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In this Chapter the Apostle--closeth his Epistle, and a beautiful Close he maketh of it. He foretells of the last Days being marked with Scoffers. He assureth the Church of the Certainty of the Lord's coming, and the Suddenness of it; and ends all in giving Glory to Christ.
"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (2) That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: (3) Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, (4) And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (5) For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (6) Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (7) But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
If there were no other authority than what the opening of this Chapter affords, in testimony, that the Apostle Peter is the inspired writer of it; this would be enough. For it proves, first, that he had written a former Epistle; secondly, that it was to the same persons to whom he sent his first, and in both which he calls them beloved; and, thirdly, he tells them, that the object of both was one and the same, to stir up their-minds to remembrance. And his adverting both to the Prophets of the Old Testament, and to himself and his brother Apostles under the New, shews what a beautiful harmony is in both.
Reader! it is worthy your observation, how much the Apostle's mind was directed by the Holy Ghost, to admonish the Church of the latter-day heresy, and of heretics. Scufflers are very awful characters. And nothing can more pointedly manifest the bitterness of the heart. The scoffing of men is, in human nature, in correspondence to the hissing of the serpent in his. The devil is the author of both. But we have not simply the sneer, but the contemptuous language of the enemy to contend with. Where is the promise of his coming? Alluding to what Jesus said before his departure. John 14:3 . And so blind, and given up to a deluded mind, are such men; that God's Covenant with the earth, which he made after the destruction by the flood, and which the Lotto frequently alludes to, in confirmation of his Covenant of grace, they pervert to the very reverse of the Lord's intention. Every man upon earth is this day a living testimony of the former. Genesis 8:21-22 . And God makes this an argument for the belief of the latter. See Jeremiah 31:35-36 . with Genesis 9:11-15 .
But what I more particularly desire the Reader to notice, in confirmation of this Covenant m Christ, as all along shadowed forth, under every dispensation, and more especially in this of Noah is, that the Holy Ghost, by Peter, refers to it in this very scripture. He expressly declares, that this ark, in which Noah and his family were saved, represented Christ, while the Patriarch and his household represented the Church. And however inattentively regarded by men, and though, according to philosophers, the rainbow may be accounted for on physical principles, yet God, from the first, designed, it as a token of his Covenant. And every child of God ought to regard it as such, upon every renewed occasion, when that beautiful arch is seen by him in the heavens. God saith, that he will took upon it, and remember his everlasting Covenant, and so ought all his people, Genesis 9:11-16 . And it is a further inducement for the child of God so to do, not only to bear him up against all the sin and folly of scoffers, but to lead his heart on to the contemplation of Jesus, whom that bow represents, The New Testament Church, in, and through, the ministry of the beloved Apostle, is invited to behold that Rainbow which John saw round about the throne, meaning Christ, Revelation 4:3 . And this representation of Jesus was intended to teach, that as it encircled the throne, so that no dispensations can issue from the throne but what must pass through it, neither can any manifestations of God, in all the departments of nature, providence, grace, or glory, come forth, but in, and through Christ. Yea, all the views of Jehovah, with which he beholds his Church, must be in, and through Him. Reader! what a thought is this to refresh the soul of the regenerated child of God, not only against the blasts of ungodly-scoffers, but under all the exercises and trials which the faithful meet.
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
How sweetly the Apostle turns from scoffers, in answering them, in order to comfort the faithful. And what a blessed plan hath he adopted in doing it. The comparative statement of a thousand years, and of a day, is chosen by way of manifesting, that in relation to His Being, and existence, who inhabiteth eternity, all calculations of time lose their very meaning. I AM, which is the Lord's distinguishing name, renders past, present, and future to Him, but as one eternal Now. And it should not be forgotten by his people, that it is the eternity of his nature, and the unchangeableness of his purpose, counsel, will, and pleasure, which gives being and accomplishment to all his promises in Christ. The people or God, therefore, have an everlasting bottom to rest upon, in the assurance both of Christ's coming, and his coming to perform all his gracious intentions to his Church. And so sudden, as well as sure, will be his coming, that that great day, or night, will be to all the earth as unlooked for, and unexpected, as when the midnight thief breaks into the house while men sleep. Alarm will rouse up the whole of the unregenerate world, and those awful events will take place with them all, which in various scriptures are so described. Matthew 24:27 to the end.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (12) Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (13) Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (14) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (15) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (17) Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness."
