1 John 1:3
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And this fellowship of ours is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
Sermons
An Influential TestimonyThe Railway Signal.1 John 1:3
Believers' Communion with the Father and SonD. Clarkson, B. D.1 John 1:3
Christian FellowshipJ. Richard.1 John 1:3
Communion with GodH. W. Graham.1 John 1:3
Experience Helpful to a TeacherW. M. Statham.1 John 1:3
FellowshipC. Watson, D. D.1 John 1:3
FellowshipS. E. Pierce.1 John 1:3
Fellowship with GodC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 1:3
Fellowship with GodC. Bradley, M. A.1 John 1:3
Fellowship with GodH. Allon, D. D.1 John 1:3
Fellowship with GodJ. C. Lees, D. D.1 John 1:3
Fellowship with the Father and with the SonE. Payson, D. D.1 John 1:3
God's Message to be DeclaredJ. R. Miller, D. D.1 John 1:3
On Communion with GodA. Brunton, D. D.1 John 1:3
That Ye Also May have FellowshipJames Morgan, D. D.1 John 1:3
The Argument from ExperienceJ. Watson, M. A.1 John 1:3
The Charm of TestimonyProctor's Gems of Thought1 John 1:3
The Doctrine and Fellowship of the ApostlesR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 John 1:3
The Gospel MinistryC. Talbot.1 John 1:3
The Internal Basis of Christian FellowshipJ. H. A. Ebrard.1 John 1:3
The Nature of CommunionG. Campbell.1 John 1:3
The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple to the Person and Offices of ChristJ. Hill, M. A.1 John 1:3
Union and Communion with God the End and Design of the GospelHugh Binning1 John 1:3
Appropiating FaithAnon.1 John 1:1-4
Christ the Revealer of GodS. E. Pierce.1 John 1:1-4
Contemplative FaithA. R. Fausset, M. A.1 John 1:1-4
Fellowship with the FatherJ. M. Gibbon.1 John 1:1-4
IntroductionR. Finlayson 1 John 1:1-4
John's Testimony to ChristT. M. Herbert, M. A.1 John 1:1-4
Obedient Hearing1 John 1:1-4
The Apostle's Aim and MethodW. Jones 1 John 1:1-4
The Apostles' DoctrineC. Stanford, D. D.1 John 1:1-4
The Divine and Human in Christ1 John 1:1-4
The Incarnation of Christ, Before and AfterNewman Smyth, D. D.1 John 1:1-4
The Mystery of the Holy IncarnationMorgan Dix, D. D.1 John 1:1-4
The Perfect SaviourD. C. Hughes, M. A.1 John 1:1-4
The Preface to the First Epistle of JohnGeorge G. Findlay, B. A.1 John 1:1-4
The Realisation of FaithDean Goulburn.1 John 1:1-4
Witnesses of the Word of LifeN. Hardy, D. D.1 John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, etc.

I. HERE IS AN OBJECT EMINENTLY WORTHY OF AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST. "That ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." St. John sought to lead his readers into:

1. Participation in the highest fellowship. "That ye also may have fellowship with us," etc. (verse 3). The word "fellowship," or "communion," signifies "the common possession of anything by various Persons." By the "with us" we understand the apostles and others, who had been eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. And St. John's aim was that his readers should participate in the truth and trust, the life and love, which the older generation of Christian disciples already possessed; that they should share in his own highest and holiest experiences. And it was not into an exalted human communion merely that the apostle endeavoured to lead his readers. "And truly" he says, "our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." In infinite condescension, the heavenly Father and the Divine Son admit Christian believers into vital and intimate communion with themselves. This fellowship is a thing of character and of life. They who share in it are "begotten of God;" they have "become partakers of the Divine nature; and they realize with joy the Divine presence. The apostle sought to lead his readers into:

2. Realization of perfect joy. "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." Hitherto the joy of those to whom St. John wrote had not been full; for their acquaintance with Christian truth had been imperfect and partial. By the fuller disclosures of that truth he hopes that their joy may be fulfilled. How rich and manifold and abundant is the joy of the true Christian! The joy of the forgiveness of sins, of reconciliation with God, of progress in truth and holiness, of hope of future perfection and glory. Our Lord said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." "Rejoice evermore."

II. HERE ARE MEANS EMINENTLY ADAPTED TO ACCOMPLISH THIS OBJECT. St. John endeavoured to attain his aim by declaration of the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice:

1. The title applied to him. "The Word of life." Each term of this title demands consideration.

(1) The Word - the Logos (cf. John 1:1). "The term Logos," says Canon Liddon, "denotes at the very least something intimately and everlastingly present with God, something as internal to the Being of God as thought is to the soul of man. In truth, the Divine Logos is God reflected in his own eternal thought. In the Logos God is his own object. This infinite thought, the reflection and counterpart of God, subsisting in God as a Being or hypostasis, and having a tendency to self-communication, - such is the Logos. The Logos is the thought of God, not intermittent and precarious like human thought, but subsisting with the intensity of a personal form. The expression suggests the further inference that, since reason is man's noblest faculty, the uncreated Logos must be at least equal with God .... The Logos necessarily suggests to our minds the further idea of communicativeness. The Logos is speech as well as thought."

(2) The life which is predicated of the Word. "The Word of life." We cannot define this life. Its essential nature is hidden from us. But life in an extraordinary sense and degree is attributed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Twice he himself said, "I am the Life." And St. John says, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." "As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself." He is the Giver of life to others. "All things were made by him," etc. "I came," said he, "that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly." "As the Father raiseth the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son also quickeneth whom he will." He has life in himself, and he is the great Bestower of all life to others. And his life is eternal. It "was from the beginning." He existed before creation, and before time, and his existence is independent of time. "We declare unto you that eternal life." He is ever-living and unchangeable.

2. His intimate communion with God the Father. "That eternal life which was with the Father" (cf. John 1:1). "The Word was with God." "He was not merely: παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ, 'along with God,' but πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. This last preposition expresses," says Canon Liddon, "beyond the fact of coexistence or immanence, the more significant fact of perpetuated intercommunion. The face of the everlasting Word, if we may dare so to express ourselves, was ever directed towards the face of the everlasting Father." Or, as Ebrard expresses it, the life "was towards the father.... A life which did indeed flow forth from the bosom of the Father, but which did at once return back into the bosom of the Father in the ceaseless flow of the inmost being of God."

