sinning. And therefore you speak to him as to a brother about his sin; not harshly, with sharp reproach or cutting sarcasm, or cold magisterial severity. With a brother's voice, coming out of the depths of a brother's bosom, you earnestly expostulate and affectionately plead with him. Alas! he turns to you a deaf ear, and you have no power to open it. But another ear is open to you, the ear of your Father in heaven; and he can open your brother's ear. To your Father in heaven you go. You deal with him about your sinning brother's case. You ask that life may be given to him; the "eternal life" which the sin he is committing justly forfeits. You grow importunate in asking; your importunity being in proportion to the truth and warmth of your brotherly love; you feel almost as if you could converse with God about nothing else. And you do converse with God about it, - oh, how pathetically! In all this you do well; using the liberty you have, as receiving "eternal life in his Son" to "ask anything, knowing that he hears you."

But is there no risk of excess or of error? May you not be too one-sided in looking at the case yourself, and in representing it to God? May you not be so concerned about the one terrible aspect of it, its bearing on your brother's doom, as to shut out the other aspect of it, Which ought never to be lost sight of, its bearing on the Father's throne; on the holy and righteous sovereignty of his government and law? May not your sympathy with your sinning brother overbear somewhat your sympathy with him against whom he is sinning? May you not thus be led to overstep the limits of warrantable confidence, so as to ask that life may be given to him, on any terms, at any cost, in any way, irrespectively altogether of what, in your calmer moments, you would yourself recognise as the paramount claims of the Most High? Thus your prayer for your sinning brother may slide insensibly into an apologetic pleading for indulgence to his sin. You may be tempted to represent as excusable what God regards as inexcusable; and to feel as if, whatever your brother's criminality may be, there may still be favour shown to him notwithstanding. It is to guard you against such a frame of mind that the solemn warning is given: "If a man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."

I am persuaded that it is in the line of this train of thought that the solution of the difficult problem here suggested is to be sought. The whole analogy of the faith, as well as the bearing of the context, favours this view. If I am right in this persuasion, some important consequences would seem to follow.

In the first place, there is no warrant in this text for the doctrine which Rome seeks to draw from it as to the distinction, in themselves, - in their own nature or in their accompanying aggravations, - between venial and mortal sins. Let the distinction be admitted as otherwise proved, it is nothing to the purpose here. A Romanist, in his anxious prayer for his sinning brother, may be tempted to put his sin into the wrong category, and to speak of it to God as venial, whereas it is really mortal. It is a temptation of the same sort that besets me; I admit it to be so. He, praying according to his creed which allows the distinction, is admonished, precisely as I who deny it am admonished. We are both warned against asking God to regard as venial what, in the view of his righteous judgment and holy supremacy, is and must be mortal. But this text itself does not decide between us. And if it appears from all the rest of Scripture that the Romanist's idea is not only unproved but disproved, the circumstance that this text might possibly be interpreted in consistency with his idea avails him nothing; since it turns out that it can be equally well, or even much better, interpreted in consistency with mine.

Secondly, there is no occasion to be solicitous in attempting to identify any particular sin, or any particular manner of sinning, as what is here said to be "unto death." The attempt, as all experience shows, is as vain as it is presumptuous. And yet, in spite of all experience, the attempt is ever renewed. Morbid minds, or minds in a morbid state, become sensitive on the point; but without warrant or reason. Even if there were "a sin unto death" that might be ascertainable in a man's own consciousness, the mention of it would not be to the purpose here, unless it were ascertainable also in the judgment of his neighbour or his brother. For the question is as to your praying for me. Even if I myself could know that I had sinned the sin unto death, how could you know that I had? However it might affect my praying for myself, how could it affect your praying for me? And as you have no right to judge me to that effect, so neither have I any right to judge myself. Let it be settled and fixed as a great truth, according to this and many other passages of Scripture, that there cannot be any such thing as my sinning a sin unto death, in such a sense as might warrant me, from my fear of my having committed it, to cease to pray for myself ; - far less warrant you, from an opinion on your part that I have committed it, to cease to pray for me.

For, thirdly, the real and only object of the apostle is to put in a caveat and lodge a protest against the intrusion into the sacred province of confidential prayer, especially when it is prayer for a sinning brothel of a tendency which is too natural and too apt to prevail, even in one having the eternal life which the Father gives in his Son; the tendency, I mean, to subordinate the divine claims to considerations of human expediency or human pity. It is the same tendency which, when the case is our own, is apt to bias and mislead us. Let us trace its working.

I. It is of course strongest in the unrenewed mind and unreconciled heart. While under their dominion, we cannot be expected to consult for God at all; we consult only for ourselves. In forming a notion as to how God may, and as we think, ought to deal with us, we take little or no account of what may be due to him, to the honour of his holy name and the glorious majesty of his throne and law. We pay little or no regard to what the principles of his righteous moral administration and the interests of his loyal subjects may require. We think only of our own relief and safety; our own convenience and accommodation. And hence we see no difficulty in our slight offences being overlooked and our infirmities indulged, upon our making certain formal submissions, and going through some routine of service. Thus we accept the serpent's lie: "Ye shall not surely die" no sin of ours being, in our view, if all extenuating circumstances are taken into account "a sin unto death."

2. It should be otherwise with us now; now that "having the Son we have life." We surely ought to be, as. the Son is, on the Father's side; one in interest and sympathy with him; ready to give him the pre-eminence in alt things, and to subordinate even what most pertains to our own welfare to the glorifying of his name and the doing of his will. We may be thankful that this does not entail on us the suffering and sacrifice which it entailed on him, when he, in the matter of the cup given him to drink, submitted his own will to the Father's. Well may we be thankful that, through his taking our death as his and our having his life as ours, we may have the same mind that was in him, without its bringing such pain on us. Nay, for us, our putting God and his claims first, and putting ourselves and our concerns second, is in fact the secret of our safety and our rest.

All the more on that account is it reasonable to expect that in whatever we ask of God for ourselves, in our closest communing with him about our own affairs, whether temporal or spiritual, we should allow this principle to have full scope. But is it so? Alas! the old selfish spirit is ever apt to come back and come out again. It comes out, perhaps almost unconsciously, in our secret pleading that something in us or about us may be spared which God has doomed to destruction; be it some unmortified lust in the heart, or some doubtful practice of worldly conformity in the life. If indeed we are honestly communing with God about it, placing his honour first and our case only second, we can be at no loss what to ask. We can ask but one thing; the grace of instant decision to deal with what offends, as we know that God would have it dealt with. Are we asking that, asking it in faith, and acting accordingly? Or are we still irresolute, putting in a plea for some slight indulgence, some short delay; as if, after all, the evil were not so very serious, nor the danger of tolerating it for a little longer so very great?. Brother, let me solemnly and affectionately warn you, - or rather, let the beloved apostle warn you "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin unto death."

3. In intercessory prayer, the tendency of which I speak operates powerfully and painfully. A rude and vulgar notion prevails amongst those who reject, the gospel which we embrace, that we who embrace it, hugging ourselves in our own security, have a sort of pleasure in consigning all outside of our circle to inevitable and everlasting ruin. Alas! they know not, either the weakness of our filial faith, or the strength, if not of our brotherly love, yet of our natural affection. The temptation is all the other way. It is all in the direction of our tampering and taking liberties with the sovereign authority and grace of God, in accommodation to the weakness, and even the wickedness, of men. We do not say, abstractly and absolutely, that there is not a sin unto death; but we fondly hope that our brother's sin may not be held to be so. It is not hoping that he may repent of it. Such hope cannot well be too strong; nor can our asking in terms of it be too confident. But here lies the danger. Our asking that he may repent of it, if his repenting of it is delayed, is apt, - oh, how apt - apt in proportion as we love him, to slide unawares into our virtually asking that, though not repented of, it may be overlooked; that at least it may not be reckoned to him as "a sin unto death."

It is often a very terrible test of our loyalty to God our Father, and our allegiance to his crown and his commandments, that is in such a case to be applied. 4. Take an extreme instance. One whom you loved with truest brotherly love, with most intense longing to welcome him as a brother in Christ to your heart, has gone without affording you that joy; he has died, giving no sign. lie was lovely, amiable, pleasant. You and he were one in kin; still more one in kind and in kindness. But he has passed away, continuing to the last in a course of life scarcely, if at all, reconcilable with even the profession of godliness. What is your temptation in such a case? Ah, it is a very awful one! It is to prefer his interest to the gospel of God, and the law of God. It is to think that, culpable as he may have been, his culpability may not have proved fatal. It is to cherish the fond imagination that, in spite of the law which he has broken and the gospel which he has rejected, he may still, on the ground of qualities which won your admiration, or sufferings which moved your compassion, find some measure of mercy in the end. It is very tender ground on which I tread; I know it; experimentally I know it. Far, very far, be it from me, to insist on your judging a departed brother, however he may have sinned, and continued in his sin to the last. He is in the hands of God. Leave him there without questioning. Think of the old rhyming adage -
"Between the stirrup and the ground, Mercy I sought, mercy I found."

Think too of the more authentic instance of the thief on the cross; by all means think of that, and take what comfort you can from that. But beware! Sorely, - oh, how sorely! - are you tempted first to wish that there were some room for such as he was, even continuing still the same, within the holy city of the most high God; and then to hope that there may be. It is, I repeat, a very sore temptation. Many a brokenhearted mourner in Zion has felt it; you and I have felt it; and we have felt that, under the influence of it, we have been beginning to underrate the need of regeneration, and conversion, and a living faith, and a holy walk; to dream of men who gave no evidence here of anything like such grace, being possibly safe without it hereafter. And What next? We become insensibly more tolerant than we were of sin in ourselves; less alive to the necessity of immediate repentance and faith; more inclined to temporise and compromise; to look at things not from God's point of view but from our own; as if he had not "given to us his own eternal life in his Son."

