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4Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

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Danger of Antichristian Spirit. (a. d. 80.)

4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.   5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.   6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

In these verses the apostle encourages the disciples against the fear and danger of this seducing antichristian spirit, and that by such methods as these:—1. He assures them of a more divine principle in them: "You are of God, little children, v. 4. You are God's little children. We are of God, v. 6. We are born of God, taught of God, anointed of God, and so secured against infectious fatal delusions. God has his chosen, who shall not be mortally seduced." 2. He gives them hope of victory: "And have overcome them, v. 4. You have hitherto overcome these deceivers and their temptations, and there is good ground of hope that you will do so still, and that upon these two accounts:"—(1.) "There is a strong preserver within you: Because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world, v. 4. The Spirit of God dwells in you, and that Spirit is more mighty than men of devils." It is a great happiness to be under the influence of the Holy Ghost. (2.) "You are not of the same temper with these deceivers. The Spirit of God hath framed your mind for God and heaven; but they are of the world. The spirit that prevails in them leads them to this world; their heart is addicted thereto; they study the pomp, the pleasure, and interest of the world: and therefore speak they of the world; they profess a worldly messiah and saviour; they project a worldly kingdom and dominion; the possessions and treasures of the world would they engross to themselves, forgetting that the true Redeemer's kingdom is not of this world. This worldly design procures them proselytes: The world heareth them, v. 5. They are followed by such as themselves: the world will love its own, and its own will love it. But those are in a fair way to conquer pernicious seductions who have conquered the love of this seducing world." Then, 3. He represents to them that though their company might be the smaller, yet it was the better; they had more divine and holy knowledge: "He that knoweth God heareth us. He who knows the purity and holiness of God, the love and grace of God, the truth and faithfulness of God, the ancient word and prophecies of God, the signals and testimonials of God, must know that he is with us; and he who knows this will attend to us, and abide with us." He that is well furnished with natural religion will the more faithfully cleave to Christianity. He that knoweth God (in his natural and moral excellences, revelations, and works) heareth us, v. 6. As, on the contrary, "He that is not of God heareth not us. He who knows not God regards not us. He that is not born of God (walking according to his natural disposition) walks not with us. The further any are from God (as appears in all ages) the further they are from Christ and his faithful servants; and the more addicted persons are to this world the more remote they are from the spirit of Christianity. Thus you have a distinction between us and others: Hereby know we the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error, v. 6. This doctrine concerning the Saviour's person leading you from the world to God is a signature of the Spirit of truth, in opposition to the spirit of error. The more pure and holy any doctrine is the more likely is it to be of God."