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In this chapter the apostle cautions against seducing spirits;
advises to try them, and gives rules by which they may be known, and
by which they are distinguished from others; and then returns to his
favourite subject, brotherly love. He exhorts the saints not to
believe every man that came with a doctrine to them, but to try
them, since there were many false teachers in the world; and gives a
rule by which they may be tried and judged, as that whatever teacher
owns Christ to be come in the flesh is of God, but he that does not
is not of God, but is the spirit of antichrist that should come, and
was in the world, \\#1Jo 4:1,2\\, but, for the comfort of those to whom
he writes, he observes, that they were of God, and had overcome
these false teachers, through the mighty power of the divine Spirit
in them, who is greater than Satan, and all his emissaries, \\#1Jo 4:4\\.
He distinguishes between seducing spirits, and faithful
ministers of the word; the former are of the world, speak of worldly
things, and worldly men hear them; but the latter are of God, and
they that have any spiritual knowledge of God hear them; but such as
are not of God do not heal them, by which may he known the spirit of
truth from the spirit of error, \\#1Jo 4:5,6\\. And then the apostle
returns to his former exhortation to brotherly love, which he
enforces by the following reasons, because it is of God, a fruit of
his Spirit and grace, and because it is an evidence of being born of
God, and of having a true knowledge of him; whereas he that is
destitute of it does not know him, seeing God is love, \\#1Jo 4:7,8\\,
and having affirmed that God is love, he proves it, by the mission
of his Son, to be a propitiation for the sins of such that did not
love him, and that they might live through him; wherefore he argues,
that if God had such a love to men, so undeserving of it, then the
saints ought to love one another, \\#1Jo 4:9-11\\. Other arguments
follow, engaging to it, as that God is invisible; and if he is to be
loved, then certainly his people, who are visible; and that such who
love one another, God dwells in them, and his love is perfected in
them; and that he dwells in them is known by the gift of his Spirit
to them, \\#1Jo 4:12,13\\, and that God the Father so loved the world,
as to send his Son to be the Saviour of it, before asserted, is
confirmed by the apostles, who were eyewitnesses of it; who also
declare, that whoever confesses the sonship of Christ, God dwells in
him, and he in God; and who had an assurance of the love of God to
them, who is love itself; so that he that dwells in God, and God in
him, dwells in love, \\#1Jo 4:14-16\\. And great are the advantages
arising from hence, for hereby the saints' love to God is made
perfect; they have boldness in the day of judgment, since as he is,
so are they in this world, and fear is cast out by it, \\#1Jo 4:17,18\\,
but lest too much should be thought to be ascribed to love, that
is said to be owing to the love of God to them, which is prior to
theirs to him, and the reason of it, \\#1Jo 4:19\\. And the chapter is
closed with observing the contradiction there is between a
profession of love to God, and hatred of the brethren, seeing God,
who is invisible, cannot be loved, if brethren that are seen are
hated; and also the commandment, that he that loves God should love
his brother also, \\#1Jo 4:20,21\\.