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The Apostle opens his Epistle in a short Salutation of the Church, and immediately enters upon the blessed Subject of Regeneration. He dwells upon the glorious Manifestation made to him in the Mount of Transfiguration; and concludes the Chapter, in declaring of God the Spirit's speaking by Holy Men of old.
2 Peter 1:1
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:"
There are two great points to be attended to, in the very opening of this Epistle, and which are contained in this verse; namely, first, of the Persons to whom this Epistle is sent; to them that have obtained like precious faith with the Apostles. And, secondly, the great object of that faith; God, and our Savior Jesus Christ of the former, nothing can be more plain and evident, than that this faith is the faith of God's elect; Titus 1:1 . which is the one, and only faith, both of Apostles and Prophets, and the whole church of God; and, consequently, this whole Epistle is directed to no other. And of the latter, it is equally plain and evident, that God and our Savior here spoken of, is Christ, the great object of faith; for his righteousness can be the only righteousness for the church to lean upon, and trust in. And Reader! think what a glorious object of faith, Christ is and what a righteousness for the Church to obtain, through the free gift and sovereign grace of God? Oh be it my portion to go forth, in the church here below, and when called upon to enter into the eternity above, to cry out with him of old; I will o in the strength of the Lord God. I will make mention of thy righteousness even thine only. Psalms 71:16 .
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
I stay not to observe in this place, the very sweet manner with which Peter, as well as the rest of the Apostles, address the Church, in their prayers and benedictions, for grace and peace. But having, more or less, called the Reader's attention to this, in every preceding Epistle, it will be the less necessary in this place, to add any further remarks. But I very earnestly intreat the Reader, to attend with me, to what the Holy Ghost by the Apostle, hath here so blessedly set forth, concerning the work of regeneration. The first call of grace, by God the Spirit is here expressly said to make, the highly favored objects of this divine love, partakers of the divine nature; and with that, of all things that pertain unto life and godliness. Reader! pause over the marvellous account; and when you have pondered it well, mark down in the memorandums of your inmost soul, the several vast blessings, as far as present apprehension can trace them, of what are included in this unspeakable gift of God.
It is God the Holy Ghost, by his quickening and regenerating grace, in giving spiritual life, to the dead in trespasses and sins, which brings the child of God, into the first discovery of God the Father's electing love; or God, the Son's betrothing and redeeming, grace. For although the everlasting love of God the Father, had been running in streams of grace from all eternity; yet, as a river underground, the blessed properties of it were neither known, nor seen, nor regarded, until at regeneration, God the Holy Ghost opened the eye of the child of God, to see the original, and eternal purpose of God the Father, in choosing the Church in Christ, before the foundation of the world; and in predestinating the Church in Christ, to the adoption of children. Ephesians 1:4-5 . And never till this blessed period, when God the Holy Ghost brought forth the child of God, in the new birth of grace, had the poor sinner any apprehensions, either of the Person of Christ, or of his betrothing love, or redeeming mercy. But, as the Apostle Paul expresseth it, in his Epistle to Titus; after that, the kindness and love of God, our Savoir toward men appeared; not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on, us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; that we, being justified by his grace, should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 .
I pray the Reader, not only to pause over the contemplation of this vast mercy; but, day by day, to ponder it again and again, in his walk of faith through life. Oh! the unspeakable grace, when called from darkness to light; and from the power of sin and Satan, unto the living God.