3. His manifestation to men. "And the life was manifested, and we have seen," etc. "The Word" also suggests the idea of revelation or communication; for the Logos is not only reason, but discourse; not only thought, but the expression of thought. The life was manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ - in his words and works and life amongst men. It was exhibited gloriously in his splendid triumph over death by his resurrection. "It was not possible that he should be holden of it." "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," etc. We have said that these means - the declaration of the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ - were eminently adapted to lead men into participation in the highest fellowship and realization of perfect joy. The statement is capable of ample proof.

(1) A right relation to God is essential to fellowship with him and to true joy. For us, who have sinned against him, reconciliation to him and trust in him must become facts before we can have any communion with him.

(2) A true knowledge of God is essential to right relation to him. If we regard him as a stern Lawgiver, offended, resentful, implacable, we cannot even approach unto him. And the guilty conscience is prone to entertain such views of him.

(3) The true knowledge of God is attainable through Jesus Christ. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." In Jesus Christ, God is revealed unto us as "a just God and a Saviour," as mighty and merciful, as faithful and forgiving, as infinitely holy and gracious and full of compassion. Such a revelation of God is attractive; it is fitted to melt the heart into penitence, to awaken its confidence in him, and to draw it to him in the fellowship of life and light.

III. HERE IS AN AGENT EMINENTLY QUALIFIED TO USE THESE MEANS. The apostle was qualified by various and competent knowledge of him concerning whom he wrote.

1. He had heard his voice. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard." St. John and his fellow-apostles had heard his words on very many occasions both in public discourse and in private conversation.

2. He had seen his human form and his mighty works. "That which we have seen with our eyes The Life was manifested, and we have seen it." There is, perhaps, a special reference to his having seen hint accomplish his great and beneficent miracles. But the apostles had seen their Master in various circumstances and conditions. They had seen him in his majesty and might quelling the tempest and raising the dead to life; and they had seen him exhausted and weary. They had seen him bleeding and dying on the cross; and they had seen him after he had risen again from the dead. John and two others had seen him bowed in anguish in Gethsemane; and they had seen him radiant in glory on Hermon.

3. He had intently contemplated him. "That which we looked upon," or beheld. This looking upon him is more internal and continuous than the having seen hint with their eyes. With the most intense and affectionate and reverent interest the apostle contemplated him.

4. He had handled his sacred body. The hands of John and the other apostles must frequently have touched the body of their Divine Master. But there is, perhaps, special reference to the touching of him after his resurrection: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me," etc. (Luke 24:39). "He saith to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands," etc. (John 20:27). Thus we see how eminently qualified St. John was to testify concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. How conclusive is the testimony which he bears! And how fitted is such an agent with such means to introduce men into the blessed fellowship and the perfect joy! Have we entered into this high fellowship? Do we realize this sacred and perfect joy? Let those who are strangers to these hallowed nod blessed experiences seek them through Jesus Christ. - W.J.







That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you
Our text presents a work, a motive, and an object. A work to declare Christ unto you; a motive, to become your spiritual benefactors; an object, to bring you into fellowship with us, "and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ."

I. A PERSONAL AND EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST EMINENTLY FITS US TO DECLARE HIM UNTO YOU. This is our work, and for this experimental qualification there can be no substitute; neither training, learning, nor natural talent may be put in its place. Spiritual knowledge and experience is a mighty power here; without it, all is feeble.

1. It implies a revelation of Christ. The age for personal manifestation is passed away; this book supplies its place. This is the Christ we declare — a Divine Christ, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

2. It implies real and experimental knowledge of Christ. We have seen Him, not with mortal eyes, but by spiritual sight, seen Him through an adapted medium, as set forth in revelation, as apprehended by faith; seen Him so as to know, love, and trust in Him.

3. It implies appreciation. "We have handled Him," heard with our own ears, seen with our own eyes; handled with our own hands, and tested with our senses, and now we appreciate Him as Saviour. He has saved us — we feel it, we know it. As such, we present Him to you; we appreciate Him as able to do all things for us: what He has done, guarantees ability to do all that is needful. Being justified by His death, we shall be saved by His life.

II. IN DECLARING CHRIST TO YOU, WE ARE MOVED BY A SACRED AND DIVINE FEELING OF BENEVOLENCE.

1. It is love. The love of Christ constrains us. That love is without parallel or comparison; it was love to enemies, and manifested in intense suffering. I enjoy the benefit of it; I want you to do the same.

2. To this we are moved by sympathy. We know your state; we see you strangers and aliens from God; we know your woes, disappointments, and dissatisfaction; yes, and we know your danger — we were once in the same state. We have found great spoil, we want you to come and share it; we have found great joy, we want you to come and be glad with us; we have found Christ, we want you to find Him too: hence we declare Him unto you.

3. In this we are moved by a sense of duty. Thus it becomes a motive here. Every servant has work to do. Christ bids us preach, we may not be silent; the Church requires the gospel, and we must preach it; the world is perishing for lack of knowledge, and we must teach it. A field, waste and desolate, lays at our feet — we must cultivate it; souls are in danger, and we must not parley nor trifle.

III. IN A SPIRITUAL PARTICIPATION AND FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON, THE WANTS OF MAN ARE MET.

1. We have fellowship with Christ by faith; this meets our necessity as sinners.

2. We have fellowship in labour and honour; this meets our wants as probationers.

3. We have fellowship in blessedness; and this meets our necessities as sufferers.

4. We have fellowship in the things of eternity; and this meets our necessity as immortal beings.

(C. Talbot.)

I. THE PREEMINENT SUBJECT OF THE APOSTLE'S INSTRUCTIONS. In the expression, "That which we have seen and heard," he briefly recapitulates that which he had more fully described in the first verse. His subject, then, was Christ, the Word of life. He preached the eternal Word as being absolutely and in Himself the possessor of life.

II. THE PURPOSE AND OBJECT WHICH HE HAD IN VIEW WHEN HE THUS DECLARED THE NATURE AND OFFICES OF CHRIST. His desire was that the privilege which he himself enjoyed might be shared by all the people of God. "That which we have seen," etc.

1. St. John was not only an apostle, but a peculiarly distinguished and favoured apostle; yet this exalted office did not induce him to lose sight of that which he was in common with all the other children of God.(1) By declaring Christ he sought to promote a fellowship with himself in judgment.(2) The apostle also desired by his instructions to promote, on the part of those whom he addressed, a fellowship with himself, and with other believers in affection.(3) The apostle moreover desired the fellowship of others with himself in the enjoyment of Christian privileges.

2. But the beloved apostle states the reason for which he desired that others might be joined in fellowship with himself. It was because fellowship with him involved that highest of blessings — fellowship with God.(1) It implies a reciprocity of mutual affection and love.(2) This sacred and mysterious fellowship comprehends also a reciprocity of mutual interests.(3) The fellowship of believers with the Father and the Son consists, moreover, in the freedom of mutual intercourse.