Let us see to it above all things, though it may cost us often many a struggle and many a tear, that we do not suffer our firm faith in God, and our loving loyalty to him, to fall a sacrifice to the fond relentings of our own weak hearts. Whatever may be its bearing on the fate of any brother, let us, for God's sake and our own, for God's honour and our own salvation, accept it as a great and solemn fact, that "all unrighteousness is sin, and that there is a sin unto death."

5. You do not pray for the dead; you do not think it lawful. It is in the indulgence of a trembling hope concerning them that the temptation of which I speak besets you. But the same temptation besets you also when you pray for the living. It is the temptation to wish that, in its application to the sin which you see your brother sinning, God's holy law were not so very uncompromising, nor his righteous judgment so very unrelenting, as they are declared to be. No doubt you ask that your brother may receive grace to repent of his sin. But what if he should not? You have a sort of reserved notion that, even in that case and upon that supposition, there may be some chance of safety for him. That is the temptation. And it is often a most severe and stern trial of your faith to resist it; to ask life for your sinning brother ; but to ask it evermore under the deep conviction that "all unrighteousness is sin, and that there is a sin unto death."

Let us see, once for all, what the apostle's solemn statement really implies. In the first place, let it be very specially noted that this is the one only limitation which John puts upon the liberty of intercessory prayer. And let us mark well where the limitation applies. It does not really touch our privilege of asking life for our brother, in the true and full sense of life ; - the eternal life which God gives, and which is in his Son. We may not ask for him this life, if we ask it for him as sinning, and contemplated by us as possibly sinning unto death. And for the best of all reasons we may not thus ask; for it is asking what, even with God, is an impossibility. But, short of that impossibility, there is no restriction laid on our asking; we may ask life for him, to the utmost of our heart's desire. We may use the utmost freedom in asking life for him, provided only we do not ask it for him as sinning: and continuing to sin, unto death. Be his sin ever so heinous, let it be the sin of a whole long lifetime of ungodliness, we may ask life for him, in the line of his repenting and believing the gospel, provided only, I repeat, that we do not ask it as if life could be given him in any other way.

I know that a question may be raised even here, as to the extent to which we may absolutely and unconditionally ask for our sinning brother faith and repentance, and having asked, may positively know that "we have the petition that we have desired of God." I know that there are difficulties in the direction now indicated. They are difficulties connected with that decree of election which alone secures the salvation of any sinner ; - but they are difficulties which we may conceive of as possibly hindering the salvation of some sinner for whom we pray. They are difficulties, however, which do not touch such intercessory prayer more than they touch any other sort of prayer ; - and indeed all prayer, generally and universally. The decree of election can no more hinder my praying confidently for my sinning brother, than it can hinder my praying confidently for my sinning self. In either case, it is one of "the secret things belonging to the Lord our God" not one of" the revealed things belonging to us and to our children." At all events, this text has nothing to do with that. It imposes no restriction on our prayer arising out of God's eternal purpose. The only restriction which it does impose is one rendered necessary by our own infirmity, and the temptation to which it exposes us. We are not to ask., what we are tempted to ask, that our brother, continuing in sin, may yet be saved; that while still sinning unto death, he may nevertheless somehow live. But under that reservation, reasonable surely, and necessary, we have all liberty, so far as this text is concerned ; - and it is the only text in all the Bible that can by any possibility be supposed to fetter or abridge our liberty ; - we have all liberty, I say, to ask life for our brother. It is a wide charter, altogether broad and free.

But, secondly, there is an obvious practical application suggested by the reservation. If we ask life for our brother, knowing that he cannot have it while sinning unto death; or, in other words, that he cannot have it otherwise than in the way of believing and repenting; our prayer for him, if sincere, must imply our personal dealing with him with a view to his believing and repenting. If what we asked for him were simply life, - life in any sense and on any terms,-we might let him alone. Having asked, we might think that we could do nothing more to help in bringing about the desired result. But it is not so; it is far otherwise. We may take part along with him whom we ask, the hearer of prayer, in what we ask him to do; we must take part along with him, if our asking is real and earnest. To ask God to give life to our sinning brother while we ourselves "suffer sin upon him" - not warning him even with tears; - sin, the very sin that is hurrying him on to death ;-what mockery! - how insulting to our God, and oh, how cruel to our poor brother himself!

Finally, in the third place, let our conviction be clear, strong and deep, that "all unrighteousness is sin, and that there is a sin unto death." Let us see that there is no faltering, no hesitancy as to that great fact or truth. Upon both the parts of this solemn declaration let our faith be firm, and let our trumpet give no uncertain sound. It is at this point that a stand is to be resolutely made against all antinomian licence in religion; for it is at this point that the enemy has always pressed the church most hardly, and alas! the church has too often shown herself weak. The knowing ones who corrupted the gospel in John's own day undermined the citadel at this very point. They held and taught that unrighteousness, unholiness, uncleanness, which would be sin in any one else, might be no sin in the spiritual man It could only defile the body. And what of that, the body being perishable? It could not touch the essence of the living and immortal soul. Sin therefore, even when persevered in to the end, might yet be not unto death: John does not reason with these wicked men; it is not a case for reasoning. He meets their vile, foul, base imagination with the stern assertion of law and appeal to conscience: "All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin unto death." Ever and anon, from age to age, the same abominable devil's creed has troubled and polluted the church of God. Nay, even when the church is undisturbed by it, still, ever and anon, it troubles and pollutes the child of God, in some one or other of its insidious temptations.

For alas! alas! it is but too congenial to the sloth and selfishness and sensuality that still prevail too much within him.. Ah me! how apt am I to cherish the secret, half-unconscious notion, that flush , or that infirmity besetting me, or besetting my much-loved brotherinfirmity which, if I saw it attached to any one else, I would not scruple for a moment to denounce as sin, - may somehow in my case, or in my brother's, be more mildly characterised and more gently dealt with! How apt am I to hope that this or that little secret sin which I feel cleaving still to me, or see cleaving still to my brother, may after all, and in the long run, not prove fatal! Ah, if there be but the faintest taint of this damnable heresy lurking in your inner man, how can you be prosecuting, with anything like earnestness, the work of your own personal sanctification, or seeking, with anything like faithfulness, the sanctification of your brother; - asking God to give you life, or to give him life? Be very sure that if you would be safe yourself, and if you would save him, you need to shun, as you would a pestilential blast, or the very breath of hell, whatever tends, however remotely, to confound the everlasting distinctions of right and wrong, or shake the foundations of truth and virtue which are the very pillars of the universe and of the throne of God. It is a "word which doth eat as a canker." Beware, and again I say beware, of scepticism on the great eternal principles of moral duty - of the moral law. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin unto death. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. 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." - 1 John 5: 17-18.

The last clause of the seventeenth verse may best be read without the negative. There is, I believe, preponderating manuscript authority for so reading it. And, as regards internal evidence, it seems easier to explain, - and this is a good criterion, - how, if not originally in the text, it might creep in, than how, if originally in the text, it could fall out. The insertion of it by copyists, perhaps first as a conjectural marginal reading, can easily be explained by their supposing it necessary to harmonise the statement in the seventeenth verse with that in the verse before, so as to bring in again the idea of the lawfullness of praying for life for them that sin not unto death. This seventeenth verse, how-ewer, rather points the thought, not backwards to the sixteenth, but onwards and forwards to the eighteenth. Do not imagine that in praying for a sinning brother, you may overlook the possibility of his sin being unto death. Do not pray for him as if you thought that in accommodation to ibis case God's law might be relaxed, and he, though sinning so as to deserve to die, and continuing so to sin, might yet not surely die. Beware of that; for your own sake, as well as for his sake; for your own sake, even more than for his sake. For you are in danger of being led to tolerate in yourselves what you are inclined to palliate in a brother. You secretly hope that there may be impunity for him, even though he is continuing in sin. Is there no risk of your being tempted to cherish a similar hope for yourselves; and so to forget the great truth that "all unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin unto death"

But you may be saying within yourselves, "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" (3: 9). You, therefore, as born of God, may hold yourselves safe in extenuating sin and deprecating on his behalf its terrible doom. Still beware! It is true that, as it has been explained, whosoever is born of God does not and cannot sin. "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not." Yes, we know that. But we know also that his not sinning, however it may be connected with his being born of God, and secured by God's seed, the seed of the divine nature and eternal life, remaining in him, - is not so connected with that fact, or so secured by it, as to preclude the necessity of care and watchfullness. He has "to keep himself;" and that too in the presence of a formidable enemy. "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not." But why not?. Because "he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." He "keepeth himself." The phrase might suggest two ideas: that of keeping, as if restraint were needed; or that of keeping, as if care and culture were intended. This last is probably to be regarded as the right sense, not however by any means to the exclusion of the other. He has to guard himself against the touch of "that wicked one" from without; and he has carefully to watch and foster the growth of the divine seed within. His thus keeping himself is the effect of his being born of God; and it is the cause, or means, of his not sinning. Not otherwise than in the way of his keeping himself, can one born of God be safe from sinning. In an important and practical point of view, he must be his own keeper. And his keeping himself will be earnest, sedulous, anxious, in proportion to the sense he has of the value of what is to be kept, on the one hand, and of its liability to sustain damage, or be lost, on the other.

I. What is to be kept, O child of God? Yourself! Not yourself as you are by nature, but yourself as born of God. Consider, first, what is implied in that solemn thought. Even as regards the life that now is, you have to keep yourself. Self-preservation is both your right and your duty; your right, which you are to vindicate though your doing so may involve an assailant's death; your duty, which, whatever you may think about your own worth or value, you are not at liberty to renounce or to neglect. You are not entitled to throw yourself away; you are bound to keep yourself. And that, not only in the sense of your not literally committing suicide; for you may abstain from suicide and yet be virtually a selfdestroyer. You are bound to keep yourself as one, - whatever you are, and wherever you are, - that is too costly to be cast away, being still, as you are, within the reach of divine grace and eternal life. You have no more right, in any circumstances, or in any mood or frame of mind, to give yourself up to despair, than you have to give yourself up to death. But it is as a child of God that you are here said to keep yourself. Consider, I say again, what that means.

