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A WORLDLY LIFE TO BE RELINQUISHED
1 Peter 4:3. The time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles.
THE end of all God’s dispensations towards his people is to promote their advancement in righteousness and true holiness. The Lord Jesus Christ himself “was made perfect through sufferings;” and the afflictions which his people suffer, from whatsoever quarter they arise, are intended “for their profit, to make them partakers of God’s holiness.” The Lord’s people are “ordained to suffer,” in conformity to their Divine Master: and their great concern should be, not so much to get rid of their trials, as to make a due improvement of them, by “ceasing from sin,” and living more entirely to God, and for God. To this purpose the Apostle speaks in the verses before my text; and then adds, that the time past might well suffice to have lived after the manner of the Gentile world, whose ways it became them henceforth determinately to renounce,
From the words before us I shall take occasion to shew,
In what respects we also have wrought the will of the Gentiles—
The unconverted man, whether Jew or Gentile, is cast into the same mould, and, in the main, walks in the same paths. The nominal Christian also has the same views, the same desires, the same pursuits. In some external matters he may differ from the heathen: but in the most essential parts of his conduct he accords with them. He resembles them,
In an utter disregard of God—
[The heathen, of course, cannot regard God, because they know him not, nor are at all acquainted with his will. The nominal Christian has in some little degree the knowledge of his will; but he regards it no more than if he were utterly unacquainted with it. “He professes to know God; but in works he denies him.”
On this subject let me appeal to yourselves. It is, I confess, a heavy charge, to say that you have hitherto “lived like heathens.” But I would put it to your own consciences, and ask, What regard have you shewn for God’s authority? and, What desire have you manifested to obtain his favour? You have had in your very hands the means of knowing his will: you profess to believe that the Scriptures have been given you by him, on purpose to instruct you in the knowledge of him. Have you been thankful for this revelation of his will? Have you studied it with care, for the express purpose of learning how you might please and serve him acceptably? Have you turned away from every thing which his word forbids? Have you followed after every thing which his word enjoins? Have you embraced the whole of it as an infallible record, believing all that it reveals, and expecting with hope and fear the accomplishment of all his promises and all his threats? Have you, in short, “trembled at his word,” as it became you to do? I must further ask, Have you humbled yourselves before him for all your past transgressions? Have you fled for refuge to the hope set before you? Have you washed your souls daily in the blood of the Lamb, even in that fountain which was opened for sin and for uncleanness? Have you cried mightily to God for the gift of his Holy Spirit to sanctify you, and to transform you into the Divine image? Have you surrendered up your souls to God as living sacrifices, and accounted an entire dedication of yourselves to him your reasonable service? If you have not done this, wherein have you differed from the heathen; except indeed, that you have sinned against greater light and knowledge than they, and therefore involved yourselves in deeper guilt and heavier condemnation?]
In a determined prosecution of your own will—
[The character given of the Gentiles is, that “they lived to the lusts of men, and not to the will of God [Note: ver. 2.].” And what have you done? By what standard have you regulated your conduct? and whose will have you consulted? A decent heathen regulates himself according to the standard which the society in which he lives has established. Whatever they approve, he follows: and whatever would degrade him in their estimation, he avoids. And has it not been thus with you also? In whatever line of life you move, have you not conformed to the habits of your associates, accounting every thing innocent which they deemed innocent; and satisfied with yourselves, if you only satisfied them? Amongst the particular habits of the Gentiles, the Apostle enumerates “lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:” and do not these characterize the Christian world also? If we are free from open idolatry, we are guilty of it in our hearts as much as the heathen themselves: for whilst some “make a god of their belly,” and others are addicted to “covetousness, which is idolatry,” we all, in one way or other, “love and serve the creature more than the Creator, who is over all, blessed for ever.” As to all the other evils, it will be well if we have not been guilty even in the outward act: for “lasciviousness and excess of wine” are not such uncommon evils amongst us; but, granting that we have been free as it respects the act, have we abhorred the very thought of such evils, as we ought? Have we not, on the contrary, found pleasure in “revellings and banquetings,” and “such like,” without ever thinking that “they who do such things cannot inherit the kingdom of God [Note: Compare the words following the text with Galatians 5:19-48.5.21.]?” Is it not a notorious fact, that this season of the year, which ought to be in a more especial manner consecrated to holy duties, is devoted to “revelling and banqueting;” precisely as if the Lord Jesus Christ had come unto the world, not to deliver us from sin, but to give us a licence to sin [Note: It would be well if those who speak of a merry Christmas, would inquire what is meant by “revellings, and such like.”]? But, whether we have indulged in these things or not, still the same charge must be reiterated against us; namely, that we have lived to ourselves, and not to God; and have made our own inclinations the rule of our conduct, instead of adhering to his commands. This is “the course of this world;” this is the line of conduct which characterizes without exception “the children of disobedience,” and the vassals of the wicked one [Note: Ephesians 2:2-49.2.3.].
Say now, brethren, whether ye have not “wrought the will of the Gentiles;” or, in other words, whether ye have not lived like “atheists” and heathens [Note: ἄθεοι ἐν κόσμῳ, Ephesians 2:12.]?]
Let me then proceed to shew you,
That the time past may well suffice for such a course as that—
Let me put it to yourselves:
What benefit have you derived from this course hitherto?
[Have you found that the gratifications you have enjoyed have afforded you any solid satisfaction? You “have sown vanity; and what but vanity has been your recompence [Note: Job 15:31.]?” St. Paul puts the question to us; “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed [Note: Romans 6:21.]?” Has not the creature proved, what God forewarned you it would prove, “a broken cistern, that could hold no water?” You are come, I will suppose, to a season of great trouble, or perhaps of sickness and approaching dissolution. Now what consolation have you from all that ever you enjoyed? Can the remembrance of it comfort you? Can it assuage your pains, or administer support under them? Can it pacify a guilty conscience, or take away the sting of death? Can it gild your last scenes, and brighten your prospects in the eternal world? Alas! alas! have you not “spent your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not [Note: Isaiah 55:2.]?” I will even suppose that you have possessed all that Solomon himself possessed, and revelled like him in every species of indulgence: what do you now find it all to be, but “vanity and vexation of spirit?” Is it not “high time, then, that you awake” from your delusions [Note: Romans 13:11.]? After having so long “fed upon ashes, and been turned aside by a deceived heart,” is it not high time that you at last see, that “you have had nothing but a lie in your right hand [Note: Isaiah 44:20.]?”]
