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or by mentioning which verse is about to be read. To many perhaps this suggestion may appear superfluous; but it is not so: for there is often a confusion, especially in the minds of the less educated and instructed, occasioned by a sudden transition from text to comment, and from comment to text. And this inconvenience may be further remedied by every member of the family, who can read, being furnished with a Bible.
In order to render the work more generally useful, it has been adapted to the aid of Sunday Schools; not that it is intended to be read by the scholars, but to serve as a manual of exposition for the Teachers of those classes, which are sufficiently advanced; and for this purpose a few parallel passages are given in the margin: to “compare spiritual things with spiritual" is a method of teaching at once the most interesting and beneficial; and a method which cannot be too strongly recommended.
This book is designed rather as a specimen of family reading and Sunday School instruction; and the plan may be further extended and applied by those who approve it: whether, or not, it will be continued by myself, is a matter of uncertainty. However, let us humbly commend it to that God, who giveth power to His own word; and who alone can open the eyes of men to behold, and the hearts of men to receive, s wondrous things out of His law.”
Before we begin to read, it will be proper to say a a few words about St. John, who was the author of this Gospel. It was written by " the disciple whom Jesus loved," (John xxi. 20.) whom he honoured with his particular friendship and regard, who was with him from the commencement of His ministry ; being called, with his brother James, when they were fishing together on the sea of Galilee. (Matt. iv. 21. Mark i. 19. Luke v. 10.) They were the sons of Zebedee and Salome, and are frequently termed the brethren, (which means the near relations, the cousins) of our Lord.
John seems to have been the only Apostle present at the crucifixion : and Jesus, just as he was expiring on the cross, gave him the strongest proof of his love and confidence, by entrusting to him the care of His mother. (John xix. 26, 27.) John was also one of the first, who was informed of the resurrection. (xx, 1-10.)
This Apostle therefore, from his continual and intimate acquaintance with Jesus and all that belonged to Him, was well qualified to write a particular account; and accordingly we find him mentioning many circumstances, which in the other three Gospels are omitted. John wrote after the others (probably about the year 70 ; some think not till after 90 ;) and therefore he says nothing of the early history of Jesus, of His birth and parentage; because they had been sufficiently described before. He proceeds at once to speak of the nature and person of our blessed Lord ; and to correct some errors, to do away some false notions, which had been, or would be, entertained on this point. Some denied that Christ was God; St. John therefore declares this most positively in the very first words of his gospel : and we shall find a great many passages, which teach us the same truth : indeed it was the chief object for which this gospel was written. (xx. 31.)
Now we will begin to read the first chapter, and may God give us ears to hear, and hearts to understand and profit withal.
The Gospel commences with declaring the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Chap. I. 1.
Prov. 8. 22.
1. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
Col. 1. 16.17. 1 John 1.1.
“ The Word” here means the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is called the Word, because He conveys to us a knowledge of God and His will, just as by words we convey our thoughts and desires to one another. The Jewish people looked for Him, as the Messiah, their great Deliverer; and spoke of Him in their writings under this same title, as the Word. And in verse 14, it is said,
- The Word was made flesh;” no doubt then it denotes Jesus Christ.
In these two verses, we are fully assured that the Word, Jesus Christ, was “ in the beginning,” when “ the heaven and the earth” were created; and therefore before they were created. He was in the beginning with God; and not only so, but He was very God; “ The word was God.” Nothing can be plainer. Jesus had a two-fold nature : He was both God and man: He was one with the Father from all eternity, and was “made man;" was “manifest in the flesh” for us and our salva- 1 Tim. 3. 16. tion. Hear what St. Paul says of Christ Jesus: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it Phil. 2. 6-11. not robbery to be equal with God : But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
Therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name :
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Now we proceed to the third verse :
3. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
We learn from the first chapter of Genesis, that God created every thing by His word : and St. Paul says, “Through faith we under
stand that the worlds were framed by the Heb. 11. 2. word of God.” And that “the worlds were Heb. 1. 2. made by His Son.” It will be well for us to
read through the first chapter of the Hebrews in private to day; as it throws great light upon the opening of this Gospel.
4. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Christ is the great fountain of life, by whom all creatures « live and move and have their being.” And especially He is the author of a new life, a spiritual life, to man; who was lying, after the fall of Adam, “dead in trespasses and sins.” In Him also is eternal life, which he brought fully to light through the