Try for a moment to separate in imagination yourself as the, keeper, from yourself as what is to be kept. Look upon yourself objectively; as if you were looking at another person. Or, to make this easier, look first at another person, as if he were yourself. Suppose yourself your brother's keeper; keeping him as if he were yourself. And, to make the analogy a fair one, suppose yourself to be, under God, his only keeper. And suppose also that your are his keeper in the sense of having most intimate access to his inner man, as well as entire control over his outward actions.

Well, you keep him; you, as born of God, keep him, as born of God ; - would that we were all thus keeping one another! But what sort of keeping will it be? That will depend on the vividness of the apprehension which you have of your own sonship, and of his; of your being born of God, and his being born of God. He whom you have to keep is no ordinary piece of goods. He may have been once vile ; a condemned criminal; and as such, unclean. But "what God has cleansed you cannot call common or unclean." He is very precious now, and very pure. He has the seed of God abiding in him; the germ and principle of au absolutely sinless character and life. It is in that view, and upon that supposition, that you have to "keep" him. Your whole treatment of him must be accommodated to that fact. Need I bid you ask yourself what your treatment of him would, or at any rate should, be if you had to keep him as thus "born of God"?

Now if your keeping yourself is to be at all such as you feel that your keeping of your brother ought to be in the case supposed, it must proceed upon as clear and explicit a recognition of your own standing as, in that case, there would be of his. If you are really to keep yourself, you must distinctly understand, and strongly realise, what it is about you that is to be kept; what is the character in which, and what the standard by which, and what the end for which, you are to keep yourself.

For instance, I may feel that I have to keep myself as a good worldly man, or a good moral man, or a good man of business, or a good man of society, or a good neighbour and friend; a good husband, father, brother, son. I can only keep myself, in any of these characters, by first making it thoroughly, inwardly, intensely, my own, and then thoroughly acting it out. It will not do to assume it, or to imagine it; neither will it do to admit it in any doubtful or hesitating way. If I am to keep myself, I must know and apprehend myself actually to be what I mean, by keeping myself, to continue to be.

In keeping myself as born of God, this personal and realising faith is especially needful. The secret of my not keeping myself, with enough of watchfullness and prayer, is too often to be found in the want of it. I keep myself, perhaps, with tolerably decent consistency, as a professing member of the church; I keep myself as an upright, charitable, and correctly religious man. But do I take home to myself the obligation of keeping myself as more than that? Do I adequately apprehend the fact that t am more than that; that I am really and truly "born of God"? Do I sufficiently apprehend what that means? Nothing else will ensure my "keeping myself."

I do not speak now of assurance, in a doctrinal point of view. No question is raised here as to a believing man being assured, for his own comfort, of his present standing and of his final salvation. The whole strain of John's teaching is practical. Whether or not he that is born of God is to sit down and conclude reflexly that he is born of God, is not said. It is not even said that he is to raise the question. All that is said is, that he is to treat himself; he is to keep himself; as born of God. He is so to use and deal with himself, as he would use and deal with what is born of God. It is not to any reflex or subjective exercise of faith, ascertaining itself simply for its own confirmation and confidence, that he is called, but to the direct, objective acting out of his faith. And that is all in the line of his practically keeping himself, as he feels that what is born of God ought to be and must be kept.

What sort of keeping of one's self should grow out of such a vivid and realising sense as this implies of what being born of God means, it is not necessary to describe minutely or at large. The working out of the problem may well be left to our own consciences and hearts. The main thing is to secure here, as everywhere, singleness of eye. Only let us settle it decidedly, firmly, unequivocally, as the deep conviction of our souls, that it is as "born of God" that we are to "keep ourselves."

Ah! if we did so, would there be so-much careless living among us; so much unsteadfast walking; so much indifference to the way in which our customary manner of spending our time and occupying our thoughts tells on our spiritual state? Would there not be more of earnest prayer, of secret fellowship with God, of diligent study of his word, of anxious watchfullness; more of an eager pressing on to higher attainments in divine insight and sympathy, in holiness and love? For to keep ourselves as born of God, is to aim at exhausting experimentally all that the privilege involves. It is to keep ourselves, as sons and heirs, in the full enjoyment of our Father's love and in the full view of the many mansions of our Father's house.

II. This keeping of ourselves, as born of God, will be felt to be the more necessary, when we consider, secondly, how liable that which is to be kept is to suffer damage and be lost. If we are born of God, and if it is in that character that we are to keep ourselves; let us remember how apt that character is to be marred and injured by the outer world with which we are ever coming in contact; how apt it is to lose its marked distinctiveness and fresh life in our own souls.

As born of God, we have to "keep ourselves unspotted from the world;" we have to keep ourselves also unspotted from the evil that is in us, as born in iniquity and conceived in sin. In both views, what is above all things needed is to cherish a deep, abiding, personal, practical persuasion that "all unrighteousness is sin, and that there is a sin unto death." The risk of relaxed diligence in "keeping ourselves as born of God" lies mainly in our ceasing, more or less consciously, to regard sin as exceeding sinful, and the doom of sin as inevitably certain. Hence, in order to our keeping ourselves, it is of the utmost consequence, .first of all, that we truly and fully apprehend that we are to keep ourselves as being born of God. And it is of equal consequence, secondly, that we truly and fully apprehend the absolute incompatibility of our sinning with our being born of God. Sin from without and from within is ever besetting us. And the temptation is very strong to begin to think that, in some form or degree, it may not be altogether damaging to our spiritual life, as born of God, or altogether fatal to our heavenly prospects, as having eternal life. The instant such a thought finds harbour in our bosom, all our faithfulness in keeping ourselves is gone. "Whosoever is born of God keepeth himself" - only when he realises his own sacredness as "born of God;" and when moreover he realises, - and that too with special reference, not merely to the world with which he is ever in contact, but also to himself and his own tendencies and liabilities, - the solemn truth that "all unrighteousness is sin, and that there is a sin unto death." There is no room for any question being raised here ag to the certainty of his final salvation, or the security for his preservation in grace to the end. That is not the point. Be it that God keeps him, and will keep him, infallibly safe: God does so, and can do so, only through his keeping himself. And his keeping himself implies a constant sense of his liability, after all, so far as he is himself concerned, to be lost. So Paul kept himself: "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away." So will every one that is born of God keep himself; remembering the exhortations, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" "Thou standeth by faith; be not highminded, but fear."

And this fear, not slavish fear of an angry God, but filial fear of a loving Father, the fear of filial love, will grow, and will become more and more "fear and trembling." It will do so in proportion as I apprehend, with growing vividness, on the one hand, all the holy blessedness that there is in being born of God, and on the other hand, all that there is in sin; in any sin; in every sin; of deep and deadly malignity, making it the very bane of that blessedness. Thus, with increasing sensitiveness, will I be keeping myself "as born of God, and not sinning." Thus will I be "working out my own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God which worketh in me both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

I do not now enter on the consideration of the promise annexed to this self-keeping: "The wicked one toucheth him not." I prefer to take that promise in connection with what follows. I content myself with one observation on its connection with what precedes. "The wicked one" seeks to touch you; to touch you at the tenderest and most sensitive point, where alone lies your security against sinning; your being "born of God."

For it is only as born of God that you sin not. It is in your filial standing thoroughly realised, and in your filial spirit thoroughly cherished and exercised, that the secret of your not sinning lie, The wicked one knows that right well; he quite understands it. Full well he knows and understands that if he can get you, be it only for a brief hour or moment, to step off from the platform of your sonship ; - or if he can insinuate into your breast at arty time a single unchildlike thought of God ; - he has you at his mercy. And you sin. You listen to his whispered suggestion that this or that commandment of God is grievous. You suffer his wily insinuation - "Yea, hath God said that ye shall not?" - to poison your ear, to poison your soul. You let in the spirit of bondage again. The light and liberty of your loving cry, "Abba, Father" are gone. Shorn of your strength, you repine, you murmur, you sin.

Ah, friends, "keep yourselves." And see to it that you keep yourselves as "born of God." Keep yourselves in your conscious sonship, and in the spirit of it. Then "the wicked one toucheth you not." Be very sure that it is sonship believingly apprehended and realised, it is the spirit of sonship faithfully cherished and exercised, that is ;your only real shield and defence against the touch of the wicked one. For his touch, his stinging touch, is the suggestion of the poor servile thought that God's commandments are grievous. The filial, loving confidence of one keeping himself as a child of God instinctively and indignantly casts away the insinuation. The wicked one therefore cannot touch one living as a son of God. He could not touch, terribly as he tried to touch, the Son of God while he lived on earth; for never did he live otherwise than as the Son of God. He cannot touch any one to whom God gives "the Spirit of his Son, crying, Abba, Father." For no one can be, at any moment, crying, in the Spirit, Abba, Father, and at the same moment counting any of God's commandments grievous. Therefore when "he that is begotten of God" keepeth himself as so begotten, "the wicked one toucheth him not."

"And that [the] wicked one toucheth him not We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness" [the wicked one]. - 1 John 5: 18, 19. INSTEAD of "wickedness" in the nineteenth verse, we may rather read "the wicked one." There is now a general agreement among critics and interpreters to that effect. There is no good reason for any change in this verse from the rendering in the verse before. There it must unavoidably be personal, "the wicked one toucheth him not." It is quite unnecessary and unwarrantable to make it impersonal and abstract here, "the whole world lieth in wickedness." It is the same expression and should be translated in the same way, "the whole world lieth in the wicked one." For the change mars the sense, and destroys the obvious contrast that there is between the child of God, whom that wicked one does not touch, and the world which, so far from being safe from his touch, lies wholly in him. We know this last fact, as knowing ourselves to be of God; and it is our thus knowing it that mainly contributes to our security.

