1 Peter 2Here we are first directed what to lay aside, in order to our fruitful and profitable entertainment of the word of God, namely, these five sins, malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil-speaking.
Whence note in general, That if any sin, much more if many sins, be kept close and lie dormant within us, they will certainly hinder the efficacy of the word upon us. As the foulness of the stomach hinders the natural digestion: till it be purged out, nothing can nourish within; in like manner, our apostle here advises to purge out these pestilent lusts of malice and guile, of hypocrisy and envy, &c., before we hear the word of God, as ever we expect to be nourished with it, and grow thereby.
As sin hinders good from coming to us, so it hinders the word from working good in us; particularly
malice, or invetrate anger harboured in the heart; guile, or deceit in words or actions; hypocrisy, or an appearance of friendship, when the heart is otherwise affected; envy, or grieving at another's good; and evil-speaking of all kinds, by lying, by slandering, by back-biting, by detracting, all which are contrary to the great command of love, and abstructive of the word of truth, by which we are born again;
but it is observable, particularly concerning malice, and guile, and evil-speaking, that our apostle puts the note of universality to them, Lay aside all malice, and all guile, and all evil-speaking; importing, that though some other sins will stick close unto us, yet not a jot of malice or guile should be found in us, at least prevailing in us, of any kind, or in any degree or measure, for one drop of this deadly poison may destroy us; therefore lay aside all malice, and all guile, and all evil-speaking, &c.
St. Peter having directed us, in our preparation before we come to hear the word, and shown the necessity of laying aside an evil frame of spirit, he now directs us what we are to do when under the word, namely, that there be found with us a spiritual appetite to it, and that we have the same longing desires after it that the child has after the breast: As new-born babes desire the sincere milk, so desire you the uncorrupted word of God, that you may grow thereby.
Quest. How does the newborn infant desire its natural nourishment, its mother's milk?
Ans. These four ways: first, it covets it with vehement desire, nothing will content and satisfy him, neither gold nor silver, in the absence of the word of God.
Secondly, The new-born infant desires the milk from a deep sense of its inward wants, it is pinched with hunger, and parched with thirst, and therefore cries for the breast; so is the Christian sensible of his wants, of his want of knowledge, want of grace; "It is little," says he, "that I know of myself, less of God, least of Jesus Christ: Oh! that by conversing with his word, I might know him more, and serve him better."
Thirdly, The infant desires its mother's milk unmixed, as nature has prepared it, without any artificial sweetening of it. Some little regard the wholesomeness of the food, but only admire the dexterity of the cook: they applaud the parts of the preacher, when the word flows from the golden mouth of a celebrated orator: but the new-born Christian desires the sincere milk of the word without any composition of error, and without any such mixture of wit and eloquence as is inconsistent with the gravity and simplicity of the word they hear. Plain truths, without art or varnish, may be conveyed with more warmth and vigour to the conscience, than all the charms of human eloquence from the most fluent and popular tongue; yet always remembering, that though the ministers of God must come in plainness, yet not in rudeness of speech.
Fourthly, This desire of the babe after the sincere, unmixed, and uncompounded milk, is always accompanied with endeavour; it hunts for the breast, and is not satisfied that the breast is in its eye, but is impatient till it sucks and draws, that nourishment may be conveyed, and it grow thereby: thus active and operate are the desires and endeavours of a sincere Christian after the word of God: that which was seed to beget, they find food to strengthen, they can never be satisfied without it, they cannot be satisfied with a little of it.
In these words our apostle declares the condition whereon our profiting, growing, and thriving, by the word, doth depend, namely, upon our tasting and experiencing its power, as it is the great instrumental cause both of our spiritual birth and growth. This taste is a spiritual sense of the goodness, power, and efficacy, of the word, in conveying the grace of God unto our souls; in a taste there is sweetness and refreshment, but not fulness and satisfaction.
Learn hence, 1. That God doth graciously sweeten the word to such a soul as doth desire sincerely to taste the sweetness of it.
2. That it is but a taste of the sweetness of God and his word which a Christian partakes of in this life; satiety and satisfaction are reserved for another state.
Observe here, 1. The denomination, or title, given to Christ, he is styled a living stone, and the chief corner-stone.
1. A living stone, that is, a lively stone, no dead foundation; a life-giving stone, having not only life in himself essentially but communicatively, imparting spiritual life to the whole building. Christ is not only an head of authority, but an head of vital influence to all his members; because he lives, they shall live also.