III. THE SUBJECT MAY SUGGEST SEVERAL PRACTICAL TOPICS OF REFLECTION.

1. If we are partakers of this sacred fellowship, we need not regret the absence of those opportunities of seeing and hearing the incarnate Saviour which St. John enjoyed.

2. Nor must it be forgotten that this fellowship must be a personal and individual experience,

3. It is further worthy of remark, that this fellowship has an assimilating effect on those who partake of it.

4. Nor must the happiness of this Divine fellowship be forgotten. Trials may depress the natural spirits; but the soul which maintains fellowship with the Father and the Son shall rejoice in the Lord, and that joy shall be its strength.

(J. Hill, M. A.)

We ought to speak out the messages given us for others. God puts something into the heart of every one of His creatures that He would have that creature utter. He puts into the star a message of light, and you look up into the heavens at night, and it tells you its secret. Who knows what a benediction a star may be to the weary traveller who finds his way by it, or to the sick man lying by his window, and in his sleeplessness looking up at the glimmering point of light in the calm, deep heavens? God gives to a flower a mission of beauty and sweetness, and for its brief life it tells out its message to all who can read it. Wordsworth says:

"To me the meanest flower that blooms can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."Especially does God give to every human soul a message to deliver...Each friend of Christ living close to Him learns something from Him and of Him which no one has learned before, which he is to forthtell to the world.

(J. R. Miller, D. D.)

Before the Australian goldfields were opened a party of experts were sent to explore the district. They made their survey, and sent in their report that gold would be found. But somehow nobody was greatly interested. Some time after some lads came from the Bush to Melbourne with some lumps of yellow ore in their pockets. "Why," said those to whom they showed it, "that's gold; where did you get it from?" "Oh," said they, "there's plenty of it up our Way." Next morning everyone who could was off to the diggings. As witnesses to Christ our lives must show we have the "nuggets."

(The Railway Signal.)

Proctor's Gems of Thought.
A report of a report, says Manton, is a cold thing and of small value; but of a report what we have witnessed and experienced ourselves comes warmly upon men's hearts. So a mere formal description, observes Spurgeon, of faith and its blessings falls flat on the ear; but when a sincere believer tells of his own experience of the Lord's faithfulness, it has a great charm about it. We like to hear the narrative of a journey from the traveller himself. In a court of law they will have no hearsay evidence. "Tell us," says the judge, "not what your neighbour said, but what you saw yourself." Personal evidence of the power of grace has a wonderfully convincing force upon the conscience. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me," is better argument than all the Butler's Analogies that will ever be written, good as they are in their place.

(Proctor's Gems of Thought.)

The validity of such an argument lies on the surface. It is useless to tell the famishing wanderer that the pool into which he has dipped his cup is but a mirage of the desert, when the refreshing fluid is already moistening his parched lips.

(J. Watson, M. A.)

The pictures of struggling poverty which enriched the early writings of Dickens with such freshness of original humour and quite unstudied pathos, and which gave them such sudden popularity, he had witnessed when he lived in Bayham Street, Camden Town. They came with all the dewy novelty of one who had seen every detail continually and could wondrously reproduce it.

(W. M. Statham.)

The knowledge of Christ is the basis of fellowship. If, like the apostle Paul, we can say, "It hath pleased God to reveal His Son in me," we will, after his example, "assay to join ourselves to the disciples."

I. IT IS THE BELIEVER'S PRIVILEGE TO HAVE "FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER." He has been enabled to behold God in the light of a Father, and to cherish towards Him the feelings of a child. And herein consists the essence of the fellowship which he maintains with Him. As a child has near access to his father, so has he to God. This privilege, and the grounds of it, are set forth with peculiar richness in the Divine word (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22). These gracious words and powerful arguments are put into our mouth by God Himself, that we may approach Him with all the confidence of children. As a child enjoys the assurance of his father's favour, so has the believer that of God. He knows he is sinful and unworthy, but he believes that in Christ "he has redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." As a child cherishes the love which he bears to his father, so does the believer toward God. He feels the force of that irresistible appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20, 21). He must say, "We love Him because He first loved us." In a word, the believer is exhorted, "delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." And this is the height of the fellowship to which he should aspire — to be able to say, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Let it not be forgotten, too, that it is a duty as well as a privilege to maintain it, and there are many ways in which it may be done. We should have fellowship with God in His works. So had David when he said (Psalm 8:3, 4). How blessed to look on all the works of nature, and say, "My Father made them all." We should more particularly seek to hold fellowship with God in His Word. His will is more plainly revealed there, as well as His character and government. We may have similar fellowship in the ordinances of grace. In them we may pray (Psalm 106:4, 5). It would be alike our duty and wisdom to say with the Psalmist (Psalm 27:4). So also should we see and hear Him in the dispensations of His providence. Whatever they may be, joyous or sorrowful, we should recognise their author and learn their lessons.

II. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE BELIEVER "WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST." In the text this is pointedly distinguished from that which has been already considered. Nor is it difficult to perceive the reason of the distinction. Fellowship with the Father can be held only through Christ. He has said expressly, "I am the Way — no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." On the other hand fellowship with the Son is direct. The reason is that He has taken our nature, and converses with us in it. He was in the beginning with the Father. He is therefore possessed of all Divine perfections. His wisdom is unerring, His power almighty, and His love infinite. This is the Being who came to us in the capacity of a Saviour. Again He is described in His humanity. He was seen, heard, and handled. He assumed that humanity for the very purpose of qualifying Him to be the Saviour of men. He has felt all that man can feel. He has the sympathy of a brother. Especially He endured all the sorrows of humanity. He suffered from poverty, neglect, reproach, injustice, and cruelty. He agonised under mental grief, as well as bodily tortures. He was tried by temptations the most harassing and powerful. Well, therefore, does He understand our trials. Not merely, however, is He described in His deity to encourage our confidence, and in His humanity to assure us of His sympathy, but in His office also as "the Word of Life," He has "eternal life" as the Saviour of men. It is His to dispense it to sinners. He says to all who believe in Him, "Because I live ye shall live also." Surely if we are encouraged to have fellowship with the Father, we may be specially encouraged to maintain it with His Son Jesus Christ. There is everything in Him to invite us to cultivate it.

III. THE FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS WITH ONE ANOTHER. If we have fellowship with the Father, then we are His children, and are animated by their spirit. If we have fellowship with Jesus Christ, then we are His redeemed ones, and the subjects of His grace. It follows, therefore, as a necessary consequence, that wherever there is fellowship with the Father and the Son, there must also be fellowship with those who believe in them. What, then, is the fellowship of believers? Let the apostle Paul reply (Ephesians 4:4-6). The communion arising out of such unity must be universal, and pervading throughout all who are bound by it. They are one in Christ Jesus, and we just name some of the forms in which their fellowship will appear.

