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1 Peter 1:1. To the strangers scattered, &c.— "To those Christians whom Providence has dispersed through various countries, and whom divine grace has taught to consider themselves, wherever they dwell, as strangers and sojourners on earth." By Asia, in this verse, is not to be understood what is nowcommonly meant by Asia; that is, a fourth part of the world; but Asia Propria, or Proconsular Asia; in which stood the city of Ephesus, and some few of the neighbouring towns mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Revelation. In this confined sense of the word Asia must be understood, Acts 2:9; Acts 16:6; Acts 10:31.Revelation 4:11; Revelation 4:11.
1 Peter 1:2. Elect according to the foreknowledge, &c.— Dr. Heylin reads this verse, Whom God the Father, according to his foreknowledge, has elected and sanctified by the Spirit, that they should obey Jesus Christ, and be sprinkled with his blood. And he observes, that as the Christian church succeeded to the Jewish, it has the same titles of elect and sanctified; that is, consecrated to God, being separated from the rest of the world by the peculiar illumination of the Holy Spirit. The source of their redemption by Jesus Christ was the love of God the Father, who designed before the coming of Christ, not only to call the Jews, but also to take unto himself a chosen people from among the Gentiles. It was not owing to the merit of those Gentiles, or granted as a reward for their works of righteousness antecedent to their conversion, that the gospel was sent among them; but to the foreknowledge and love of God the Father. By the phrase the sprinkling of the blood the apostle may refer to the Jewish ceremony of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices upon the people; whereby they entered into covenant with God.
1 Peter 1:3. Which—hath begotten us again, &c.— "Who—hath regenerated us as his children to the hope of life and immortality; of which he hath given us a remarkable pledge and confirmation by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." The law of Moses condemned all offenders to death without mercy: the gospel promises pardon, and life, or immortality, to all penitent persons. The Jews were under the law before the gospel came, though at the same time under a covenant of grace. As to the Heathens, they were, through fear of death, all their life-time subject to bondage: though there were among them some confused notions, and pretty general expectations, of a life after death; yet their hopes were very faint and languid in comparison of what Christians may have. How great reason is there to bless God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath raised us to the hope of immortality; brought to light a future state in so clear and express a manner, and given us such a pledge and seal of its truth, as revealed in the gospel, by the resurrection of his Son!
1 Peter 1:4. To an inheritance— St. Peter had spoken of the hope of life, 1 Peter 1:3. He now explains what he meant by thatlife; even the greatest felicity that canbe enjoyed, which he compares to an inheritance, or large estate, a thing most generally esteemed here upon earth. But there is also a further allusion; for parents beget their children to the hopes of living and enjoying their estates or inheritance after them; God had regenerated these Gentile Christians to the hope of a firmer and more durable inheritance: for mortal men in general are born to a short-lived inheritance; the pious are regenerated to one that is everlasting, and not only everlasting, but undefiled;—oneneithergottennordetainedbyanywickedmethods;nor shall persons polluted with vice have any share therein. See Revelation 21:27. The inheritance of wicked men, or the land where they dwell, is said to be defiled by their own sins; to which perhaps there may be an allusion here. It is added, which withereth not away;—so the word αμαραντον properly signifies. Temporal possessions are soon lost, all the glory of them withereth like the grass; (James 1:11.) but the future inheritance of the saints shall not remove from one person or family to another; it is no fading inheritance. The faithful lose it not while they live, neither shall they ever die and leave it to their heirs.
1 Peter 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God— The word φρουρουμενους, which we translate kept, is very strong and expressive: it does not mean being kept after any manner, but with the most constant and vigilant care; as a tower or a city is watched by a military garrison, which keeps guard day and night, and plants the greatest number of centinels where the place is weakest, or there is most danger. Such is the watchful care of God over his people: as long as they continue faithful, nothing shall be able to hurt them; no enemies or persecutors can deprive them of their reward. Through faith, δια πιστεως, would be read most properly during faith; and the verse may be paraphrased thus: "who, as long as you steadily adhere to the Christian faith, are guarded and defended by the mighty power of God, and preserved unto that salvation or eternal happiness, which is prepared, and will certainly be revealed at last; that is, at the end of the world:" for at the general conflagration, or when the present state of things comes to an end, then shall the greatest and final salvation be revealed. In speaking of the last time, possibly St. Peter might allude to Daniel 9:13. See John 6:39; John 11:24.
1 Peter 1:6.— St. Peter here begins to speak of their persecutions and sufferings, which he enters upon with great tenderness and address; and endeavours to reconcile their minds to them by many and various arguments. First, he intimates that such afflictions would soon be over. Secondly, that they were necessary, or at least highly proper, in order to purify and refine their minds. Thirdly, that if their Christian faith could bear the furnace of afflictions, it was more valuable than the finest gold, and all worldly treasures. Fourthly, that their sufferings would meet with a most ample reward at Christ's second coming, Fifthly, that, as they loved Christ, and believed in him, though they had never seen him, they would at last rejoice with ineffable joy, when they received, as the reward of their faith, the salvation of their souls. And sixthly, that the ancient prophets had made a strict and diligent inquiry about that salvation; even those very prophetswho had prophesied of the Gentiles being favoured with the gospel;—to reveal which, God had lately poured out the Spirit, and sent the apostles not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles, 1 Peter 1:6-12. Having alleged thus much to support them under their persecutions and troubles, he goes on to exhort them by all means to avoid their former way of living, and to practise the holy virtues of the Christian life, as they were obliged by their profession, 1 Peter 1:13.-Ch. 1 Peter 2:3.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice,— "Upon which account you greatly rejoice, though now for a short time, as it is fitting, you are distressed by diverse temptations." Heylin, and the Syriac version. See James 1:2. Mat 5:4 and 1 Peter 4:12; 1Pe 4:14 of this Epistle.
1 Peter 1:7. That the trial of your faith, &c.— "Though gold loses nothing in the furnace, yet will it by length of time wear away, or be affected with rust, though not so soon as some other metals; and it will at farthest perish in the general conflagration: but faith will then stand the trial, and come out brighter and more glorious." Some would read this, That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold and silver which had been tried in the fire. Afflictions are to men's faith, what the furnace is to gold; that is, to try whether it is proof or no; and, if it be proof, will purify, refine, make it brighter and more valuable. St. Peter therefore calls a severe persecution πυρωσις, a fiery trial. Ch. 1 Peter 4:12. See Job 23:10.
1 Peter 1:8. Whom having not seen,— It is very possible that, among these dispersed Christians, there might have been some who had visited Jerusalem while Christ was there, and might have seen or conversed with him. However, St. Peter speaks according to the usual apostolical manner, as if they all had not. See John 20:29. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7. Hebrews 1:14.
1 Peter 1:9. Receiving the end of your faith, &c.— Because you shall attain the salvation of your souls, as the recompence of your faith. The word Κομιζομαι signifies, "To receive as a recompence." See Parkhurst,
1 Peter 1:10. Of which salvation the prophets— The gospel was not fully revealed to the Jews before the coming of Christ. Something of the nature of the gospel in general, and of that grand event, the conversion of the Gentiles, was revealed to them; upon which they were very desirous to have found out all that concerned it, and would have been very glad to have lived to see that happy time, when their predictions should be accomplished.ThatDanielunderstoodnotthefullmeaningofhis own prophesies, see Daniel 8:15; Daniel 8:27; Daniel 12:8-9. It is evident, that the antient prophets had views of a greater salvation than that of being saved out of the hands of their enemies when they conquered Canaan, and got possession of that good land, the land of Promise. To that salvation, (especially that spoken of by Daniel,) St. Peter seems here to allude. By grace or favour, in this verse, we understand the favour of having the gospel preached unto them, and being admitted to the privileges of Christians; the elect people of God under the Messiah. By χαρις, grace, in the New Testament, is often meant the gospel, or the Christian religion.
1 Peter 1:11. The Spirit of Christ— It is well worthy of our notice, that the Spirit which dictated to the prophets is called the Spirit of Christ; which both proves his existence before his incarnation, and his supreme Godhead; and illustrates the full view that he himself had of all he was to do and suffer under the character of our Redeemer. The apostle, in discoursing so largely concerning the prophets, seems to have a special reference to the converted Jews, who would enter more thoroughly into this part of his reasoning, than the converted Gentiles. It has been with great propriety observed, that if the prophets and righteous men of old, to whom the word of God came, did not clearly understand the things they foretold, but employed themselvesinsearchingandexaminingthe prophetical testimonies of the Spirit which was in them; it is evident that the prophesies themselves were obscure: and for good reason they were so; because they were not delivered so much for their sakes, as for the sake of those who lived in the times when they were accomplished.
1 Peter 1:12. Unto whom it was revealed,— Many of the things foretold by the ancient prophets, did evidently relate to distant times, and many of them to the coming of Christ, and the numerous conversions of the Jews and Gentiles to his holy religion. St. Peter very properly mentions it, to the honour of Christians, that the ancient prophets, ministered not unto themselves, but unto them: and it was a great confirmation to their faith to compare the prediction and event, and observe their harmony. By using the phrase, Those that have preached the gospel unto you, St. Peter seems to speak of these Christians, not as his own converts, but as converted by others; probably they had been converted by St. Paul and his assistants. St. Peter here plainly alludes to the prophesy, Joe 2:28-29 which he himself declared to be accomplished, Acts 2:16; Acts 2:47. The apostles evidently laid claim to the Spirit of God as their infallible guide in things which concerned the Christian doctrine; and did actually understand and plant Christianity by the same Spirit which had inspired the ancient prophets: but they never pretended to be infallible and unpeccable in their other conduct; neither was there any occasion that they should be so. Doddridge paraphrases the last clause of the verse thus: "And indeed, the doctrines which they preach, are things of so great excellence and importance, as to be well worthy the regard of angels, as well as men. And accordingly, as the images of the cherubim on the mercy-seat seem to bow down, to look upon the tables of the law, laid up in the ark; so those celestial spirits do, from their heavenly abode, desire to bend down, to contemplate such a glorious display of divine wisdom and goodness." See James 1:25.
1 Peter 1:13. Gird up the loins of your mind,— The apostle seems here to allude to the precept which he had heard from our Lord, Luke 12:35; Luk 12:59 which is the more probable, from his immediately adding the words, νηφοντες τελιως,— being constantly upon the watch. The meaning is, that Christians are to endeavour to have their minds in such a frame for the coming of Christ, as servants have their bodies for their master's coming to his marriage-feast, when he is to entertain his friends in the most agreeable manner. See 1 Kings 18:46. Luke 17:8.
1 Peter 1:14. As obedient children,— As children of obedience; an usual Hebraism, by which persons are called the children of that, to which they are addicted or devoted. "Obedience (says Dr. Heylin,) is a sure ground of hope: to expect salvation without it, is not hope, but presumption." What the former lusts were, see ch. 1 Peter 4:3. Their conformity to them is here expressed by a very emphatical word; συσχηματιζομενοι ; which signifies, "Such a conformity as a medal or image has to the mould in which it was formed or cast." Our translation has well expressed this allusion; not fashioning yourselves. Compare Romans 6:17.
1 Peter 1:15. As he which hath called you, &c.— The gods which the Heathens worshipped had a very bad moral character, and the imitation of them rendered their worshippers worse than they would otherwise have been. But nothing can lead to higher degrees of holiness and virtue, than imitating the true God, who hath blessed us with the Christian revelation, and who is there displayed as a Being of the most perfect moral character. See 2 Corinthians 7:1.
1 Peter 1:17. And if ye call on the Father,— And since you invoke him as your Father, who impartially judges every man according to his actions, Live in a continual awe of him, while you sojourn here below; 1 Peter 1:18. Considering that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life which you learned of your earthly parents, not by perishable things as silver and gold; Heylin: who observes, that religious fear, or a continual awe of God, rightly concurs with hope, to support us in temptation. See 1 Peter 1:14. Some think there is an allusion in the words corruptible things, silver and gold, to the lamb which made an atonement; and was bought at the common expence, furnished by the contribution of the half shekel, as a typical atonement for their souls. See Exodus 30:11; Exodus 30:38.
1 Peter 1:20. Who verily was fore-ordained— All the former dispensations, from the beginning of the world, were carried on with a view to the coming of Christ, under whom was to be the concluding dispensation; and in this view, the Bible takes in a large and extensive plan. What our translation has rendered fore-ordained, properly signifies fore-known; and seems to relate to the predictions of the ancient prophets concerning the coming of Christ, together with his sufferings and death mentioned in the preceding verse; or, rather, to God's foreseeing, before this world was created, that the consequence of his Son's coming among men, with such a view, and in such circumstances, would end in his undergoing a violent death; and yet, though he foresaw that event, he did not therefore forbear to send him. See Ephesians 1:4.John 17:24; John 17:24.
1 Peter 1:21. Who by him do believe— Who by him,—by his means,—or on his account,—do trust in God. The expression is remarkable; and the meaning seems to be, that Christians, who before their conversion were ignorant of the true God, learnt his Being and Providence, through grace, from the great fact of Christ's resurrection, and the power with which God the Father invested him on his ascension into heaven.
1 Peter 1:22-23. Seeing ye have purified your souls, &c.— When through the Spirit ye have purged your hearts by obeying the truth, so that you are become capable of fraternal affection without disguise, See that you love one another with a clean heart fervently, or intensely; 1 Peter 1:23. As persons who are regenerated, not of corruptible seed, but that which is incorruptible; even the efficacious and eternal word of God; Heylin: who observes, that the ground of fraternalaffectionamongChristians,istheirregenerationbythesamedivineprinciple. St. Peter here says, that they had purified their souls from sin, and attained to high degrees of holiness and piety, by obeying the truth; that is, by obeying the gospel: for truth is above fifty times in the New Testament put for the gospel, which contains the most clear and important truths. The love of the brethren, is the love of Christians: in human friendship there is sometimes a mixture of hypocrisy; but Christians love one anotherunfeignedly, or without hypocrisy. They love one another for their holiness and piety, and from a pure heart; not out of merely temporal views, but from views the most generous and disinterested. See 2 Corinthians 6:6. Gomarus observes, that the word εκτενως, fervently, or intensely, is a metaphor taken from a bow-string, or the strings of a musical instrument; for, as a bow-string, when it is intense, or stretched to a proper degree, sends out the arrow with more force and to a greater distance; and the musical chord, when it is intense, or stretched to a proper degree, gives a more clear sound, and is heard better and by more persons; so Christian love, the greater and more intense it is, exerts, itself further, and wider, and is of more universal advantage. To promote this love is one principal design of the Christian revelation. See ch. 1 Peter 4:8. The reason why we should love all the Christian brotherhood out of a pure heart intensely, is given in 1Pe 1:23 because by being born again, we become brethren of the same family, and children of the same immortal Father. When we are considered merely as descending from mortal parents, we are born to die like grass, or flowers, which soon wither away; but our being born again by the gospel, is a very different thing from a plant or animal's being produced by the seed of another plant or animal, and has very different effects: for the first renders us mortal, but the latter immortal. Christians are in some places represented, as born again by the Spirit; but in other places, as here, they are said to be regenerated by the word of God, or the everlasting gospel, Revelation 14:6. The two phrases come to much the same; for bythe Spirit the gospel was revealed, and confirmed by many of his miraculous operations; and when men are born again, there are no new revelations made to them by the Spirit; but they are born again by the word of God, as it was first preached by men, under the immediate inspiration of the Spirit, and is now contained in the sacred scriptures, and applied by the divine Spirit to the believing heart. See Titus 3:5.
1 Peter 1:24. For all flesh is as grass, &c.— Flesh is often, by a common figure, put for man: but perhaps the apostle here used the word to intimate that he meant the body of man, frail and short-lived like the tender herb; by way of opposition to the soul, which he considered as incorruptible. All the glory of man, means every thing wherein men pride themselves, or which renders them admired or illustrious;—beauty, strength, learning, eloquence, titles, riches, and honours: all these are only like a fair flower, which looks beautiful for a little while, but soon fades and withers away. See Jam 1:10-11 and Isa 40:6-8 the place from whence St. Peter quoted these words.
1 Peter 1:25. The word of the Lord endureth for ever.— The word of God is said to be incorruptible, to be alive, and to endure for ever, because it teaches men the way to life; or, if complied with, begins a life of happiness, which will, to the faithful, never end; which is the seed or principle of a spiritual and incorruptible, of a glorious and happy life, which will endure for ever. See John 3:36; John 5:24; John 5:47; John 6:27; John 6:63.Romans 8:6; Romans 8:6. 1 John 2:17. The connection of St. Peter's discourse in these verses is as follows: "Though you by your natural birth are born mortal, and, in consequence thereof, must fade away in respect to this life, like grass or flowers; yet, by being born again into the family of Christ, or the Christian brotherhood, (1 Peter 1:22-23.) by the immortalizing seed of the word of God, you are born to an immortal life of glory and happiness: and the gospel is that word of God, which, if you be faithful, will render you immortal; namely, that gospel which I preach unto you."
Inferences.—Are we desirous of rendering it apparent to ourselves, and all around us, that we are indeed elect of God? Let it be, by a humble application to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, on the one hand, and by the evident fruits of the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, on the other.
The abundant mercy of God has begotten real Christians to the lively hope of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, reserved in heaven for them: let us keep it steadily in view, and earnestly pray, that God would preserve us by his mighty power through faith unto salvation. While we are waiting for this salvation, it is very possible, yea, probable, that affliction may be our portion; but let us remember, it is, if need be, that we are in heaviness through manifold temptations. Our faith, and our other graces, are as it were thrown into the furnace, not to be consumed, but refined; that they may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearance of Jesus Christ. Even at present, may this divine faith produce that love to an unseen Jesus, which is here so naturally expressed by the apostle; and though now we see him not, yet may that love be eminently productive of joy, even that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory: and in the lively and vigorous exercise of these graces, may we all receive the end of our faith, even the everlasting salvation of our souls!
Let what we are told in this chapter of the prophetic writers, be improved as it ought, to confirm our faith in that glorious gospel, of which these holy men have given in their writings such wonderful intimations and predictions: writings, for the understanding of which we have advantages superior to those which even they themselves had. What exalted ideas should we entertain of a dispensation introduced by such a series of wonders, preached by the inspired prophets; and by the Holy Ghost in his miraculous gifts and salutary influence sent down from heaven: a dispensation into the glories of which the angels desire to pry; how much more worthy then, the attention of the children of men, who are so nearly concerned in it, who are redeemed by the blood of the Son of God? O! let us review it with the closest application, and improve it to the infinitely gracious and important purposes for which it was intended. Then will grace and peace be multiplied to us; and however we may now be dispersed and afflicted, pilgrims and strangers, we shall ere long be brought to our everlasting home, and meet together in the presence of our dear and condescending Saviour; where, having a more lively sense of our obligations to him, and beholding his glory, we shall love him infinitely better than at this distance we have been capable of, and feel our joy in him increased in a proportionable degree.
Again. Let it be a matter of our daily delightful meditation, that, while we clearly discern the uncertainty of all human dependencies, which wither like the grass, and fall like the flower of the field, the word of God abideth for ever. Let us cheerfully repose our souls upon it. And if we have indeed experimentally known its efficacy and power, so that our souls are purified by obeying the truth, let us carefully express our obedience to it by undissembled, fervent brotherly love: and, animated by our glorious and exalted hopes as Christians, even that divine and illustrious hope of the grace to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ, let us set ourselves to the vigorous discharge of every duty, as knowing that we should be children of obedience, having the excuse of ignorance no longer to plead for the indulgence of our lusts, but by a holy God being called with a holy calling, and instructed to invoke him, at once, as our gracious Father and impartial Judge.
It is worthy of our special remark, that the blessed apostle urges us to pass the transitory and limited time of our sojourning here in fear, from the consideration of our being redeemed by the blood of the Son of God, which is a price of infinitely more value than all the treasures of the universe. And certainly there is a mighty energy in the argument; for as it is a very amiable, so it is also a very awful consideration. What heart so hardened, as not to tremble at trampling on the blood of the Son of God, and frustrating, as far as in him lies, the important design of his death? And, while we are reflecting on the resurrection and exaltation of our Redeemer, as the great foundation of our eternal hopes, let us dread to be found opposing him whom God hath established on his own exalted throne; and with the utmost reverence let us kiss the Son, in token of our grateful acceptance of his mercy, and cheerful and humble submission to his authority. (Psalms 2:12.)
REFLECTIONS.—1st, This epistle opens with,
1. The writer's name and title: Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, by his immediate appointment, and sent especially to the circumcision.
2. The persons to whom it is addressed: To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; dispersed by various providences through these provinces, and now called to the faith of Christ;—to the elect, the converted Jews and others to whom he is writing, (see the introduction and annotations,) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, discovered in the prophetical writings, which foretold of these blessings to be conveyed to them by the Messiah, who also is said to be foreknown before the foundations of the world, prophesied of from the beginning (Genesis 3:15.) but manifested in the last times for them, 1 Peter 1:20 through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, this blessed author of all grace, having converted their souls to the love and practice of true holiness, and brought them to the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ for pardon and peace with God, which only by the sacrifice of the Redeemer could be obtained.
3. The salutation: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied; may the pardoning, sealing, sanctifying, comforting, preserving grace of our God be with you; and peace, the blessed effect thereof, be diffused in the Church, in your families, and in your own souls. Note; We need nothing more to make us happy, than grace and peace; and if we possess all the world beside, and lack these, we are poor and miserable. 2nd, The apostle proceeds, 1. To thanksgiving for the inestimable blessings which, through the gospel, they enjoyed. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, when we had nothing in prospect before us but misery and despair, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification, that we, beholding in him the justice of God satisfied, might be emboldened to approach a reconciled God, and not only by his grace be quickened to newness of life here, but be entitled also to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, yea, for all the faithful saints of God, who are kept, not by their own natural strength or sufficiency, but by the power of God, engaged to protect them from all their enemies, and to preserve them through faith of his operation in their hearts, unto salvation completed in glory, and which is ready to be revealed in the last time, when Jesus shall appear, and take his faithful followers to their eternal mansions of blessedness above. Note; (1.) We can never be thankful enough, when we remember the abundant mercy of our God and Father in Jesus Christ to our sinful souls. (2.) Every blessing flows from boundless and unmerited grace.—(3.) The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the grand foundation of our hope; and it is a lively hope, animating the soul to patience and purity. (4.) Whatever enemies, snares, dangers, temptations, beset us in our way to heaven, we shall be more than conquerors, if we perseveringly cleave to Jesus Christ in faith and love.
2. Having mentioned the salvation which was in prospect, he shews how that afforded comfort and support under all their trials. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, looking forward and upward to your glorious hope, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, which though ye cannot but feel as men, you can rejoice under them as Christians; and they are sent, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ; and in the mean time its purity, genuineness, and excellence, shall be brightened and strengthened by all the conflicts it hath sustained in the Saviour's service, whom having not seen, ye love with fervent and supreme affection, faith realizing his amiableness to your souls; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, the lively foretaste of eternal bliss; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls, begun already, and to be completed shortly in glory for every faithful soul. Note; (1.) A Christian has cause to rejoice in God and the hope set before him at all times; and, even in the midst of grief and trouble, this consolation the world cannot take away from the righteous. (2.) Though our lot as Christians in this world is through manifold temptations, and our own nature cannot but more or less feel the burden, yet we must remember there is a need be for every pang we feel, and that should reconcile us to them. (3.) The bitterest afflictions to flesh and blood are often the most profitable medicines to our souls; and if we come to glory, we shall see that these were indeed blessings in disguise. (4.) The trial of our faith tends to its confirmation and establishment; and like gold, when tortured in the furnace, we come forth from our troubles the brighter, and leave the dross of corruption behind. (5.) Fidelity will be crowned when Jesus shall appear, and all the trials of the saints will then end in immortal honour and eternal glory. (6.) Jesus is precious to the believing soul; and the realizing views of him, which faith presents, bring down the foretastes of heavenly blessedness.
3rdly, The salvation of the gospel, on which their faith fixed, was that which the blessed prophets had foretold, and after which they earnestly inquired. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired, and searched diligently into the meaning of their own prophecies which by inspiration they delivered, digging deep into the golden mine, that themselves might share the treasure; who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you through the incarnate Saviour: searching, with eagerness, what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ for the sins of the world, and the glory that should follow, when, having offered his one atonement, he should ascend to the throne of Majesty on high. They wished to know the exact time, and what would be the state of the world, when this great event should come to pass. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister; the events predicted were not to be fulfilled in their days, but ours; and they foretold the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, who by his miraculous operations, and by the communication of his gifts and graces, bears his sacred testimony to the truth of our report: which things the angels desire to look into, bending forward as the cherubims over the mercy-seat, with wonder and delight contemplating the wonders of gospel-grace, admiring and adoring. Note; (1.) The mysteries of gospel-grace were not only the subjects which engaged the holy prophets' researches, but they afford matter for angelic contemplation, wonder, and praise. (2.) The word of God must be searched, and diligently examined: there are treasures hid in it which will abundantly repay our pains. (3.) The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven still continues to make the gospel effectual to salvation, and on his mighty operation all the success of our preaching depends.
4thly, From the foregoing considerations the apostle,
1. Enforces the practice of true godliness in sundry particulars. Wherefore, (1.) Gird up the loins of your mind, be disentangled from every thing in the world which would retard you in your heavenly course, and be strong in the Lord and the power of his might to fight the good fight of faith. (2.) Be sober, temperately using every creature-comfort, and with holy vigilance preparing for the Master's return. And, (3.) Hope to the end, never dismayed nor discouraged by any temptations to which you may be exposed, but patiently persevering, and confidently waiting for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, when the work of grace shall be completed, and an eternity of glory succeed, for all the faithful; the hope of which, as an anchor of the soul, should enable us to ride out every storm. (4.) Behave as obedient children to your heavenly Father, dutiful in observing his commands, and submitting to his disposal and correction; not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts, in your ignorance, not conformed to the corrupt manners, maxims, and pursuits of a world which lieth in wickedness, among whom we all had our conversation in time past, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and knowing not the dreadful ruin which hung over our heads. To these ways let us never return; but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, proposing to yourselves nothing short of his complete and perfect image, and in every state, condition, and circumstance, desiring that your hearts, lips, and lives, may exactly correspond with his holy will: because it is written in that word which is our only rule of duty, Be ye holy, for I am holy.—(5.) Maintain a holy jealousy over yourselves. And if, as becometh your profession, ye call in ceaseless prayer on the Father for that grace which alone can enable you for all that he commands, who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work, and thereby proves whether they are obedient children or not—pass the time of your sojourning here in fear, in filial fear of offending God, and holy jealousy over your own hearts, knowing that your present state is your pilgrimage, and that, if you are faithful, you shall shortly reach the happy rest, where all your fears will end, and your felicity be completed for ever.
2. To encourage and engage them to the practice which he recommends, he suggests the most powerful motives—you should thus live to God, forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, from the foolish traditions and corrupt manners and ways received by tradition from your fathers: to redeem you from which, all the perishing treasures of this world would be a price too despicable to be mentioned: but an infinitely greater hath been paid for you; you are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, who offered himself as your ransom to God, pure from all defilement, a Lamb fit to bleed on God's altar, and of such transcendant dignity in his person as to add infinite value to his sacrifice. Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, to be the one propitiation; but was manifest in these last times for you, (becoming incarnate, and making the brightest displays of the glory of his grace,) who by him do believe in God as your reconciled and covenant God, that raised him up from the dead in testimony of his acceptance of the sacrifice which he had offered for our justification, and gave him glory, exalting him to the Mediatorial throne; that your faith and hope might be in God, assured through the divine Messiah of present favour and acceptance with him, and expecting, according to his promise, all the blessings of grace here, and of glory hereafter.
5thly, The apostle proceeds,
1. To inculcate the exercise of fervent love. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, and have so graciously begun to advance in all holiness of heart and temper, being led by him especially unto unfeigned love of the brethren; see therefore that, under his blessed influences and according to the gospel word, ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; with still increasing and more enlarged affection; being born again, and made partakers of a divine nature, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever, unchangeably the same, and communicating a dignity and honour to which the highest human pedigree cannot pretend. Note; (1.) The gospel truth, through the Spirit embraced and obeyed, is the effectual means of purifying the soul. (2.) Unfeigned love of the brethren is among the surest evidences of the Spirit's work upon the heart. They who have made the highest advancements in the divine life, have need to be exhorted to increase more and more.
2. He sets forth the vanity of man. All flesh is as grass, weak and perishing; and all the glory of man, his pomp, wealth, affluence, wisdom, and endowments of every kind, are as the flower of grass, that soon fades and decays. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; one stroke of sickness, or accident, or the ravages of age, make all human greatness droop; and death carries it to the grave: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever, and they who are begotten by it have in their hearts eternal life begun; and if they perseveringly improve it, they shall flourish in glory everlasting. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you, whose effects are so everlastingly blessed to the faithful saints of God. Note; A deep sense of the vanity of man, and of his present state of corruption, will serve greatly to draw off our minds from the trifles of time, to look to the abiding glories of eternity which in the gospel are revealed unto us.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent