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REFLECTIONS. Let us continually bear in mind the approaching end of all things ; and then we shall neither omit the exercises of devotion, nor grow supine and careless in the discharge of them. Then we shall be engaged through a sense of our need of the divine clemency and indulgence, to exercise forbearance and candour, and maintain the most fervent charity to all without distinction; and we shall then be more disposed to consider ourselves as stervards, and as such, be concerned to behave with all good fidelity, both in the use and enjoyment of our possessions, and in the exercise of those gifts and endowments with which God hath been pleased to intrust us. To this they should especially attend, who are called to speak in God's name ; they should consider, that his oracles are committed to them; and though they cannot pretend that the instructions they deliver from thence, are reveal. ed to and impressed upon their minds by immediate inspiration, yet a reflection on the general nature of the glorious gospel, and on its important and everlasting consequences, may well dispose and form them to an humble awe and reverence in their manner of handling and dispensing it; and may remind them, that on the whole, in every ministration of the word of life, in every distribution of charity, and office of kindness, the main end to be pursued is, That God may be glorified.
If, in the cause of Christ, providence should call us out to encounter the severest persecutions, and even fiery trials, let us not be astonished, as if some strange thing had happened to us; let us not be discouraged, nor think ourselves hardly dealt with in such divine appointments; remembering that in this case we are only partakers in the sufferings of Christ ; that we only tread in the same rough and thorny path in which he walked before us; and that in due time, if we continue faithful to him, we shall also be made partakers of kia glory. In the mean while the Spirit of God and of glory will rest une on us ; only let us be jealous of his honour with a godly jealousy, and be greatly concerned, that our sins and indiscretions may not throw a blemish on a profession which derives its appellation from him. Glorious are the privileges indeed which belong to the disciples of Christ; but they, notwithstanding, draw very awful consequences after them. For judgment begins at the house of God, and even his dearest children are exercised with trials of their fidelity and patience. Let us prepare for them before they come, that when they do come we may bear them honourably, committing the keeping of our souls to him, as to a faithful Creator, in well-doing. But let the wicked and the ungodly meditate terror ; for the vengeance of God will find them out; the great day of wrath will come ; and who can be able to stand ? May divine grace reclaim those who are now exposed to so terrible a condemnation ; lest they know by experience, what no words can describe, no thought conceive, the end of those who obcy not the gospel of God.
Lxhortations to ministers and private Christians ; enforced by their being
called to eternal glory, and after their sufferings made perfect. Ch. v. 1-14.
i THE Elders among you I exhort, as I also am an Elder with
1 them, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a 2 partaker of the glory which shall be revealed. Feed the flock of
God, that is among you, superintending it not by constraint, but 3 willingly ; not for dishonourable gain, but of a ready mind ; not
assuming dominion over those who fall to your lot* ; but being ex. amples to the flock: and when the chief shepherd shall appear,
you shall receive an unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, O ye younger persons, be in subjection to those who
are more advanced in age. Yea, let all of you be subject to one
another, and be clothed with humility ; for God opposeth himself 6 to the proud ; but giveth grace to the humble. Humble your
selves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may ex✓ alt you in due time: casting all your anxious care upon him, for 8 he careth for you. Be sober, be watchful ; for your adversary the
devil is walking about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may I swallow up: whom resist, being stedfast in the faithi, knowing
that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren, who 10 are in the world. But may the God of all grace, who hath called
us to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, when you have suffered
for a little while, make you perfect, confirm, strengthen, and es11 tablish you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. 12 Amen.— I have written briefly to you by Silvanus, as I suppose, a
faithful brother; exhorting and testifying that this is the true .13 grace of God, wherein ye have hitherto stood. The church, which
is in Babylon chosen with you, saluteth you; and so doth Mark my 14 son and convert. Salute one another with a kiss of love. Peace
be with you all, who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
REFLECTIONS. This apostolic charge should be received with the profoundest regard and submission, by all those who profess to reverence the authority of Christ, who thus, by the mouth of his servants, bespeaks their attention; and it should both regulate their conduct, and ani. mate and exalt their hopes. Let us therefore attend to this venerable elder, this witness of the sufferings of Christ, who on the mount of transfiguration, had been favoured with an illustrious representation of that glory, wherein our Lord shall be hereafter revealed, and with which he will then invest all those, who, in his cause, have approved themselves faithful until death. Let ministers, especially, ever maintain a most affectionate and respectful regard for the fock of God, and take the oversight thereof with a ready and generous mind, and be ex.
* The congregations committed to their care, alluding to tre division of Canaan by Loto
amples to it in the mild and condescending temper of their common Master, as well as in all other graces and virtues. It is indeed possible, they may pursue such a conduct as this, and meet with very little csteem or recompense, yea with injurious and unworthy treatment from their fellow-men. But a crown of glory, a royal diadem, incorruptible and immortal, will be hereafter conferred on them by their exalted Saviour, in the day of his triumphant appearance ; and this crown, in itself so illustrious, will be a mark of still more distinguished honour, as it will be placed on their victorious heads in a season of such solemnity, in the view of the whole assembled world, and of the innumerable company of angels. But in the mean time, while we are continued in so lowly a condition in the present world, let us all cultivate humility of mind, being clothed with that amiable virtue, which is certainly the most graceful ornament of our nature ; an or. nament of singular value in the eye of that God, whose approbation is the surest mark and criterion of excellence and honour. And that we may accordingly entertain the more humble and lowly conceptions of ourselves, and the more grand and venerable ideas of the almighty creator, preserver, and disposer of all things, let us often and seriously reflect upon his mighty hand; how gloriously it hath been displayed in the infinite variety of the works of nature, in the continual agency and operation of providence, and in the wonderful scheme of redemption and salvation; how powerfui and resistless it is in the execution of all its works; and yet how graciously its awful power is tempered and moderated, and to what kind and merciful purposes it hath been already exerted, and still is, in behalf of such degenerate and unworthy creatures as ourselves. By these considerations, let us be disposed to bow to every divine dispensation with all resignation and submission ; fixing our dependence upon a power so wisely and graciously exerted ; rejoicing that we are permitted to cast our cared on God, and abhorrang both the ingratitude and folly of fainting and sinking under our burthens, when we are favoured with the permission of relying on him ; indeed, with a paternal command, as well as permission ; which accordingly requires our obedience in point of duty, as well as of gratitude and honour.