1. They have a community of nature. They are all "partakers of the Divine nature," and obey its impulses. Their tastes and habits are therefore alike heavenly.

2. They have a community of views. They can all say, "To them that believe Christ is precious," "the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely."

3. They have communion in feelings. Loving Christ, they love one another (1 John 5:1).

4. They have communion in joy and sorrow (1 Corinthians 12:26). As it is with the members of the body, so it is in the church.

5. They have communion in the kind offices of brotherly love (1 Corinthians 12:21).

6. They have fellowship in the progress of true religion.

7. They have fellowship in the prospects of heaven and eternity (1 Peter 1:3).It ought to be the aim of believers to cultivate such fellowship as this. There are many reasons to enforce it.

1. One is their own good (Psalm 133).

2. Another is the advancement of religion on the earth. Jesus prayed (John 17:21).

3. And to these let it be added, that it is vain to speak of fellowship with the Father and the Son if we have not fellowship with one another. Wherever one of these is they must all be. They are inseparable. They will all be found, too, in an equal measure.

(James Morgan, D. D.)

I. THE PRIVILEGE.

1. A peculiar state of blessedness, in relation to God, described by Paul, as "this grace wherein we stand" (Romans 5:2). This is the true "kingdom of God on earth" — a restoration to the knowledge, favour, and image of God, not perfectly, but really and extensively. 'Tis the state of men elevated above all low, earthly, and grovelling desires; maintaining sweet and sanctifying intercourse with God, as their Father in Christ.

2. The means of its realisation.

II. THE MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP ESSENTIALLY INVOLVED IN THIS FELLOWSHIP.

1. One holy brotherhood is established among all saints. The various characters of their several occupations, the diversity of their mental capabilities, the distance of their several residences, and other circumstances, preclude continual and intimate intercourse. But while even on earth it is not wholly so, and might be much less so than it is, all these circumstances of earth shall, in the future state, be wholly unknown.

2. A prevailing sympathy actually subsists among all the true followers of Christ; differing indeed in intensity, but real, and, if healthy and Scriptural, rising above the narrow and temporary distinctions which obtain among men.

III. THE DUTIES DEVOLVING ON CHRISTIANS AS BRETHREN IN CHRIST.

1. The cultivation of brotherly love is obvious and paramount. A oneness of experience creates mutual interest in all by whom such experience is shared. Their feelings, as they resemble our own, encourage our hope and strengthen our faith.

2. The cultivation of mutual intercourse is an obvious and natural obligation devolving on all the brethren.(1) As individuals. All should remember the beautiful and imperative law of heaven, "Be courteous."(2) Social intercourse, too, will not be disregarded.

3. Mutual aid is obligatory, and this both in temporal and spiritual matters.

4. Mutual supervision is also incumbent on Christians with the view of preventing, or reclaiming from spiritual delusion.

(J. Richard.)

If two of us know one thing we are thus far in fellowship, and this may be and often is the closest tie which can bind men together for good or evil. We see this if we think of two men knowing of a crime, or of the hiding place of a treasure. The bond, too, is strong just as the thing known is great. Here the tie which makes us one with the apostles is the knowledge that life has come into our dead world, and that this life may be ours. No knowledge can be of greater value to us than this. To share it, is the closest bond that can join us to each other, for all Who have it are therefore among the living and not with the dead (John 17:3). To know, then, what St. John knew is to have life as he had it: it is to know God, in so far as we can know Him, as God knows Himself, to have no false thoughts of Him, and thus to have fellowship with Him, in clearly seeing that He is holy and just, but also that He is full of love and of boundless pity. This knowledge, once gained, brings with it a joy, which St. John tells us we share with all those who have that knowledge.

(C. Watson, D. D.)

Thus the final and highest positive end which St. John aimed to attain by his gospel was this, that the high priestly prayer of Jesus (John 17:21) should have its fulfilment in his readers; that they(1) should grow as living members into that fellowship, the mother-stem and centre of which was the disciples themselves — into that fellowship the members of which among themselves were one, but the common unity of which(2) has its internal ground of life in the unity in which every individual stands with the Father and the Son. It is obvious, accordingly, that the two members of this final statement of the design do not simply stand side by side in external conjunction, but are most internally and livingly one. The latter specifies the internal living ground and principle of life, on which the former grows, and on which alone it can be brought to perfection.

(J. H. A. Ebrard.)

Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ
1. Union. This is the basis of communion. Believers are united to the Father and the Son, and the Father and the Son to them.

2. Community.(1) Of enjoyments. The Lord is ours, and we are His.(2) Community of affections. The Lord and His saints have the same affections, running in the same channel, fixed on the same objects.(3) A community of interest. The Lord and saints have the same ends, the same friends and enemies.(4) Community of privileges. It is His privilege to be omnipotent, and the saint Paul glories that he can do all things, Christ strengthening him. It is the Lord's privilege to be omniscient, yet He vouchsafes some shadow of this to us, when He promiseth the Spirit shall lead us into all truth (1 John 2:20). It is His privilege to be all-sufficient. And what does He promise less to us, when He assures us we shall want no good thing? (2 Corinthians 9:8). And as we partake of the privileges of the Father, so also of the Son. He is king, priest, and prophet, and so are we. Again, Christ is the Son of God, and so are we. What honour is this! (1 John 3:1). Christ is the heir of all things, and we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Christ is the object of His Father's love, and so are we (Leviticus 26:11). Christ is the glory of God, the brightness of His glory, and we are the glory of God (Psalm 11:10). Christ is a judge, and so are we (1 Corinthians 6:2, 3).

3. Familiar converse.(1) The Lord visits us, and we visit Him (Revelation 3:20).(2) A saint walks with God, and God with him; so He promises (2 Corinthians 6:16; Leviticus 26:12; Isaiah 43:2). The familiarity of this walking is held forth in this expression (Psalm 73:23).(3) The Lord talks with us, and we with Him; He speaks to us by His Word, by His providence, by the sweet whisperings of the Holy Ghost — that still voice comforts, directs, encourages.(4) The Lord feasts the saints, and they feast Him (Isaiah 25:6). And what is that which the Lord counts a feast? (Isaiah 57:15).Use

1. If believers have communion with the Father and the Son, then unbelievers hath communion with the devil and his angels.Use

2. An exhortation to get this fellowship, and continue it.

(1)It is most for God's glory.

(2)It is best for us.