For that is the precise point and purpose of the statement, "the whole world lieth in the wicked one." It is a statement introduced for a purely practical end; an end or purpose personal to us, as begotten of God, and, in that character, "keeping ourselves." It has no reference to any other persons besides ourselves; it is strictly applicable, and meant to be applied, to ourselves alone. There is no contrast intended between us and the rest of mankind. There is no emphasis in the "we" - " we are of God" - as in contradistinction to those of our fellow-men who may be classed as "the world." In fact the "we" is not in the original at all. It is supplied, and of course necessarily supplied, in our translation. But its not being expressed in the original is plain proof, as all scholars know, that it is not intended to be emphatic, or to suggest any contrast between us and any other body of men. We have nothing here to do with any but ourselves; the text is written solely for our learning, for our warning. It bids us remember that we, being of God, are not of that world which lies wholly in the wicked one. It bids us do so, in order that, being begotten of God, we may so "keep ourselves" as being begotten of God, that the "wicked one shall not touch us."

Thus the world is here to be viewed rather as a system than as a society; with reference not so much to the question who constitute the world, as to the question what the world is; what is its character and constitution; what are its arrangements; its habits of thought, feeling, and action; its pursuits, occupations, and pleasures. One common feature is brought out, helping us to identify and characterise it. The whole of it "lieth in the wicked one."

It is a strong expression; going beyond any of John's previous intimations on this subject. He makes early mention of "the wicked one" {2: 13-14). Believers are represented as, in the strength of their mature and vigorous spiritual youth, overcoming, or having overcome, "the wicked one." Thereafter, when "the wicked one" comes up again (3: 12), he is plainly identified with the devil (3: 8-10), in respect of his murderous hatred of God and of whatever is born of God; he kills or seeks to kill whatever and whoever is of God. Next, he appears as that "spirit of anti-Christ" which is in the world, as "the spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (4: 3). Here it is said, not that he is in the world, but that the world lies in him. It lies, and lies wholly in him. He has got the world into his arms; the whole world.

I. "The world lieth in the wicked one." .The figure may suggest several different ideas. A stranded vessel lying embedded in the sand; a lost sheep lying engulphed in the treacherous swamp; a sow contented to lie wallowing in the mire; a Samson, lying bewitched in Delilah's lap ;-these are the images called forth; and they are all but too appropriate. Considered in its origin, this lying of the world in the wicked one may be taken in a very literal and personal sense.

The fall is a fall out of the arms of God into the embrace of' the wicked one. He is ready to receive the fallen; and, in a measure, to break their fall. He has a bed of his own prepared on which the fallen may lie in him. It is shrewdly and plausibly framed. It is like himself. It is the embodiment of his mind and spirit; the acting out of his very self. It is a couch composed of the very materials he had before woven into the subtle cord of that temptation which drew the unfallen out of God's hold into his. The same elements of unbelief which he turned to such cunning account in his work of seduction, he employs with equal skill in getting the seduced to lie, and to lie quiet, in him. For the most part, he finds this an easy task. The world listens willingly to its seducer, now become its comforter and guide 3 and frames its creed and constitution according to his teaching and under his inspiration. faith, worship, discipline, and government are dictated by him. So "the world lies in him ;" dependent on him and his theology for such assumed licence and imaginary peace as it affects to use and to enjoy. For the essence of worldliness is at bottom the feeling that "God's commandments are grievous;" that his service is hard, and himself austere; but yet that somehow his indulgence may be largely reckoned upon in the end. It is as "lying in the wicked one" that the world so conceives of God, and acts upon that conception of him. It is as "lying in the wicked one" that it peevishly asks, "Who is the Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit shall we have if we bow down unto him?" - while at the same time it confidently presumes, "The Lord seeth not, the Lord regardeth not."

II. "The whole world thus lieth in the wicked one" he has it all in his embrace. There is nothing in or about the world that is not thus lying in the wicked one; so lying in the wicked one as to be infected with the contagion of his hard thoughts of God, and his affected bravery in defying God's righteous judgment.

Take the world at its very best; all its grossness put away ; no vile lust or passion polluting it; much pure virtue adorning it; many pious sentiments coming forth from it, not altogether insincerely. What trace is there here of the wicked one's poisonous touch? What necessity for your being warned to be on your guard against it or him? Nay, but look deeper into the heart of what is so seeming fair. Do you not see, do you not instinctively feel, that there is throughout its sphere of influence a sad want of that entire surrender of self to God, that unreserved owning of his sovereignty, the sovereignty of his throne, his law, his grace, that full, loyal, loving trust, which alone cam baffle Satan's wiles? Instead of that, is there not a hidden fear of coming to too close quarters and too confidential dealings with God; a disposition to stand aloof and make terms of compromise; a willingness to be persuaded that some questionable things may be tolerated and some slight liberties allowed? Is not all this what "lying in the wicked one" may best explain We are not safe unless we realise it as a fact that "the whole world lieth in the wicked one ;" all of it; the best of it as well as the worst of it. Only thus can we "so keep ourselves that the wicked one shall not touch us." It is a sad fact, but we must realise it. And in the firm and full realisation of it, we must "keep ourselves."

For it is not with a view to our condemning or judging the world, but only in order to our "keeping ourselves" that we are to have this fact always before our eyes; it is in order to our so "keeping ourselves that the wicked one shall not touch us." For it is through the world which is lying in him that he seeks to touch us. We are coming constantly into contact with the world; we cannot help it; and yet we are to keep ourselves "unspotted from the world." Iknow better may we hope, through grace, to do so, than by knowing, in the sense of always and everywhere acting upon the knowledge, that "we are of God and the whole world lieth in the wicked one "?

Let us recognise our own standing in God, and the world's lying in the wicked one. We are of God, born of God; his sons in his Son Jesus Christ. That is our character and position. It is in that character, and with reference to that position, that we are to "keep ourselves." Let us be ever mindful of our high and holy calling. And that we may be ever mindful of it, let us be ever sensitively alive to the risk of the wicked one's contamination. True, "the wicked one toucheth us not." But "the whole world lieth in him." And the world touches us, for we are in the world.

Ah! does not our danger spring from our practically forgetting that tho world in which we are lieth wholly in the wicked one? Have not we found it so? We begin to think, or to live as if we thought, that after all the world does not lie absolutely and altogether in the wicked one; that it is not so thoroughly evil as that would imply. We find, or fancy that we find, some of it at least, such as we would not choose to characterise so offensively. The world may be mostly, or for the most part, lying in the wicked one. But surely some exception may be made in favour of this or that about it that looks so harmless and so good.

O child of God, beware. The wicked one is touching you very closely, through the world that lieth in him, when he gets you thus to plead. The Spirit teaches you a safer and better lesson when he moves you to say: "We know that we are of God, and the whole world "all of it" lieth in the wicked one."

This teaching of John, concerning the world as lying in the wicked one, is in striking accordance with that of Paul in two remarkable passages of his Epistle to the Ephesians (2: 1, 6: 12). One would almost think indeed that John had Paul's teaching in his view. At all events, it may be interesting and useful to notice the parallelism and harmony between the two apostles.

I. Consider the first of the two passages (Ephes. 2: 1) "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Writing to the Ephesians as now believers, Paul reminds them of their former walk. It was "according to the course of this world." But "the world, the whole world, lieth in the wicked one." Therefore, walking according to the course of this world, they walked according to the wicked one in whom the world lies. How the world lies in him, so that walking according to the world's course is really walking according to him, is explained in two ways. . He is "the prince of the power of the air." He rules, as a powerful prince, the world's atmosphere; its moral and spiritual atmosphere; impregnating it with his own venom; the poisonous vapour of his own dark and godless hell. The air which the world breathes is under his control; he is the prince of the power of it; its powerful prince. It is, as it were, compounded, concocted, and manufactured by him. Very wisely does he use his power; very cunningly does he compose the air which he would have his subjects and victims to breathe. He mingles in it many good ingredients. For the worst of men he does so; and indeed he must do so, if he is to make it palatable and seductive even to them. For the lowest company, he must needs prepare an atmosphere with something good in it; good fellowship at the least, and a large measure of good humour and good feeling. Then, as he rises to higher circles, how does he contrive, in the exercise of his princely power, to make the air that is to intoxicate his votaries, or lull them to unsuspecting sleep, all redolent, as it might seem, of good; good sense, good taste, good temper; good breeding and behaviour; good habits and good-heartedness! Many noisome vapours also that might offend he carefully excludes; so that the inhaling organ perceives nothing but what is pure and simple in what it imbibes and absorbs. But it is the wicked one's air or atmosphere after all; he is the prince of the power of it. He contrives to have it all pervaded with the latent influence of his own ungodliness; his godless spirit is in it all through. The whole world is lying in that subtle atmosphere of his; the air of which he is the powerful prince.

Have you not felt something of what it is to breathe the air of which the wicked one is thus the powerful prince, to breathe it at the time almost unconsciously, and afterwards to find the fruit of your having breathed it all but inexplicable? You come home from a business engagement, or a party of pleasure. You feel an unwonted indisposition to serious thought; you are less inclined than usual to prayer and meditation; anxious calculations or frivolous fancies, and vain if not vicious imaginations, intrude into the sanctuary of your inner worship; you are not so much at home as you were before in your closet-fellowship with your Father in heaven. You are at a loss to account for this. You have not been anywhere, or done anything, in known or conscious opposition to his will. But you have been living in an unwholesome atmosphere. You have been in scenes or societies; all decent and proper no doubt; but yet imbued with as thorough a spirit of indifference or alienation as the wicked one would care to inspire. You have forgotten that "the whole world lieth in the wicked one" as "the prince of the power of its air."