Now I beg the Reader to observe, with me, how sweetly the Holy Ghost, by the Apostle, hath marked the gracious effects, which arise out of regeneration. Before this great work of the new-birth is wrought, there is not a spiritual mercy we can claim; no, nor even know. As it was in the old creation of nature, darkness was upon the face of the deep, before the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, let there be light: Genesis 1:2-3 . so, in the new creation of grace, it is all darkness upon the face of our mind, until that God, that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory, of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 . But, when this is accomplished, the new-born soul, is brought into all the privileges of his heirship. Pardon, mercy, and peace, instantly follow. He is justified freely. Christ is then seen, and known, and enjoyed, (at least there is the new birth-title to all,) as made of God to his people, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30 . Hence the Apostle, speaks so blessedly in this Chapter, to them that have obtained like precious faith; they are according to his divine power, even God the Spirit, who communicates the blessings from his quickening life, imparted to them, made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world, through lust. And not only so but they have all things given to them, that pertain to life and godliness, And they are called to glory and virtue. And there are given unto them, exceeding great and precious promises. And hence, all those additions the Apostle speaks of, and which are the natural effects and consequences resulting from this one first cause, namely, regeneration, must and will appear. The child of God, by this first quickening life, from God the Holy Ghost; and by the daily renewings of God the Holy Ghost, keeping alive the grace he first imparted, will add to his faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kinkiness, charity. But, Reader! remember, these are the fruits and effects of justification; and not in the least degree contributing, as a part cause, to our justification. The Apostle saith, that being by regeneration, made partakers of the divine nature, and thereby having escaped the corruption, that is in the world, through lust; we have all things given unto us, that pertain to life and godliness. Hence, what is God's gift, cannot be brought into any account of man's merit. And, therefore, when the Apostle adds, giving all diligence, to add unto faith, virtue, and the like; these are considered, as so many fruits and evidences of our new-birth character. And the consequence will be, that if these things be in the Lord's people, and they abound in them, they themselves, will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mark the Apostle's expression! Believers shall not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ. He doth not say, that their aboundings wilt be recommendations to God; much less, so many party causes, in the promoting their salvation; That salvation is all along considered wholly in Christ. And their regeneration, by which they are made partakers of the divine nature, is wholly from God the Spirit, So that all that is here said of virtue, and brotherly kindness, and the like, are spoken of, but as effects, arising out of the first glorious cause, and only so many precious testimonies of the renewed life. And therefore, the man that lacketh these things, lacketh the sweet tokens of his Christian character, and can give no proof of a work of grace in regeneration, having passed in his heart.
I have been the more particular upon this point, than I should otherwise have been; had I not known, that men are apt to make great errors herein. I wished therefore to state, and place these important truths, on their own proper basis. Faith and all graces, are no party cause of salvation. They are fruits, and not the root, effects not causes. Salvation is wholly of Christ. Not a work wrought in us, but for us. And our new-birth, the blessed consequence of having been given by the Father to the Son, before the foundation of the world; redeemed by the Son, in the time-state of our Adam-nature from the fall; and therefore quickened by the Holy Ghost, for the everlasting enjoyment of God, in grace here, and glory forever. All spiritual pride, all pharisaical righteousness, all supposed merit in ourselves, these things are done away, in those precious views of our, mercies, and our salvation from end to end, is hereby known and enjoyed as the whole of grace; not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 .
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (11) For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
These are very sweet verses. And they contain a most salutary direction, When a Child of God can prove his calling, he thereby fully proves at the same time, his election. For it is an infallible truth of scripture, For whom he did predestinate, them he also called. Romans 8:30 . And every new-born child of God is himself a living witness of being called. But having already, very largely dwelt upon both election and calling, in this Poor Man's Commentary. I have only to refer the Reader, to the same. Romans 8:30 , and 1 Thessalonians 1:4 , with the notes on both.
"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. (13) Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; (14) Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. (15) Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. (16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."
What a delightful portrait is here drawn of the Apostle? What a firmness of mind, in the prospect of his approaching death. He knew, that he should end his days by martyrdom. See John 21:18-19 . But Peter knew also, the sure ground upon which he stood. See 2 Peter 3:12-14 . And every child of God by regeneration, is sure of the same. 2 Corinthians 5:5 . But, what I beg the Reader more particularly to remark, in the Apostle is, the refreshing views he had of the manifestation Christ made to him, in the Holy Mount. The glories of Christ's Person, which he then saw, and his own personal interest in Christ, came with a full tide of remembrance, upon his mind, in the view of his. death, and gave him holy triumph. Reader! it is so with all the people of God, Bethel visits, once made by the Lord, refresh all the after stages of life. Jacob when a-dying, remembered this. Genesis 28:11 to the end, with Genesis 48:0 throughout. Moses also had his soul refreshed, when he called to mind, his first view of God in Christ at the bush. Exodus 3:0 :with Deuteronomy 33:16 , But over and above these, let the Reader particularly attend to the evident design of God the Holy Ghost, in thus appointing Peter, to leave this blessed testimony, as his dying testimony, foe every regenerated child of God to be refreshed with. Here are no cunningly devised fables: no arts, no folly of human philosophy, What Peter records is the relation of himself and companions, who were eye-witnesses of Christ's majesty. Reader! let you and I attend to his relation.