2. He is styled also the chief corner-stone, both in regard of sustentation; the corner-stone supports the whole building, the church's grace, the church's peace, the church's consolation, the church's salvation, are all upheld and maintained by him: and in regard of union, the corner-stone unites, ties, and knits the other stones together, that they should not drop out of the building. Christ alone unites the several stones of the spiritual building to himself, and one another. And this corner-stone is of God's own immediate laying, Behold, I lay in Sion a corner-stone. Christ was first manifested and offered to the church of the Jews, and then to the rest of the world.
Observe, 2. The titles given to believers; 1. They of lively stones are built a spiritual house. Believers are God's temple, dedicated to, and set apart for, his special service, and also enjoying his gracious and special presence. "This is my rest for ever," says God concerning the believer's heart; "here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein."
2. They are an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable through Christ.
Learn hence, that every Christian in this life is a priest, and ought to offer up himself a sacrifice or oblation unto God. In a sacrifice there was a separation of the thing sacrificed from common use; the beast was separated from the rest of the flock, so must the Christian be set apart from the rest of the world. There was an addiction, or dedication, or solemn consecration, of the thing set apart to some holy and special use and purpose: thus the Christian, that presents himself a living sacrifice unto God, does not only separate himself from the sin, the world, and the flesh, but does addict, and devote himself to God, to serve and please him, to honour and glorify him.
Observe, 3. The application which believers make to Christ, in order to their being his spiritual temple, and a royal priesthood. To whom coming as unto a living stone! the particle denotes a continual motion, by which the soul gains ground, and gets nearer and nearer to Christ; they are daily coming by faith to him, and gradually advancing in the knowledge of him, and love unto him.
Observe lastly, The sweet fruit and blessed effect of their faith, Whosoever believeth in him shall not be confounded: that is, not ashamed, as a person who is disappointed of his hopes and expectations; he shall not be ashamed of his choice, he shall not be ashamed of his profession, he shall never be ashamed of the cause and interest of Christ, which he has espoused, and at all times appeared for; nor of the work and service of Christ, nor of the time and pains expended in their work and service: nor shall he ever be ashamed hereafter that he never was ashamed here.
To you belongs the honour of being built a spiritual house upon Christ, the chief corner-stone, which renders him deservedly precious to you, and of a very high estimation with you; whatever mean, low, and undervaluing thoughts, the wicked world have of Jesus Christ, yet he is highly esteemed by, and deservedly precious to, every believing soul: he is precious in the several relations he stands in to them, precious in regard of the great things he has done for them, precious in the rich supplies of grace he bestows upon them, and will be eternally precious to them, upon the account of those glorious mansions he has purchased and prepared for them.
These words discover the great sin and danger of those who slight and neglect our Lord Jesus Christ, who stumble and take offence at him, either at the meanness of his person, or at the ignominy of his cross, or at the holiness and strictness of his doctrine, or at the freeness of his grace: whatever the occasion of their contempt may be, Christ will prove to them a burdensome stone, a rock against which they will split, to their utter confusion; they will in the close bring ruin upon themselves, as a madman does that dashes himself against a stone.
Observe next, How this contempt of Christ has prevailed in the world, ever since his first coming into the world: how did the Jewish rulers, called here the builders, set him at nought, the stone which the builders disallowed and stumbled at: that is, the high rulers, whose office and duty it was to build up the church, having power in their hand to do it, but instead of building upon this corner-stone, they stumbled, and took offence at him, and accordingly Christ is called a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; yet this does not imply that Christ was the cause of their stumbling, but only the occasion of it, the object at which they stumbled, without any cause but their own wickedness: for though it be said in the next words, that they were appointed thereunto, the meaning is not, that God ordained them to disobedience, for then their obedience had been impossible, and their disobedience had been no sin: but God in his just decree appointed that destruction and eternal perdition should be the punishment of such obstinate and disobedient persons.
Learn hence, That Christians have no reason to be offended at the great number of unbelievers that are in the world, and at the sight of Christ's being rejected by multitudes in the world, it having been long ago foretold in scripture that thus it would be, and consequently it ought to be no occasion of offence that thus it is; Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner. Matt 21:42
In these words our apostle acquaints these believing Jews, who were built upon Christ, the foundation-stone, that the same titles did now belong to them in a more excellent manner as Christians, which were formerly given to their ancestors of the Jewish nation by God himself, Deut 7:6,7
As the Jews of old were a chosen generation, a kingdom of priests, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that is, they were a people chosen by God before all other people whatsoever, to bear his name, and to bear witness to his truth; they were a people in covenant with him, and so inexpressibly dear unto him, that he that hurt them touched the apple of God's eye: in like manner these Jews, and proselyted Gentiles of the dispersion, who were converted to Christianity, have all the forecited titles belonging to them.