2. Nor is this all. He is "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." He is not content with exercising his power in concocting and compounding the world's atmosphere; he is busily moving to and fro, and up and down, in the ranks of those who breathe it, He prepares for them the air he would like them to inhale, making it as soothing and seductive as he can. And then. while they are inhaling it, he deals with them personally; going in and out among them; whispering his suggestions; speaking low into their ears ; insinuating into their hearts such thoughts of God, and of his service, and of his gospel, as fit into the pervading godless spirit of the region into which he has got them to venture. In this view, he very specially works among them as "the children of disobedience." He takes advantage of every rising feeling of distrust and disaffection; he watches for the first beginnings of discontent. Wherever there is any disposition to count any of God's appointments or commandments grievous, he is at hand; to fan the flame; to irritate the sore; to widen the breach between the loving Father and his undutiful child, beginning to question and rebel.

So the whole world doubly, or in a double sense, lies in the wicked one; inasmuch as he is the prince of the power of its air on the one hand, and inasmuch as, on the other hand, he is ever working in it among the children of disobedience. And in both views, it concerns you deeply, as "knowing yourselves to be of God" and called to keep yourselves accordingly, to know that "the whole world lieth in the wicked one." Know this, that you may beware of its seductive atmosphere, of which he is the powerful prince. Know it, that you may beware of the first rising in you of that insubordinate and impatient spirit of which he avails himself so skilfully in his "working among the children of disobedience." If you would keep yourselves, as being of God, so that in respect of your being begotten of God the wicked one may not touch you, you must be ever alive to this double risk; the risk of your forgetting how thoroughly he controls the world's atmosphere; and the risk also of your forgetting how busily and persuasively he works among the children of disobedience in it.

Keep yourselves, in both views; unspotted from the world. Keep yourselves, as born of God, in the atmosphere into which your new birth introduces you; the atmosphere of pure light and love ; the Father's own light; the Father's own love. And keep yourselves, as "obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy."

II. Look now for a little at the second of the two passages in Ephesians (6: 12.): "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." There is a double view here given of the influence which the wicked one, with his principalities and powers, exerts. On the one hand, he "rules the darkness of this world." On the other hand, he is "spiritual wickedness in high places."

I. He rules the dark world which lies wholly in him; rules it as the prince of the power of its air, and as the spirit now working in the children of disobedience. If he finds you there, he finds you within his own territory; at once breathing the worldly atmosphere he has mixed; and open at the same time to his influence as he is busy in his vocation, plying all his wiles among those whom he finds harbouring thoughts of insubordination. He has an advantage over you on his own ground; you cannot there cope with him; your only safety is in flight. "Come out and be separate." Flee to the stronghold; "the heavenly places." The wicked one's world is not your home.. You are not to know it at all; or to know it only as lying wholly in the wicked one; to beware of it; to renounce it; to keep yourself unspotted from it. Your home is in "the heavenly places" in which "you sit with Christ." Abide there, and "the wicked one toucheth you not."

2. Nay, but even into "the heavenly places" the wicked one may find access; and even in "the heavenly places" he may seek to touch you. But he does not, he cannot, really touch you there. He crept indeed into Paradise, which was "the heavenly places" before the fall; and touched fatally our first parents there. But in "the heavenly places" now, in your "heavenly places" you have a defence which they had not. You "sit with Christ in the heavenly places" being "begotten of God in his Son." You "know that you are of God" in a sense and to an effect that Adam and Eve, with all their innocence, could not realise. By redemption, by adoption, by regeneration; as bought and begotten; you are of God; his own very sons, as Jesus is. The wicked one may come to you in your heavenlies, as he came to them in theirs. He may come as "spiritual wickedness;" plying his old wicked spiritual arts of temptation, suggesting his old doubts of the love and equity and truth of God. But he "touches you not." He could touch you only by appealing to something in you of what he finds in the children of disobedience among whom he works in the world; something in you of their disobedience, some incipient leaning towards insubordination, some aptness to count the commandments of God grievous.

Is there at any time anything of that spirit in you? Is there any rising within you of the old feeling of impatience, of suspicion, in a word, of unbelief?. Ah, then, even "in the heavenlies" you are not safe from the touch of the wicked one. Remember that you have to "wrestle against him even in the heavenlies ;" to wrestle against him, not only as "ruling the world's darkness" but as "spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies."

For he comes into the secret place where you dwell with God as his children; transformed perhaps into an angel of light; insinuating his old doubts, surmises, questionings again; putting in his old cavils between your Father's loving heart and your simple trust. Let him not, O my brother! let him not succeed in his attempt. Stand against him by faith. Bid him begone. He has no right to be in your heavenlies, whatever right he may have to "rule in the world's darkness." If you have faith you may cast him out. Keep yourself, as "born of God" keep yourself in the vivid realising sense of all that your "sitting with Christ in the heavenlies" involves. So keep yourself in the heavenlies, and that wicked one touches you not.

What shall I say, in closing, to you who are not of God, but of the world; of the world that is altogether lying in the wicked one. Ah! do you not know that the prince of the world is judged; that for this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil? Are you still listening to the gospel of the wicked one: "Ye shall not surely die"? Nay rather, hear another gospel: "God is love; in this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his Son into the world, that we might live through him."

"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." 1 JOHN 5: 20.

THIS is the third and last "we know" in these closing verses of the epistle (18-20). John insists, in leaving us. upon our being Gnostics, or knowing ones, as the heretics of his day professed to be ; but in a better and safer sense. They affected to be knowing, in the lofty and transcendental region of abstract speculation about the divine nature; whereas John would have us to be knowing, in the humbler yet really higher and holier experience of real, direct, personal acquaintance and fellowship with the Divine Being, as coming down to us, poor sinners, in his Son, and taking us up, by his Spirit, to be sons and saints in his holy child Jesus.

That whosoever is born of God sinneth not, because he keepeth himself so that the wicked one touches him not; that we are thus of God, in contrast with the world which lies wholly in the wicked one; these are the two former "we know." And now the third "we know" has respect, neither to our standing as being of God, nor to the world's position as lying in the wicked one, but to him who causes or occasions the difference, "the Son of God." It would almost seem as if there was a regular syllogism here; an argument built up in three propositions; two premises and a conclusion. First there is the major premiss, in the general assertion, abstract and impersonal; "we know" that being born of God implies not sinning, inasmuch as "he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one touches him not." Then there is the minor premiss, in the assertion, particular and personal; "we know" that we individually "are of God" and, there fore, separated from "the world that lieth wholly in the wicked one." The strict logical conclusion would be; therefore "we know" that we do not sin. John, however, puts it somewhat differently, so as to place our not sinning on a surer footing; more humbling to us; more glorifying to God "We know that the Son of God is come."

And yet this is a fair enough inference, and fits well enough into the argument when viewed in its full spiritual import. Nor is it inconsistent with the other. For if he that is born of God sinneth not; and if we consequently, being of God, sin not, it is all in virtue of "the Son of God being come" come, in the first place, to "give us a knowledge of the True One" come, secondly, to secure in that way our "being in the True One."

I. "The Son of God is come, and hath given us understanding, that we may know him that is true" or "the True One." It is God who is to be known; and he is to be known as "the True One."

The truth here ascribed to God is not truthfullness, as opposed to falsehood; but reality, as opposed to fiction or imagination. That we may know God, as truly real, as a truly real being, "the Real One" strictly speaking, the only truly Real One, apart from whom all things and persons are shadowy and unreal; that is, in the first instance, the purpose for which his Son Jesus Christ is come, and "hath given us understanding" or insight "to know him that is true." The inward working of the Holy Spirit is here assumed, or asserted; that is the "understanding" or insight that is meant. Jesus Christ coming as the Son of God has given us, not merely new outer light, but a new inner eye; otherwise even his coming could not make us know "the True One." His coming indeed may be said to be itself the outer light. His coming forth from the True One in whose bosom he dwells reveals the True One to us. But the discovery would be in vain if his coming did not secure to us, as his gift, "understanding to know" the True One when thus revealed. That is, we may say emphatically, his best gift; the best fruit of his "being come" and of all the travail of soul on our behalf which his "being come" includes in it. For the worst of our miserable state, from which he is come to save us, is that we have no understanding, no spiritual sense in us, by which we can discern and recognise, so as truly to know, him who alone is true. And the best part of his salvation is his giving us that knowledge, not only by revelation from without, but by enlightenment within. It is a great thing to know God as he is here named" the True One ;" to know him as true and real; no imagination or mere idea, but true and real. That I say, is a very great thing. It is indeed all in all; the one thing needful. What is God to me? Ah, momentous question! And as searching as it is momentous! Is he true? Is he real? Do I apprehend him to be so?

I know my friend when I see him and take him by the hand. I know him as true and real; no shadow, no myth, no visionary ghost, but verily real. There he is before me, not a wraith such as Highland seer beholds in the misty vapour, but invested with unmistakable, palpable reality. Is God thus ever before me? Whenever I think of my friend, even when he is out of my sight, I think of him as true and real; as having a real and actual existence; a real and actual personality. Do I always thus think of God? Do I always thus know him? There are two conditions of this knowledge.

In the first place, if I am to know any one as true and real, I must have a distinct and well-defined conception of him in my mind. He must present himself to me as having a certain special individuality of his own, marking him out to me as separate from others. I thus identify him as true and real. But. how confused and incoherent is my conception of God apt to be! A number of vague notions about him and his ways may be floating hazily, as it were, before me. But they lack unity, and are therefore unreal. A heap or bundle of attributes, such as I can name, enumerate, and define, may be all that I have for my God. If so, it is a heap or bundle of rags. It has no life, no living personality, no oneness, no reality, no truth. To know any person as real and true, I must know him as one; one living personality; living and true. But, secondly, can I so know any one otherwise than by personal intercourse and personal acquaintanceship? It is in that way that I know an actual living friend as true. When our eyes meet and our hands join and our tongues exchange words, I know him as true and real. I know him better thus, than when he and I communicate by letter merely, or by message at second-hand. My knowledge of him has in it a truth and reality, a true and vivid realisation, that does not belong to the notion I have of any hero or martyr; however graphic may be the history, however lifelike the picture, by means of which I am to set him before my mind's eye.