I beg the Reader not to overlook the tender solicitude of the Apostle, directed by the Holy Ghost, towards the Church. Like the pillar of cloud in the camp of Israel, which became light to God's chosen, and darkness to their foes; so here the great day of God, whichever, for a moment, if thought on, damps all the prosperity of sinners, is, and must be, to every justified child of God in Jesus Christ, a subject of endless and unceasing joy. Reader! I never can say enough to you, (under the presumption that the Lord hath wrought a saving work of grace upon your soul,) on this great point of faith and assurance in the Lord's promise. Depend upon it, Peter could never have said, that he was looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God, had he entertained the least doubt, or been at any uncertainty as. to the issue of his own everlasting happiness in that day. The Apostle knew the certainty of the ground on which he stood. He had already passed from death unto life. He had gone under the sentence of God's holy law, which he had broken. He had found redemption in the blood of the cross, and stood perfectly, freely, and fully justified in the righteousness of Christ, his Head and Surety. Hence, he had long maintained through grace, fellowship, interest, and communion with God in Christ; and he now only waited for that great day of God, when Jesus would confess him before God and men, among all his redeemed in glory. Reader! is it so with you? Peter's privilege was not singular. All Christ's redeemed ones are the same. And every child of God who hath been saved, and called with an holy calling, is supposed to be daily, and hourly, living in the faith and enjoyment of it. Yea, the Church is said to be risen with Christ, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 2:6 . And very sure I am, that it is not only among the triumph's of faith, so to live, and so to walk with God, in full assurance of hope; but it is a duty they owe to God in giving the credit of believing him as God, in accepting and trusting to the record which the Lord hath given of his dear Son. And this is the record, that he hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life. And this, as surely in the life that now is, as in that which is to come. 1 John 5:11-12 ; John 3:36 , Oh! for grace then, that, like Peter, yea, like all the faithful gone before, to be always looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God. And, as the Apostle saith, to be diligent in the use of all the appointed means of grace, that agreeably to our God and Father's original and eternal purpose, who hath chosen us in Christ, we may then be found in Christ, having peace in the blood of his cross, and being washed from sin, and robed in Him, we shall be without spot, and blameless.
And, Reader! what a sweet note on long suffering the Apostle dwells upon. And what child of God, but in his own experience, can, and doth, sing the same. Oh! the long suffering of my God, in the long, long years of my unregeneracy! Was not this salvation and observe also the love of Peter to Paul. How sweetly hath he here endeared Paul's writings to the Church, and how delightfully doth he determine concerning the supposed difficulties in Paul's writings. Hard to be understood, he saith. But by whom? Not by any who are taught of God. None of those who are come to Christ for Jesus saith, that every man who hath heard and learned of the Father cometh to him. John 6:45 . None of those taught of God the Spirit. For John saith, that the regenerate have an anointing from the Spirit, and know all things, 1 John 2:27 . Who then are these, the unlearned, and unstable, spoken of? Namely, the self-taught, the wise, and learned of this world, from whom divine truths are hidden, and who wrest the word of God, yea, all the scriptures to their own destruction. Hence Jesus thanked the Father when upon earth, Matthew 11:25 . And all the faithful thank him now,
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen."
Reader! What is it to grow in grace? Grace is an humbling principle. And what then can a growth in it be, but to be increasing in humbleness. If this growth was formed in any attainment of our own, I fear, that instead of an increase of humility, it would make me proud. Moreover, grace is wholly of God, and not of men. If I grow in grace, it must be growth in the grace, that is in Christ Jesus. As such it is wholly out of myself. Moreover the Lord saith, that in the close of our warfare, we shall remember and be confounded, and never open our mouth anymore because of our shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God! Ezekiel 16:63 , I humbly conceive, therefore, that to grow in grace, is to grow more and more humble before the Lord, from this growth in grace bringing the Lord's people into a deeper acquaintance with the plague of their own heart. Our first discoveries of ourselves, under grace bring us but a little way in our exploring of our own corruption. The Lord doth by us, in the early manifestations of his grace, as he did by Israel when he brought them out of Egypt. It is said, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, lest peradventure, the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. Exodus 13:17-18 . So it should seem, for the most part, the Lord doth by his redeemed now, in bringing them out of the spiritual Egypt of sin and death. If the Lord were to bring us through the land of the Philistines, I mean, in bringing us at once to behold the depths of corruption in our fallen nature, what soul could survive the sight? But by little and little, leading us down, with increasing discoveries, to view the pit of our own corruption; how increasingly precious Christ becomes, in every new insight of our sins, and his mercy. Is not this to grow in grace?