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)

Men are formed for society. To social enjoyments religion is no enemy. On the contrary, it sanctifies friendship, and renders it subservient for promoting our best interests. No society among men can be compared with the fellowship which every genuine believer enjoys "with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." This, in so far as it is enjoyed, is a source of pure and exalted happiness. Its pleasures are not accompanied with the alloy of disappointment. The strong asseveration "truly," here used, points out the importance and certainty of what is affirmed. The men of the world are apt to call in question the reality of such an intercourse. In this, however, they are much mistaken. The pleasures which the saints enjoy are the genuine pleasures of life, and the only enjoyments that deserve that name.

I. THE NATURE OF THAT FELLOWSHIP WHICH BELIEVERS HAVE WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

1. Union to His person is part of that fellowship which believers have with the Lord Jesus Christ. So long as they continue in their natural state, dead in trespasses and sins, they can have no fellowship with Jesus.

2. Reciprocal communion is included in the fellowship which believers have with Christ. There is nothing that can be properly called His in which they have not an interest, nor are they possessed of anything which He does not consider as His own. Are they men? He too has assumed the human nature. Is He God? They also, in consequence of His Spirit dwelling in them, are in some measure "made partakers of the Divine nature." Their poverty is His, and His riches are theirs. If they bear His reproach, they share also in His honour; if they be conformed unto His death, they have also a part in His resurrection.

3. The fellowship with Christ which believers enjoy includes in it every species of friendly and familiar intercourse.

4. The last thing included in the fellowship believers have with Christ is an interchange of good offices. To Him they are indebted for all the blessings they possess, and for all that they hope to enjoy. Their health, their strength, their time, their talents, their substance, and their influence, when they act in character, are all employed to promote the interest of His kingdom in the world.

II. SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES WHICH BELIEVERS DERIVE FROM THEIR, FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST.

1. In consequence of this fellowship, they have the best instruction.(1) The wonders He reveals.(2) He opens their dark under standings, removes their unfounded prejudices, and enables them to embrace redeeming truth in all its beauty and simplicity.

2. This fellowship is a source of the most refined delight. They walk in the light of His countenance, in the joy of heaven.

3. The fellowship of believers with Christ is a source of the highest honour. All His companions are "kings and priests unto God"; more honourable than the most exalted among men.

4. Believers derive many great and precious benefits from fellowship with Christ.

5. This fellowship is in every respect a source of the most exalted happiness.Lessons:

1. See and admire the condescension and kindness of the Son of God.

2. Let believers learn to esteem and rejoice in this precious privilege.

3. From this subject let believers learn their duty. This will be found always to correspond, in some measure, to the privileges they enjoy.

(G. Campbell.)

I. Fellowship with God implies CONVERSE WITH HIM. Who does not feel the charm of those hours which are spent in the society of a friend? Of our converse with God, a prominent example is the ordinance of prayer.

II. The fellowship implies in it RESEMBLANCE TO GOD. In confidential intercourse there must be agreement on the great principles of human conduct. The fellowship also which we have with God implies, as indispensable for its first formation, a desire to resemble Him. The perfections of the Divine nature are offered to our imitation with softened glory in the character of Jesus Christ.

III. This fellowship implies a PARTICIPATION IN ALL THE FULNESS OF THE DIVINE BOUNTY. Every noble purpose, every generous resolution that man can form, is given by the inspiration of the Highest. If, then, He hath enabled human friendship to think thus disinterestedly, and to act thus nobly, much more will He manifest the riches of His own love toward those whom He honours in fellowship with Himself. "We are filled," saith the apostle, "with all the fulness of God."

(A. Brunton, D. D.)

Do the saints above enjoy a most intimate fellowship or communion with God and His Son? Saints on earth enjoy fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

I. ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS ENJOY A KIND OF FELLOWSHIP OR COMMUNION WITH GOD AND CHRIST, TO WHICH MANKIND ARE, IN THEIR NATURAL STATE, TOTAL STRANGERS. The High and Holy One, who inhabits eternity, condescends to dwell with those who are of a humble and contrite spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite ones. The inspired writers invariably use the strongest language when they would show the intimate union which subsists between Christ and His Church. He is the Shepherd, and they the sheep; He is the Vine, and they are the branches; He is the Head, and they are His members; He is the Soul, and they are the body.

II. WHAT THIS COMMUNION IMPLIES AND IN WHAT IT CONSISTS. The original word, which is here rendered fellowship, and which is elsewhere rendered communion, signifies that reciprocal intercourse, or communion, which subsists between beings who are partakers of the same nature, whose moral characters are similar, and who mutually know and esteem each other. It is an observation no less just than common, that like rejoices in like, and where there is no likeness there can be no communion. Thus, for instance, there can be no communion between the inhabitants of the water and those of the air; for what is life to the one is death to the other. But, on the other hand, when persons meet who resemble each other in temper, character, age, and situation, who love and hate the same things, and pursue and avoid the same objects, they readily unite, like drops of dew when brought into contact, and appear to compose but one soul in different bodies. Similitude, similarity of nature, of character and pursuits, must therefore be the basis of all true fellowship or communion. Hence it appears that no creatures can enjoy communion with God and His Son but those who are partakers of His Divine nature, who resemble Him in their moral character, and who love, hate, and pursue those things which are respectively the objects of His love, hatred, and pursuit.

1. Christians enjoy communion with God in the works of creation. They contemplate the universe as a temple in which the Most High sits enthroned; as a body, of which God is in a certain sense the soul; and as we love the bodies of our friends for the sake of the souls which inhabit them, as we are peculiarly pleased with the works of our friends for the sake of the hands which formed them, so Christians are ineffably pleased and delighted with the great work of creation, because it was formed and is filled by their Father and their God.

2. The Christian enjoys communion with God in all the dispensations of His providence.

3. The Christian enjoys communion with God in His Word, read and preached.

4. Christians enjoy communion with God and His Son in the public exercises of religious worship.

5. Christians enjoy communion with God and Christ in the exercise of private meditation, prayer and praise. As children, they have liberty of access to God at all times.

(E. Payson, D. D.)

I. THE DECLARATION EXPRESSED IN MY TEXT, which contains the whole subject of the apostles' ministry. Beyond which they could not go. Nor could greater things be expressed. Our apostle, using the plural number, shows that the whole testimony borne by all the apostles, was one and the same. It was one and the same gospel in each of their mouths. The communion they had with Him they made known. The declaration which they made of this, was to saints. Not to others. No. "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you." Who are holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling. A most noble instance of spiritual generosity. Worthy of imitation by the servants and ministers of Christ in every age. To utter forth the memory of His great goodness. They cannot but act thus, if they have conversed with Him, if they have heard Him.