Now "the Son of God has come, and given us understanding that we may know the True One;" that we may truly and really know, know as a living person, the Father whose Son he is. The very object of his "coming and giving us understanding" is to put truth and reality into our knowledge of God. He does so by bringing God and us personally together. His "coming" provides for that on the part of God; his "giving us understanding" provides for it on our part.

It is indeed, I repeat, a great thing thus to know "him that is true" to have a true personal knowledge of him; such as you have of the friend you converse with every day about everything or anything that turns up, or of the father to whom you go every day and every hour for deeper counsel or for a passing embrace. The friend, the father, is a reality; a real and true friend, a real and true father. You feel him to be so. He is no dead, historical personage, exhibited on the stage of the historical drama. He is to you a real and living person: for there is life and reality in your present intercourse with him. And it is that there may be this present living intercourse with God as a living person, that "the Son of God is come" to make that possible on God's side; "and hath given us an understanding" to make it possible on ours. Only in that way, by his revelation of himself to us in the Son and by our fellowship with him in the Spirit, can we know "him that is true." Only thus can we know God personally; as "the True One;" a real person and not a mere abstraction or generalisation. II. Knowing thus "him that is true" we are "in him." But we are so, only as being "in his Son Jesus Christ." The apostle's statement thus fits into the Lord's own saying, in his farewell prayer, "I in them and thou in me" (John 17: 53). Both of them rest on that higher appeal which the Lord makes to his Father : - " As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (ver. 21). Thou in me, I in them, and so thou in them - they in me, I in thee, and so they in thee - such is the wondrous reciprocal line or chain between God and us. We are in the True One, as being in his Son Jesus Christ, who is himself in him. We are therefore in the True One as his Son Jesus Christ himself is in him. Thus our being in the True One rests on very sure ground, since it is in his Son Jesus Christ that we are in him. And it implies a very high ideal of what being in the True One means, and what it is.

I. It is in his Son Jesus Christ that we are in the True One. We are in him, not directly or immediately, but by mediation; through and in a mediator. It is only thus that we can be in God, as the one only living and true God. It must be so. If the God whom our conscience indicates and owns is indeed true and real; a real, true, living person; we cannot dream of being in him, in any sense implying rest and peace, or a refuge and home, otherwise than through and in a mediator. No doubt, if there are many gods, alike fabulous, though still imagined to among them one so congenial that I drawing me into his embrace, so that I all alike true, or all be ; I may find can conceive of his may be in him. Or if the only true God is the universe, or universal being; all things and persons being but his parrs; and all actions and events the unfoldings of his own self-consciousness: then necessarily I am in him; or rather I am he and he is!; there is no personal distinction between us. Or if God, admitted to be a real, true, and living person, is not known by me as such, I may amuse or soothe myself with some name or notion of my being in him, so far as to secure my safety, if I do but say a prayer occasionally, no matter though my saying it is really little better than speaking to vacancy, addressing idle words to the empty air.

But let me know God as true, as a reality. Let me be confronted face to face with God, as no far-off vision, but a real, present, living person. Let my inner sense be quickened; and let there flash from heaven a light making clear as day the features of him in whose real presence I stand. Ah! what cry escapes me? - " I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" Now I see clearly; now I feel deeply; the full difficulty of the case. If God is true and real, my sin is true and real; and I, the sinner, am true and real. Guilt is real. Wrath is real. Judgment is real. Punishment is real.

Ah! this knowing of the True One, as the True One, by the spiritual understanding which the Son of God is come to give! It imparts to all things in heaven and earth and hell a terrible distinctness, an altogether new air of truth, an intense, vivid, burning reality, such as I cannot long stand without being maddened, if I am to stand alone; a real sinner before a real God. For me to be in him! How utterly hopeless! Nay, but let me consider. Who is he who has come to give me understanding thus to know the True One? The Son of God; his Son Jesus Christ. It is he who by his coming makes the True One known as he really is; for he is himself "the image of the invisible God." It is he who by his Spirit gives me understanding that I may know the True One. And placing himself between the True One, whom now at last I truly know, and me, whom that knowledge must otherwise utterly appal, he, the very Son of this True One, his Son Jesus Christ, calls me to himself; to be one with him; to be "in him." It is not that he would again hide the True One from me, or hide me from the True One. No. But he makes it possible for me, if I will but consent to be in him, to be "in the True One" as he is himself in the True One.

For he says, I am a reality; the real Son of God, really come to you, in your real flesh. As his true and very Son, I give you understanding to know him who is true and very God. And in me you know him, not so as to be a castaway from him; but so as to be in him, as I am in him. For in me, whatever in you might seem to stand in the way, and did stand in the way, of your being in the True One, is met and obviated. In the Son of God, his Son Jesus Christ, you can be in God, known as the True One, and can have perfect peace.

Out of Christ, I can have peace only by not knowing truly the True One, not knowing him as he is, or by keeping away from him among the trees of the garden, and under the veil of some apron of fig-leaves. Satan belies him to me, and I hide or cover myself from him. But there is no need now of guile, or concealment, or disguise; no room for evasion or compromise. The True One may be truly known, and I, the chief of sinners, may be in him, truly known as the True One, "in his Son Jesus Christ."

2. If it is thus that in his Son Jesus Christ we are in the True One, it is after a high ideal or model that we are so. For our being in the True One in his Son Jesus Christ, must be after the manner of his Son Jesus Christ's being himself in him. What a manner of being in the True One is that! What truth, what reality is there in it!

I would keep fast hold of the apostle's ground-thought or leading idea in this passage; which is truth, reality, fact. There are other views that may be taken of the Son of God, his Son Jesus Christ, being in the True One, as the type and model, as well as the cause, of our being in the True One in him. But I fix on this one as chiefly relevant here; "we are in the True One in his Son Jesus Christ;" and therefore in him as truly as his Son Jesus Christ is in him. How truly then, how really, is his Son Jesus Christ in him!

His Son Jesus Christ! For it is not his Son, as being in him from everlasting, that is here presented to us. It is with his Son as "being come" that we have to do. It is in his Son Jesus Christ as "being come" that we are in the True One. Let us look well and see how his Son Jesus Christ is in the True One; how, in the days of his flesh, "he is in him that is true!" How truly, really, thoroughly! How naturally too! He is in his native element when he is in the True One.

Who that ever followed Jesus in his earthly life could for a moment doubt that God was to him a reality, and that his being in God was a reality too? It was a true God that he served; and he himself was truly in him. My Father! he is ever saying; and so saying it as to show that it is a real and true Father he means; and that he is really and truly in him, as a real and true Son. Yes! his Son Jesus Christ is truly in the True One; never out of him; never away from him; never at home but with him; never thinking a thought, or feeling an emotion, that he did not think and feel in him; never speaking a word or doing a work but as having his Father with him. Truly, all through his real and true humiliation, and obedience, and sacrifice, "he is in him that is true;" in him, with a depth and intensity of real inness, if I may use the word, that the devout study of a lifetime will not suffice to fathom. Nay, the devout study of eternity will not suffice to exhaust the full truth of that ineffable complacency of the Everlasting Father of which his Son Jesus Christ, for his obedience unto the death in our stead even more than for his original relation to him, has become the object. Yes! "I in thee" says Jesus, as he leaves the world and goes to the Father Oh! that word "I in thee!" What a word, as spoken then and there! Who can understand its significance, its intense reality, its living truth? "I in thee!"

Can it be that I, a sinner, of sinners the chief, am to be in the True One as his Son Jesus Christ is thus in him? It must be so, at least in measure, if it is in his Son Jesus Christ that I am to be in the True One. My being in the True One must be after the model and manner of his being in the True One. It must at all events be as real and true as that. To me, as to him, God must be a reality; and my being in God must be a reality too.

Is this too high an aim? Does it seem to be beyond my reach? Nay, let me look again at the way in which God comes down to me that I may rise to him. "Thou in me; I in them" is the language of the Son. So "he that is true" the True One, first condescends to ns. He is in the Son, in his Son Jesus Christ; all his fullness dwells in him bodily - "Thou in me." And the Son is in us "I in them." The Holy Spirit takes of what is his and shows it to us; he forms Christ in us. So the Father, the True One, comes down to us; he in Christ; Christ in us. Let Christ then be in us. Let us open our hearts to him. Let us welcome, receive, embrace him; and the Father in him. Then we are in the Son as the Son is in the Father. "We are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."

Let me make a twofold practical appeal, in two opposite directions. I. If you will not know the True One now, by the understanding which the Son of God is come to give; know him so as to be in him, in his Son Jesus Christ; the day is coming when you must be compelled, by another sort of awakening, to know the True One; and to know him terribly as a reality, as a real God dealing with a real sinner about real sin! Here, for a little longer, God may be to you as if he were not. You may live on as you would live if he were not; almost as if, like the fool, you said in your heart, There is no God. You may live as you would live if you believed God to be no real being at all, but a mere creature of the imagination; like a character in fiction; an airy nothing. Have you no apprehension that it may be far otherwise soon? It will not always be possible for you thus to ignore God. For he exists.

Yes! He does indeed exist. You may find that out to your cost sooner than you think; too soon for you. It is a great fact, however little you may make of it, or it may make of you. Were it not better for you to know it now; to take account of it now; to accommodate yourselves to it now? "It is hard for you to kick against the pricks." The Son of God is come to make God known to you now, in all his glorious reality, as "light" and "love." He gives you understanding now that you may thus "know God." Better surely that, than to go on darkly, as in a dream, until there comes a shock. And lo! there is God! No shadow, but too truly real! And there is the Son of God; real also; too truly real! "Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." Yes! God, and the Son of God, are realities then, when men "hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and say to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6: 15-17.)

