It is first observable, that whereas St. John began his gospel with a description of Christ's divinity, as God, he begins his epistle with a demonstration of the truth of his human nature, as man; for the certainty of which he appeals to the judgement of sense, because the senses, when rightly circumstantiated, are the proper judges of all sensible objects;
Accordingly St. John here, to show the certainty of Christ's incarnation, and manifestation in the flesh, brings in three of the five senses, to wit, hearing,seeing,feeling, to bear witness to it, the latter still carrying a stronger testimony than the former; to see is more than to hear; to feel is more than to see: That which we have heard, which we have seen, which we have handled.
Observe farther, That to make the testimony yet more strong, St. John adds two words more, by way of confirmation,
1. That which we have looked upon; now this is more than to see; to see may be but a transient sudden act, but to look upon is a fixed and deliberate act, and usually a pleasing and delightful act; we looked upon him as the rarest object, as the desire and the delight of our eyes.
2. It is added, as the surest ground of certainty, that their hands had handled the Word of life; as they daily conversed with Christ, so they handled and touched him, both before his resurrection and after it; so that from hence we may remark, that God has given us the highest and fullest assurances, that can be desired, of his Son's manifestation in our flesh, and appearing in our nature; he was heard and seen, looked upon, and handled, by those that conversed with him, which are evident demonstrations of the truth of the human nature assumed by him.
Observe farther, That our apostle takes notice of Christ's divine nature, as well as asserts the reality of his human nature; he styles him the Word; the Word of life, and the Word which was from the beginning; in the beginning, when all things received their being, then the Word was, and did actually subsist, even from all eternity.
Learn hence, That Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, not only antecedent to his incarnation, but even before all time, and the beginning of all things, had an actual being and subsistence. I was set up from everlasting, then was I by him as one brought up with him; Pro_8:23 Thus was this Jesus, in whom we trust, both God and man, having two distinct natures in one person.