II. THE END AND DESIGN OF THE APOSTLE IN THIS. "That ye also may have fellowship with us." Church fellowship, which is the communion of saints, is an inexpressible blessing. It consists in imparting to each other an account of what the Lord hath done for our souls. We have fellowship with each other in the same Spirit; with the same Christ; in the same salvation; with the same God and Father; in the same ordinances. We are one family to the Lord. I conceive we may distinguish the real fellowship the apostles had with Christ from what other saints have. They were favoured with personal converses with Christ. They received their knowledge of Him, more immediately and intuitively, from the Holy Spirit. In consequence of which their faith was more simple. All other saints, and we with them, receive the grace of faith and the subject of faith from the written word. That is the glass, and the ordinance of worship, in which we behold the Lord. There was an absolute necessity it should be thus with them. They were to speak and write on every article of faith, and state the same as exactly as it was stated in the mind and will of God.

III. THOSE WITH WHOM THE APOSTLES HAD FELLOWSHIP. In the first place, the apostle speaks in a very positive manner, and asserts, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Communion with God — it must be the supreme cornerstone of Christianity. I would here ask, what is communion with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ? The answer is this. It is an unity of mind. So as for God to let in Himself upon our minds, as to give us such apprehensions of His love, as afford us a real, spiritual knowledge of and acquaintance with the same, so as for us to partake of the reality thereof (John 14:20). There is a variety of unions in which Christ and His Church are related to each other. There is first an election union, which is that comprehensive one by which Christ and His Church were united together from everlasting. He the Head, and they His members. On this followed a marriage union. Christ and His Bride were set up in heaven from eternity (Proverbs 8:30, 31). There is also a representative union between Christ and the Elect. He represented them and acted for them, as their Head and Surety, in the everlasting covenant. This He gave full evidence of in the fulness of time, when He came into our world, and became thereby one with His people (Hebrews 2:11-14). There is also a grace union. Mr. Joseph Hussey says, "There are three unions in Christ, suited to the three operations of the three persons in God. I mean three unions of God's children, and all of them before faith, viz., election union, representation union, and regeneration union. Out of all these ariseth a fourth union, which is a union with Christ, distinct from union in Christ; this consists in union and cleaving to Him by faith." There is also a glory union (John 17:22, 23). This glory union will break forth upon the Church in her resurrection state. Now in consequence of all these unions, there is a proportional communion with all the Persons in Godhead, in the Person of Christ, with the Church.

IV. THE TRUTH AND REALITY OF THIS, WHICH IS THUS CONFIRMED. "And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Communion with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells personally in the saints, is a most glorious mystery of grace. Nature cannot apprehend it. Sense must have nothing to do with it. None can have the least conception of the nature, the importance, the excellency, the blessedness of the same, but such as are born from above. No. Nor these either, but as enlightened, inspired, and supernaturally lifted up into the true knowledge and enjoyment of the same. Spiritual life is a great mystery, the whole essence of which consists in communion with God. The Father is He with whom we have this communion. The God-Man is the Mediator of all our union and communion with God. The more, therefore, we eye Him, and have our hearts drawn out after Him, and fixed on Him as our centre, so we the more clearly understand the grace of fellowship with God.

(S. E. Pierce.)

I. THIS COMMUNION PRESUPPOSES MUCH. It takes for granted that the suspicions and doubts which by nature encompass us have been removed by the work of the Spirit.

II. THE WAYS IN WHICH WE HAVE THIS FELLOWSHIP ARE INNUMMERABLE. "In the silence of the individual heart, in the secrecy of the closet, in the social circle where the brethren meet for prayer, in the churches, etc.

III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS FELLOWSHIP ARE BLESSED AND SATISFACTORY IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE. Sin becomes more and more hateful: the world loses its charm over us, and the flesh its power.

(H. W. Graham.)

I. First, let us see if it be not so, that we have had, and do have real FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. Now we have had fellowship with the Father.

1. In order to have fellowship with any man there must be a concord of heart. "Can two walk together unless they be agreed?"

2. Again, we have fellowship with God in the object for which the purpose was first formed, namely, His own glory. The highest aspiration of our spirit, when it is most enlarged, is that He in all things may be glorified.

3. And have we not fellowship with Him in the plan by which He effects that purpose? Does it not strike you as being the wisest, the most gracious, the most glorious scheme that could have been devised?

4. And I think we may add, we have fellowship with God in the most prominent characteristics of that plan. Throughout the whole way of salvation you have seen displayed the justice and the mercy of God, each with undimmed lustre. You have seen His grace in forgiving the sinner, but you have seen His holiness in avenging sin upon the substitute. You have seen His truthfulness acting in two ways; His truth in threatening — by no means sparing the guilty; His truth in the promise — "passing by transgression, iniquity, and sin." And do not you and I feel we have fellowship with God in this?

5. We have a most Divine and precious communion with the Father in the objects of His love. When two persons love the same thing, their affection becomes a tie between them. Now, there is a tie between God the Father and our souls, for did not He say, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"? And cannot you and I add, "Yes, He is our beloved Saviour, in whom we are well pleased"?

6. But the word "fellowship" not only signifies concord of heart, but it implies a carrying out of that concord a little further, in converse or mutual communication. Furthermore, we can say we have had fellowship with God in this respect, that the very thing which is His happiness has been our happiness. That which has been the delight of His Holy Being has been a delight to us. "And what is that?" say you. Why, doth not God delight in holiness, in goodness, in mercy, and in loving kindness, and has not that been our delight too?

7. And so, also, that which is the Father's employment is our employment. He doeth good to all His creatures, and we can do good also. He beareth witness to His Son Jesus, and we can bear witness too. "The Father worketh hitherto" that His Son may be glorified, and we work too. O thou Eternal Worker! it is thine to save souls, and we are co-workers with Thee. And now I must affirm the fact, that we have fellowship with the Son as well as with the Father. In both these matters we are like little children that have begun to speak or learn their letters. We have not yet attained, though I say we have fellowship with the Father; yet how little we have of it compared with what we hope to have! Well, now we have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, I think we can say, for our hearts are united to Him. "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee." At any rate, it is strange that I should never be happy without Thee, it is singular that I can find no peace anywhere but in Thee. If I did not love Thee, should I have such longings after Thee? Further, we have had some small degree of fellowship with Him in His sufferings. We have not yet "resisted unto blood striving against sin," but we have carried His cross, and we have suffered His reproach. But our fellowship has assumed also a practical form, in that the same desires and aspirations which were in Christ when He was on the earth are in us now. Oh! we have uttered feelingly the very words of Christ, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" And when there seemed to be some insuperable obstacle in the path of our usefulness, we have nevertheless said, "My meat and my drink is to do the will of Him that sent me." And yet, further, as I have said, fellowship requires converse. Oh! ye daughters of Jerusalem, have we not had converse with Him?

