The apostle, having mentioned keeping the commandments, and pleasing God, as the qualification of effectual petitioners in and with Heaven, here suitably proceeds,
I. To represent to us what those commandments primarily and summarily are; they are comprehended in this double one: And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment, 1 John 3:23. To believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ is, 1. To discern what he is, according to his name, to have an intellectual view of his person and office, as the Son of God, and the anointed Saviour of the world. That every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, John 6:40. 2. To approve him in judgment and conscience, in conviction and consciousness of our case, as one wisely and wonderfully prepared and adapted for the whole work of eternal salvation. 3. To consent to him, and acquiesce in him, as our Redeemer and recoverer unto God. 4. To trust to him, and rely upon him, for the full and final discharge of his saving office. Those that know thy name will put their trust in thee, Ps. 9:10. I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day, 2 Tim. 1:12. This faith is a needful requisite to those who would be prevalent petitioners with God, because it is by the Son that we must come to the Father; through his grace and righteousness our persons must be accepted or ingratiated with the Father (Eph. 1:6), through his purchase all our desired blessings must come, and through his intercession our prayers must be heard and answered. This is the first part of the commandment that must be observed by acceptable worshippers; the second is that we love one another, as he gave us commandment, 1 John 3:23. The command of Christ should be continually before our eyes. Christian love must possess our soul when we go to God in prayer. To this end we must remember that our Lord obliges us, (1.) To forgive those who offend us (Matt. 6:14), and, (2.) To reconcile ourselves to those whom we have offended, Matt. 5:23, 24. As good-will to men was proclaimed from heaven, so good-will to men, and particularly to the brethren, must be carried in the hearts of those who go to God and heaven.
II. To represent to us the blessedness of obedience to these commands. The obedient enjoy communion with God: And he that keepeth his commandments, and particularly those of faith and love, dwelleth in him, and he in him, 1 John 3:24. We dwell in God by a happy relation to him, and spiritual union with him, through his Son, and by a holy converse with him; and God dwells in us by his word, and our faith fixed on him, and by the operations of his Spirit. Then there occurs the trial of his divine inhabitation: And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (1 John 3:24), by the sacred disposition and frame of soul that he hath conferred upon us, which being a spirit of faith in God and Christ, and of love to God and man, appears to be of God.