2. Let me remind you who believe of the main end for which John would have you to "know the True One, and be in him, in his Son Jesus Christ." It is that "you may not sin ;" that you may "keep yourselves so that the wicked one, in whom the whole world lieth, may not touch you." Mark the contrast here. The world lieth wholly in the wicked one; you are in the True One; in God truly known, in his Son Jesus Christ. Let that contrast be ever vividly realised by you. It is your great and only security. Look well to it that your being in the True One, in his Son Jesus Christ, is a reality. Let it be a true experience. Be evermore "dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty." "Let him cover thee with his feathers, for under his wings you may trust." Is it not his Son Jesus Christ who thus addresses you - " Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling"?

"This is the true God and the eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5: 20, 21.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the person here meant. Such seems to be the fair inference from the use of the pronoun "this;" which naturally and usually indicates the nearest person spoken of in the context; and therefore, in this instance, not "him that is true" but "his Son Jesus Christ."

That inference indeed is so clear, in a merely grammatical and exegetical point of view, that there would not probably have been any doubt about it, were it not for its implying an assertion of our Lord's supreme divinity; an assertion which no sophistry or special pleading can evade or explain away. It is true that some who strongly hold that doctrine have professed, on critical considerations, to take the same view which the deniers of it take. But there is room for suspecting that they have been half unconsciously influenced by a sort of chivalrous desire to concede debatable ground, rather than by a strict regard to the real merits of the question. It is a forced construction only that can get us past "his Son Jesus Christ" so as to send us back to him whose Son he is. Certainly the simple and natural reading of the words is, that "he who is come and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true," he in whom "we are in him that is true, his Son Jesus Christ" is "the true God, and eternal life."

He is "the true God" and as such he is "eternal life" or rather the eternal life. It is our realisation of him in that character, as" the true God and the eternal life" which constitutes our best and only security against idolatry, the idolatry which John exhorts us in his closing admonition to shun - "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."

"This is the true God and the eternal life." First, he is the true God. That may be said of each of the three persons in the Godhead separately, as well as of the "three in one" unitedly, "the Triune." The entire Godhead, in all its reality and fullness, is in each one of the persons; each therefore is in himself really and verily "the true God." The mystery of the Holy Trinity involves this seeming paradox. But there is a peculiar significance in the Son's being thus designated here. He is "the Son of God" who "is come ;" come in the flesh by water and blood; attested by the Spirit as come by water and blood; giving us an understanding that we may know the True One, and in him and with him may be in the True One. In that character and capacity, and with a view to these functions, he is declared to be "the true God." Again, secondly, in the same character and capacity, and with a view to the same functions, he is declared to be "eternal life" or "the eternal life."

Eternal life! How much is there in this little phrase! It suggests the ever awful idea of endless duration; existence, if not from everlasting, yet to everlasting; conscious existence running on for ever. But that is the least part of its meaning. The manner, rather than the term or duration, of the life is indicated; not so much the continuance of the life, as its kind, its character, its nature. It is life independent of time and its changes ; of earth and its history; of the created universe itself. It is the life that God lives as the True One; in himself, from himself, for or to himself. His Son Jesus Christ is "this eternal life." As being "the true God" he is so. As the true God he is the eternally living one; in such sense the eternally living one that all who are m him are eternally living ones as he is himself. If I am one with him, then as he is "the eternal life" so also am I in him. My own life is not eternal In a sense, indeed it is so as regards its duration, for it is to have no end. But it is not, as to its character, eternal life. On the contrary, it is eternal death. The life which I have naturally is the life of a doomed criminal, sentenced to perpetual servitude; bound over to penal suffering for the entire period of his existence. Such is the eternal death, of which the eternal life is the opposite. For that is the life which he who dooms the criminal to perpetual servitude has himself; the very life of him who binds the criminal over to penal suffering for ever. It must be, therefore, as being "the true God" that Jesus Christ is "the eternal life." He is so, and can only be so, as being one with that righteous Father whose judicial condemnation of us is our eternal death.

But if so, must not his being "the eternal life" be eternal death to us? Not so. For if, on the one hand, he is one with "him that is true" being his Son, and therefore, like his Father, "the eternal life" - he is one, on the other hand, with us, as his Son Jesus Christ. He becomes, with us and for us, "the eternal death" which is our portion and characteristic; which indeed we are, for it is our very nature. As he shares always his father's eternal life, so he shares once for all our eternal death; takes it as his; makes it his own. Yes; he dies our eternal death, that we may live his eternal life. Not otherwise, even as "the true God" could he be, in any sense that could be available for us, "the eternal life;" not otherwise than by being "made sin" and "made a curse "for us; which means his taking upon himself as his our "eternal death."

And let it be well noted that not even his being thus made sin and made a curse for us; not even his becoming our partner and our substitute, in our eternal death; could have been of any benefit to us, or of any use, but for his being, in that very act and experience, "the true God" and as such "the eternal life." It is his being "the true God" that alone can make that eternal death terminable in his case, which it cannot be in ours. His becoming our eternal death for us must involve him in its terrible endlessness, but for his being still in himself "the true God" and as such "the eternal life." We cannot die the eternal death and yet live; but he can; because he is "the true God and the eternal life." Therefore he says, "I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore;" and again he says, "Because I live ye shall live also."

I have died your eternal death that I may share with you my eternal life.! can share with you this eternal life of mine, for it is as the true God that I have it ; - " I am the true God and the eternal life." It is as the true God that I am the eternal life; as the true God; truly and verily the Son of "him that is true." For "this eternal life" is to know him and to be in him. I am the eternal life because I know him and am in him; being, as I am, myself "the true God." Were I not so, were I anything less than that; I might tell you about the eternal life; I might unfold it to you; I might show you the way to it. But I could not myself be that eternal life to you. I could not say to you, that having me you have the eternal life. But I do say that. I give you the assurance that having me you have the eternal life; ‘that being in me you are in the eternal life. All that you can imagine of peace, rest, joy; pure and holy love; perfect, endless, uninterrupted blessedness and glory ; - and whatever else you may connect with that most pregnant phrase "the eternal life ; " - you have it all when you have me; you are in it all when you are in me. For all that I am to the Father you are to the Father; all that I have from the Father you have from the Father; all that the Father is to me the Father is to you. Thus I am, for you and to you, "the true God and the eternal life." This statement about Christ, - his being "the true God and the eternal life" - has a very intimate connection with what is said of him as being come to give us knowledge of his Father, as the True One, and to secure our being in his Father, as the True One, in virtue of our being in him (ver. 20). And viewed in that light, it explains the earnest, emphatic, and affectionate appeal with which John closes his epistle - "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (Ver 21).

I. He "is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true;" and, so coming, he is "the true God and the eternal life." In him the true God becomes really true to us. In his person God stands forth ‘before our eyes as a reality, and is felt in our inmost hearts ‘to be a reality. This is what we need and often crave for; that the true and living God should be to us, not a notion, but a reality. He is so to us, and is so known by us, in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, because his Son Jesus Christ is "the true God and eternal life." We need not seek elsewhere for what we want. We may "keep ourselves from idols." For what is the use of an idol? What is the design and aim of those who frame or fancy visible images of the invisible God, grotesque figures, in wood, or stone, or metal;the heavenly orbs; deified heroes; personified divine attributes and influences? Is it not to bring God more within the range of their actual and sensible apprehension than otherwise he would be, and so to have him before them as a true and palpable reality?

The idols are real, and, in a sense, even living. The hideous, misshapen block before which yonder dark Hindoo bows and worships has for him a certain real life, akin to his own. The beasts so sacred in old Egypt's eyes were real and living emblems of divine powers and qualities of some sort. The suns and stars on which rapt Chaldaean gazed had a real and living significance, as representative of deity. The men and women whom a more earthly superstition turned into gods and goddesses were real and living flesh and blood while on earth, and continued to be to their votaries much the same when they were gone. Even the strange, dreamy, mysterious spiritualities, with which the early heretics and Gnostic corrupters of Christianity peopled the divine fullness; the divine essences and emanations which they named as in some sense persons; had for their imaginative minds a living reality that they could grasp and feel. These last were the idols of John's day, within the church; from which, even more than from grosset idols outside, it concerned him to warn "his little children to keep themselves." They were the forerunners, as his prophetic eye partly saw, of idols still more seductive, with which Christendom was to be ere long tried; canonised martyrs and saints, with their images and pictures and relics; and high over all, alone in her glory, the blessed Virgin.

Now all these idolatries, however widely differing in their nature, and in their effects upon their devotees, have this principle in common, that they are all attempts to give actual form and substance, true and living embodiment and realisation, as it were, to men's conceptions of deity; those conceptions which otherwise are apt to be so indistinct, indefinite, misty, shadowy, as to be for the most part practically all but uninfluential. They bring what is divine within the range and grasp of humanity. The abstract becomes personal; the ideal becomes real. The infinite takes the clear and sharp outline of a form or a face that can be pictured to the mind's eye at least, if not to that of the body. And what is apt to be little more than a great blank vacancy, becomes instinct with living personality. Hence, even for refined natures, the more refined kinds of idol-worship have a strong fascination; witness the hold which Mariolatry has over intellects the highest and hearts the tenderest and purest.

It is indeed the crown and masterpiece of idolatry, this worship of the Virgin. Fairer, holier, more lovely and lovable idol was never formed or fancied. Never idol like her, the ideal mother of our Lord.