II. There is, secondly, AN AFFECTIONATE DESIRE, LEADING TO APPROPRIATE EFFORT.

1. This affectionate desire is that others might have fellowship with us. Having tasted that the Lord is gracious, it is one of the first instincts of the newborn nature to send us out crying, "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," etc. We wish to gather up all in one, that in everything which is lovely and of good repute, in everything which is happy, ennobling, Divine, and everlasting, you might be made partakers and have fellowship with us!

2. And this desire leads the child of God to make use of an appropriate effort, and what is that? It is to tell to others what he has seen and what he has beard.

(C. H. Spurgeon.).

I. THE NATURE OF THIS FELLOWSHIP.

1. Partnership, a sharing with another in anything, the possessing of it in common with him. In this sense we have all fellowship one with another; as Englishmen we participate together in the many blessings a bountiful Providence has showered down on our native land. In this sense the merchant too has fellowship with his partners in business — he has the same interests with them, he shares with them in the same gains and losses. Now transfer this idea to the text. What a lofty declaration does it in one moment become! There is a fellowship, it tells us, between the great God and us, a partnership, a sharing together of the same things. And what things are these? There is no limit to this partnership, except that which our finite nature makes on the one hand, and that which His holy nature makes on the other. He sends His Spirit down into our hearts to regenerate them; and then not to leave our hearts, but to dwell and rule in them. We are raised in the scale of being or soon shall be, we know not how high, nearer to God than any other creatures, and made more like Him. And with His nature He gives us an interest in all His glorious perfections. Not only are His mercy and love ours, we may look on His wisdom, and power, and greatness, as ours. They are all pledged for our everlasting happiness.

2. It signifies intercourse, converse, and a free and familiar converse. We make known our thoughts and feelings one to another by outward signs, chiefly by words. We have no other way of making them known. But suppose anyone to possess the power of looking into our hearts, and seeing every thought there as it rises up, and this whether he is present with us or not, then words and outward signs would not be needed; we could speak to him within our own minds, and he would understand us better than anyone besides, more readily and fully. Now God does possess this power, and the Christian knows that He possesses it; and he acts like one who knows it. This fellowship consists, on his part, in the turning of his soul to God, in a habit he has acquired of speaking within himself to God, just as another man speaks by outward expressions to his neighbour or friend.

3. And these two things are never separated. There can be no real communion between Him and us till we are spiritually united to Him, and this union with Him is never real without leading at once to this intercourse and communion. And for both these things we are indebted altogether to the Lord Jesus Christ. In His human nature He stands nearer to us than His Father, and His Father has ordained Him to be the one great Mediator between Himself and us. "Through Him we have access to the Father."

II. THE ENDS THIS APOSTLE HAS IN VIEW, IN SPEAKING TO US SO ASSUREDLY OF HIS POSSESSING THIS BLESSED FELLOWSHIP.

1. That we may desire to have our portion with him and the real followers of our Lord. And what a stamp of dignity this puts on the disciples of Christ and their condition!

2. That his fellow believers in Christ may be happier in Him. He thinks first of those who are far off from Christ. "We tell you," he says, "of this happy fellowship to bring you to desire it;" and then he turns round to those who are already near Christ, and says, "We tell you of it, that your joy may be full."

3. To save us from self-deception. Almost in the same sentence in which he tells us that we have fellowship with Christ, he warns us against thinking it ours while we have fellowship with sin. "God is light," he says, "and in Him is no darkness," etc. "And is there nothing in this text," some of you may say, "for us who long for a share in this heavenly fellowship and cannot obtain it?" Yes, there is. It bids you dismiss from your minds the thought that you cannot obtain it. Why are you told of it?

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

I. THE KNOWLEDGE. "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you;" that which we have seen and heard of the "Word of life"; "the Life"; which "was manifested"; "that Eternal Life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (vers. 1, 2). These names and descriptions of the Son undoubtedly refer, in the first instance, to His eternal relation to the Father; of whose nature He is the image, of whose will He is the expression, of whose life He is the partner and the communicator. But this eternal relation — what He is to the Father from everlasting — must be viewed now in connection with what He is as He dwells among us on the earth. It is "the man Christ Jesus" who is the "manifested life." In the midst of all the conditions of our death this life is thus manifested. For He who is the life takes our death. Not otherwise could "that eternal life which was with the Father be manifested unto us." For we are dead. If it were not so, what need would there be of a new manifestation of life to us? So He who is "the eternal life which was with the Father" is "manifested to us" as "destroying this death." He destroys it in the only way in which it can be destroyed righteously, and therefore thoroughly: by taking it upon Himself, bearing it for us in our stead, dying the very death which we have most justly deserved and incurred. So He gives clear and certain assurance that this death of ours need not stand in the way of our having the life of God manifested to us — and that too in even a higher sense and to higher ends than it was or could be manifested to man at first.

II. THE COMMUNICATED FELLOWSHIP — "that ye may have fellowship with us."

1. The object of this fellowship is the Father and the Son. As Christ is the way, the true and living way, to the Father, so fellowship with Him as such must evidently be preparatory to fellowship with the Father. But it is not thus that Christ is here represented. He is not put before the Father as the way to the Father, fellowship with whom is the means, leading to fellowship with the Father as the end. He is associated with the Father. Together, in their mutual relation to one another and their mutual mind or heart to one another, they constitute the one object of this fellowship.

2. The nature of the fellowship can be truly known only by experience.(1) It implies intelligence and insight. No man naturally has it; no man naturally cares to have it.(2) There must be faith, personal, appropriating, and assured faith, in order that the intelligence, the insight, may be quickened by a vivid sense of real personal interest and concern.(3) This fellowship is of a transforming, conforming, assimilating character. In it you become actually partakers with the Father and the Son in nature and in counsel.(4) It is a fellowship of sympathy. Being of one mind, in this partnership, with the Father and the Son, you are of one heart too.(5) The fellowship is one of joy. Intelligence, faith, conformity of mind, sympathy of heart, all culminate in joy; joy in God; entering into the joy of the Lord.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

I. THE BELIEVER'S FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD IS AN ACTUAL AND LITERAL THING, an unfigurative fact, a reality; it is not an idea, an imagination merely, Between God and the believer there is an intercourse of spirit, an interchange of spiritual thought, a community of spiritual feeling, actual, though unseen; a communication on the one hand, and a reception on the other, of positive spiritual influences, comforting, strengthening, and purifying. The mode of this spiritual intercourse we do not profess to describe. But our inability to do this affords no presumption against the fact. We know not even how our own spirits operate upon each other; much less, therefore, how the Divine spirit acts upon ours. Nor do we profess to demonstrate even the fact of this fellowship by any sensible evidence or logical proof; it is a matter of pure consciousness, concerning which we can only testify.