A chosen generation, by effectual vocation separated from the world to the service of Christ, whose name they bear.
A royal priesthood, that is, kings and priests; kings to reign with him, and priests to offer spiritual sacrifices to him.
An holy nation; so are all the professors of Christianity federally holy, and for that reason all the Christian churches called out of the world, and dedicated to the service of Christ, are styled saints in all St. Paul's epistles.
A peculiar people, in covenant with God, purchased by the blood of Christ.
Next the apostle declares the end of all these distinguished favours being granted to them; namely, that they might show forth the virtues, that is, publish and proclaim the wisdom, power, goodness, and mercy, the righteousness and truth, of God, who had called them out of the darkness of sin, ignorance, and misery, into the marvellous light of knowledge, faith, holiness, and comfort.
Lastly, To enhance their thankfulness for all these distinguishing favours, he puts them in mind of what they were before their conversion to Christianity; in times past they were not a people, that is, not a people beloved of God, and in covenant with him; the Lord having given the Jews a bill of divorce, and said to them, Lo-ammi, Ye are not my people, Hos 1:9 but now upon their believing in Christ they were restored to all their church-privileges, by the special mercy and grace of God.
Learn hence, That till persons subject themselves to the government of Christ, and become obedient to the gospel, they are in God's account no people: to live without Christ in the world, is a life worse than death.
Learn, 2. That when a people are brought near to God by Jesus Christ, and partake of all the rich and invaluable blessings and privileges of the gospel, they are exceedingly indebted for all the rich mercy and free grace of God; Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Observe here, 1. A dehortation, Abstain from fleshly lusts.
Quest. What is here meant by lusts?
Ans. Lust is either habitual or actual: habitual or original lust is the corruption and depravation of the faculties of the soul, an aversion to every thing that is good, and a proneness to all evil: actual lust is original sin put in motion: by fleshly lusts, understand in particular those lusts which are conversant about sensual and fleshly objects.
Quest. But what is it to abstain from fleshly lusts?
Ans. It implies a total forbearance of all wilful sins: and at all times there is a great difference between temperance and abstinence; the temperate man eats little, the abstinent nothing at all: every one then that would be accounted a Christian, is to account it his great duty and interest to abstain from all fleshly lusts.
Observe, 2. The arguments which our apostle here makes use of to persuade Christians to abstain from all fleshly lusts: the first is implied or included in the compellation, dearly beloved, not of the apostle only, or chiefly, but of God, 'Agapeytoi, the same word that Almighty God makes use of in expressing his love to his dear Son: as if he had said, "You that are so dearly beloved of God, look you to it that you abstain from what you know will be displeasing to him."
The second argument is drawn from their present state and conditon in the world; ye are strangers and pilgrims in the world, and therefore should act as strangers, who ae not wont to be overmuch affected with objects that they see abroad in their travels, no more should you.
The third argument is taken from the peril and danger of these fleshly lusts to our precious souls, they war against the soul: that is, they war against the purity of the soul; they war against the dignity of the soul; against the peace of the soul; against the liberty of the soul; yea, against the life of the soul.
From the apostle's dehortaton in the former verse, he comes to an exhortation in this, and the duty exhorted to is strict godliness or holiness in all manner of conversation, Having your conversation honest; it is not a single action, but our general course and conversation, that denotes us either good or bad; and the word translated honest, signifies fair and amiable, beautiful and adorning, the doing nothing that is unseemly or a blemish either to our person or profession; Christians should not only live free from evil, but as much as may be from the very suspicion of evil: it is added, among the Gentiles, that is, amongst the idolatrous nations and people, who had not received the Christian faith; great care must be always taken by the professors of Christianity, that they do nothing which may increase the prejudices of the wicked world against religion and the ways of godliness, but remember that they are our watchful observers and bold censurers; and accordingly endeavour, that, by a regular piety, a strict sobriety, a diffusive and extensive charity, we may render religion venerable to the world, and stop the mouth of slander as much as in us lies, by cutting off occasion from them that seek occasion.
