Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

a certain Power far separated from the Royalty which is above all and very distant from him, a Power which does not know the God who is over all and blessed forever.

Think of the great Apostle John in the last days of his mortal life living among men who are thus trying in the wisdom of their own vain imaginings to cross the gulf between God and man.

He feels that he has learnt how that gulf is bridged in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. He remembers our Lord's acts and his

very

words. He knows that in him and in him alone does the divine and human meet. He at once writes out this witness. He makes it as clear and forcible as he can for us children of men.

So in the deeper fulness of the truth as we find it in his story of the Good News, John instructs the Church, he refutes the prevalent heresy, he supplies that uniquely spiritual picture of the life of Christ, which we prize so highly as a complement to the other three.

Like the Revelation and the Epistles, the Gospel also is divided into threes and sevens as will be noticed in the body of the text.

FRANK SCHELL BALLENTINE, Christ's Church Rectory,

Scranton, Pa., Trinitytide, 1901.

S. JOHN. (First Letter.)

PREFACE.

S. John's first letter has rightly been called catholic, or general because it was addressed to the Church at large. And yet, the question has been raised, was it so addressed? Was it addressed to any one? Was it not rather a set treatise on a set subject, intended to meet the needs of the particular time in which it was written ?

However that may be we do know it met most admirably the needs of that time and of all times since, and it will continue to meet the needs of all time to come. For, as some one has suggested, it seems to have been intended as a supplement to his Gospel, and whether so intended or not it is in actual fact the supplement to all extant New Testament Scripture and the final treatise of inspired revelation. In it the leading teachings of Christianity are stated in their final form. The teaching of S. Paul and that of S. James are restated, no

vii

longer in apparent opposition, but in intimate and inseparable harmony. They are shown distinctly to be but two sides of the same great truth.

The connection between the Gospel and Letter is very marked. The Gospel shows the way to" eternal life through belief in the incarnate Son (S. John 20: 31). The Letter assures those who believe in the incarnate Son that they have eternal life (1 John 5: 13). The one is an historical statement of divine truth, the other an ethical statement of it. The one sets forth the acts and words which prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The other brings to light the acts and words which are obligatory on those who believe this great truth.

The Gospel has been well called a summary of Christian Theology. This Letter gives us the first great principles of Christian Ethics. Between the two we have a wonderful setting forth of the fundamental teachings of Christianity. In the Gospel they are given as the foundation of the Christian faith. In the Letter they are shown to be the foundation of the Christian life. In the Gospel we see the perfect life of God as it was realized in an historical person. In the Letter we learn how to reproduce that life in ourselves even though in the end we are compelled to acknowledge ourselves but poor products and imperfect Christians.

Finally, the Gospel suggests principles of conduct which the Letter lays down explicitly. The Letter implies facts which the Gospel states as historically true.

Like the Gospel and Revelation this Letter also is divided into threes and sevens. It has Introduction, main body of the Letter and Conclusion.

The main portion treats of two great subjects, God as Light and God as Love, each of which again is divided into seven distinct subdivisions.

FRANK SCHELL BALLENTINE, Christ's Church Reclory,

Scranton, Pa., Trinitytide, 1901.

S. JOHN.
(Second Letter.)

PREFACE. Short as this Letter is, it gives us a look at the last of all the Apostles as we would not otherwise see him.

Here he appears before us as the shepherd of individual souls. Whether it is held to be addressed to a Church or to a lady this holds true. It is written, on either supposition, for the sake of particular persons in whom he is particularly interested. Here we see the Apostle, as it were, at home. He is speaking as a friend to a friend, and we enjoy the flavor of their social intimacy. We have a precious specimen here of the private correspondence of an Apostle. We are allowed to see how the beloved disciple at the close of a long life could write to a Christian lady respecting her personal conduct.

FRANK SCHELL BALLENTINE, Christ's Church Rectory,

Scranton, Pa., Trinitytide, 1901.

х

« ÎnapoiContinuați »