II. WHEREIN DOES THIS FELLOWSHIP CONSIST? The most prominent idea of "fellowship" is that of mutual sympathy, reciprocal affection. Yea, just in proportion to the affection of the one party will fellowship be disabled, and anguish increased, by the apathy of the other. In order to be fellowship there must be interchange — a reciprocity of thought and affection. Nothing can constitute fellowship but this: nothing can compensate for the lack of it: not even the most familiar knowledge of God. Take the man who knows Him best, who has come nearest to God in the sense of understanding His works and ways; if he have no love for God, however minute and accurate his knowledge, he has no fellowship with Him. To give then a practical application to this thought, you see the great and only requirement for your individual fellowship with God. You cannot doubt affection on His part, and therefore the only necessity is a reciprocal love on yours. Would you but love God, an instant and intimate fellowship with Him might even now commence.

III. ON WHAT GROUNDS MUST SUCH FELLOWSHIP OF SINNERS WITH A HOLY GOD PROCEED? Will the holy God advance to sinful man? or must sinful man advance to the holy God? In other words, must God compromise His holiness and accommodate it to the moral degeneracy of man? or must man abandon his sinfulness and render fellowship possible by a conformity to the holiness of God? and in either case, how is the common character and sympathy to be produced? And here we point to the Saviour's mediation as the indispensable means of our fellowship with God. "In Him we have access with confidence through the faith of Him." And it is easy to see how, through Him, this fellowship is rendered possible. Before there can be fellowship there must be peace, reconciliation. But how is this to be accomplished? "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself." But still the question returns, How shall man have fellowship with God? Here is reconciliation and pardon; but there must also be congruity of disposition; a reciprocal affection; a common sympathy. Here then is the remedy, the Holy Spirit renews our moral nature, gives us new principles and new dispositions, the possession of which assimilates us to God, and thus enables communion with Him.

IV. HOW IS IT TO BE CULTIVATED? We see that all preventing hindrances have been removed, now point out the appropriating means. It is evident that all our intercourse with God must be by faith; we have no sensible vision of Him; we come into no palpable contact with Him; He is the invisible, the spiritual God. Faith therefore is the only faculty by which we can recognise Him and lay hold upon Him — "the life that we live in the flesh is a life of faith in the Son of God." We believe, and through our faith we realise, the thoughts and feelings which conscious presence produces and which constitute fellowship; fellowship is nothing more than the interchange of thoughts and feelings; and that which produces them, which makes the intercourse real, which distinguishes it from mere imagination or sentiment, is faith. But while the holy feelings which constitute fellowship with God are exclusively dependent upon faith, they are capable of various excitements. To produce these is the purpose of the various means of grace. Constituted as we are, we are peculiarly susceptible of sensible impressions; and the means of grace are intended to aid or to occasion holy thoughts, by appealing to our senses. We have the Bible to supply by its teachings material for our communion with God. It is the record which furnishes all our ideas of God, and which faith believes, and by believing which gratitude and love are excited.

V. THE ADVANTAGES AND ISSUE OF THIS FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD.

1. Perhaps the most obvious is the promotion of holy affections. It is the peculiar characteristic and glory of Christianity that it provides for the right adjustment and balancing of our feelings. The emotions excited by its truths and privileges are alike removed from fanaticism on the one hand, and from indifference on the other. And this cannot be said of other religious systems. The believer's fellowship, while it is the intimate intercourse of the most endeared friendship, is not a rude familiarity. The solemn and subduing sense of God is inseparable from it. It alone exhibits the compatibility of the profoundest reverence and the most trusting confidence; it is reverence, but without dread — it is confidence, but without familiarity — it is awe, but without coldness — it is warmth, but without freedom.

2. Fellowship with God will tend to soothe our anxieties, and to inspire our confidence in the arrangements of His providence. Fellowship implies mutual confidence, and it necessarily ceases when we begin to distrust. Again: Fellowship supposes sympathy, interest in our well-being, and, assured of this, we can communicate our sorrows and unburden our hearts; and who can tell the inestimable advantage of this?

3. Fellowship with God is a most eminent and essential preparative for heaven. It is in part an anticipation of its blessedness: and who shall say that without such foretaste of heaven the soul, new burst from its mortality, would not be dazzled and overpowered by it?

(H. Allon, D. D.)

Is this not too good to be true? Is it not exaggerated? Is it possible for a man to have heaven with him while on earth, and, amid the bustle and cares of life, to realise close communion with God? I can understand how, in times of deep sorrow, something of true fellowship may be enjoyed, in answer to the heart's need. The sound of the tempest may make a man take shelter in the cleft of the rock. But this constant communion, this realisation at all times, this living in God, many of you cannot see how it can be compassed. How, you ask again, can such fellowship be continued in the outer world, when one is distracted by a thousand cares? Perhaps an illustration or two will help us to understand how fellowship with God is not only possible, but a Christian necessity. Think of the public speaker. In order to impress his audience with his subject, many processes are carried on within his mind while he is speaking: memory in recalling, abstraction in arranging, judgment in delivering; yet not for a moment does he let go his argument, not for a moment does he forget his audience, and if he is a skilful orator, he adapts his words to the effect he is producing. Now, what the presence of an audience is to the speaker, is there any extravagance in supposing the presence of God may be to a believer? With our whole heart in our business, we may yet be conscious of the presence of Him who knows our every thought and sees our every action, so that all we do may be influenced by Him. The working man, toiling for his family, often has them in his thoughts, and, instead of being a hindrance to his work, his thoughts help him to ply his task the busier. The servant may always have the remembrance of his master in his mind, even though that master is not present. So thoughts of God may run like golden threads through the web of our life. It is a good thing at times to force ourselves, as it were, to think of God's presence. When we are about to enter on a duty let us pray that we may do this duty as unto God, and say, Lord, direct us; and as we join in some innocent pleasure, say, Lord, let me use this, as not abusing it. Even our commonest work will then have something of God in it, the outcome of dwelling in Him and working with Him. Believing in a loving Saviour, you will come in time to give Him the strong attachment of personal friendship, and amid the shifting scenes of life will but grasp His arm the closer.

(J. C. Lees, D. D.)

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