Observe farther, The apostle exhorts them to have their conversation honest amongst the Gentiles; he doth not say religious, though that be included, but outwardly square, strictly just, and honest; this is that which the world judges us by; vain are all our pretences to piety, if we fail in honesty; we must make conscience of the duties of the second table, as an argument of our sincerity, and as an ornament to our profession.
Observe next, What was then, and is now, the lot and portion of good men, namely, to be evil spoken of as evildoers: Whereas they speak evil of you as evildoers. Christ himself did not escape the scourge of the tongue; he was charged with gluttony, blasphemy, imposture, with having a devil, and with working miracles by the power of the devil; and it is sufficient for the disciple to be as his master was.
Yet mark, they speak evil of you, says the apostle, as evil doers: to be an evil-doer is miserable, but not to be spoken of as an evil-doer Nemo miser sensu alieno, no man is miserable in another man's evil opinion of him: a bad report, much less a bad opinion, makes no body a bad man; if it be enough to censure and accuse, who can be innocent?
Observe again, The apostle exhorts these believing Jews to a conspicuous fruitfulness in good works: That they may by your good works which they shall behold: implying, that Christianity sets men to work, (though we shall never be saved for our works, yet without working we can never be saved,) and that good works may and ought to be so done, that men may behold them; though we must not do good works to be seen of men, yet we ought to do good works that may be seen of men, Matt 5:16 how else can men be patterns of good works, as they are required, Titus 2:7 if their good works be not conspicuous, and exposed to the world?
Observe lastly, The blessed fruit and effect of good works: they cause such as behold them to glorify God in the day of visitation. This may be understood two ways.
1. With respect to believers: your good works will cause the wicked world to glorify God in the day of your visitation,, that is, in the day of your persecution and affliction; though they afflict and persecute you, yet they shall glorify God when they behold your faith, your patience, your constancy in and under sufferings, in the day of your visitation.
2. With respect to the wicked; and so the day of visitation is the day of their conversion; and then the exhortation is, to be so conspicuous in good works, that their adversaries may praise and glorify God, when he shall visit them with his grace, and draw them by his gospel, to believe in his Son: the day of saving conversion is a day of gracious visitation.
Our apostle having exhorted them in general to take care that their conversation be honest among the Gentiles, he now decends to particular duties, which he advises them to be very exemplary in the performance of.
And the first is, in their subjection to governors and government; submit yourselves, says he, to every civil ruler, both supreme and subordinate.
Where observe, 1. How the apostle calls magistracy and civil government, though originally of divine institution, an ordinance of man.
First, As to the end of it, it being appointed and ordained for the good and benefit of man.
Secondly, In reference to the kind of it, every nation having a liberty to choose what kind and form of government human prudence shall direct them to, as most agreeable to, and commodious for, the people.
Observe, 2. The quality of that obedience and subjection which is to be given unto magistrates, it must be for the Lord's sake, that is, in obedience to the command of God, and with an eye at the honour and glory of God. Christianity is no enemy to the civil right of princes, it requires subjection for conscience, Prov 8:15
By me, says God, kings reign; some read it, for me kings reign; both are true: princes then hold not their crowns either from the pope or from the people, to be kicked off by the one, or to be plucked off by the other, at their pleasure: Submit yourselves, says our apostle, to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.
Observe, 3. The reasons assigned why magistrates should be thus subjected and submitted to; namely,
1. Because they are sent by God for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well; the magistrate's office is to punish evil-doers; the fear of the magistrate's sword awes many men more than the fear of God's hand. If some men were not gods among men, many men would be devils among men; there would be no living among those who fear not the invisible God in heaven, if there were not some visible gods on earth to fear.
2. Because God will, by this their subjection given to magistrates and governors, silence, or, as the word signifies, put a muzzle upon the mouth of, foolish and unreasonable men, who rage against his people, as if they were enemies to order and government: by this kind of well-doing in particular, namely, by subjection and obedience to rulers in the Lord, and for the Lord's sake, we put to silence the foolishness of wicked men.