I say the ideal mother of our Lord. For it is an idealised Mary that is idolised. And yet we see and can understand how intensely real, even as thus idealised, she is and must be to her believing worshippers. In her they feel that they have a real mother, a real sister, a true and very woman; with all of woman's warm love and none of woman's weakness. And she has to them divinity about her, being, as they put it, "the mother of God." That Mary, thus ideal and yet real, should be adored and loved, chivalrously and yet devoutly, with human passion rising into divine enthusiasm, is so far from seeming to me strange, that I doubt if any of us have not sometimes had some secret sympathy, if not with the superstitious homage, at least with the frame of mind that prompts it. I take this highest instance of the charm that there is in idolatry, because it comes nearest to what John puts as a safeguard against it. The virgin-mother of our Lord is alone in the created universe of God. No other being ever has occupied, or ever can occupy, the same position with her. She stands in a relation to deity altogether peculiar; absolutely singular. It is a natural thought that she may be invoked as well as her Son; nay, that she may be inyoked instead of her Son; as, in fact, a most persuasive pleader with her Son. And she grows to be so very true and real, as a genuine woman, kind and pitying and relenting; while her divine Son, as well as his heavenly Father, fades away in the dim distance of a sort of undefined and misty majesty; that knowing her, as it seems, so thoroughly and personally, one is fain to rest in her, and leave all to her, and be satisfied with her as virtually all in all. And it must be so, if we take her as our mediator. For she is not "the true God and eternal life." She is, when thus viewed, simply an idol. Now no idol brings us into communication with God as true and real. We accept the idol as real; but God, whose image he may profess to be, between whom and us he ought to mediate, is as unreal as ever, or more so. The virginmother I know; in her I can lie. But as for the Son and the Father, I look to her to deal with them for me. To me they are but names.

Nothing like that can happen when he through whom I am to know God truly, is himself, as his Son Jesus Christ, "the true God and the eternal life." He is as human as is his virginmother. He is, as much as she is, a real and living human person; as truly set before me as such. Nay, I have him, as a real and living person, more clearly and fully, with more of personal individuality, in my mind's eye, than ever I can have her.

The notices of Mary are few and far between; vague also and indefinite. We have nothing beyond the merest generalities to give us a notion of what sort of woman she was. But her divine Son, the Son of the Highest, the Son of the True One, his Son Jesus Christ, is as a living man amongst us, a real person. He is more truly, vividly, intensely real to us than even his mother Mary. And if more so than she, then more by far than any saints or martyrs that ever were canonised ; any heroes that ever were deified; any representatives of deity, dead or alive, that ever were worshipped; any effluxes or emanations of deity that the highest imagination ever invested with the property of personality. Yes; here is Jesus Christ the Son of God, truly, vividly, intensely real; a real and living person; going in and out among us; one of whom we can really form a truer, fuller, more intimate conception, than we can form of our dearest and most familiar associate and intimate ; whose hand we clasp in ours more really, because more inwardly, than we can clasp the hand of any friend; with whom we can talk more confidentially than we can with any brother. Here he is. And it is through and in him that I am to "know God as the True One." He is to represent God to me; it is with him that I have directly and immediately to do; in him I am to know "the True One."

But does not this arrangement really put aside "the True One" and substitute in his stead "his Son Jesus Christ"? Doubtless he is the best possible or conceivable substitute. But still, is it not a substitution? Does it not tend in the direction of making Jesus Christ, the Son of "the True One" the real and living "True One" to me; while God, his Father, the absolute and ultimate "True One" becomes to me a dim and far-off vision? Is there no danger of idolatry here? Am I not on the point of falling into that sin, by setting him up instead of God? And is not that equivalent to making him an idol.

It has been so often; and it would be so always; were it not for the great and blessed fact that he is "the true God and the eternal life." But I cannot make an idol of him if I believe that. I cannot worship him in an idolatrous manner, or after an idolatrous fashion, if I really own him as being "the true God and the eternal life" and in that view take in the full meaning of his own words: "Whosoever hath seen me hath seen the Father."

Is it not a blessed thing to know that there can be no idolatry in your closest fellowship with Jesus, if only you bear in mind that he is "the true God and the eternal life?" Your warmest love to him, your most familiar intercourse with him, your most affectionate clinging to him, your most tender and trusting embrace of him, never can be idolatry for he is "the true God and the eternal life." You need have no fear of your making too much of him, or making an idol of him; as you must have in the case of any other being, real or imaginary, whom you let ia between God and you; for "he is the true God and the eternal life." You may admire others to excess, but you never can admire him to excess; for "he is the true God and the eternal life." You may be too devoted to others, but you can never be too devoted to him; for "he is the true God and the eternal life."

What ease and freedom may this thought impart to all your dealings with him, as come especially to "give you an understanding that you may know the True One ;" that you may know him as true and real.

The most perfect of God's creatures, the highest angel, if he had come on such an errand, must have bid you look away from him. You may listen to my voice, he might say; you may hear what I have to tell you about God. I will do my best to set him before you as a reality, in as lifelike a representation as I can give. But beware of fixing your eyes too much, or indeed at all, on me. You may imagine that I am so like him, as living so near him and seeing so much of him, that when you have formed a clear notion of me you really know him. But it is not so ; it is far otherwise. Your very knowledge of me may mislead you as to him; tempting you to form inadequate, if not erroneous, conceptions of him; to enshrine him in my frame and clothe him in my vesture; the frame and vesture of a mere creature at the best. But no such caution is needed on the part of Jesus ; for he is the true God and the eternal life. Therefore let not Jesus, the Son of God, be a name or a notion to you; if he is so, much more will God his Father be so. Let him be a true, present, living reality. Be sitting at his feet as really as did Mary of Bethany. Be welcoming him to your house and table as really as did Zaccheus. Be leaning on his bosom as really as did John. Be grasping his hand, when you are sinking in the stormy sea, as really as did Peter when he cried, Lord, save me, I perish. You may do so with all safety, and with no risk of idolatry; for he is "the true God and the eternal life."

But not only are we "in his Son Jesus Christ so as to know him that is true" we are to be "in him so as to be in him that is true." In that view also it is all-important thoroughly to apprehend and feel that "he is the true God and the eternal life." For were he not so, we could not really be in the True One by being in him. Nay, our being in him, so far from a help, might be a hindrance. We might be in the True One through him, but scarcely in him, unless he were himself "the true God and the eternal life."

This word "in" be it observed, though small in size, is very great in significance. It denotes a very close, real, and personal connection; and indeed almost, as it were, au identification; so much so that it may be said to be as impossible for me $o be in the True One, and at the same time to be in any one else who is not "the true God and the eternal life" as it is for me to serve two masters, to serve God and Mammon. For what is this "inness" if I may so say, when it is spoken of a real and living person to whom I may sustain real and personal relations? Surely at the very least it implies that I give myself up entirely to him, and become wholly his. I consent to his taking me to be one with himself. It is a real unity, corresponding in its nature and character to the nature and character of him in whom I am; but still real; and intimate as real; so intimate as to be engrossing, absorbing, exclusive. He in whom I am is to me all in all. In a sense, I lose myself in him. I have no separate standing from him.! see, as it were, through his eyes; I judge with his understanding; I make his will my will; I make himself my supreme good, and my chiefest joy. Now if, in any such sense, I am in one who is not "the true God and the eternal life ;" can that be compatible with my being also "in him that is true"

It is not needful here to suppose that it is ah enemy of God in whom I thus am, and with whom I am thus identified. The case is better put when he is supposed to be a friend of God. For then I look to him to deal with God for me. I am in him as being his; so thoroughly his, that I have nothing of my own; I myself am not my own. He has made me part and parcel of his own very self. It belongs to him to make terms with God for himself; and for me as being in him. He has to do with God; not I. So it must be with me, if he in whom I am is not "the true God and the eternal life;" if he and the True One are separate and distinct; if he and the Father are not one. The higher he is, the nearer he is to God, the more does my "being in him" supersede and supplant my "being in God."

But Jesus Christ is "the true God and the eternal life." I may be "in him" as much as ever I choose, as much as ever I can; his own good Spirit helping me; the more the better. For "in him I am in the True One." In the Son I am in the Father, even as he is in the Father. And all this is so, because "he is the True God and the eternal life."

It could not otherwise be so. I could not be in him as I long to be in him, without being not in, but out of, the True One, were he not himself "the true God and the eternal life." For how do I long to be in him, if I am at all awakened to a sense of what I am in myself? How do I long to be in Christ.? How thoroughly would I be hidden, and, as it were, swallowed up in him! A poor, naked, shelterless, child of sin and wrath, shrinking from the presence of "him that is true" shrinking from the glance of his true eye and the searching scrutiny of his true judgment, - ah! how fain would I be lost and merged altogether in that holy, righteous, loving Saviour, who has come to answer for me; to take my place; to fulfil my righteousness; to bear my guilt; to die for me, and yet live, so that I may live in him. Oh! to be in him; shut up into him; lost and merged altogether, I repeat, in him; and because lost and merged in him, therefore also safe in him.

Safe? From whom? From the True One?. Am I to be in his Son Jesus Christ so as to be away from himself? No. For he in whom I am is "the true God and the eternal life." Therefore, being in him, I am in the True One, "in him that is true." I would be in Christ incarnate. I would be in Christ crucified. I must be in Christ both incarnate and crucified. I must be in him as he becomes bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I must be in him as dying, yet not "given over to death" but rising again; the living one; who, having once died, dieth no more; who living, though he was dead, liveth for ever. I would be, I must be, thus in Christ. Is it as against God?. Is it as if I were to be out of and away from God the True One? No! Emphatically no! For he in whom I am is himself "the true God and the eternal life."

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." And let this be the test or criterion of what an idol is. Whatever worship or fellowship or companionship, whatever System or society, whatever work or way, whatever habit or pursuit or occupation, is of such a sort in itself, or has such influence over you, that you cannot be in it and at the same time be in God, or that you may be in it and yet not be in God, as little children in a loving Father; that to you is idolatry, be the object of your regard what it may. From all such idols keep yourselves. And that you may keep yourselves from them ail, abide evermore in the Son of God, your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To be in him is your only security, to be always "found in him." For to be in him is to be in the Father, even as he is in the Father. And there can be no idolatry in that. AMEN.

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