“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And, if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”—1 John 2:1.
When our Saviour ascended up on high, his disciples, who were looking steadfastly toward heaven after him, were thus accosted by the angels, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” It might seem, by this language, that whatever our Lord might do for us in the intermediate period, it was not for us to be made acquainted with it. And it has been suggested that we are ignorant not only of “the place where he resides, but of the occupations in which he is engaged.”† There is, indeed, nothing revealed on these subjects to gratify curiosity; but much to satisfy faith. If we know not God, we may be expected to think lightly of sin, and meanly of the Saviour; and if, in consequence of this, we disown his atonement, and perceive no need of his intercession and advocateship with the Father, there will be nothing surprising in it. With such a state of mind we might have lived at the time when “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory,” and have been no more interested by any of these events than were the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation. But if we entertain just sentiments of the moral character and government of God, we shall perceive the evil of sin and the need of a Divine Saviour, shall consider his atonement as the only ground of a sinner’s hope, and his intercession and advocateship with the Father as necessary to our being saved to the uttermost.
To satisfy ourselves that such were the sentiments of the apostles, it is sufficient candidly to read their writings. If their authority be rejected, so it must be; but it is vain to attempt to disguise their meaning. And, before we reject their authority, it will be well to consider the force of their testimony concerning themselves and their doctrine: “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.” They were either what they professed to be, or presumptuous impostors; and what they said of hearing their doctrine as a test of being of God was either true, or they were false witnesses of God; and, as all that we know of Christ is from their writings and those of the evangelists, if theirs be false witness, Christianity itself has nothing to authenticate it.
“My little children,” said the venerable apostle, “these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” This is the bearing of all my writings, as well as of all my other labours. Yet, while I warn you against sin, knowing that there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not, let me remind you that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Such is the doctrine of the apostle, an antidote both to presumption and despair.
Excerpt from: “Christianity the Antidote to Presumption and Despair,” Sermon XXIV in Sermons and Sketches.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 321–322). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.