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This Chapter is full of Exhortations, in proposing to the Church, as an Object of unceasing Love, the Lord Jesus Christ; the People are tenderly invited to follow the Lord in the Regeneration.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (3) For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: (4) Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (5) Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. (6) For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (7) But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (8) And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (9) Use hospitality one to another without grudging. (10) As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (11) If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Certainly there are no arguments, in a way of persuasion, equal to those, which are drawn from the view of the love of Christ to his Church; and especially as manifested towards the Church in Christ's sufferings and death. And when God the Holy Ghost sweetly blends his grace with his word, the child of God, cannot but feel the persuasiveness of it, on his soul. We have in this Chapter, some very blessed directions of the Holy Ghost, to this amount. And, Reader! why may we not hope, that He who so affectionately recommends, will as effectually give his blessing; and work in us both to will, and to do, of his good pleasure?
And, perhaps of all the arguments, within the compass of these verses, there is not one which comes home to the soul, of the regenerated with more endearedness, than that of Christ having suffered for us in the flesh, that we no longer should live to ourselves, but to him. Jesus having all fulness, emptied himself for his people. And when redemption work was finished, and he returned to glory, yet will he now not consider himself again filled, until the whole purposes of his sufferings and death be answered. If it could be supposed possible for one of Christ's little ones to remain behind, in the ruins of this world, Jesus could not consider himself completely blessed without him. He must have his members by tale and number. The flocks must all pass under the hand of him that telleth them, Jeremiah 33:13 . Reader! what think you of being armed with the same mind. Can we be content without Christ? Will a fulness of the creature, a fulness of ordinances, a full house, a full table, yea heaven itself, and Jesus not there, would these satisfy?
I detain the Reader no longer over these verses, (for they are all too plain to need a comment,) than just to observe, how blessedly the direction is given, for the ministering to God's glory, by all the redeemed, whether private believers or public preachers, when they are called upon to do it, according to the ability which God giveth. And the reason is, because God must give in to his people grace, before that they can give out to Him praise. But when the heart is turned in all its chords, with God's love, then, and not before, the true melody of the soul will vibrate on every string. The soul wound up to praise, is in perfect harmony with the numberless chants of old saints, and finds Christ, and enjoys Christ in every one. I will love thee, he will say, O Lord my strength. I will extol thee my God and King. I will bless thy Name forever and ever. If the Reader would desire hymns to this purpose, the Bible is full of them, Exodus 15:11 ; Psalms 18:0 ; Psalms 41:13 ; Isaiah 25:1 ; Psalms 104:33-34 . On the subject of covering a multitude of sins, see James 5:20 and Commentary.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (14) If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. (16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. (17) For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (18) And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (19) Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
It is probable the Apostle had in view the ruin of Jerusalem when he thus spake; which, according to our Lord's prophecy concerning it, was then drawing nigh, and which was afterwards most awfully accomplished. All that is here said of their being reproached for Christ, and the time being come of judgment, beginning at Jerusalem, in the temple, that is, the house of God, literally took place. But the directions will, in a greater or lesser degree, suit the Church of Christ in all ages. And our holy faith hath the sweetest, and most complete consolations in Jesus himself, for the support of all his people. I do not think it necessary in this place to go over them again, or to offer any other. But I shall beg to dwell upon one of the Apostles observations in this paragraph, which, perhaps may not be so generally understood, but which may be profitable, under grace to regard.
The Apostle, having stated some of the very trying exercises which he foresaw would take place in the Church, and among the Lord's people, observes, that if such be the chastisements of God on his redeemed, which were all to sanctify, and not to expiate; he demands, in a solemn manner, what must be the awful destruction of the despisers of the Gospel, on whom these punishments would fall in a way of judgment, unmingled with mercy? For, saith he, And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? It is this passage I would beg the Reader to indulge me with offering a few observations upon.
In the Proverbs of Solomon, we find somewhat similar, in a comparative statement, of the godly, and the irreligious; from whence, it is probable, the Apostle might take the expression. Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; much more the wicked and the sinner, Proverbs 11:31 . If both were recompensed according to their deserts, and without an eye to Christ, sad would be the best of them. But in our apprehension of these words by the Apostle, we must interpret them by the standard of scripture; comparing, as the Holy Ghost saith, spiritual things with spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:13 .
When it is said, if the righteous scarcely be saved; by which, if meant the righteous in Christ, (and no other can be meant, because salvation is in no other: Acts 4:12 .) it is not intended to say, that any doubt, or fear, can arise concerning their salvation, as to the certainty of it. For the scripture uniformly assert, from beginning to end, the glory and security of that Everlasting Covenant, which is ordered in all things and sure. And Israel is said to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, and shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end, Isaiah 45:17 . Neither is it intended to convey the least idea, as if the Church of Christ, or any individual of the Church, was in so critical a situation, that he doth but just escape, and, as Job saith, with the skin of his teeth, Job 19:20 . For such is the fulness, greatness, and almightiness of the salvation, as it is in Christ, that there is a redundancy of merit in it, which never can be fully recompensed to the Church of Jesus, so as to say, there is no more to receive, and it is now fully paid; no, not to all eternity. And, such is the finished salvation the Lord Jesus hath wrought out, and brought in, and which is to all, and upon all that believe; that neither sin nor Satan, neither law nor justice, neither death, hell, nor the grave, neither the world that now is, or that which is to come, can bring a single charge against God's elect; for it is Christ that hath died, and it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? Romans 8:0 .
What then did the Apostle mean? Surely he meant to shew the preciousness of the salvation. None but Christ could save them. And Christ not without blood. Had Christ not undertaken it, there was none other. And is it not very properly called the righteous scarcely saved; when it be considered, that had Jesus declined it, had Jesus put the cup of trembling from him instead of drinking it to the dregs, had the apprehension of the load of sin, the cataracts of his Father's indignation, and the vials of his Father's wrath, the fiery darts of Satan, and the baseness of his people's ingratitude; had these kept the Son of God from his purpose, our souls must have been kept from redemption; and, therefore, the Holy Ghost graciously reminds us of the, preciousness of Christ, and his love, in the scarcity of a redemption, which none but himself could accomplish!
Reader! ponder well the subject, and then echo to the question, the trembling question of the Apostle, and which none can answer: where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Oh! hear ye this, all ye that forget God; lest he pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you?
The Chapter closeth very sweetly and blessedly. To commit the keeping of the soul to God, in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator, is an act of great faith and grace, and none but the Almighty Author of both, can enable the child of God so to do. It not only relates, to a dying hour, but every living hour, and especially the trying hour. The Apostle is evidently alluding to the fiery trial, and the time of persecution be had just before spoken of, when judgment would begin at the house of God. But it suits all times and seasons; and all cases of the Lord s people. And, I pray the Reader to notice the peculiarity of the title given to the Lord, of a faithful Creator, as the ground of sure confidence, for the safe committing the soul into his Almighty hand. A faithful Creator! What! is God as Creator, called upon to be faithful? Did not man, by transgression, forfeit, all the promises made at his original creation? Yes! most certainly he did. But the Apostle is looking to God, in the character of a faithful God, on the new creation in Christ Jesus; and here he holds God to his faithfulness, in Covenant-promises in Christ Jesus. See, Reader! the strength of the argument, on this most sure ground. And it is not in my view, the smallest beauty and blessedness of this scripture, that God, in His threefold character of Person, is fully engaged by this glorious name, of a faithful Creator, to the fulfillment of all his Covenant-promises. God the Father justly claims he glory of creation, Isaiah 42:5 . God the Son hath the same glorious work ascribed to him; for without him was not anything made that was made, John 1:3 . And God the Holy Ghost was equally engaged in the old creation, when Jehovah, by the Word the Lord, made the heavens, and all the host of them, by the Breath, or Spirit of his mouth, Psalms 33:6 . And, in the new creation, it is God the Holy Ghost; by regeneration, that quickens the souls of the people, which were before dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 .Very blessedly, therefore, both in life and death, in times of comfort, or times of persecution, all the regenerated of the Lord may contemplate this Covenant-God; and commit their souls into him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator..
Be faithful followers of Jesus! what can arm you for the fight, and holy warfare equal to constant, firm, unshaken views of Jesus, and his unequalled sufferings? And look forward to the sure, and the not very distant hour, when you will cease from suffering, and forever cease from sin! Enough of transgression hath indeed marked our lives while we were in a state of unregeneracy. Oh! that the days to come may be marked with grace, for the end of all things is it hand; and, therefore, may we always be seeking strength from the Lord, to wait on the Lord, and to watch in prayer.
Precious Jesus! do thou prepare all thy redeemed for every fiery trial, and for every conflict. Thy presence will make even the wilderness and the solitary place to blossom as the rose. And, oh! the blessedness of reproach, when it is truly for thy sake. But do thou, Lord, keep all thy little ones from everything of evil, which might bring reproach on thy blessed cause. Let there be no temptation to dishonesty suffered to prevail over thy people, and still less to cruelty and evil doing. But to all the unjust sufferings of thy redeemed, may we learn to glorify God on this behalf. And oh! blessed Lord, grant all thy martyrs, like Stephen, to die in the full enjoyment of faith, and in and through thee, to commit their souls into thy hands, as unto a faithful Creator!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13