But this, according to my view of this sweet scripture, will appear yet more confirmed, when we connect in our apprehension of it, what the Holy Ghost hath connected with it. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Surely, if by growing in grace, I grow more and more out of love with myself. I shall by that grace in Jesus grow more in love with Jesus. Exactly in the proportion I loath myself for my defilements, shall I love Jesus more for his holiness. As a growth in grace makes me more self-loathing, and self-abhorring, will not my knowledge; of my Lord, and his suitableness to me, render Him more desirable? Suppose Job were to tell the Church about his growth in grace? When were his highest attainments, but when in the view of Christ he lay lower in self-abhorrence than he had ever done before, and cried out in dust and ashes! Job 42:5-6 . Suppose Isaiah were to give in his testimony of his apprehensions of the same subject? When were his thoughts of himself lowest, and of Christ highest? Was it not in that vision, when he cried out, Woe is me, I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips. Mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts! Isaiah 6:5 , Let Daniel, holy Daniel, give his evidence. And when was his growth in grace at the highest pitch, but when he declared his comeliness was, turned into corruption? Daniel 10:8 . When was Paul's? Surely, when after more than twenty years had passed from his conversion, he summed up his account of himself, in saying, that in, him, that is, in his flesh, dwelt no good thing. And, under the weight of it, he made that lamentable cry, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death. Romans 7:18-24 . Reader! let your own heart say, if so be the Lord hath taught your heart, what is a growth in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but, like Paul, to feel daily more and more the plague of the heart, and therefrom to be more humbled in ourselves; while growing in the knowledge of Christ, and his all-sufficiency, to take increasing joy in him, and, with Paul, say, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I shall only detain the Reader one moment longer, to observe, that the short but expressive doxology, with which the Apostle closeth his Epistle, I would recommend the Reader not to pass hastily over, and consider it as so many words of course. Certainly, the sacred writers could never intend such things by such praises. To hallow the Lord's name is the first strain of praise in the Lord's prayer. And the cause wherefore the holy men of old so often burst forth, in the midst of their writings, and at the beginning and end of them is, because their souls, being full of God's glory, their mouths in speaking, and their pens in writing, could not refrain to set it forth. It should be our desire, as it is our privilege, to do the same. Both these great Apostles; Peter and Paul, thus unite in praises to God and the Lamb. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen. Ephesians 3:21 .
Glory be to God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Israel's God in covenant forever and ever! What praises thy people have now to offer, and what praises to all eternity, for thy love to the Church, in Christ! Praises to the Father's love, in his choice of the Church, from everlasting! Praises to the Son's grace, in marrying his Church, and redeeming her from all iniquity to himself; by his blood! And, praises to the Holy Ghost, for his love in regenerating mercy, and all his watchful care over the Church, from grace to glory!
And, Lord, while we praise thee, in thy distinguishing mercy, in founding the Church in Christ, presiding over it as the Almighty Minister, in the appointment of ordinances, and means of grace; and giving the whole scriptures of our God, by inspiration, to make thy people wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus , we find renewed cause to praise thee, O thou eternal Spirit, for raising up this blessed scripture, by the instrumentality of thy servant Peter, to comfort thy Church with those glorious truths herein contained. Yes! most gracious Lord! it was not only meant to refresh the dying Apostle, in bringing to his recollection Christ's glory in the Mount; but the record of it was designed, as it hath often proved, still is proving, and will, to the end of time, be proved a blessed testimony to refresh the souls of thousands! Lord! let it frequently refresh my soul also! And, amidst all the scoffers of the present awful day, let thy people be always on their watch-tower, waiting the Lord's coming. And, in the mean time, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Farewell, Peter, while we bless thy Lord, and our Lord, for thy ministry, we find no less cause to bless the Lord for all the improvements in grace we receive, under divine teaching, for all that is recorded in thine history. The Church of God, in heaven and earth, have profited by it. And, ere long, will all join together in the same song of glory, praise, and power, to God and the Lamb, forevermore. Amen, and Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24