And first. What I would beg the Reader to observe, is the Apostle's account of this solemn and glorious scene, in the Mount. He expressly saith, that it was the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that he, and his companions, were eye witnesses of his majesty. Hence it will undeniably follow, that it was the personal glory of the God-Man mediator, Christ Jesus. Not the essential glory of JEHOVAH, in his threefold character of Person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For no man hath seen God at any time. John 1:18 . But the Personal glory of Christ, as God-Man Mediator. And which the voice that came to Christ, from the excellent glory, confirmed. This voice, both proved indeed, Christ to be God, and no less at the same time, the God-Man Mediator. It proved Christ's Godhead, for God cannot find an object of complacency, but in himself: Hence, Christ is One with the Father, over all, God, blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:5 . And it proved Christ to be the Mediator; for this account of him, as his beloved Son, corresponded to the Lord's proclamation of Him, by the Prophet, when he called him his servant, and his elect, in whom his soul delighteth. Isaiah 42:1 . Let the Reader duly ponder these things, in one point together; and then let him attend to another view in this most blessed scene, as God the Holy Ghost hath represented it.
Secondly. Several days before this transfiguration of Christ took place, the Lord Jesus prepared the minds of his disciples, to expect some glorious manifestation of himself. These were the Lord's own words Verily, I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. Mark 9:1 ; Luke 9:27 . Now, nothing can be more plain, than that these words of Jesus referred to some striking, though transient views, of the glories of his kingdom; in which he will appear, when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all that believe. 2 Thessalonians 1:10 . Jesus intended it as a glimpse, a fore-view of his personal glory, in the great day of his kingdom. And, that the Apostles considered it the same, is equally evident, in that Peter calls it, the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think, Reader, what a sweet pledge and earnest this was to the disciples, of the sure coming of our Lord? And, how blessedly did the Apostles feel it then; and by them, in the record of the Holy Ghost, how blessedly hath it wrought ever since, and will work, in the fullest confirmation to our faith, on this great point, to endless generations?
Thirdly. Let us, under the light of scripture, consider, what this glory of Christ was, which the Apostles saw, and which Peter calls being eye-witnesses of his majesty. I have before said, it could not be the essential glory of the Godhead, for God is invisible. But, it is most evident, that it was the Godhead, shedding some beams of glory, and brightness, in Christ's human nature. Not a mere outward glory, shining upon the person of Christ, but the Godhead, shining forth from within. The glory of his divine nature, manifested through the medium of his human, and both forming in one glorious person, Christ. Paul, under the Holy Ghost, hath blessedly expressed it, when he saith, In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:9 . Such, Peter saw. James did not live long enough to give his testimony, being soon cut off, after the return of Christ to heaven, and the descent of the Holy Ghost. Acts 12:1-2 John's account is in exact correspondence with Peter's. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory; the glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 . And Paul, to whom Christ spake from heaven, and manifested forth his glory at the time saith, that it was above the brightness of the sun, Acts 28:31 . Indeed, it made him blind for three days. Hence, then, it must follow, that this manifestation of Christ, at this time, in the Mount, was his glorified body; and such as He will appear in at the last day, when the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; that is, both shall blush, and be eclipsed, at the superior glory of Christ, God and Man in one person; when, the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients, gloriously Isaiah 24:23 .
Lastly. That I may not trespass. As this manifestation of the personal glory of Christ was evidently designed for the comfort and joy, not only of those highly favored Apostles, to whom the Lord granted this great blessing, but for the consolation of the Church of God, in all ages; so the Lord's bringing from the dead (or from heaven, it is the same thing,) those two men, Moses and Elias, to be with Jesus at the time, as plainly proved, that when Christ shall come, at the last day, to his kingdom, all his redeemed shall be with him, Christ's personal glory is, and ever must be, personal; that is, perfectly incommunicable in its very nature. But, there is a glory in that upper world, which is communicable from Christ, as Head, to his body, his members; precisely the same as grace in this lower world is communicable, and Jesus is forever communicating it to them all, according to the measure of the gift of Christ. So, then, this glorious transaction in the Mount, was plainly intended by our Lord, as a foretaste of that glory of Christ's person, in which he shall one day appear, and all his redeemed shall appear with him in glory. Well might the remembrance of it refresh the dying saint, in the opening prospect then before him. And, Why not refresh all the faithful, in the sure testimony here given, since God the Holy Ghost hath so graciously caused it to be recorded, as the departing consolation of the Apostle to the Church. Lord! make it very blessedly so to my soul!
If I detain the Reader any longer on this sweet passage, it shall only be to offer one or two thoughts which arise out of it, for our great encouragement and comfort. And the first, and highest of all thoughts, must be, to notice, and always keep in remembrance, the love and grace which Jesus manifested to all his Church, by this act. It was, in effect, saying, that if, before these my servants taste of death, I will give them a glimpse of my personal glory, that in them all my people, may have a fore-taste of the blessedness they shall all be brought to hereafter. Moses and Elias, shall come out of the other World, by way of shewing them, that all gone before of mine, as well as all that are yet to come, are alike-interested in it. Precious Lord Jesus! was this the love of thine heart? And is this the manner of men, O Lord God!
Secondly. Let the Church of the faithful here learn, from Peter, that we do not follow cunningly devised fables. We know the power, and coming also, of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are now witnesses, heart-witnesses of his majesty, and the sovereignty of his grace, and shortly shall be eye-witnesses of his glory. Oh! the blessedness of regeneration, which brings with it the earnest of the Spirit.
Thirdly. Let the Church seek for grace, everlastingly to keep in remembrance this precious testimony of our Christ's own personal glory, It is Christ's person, which is the great object of our faith. All our high hopes of everlasting happiness and joy are centered in Him. He is our hope our joy, our confidence. And, if we are witnesses now to the power and coming of his grace, we shall in due time be witnesses of his divine presence, in glory. Beloved! saith John, (and every new-born child of God may say the same,) now are we the sons of God. And it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:9 .
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
It appears to me to be a great beauty in the plan of this scripture. The Apostle had opened the Chapter, in giving glory to the Holy Ghost, concerning his great work of regeneration, . He then adverted to the glory of the Son of God as manifested in the Transfiguration of Christ's own personal glory, anti his people's interest in him. He next called the Church to the contemplation of God the Father's testimony to his dear Son. And now, in conclusion, he calls upon the Church once more, to God the Holy Ghost, as the Founder of the Church, and the Almighty Minister in the Church, in the appointment of all the means of grace, by his holy word, his ordinances; and his whole train of prophecy, Reader! what an evidence here is, at once, both of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, his Person, his Agency, his Almighty Sovereignty, and the divine authority of his Word? Hence we learn, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. Oh! with what veneration is the Church called upon to receive the prophecies of God. And, while we bless God for all that is fulfilled, to be on the look-out, with humble, faithful watching, for all that remains to be fulfilled. Methinks, I would say for myself, whenever I open at any time the Scripture prophecies, these are not the Words of men, but what they have delivered here, is as 'they were moved by the Holy Ghost!
Blessed and Holy Lord God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Praised be our Covenant God in Christ, for his unspeakable gift. What everlasting love, adoration, and praise, do thy people owe thee, O Father of mercies, and God of all grace, for having chose the Church in Christ, before the world! And thee, no less, thou glorious Son of God, for having taken thy Church into union with thyself, when the Lord possessed thee, in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old; and for redeeming thy Church from the Adam-fall of ruin, in which, in this time-state, she was involved. And thee, with equal love and praise, O thou eternal Spirit, for thy gracious act of regeneration, in quickening the Church, in every individual of her members, whereby alone each child of God is brought into an apprehension of the Father's love, the Son's grace, and the Spirit's fellowship. Blessed, forever blessed be God.
And we specially praise thee, dearest Jesus, for thy mercies to all thy Church, in this grace of thine to the Apostles, in the Mount of Transfiguration. It was surely for thy Church, in all ages, as well as for their personal comfort, so glorious a display of thy glory was vouchsafed. God, our Father, be praised, for the precious testimony then given to thy Son-ship. And God the Holy Ghost, in causing Peter, with his dying testimony, to bless the Church once more in the relation. And now, O Lord, may thy Church, and especially in the present awful day, be blessed of our God, with-grace to receive and treasure up so sweet a record of the glory of our risen and exalted Savior. Oh! Lord, continually make known to all thy members in grace, thy power and coming. Make known to us, in the blessed prophecies of our God, and in all the ordinances of his house of prayer, this power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! to be heart-witnesses of Christ's majesty here on earth, till we come to be eye-witnesses of his majesty in heaven. Amen!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34