What benefit do you expect to derive from it hereafter?
[If you follow your sinful course ever so long, do you expect that it will be productive of any more happiness than it has already been? Will the creature change? or the condition of man change? Or will God so change the whole course of nature, that you shall find in earthly things what is to be found in him alone? But, if such changes are not to be expected, what will be the issue of such a course at the tribunal of your God? Had you been Gentiles, it might be expected, if I may so speak, that you had lived like Gentiles; or at all events, you would then “be judged by such a law as you yourselves had lived under [Note: Romans 2:14.].” But you were Christians; and had the law of God in your hands; yea, and the Gospel of Christ too: and therefore you shall be judged by the law, and by the Gospel, which you have so neglected and despised. I would that Christians would place themselves as at the bar of judgment; and bethink themselves, what will be their view of their present courses then? Will a life of carnal ease and indulgence, together with a neglect of God and of our eternal interests, be found so venial then? To have professed ourselves Christians, and have lived like heathens, will this appear so light a matter, as it is judged now to be? No verily: things will then be seen in their true colours; and the care of the soul will then appear to be, what it really is, “the one thing needful.”]
[If now you are not convinced that the time past is sufficient for such a course, I beg leave to ask, what time you will think sufficient? I presume you will not say, that the whole life is to be spent in such a way: I conceive that no one is so blind, but that he will acknowledge that God ought to be served at some time or other; and that, at some time or other, the concerns of the soul ought to occupy the mind. Even those who die by the hands of the public executioner confess, that some preparation is desirable for them, before they enter into the presence of their God. What time then will you agree to be sufficient to work the will of the Gentiles; and when will you account it reasonable to begin to fulfil the will of God? Will you say, twenty years hence; or, forty years hence? Such a period as that may surely be acknowledged latitude enough, even for the youngest amongst us. But, if you will go to those who have served the world and their own lusts for twenty or forty years, you will not find them at all more ready to turn to God, than they were the first moment that they entered on that course. On the contrary, the longer they have lived in sin, the more rooted are their lusts, and the more inveterate their habits: their consciences, too, are the more seared and hardened; and the more averse are they to be instructed in the way of righteousness. Besides, are we sure that so many years shall be added to our lives; or that, if they be, we shall be at all more disposed to serve God then, than we are at present? Are we sure that the Spirit of God, to whom we “do despite,” will not at last depart from us, and give us up to final impenitence?
Beloved brethren, be persuaded,—whatever be your age, be persuaded, I say,—that the time past is abundantly sufficient for the course which you have followed. And now, without any further delay, begin to “work the works of God.” Do you ask, “What is the work of God?” I answer, as our blessed Lord did, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom he hath sent [Note: John 6:28-43.6.29.].” This is indeed the one great concern to which we should all attend. We are sinners, obnoxious to God’s wrath and eternal condemnation. But Jesus Christ is a Saviour: he is sent into the world on purpose to seek and to save that which was lost. Do ye then go to him; believe in him; implore mercy through him; cast yourselves upon him; and “cleave to him with full purpose of heart.” Let the time which you have spent in the neglect of him be redeemed; and your efforts be the more urgent, in proportion to the time which you have lost. As for the baptized heathens with whom you have associated, “come out from among them [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:17.],” and “no longer conform yourselves to their evil ways [Note: Romans 12:2.].” They will, as the Apostle tells you, “think it strange that you continue not to run with them to the same excess of riot as you formerly did; and will speak evil of you on account of it [Note: ver. 4.]:” but be it so: if this be an occasion of grief to you, it should not be on your own account, but on theirs; for “they shall surely give an account to Him that is ready to judge both the quick and dead [Note: ver. 5.];” and “their hard ungodly speeches, which they have spoken against you” for his sake, will be visited upon them to their everlasting confusion [Note: Jude, ver. 14, 15.]. Mind you yourselves: seek the salvation of your own souls, whether others will attend to their souls or not. Do not ye perish in Sodom, because your relatives mock at your fear of God’s judgments [Note: Genesis 19:14.]: neither linger in the plain, lest the storms of God’s vengeance overtake you: but be in earnest: and “whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:10.].”]
NEARNESS TO DEATH A MOTIVE TO WATCHFULNESS
1 Peter 4:7. The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
THE office of the Gospel is, not to fill the mind with notions, but to renew the heart, and sanctify the life. It is true indeed, that the smallest conformity to its precepts will cause us to be loaded with obloquy and derision by an ungodly world [Note: ver. 4.]: but it furnishes us with very sufficient motives to disregard the censures of men, and to devote ourselves unreservedly to God [Note: This seems to be the meaning of the verse before the text.]. The nearness of death and judgment is of itself an irresistible argument for maintaining an indifference to earthly things, and for exerting ourselves to the uttermost to secure a happy eternity. Such is the scope of the Apostle’s words; in commenting on which we shall notice,
[It is possible that St. Peter, in speaking of “the end of all things,” might have some reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was fast approaching, and to the consequent annihilation of the Jewish polity. But it is more probable that he referred to the end of the world, which was generally represented as so near, that St. Paul was obliged to rectify the mistake which had arisen in the minds of the Thessalonians with respect to it [Note: 2 Thessalonians 2:2-53.2.3.]. We may however justly consider it as relating to the hour of death, which is to every man “the end of all things” here below. Death terminates our joys and honours, how elevated soever they may be — — — It puts a period also to our hopes and prospects, be they ever so bright and well-founded — — — It incapacitates us also for carrying into effect all our purposes and endeavours. We may have seen the vanity of earthly things, and have formed a resolution to withdraw our affections from them, and to prosecute with care the things belonging to our everlasting peace: we may have actually begun to execute our purposes: we may have begun to pay more attention to divine ordinances, than we have done in past times, and to read some religious books, and to cultivate an acquaintance with some pious characters, in hopes of getting instruction from them, and of furthering thereby our eternal interests: but death will cut short all these good beginnings, and leave us cause to bewail to all eternity that we had deferred the concerns of our souls so long. The very instant death comes, there is no more room for repentance; no more shall the tidings of salvation through a crucified Redeemer sound in our ears; no more will the Holy Spirit strive with us to bring us to God; the time for repentance is past; the offers of salvation are closed; the day of grace is come to an end; and nothing remains for the soul but to weep and bewail its folly in hell for ever and ever — — —
This period is nigh “at hand” to every one of us. If our life were prolonged to the age of Methuselah, the space would be only as the twinkling of an eye in comparison of eternity [Note: 2 Peter 3:8.]: but it is contracted to a very narrow span; nor can we be sure that it shall continue even to the expiration of the present day: so justly may it be said in reference to all of us, “The end of all things is at hand.”]
The consideration of this solemn truth may well prepare us for,
The exhortation grounded upon it—
[Sobriety does not merely import temperance with relation to meat and drink, but moderation with regard to our desire of earthly things, or our enjoyment of them. Our minds are apt to be very strongly fixed on the things of time and sense; we are fascinated with the prospect of some pleasure, some honour, some emolument, for the attainment of which we labour day and night, and in the possession of which we are ready to say, “Soul, take thine ease.” But should we do thus, if we considered how transient our enjoyment of them will be? Should we not rather sit loose to the things of this world, seeking them as though we sought them not, and using them as though we used them not [Note: 1 Corinthians 7:29-46.7.31.]? Let us then cultivate this spirit [Note: Philippians 4:5.]. We need not on this account relax our diligence in our earthly vocations; for diligence is our bounden duty [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:10.], and will consist very well with the devoutest frame, and most ardent exertions in the Lord’s service [Note: Romans 12:11.]: but “the affections must be set on things above, and not on things below [Note: Colossians 3:2.].”]
Watch unto prayer—
[Prayer is indispensably necessary for the salvation of the soul. Without prayer, we can obtain nothing from God, no pardon of sin, no strength for obedience, no preparation for eternity. If we live without prayer, we shall die without hope. But it is no easy matter to persevere in prayer. We can complain to a fellow-creature with ease and fluency: but the moment we attempt to express our wants in prayer to God, our minds wander to the very ends of the earth, and our mouths are shut before him. Any trifling occurrence is sufficient to divert us from prayer: and we postpone this duty from time to time, under the idea of having some more favourable opportunity for the performance of it. But would it be thus with us, if we were duly impressed with the shortness and uncertainty of time? Even the most abandoned malefactors will weep and pray when their execution is drawing nigh: and should not we, if we felt that “the end of all things is at hand?” Let us then watch against every thing that may either divert us from prayer, or distract us in it: yea, let us watch that our prayers be such as our necessities require, and such as God will accept. Let them be offered up with constancy, with fervour, and with faith. And the nearer we approach to our latter end, the more “abundant let us be in supplication and thanksgivings.”]
[To the elder part of this assembly one would think it should be needless to add any thing on this subject: for they who have already lived out half their days, must feel (one would imagine) that their “time is short.” But, alas! even the aged need to be reminded of this obvious truth, and to be stirred up to improve their few remaining hours. Yes, even they often become more worldly with their advancing years, and manifest as great a backwardness to spiritual duties as they did in the earlier part of their existence. If one of this character be present, may God impress upon his mind a sense of his guilt and folly, and awaken him from his slumbers, ere it be too late! — — —
To the younger part, who dream of months and years to come, it is more obviously necessary to repeat the warning in the text. You are apt to think and say, “It is time enough yet for me to seek after God.” But “have you made a covenant with death?” have you been assured that neither disease nor accident shall cut you off in the bloom of life? Look around you, and see how many of your own age are gone within your remembrance [Note: Here any recent deaths may be adverted to, and the circumstances of them, if peculiar, be specified.]. And what if death had seized on you, instead of them; where had you been at this moment? I entreat you, if you have any regard for your own souls, consider this. Put the question to your conscience, and answer it faithfully in the sight of God: and then look at the direction given you by God himself: “Be sober,” and moderate in your attachment to the things of time; and “watch unto prayer,” that you “may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”
THE DUTY AND OFFICE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE
1 Peter 4:8. Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
THE divine authority of our religion is fully established. Its external evidences demonstrate God to be its author; nor are its internal evidences less convincing. The tendency of Christianity is to assimilate us to God. All other religions have countenanced a vindictive spirit; but the religion of Jesus inculcates universal love. The New Testament lays the greatest stress upon this duty.
The injunction in the text proposes to our view,
The duty inculcated—
The term “charity” is to be understood of Christian love—
[Many confine the sense of this term to almsgiving; but almsgiving is a very small part of what is implied in it. Charity includes the whole of our duty towards our neighbours [Note: Romans 13:9.].]
This charity or love is our indispensable duty—
[Though an old commandment, it is enjoined as a new one [Note: 1 John 2:7-62.2.8.]. Obedience to it is a sure test of our conversion [Note: 1 John 4:7-62.4.8.]: it is a good evidence of conversion to ourselves [Note: 1 John 3:14. former part.]; it is a satisfactory proof to others also [Note: John 13:35.]. A want of love manifests us to be in an unregenerate state [Note: 1 John 3:14. latter part.].]
It ought to be cordial and “fervent”—
[Worldly courtesy is but a faint image of Christian love. Love, if pure, and subordinate to God, cannot be too fervent. Our love of ourselves is the rule of love to others: our Lord’s love to us is the pattern also of this duty [Note: 1 John 3:16.].]
We should “above all things” cultivate this disposition—
[Love is the greatest of all Christian graces [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:13.]. If we attain to it, we fulfil the law of Christ [Note: Romans 13:8; Romans 13:10.]. But if we be destitute of it, nothing else will profit us [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:1-46.13.3.].]
The children of God should maintain it “among themselves”—
[Benevolence is due even to our enemies. But there is an especial obligation in the saints to love each other [Note: Galatians 6:10.]; their union with Christ, and with each other, demands it [Note: 1 Corinthians 12:25.].]
To promote a more uniform attention to this duty, we will consider,
The argument with which it is enforced—
The Apostle’s words may be considered as relating to,
The sins of others—
[“To cover the sins” of others (extenuating what we cannot approve; concealing what we cannot but condemn; and throwing a veil over, not errors only, but “sins,” yea, even “a multitude” of sins,) is the proper office of love [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:7. The duty of love does not, however, preclude ministers from censuring, or magistrates from punishing, the sins of men: they perform those acts officially; and in performing them, they obey, instead of violating, the law of love. But to men in their individual capacity, the text prescribes an invariable rule of duty. See Matthew 18:22.]. From this office we should not depart, unless (as in the exercise of the ministerial or magisterial office) the honour of God, and the good of society, require it. A just regard to the great duty of love is of incalculable importance: first, to ourselves; for how can we expect to have forbearance exercised towards us, if we refuse it to others? Next, to the church; for how can the church be edified, if its members do not walk together in love? And lastly, to the enemies of the church, who will not fail to harden themselves in their iniquities, if evil reports in the church, and consequent dissensions and animosities, afford them any occasion. But mutual forbearance will never be exercised as it ought, without a deeply-rooted principle of love [Note: When we hate a person, we are ready on all occasions to speak of his faults; but this is not the way in which we treat those whom we tenderly love.]. Therefore we should cultivate this principle in order to maintain a becoming conduct [Note: Proverbs 10:12. in our translation seems to countenance, and almost to establish, this sense of the text; because it appears to have been cited by St. Peter. But the Apostles generally cited rather the Septuagint translation of the Scriptures: and in that the two passages do not at all correspond. The LXX. translate it thus: Μῖσος ἐγείρει νεῖκος: πάντας δὲ τοὺς μὴ φιλονεικοῦντας καλύψει φιλία. So that the apparent parallelism will not enable us to determine, with certainty, the sense of the text.].]
Our own sins—
[We must not, for one moment, think that our love, however fervent, can merit the pardon of our sins. Yet our pardon may be, and certainly is, suspended on the exercise of this divine principle. To this the whole Scriptures bear witness [Note: Matthew 5:7; Mat 6:14-15 and Proverbs 16:6. See also Gal 6:7-8 and 1 Timothy 6:18-54.6.19. contrasted with James 2:13. Daniel even goes so far as to counsel Nebuchadnezzar λυτρώσαιτὰς ἁμαρτίας ἰν ἐλεημοσύναις.]; and the words in the original most naturally bear this sense [Note: Καλύψειἁμαρτίαν means to cover sins from the sight of God, so that they shall not be noticed in the final judgment. See Psa 32:1-2 and Nehemiah 4:5. In James 5:20, they will also bear that sense: and if we could divest ourselves of prejudice, we should more readily put that construction upon them in that passage; since it is not the converting of souls merely, but the love exercised in seeking to convert them, that entails this blessing on us. If we put a different construction upon them, we make them a mere tautology: but in the sense here affixed to them, they afford a strong additional motive for exertion.]. This sense of them also exactly accords with our Lord’s description of the day of judgment [Note: Matthew 25:34-40.25.46. “Come, &c. For, &c.”—“Depart, &c. For, &c.”]. Moreover, in this view the Apostle’s argument is far stronger than on the other construction of his words. Let it then operate as a strong incentive to mutual love; for “with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again [Note: Matthew 7:2.].]
How justly reprehensible are the generality of Christians!
[There is a proneness in all to receive and propagate reports; but none are willing to have their own reputation blasted. Yet there are few who do not scatter defamation. Let us all be ashamed of and resist this sinful propensity; let us watch against every temptation or desire to indulge it; let us regulate our conduct by the law of love; let us study the Apostle’s description of charity [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:4-46.13.7.]; and let us attend to the exhortation of St. John [Note: 1 John 3:18.]—.]
How worthy of acceptation is the Gospel of Christ!
[A sense of Christ’s love to us produces love to him. When we love Christ aright, we shall love all his members [Note: 1 John 5:1.]. This is the invariable effect wherever the Gospel prevails. The knowledge of our own sins will make us tender towards others. The forgiveness we have received will incline us to forgive others. The extent of Christ’s love to us will be the ground of our love to our fellow-sinners [Note: John 13:34.]. Let the Gospel then bring forth this fruit in our hearts and lives; we shall then experience the truth of that Divine assertion [Note: Psalms 133:1.]—. In the exercise of love is the foretaste of heaven itself.]
PERSECUTION FOR CHRIST’S SAKE
1 Peter 4:12-60.4.16. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 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. 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. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other men’s matters. Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
THE quiet and repose which Christians enjoy at this day, may seem to render a discourse on the subject of persecution quite uninteresting. But the whole New Testament abounds with warnings to expect it, encouragements to endure it, and directions how to conduct ourselves under it: nor is there any intimation given that this state of things was to be confined to the first ages, when Christianity was new in the world; or that “the offence of the cross should ever cease.” On the contrary, we are taught to expect, that “they who are born after the flesh only, will hate those who are born after the Spirit;” and that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The circumstance of Christianity having become the national religion, may justly be supposed to have abated somewhat of the fury of persecutors; whilst the protection afforded by the laws of the land keeps within bounds their hostility against those whom they hate for righteousness’ sake. But I am not sure that much of our repose may not be ascribed to the low state of religion amongst us: and I cannot but think, that, if God were to pour out his Spirit upon us as he did on the primitive Church, and our light were to burn as bright as theirs, there would yet be found much the same rancour in the hearts of men against vital godliness now, as there was in former days: for there are not wanting at this hour many proofs of what men would do to suppress real piety, if the toleration accorded to us by the laws did not restrain them. At all events, we know not what trials we ourselves personally may be called to endure, even though the Church at large should still continue to enjoy tranquillity: and for these we ought to be prepared. The words before us are admirably calculated to fortify our minds against all that at any time may come upon us; since, whilst they teach us to expect persecution for righteousness’ sake, they shew us,
In what light we should view it—
“We should not think it strange, as though some strange thing happened unto us”—
[God has seen fit to ordain that his people should be subjected to “fiery trials,” not only for the discovery of their graces, but also for the improvement of them. To them he has given a new nature, altogether different from that which they brought into the world with them,—a nature, which for its excellence may be compared to gold: but there still remains in them much dross, which must be purged away: and, as gold is both ascertained and purified by the action of fire, so must these be tried and purified in the furnace of affliction. Of course, their persecutors have no such object in view: they seek only to suppress the piety that offends them: but God has other, and very opposite, ends to accomplish: He seeks their advancement in the divine life, and will suffer no heavier trial to assault them than what he has strengthened them to bear, and will overrule for their eternal welfare. True it is that, notwithstanding he has taught us to expect these things, we are ready to account them strange: we think it strange that such trials should come upon us, and from such quarters, and on us who have done so little to deserve them. But we should remember, that “the same trials are accomplished also in our brethren who are in the world [Note: 1 Peter 5:9.];” and that “none have come upon us but what are common to man, nor any which God will not enable us to sustain [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:13.]:” and under this conviction we should receive them as our appointed lot, and submit to them as dispensations ordained by God for our eternal good.]
We should rather regard it as a ground of joy—
[On this subject there is but one testimony throughout all the Holy Scriptures. Our blessed Lord says, “If ye be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, rejoice ye, and leap for joy.” St. Paul tells us, that the true Christian will “glory in tribulations [Note: Romans 5:3.]:” and that he himself actually “took pleasure in them” from the consideration that Christ’s strength would thereby be displayed and glorified [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:10.]. St. James bids us “count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations:” and gives it as his deliberate judgment, “We count them happy that endure [Note: James 1:2; James 5:11.].” St. Peter, as this whole epistle informs us, had the same view of the subject: and therefore we feel warranted in saying to all of you, “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.”]
In confirmation of this sentiment, I proceed to shew,
What reason we have for viewing it in that light—
Certainly it appears strange and paradoxical that the most cruel persecution for Christ’s sake should be considered as a ground of joy. But this view of it is just: for, when we suffer for Christ’s sake,
We are made “partakers of Christ’s sufferings”—
[We all know, that if any part of the human body suffer, whether the head or members, the whole participates in the pain. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of his mystical body, and we are the members: and when he suffered on the cross, we suffered with him; as it is written, “We are crucified with Christ;” “we died with him;” “we were buried with him [Note: Galatians 2:20. Romans 6:4; Romans 6:8.].” So when we suffer, he suffers, as it were, with us: as he said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me [Note: Acts 9:4.]?” “In all our afflictions he is afflicted [Note: Isaiah 63:9.]:” and “he who toucheth us, toucheth the apple of his eye [Note: Zechariah 2:8.].” As far as respects an atonement made for sin, he suffered alone: but, that we may be conformed to his image in all things, he has ordained that his Church should complete and “fill up the measure of his sufferings:” so that, though in his own person he is beyond the reach of man’s cruelty, he is still enduring much from it in the persons of his people. In truth, it is not on their own account that his people suffer any tiling. If we would but renounce our allegiance to him, the world would find no more occasion against us. It is for His sake that they hate us. They hate not us, but Christ in us: nor do they persecute us, but Christ in us. Therefore our sufferings are his; and, in enduring them, “we are truly partakers of his sufferings.”
Now then I would ask, ‘If when he drank the bitter cup even to the dregs, and left, as it were, but a drop for us to taste, shall we account it a hard matter to put it to our lips for his sake?’ No: we should rather rejoice that an opportunity is afforded us of so testifying our love to him.]
The Spirit of God descends into our bosom, to support and comfort us—
[The Spirit is here called “The Spirit of glory and of God;” as being one with the Father, who is “the God of glory [Note: Acts 7:2.];” and one with the Son, who is “the Lord of glory [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:8.].” His office it is to descend and dwell with the saints, as their Comforter [Note: John 14:16.]. And when we really suffer for Christ’s sake, it is both an evidence that he does rest upon us, and a pledge that he will be with us in a more abundant measure. If the Holy Spirit had not already wrought faith in our hearts, and put somewhat of the image of Christ upon our souls, the world would have suffered us to rest in peace: for “if we were of the world, the world would love its own; but because we are not of the world, but Christ has chosen us out of the world, therefore the world hateth us [Note: John 15:19.].” But the enmity of the world on account of what we have received from this divine Agent, only serves to call down upon us yet richer communications, even such as shall be sufficient to bear us up under our trials, and to make us conquerors over all our enemies.
And shall not this reconcile us to sufferings? Or, should any trials be deprecated, which are productive of so great a benefit? If the loss of Christ’s bodily presence was a proper ground of joy to the Disciples, because of the presence of the comforter, who would come to them in his stead [Note: John 16:6-43.16.7.], much more may any loss or any trials be welcomed by us, if they may but lead to a more abundant effusion of this divine Spirit upon our souls.]
God is particularly glorified in us—
[Doubtless, on the part of the persecutors, God is dishonoured and blasphemed; but on the part of the sufferers he is glorified. Behold a man enduring sufferings for righteousness’ sake: what does he say to all who behold him? In respect of words, he may be silent, as a lamb before its shearers: but by his actions, he proclaims in accents that cannot be misunderstood, ‘My Lord is worthy of all this: never can I shew my love to him sufficiently: if I had a thousand lives, they would be well disposed of in his service: I am ready to bear any thing for him; and am so far from regretting that my love is thus put to the test, that I am thankful for it, inasmuch as it gives me an opportunity of evincing my sense of his excellency, and the ardour of my love towards him.’
In another view, too, his sufferings advance the glory of God; because they shew how powerful that grace must be, which enables a poor feeble worm to bear them, yea, and to rejoice and glory in them. Many persecutors have been perfectly amazed at the patience of the saints under the most cruel torments that could be inflicted on them: and have been led by the very conduct of the sufferers, not only to embrace the principles which were so mighty in operation, but even to subject themselves to the same torments which they themselves had inflicted upon them.
How does divine grace triumph on such occasions as these! And who would not be willing to suffer, if only Christ might be so magnified, and the efficacy of his grace be so displayed [Note: Philippians 1:20. 2 Corinthians 4:10-47.4.11.]?]
Our eternal happiness is augmented—
[Soon will that Saviour who once died upon the cross come again in his glory to judge the world. Then will he gather together his elect from every quarter of the world; and bestow on them that recompence of reward, to which, whilst suffering for his sake, they had looked forward. He had told them beforehand, that “if they suffered with him, they should also be glorified together.” He had told them, that their light and momentary afflictions should work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Even whilst they were in this life, he had given them an hundred-fold for all that they had lost or endured for his sake: but then will be the time for their “full reward.”
Tell me then, I pray you, Will Moses in that day regret that he had “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt?” Or will those feel any regret, who, “when tortured, would not accept deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection?” Will any of the Apostles regret that they sealed the truth with their blood? Or will any of you regret that you were “faithful unto death, when God shall put upon your heads the crown of life?” No: one moment of that joy will far overbalance whole years of pain. What then will not be our triumph through all eternity?]
But, as this subject may be misapplied, let me shew you,
What we should especially guard against, in relation to it—
We must not bring trials on ourselves by any misconduct of our own—
[It is possible enough, that a wild enthusiast may fancy himself at liberty to disregard all human laws, and, whilst suffering for the violation of them, may conceive himself to be bearing the cross of Christ. Even war itself has been waged, under the idea of its being a service acceptable to God: and within our own memory has a spirit of insubordination and rebellion been too lightly cherished under the cloak of religion. But when persons reap the just reward of such conduct, so far are they from honouring God, that they greatly dishonour him, and expose religion itself to hatred and contempt. The being “a busy-body in other men’s matters,” is no uncommon character amongst those who profess religion; and who indulge an assuming, prying, officious spirit, under the idea of rendering a service to God and man. We may also yet more commonly see amongst professors a neglect of their own proper calling; an intrusion into the callings of others; a substitution of services which do not belong to them, in the place of others which are proper to their situation; an impatience of reproof; an unbecoming pertness towards their superiors; and a self-will, that knows no bounds. Ah, brethren! if ye suffer for such conduct as this, think not that ye are to expect any recompence at the hands of God: the cross which you are called to bear is not Christ’s, but your own: and what is inflicted on you by man is only a prelude of a yet sorer punishment that shall be inflicted on you by God, even by that God whom you profess to serve, but whose name you dishonour, and whose displeasure you incur.]
But, if we suffer really as Christians, we may rejoice in all that we endure—
[Our enemies may think that they load us with disgrace: but shame in such a cause is no shame: it is honour: and we may take it up, and bind it on us as a diadem. The Apostles, when imprisoned and scourged for the truth’s sake, “went out from their persecutors, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ.” And thus may we do, turning the very indignities that are cast upon us into an occasion of praise to God. Thus “out of the eater we shall bring forth meat, and out of the strong we shall bring forth sweetness.”]
Two hints, as rising from this subject, I would beg leave to suggest:
In embracing religion, be deliberate—
[Religion, sooner or later, will subject you to trials: for our Lord has plainly warned us, that, “if we will be his disciples, we must deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and follow him.” He tells us farther, that, “if we hate not father and mother, and even life itself, for his sake, we cannot be his disciples.” Then, before we profess ourselves his people, we should “count the cost:” we should consider, whether we are willing to “part with all for the pearl of great price.” To what trials we may be subjected, we know not; but we must be prepared for the worst. For I have no hesitation in saying, that it were better never to follow Christ at all, than to follow him for a season, and then turn back from him: “It were better never to have known the way of righteousness, than, after having known it, to turn away from it: for the last end of such a man is worse than his beginning.”]
In maintaining it, be firm—
[If persecution arise for righteousness’ sake, you must not be thinking how you may escape it, so much as how you may glorify God under it. I mean not to say, that, “if persecuted in one city, you may not flee to another;” for that liberty was conceded by our Lord himself to his Disciples: but this I mean; that you should not for a moment think of conciliating your enemies by any sinful concession. Your duty to God must be paramount to every other consideration. Your great concern must be, to approve yourselves faithful to him. The Hebrew Youths with the fiery furnace in their view, and Daniel in expectation of the den of lions, thought of nothing but their duty to their God. So you must fear God, and God only. And, if it please God that you should be called to martyrdom itself, be content to “go through much tribulation in your way to the kingdom;” and to ascend to heaven in a chariot of fire.]
THE END OF UNBELIEVERS
1 Peter 4:17. What shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?
MANY are the troubles of the righteous: and though their afflictions are not always penal, yet they are for the most part to be considered as paternal chastisements, and as the judgments which God inflicts on his own household with a view to their advancement in faith and holiness. On the other hand, the enemies of God often triumph, and revel in a fulness of all earthly enjoyments. But the intelligent Christian will see in these dispensations the certainty of a future retribution, when the wicked shall receive the just reward of their wickedness, and he himself be exalted to an inconceivable state of bliss. He will argue thus: If God so afflict his children in the day of his mercy, how will he punish his enemies in the day of his wrath. And, if he so prosper his enemies and load them with benefits in this vale of tears, what prosperity and happiness must he have reserved for his friends in the regions of glory! If crowns and kingdoms be the portion of many who disregard and despise him, what shall be the inheritance of those who honour and obey him!
Such is the Apostle’s mode of arguing in our text; where, speaking of the trials sustained by Christians, he says, If God’s paternal chastisements be so severe, what must his vindictive judgments be? If judgment first begin at the house of God, what must the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?
To impress this solemn consideration upon our minds, we shall shew,
Who they are that obey not the Gospel—
To ascertain this, it will be proper to state briefly what the Gospel requires—
[The Gospel supposes men to be in a state of guilt and misery, obnoxious to the wrath of God, and incapable of delivering themselves from it. It proposes to them a remedy of God’s appointment: it sets forth Jesus as an all-sufficient Saviour; and declares that sinners of every description may be washed in his blood, and renewed by his Spirit. But, if we will not apply to him by faith, and thankfully accept his proffered benefits, it dooms us to destruction under the aggravated guilt of despising, and trampling under foot the Son of God. The commission which our Lord gave to his disciples [Note: Mark 16:15-41.16.16.], and the answer given by Paul to the awakened jailer [Note: Acts 16:30-44.16.31.], abundantly confirm this view of the Gospel, and shew that a cordial acceptance of Christ as our only Lord and Saviour is the sum and substance of a Christian’s duty.]
According to this statement, very many will be found disobedient to the Gospel:
They who neglect Christ altogether—
[This is so obvious a truth that the mention of it seems needless and absurd: but experience proves that the most abandoned sinners, and most avowed infidels, are often insensible of the guilt which they contract. Be it known however, that their excuses or objections will avail them nothing in the day of judgment: their whole lives were one continued act of disobedience to the Gospel; and they will most assuredly be numbered amongst the enemies of their incarnate God. Their rejection of him, whether in principle or practice, will be a decisive evidence of their guilt.]
They who unite something else with him as a foundation for their hope—
[The Gospel requires us to renounce all dependence on our own works. However good our works be, they must never for one moment be considered as justifying us before God, either in whole or in part. In Christ alone must be all our hope; and if we attempt to unite any thing of ours with his perfect righteousness, we shall not only not add to our security, but shall altogether invalidate all which Christ himself has done for us. St. Paul asserts this in the plainest terms [Note: Galatians 5:2; Galatians 5:4.]; and from the fullest conviction of its truth desired to be found in Christ, clad with his righteousness, and his only [Note: Philippians 3:9.].]
They who, while they profess to follow Christ, dishonour him by their conduct—
[Many there are who with apparent zeal cry, Lord, Lord, who yet are far from doing the things which he commands. Many, alas! “profess to know him, but in their works deny him:” they are observant of outward duties, but inattentive to their spirit and temper: instead of being meek and lowly, patient and forgiving, and solicitous only to honour God, they are proud and passionate, covetous and worldly, and studious rather to be thought Christians than really to deserve the name. Let such know that they “amidst all their appearances of religion deceive themselves, and their religion is vain [Note: James 1:26.].” By neglecting to walk as Christ walked, they disobey the Gospel, as much as if they rejected him altogether.]
To awaken such from their slumbers, we proceed to shew,
What their end shall be—
The peculiar manner in which the Apostle speaks of their “end,” intimates that it will be dreadful,
[In the text St. Peter infers from the trials, which God suffers to come upon believers here, the far greater miseries that shall be endured by unbelievers hereafter. But his very mode of suggesting this inference shews, that the two states could scarcely admit of any comparison: for what are any transient pains of body inflicted by the most ingenious cruelty of man, when compared with the eternal torments both of soul and body, which will be inflicted on the wicked by the hand of an incensed God? St. Paul institutes a similar comparison, and like St. Peter, leaves our imagination to supply what no language could possibly express [Note: Hebrews 10:29.]—. There are indeed terms used in Scripture to represent to us the misery of the damned. They are represented as “cast into a lake of fire and brimstone,” “where the worm of an accusing conscience dieth not, and the fire of God’s wrath is not quenched;” they “weep and wail and gnash their teeth;” and the “smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” But, awful as these expressions are, they convey no adequate idea of the misery sustained by those who have perished in unbelief: we must say of that, as St. Paul says of the things he heard and saw in the third heavens, that it is unutterable [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:4.].]
Beyond a doubt—
[The Apostle appeals to our own consciences for the truth of the inference which he suggests. He says, in effect, What must the state of unbelievers be? Can it be the same with that of obedient believers? Will God put no difference between those who serve him, and those who serve him not? Has not the Scripture plainly declared the end of those who disobey the Gospel? And are we not constrained to acknowledge the equity of that sentence, which the contemners of Christ are taught to expect? Shall an angel from heaven be accursed, if he presume to preach any other Gospel [Note: Galatians 1:8.], and shall we escape with impunity, if we reject this? Our wishes are doubtless in opposition to the declarations of God; but in our judgment we must approve of them; and we shall surely be silent in the day that they shall be enforced, even though we ourselves be the unhappy monuments of God’s displeasure.]
We may learn from hence,
How to judge of our state before God—
[Mere morality is by no means a sufficient criterion whereby to judge of our state: we may be free from gross violations of God’s law, and yet be far from yielding obedience to the Gospel. Let us then inquire whether we be obeying the Gospel by a simple dependence upon Christ, and by a spirit and temper suited to our profession? This is the test to which we must bring ourselves, since we shall be tried by it at the last day. In vain will be our morality, if Christ be not our only foundation; and in vain will be our professed adherence to Christ, if we do not adorn the Gospel by a holy conversation. Let us then examine ourselves, that we may know beforehand what our end shall be.]
The importance of considering our latter end—
[We are ready enough to contemplate the circumstances to which we look forward in the present life; but O, how backward are we to reflect upon our latter end! Yet the events of this life are not worthy of a thought in comparison of eternity. I pray you, brethren, consider how fast your end is approaching, and what it is likely to be, an eternity of bliss in heaven, or an eternity of misery in hell? O, lose not an hour in preparing for your great account! and be careful so to pass through things temporal, that you finally lose not the things eternal — — —]
THE DIFFICULTY OF SALVATION
1 Peter 4:18. If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
EARNESTNESS in the concerns of religion is often thought unnecessary; but the attainment of salvation is by no means easy. This appears from the representations which the Scriptures give of religion; a race, a warfare, &c.
The difficulties implied in these metaphors may well alarm the careless. With this view St. Peter suggests the awful query in the text.
The Apostle did not mean to express a doubt, but rather to assume a position which he deemed incontrovertible. The point he assumes is, that the righteous are saved with difficulty.
The truth of this position will appear, if it be considered that the righteous are not saved without,
[God’s people are for the most part poor and afflicted [Note: Zephaniah 3:12.]. They have much to endure on account of their religion [Note: 2 Timothy 3:12.]; and trials are for the most part necessary to their growth in grace [Note: 1 Peter 1:7.]. If they were without affliction of some kind, they would have reason to doubt whether they were God’s children indeed [Note: Hebrews 12:8.]. Trials are to them, as the furnace to the gold, to purge them from their dross, and to fit them for the service of their God [Note: Hebrews 12:10.].]
[None have made such high attainments, but they still have conflicts to maintain with Satan [Note: Ephesians 6:12.], and their indwelling corruptions [Note: Romans 7:15; Romans 7:23.]: it is by these that God keeps them humble [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:7.]. The images by which vital religion is set forth (as running, wrestling, fighting,) sufficiently attest the truth of my position. As long as two principles remain within us, our conflicts must remain [Note: Galatians 5:17.].]
[Who can get to heaven without them, or even do anything that is good without them? The aid we need, is such as nothing but Omnipotence can supply [Note: Ephesians 1:19-49.1.20.]: if ever we be kept at all, it must be by the power of God himself [Note: 1 Peter 1:5.].]
A very slight view of the fact assumed will suffice to shew us the reasonableness of,
The appeal he founds upon it—
The appeal is stronger than any mere assertion, inasmuch as it makes every man a judge in his own cause. It clearly intimates, that the perdition of the ungodly is,
[The ungodly, no less than the godly, will be summoned to the judgment-seat of Christ; but the two will be separated as sheep from the goats, and widely different portions will be assigned unto them [Note: Psalms 1:5.]. How can it be supposed to be otherwise, when the difference of their characters is considered? — — — If hell be not an abode fit for the righteous, much less is heaven a proper residence for the ungodly — — —]
[We confidently appeal even to the ungodly themselves. If such troubles as are often inflicted on the righteous be permitted by God as the salutary purgations of his friends, what shall be inflicted by God as the vindictive chastisements of his enemies? If such things come on his friends in this state of probation, what shall come on his enemies at the time appointed for final retribution? If such be the visitations experienced by his friends in the day of his mercy, what must his enemies expect in the day of his wrath? Verily I shall wonder if the conscience of any man be either so blind or so obdurate, as not to feel the force of this appeal. If there be such a hardened sinner, let him consult, and provide an answer to, other similar appeals to Holy Writ [Note: Hebrews 2:3.] — — — To “die without mercy” is bad enough; but there is a “much sorer punishment” awaiting his unhappy soul [Note: Hebrews 10:28-58.10.29.].]
How desirable it is to ascertain your true character—
[Surely it is no difficult matter to ascertain to which of the two forementioned classes you belong. Surely you may soon learn whether you are living in the daily habit of penitence, and faith, and unreserved obedience to your God. If God be true, your eternal state shall correspond with your character, whatever it may be [Note: Isaiah 3:10-23.3.11.] — — —]
What is that line of conduct which common prudence demands—
[If there were no future state, you might go on in your own ways without much concern; but if repentance, faith, and obedience are essential constituents of the character of the righteous, say, whether it be wise to disregard, or even to defer them? The world may deride a life of piety as folly; but it is true wisdom: yea, “the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom.” Let every one then seek that righteousness, without which no man shall see the Lord.]
ADVICE TO THE PERSECUTED OR TEMPTED
1 Peter 4:19. 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.
GOD has mercifully engaged to save his people at the last. They may however meet with many severe conflicts in their way. Nor are they to expect to he saved but with great difficulty. Nevertheless they may safely commit themselves to God, in hope of a happy issue out of all their trials. Hence the Apostle suggests, in a way of inference, the advice in the text.
We propose to shew,
What Christians must expect to suffer—
Though all are not called to bear the cross in the same degree, yet all should be prepared to suffer,
In their reputation—
[That “fear of God” which the Scriptures represent to be “the beginning of wisdom,” the world considers as the summit of folly. However wise, learned, or discreet any man may be, he cannot escape the imputation of weakness or enthusiasm, if he will “follow the Lord fully.” If our Lord and Master was called Beelzebub, his servants can expect no better name.]
In their property—
[In former times the saints have frequently “suffered the loss of all things:” nor is it uncommon now for friends, and even parents, to withdraw their kindness from godly persons on account of their religion. Who does not know that eminent piety is a bar, rather than a help, to promotion? “They then who would be Christ’s disciples, must forsake all, and follow him.”]
In their liberty and life—
[Through the tender mercy of our God we are protected by the laws of the land: but none can tell what changes may yet arise: multitudes even in this kingdom have suffered death for Christ’s sake; and, whether called to this trial or not, we should be prepared for it.]
To reconcile us to these dispositions, we proceed to shew,
Why it is the will of God that we should suffer—
God is pleased to permit it,
For the trial of our faith—
[God can discern our graces, though we should have no opportunity to exercise them; but, if they be not called forth into act, neither have we the comfort of them, nor he the glory: hence God permits “the fiery trial to try us,” that he may discover both to ourselves and others “what great things he has done for us.”]
For the advancement of our graces—
[Our graces almost invariably languish when our outward circumstances are easy; but in seasons of difficulty they put forth themselves with strength: though Jesus needed no such stimulus, yet even he was “made perfect through sufferings;” and it is for the accomplishment of the same end, that God has made our road to lie “through much tribulation.”]
For the manifestation of his own glory—
[The patience of the saints is a ground of astonishment to the unbelieving world; and the supports which God administers to them fills their hearts with gratitude towards him. But what bursts of praise will resound from the myriads of his redeemed, when all the wonders of his love shall be universally and completely known!]
Satisfied with these appointments of the Deity, let us inquire,
What our conduct should be when called to suffer—
The best of men may be brought, as it were, “to their wit’s end”—
But the advice in the text is the most proper that can be given—
Let us “commit our souls to God’s care and keeping”—
[We must not attempt to stand in our own strength: nothing less than God’s wisdom and power can defeat the conspiracy that is formed against us: we should make him therefore the manager of our cause, and “the keeper” of our souls.]
Let us at the same time persist “in well-doing”—
[We must neither be irritated to do evil, nor deterred from doing good. The more we are persecuted for the sake of Christ, the more studious we should be “to put our enemies to silence by well-doing:” the very efforts of the enemy to extinguish our light should cause it to shine the brighter.]
Let us, above all, confide in God “as a faithful Creator”—
[God has promised to “keep the feet of his saints;” and he will perform it: we should suffer nothing to rob us of this confidence: if we “trust firmly in him, we shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany