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- 1 Peter
by Thomas Coke
THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER.
THIS apostolic Letter is addressed especially to the Jews who were dispersed through Lesser Asia, and had embraced Christianity, as well as to the Proselytes of the Gate, and others from the Gentiles in that country, who had yielded to the force of Christian truth; elect, or declared to be such, through the sanctification of the Spirit. The whole Epistle abounds in assurances that these converts were regenerate, and become children of God. It was written from a city, called by St. Peter, Babylon: this some think to be Babylon in Assyria, which, though demolished, might possibly have some few Christians in its neighbourhood. However, the generality, both antients and moderns, suppose it to have been a figurative name for Rome: but Michaelis finding, with some other learned writers, great reason to doubt whether St. Peter ever was at Rome, proposes it as a query, whether Jerusalem might not be shadowed out under that name. He also thinks, that the Epistle was written so early as the year 49, soon after the great council held there; but the more received opinion is, that it was written much later, either in the year 63 or 64, or, at latest, 65. St. Peter's chief design is to confirm the doctrine of St. Paul, which the false teachers pretended he was opposing; and to assure the converts, that they stood in the true grace of God. With this view he calls them elect, and mentions that they had been declared such by the effusion of the Holy Ghost upon them. He assures them that they were regenerate without circumcision, merely through the Gospel and resurrection of Christ; and that their sufferings were no argument of their being under the displeasure of God, as their enemies among the Jews imagined. He recommends it to them to hope for grace to the end, and testifies that they were not redeemed by the paschal lamb, but through Christ, whom God had pre-ordained for this purpose before the foundation of the world. It is natural to observe, from a general view of this Epistle of St. Peter, that all the principles of our holy religion, as represented in it, are perfectly consistent with the analogy of faith, and with the whole tenor of the New Testament; that they are directly levelled against all kinds of corrupt affections, and immoral practices, as well as urged in the light of motives to all those graces and virtues, in which our conformity to God and the true glory of our renewed nature consists; and which (if it were the only circumstance that could be pleaded,) would exalt our religion to an infinite superiority above the institutions of the most renowned Heathen philosophers and lawgivers, and, in connection with its amazing progress, is a demonstration of its divine original.—Christians are here instructed to encounter outrageous violence and persecution only with the hallowed weapons of patience, meekness, and love; and to silence the cavils, and blast the machinations of their own and their Master's bitterest enemies, with the lustre of a pure and holy life, and the fervour of a generous and invincible benevolence. How amiable, how elevated, how divine, how worthy of all acceptation, is the religion of Jesus! in delineating of which, St. Peter and St. Paul are perfectly consistent and harmonious.
the Second Week of Advent