Here our apostle answers an objection, which he foresaw the Christian Jews ready to make against this duty of subjection, namely, "that they were a free people, as Jews, and ought to preserve their liberty, and own no governors that were not of their own nation: and as Christians they looked upon themselves as Christ's freemen:" whereas Christian liberty exempts no man from the duty of civil subjection: the liberty Christ has purchased for believers is a freedom from sin and Satan, from sinful servitude: Christ makes all his subjects free, but it is with a freedom from spirtual bondage, and not from civil subjection; consequently, to plead our Christian liberty in bar to that obedience which we owe our superiors and governors, either civil or ecclesiastical, is to use our liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, and as a covering for that disobedience which is hateful to God, and injurious to mankind, as being destructive of order and government, which is the beauty and the bond of human society.
Here are four very important duties recommended to us in this short verse.
1. To honour all men; no man is to be despised by us, but every man duly respected according to his place and station. There is a common honour, and a tribute of civil respect, payable to every man; though some men forfeit it by acting below men; a vile person is contemptible, though great; bare greatness is no guard against contempt; but the rags of a good man cannot obscure is worth, nor hinder him from true honour in the hearts and from the tongues of wise men: honour all men, but especially good men.
2. Love the brotherhood; as there is general respect due to all men, so there is a special love due to the brethren, to all the saints, of what nation and country soever, of what estate and condition soever, high and low, rich and poor, of what judgment and opinion soever; therefore the apostle calls upon us to love the brotherhood, the whole fraternity and society of Christians, by what unhappy means and characters of reproach soever distinguished: there is no better evidence of the life of grace in ourselves, than the love of grace in another.
3. Fear God; that is, live in a religious dread of his name, as a glorious God, and a gracious Father; have a reverential awe and fear of his majesty immoveably fixed and implanted in your souls; to the production of which a double apprehension is necessary, namely, the inconceivable majesty of God, and the miserable vileness of the sinner.
4. Honour the King; this duty consists in reverencing their persons, in obeying their lawful commands, in a cheerful payment of their dues, in praying affectionately for them, and in praising God for the blessing of their government. Nero, the worst of kings, and the persecutor of Christians, was now on the throne, yet the command is express to honour him.
And if we consider the words in their connexion and conjunction one with another, Fear God, and honour the king, we learn, That religion and the fear of God do best qualify persons to be good subjects, this is the true and steady principle of loyalty; that obedience to governors that is lasting, is for conscience-sake to the command of God: where there is no fear of God in the heart, there will be no regard to the command of God in the life.
Lastly, These words may be considered, as in their conjunction, so in their order in which they stand; first, fear God, and then honour the king; intimating that the fear of God must be the rule and guide of our subjection unto governors; it is no disparagement to our superiors to be under God, and so to be looked upon by their subjects; let such as pretend to fear God, show it by being loyal subjects, evidence it by their awful and religious fear of God.
Observe here, 1. The order and method of our apostle in the exhortations given to Christians in this epistle: he first excites them in the general practice of their duty, and to be holy in all manner of conversation, and next binds upon them the performance of relative and particular duties. In the foregoing verses he insisted upon the duties of subjects towards magistrates and governors; in this verse he propounds the duty of servants towards their masters. Thus let Christian servants be subject to their masters, whether Christian or heathen, giving due reverence and respect, not only to such as are kind and gentle, but to such as froward and wrathful.
Learn hence, That such as are in the lowest condition, being servants, yea, the meanest of servants, may glorify God in that condition.
Learn, 2. That servants, to the end that they may glorify God in there servile condition, must be subject to their masters with all fear; yea, even to wicked and froward masters; because the ground of their obedience is the will and command of God, which binds them to their duty to their masters; though their masters fail and fall short in their duty to them.
Observe, 2. The several arguments made use of by St. Peter to enforce this duty upon servants.
1. This is highly acceptable and well-pleasing unto God, and will procure a gracious reward. We shall certainly receive a glorious reward from God for what we suffer wrongfully and unjustly from men. This is thank-worthy, and this is acceptable with God.
2. From the indecency of the contrary; because it is no virtue, but a just punishment for evil doers, to suffer patiently when we suffer justly is praise-worthy, yet not comparible with the praise of suffering patiently when we suffer patiently, as for ill-doing, will meet with a gracious, yea, with a glorious reward. What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God.
Observe here, two farther arguments to excite and move Christians to patience under unjust sufferings.
1. Hereunto, says the apostle, were ye called, that is, by your profession of Christianity: religion obliges you to suffer with patience; you must bear the cross, before you wear the crown; to this you are called, and with this you have been acquainted.
2. You should not think much to suffer patiently, when you suffer unjustly, because Christ, your captain and guide, did so freely before you; he was the most meek and patient endurer that ever was, of the greatest and most wrongful sufferings that ever were.
Note here, That although the example of our Saviour be here propounded to us with a special regard to the particular virtue of patience under unjust sufferings, yet ought it to be extended to all graces and duties, and improved as a pattern for the love and practice of universal holiness: Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
The practice and example of the holy Jesus, in all the ordinary acts of his obedience, ought to be propounded by all his disciples and followers as the grand pattern of our imitation; it being a safe and unerring example, an easy familiar example, a powerful and encouraging example, and the most instructive and universal example that ever was given to the world, being a most absolute and perfect pattern of holiness.
Our apostle proceeds to represent and recommend our Lord Jesus Christ as the mirror and perfect pattern of patience under the sharpest sufferings; he acquaints us,
1. With his pure and spotless innocency; he did no sin, therefore could not suffer for doing evil; no guile was found in his mouth neither in his expressions, nor in his actions; he never did ill either in word or deed, but was a perfect pattern of unblamable holiness.
Next, our apostle recommends to us his invincible patience under all his sufferings, telling us, that although Christ was most shamefully reviled, having the dirt of a thousand scandals, slanders, reproaches, and blasphemies, cast upon him, yet he reviled not again not giving them one ill word for all.
And when he suffered all manner of injuries and indignities at once, being buffeted, spit upon, crowned with thorns, and crucified, though he had power sufficient to look them into nothing, to frown them into hell, yet he threatened them not with the least revenge, but prayed for his murderers, and committed his cause to a just and righteous God: He threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.
Blessed Jesus! help us to imitate thy patience under sufferings, and reproaches, and never let us be found rendering to any, evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing for cursing, courtesies for injuries, affability for affronts; let us at no time be overcome of evil, but labour at all times to overcome evil with good.
Note, lastly, How our apostle takes notice, that the sufferings of Christ were not only exemplary, but satisfactory; he did not only suffer patiently, but meritoriously; He his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree.
Note here, 1. What was borne, our sin, that is, the guilt and punishment of our sin.
2. Who bare it, Christ his own self.
This imports, 1. The singularity of his sufferings, he had no partner or sharer with him in what he bare, he trod the wine-press alone.
2. The sufficiency of his sufferings, he himself bare our sins; he who was God-man, the Lamb of God, and as such took away the sin of the world.
3. How he bare it, in his own body upon the tree; that is, in his human nature upon the cross. Christ suffered in his soul as well as in his body, and both were satisfactory to divine justice, but his bodily sufferings are only mentioned, because these were most visible.
4. The great ends of his sufferings, namely, expiation of sin, and mortification of sin; our sins were expiated on the tree by Christ's suffering for us in his own body; and by his death he also purchased virtue for mortifying sin in us, and for quickening us unto holiness of life, that, as he died for sin, we should die unto sin; and as he rose again and revived, never to die more, so should we, being dead unto sin, live no longer therein: He himself bare our sins in his own body upon the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes, that is, by whose expiatory sufferings, we are healed; the wounds made in our souls by the guilt and power of sin, are mercifully and meritoriously healed; the guilt of sin is pardoned, the power of sin subdued, and all the invaluable fruits and benefits of the Redeemer's death obtained. Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
Observe here, 1. The state and condition in which both Jews and Gentiles were found before their conversion to Christianity; they were like sheep going astray and lost; wandering in the ways of sin and unbelief, to their threatened ruin and destruction.
Observe, 2. The tender care of Christ, that great and good Shepherd, in bringing home these lost sheep upon his shoulders, Isa 40:11 into his fold the church: Ye are now returned to the Shepherd, to him that will feed you in green pastures, and preserve you to his heavenly kingdom. The Shepherd gives life to his sheep, and also lays down his life for his sheep.
Observe, 3. The additional title given to Christ, he is styled the Bishop of our souls; he that with tenderness, care, and diligence, doth inspect and visit all his charge, he is the universal Bishop, the Bishop of bishops, who has the charge of all the flocks, and of the shepherds must become accountable. God Almighty give them all such grace to be faithful, such wisdom to be prudent, that love to himself, that zeal for Christ, that tenderness for souls, such meekness and humility, such patience and charity, such mortification and self-denial, as become persons of their holy character and profession; always remembering, that the salvation of one precious soul, for which the great Shepherd died, is infinitely worth the most indefatigable labours of their whole lives: that, when the chief Shepherd shall appear, they may receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Amen.
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