Our great adversary the devil is still continually prowling round the fold of Christ ; and therefore it behoves us to be constantly on our guard. And if we would escape both his wiles and his power, let us be especially careful, that neither our security nor intemperance, give him an advantage over us : but, on the contrary, as it is nothing less than our utter and eternal destruction he aims at, let us strenuously resist him, in the exercise of a steady faith, and with a firm resolution. Let us also remember, that trials and amictions have been the lot of all the people of God in all generations ; and that the God of all grace is able, if it seem good to his infinite wisdom, to shorten and contract the time of our sufferings, and by means of them whilst they last, to strengthen and perfect our immortal souls. Let us therefore, as the close of all, continue to stand fast, in what is so authentically testified to be the true grace of God; and real substantial peace will be with us will be our everlasting portion, in Christ Jesus. Amen."
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER.
THIS epistle was probably written about the year 67, six years after the
former. The general design of it is, to confirm the doctrines and instructions therein delivered : to excite the Christian converts to adorn and sted fastly adhere to their holy religion, as from God, notwithstanding the artifices of false teachers, whose characters are described at large, or the persecutions of their inveterate enemies.
Peter congratulates the Christians on the happy state into which they 'were
brought by the gospel; and urges them to improve in its graces and virtuss. Ch.i. 1-11.
1 QIMON Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to
those who have obtained like precious faith with us, in the % righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ : Grace and
peace be multiplied unto you, by the acknowledgment of God, 3 and of Jesus our Lord. As his divine power hath given unto us
all things which relate to life and godliness, through the knowl4 edge of him who hath called us by glory and virtue, by means of
which* are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by, these you may be made partakers of a divine nature ;
having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust : 5 And for this purpose, applying with all diligence, add; to your 6 faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, tem
perance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godli7 ness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to this brotherly8 kindness, love. For if these things exist and abound in you, they
will permit you to be neither inactive, nor' unfruitful in the know9 ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that is deficient in these
things, is blind, short-sighted, and he hath contracted a forgetful10 ness of his purification from his former sinst. Therefore, breth
ren, endeavour so much the more diligently to make your calling
and election sure ; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. 11 For so an entrance shall be abundantly administered to you, into
the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
REFLECTIONS. With all humility let us adore the divine goodness, in making us partakers of the like precious faith with that which he bestowed on the primitive believers. And let it often be considered in this comprehensive and cdifying view, as terminating on the righteousness of our
God and Saviour Jesus Christ, on that method of justification by him and his gospel which divine grace hath found out and proposed. With thankfulness let us own the abundant provision made for us, of all things pertaining to life and godliness ; and above all, let the exceeding rich and invaluable promises, contained in the gospel, be reviewed with sincere delight, and be esteemed as our securest and most important treasure. May they actually have all that efficacy they are suited and intended to have, to procure and secure our escape from the pollutions which are in the world through lust, and to advance the divine resemblance in our souls. How various, and how lovely, are the graces which are here recommended, as what we are with all diligence to add to our faith : courage and temperance, patience and god. liness, brotherly kindness, and universal charity! These are the genuine fruits of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ; these, while they honour him, and adorn our profession, will be no less honoura. ble and beneficial to ourselves. Short sighted indeed we are, if we perceive not on the one hand, the happy and delightful consequences which they will finally produce ; and on the other, how utterly vain our baptismal honours and engagements, and all external privileges of church-communion, will be, if these vitals of Christianity are want. ing. In order to excite our indolent minds to pursue these divine graces with a spirit in some measure proportionable to their excellence, let us frequently reflect on our speedy removal from this world and all its vanities; how soon we must enter upon eternity. O, how desirable then to enter on the kingdom of Christ ; to be honoured with an abundant entrance into everlasting mansions, to be received as with a cordial welcome ; to sail, as it were, into that blessed harbour with a full gale of consolation and joy! Be not deceived ; God is not mocked. It is the invariable design of the gospel to produce and advance our holine88 ; it is the immutable constitution of the kingdom of Christ, that without it no man shall be permitted to see the Lord.
In the view of his dissolution, he reminds his brethren, that their religion - was attested by a miraculous voice from heaven, and by divinely inspired prophecies. Ch. i. 12, &c.
12 W H EREFORE I will not neglect always to put you in mind
VV of these things, though you know them, and are estab13 lished in the present truth. But I account it right, as long as I
-am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by way of remembrance ; 14 knowing that I must quickly put off my tabernacle, even as our 15 Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. But I will endeavour that
you may every one of you have them in remembrance after my 16 departure. For we have not been pursuing artfully devised fables, · while we made known unto you the power and coming of our 17 Lord Jesus Christ; but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For
he received from God the Father honour and glory, when such a voice was sent forth to him from the magnificent glory, “ This is